For this edition of our Favorite Things Party, I asked that everyone bring their favorite things surrounding Christmas. They could include favorite recipes, family traditions, inexpensive gift ideas, ways to keep the holidays simple…anything.
I loved the ideas everyone brought! I will definitely be using quite a few of these in my family! Thanks for once again allowing me the opportunity to mooch ideas off other people. :)
To start with, Stephanie brought this Christmas pillowcase. Her grandmother has made a tradition of sewing one for each grandchild every Christmas to be opened on Christmas Eve. I love this because it’s exciting for the kids and it’s so easy and cheap! I’ve also heard of this done with a pillowcase for each major holiday (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, etc.) that is changed throughout the year for the kids.
Janetta showed us how she wraps Christmas books to be read each day leading up to Christmas as an advent calendar of sort. Each book is marked with a number indicating the day leading up to Christmas. The closer they get to Christmas, the more pertinent to the true meaning of Christmas the books become.
Michele brought this Christmas ornament which she has had since first grade! As if that weren't remarkable enough, it's actually made out of a blown egg. Whoa. She has hung it on her Christmas tree every year since. She suggested giving handmade ornaments as Christmas gifts.
Although this isn't Christmas-related, she also suggested having a birthday stocking for the each child with gifts to be opened on their birthday.
Michele also suggested making a pillow or blanket out of old shirts or clothing that hold meaning. She spoke of having made a pillow out of shirts that her father had worn before he passed away.
Throughout the year Cynthia and her sister-in-laws have been working on creating a "Birthday Box" for their children. In it are special things that can be put up around the house to celebrate the week of the child's birthday such as this balloon wreath, a special birthday plate, banners, and other things.
Cynthia also brought this book which her mother created for her with stories relating to Christmas. The books are covered with special fabric and are kept handy during the Christmas season so that a story can be read from it in the days leading up to Christmas.
Julie and Cindy brought this Christmas Memories book that their mother gave them. In it they journal specifics about the events surrounding that year's Christmas, what was given and received, details about Christmas dinner, etc. They also put in picture collages of each year's Christmas season.
Cindy pointed out that it was also a family tradition to have the entire family (even the extended family!) in matching pajamas on Christmas Eve.
Julie made this beautiful Christmas wreath from the leftover branches that were from the fresh Christmas tree she bought at Lowe's. As they clipped away the branches from the bottom of the tree when she purchased it, she simply asked if she could take them since they would be thrown away anyway. They gave them to her for free and from them she has made a number of these beautiful, awesome smelling wreaths.
The jaw-dropper of the night were these amazing hand-made stockings that Natalie has made for each member in her family. Each stocking reflects hundreds of hours of cutting, sewing and stitching. The detail was amazing!
She also suggested the "Elf on a Shelf" tradition which is a toy elf that sits around the house, with it's location changing each day, watching the children to report back to Santa on their behavior. She said this does wonders for her children's behavior during the month of December.
The theme I chose was inexpensive, meaningful gifts. The next few pictures are ones that revolve around this theme. The first is to give family heirlooms to those that might appreciate them. Above you'll see my passport from when I was about a year old, my first Sunday dress, a hat my grandmother used to wear, and a pillow that my grandmother knitted. Instead of letting keepsakes sit (and rot at times!) in boxes for years and years, give them to those you think would enjoy them.
I realized one year that the last portrait I had of Dennis' parents was taken in the 80's. I asked them if they would agree to going to JCPenney to have their pictures taken together. I paid for the session and the prints, which after coupons was very inexpensive but meaningful for me and them.
After a particularly hard day, my brother Percy called to ask how I was doing. I shared with him some of the struggles I was going through. A few days later I received this card in the mail with pictures he had seen in magazines that reminded him of me. On the front side is a picture of a mother and a child, and on the back is a scene of nature. It meant a great deal to me that he would take the time to do this.
One year, Percy also burned his favorite songs on a CD and distributed them to the family as Christmas gifts. Wonderful.
Another year Percy bought me a subscription to Runner's World. It's the gift that keeps on giving and is very affordable. I also suggested that you could give a subscription to the Liahona (foreign language version of the Ensign) to your loved one in the language that they learned while serving their mission. This gives them a chance to hear the gospel once again in the language that they worked so hard to learn.
A few years ago, Stephanie gave me a compilation of her favorite recipes. She had created the gift for her sister when she got married and gave me a copy. It's always so helpful to get fresh ideas for recipes, especially if they belonged to someone who is a great cook!
I created this book with my children in mind a few years ago. It's a children's book version of the story of each of our childhood's leading up to when we met and then wed. The wording is simple in large letters with lots of pictures. I wrote in a "Once upon a time", third person format.
This is one of my very favorites. For my 30th birthday, my sister Cristina gave me this picture of me and my mom when I was about a week old. If you'll notice, the matting is made from a piece of the dress that my mother is wearing in the picture. I almost cried when I got it!
As a final addition to what I brought, I also added that I was inspired by Elder Nelson's talk in General Conference in which he talked about making an audio recording of himself reading the Book of Mormon aloud and gave it to his children. Immediately I asked my parents if they would consider working on this for next year. I asked that perhaps my mother read in Spanish with my dad reading in English, alternating turns as they read, or however they choose to do it.
Last but certainly not least, Jennifer suggested putting Mod Podge over your children's paper crafts and ornaments to make them more durable and to withstand the test of time.
Jennifer also talked about a little Christmas ornament named "Pokey the Pine Cone" (a pine cone with a face on it) that served to guard and protect the presents under the tree from curious little hands.
She also talked about how her parents make audio recordings of them reading children's stories aloud. She said her children love falling asleep to the sound of their grandparent's voice reading stories. LOVE THIS!
Caylee said that as a family tradition, her family selects a Christmas ornament that is relflective of the year that has passed to be hung on the tree. These are the only ornaments on their tree (other than a few balls) and they buy a new one each year.
Since she and her husband decorate the large family tree, she buys a small tree for Baylee to be able to decorate and play with each year with decorations of her choosing. This brilliant idea gives her daughter a chance to be creative on something other than the family Christmas tree with it's fragile and meaningful ornaments.
Cynthia provided a recipe for some delicious Christmas sugar cookies that she brought to share with everyone. She said making and decorating Christmas cookies is another family tradition.
Merry Christmas Cookies
Preheat oven to 375. Bake 8-10 minutes
1/3 cup shortening
1 tsp. lemon flavoring
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup honey
Mix shortening, sugar, egg, honey, and lemon together. In separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mix to other bowl. Chill dough. Roll to 1/4" thick and cut shapes.
Thanks to everyone for coming and participating!!! It was lots of fun!