December 18, 2014

Homemade Gifts for this Year

Every year, we try to give some homemade gifts. This year, with a frugal mindset, I hoped to give more homemade than ever. However, I wanted to keep it simple. Below is a round up of our homemade gifts this year.

For the Christmas tree felt ornaments, our children cut triangles and rectangles for the basic shape of a tree. Buttons were sewn onto the front for ornaments. Trees were assembled with a bit of cotton stuffing to round them slightly. {Full post here.}

An easy project to complete using water color paper and sketch paper. Paint a design on a single sheet of water color paper. Allow to dry completely. Fold in half. Gather a few pieces of sketch paper and carefully crease each one. Place inside the water color cover. Sew straight up the center. Tape the outside. {Full post here.}

Colorful hot pads were made from fabric scraps. Inspiration and instructions found here.

Looking for an economical way to make Christmas gift tags, I turned to last year's Christmas cards. Some were easier than others to use for this project. {Full post here.} An alternative idea using name tag labels can be found here.

Years ago, I made my nieces doll quilts. However, I wasn't so sure a doll quilt would be a good idea for a rough and tumble boys. Instead I used fabric scraps, and created a portable toy car mat for my nephew. {Full post here.}

To freshen any house, a gift of Christmas Potpourri could be made and given. My oranges did not fit in our jars. Instead I used a red and green plaid plastic bag which we had left over from last year. Recipe and printable tag are found here. My husband and I tried out the recipe one evening. The warmed spices floated through the houses creating a wonderful aroma.

I also made scarves for my daughters out of a few old dresses and a photo book for my parents. Instead of the typical family picture album, I created a book full of all my favorite 'artistic' photographs for them to enjoy.

Next year, I hope to increase our homemade gifts even more so I've been busy collecting ideas.
~ Dorie

You can read about our past homemade gifts from 2010, 2011, and 2013 as well.

December 16, 2014

Our Perfectly Imperfect Christmas Season

Who can deny the beauty of the Christmas season?

When holly berries ripen and snow gently rests on leaves,...

when lights cast aside darkness in dazzling displays,...

when homemade treats are served on silver rimmed platters,...

and seasonal scents fill the house.

We breathe in and see the beauty of Christmas. Truly, it is a time like none other. We visit with family and friends more. We give more.

And then it happens.
We try harder.
We do more.
We aim for a higher standard.
Instead of resting in the beauty of Christmas, we make Christmas complicated.

It happens to me instantly. I forget about making fun, family memories and focus on creating a perfect day. Instead of helping them feel loved with a simple, special treat, I search high and low to deliver the ultimate surprise. Sometimes, I even contemplate a quest for a more perfect surprise. Why am I so quick to forget the perfect gift, the reason for the season.

This season, I am aiming to keep Christmas simple.

I have:
  • replaced old wreath ribbon with a slightly mismatching colored ribbon which we had on hand instead of searching for the perfect match. But I loved the colorful results!
  • served homemade by my mom (thank you!) cookies during a family watching of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. We watched it on network TV, because I didn't request it early enough from the library, and now we are too far down the list to get it before Christmas. Our viewing had 18 commercials per segment; we counted. But we saw a family favorite together!
  • lit those cranberry colored candles each Sunday around our Advent wreath, because we decided last year we would use them for two years. But we remember Jesus' birth and celebrate His first coming!
  • handed Jesse Tree ornaments from one set which only slightly match the book we are using this year to the children to hang. But we learn more about the events which led to His first coming!

I will
  • not return the game we got our youngest in exchange for a light saber which he d-e-s-p-e-r-a-t-e-l-y wants, which completely slipped my mind and carefully crafted list when buying his gifts. Yes, I forgot to buy the one thing he really wants and hopes he's getting. Because I know that the gifts are only a thing.
  • make a few more gifts with supplies we have on hand, but I won't brave the mall or scour the Internet for anything else. Because I know the point is to show love not opulence.
  • look for perfect Christmas memories in the imperfect moments. Because I want to remember the times with family and friends.
  • try to remember festive fun and simple ideas to do when I want to go overboard. Because the heart of the service is showing love not perfection.
  • order out for our family's Christmas dinner instead of spending the bulk of the day in the kitchen. Because really they just want time with me not culinary perfection.
  • remember the good gifts, better gifts, and the best gift. Because giving to others and receiving God's gifts are better than any store bought item.
  • keep returning to these words, like I do every year. Because I need to remind myself when I want to strive harder for a more perfect Christmas.

And, I'm looking forward to celebrating the rest of the season with our family and friends without the expectations, perfection pressure, and complications.
Striving for simple,
~ Dorie

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