All of our shopping is done (for the most part!) and we've been busy wrapping gifts this week. My husband and I decided that we would invest the money that we normally use to buy each other gifts and purchase a new camera. Since we still like to open things on Christmas day, I challenged us to buy as much as we can for each other under a budget of $15.00. After his initial shock and objection, I explained that we'd just have to work harder by scouring thrift stores to find fun and useful items!
Let me just say that from now on, the thrift stores are my top choice for gift shopping. I found the best gifts for so cheap! It was unbelievable. One day I bought nearly everything for my entire family for less than $20.00! Beautiful pottery, unique trivets, books, paintings, stuffed animals, games and clothes - it was astounding! (And really, what a great way to help environment - by purchasing things that would otherwise end up in a landfill!)
Luckily, I have a pretty creative family so we also exchange fun homemade gifts. My husband makes a herb infused olive oil every year (this year is garlic, basil and roasted shallots - yum!) My parents and sister create paintings and wooden crafts and I usually do something different every year: mosaics, jewelery, hand-bound books, eye pillows with homemade sachet potpourris. One year I made decoupaged wooden trays featuring each persons favorite things. Instead of covering it with decoupage glue, I used a thick polyresin that is durable and looks like glass!
Speaking of favorite things, my mom at Donna's Art tagged me with this fun little game: "12 Christmas Things About Me Hoopla." Here are the rules:
1. List 12 random things about yourself that have to do with Christmas.
2. Please refer to it as a 'hoopla' and not the dreaded 'm' - word.
3. You have to tag specific people when you're done. No "if you're reading this consider yourself tagged" stuff is allowed...because nobody actually ends up doing it. The number of people who you tag is really up to you, but the more the merrier to get this 'hoopla' circulating through blogosphere.
4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over before we know it. Lets involve as many people as possible!
5. Please give Andrea some link-love as the "Hoopla-Creator".
So, here are my 12 things:
1. I love Christmas music so much, I could listen to it for weeks on end. My favorite song (among many) is Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra and choirs singing Christmas music always makes me cry (unless I'm the one singing, of course...)
2. I have to have a live tree every year, would never even dream of getting a fake one, and have a soft spot for poor mis-shapen trees that are left behind.
3. We make reindeer food for Rudolph and sprinkle it on the lawn on Christmas Eve.
4. My mom bakes tons of Christmas cookies to pass out to the family, just like her mom before her. I still remember my Nanny in the kitchen with tupperware stacked to the ceiling filled with cookies. She kept track by counting them all, which was always a mystery to me!
5. My favorite cookies are lemon bars and peanut-butter kisses.
6. When I was a kid, I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and sneak out to peek at the tree. I still remember the feeling of surprise and wonder at seeing all the gifts that magically appeared there. Christmas magic still surrounds the holidays for me and I try to create that for my daughter every year.
7. That's probably why I love Christmas lights that sparkle like stars in the dark...
8. And the hushed reverence of a Christmas Eve Candlelight service.
9. I love all Christmas movies I have every seen... Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and funny ones like The Christmas Story and The Ref.
10. We always have lox and bagels on Christmas morning with Bailey's in our coffee.
11. My grandparents lived close to us when we were growing up and I loved that we could have three Christmas celebrations - ours, Nanny & Pappys and Grandma & Grandpas - filled with noisy, jolly family and scrumptious Christmas meals.
12. When I was younger, I ripped through every Christmas present I got with anticipation and excitement. Now I like to linger over presents and enjoy watching the reactions of family members as they open their gifts rather than open my own (which is probably why I'm always the last one to open all my gifts.)
And so, it looks like lots of my friends have already been tagged with this game, but I will go ahead and tag Shelbi at Keeper of the Chocolates (although her latest post appears to mention wonderful things in her life about Christmas.) Only 2 more days!