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Friday, December 04, 2009

Virtual Advent Tour, Randomly

Welcome to a Special Edition Random Friday! Today is my day to participate in the Virtual Advent Tour, and I thought what better way to put my own touch on it than to combine both events. So, here's some random Christmas thoughts for you.

At 4.5, this is the first year that The Pirate both understands Christmas and is not completely transparent. He informed me this morning that he could NOT tell me what he wanted Santa to bring, because he has to tell Santa- not me. I'm thinking perhaps we'll need to write a letter to Santa, and he may need a little help with it.

(last year's holiday picture, look how little they are!)

Christmas is exactly 3 weeks from today! While many of you have been shopping for weeks (months? all year?) I am one of those people who loves the concentrated rush of doing it all after Thanksgiving. (Ask me about that on the night of the 24th, ok?) I did intend to make the gifts I was sewing earlier in the year, but kept getting distracted. If I ever get it all done I'll blog about what I made too! Meanwhile, here's the advent calendar we use- I made it last year.

And speaking of handmade gifts, where do you all fall on that? Do you love it when someone makes something for you? Would you rather get a store bought gift? Do you somehow feel that a handmade gift isn't as meaningful? Be honest!

We have lots of little things planned this holiday season, because with the kids we want to expose them to a lot of fun stuff. So this weekend we'll go hike through the woods to find a tree. Next weekend we're having a small Christmas party for the Pirate and his friends. One night we'll go for a drive to see the lights and one night we'll visit a local attration that decorates with miles and miles of lights. We have to find time to go visit Santa himself as well (hopefully AFTER we write a letter to him!)

One of the best things about Christmas for me, is making new traditions with my kids. I love having little things that hopefully one day they will look back on and remember with a smile. I'm always on the lookout for new ideas though, so tell me, what are your favorite holiday traditions?

Make sure you stop to visit the other bloggers who posted today:

Aarti @ Booklust

I'm in good company, no?

And the complete list at the Virtual Advent Blog.

Still need a few gifts? Visit my Etsy shop for handmade goodness!

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  1. Oh so much fun! Driving around to look at lights is one of my earliest Christmas memories and to this day I still love doing it. Have an awesome Christmas this year!

  2. What a great post! Thanks for sharing! We used to go out and see the Christmas lights when I was younger too! I loved it, they always looked so magical! Too bloody comericalised now, "Merry Christmas from such-and-such a shop". Not as nice.

    When it comes to hand made gifts, I think it depends. The only hand made gifts I remember receiving haven't been on Christmas, but on various birthdays. My 5 year old cousin had made me a little heart shaped trinket box, which she painted and decorated - that was lovely! And my Mum likes sewing, so I've received sewn cards from her, which I love! It's the effort and the thought that are so awesome, but also when the gift itself is great too, it's just amazing.
    However, as sad as I am to say it, I think some people may do the hand-made gift idea as an easy way out, and not put a lot of thought or effort into, and you can get something half-hearted attempt at a gift because they couldn't be bothered. I haven't had that yet, luckily enough.

    I am feeling the pinch this year, so I'm budgeting myself when buying pressies, and only giving cards to the important family members. As I'm a little crafty, I'm making them myself. It's great to see the joy on people's faces when they appreciate the effort you've gone to with them in mind, and that they actually like the design. It's awesome! Just one more to make, and I'm done!

  3. I also am a late shopper (and a late wrapper, which is so much more challenging now that we have to stay with my folks the night before Christmas...).

    Personally, I love receiving handmade gifts, because I knit and I know how much love goes into making presents. I don't always give handmade, though, because I'm not sure everyone feels that way...

    And, finally, my parents used to take us out on Christmas light drives when we were kids, and it remains one of my fondest memories of the season. I hope your kids also look back on it with smiles in their hearts.

  4. I love handmade gifts, Lisa! Since I've made and given handmade gifts to people in the past, I know how much love, attention and time goes into crafting something for someone.

    Not that I don't appreciate a gift card! LOL!

    I've barely begun my Christmas shopping. Many a year my husband and I would wake up an hour or two after getting the girls to bed only to wrap all their Christmas gifts and get them under the tree before dawn. Now I'm a bit more organized and usually finish wrapping before Christmas Eve. Usually.

    Enjoy counting down the season with that adorable stocking advent calendar! :)

  5. Christmas? Maybe I should get busy.

    Homemade gifts? Depends. Nice ones that are usable and go with the person's style are great.

    Good example: Several years ago my young BIL gave everyone wooden salt and pepper shakers that he made himself in shop class. They were really nice and 20+ years later we still use ours.

    Bad example: A couple of years ago my SIL gave my mom an afghan made up in really bright yellow and green checks. First she really didn't do a very good job. (I would have been embarrassed to give it to anyone - especially my mother or MIL.) Second, the colors were horrible. Third, the colors matched nothing in my mom's house. Fourth, my mom had delicate florals in her home so that even the design clashed. Oh, but, the afghan had to be out on display so feelings wouldn't be hurt.

    But, if you were to make one of those lovely fabric bags...

    Bet you are really busy.

    The Pirate and the Bug are so cute. Hope you get the Santa issue taken care of. :)

  6. Your kids are so cute :-) I really like your post. The stockings also look like they're very carefully hung. I hope The Pirate allows you to help him with his Santa letter, or that you just KNOW what to get him! Good luck

  7. I love handmade gifts or gifts for coupons for things like a car wash or walking the dog or something like that. Handmade gifts are much more meaningful.

  8. I will be honest. I love all handmade gifts that I get. I especially love the useful ones (or the consumable ones.) Handmade items are nice because people put their hearts into them.

    We bake goodies. We drive to look at lights. We see Santa Claus. We spend lots of time with our families. We eat Chinese food on the day we open presents at home (usually not Christmas.) I love our Christmas traditions.

    I am an early shopper. I have most of my presents bought before Dec 1. Though, truth be told, I am a late wrapper. I can't get the wrapping to speed up. Maybe I can figure it out by next year. :)

    Merry Christmas.

  9. Thanks for joining in! I haven't really done any Christmas shopping yet, either. So, I am a bit of a rush shopper, myself. Happy Holidays!

  10. I think writing Santa a letter would be a good idea:) That baby is too cute. He favors you in that picture. I usually do giftcards for family and just buy whatever Caden ask for. I went all out last year because it was a last year in our home and family came in from Texas. This year...nothing. No tree either. The move exempt me from decorating. First time since I was 18 that I haven't put up a tree. I just might enjoy it;)

  11. Great post and what a wonderful thought to make some new traditions with the kids. I am still looking back at childhood christmas'es with very fond memories.

    Concerning handmade gifts, then I feel two ways. If the gift is something I can actually use (like a scarf, a pair of earrings, warm socks etc) or some food stuff I actually like to eat then it is wonderful. Nothing better.

    But the reason I am two-faced about this is, that more often than not, I've experienced that the homemade gifts was something I could not use or food stuff I don't like and then it became embarrassing (because feelings shouldn't get hurt as another mentions above).

    Now, I do not have a very particular taste or style, and I am not a fussy eater at all. So it should be easy to make or cook something I like, and not end up giving me one of the rather few things that I don't eat or care about.

    However, it IS the thought that counts, and I am not terribly upset by a gift (homemade or not) which was perhaps not on the top of my wishlist.

  12. Your children are beautiful & so cute! I love that your little Pirate has to tell Santa what he wants himself! I think Christmas is on an entirely different & wonderful level when you have children. Sure it may get a little nuts & tiroing but their excitement, awe & wonder is fantastic to behold.
    I think handmade gifts are great so long as time & love are put into them to make something the person receiving the gift will use. Your Advent calendar is wonderful. I love that idea & may steal it for next year if you don'e mind! lol

    Merry Christmas to you & your family =o)
    ~ Amy

  13. Your plans sound lovely. Here is what's coming up for us this week: nativity scene and then caroling and hot chocolate afterward.

    Saturday...dinner with another family. We are doing a very small gift exchange. Should be fun.

    Sunday...Reindeer Romp at the zoo. It's a member only event and it's at night. There's ice skating and outdoor viewings of a Charlie Brown Christmas. Afterward, the local utility company puts on a 1 mile light display that you walk thru.

    The following week we take two kids with Downs Syndrome to look at Christmas lights. I call them kids but they are almost as old as us. It's a great time. We have been doing it since my son was born. We stuff ourselves with Christmas cookies, hit Starbucks for hot chocolate and laugh and laugh. So fun.

  14. I love homemade gifts. Usually. I have gotten some stinkaroos. And I don't really like homemade foodie gifts, now that my son is allergic to everything. But, as a crafter myself, I appreciate the effort that goes into a homemade gift, and it means much more to me than a store bought gift. I would certainly appreciate, for instance, a handmade banner. ;) I haven't done much crafting of gifts this year. I had cardstock bookmarks that I helped the little guy to sticker/paint/glitter glue to include in with people's Christmas gifts, and every now and then we make some little something or other and stick it in Daddy's stocking. Oh, and I'm creating some photo books. But no quilty or knitted gifts this year. Maybe next year!

  15. The longer I live, the more traditions I seem to take on.

    Stop by my blog if you get a chance and take a look at my list of favorite children's Christmas picture books. A winter storm knocked out our Internet connection yesterday, so I ended up posting today.

  16. This is the first year that my four year old also gets Christmas. And he actually talked to Santa this year. He's always been completely mute or screaming on his lap. It was fun to watch.

  17. I love hand made gifts, my extended family are very crafty and the hand made gift seems to be part of our tradition now.
    On the subject of family tradition we found a tradition just sort of grew spontaneously. From the time my daughter was an infant I would buy her a picture book about chritsms and give it to her on the night we put up the tree, after a couple of years, it just seemed to be the thing to do. Then when she was about four she started taking an interest in particular decorations, so that year I bought her a decoration I knew she liked, it was a simple inexpensive ornament and because her dad liked green santas I bought him a santa ornament and gave them to them on the night we put up the tree. After that it became a tradition that every year on the night we decorate we give each other a small xmas themed gift, usually a book or an ornament, sometimes home made. Our tree is full of memories and my daughter when she leaves home will have a box of special ornaments to take with her as well as her childhood books, and a special memory for each xmas.
    The Pirate and Bug are adorable, bet they are a handful. Lovely post.

  18. I love homemade gifts! In my family we frost cookies together. My "baby" is almost 15 and my oldest almost 22 but we still tease each other about things that happened when we were decorating years ago!

  19. I love the picture of the boys from last year. Maybe next year my Virtual Advent post will be Christmas pictures of my kids through the years. :-) I hope you're having as relaxing a run up to Christmas as it is possible to have with two smalls. I'm now at one non-believer, one borderline believer, and one full believer so I see our traditions starting to change in the next couple of years. :-(

  20. Meant to say also that I love handmade gifts. I spent a lot of years making hand done ornaments for the kids and my mom and sister but that sort of went by the wayside when I got terribly depressed and I never have picked it back up again. Should make a note to think about it for next year!

  21. I'd love a handmade gift. But also, storebought ones are great too. I think as long as some thought is put into whatever gift it is, then it's great. I think it's easier to see the effort of handmade gifts though!

    Also, love your advent calendar, very very cute!

    I like to think of ways to make family traditions as well. I want my boys to have strong, happy Christmas memories!


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