Do you buy your own “Santa” gifts?

go Mama O:

It’s funny from year to year how Christmas can change! This year, for example, I definitely bought my own Santa gifts! I also wrote my husband a gift list (per his request when my hints were not easily remembered). To make sure I approved his gift, he even told me to look as he returned from shopping earlier this week. So yes, I know what I’m getting from my husband AND Santa this year! Anyone else in the same boat as me? Cheers!

Originally posted on go mama o:

As the primary shopper in the house, I was tempted to be my own “Santa” this year, and I guess I sort of was.  There is one present under the tree that I bought for myself online and wrapped up, saying it’s from Santa.

This concept is not new.  My mom and mother-in-law have been known to buy presents from themselves and pass them off as being from either Santa or their dear spouse. It was only a matter of time for this tradition to come down to my generation.

As I wrote about last Christmas in The Joy of Giving and Feigning Joy of Receiving, I am not overly into receiving gifts, nor giving out gift ideas for myself. I enjoy giving presents much more. Above everything else, I value the time and experience with loved ones over the holidays. Last Christmas I didn’t give Daddy O. the…

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Last Minute Survival Tips for Holiday Shopping!

In my last post, 5 Things in my Holiday Survival Kit, I talked about things that will help make our holidays less stressful and more enjoyable.  One ESSENTIAL that I named on that list was something called the Internet!

It was such a broad category that I decided to break it down a bit more because, after all, the Internet and overnight shipping can be a handy friend in surviving the holiday shopping rush!

Through my inbox, Pinterest, talking with family & friends, I’ve turned more and more to the Internet to shop each year. It’s such an easy and efficient way to shop – especially for a busy mom like me.

Here are a few sites and gift ideas to consider for finishing up your shopping:

  • Get Crafty – I came across this cool DIY sign at Crafted in Carhartt today. I like the idea of making your own gifts if time (and ability) permits. When your own ability fails, turn to other options on this list.
  • Etsy – For finding unique gifts, Etsy is a great choice! I am a Wisconsin fan, so I think this Wisconsin shaped cutting board is a fun gift. I also heart this Wisconsin necklaces (hint, hint Daddy O.)!
  • For hard to shop for people, I think food or beverages are nice options. I’ve gifted Omaha steaks, seasonings, Arty’s Old Fashioneds in bottles, wine, and the always popular fruit basket.
  • Very manly options – this site called Man Crates features wooden boxes filled with all sorts of awesome gifts for men that you have to open with a crowbar. They range in price and theme, so they can be tailored to any important man in your life.
  • Unisex Exchange Gifts – in the past I have received a mini herb garden, wine bottle sampler, and various board games.
  • Experience Ideas – In lieu of something tangible, a gift certificate for a class, sporting event, concert, or restaurant is always fun.

Happy Shopping & Happy Holidays!

5 Things in my Holiday Survival Kit

I’ve had good intentions of wanting to blog this month, but have been distracted with the busyness that is typical of the holiday season. In the spirit of wanting to share some thoughts, I put together a top 5 list of things in my Holiday Survival Kit.

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A few things that make our holidays easier: Coffee, heated blanket (see snow & cold), Christmas lights.

Side note – I know we all have moments where we think about just “surviving” through the holidays. There is certainly a negative connotation with the word “survival.” Certainly we want to absorb, enjoy and relax in the company of loved ones during this special time of year instead of merely survive.  In other words, here are some things to make the holidays easier and more pleasant in my humble opinion:

  1. Coffee / select beverages: Late nights of wrapping gifts or celebrating too hard at holiday parties make coffee a necessity in my book! I discovered an organic coffee from a local roaster at our neighborhood Italian bakery. Love it! Other selected beverages in our house mean some apple cider, mulled cranberry juice / red wine (like we enjoyed at Austrian Christkindl markets), and a classic old fashioned mixed drink – make mine sweet with brandy.

    old fashioned mixed drink

    Old Fashioneds – a classic family get-together drink. Daddy O. makes the best ones!

  2. Gym Membership: After having a double header of Thanksgiving meals, I felt a little lethargic and lazy.  A few trips to the gym just make me feel and sleep better.
  3. Heated Blanket: It can get COLD in Wisconsin, so we love turning on our heated blanket to be cozy & warm and catch some needed Z’s!
  4. The Internet – This is one big old category, but it IS the BEST for shopping, streaming Netflix, and streaming variety of holiday tunes. What would we do without it?! Kids, ignore all of the boxes.
  5. Christmas Lights: There is something so peaceful about sitting in the glow of our lit Christmas tree. As a family we love looking at holiday lights, shouting, “lights out big sister’s / little brother’s side.”  It is pure joy seeing their excitement and sense of wonder at it all. Lights in general are an excellent reminder of the true spirit of Christmas.
enjoying our Christmas tree as a family

Last year I captured the magic of seeing our Christmas tree fully decorated. I just love these pictures!

The Light of Christmas 

It’s more than simply the lights that decorate our trees and homes. It’s the light we hold in our hearts and share with others not only at this time of year, but the entire year through. We need to be the “light” for one another, spreading joy, peace, hope, and love.

There are so many ways to share and care this time of year through giving of gifts, time, and money to so many causes. My kids and I shopped for presents to be given to the less fortunate in our area, and I was so impressed by the time and thought they put into selecting their gift to give away. There was no whining, complaining or fighting at the store, so this mom was quite pleased! This was one small way of giving back, and hopefully teaching my kids a little about being “light” for others.

The best cure for surviving the stress of the holidays is to look to the light.  Appreciate the season and reflect on its core meaning: peace, joy and love.

Wishing you all happiness this holiday season!

What helps you through the holidays? What traditions do you have to help spread or be the light?

Childproof Christmas Decor and Crafts

As I decorated this Christmas, I broke out the same Scrap Fabric Tree that is now 2 years old! It’s hard to believe it survived a few holidays and being in storage. These were some easy crafts to make with little kids.  Enjoy!

At 15 months old, my son is just at that age where we really need to watch him to make sure he doesn’t get into something he shouldn’t.  He really is quite good, but we had a few incidents with him pulling down our Christmas stockings (and holders) that were placed on a bookshelf, where he routinely will pull books off of the shelf to “read.” This led me to re-do some of our Christmas decorating to make it more childproof.  First and foremost, I moved the stockings up to higher ground.

Second, I created a kid-friendly tree out of felt. I probably spent less than $4 on several sheets of felt from Wal-mart.  I just made it up as I went along, gluing pieces of felt to a paper grocery bag (probably could have cut it closer to the tree’s branches), and cut up ornaments while practicing shapes with my 3 year old.

Childproof Felt Christmas Tree

Childproof Felt Christmas Tree – so easy to make & was fun for them to play with. (Though I was the one putting the ornaments back on constantly!)

I have been taking down some of our everyday pictures hanging on our walls, and replacing it with holiday decor. This was another project I did with my daughter, gluing scraps of fabric to scrapbook paper.  An avid quilting relative gave us these scraps, and Christmas time was the perfect inspiration for this project!

Scrap Fabric Tree picture

Scrap Fabric Tree picture – still hangs up 2 years later in our home!

Last, but not least, we ended up with a smaller Christmas tree than last year, so we had many more leftover ornaments that did not have a place on our tree this year.  I saw this pin and was inspired to display some of my own ornaments on our chandelier.

Chandelier decor with pretty ornaments

Chandelier decor with pretty ornaments

I also have made some of my own cardboard Christmas trees that are not nearly as beautiful as the ones on the link I provided.  They ARE, however, a lot of fun for my 3 year old, who uses them as pretend trumpets!  Here is another link to a Christmas tree project that I thought looked cool. The framed ornaments also looked like something worth trying, but I haven’t found the right materials yet.  If you have any childproof or child-friendly crafts, please share! Happy decorating & happy crafting!