Christmas Presents: What I Gave

by HereWeGoAJen on February 14, 2012

It’s Valentine’s Day, so let’s talk about Christmas presents!

I spent months and months working on Christmas presents last year.  (I’ve already started this year.)  It’s not all active work, of course, but I honestly did start working on last year’s presents in January.  (A good way to get yourself kicked off the handmade present list?  Criticize, even gently, something that I worked on for ten months.)  Anyway, one huge box of presents that I mailed to one side of our family went astray and only arrived two weeks ago.  (Thank GOODNESS it arrived at all.  I had actually given up on it.  Long story, but I sent it (priority mail!) to one address, that address had a forward on it, then they moved AGAIN and it was forwarded again.  Packages take a long time when they have to go through two forwards.)  But since all the presents have finally gotten to their destinations (with the whole forwarding thing, people who were visiting at Christmas were no longer there, so the lost package had to be split back up and remailed), I can discuss what I gave for Christmas presents this year.

I do three main types of gifts- a family gift, a little boy gift, and a little girl gift.  Some years there is overlap (like boys and girls get the same thing), but mostly that is it.  People who are actually related to us get individualized presents too, but I simplify things by choosing something that I can give to all my friends and all of Elizabeth’s friends and everyone will be happy.  (This actually allows me to give more people gifts than if I had to spread my energies by picking something different for each person.)

This year our family gift was:

It is a set of Christmas napkins, a homemade jar of chocolate syrup, a bag of fancy marshmallows, and a s’more candle.  The card said “Merry Christmas!  Have some hot chocolate on us!  And if you get some on you, here are some napkins to clean it up!”  I made all the napkins with my serger (I did this in October) and my glorious mother cut them all out for me.  (I have forgotten the exact number of napkins I made, but I made something like 90.  Making 90 napkins takes a LONG time.)  The recipe for the chocolate syrup is here.  The marshmallows were gingerbread flavored and looked like little gingerbread men, and french vanilla flavored and looked like snowmen.  I found them at the grocery store.  The candles I bought years ago and they went perfectly with my hot chocolate theme.

Little boys got:

Those are tuxedo t-shirts that I made myself.  I ordered all the shirts online in bulk (I made thirteen, I think?) and made all the bow ties and sewed them and the buttons on by hand.  These were a huge hit.  Several of the little boys who got them wore them on Christmas, others wore them on New Year’s Eve (I got pictures! Complete with New Year’s Eve hats and noisemakers!) and at least one of them is being worn at a summer wedding this year.  They look snazzy, but are sewn just on a regular t-shirt, so they are comfortable and (in my opinion anyway) wearable for every day.

Little girls got:

That is a year’s worth of hair clips, you guys.  TWELVE.  In themes for each month.  Actually, I made these a bit too early in the year because I actually got better at hair clip making since then.  Oops.  One of the downfalls of planning ahead so well.  (Since custom made hair clips like that are about $5 each, I’d like to point out that this is about a $60 value gift.  APPRECIATE ME.)  (Actually, all the recipients of the hair clips did appreciate them appropriately.  They will be staying on the handmade gift list for next year.)

And, we had a handmade, for family only gift.  (I wanted to give these to everyone, but it was cost prohibitive.  Blah.  I hate when practicalities get in the way of me having Christmas fun.) This one actually took the longest for me to make and is the one I started on first and worked on this most.  HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS, I am telling you.  (Most recipients were warned that they better provide the proper amount of effusive praise for this one or risk my WRATH.)

This (HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS) gift was a family cookbook.  I sneakily obtained recipes from various members of the family that cook, edited them all (I’m not kidding, one recipe as it was given to me contained the phrase “mix in a large bowel” instead of “bowl”), added pictures (mostly of Elizabeth, since she is A) our family’s only baby and B) readily available to me when I have a camera, and had it printed.  You can see the cookbook here.  (It’s the first one, but you’ll have to scroll down a bit to see it.)  And a special shout-out to the two fabulous online ladies who proofread and edited it for me because I had honestly spent untold hours staring at it by that point and the words were imprinted into my brain.

We gave a lot of individualized presents too, obviously, but I always like to share my good ideas here in case any of you want to copy them.  (I have begun working on next year already, you guys.  And it is going to be awesome.)

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Kirsty February 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm

When I see all the incredible amount of effort and time you put into all this, it just makes me (for once) unutterably grateful that I essentially have no family whatsoever outside of my two daughters and my dad… The only other gifts required are for my goddaughter and her brother (both easy to buy for. Thank you, Amazon!).
Your patience, organisation and dedication pretty much blow my mind. I love choosing gifts, making things, etc. but would NEVER have the time to do so much!

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Jesabes February 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Those are great presents. I, for one, am VERY appreciative of our set of hair clips (won at The Blathering). I’m not a hair clip-buying kind of mom (probably because having hair is a very recent phenomenon for my formerly-bald baby), so these are the only ones we have. They get a lot of use!

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Life of a Doctor's Wife February 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Wow. Wow wow wow. You are amazing. What fun and lovely and thoughtful gifts! I am especially partial to the hairbows, but the tuxedo shirt is GENIUS and the hot chocolate on us idea is SO FUN.

The cookbook looks like it turned out GREAT! My MIL really wants to put together something like that, but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe I need to take the reins…

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Angie February 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm

So cool. I never think my handmade items are gift-worthy. Maybe this year.

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Holly February 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm

WOW, that cookbook is awesome! Such a great idea! I bet everyone loved them!

And speaking of loving them- I thought Adam’s shirt was awesome(he wore his on Christmas too, but the pictures turned out awful) and we love the chocolate sauce, napkins, etc…but please don’t consider this my formal thank you, I am working on those…so sorry someone was so inconsiderate to criticize, even if gently, the wonderful home made gifts that you spent so much time on-they came from your heart and your hands. Just lovely, they were.

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Meghan February 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I can not imagine anyone critizing any of those gifts. They’re all thoughtful and cute. I want to get better about hand making gifts. I think the key is starting early like you say. I always wait too long and end up buying crap.

Oh and I ADORE the hair clips. I’m tempted to come to Atlanta just for a lesson. I need to know how to make them

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Balancing Act February 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm

I think hand made gifts are the absolute best. You must buy for a ton of people. We only buy for our kiddos and my parents.

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Barb February 14, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Lmao at bowel.

I wanted E to wear his shirt to church but since you so smartly thought ahead, it’s still just a bit too big. Next Christmas though!! I loved it bc of the comfort. He won’t wear dressy shirts of any kind!

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Elsha February 15, 2012 at 12:14 am

Wow. You give awesome gifts. How exactly do I get on your “gift recipient” list?

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Mrs. Spit February 15, 2012 at 12:22 am

Wow. No, make that WOW!!!

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leanne February 15, 2012 at 10:51 am

Love the hot chocolate/napkin idea — and the words for the card. And the cookbook looks fabulous! Actually, fun, clever ideas all around. I love all the handmade stuff!

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Searching for Serenity February 15, 2012 at 5:34 pm

You are amazing!

One of my fondest Christmas memories of my childhood was a tradition that my aunt started when she moved away to AZ. All of us still live in MN so every year she would make us all the same gift. They ranged from puffy painted sweatshirts, to ornaments or cross-stitch trinkets….they were endless. Anyway, she didn’t just stop there. Every year she would make up a game that we would have to play in order to get our gift. For example, one year the gifts were all piled into one big box and attached to them each one was a ribbon. We each (12-14 of us) had to take a ribbon end an open the box only to find that the ribbons were tangled. We had to not let go of the ribbon and untie the mess she created to get to our gift. It was hilarious. Other years were less active and more mindful, like scavenger hunts or trivia. And the best thing about it was that she created, made and developed it all. She’s gone now and I really miss those days. I think all of the little kids in the family would really enjoy it.

So your thoughtful homemade gifts will stick with your family members much longer than any gift card or DVD will.

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Danifred February 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Beautiful gifts. I can attest to the wonderfulness of both the tux shirt and the barrettes!

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JP February 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Those gifts are spectacular. I am so impressed with your creativity and determination! The cookbook idea is great. I may have to borrow that idea.

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Erica February 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Uh, whoever gently criticized any of that is kind of a turd.

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