This year I made Christmas gifts for all of our family since I had the time while I was sitting for hours at rehearsals for the Nutcracker ballet. Honestly, I always am split about how much others want/appreciate handmade gifts. Do they come across as too crafty? Do they seem cheap? Is it worth the time and effort that goes into the gift? These are questions that niggle at a little part of me every time I give a homemade gift. However, that didn't stop me from making family cross-stitch portraits for all of our family! I thought I would share how they turned out (though I'm missing a picture of my Mom's family portrait!). I started making the portraits in November and didn't finish the last one until 2 nights before Christmas! For our parents portraits we included their grandchildren.
I think the details are what make the portraits- beards, glasses, sunglasses for Jeni and Bill who live by the ocean, and a baby in a carrier for Aaron and Leah who just had sweet baby Oliver.
And of course, the pets are part of the family and had to be included!
I purchased basic white frames from Pottery Barn to put the cross-stitch in. I think it gave the gift a more finished look that I wanted.
P.S. I know these aren't the best of pictures. Frankly, by the time I was done with the portraits I was in a hurry to get them wrapped and out the door!
Truly, one of the highlights of Christmas for both the children is the making and opening of gifts that they give each other. In fact, this tradition of making gifts has started taking hold in the family and more and more gifts are made each year (more on that to come)!
This year, Grace's gift to Harris was really a gift from the heart. She decided early in the season that she wanted to knit (knit!) Harris a gnome. I think that would be remarkable in of itself, but what really astounds me is that she just learned to knit in the fall (I don't knit, so was basically unable to help) and this was quite an ambitious undertaking. She spent hours working on the gnome, knitting on the drive to and fro from Nutcracker performances and school. He turned out darling and Harris loves him. I hope that Harris understands the love that went into the gnome and how special he really is.
Harris made Grace yarn ball bookmarks that turned out darling. We followed instructions from here. He picked out the colors and then went to town making little puffballs. Now we just have to keep them away from the cats!
Our Christmas was wonderful. In fact, there were phrases such as, "best Christmas ever," heard around the house yesterday! We had a lovely, full Christmas Eve day filled with preparations, friends and utter excitement for Christmas! Christmas Eve was filled with dinner, church, and treasured traditions. To make the evening even more special and magical we discovered that it was snowing when we went to church!
Tonight, Grace had her final performance in the Nutcracker! She performed 8 times, in 3 different theaters and loved every bit of it. Rehearsals began at the end of September and were every single Saturday and Sunday up until Thanksgiving weekend. Bryce and I were hesitant due to the huge time commitment, but it was worth every second of it so that she could be a part of something bigger than herself, work with a group of girls toward a common goal and see where hard work and perseverance (herself and the other dancers) can get you. We are so very proud of our girl and all the hard work she put into The Nutcracker.
This year I've done a lot of my wrapping in basic kraft paper. I love how the paper is a neutral and goes with just about any ribbon, label or embellishment. It just looks classic and pretty. This year I'm loving the labels by Rifle Stationary and the kraft paper sets them off beautifully. Perhaps the best thing about using kraft paper for wrapping is that you can use it all year long and won't have stacks and stacks of Christmas paper that you have to use next year!
Do you remember my vintage Christmas ball wreath? The one that I diligently collected Christmas balls to make? The one that took my Mom and I (and Gretchen too!) all day to make? The one that I loved a bit too much? It's fallen. Twice.
Technically, the first time wasn't a fall, it was more of a loosening since just a few balls came unglued and shattered on my stovetop*. Apparently, heat and steam do not go well with hot glue.
After that little incident we decided that over the stove was no longer a viable option. Unfortunately, we couldn't come up with a decent place to put it! We ended up replacing a painting that resides over our fireplace with a temporary mirror (Gretchen had one in her basement). I used a Command Hook because I didn't want to put another hole in our plaster walls. Unfortunately, it didn't hold and the whole wreath came crashing down! Unbelievably, it landed on a cushion and all was not lost. My Mom and I replaced a number of the balls and hung it again. This time with a screw, wire and a really tight knot!
*In case you are wondering, I had black bean soup bubbling on the stove to serve to our dear friends, Mark and Lori, who were visiting for lunch. Even though everyone involved was sure that no glass made it into the soup pot, I still think they were brave for eating it.
In November we received a catalog from Save the Children that I most likely tossed on the recycling pile. However, Grace was intrigued and read the catalog from cover to cover and decided that she very much wanted to buy a sheep that would "supply warm wool, milk and fertilizer to improve daily life for impoverished families." A sheep is $50 and so we started brainstorming ways for Grace to come up with that sort of money. Thus, the idea of a hot chocolate stand was born!
I'm really proud of Grace and how she handled the whole operation. She took ownership of all aspects of the stand. She made the hot chocolate mix and gingerbread cookies all by herself (I did boil the water!) We felt that it was important to offer homemade cocoa and cookies and it really helped her to feel like she was working to earn the money.
We offered two types of marshmallows, whipped cream (which we ran out of!) and a candy cane on each cocoa sold.
I did send out an email to friends letting them know about the stand and they generously showed up with children in tow! At one point there was even a fairly long line! When all was said and done Grace made $87! It's enough to purchase the sheep and to purchase mosquito netting for children in Africa. It can be so hard to find opportunities for children to give to others or to charities - this turned out to be a wonderful way to do that and was such a great experience for Grace!
Hello! I'm Anna and I'm a stay at home mom of two fabulous children and wife of one fabulous guy! I blog about my family, my life and my favorite things. I love many things, but I am especially fond of children's books, parties (children's and otherwise), traditions, good food, holidays, clothes, party invitations, Martha and spending time with friends and family. I really strive to find the beautiful in our everyday. Oh, and I love pretty things!