Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A few thoughtful gifts from my Christmas season

I know I didn't mention all of these things here previously, so here goes with a simple post sharing a few thoughtful gifts I received over Christmas 2019.  That tin (which is much smaller than it appears here) at the top of the post contains a generous Hobby Lobby gift card.  Still haven't gotten to Hobby Lobby to spend it, but I know a couple of things I want to get.

 This Christmas teacup is so pretty!  A thoughtful gift from my friend Rhonda.  I later learned that she gave a Christmas teacup to each lady at church.  She included a package of pizzelles with each one.  I think (but am not sure) that all of the teacups were different.  I have some Christmas mugs, but this is my first Christmas teacup. It sort of matches these sweet ornaments:
These were a gift from my friend Linda in Utah, some years ago.
The pretty tray above was a gift from my daughter Carrie.  She asked for gift ideas and I was ready with this one!
 The "jadeite" look sugar and creamer are by Pioneer Woman and were also a gift from Carrie.  She also gave me a tip about the gorgeous melamine plates in Walmart this season, so I guess in a sense that middle plate is also a gift from her.
And this handcrafted owl was a gift from our friends Sam and Jennifer.  At a loss for affordable gifts, they turned to the internet for ideas and found this one!  Although our tree is down now, this sweet snowy owl is at home on an evergreen garland that tops our picture window year round.

Hope you've enjoyed seeing these thoughtful gifts ... maybe you even found an idea or two to use next year!

Sunday, February 02, 2020

After-Christmas debriefing

Every year after Christmas, I try to note down my thoughts about that year's season using the  Organized Christmas  After-Christmas debriefing form to help me evaluate how things went, what worked, what didn't, and what we might do differently in the coming year. This has been very helpful to me.  Wouldn't it be fun to snuggle into the cushion-filled rocker above and jot down your thoughts while sitting by a cozy fireplace and watching the snow fall outside?  I sure think so!

Here are my thoughts concerning Christmas 2019:

1.  What worked this holiday season?  What changes did you make to create simpler, less stressful holidays?

Again this year, there were a number of decorative items that I didn't even get out of the attic.  Another way I simplified Christmas decorating was to keep a box of things that I knew I wanted to use for decor this year, including the tree skirt, and to have it accessible through the year.  Those things were easy to find when the time came.  

I also decorated in stages, making sure things looked festive for a cookie swap early in the month.  We managed to get the tree up by then, with only lights, but it still looked nice.  Later, we added ornaments to the tree and other decor here and there.

Again this year, we shipped to Nevada using Click'n'Ship and carrier pickup.  This has worked so well in the past, but this year we did hit a glitch when for two days in a row the carrier did not pick up our packages.  We ended up taking them to the post office ourselves anyway.  We also had Amazon gifts shipped directly to Nevada where our daughter wrapped and tagged them.

2.  What was the worst aspect of preparing for the holidays this year?  How can you avoid the problem in the future?

Not planning carefully enough for several grandchildren's gifts.  I need to do a lot better planning next year.  I'm thinking we will also need to cut back on our spending due to Mr. T's retirement and being on more of a fixed income.  I'd like to make more of our gifts and probably do more kitchen gifts.

3.  Were you satisfied with your level of giving and/or spiritual observances?  How could next year's holiday better reflect your family's values?

As mentioned, I think we'll need to be more economical with our gifts in future, but I was very pleased with the gifts that we gave.

From a spiritual standpoint, all was good.  The cookie swap, though not hugely attended, was a lovely, low-key way for ladies to have a festive yet relaxed time together.  I asked each lady to bring a "sweet thought" in addition to her cookies -- a memory, Scripture verse, testimony, whatever.  To my surprise, all were of a spiritual nature.

We also had another church bless us with a Christmas musical performed by their children.  This added tremendously to our season.  All of our Christmas events at church ended up being scheduled earlier in the month than usual, and this turned out to be a great blessing.

4.  How well did your household function this year?  Were you calm and cozy, or stressed and strung out?  What improvements could be made next year?

In general, I felt calm and cozy.  I did have a few stressful moments when I realized I did not have enough time to start several planned gifts, never mind complete them and send them to Nevada.  But once I faced that, I could shift gears easily.

I will have to do a LOT more planning, a lot earlier, this year, as the Nevada family plans to come here for Christmas 2020.    (At least no shipping of gifts will be required!)  But I will need to figure out gifts, baking, meals and housing, etc.  Not to mention plane tickets.  Gulp!

5.  Honesty time!  How did your holidays go?  Did you experience the expectancy, the magic, the sparkle of the season?  If not, what changes could you make to recapture the joy?

In general, we had a joyous season.  We enjoyed some lovely events and family times.  I tried several new recipes, gave a few handmade gifts, enjoyed a traditional outing with four local grands.  We got to have a lovely festive meal and gifts with them and their parents on Christmas Day, and the same with our dear young friends Sam and Jenn and their boys the day after Christmas.  My hubby and I didn't have quite the time with one another that we'd hoped for, as his retirement got pushed off by a month.  I posted in my Christmas blog daily and in my regular blog 19 times -- a gift to me as well as my readers.  We managed to get out for a walk most days, too -- great stress relief and mental health booster!

So there you have it -- all in all, a blessed Christmas season!