2013 Travel Christmas Ornament

Kangaroo Ornament by Natalie Parker

Here’s this year’s travel memento for our Christmas tree!

To recap, we pick up an ornament to represent each of our travels.  I was in Australia twice this year, once for work and once for school.  We actually haven’t had our big vacation trip of 2013 yet.

Sometimes with these ornaments, I love a piece of local art.  Sometimes, it just feels right to go with straight up kitsch.  How could I say no to the kangaroo?

Earlier: 2011 – Camel from Egypt, 2012 – Great Wall from China & Double Decker from London.

My 2012 Christmas Card

2012 Christmas CardHi, it’s me over here – the person who my friends describe as crafty – with my non-homemade, non-customized Christmas cards.

I love being crafty, but I still buy my cards every year.  There’s something about getting out 70 of them that prevents me from making them myself :)  Sure, I could design a photo card, many do, but it’s not my thing.*

Disclaimer: I think twice about blogging about Christmas cards because any time I share what I do, people think that I don’t like what they do.  It’s okay, I just do my own thing.

I really prefer to find a pretty card and devote my efforts to writing a message inside.  It’s not much, but I like thinking about the person I’m sending it to.  This usually results in “hey, I need to have dinner with them!  And Them!  And them too!”

That’s what I think it’s about in the end – getting a chance to connect with people in a non-social media form.

*I reserve the right to change my opinion after I have kids.

This Year’s Travel Ornaments

2012 Travel Christmas OrnamentsWe put our tree up recently and one of the most fun parts is taking out the new ornaments I’ve been saving from our trips this year!

We like having an ornament on our tree for each place we’ve traveled.  Last year it was a little camel from Egypt.

From London, we have this tiny little double-decker bus.  It’s only about an inch tall!

In China, we picked up this cool red and gold design.

They’re both keychains, in case you were wondering!  Christmas ornaments can get expensive, very large, or even difficult to find in some places.  Getting a keychain really opens the possibilities!  I remove the key ring part, add a hook and it’s done!

What about you?  Any special new ornaments or travel traditions from this year?

Holiday Idea Roundup

The holiday season is upon us and somehow I don’t feel as prepared as I did last year!  I’m also still operating under the illusion I have every year that I’ll be able to do lots of scrapbooking during the holidays.  We’ll see how that turns out.

Since I’m trying to get my holiday wits about me, it’s a good time to take a look back for ideas.  Here are my best holiday posts to get your holiday creative juices flowing:

  1. How to Make a Bow out of Wrapping Paper
  2. Repurposing a Department Store Gift Box
  3. Simple Christmas Decorations
  4. Making a Stocking from Pajama Pants
  5. Earthquake/Toddler-proofing Holiday Decorations
  6. On Buying Christmas Cards at after-Christmas Sales
  7. Easy Christmas Card Display
  8. Making Gift Tags out of Christmas Cards
  9. How to Make Your Own Basket Stuffing
  10. Our Tradition of Buying a Travel Ornament for our Tree
  11. Using Cable or Speaker Wire as Ribbon

I hope these help give you ideas!

Cable as Ribbon

Cable as gift wrap ribbonHas someone special to you asked for a new HDMI or digital cable for Christmas?  Cables can be hard to wrap.  Why not take the cable out of the package and use it as ribbon?

That’s what my little sister did last year with a gift for my husband.  He needed a new digital optical cable for our TV, so she bought one and wrapped his gift with it.  I think it looks really cool!

This Little Camel Came Home with Us

Camel bone Christmas ornament from EgyptMeet the little camel.  He’s one of our newest Christmas ornaments.

Several months ago, I talked about our trip to the Middle East and our tradition of buying a piece of street art on big trips.  We also buy a Christmas ornament on all of our travels, dating back to 2005 when we picked up a New York ornament on the top of the Empire State Building.

The hunt for an ornament is always really fun.  Sometimes we don’t buy a traditional ornament.  On a trip to Philadelphia, we bought a keychain and turned it into an ornament because all the Christmas ornaments we saw were too big and bulky.

Our little camel is actually a figurine carved out of camel bone.  Camel bone figurines are a popular tourist purchase in Egypt.  The store we went to also had angels, stars and other traditional Christmas ornaments carved out of camel bone.

We had to have the camel, it was too cute to pass up.  Do you have any Christmas ornament traditions?

The Gift Wrap Division of Labor

Wrapped Christmas giftsMy dear dear husband came home from work a couple of weeks ago and commented on my November 29 blog post.  It’s the one where I talked about all the holiday tasks piling up.

“You talked about wrapping gifts in your post.  I’m the one who actually wraps most of the gifts.”

How right he is.  Technically.

In the interest of full disclosure to you, my readers, we have a gift wrap division of labor in our household, mostly because I was tired of wrapping all the gifts and he’s actually quite good at doing it.  This doesn’t include gifts to each other, which we wrap ourselves.

I do all the shopping and prep the gifts.  I consult with him on gifts and budget for family members and then I buy everything.  I box everything up and pick out which wrapping paper I want on which gift.

He wraps all the gifts.  I leave him a big pile of gifts with post-it notes on them.  He wraps everything.  He’s actually better at this than I am – his edges are straighter and he actually tries to match the pattern whenever there’s a seam.

I ribbon and tag.  Someday I’ll explain my unhealthy infatuation with wire ribbon.  When he finishes wrapping the gifts, I go through my wire ribbon collection and make pretty bows for each package.  Finally, I select and write a coordinating gift tag.

Are we a team, or what??

Do you wrap all the gifts in your house?  Do you have family members help?

Christmas Card Gift Tags

Christmas Card Gift TagsDid you know you can make gift tags out of old Christmas cards?  Well, you can!  But first, a story:

While planning our wedding, I had my heart set a tag puncher because I needed to make little name tags for one of our favors.  The husband, being the dear that he is, was skeptical about spending wedding funds on a tag puncher that we’d only use once.  I promised him that we’d use it to make gift tags for Christmas instead of buying tags at the store.  True to my word, every Christmas since we’ve made our own gift tags.

How to Make Gift Tags out of Old Christmas Cards

When the holiday is over, I take all the cards we received and store them with other Christmas supplies.  Any card with a neat design will do.

Christmas Card Gift TagsThe next year, I take my tag puncher and cut tags out of the pretty parts of each card.

Christmas Card Gift TagsThat’s pretty much it!  I sometimes write on the design with a sharpie to say who the gift is for and then use double-stick tape to tape it to the box. You can also punch a hole in the tag and attach it to the gift with string or ribbon and then write on the back.

Christmas Card Gift TagsThere you have it – unique gift tags that are super simple to make.  If I have extras, I stick them back in the box to use for next year.

Make Your Own Basket Stuffing

Homemade Basket StuffingDo you own a paper shredder? If so, there is no need to buy basket stuffing again.

This is simple, simple. No crafting prowess required.

These Supplies are Around Your House

You will need a paper shredder and a paper product that you want to make stuffing out of. I’ve found that something hefty works better (i.e. regular paper and wrapping paper are out).

My favorite thing to use for basket stuffing are old wrapping paper rolls. Not the heavy cardboard rolls that you used to pretend were lightsabers as a kid. Wrapping paper rolls today tend to actually be a thin sheet of cardboard that is rolled into the center of the paper.

Wrapping paper rollAnother fun idea is holiday-themed grocery bags. The mix of brown and the red color on the bag makes festive basket stuffing.

Recycling paper bags.Easy from Here on Out

Whatever you decide to use, cut it up into pieces so it will feed through the paper shredder. I ran my rotary cutter over the wrapping paper roll to break it into pieces.

Wrapping paper rolls cut upFeed the pieces through the shredder.

Using paper shredder to make basket stuffing.I don’t know why I think I need to describe this, I’m sure you have the idea by now.

Presto-change-o: basket stuffing!

This also works well in gift boxes in place of tissue paper.

Homemade Basket StuffingTips & Ideas

  • Use wrapping paper rolls or paper bags.
  • Cut items small to feed easily through paper shredder.
  • Stuffing works well in baskets and gift boxes.
  • Leftovers? Store in a ziploc bag for next time.

No-Nonsense Christmas Card Display

Christmas Card Display

I’ve yet to find the perfect Christmas card holder for our place.  By the time December rolls around, I’m tired of looking and just want to display and enjoy the cards already!

At our last place, we strung a piece of fishing line* on the wall under the stairs and hung the cards on it.  This idea is getting more impractical as non-folding cards get more popular.

In the holiday spirit of get-it-done-now-so-you-can-enjoy-the-season, I decided to stick the cards to the wall.  We had a nice space behind the front door and it’s fun to keep adding cards to the design.  It took just a few seconds to add each card.  Done!

I used some sticky putty that doesn’t damage the walls and comes off the cards at the end of the season.  No, I don’t have the brand name because I’ve had a ball of this stuff rolling around in my desk for years.  I’m helpful like that!  Ask around at a hardware store for something that won’t damage the walls.  If I find the name of something similar, I’ll post it to my Facebook page.

*The fishing line may or may not have stayed on the wall 365 days a year at our old place because we were too lazy to take it down figured it blended into the wall.