Archives For Christmas

It’s that time of year! The holiday season is fast approaching and most of us are starting to think about what we may give as gifts. I am all about the handmade gift but let’s be honest, many times they’re more trouble than they’re worth and not all that fun to receive. Being the die-hard DIYer that I am I can’t abandon them entirely-I’ve found it’s actually best for me to take store-bought items and put them together or enhance them in a way that is a little more special (and can help stretch my budget). Behold, my list of handmade-ish gifts I wouldn’t mind giving or receiving.

  1. Gift basket-fill a basket, pretty bowl, or galvanized tub with various goodies you think the recipient will enjoy. Examples: wine, cheese, crackers, popcorn, coffee, chocolate, books, candy, cookies, beer, craft supplies, etc.. You can read more about this one I made for my dad here. The possibilities are endless.
  2. Bath oil-look for pretty bottles at the thrift store, craft store, or online. Fill each one with a few drops of essential oil like lavender or chamomile and a carrier oil like castor, sunflower, coconut, or even olive oil. Bonus: add a stem or two of dried flowers to the bottle for looks. You could use the same idea to make infused olive oil or vinegar for someone who likes to cook.
  3. Personalized mug-for the friend who loves coffee or tea. You can freehand it with a sharpie like I did here, or use a stencil to apply a monogram or some other design, or paint a rectangle on the side with chalkboard paint
  4. Simple jewelry-glue vintage buttons or some other pretty little thing to basic earring posts or ring blanks from the craft store (see the earrings I made here)
  5. Embellished tea towel-perhaps with a handwritten recipe like I did recently or use fabric paint, sharpie, or thread to apply a monogram or other design. Here’s a fun tutorial on embellishing them with fabric markers. I’ve been wanting to learn how to embroider and this would be an excellent reason to do so.
  6. Get fancy with a gift card-glue a gift card inside a DIY snow jardiy snow jar (422x570)
  7. Candles-make basic white pillar candles a little bit more special by dip-dying them, wrapping them in rope, twine, ribbon, or burlap, or transfer a design to them using the tissue paper technique explained here. (alternative: turn vintage teacups into candles a la Martha)

And if you’re not up to DIYing or thrift store hunting yourself definitely check out Etsy! The key to giving any inexpensive gift is in the presentation. Remove any ugly packaging and wrap it up beautifully to show that what you lack in disposable income you make up for in affection. You can’t go wrong with brown paper and string, but if that’s not your jam consider wrapping with scrap pieces of fabric, shredded paper, or even just a simple ribbon.

Thanks for reading, y’all, and have a happy Thursday!


Jack’s first Christmas was pretty dang awesome.

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Nick took the whole week off from work so we had lots of time to relax as a family, even with all the hustle and bustle. We even snuck in a date night-Jack stayed with Grandma and Grandpa for a few hours while we went to a friend’s wedding in New Orleans. We spent the next few days shuttling back and forth between my family and Nick’s. We’re very lucky that even though we met in Baton Rouge our folks live only about half an hour apart from one another in St. Tammany Parish.

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Puppy love. This happens at least once a day.

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We were so humbled by the generosity of our families. Jack got more gifts than we know what to do with. Seriously, see below. Those are just the toys and books-he also got lots of cute clothes and useful gear. We even had to leave a few toys at my mom’s because there just wasn’t any more room in the car. I picked out a few toys that I think he’ll be able to play with the easiest right now and put the rest away to bring out a few at a time over the next few months. Friends of mine with older kids emphasize that toy rotation is key to keeping your sanity (and your home from looking like Babies R Us).

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Jack wasn’t the only one who got some awesome stuff. Not pictured, because we were out of room in the car, is the new TV my parents got us for our front room. I’ve been really wanting to replace the big, heavy one that I worried might topple over on Jack someday, and since it is one of only two TVs that we actually use we’re excited to upgrade it. I also am now wearing my great-grandmother’s gold wedding band, a gift from my dad’s cousin Judy. I am really loving how understated and classic it is on my right hand.

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I am usually not huge on bling so it’s surprising that I received two jewelry gifts this year and love them both. Nick got me these diamond stud earrings. They were smaller than he’d expected when he ordered them and he was really worried I wouldn’t like them, but I actually think they’re perfect. I’ve been lamenting how hard it is to wear jewelry of any sort now that Jack’s so grabby and these are perfect to just leave in my ears day in and day out. Gotta love low-maintenance beauty.

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This is one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve received in a long time. Nick’s mom noticed me admiring a vintage birdcage in this blog post back in November and remembered seeing a similar one at the thrift store where she volunteers, so she snagged it for me! As soon as we walked in their house on Christmas Day I made a beeline for it and said, “Oh, I love this! Did you get it for Christmas?” Then she said, “No, it’s for you!” I was so excited! It’s actually perfectly functional, with a working door and a tray that pulls out for cleaning, but I think I’ll forego getting a pet bird and just let it sit around looking pretty (and maybe getting filled with various seasonal whatnots). I’ve got the perfect spot for it in mind, but I need to move some things around first.

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I also got some stainless steel cookware from my PawPaw. Holla! Now we can stop being poisoned by the scratched up nonstick we’ve destroyed with our careless cooking habits. This stuff is supposed to be virtually indestructible-much better suited to our lifestyle!

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I got Nick this personalized keychain from Etsy. It says ” DAD EST 6.29.12.” He liked it.

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I also got him this shaving gift set, also from Etsy. He is famously hard to shop for and I’m pretty proud of how I did this year.

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We’re back home now and working little by little on cleaning up, getting things organized, and enjoying Nick’s last vacation day of the year. I’ve got a project for this weekend that I am soooo excited about. I can’t wait to hopefully post about it next week! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and that your weekend is just as wonderful!


Our card didn’t quite make it into the mail this year, but it did arrive in dozens of email inboxes this morning. Better late than never!

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I totally photoshopped in the cats (you may remember that getting a photo with all of us together was a bit of a challenge). I don’t actually own Photoshop, I just used the basic Windows editing software to layer in photos I took of each of them sitting in those exact spots on the sofa. I’m quite pleased with myself. I also took on the design of the card for the first time ever (as opposed to choosing a pre-designed template from Vistaprint or wherever), making this the first year that our card has been absolutely, positively, 100% free. Can’t beat that with a stick. Plus we’re saving the trees and all that by distributing it via the internet.

We’re spending some time with family this week, but I’ll be posting on Wednesday about my latest Craigslist acquisition-one of my best finds ever, if I do say so myself. I wish you all the very best of holidays. May your Christmas be merry and bright!


In stark contrast to last year’s week long extravaganza, I wrapped every single present in a few hours’ time yesterday (confession: there are still a few gifts that haven’t arrived yet. Eek!). Motherhood has increased my efficiency, methinks. I’ve been doing the brown paper thing for a few years now, but in the past have always mixed it up with white paper and lots of colorful ribbon or other embellishments. This year I just bought one truly giant roll of brown paper in the paint aisle at Home Depot for about $11 and a skein of natural cotton cord at Hobby Lobby for $5. Sure beats the nearly thirty bucks I used to spend on smaller rolls of kraft paper and fancy ribbon. And here’s a tip: hot glue is by far the easiest way of securing brown paper. It laughs in the face of tape.

I did get my ribbon and other supplies out, just in case I needed them, but ended up sticking almost exclusively to paper and cord. Do you like how I’ve got my ribbon organized? They’re threaded onto skewers poked through the already existing holes of a plastic storage basket. In the larger woven basket I’ve got tissue paper and gift bags that I’ve saved throughout the year, and apparently a scrap of navy ribbon. Also pictured below is a box of merchandise tags from Office Depot that has seen me through several Christmases now, as well as some burlap for cushioning any delicate items.

I got the idea this year to cut the strings off the merchandise tags and thread them directly onto the cotton cord. It’s a much simpler look.

Here they are all wrapped up. I had one item that was not practical to wrap so I cut a long rectangle of fabric, folded it in half, sewed the sides together, and used that navy ribbon to tie it closed at the top. Bam, charming gift bag. It was so easy that I may sew a few more small ones for those last minute gifts that I’m still waiting to arrive.

Notice how I’ve got some gifts stacked in a galvanized tub? I totally stole that idea from a Pottery Barn catalog. We open most of our presents at my parents’ house on Christmas morning and the rest are all scattered between my grandparents’ and Nick’s parents’ houses. To make things easy on myself when it comes time to unload the car I put all the presents that need to come into my mom’s in the tub. That way we can just grab it instead of standing at the back of the car sorting through which box goes where and trying to carry as many as possible in one trip. (I already had the tub and use it for gardening as a planter or water bucket for most of the year, but you can find them for cheap in the paint aisle)

Here’s something else I did this year that seemed to simplify things: I wrapped my gifts in batches. Before starting I wrote out all my gift tags, lined up my purchases, and placed the appropriate tag atop each one. Then I’d take one larger item and cut out the paper for it, use the scraps from that to cut paper for a few smaller gifts, and wrap them all at once. I think I was able to work faster this way than if I’d given my undivided attention to one present at a time from start to finish.

I am so glad to have all that wrapping knocked off my to-do list. Now the only thing I have left to finish is the dang Christmas cards. Everyone else’s cards keep arriving in the mail, taunting me, and I’ve gotten more than one inquiry from folks who apparently look forward to our cards every year (I think they enjoy seeing the pets forced to participate).