Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Holiday To Do List: Fabric Gift Bags

Last Christmas I learned a few things. Thing number one: Fabric Gift Bags. I am reposting this now so that those of us (ahem) who are really seriously on it, can keep this in mind as a possible "To Do" for their holiday list.

Last year I spent Christmas with a friend's family. This fabulous and crafty friend shared a secret with me, and now I am sharing it with you. The new thing is fabric gift bags instead of paper.

Brilliant! I personally am not a fan of red and green, I rarely do "normal" for Christmas. It certainly doesn't have to be just holiday themed patterns though. In fact, I am adopting an entire spectrum of these bags for birthdays and such as well... and this neutral bag with the tree on the front is another lovely idea. I think stamped or silk screened pine cones would be gorgeous. I haven't taken on silk screening before, but I have a friend who does it and would probably be willing to do a trade. Regardless... this is the most easy peasy sewing project imaginable!

In the end, the bags cost less than paper if you use them over and over and I can't tell you how amazing it was that there was no crazy obscene mess of torn paper as an aftermath last Christmas morning. When I asked her if her kids missed the ripping and tearing into gifts, she replied that there were still gifts from outside the family (or from grandparents) that came wrapped in paper for that. And that when the gifts are torn into, often it becomes more about ripping open gift after gift without having much appreciation for what is inside. I tend to agree with that... having seen the youngest in more than one paper ripping frenzy. Christmas was very calm and lovely, and the cleanup was not only far more eco... but super easy. All the bags fit into one big one to be stored with the decorations. Or with your wrapping whatnots, whichever you prefer. I am looking into wooden gift tags as well... or durable cardstock ones. There are a number of possibilities and since your family members will probably keep their names, re-use is a simple option :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lavender Hot Chocolate

Now that there is no denying the cold that has befallen us, I am open to trying new things in the world of hot chocolate. Because, well... I might just have to make this a few times to perfect it, right? My new obsession is Lavender Hot Chocolate. Mmmmm...

Go here for the recipe...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Another ADVENTurous Idea!

Last year I posted this idea of making advent calendars for friends, family and ourselves.  The thought being that I should have started in November. I said that I would post it again so that we would ALL remember to start early and actually stand a chance of getting it done.

Waaaay back in  November my sons and I decided to create an advent calendar for friends of ours. We thought it would be fun to gather silly gifts to open every day, small animals, a lucky penny, a pretty rock, that sort of thing. Their sons are of an age with these guys and all about collecting, so it seemed a good idea and the collecting begun. Then all hell broke loose with the social calendar and somehow the calendar was forgotten about till it was already well into December. I told them we would do it next year.

Today we are sorting out the last of the gifts we are making and figuring out what still needs doing and I have an ENTIRE day to work on Christmas details. I stumbled upon a lovely set of photos and ideas this morning in the Anthology Gift Guide, revolving around holiday traditions, new and old. I love them all, but this one in particular got me to thinking. It's an Activity Advent Calendar, and it's meant to cover a month of Christmas doings. I think that is pretty brilliant, but then I got to thinking further and realized that what we REALLY should do in this house, is to make next year's calendar NOW. Maybe not put the dates on it right yet, but make an activity for say, twenty of the twenty-five days so that when next year rolls around we can place the days around the things already on the calendar. The coolest thing, is that by next year, we will only have a vague recollection of what we put into it. It really will be a surprise for everyone! For us, it will be a way to be sure that enough time is spent doing family based activities and not running around like crazy just "getting things done".

I like the idea of doing this with small gifts as well, and am thinking that next year, if I'm really on it, November can be spent making advents for all the families we know. If you have ten families, you need to bake a dozen each of a few kinds of cookies, buy a set of small forest animals and paint them with glitter, a box of individually wrapped chocolates to divvy up, print out some friendship notes and curl them up into a vial or tiny box, a few decks of cards maybe from the dollar store, handmade tree ornaments... there are literally so many small objects that would be fun to put in a basket or box, each wrapped individually (make sure you put the individual cookies into wrapping, bags or containers that will keep them fresh) and with numbered tags on them. The family can pick a person each day to open something. So much more special than the cardboard and cheap chocolate things that you see everywhere.

If you have unique ideas of what to put into the advents, leave us a comment!