29 December 2014

Christmas 2014

There is a long-standing joke in our house that Matt is the Grinch. Throughout December, he's all: "No cookies, no decorations, no Christmas music!" Then on the 25th, he does a total 180 and starts passing out glasses of eggnog and presents while Garth Brooks croons "Baby Jesus is Born" at max volume. He claims that there is actually some sort of "theology" behind this pre-Christmas season called "Advent," but that doesn't stop me from whipping out the Mannheim Steamroller when he's at work.

I must admit that I find "what I got my kids for Christmas" posts particularly interesting. As a child ripping through piles of presents, it never crossed my mind that my parents might budget, set limit, not get me a Power Wheels on purpose; that such practices might encourage upstanding and virtuous children. It's my natural mama urge to want to provide my girls with everything that makes their eyes light up at the toy store, but we all know that the simplest toys are the top favs (I submit as evidence the cardboard box), that too many toys spewed across a floor is overwhelming, and that toys that break after the first day make the pocketbook cry. So I like to see what criteria other moms use and what toys make the cut in their families.

Our current system is to set a dollar amount per person, add up all those numbers, divide by 12, then save up that much per month. Then I spend a month or so brainstorming and researching ideas, then another few weeks searching for the best deal (I do all this casually, no hurry or pressure). I also try to patronize brick and mortar stores and small businesses when I can. This year's results:


Eleanor got a snowglobe with her name engraved on it and a board book. With all the hand-me-downs from Abigail combined with the toys and few new outfits coming from grandparents, she didn't need much. The snowglobe is something I did when Abigail was born and I decided to turn the heirloom-natured gift into a tradition for my girls. It's a bit on the expensive side, even on sale and using a coupon code, but I did have enough left to get a board book - a favorite when Abigail was a baby. Her old copy was rather literally loved to pieces.


Abigail's gifts from us included a few books, some Frozen stickers and tattoos from the dollar bin at Target, a personalized memory game (more on that in a minute), and an iPod Shuffle. Just kidding! I bought the shuffle with birthday money a few years ago, it's in the picture to represent the Frozen soundtrack, an mp3 download. She also already used an Elsa tattoo before I took the picture.

Anyway, the memory game. I saw it a year or two ago and absolutely loved the idea and was waiting anxiously until Abigail was old enough to get our own. Like I mentioned, it's personalized - as in, you pick the pictures.

You can use the tiles upright as a matching game, then face down as a traditional memory game. The familiar images are easier for Abigail to remember than generic cupcake or kitty cat memory games. Abigail absolutely loves her gift and wants to play with it constantly, so we're going to have the tiles laminated for extra durability.

My favorite Christmas present? My favorite perfume, a gift from my sister-in-law secret santa:

I'm not sure what Matt's is, but if I had to guess, I'd pick this trilogy:

I've spent the last few days being educated on the world of Ewoks and hyper drives. Word to the wise: Star Wars die hards don't think it's funny when you run around with a cat yelling "Kittybacca!"

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Every year I hand make my eight nieces and nephews Christmas presents. One year I crocheted them all their own (kid-sized) blanket. The next year I sewed them all super-hero capes. This year, I painted them each a saint doll.

From the back corner: Our Lady of Fatima; St. Peter; Our Lady of Lourdes; The Immaculate Heart of Mary; St. Nick; St. Pope John Paul II; St. Padres Pio; Mary, Mother of God. 

I bought wooden dolls from an Etsy store, paint from a craft store, used brushes I already owned, and finished them off with a lacquer from a craft store. It was surprisingly easy and inexpensive. Each doll had it's name written on the bottom.

I crocheted them little bags using yarn I already owned:

I also wrote the saint's name on a little card and made gift tags, all out of scrapbook paper I already had (I dabble in lots of crafts, so my stash is pretty big). The bags saved on wrapping paper and provided a place to store the dolls when the kids aren't playing with them.

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The holidays this wear were a perfect mix of festive partying and relaxing refueling. The parties were spread out enough so that we never felt rushed, the presents were perfect, the food delicious, the conversations lively. And yes, my husband did manage to whip out a religious topic for him and his loud, rowdy brothers to have a heated discussions over. Oh goodness.

Merry Christmas, my friends!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the saint dolls! I also always appreciate seeing other people's creative talent, because I have none. My five year old does -he made a bow that actually fires a Popsicle stick arrow out of paper, scotch tape, a rubber band and said Popsicle stick. He made it before Christmas and it still hasn't broken, so I'm impressed. :-)

Merry Christmas to you, Matt, and the girls! TB