It’s our third Christmas away from home. Way WAY away from home. If you’d asked me even five years ago about this I’d have said you were crazy.
Taking these trips has been an amazing privilege for us that we may not have in the future. Even though we weren’t sitting around a tree, I will remember the last two Christmases as precious. Two years ago Mr. P and I were on a boat in Antarctica with one of our best friends toasting the end of a very long journey. Last year he and I were in a rented apartment in Munich, soaking up German Christmas traditions.
I hope whatever is in store for us this year is just as memorable. Wherever you are across the world and whatever you celebrate, I wish you nothing but peace and happiness.
It’s the season of giving. It’s also the season of traveling (for me at least). When do we buy gifts for people back home during a trip? I’ll explain our philosophy.
We don’t have a must by for list. In other words, we don’t have to buy anything for anyone. Think about it. It’s very freeing. The first couple of trips we took, we felt we had to buy things for all our family members. It turned travel time into stressful hunts for things that might be okay and people ended up getting mass produced things from souvenir shops, not anything special at all. I’ve realized that people aren’t going to appreciate that random thing you bought that was made in China just so you could buy them something.
We only buy if we see something perfect for someone. This is the fun part. By not having a set list, we are free to wander without obligation. If we see something that we know someone would really like, we buy it. They’re usually little somethings, not too huge. I knew my corgi-owning friend would love a corgi Christmas ornament from Buckingham Palace. No brainer there.
Even if it’s for an acquaintance, finding the perfect something can make their day. I have a friend I don’t keep in touch with as often as I’d like. Mr. P and I were in a bead store in Istanbul last year and had some necklaces made (pictured above). They had little black skull beads that I knew this friend would absolutely adore. I thought about it for a while and went for it. She loved it.
Buying birthday and Christmas gifts ahead of time is a win-win. If we’re in a country where it might cost a bit more to get something, but it’s for someone who we buy birthday or Christmas gifts for, we stock up. We bought lots of little things for family members in China. But we also loaded up on custom pearl necklaces that we saved until Christmas.
Packing up and shipping our little finds is my favorite activity when we get home. I use my vintage stamp collection and make Weasley-style mail. I love surprising people and I love it when they love what we found.
What about you? Do you like buying gifts while traveling?
Mr. P and I always pick up a Christmas ornament on our travels. We had a really fun time collecting them this year. Sometimes they are actual Christmas ornaments, sometimes they’re keychains or tchotchkes I attach a hook to.
This year we’re trending more toward actual ornaments!
Munich: Snowflake, Penguin, Christmas Scene. This was last year technically. But since we were traveling for Christmas, we didn’t get a chance to hang these on our own tree until this year. And since we were visiting the Munich Christmas Markets, ummmm, several ornaments were purchased. Several.
Italy: Venetian Carnenvale Mask. I popped into a carnevale mask store to buy a souvenir for a friend of mine and ended up walking out with a Christmas ornament for myself. The shop owner let me pick out a mask and then turned it into an ornament.
Austria: Keychain. Super touristy, yep. The poor shopkeeper seemed a bit miffed that we didn’t want one of the huge hand painted ornaments. Since I already had a generic Christmas scene painted on an ornament (see above), I wanted something that said “Austria” a bit more. The keychain has a bunch of the major Innsbruck sites, plus an edelweiss! I was sold.
Just tree pictures? Yep. I didn’t grow up in a family of holiday picture-takers so it’s only been recently (especially now that I have an adorable niece and nephew) that I’ve been documenting holidays. It doesn’t bother me too much. Some years I’ll just show ornaments, other years will be more detailed.
Hi, 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.
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?
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:
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?