Christmas Gifting 2010

Our Immediate Family

First off, no homemade gifts for our kids this year. You can read on to see what we bought them but I decided to put my gift making energies into extended family gifts this year. Last year I made something for each of them. A doll dress for Brienne, a doll coat for Celine and slippers for Laurent. I loved doing it and they loved their gifts and play/use them to this day but this year my handmade focus was elsewhere.

Earlier this month as I was reading different people's thoughts on appropriate gift giving (ie: what guidelines they use for determining quantities etc.) I stepped back to honestly evaluate our giving, to our children specifically. 

We are frugal with our kids' Christmas gifts. There is nothing righteous or simpler-than-thou about this. For us it's a value judgement based on the following:

  1. We know their grandparents will be giving them things as well, quality products in line with our family values and in accordance with their (the children's) personal interests, needs and wants.
  2. We give things to our children all year round and we call them "clothing", "outdoor/adventure", and "educational" expenses. One example of this was the Kindle we recently purchased Celine with homeschool budget, amazon gift card, adult education budget and some personal savings of Celine's.
  3. Christmas is not about acquiring things. Giving gifts is a part of the festivities for our family (and a great reason to pull out all the crafting stops) but it's not the focus.

Having said all that here is what we are giving our kiddos this Christmas: Celine - slippers (women's small - unbelievable), Laurent - moleskin journals (he can never have enough), Brienne - felted food (I wish it was this, but it's IKEA's dessert set instead, thanks Nicola for being my supplier). All on-line purchases. 

an exhausted Brienne sitting on an inflatable pad (a sit pad) while stopping for lunch

Damien and I are exchanging small outdoor gear related gifts. No surprises here. I'm getting a sit pad to keep my tooshie warm when we stop on winter hikes (and for backpacking in general - see photo above). Damien's getting an inflatable pillow for sleeping.

Parents & Siblings

Our gifting for extended family changes each year. We have always given something to our parents and I think we've also each year given something to our siblings and their families, though some years it has been donations to organizations in their honor.

This year I wanted to craft. But not just anything.

I wanted to make things that I had the skill, talent, and time to accompish and that would be useful for the recipients. I wanted to make items that our household needed/could use as well (the more the merrier). And as much as possible I wanted to use materials I had on hand but I wasn't opposed to buying a few supplies as long as they could be used for our family's general crafting purposes also.

Here is what I came up with:

What I liked about making these gifts was using herbal and soap knowledge I had and expanding it a bit.

I also learned a new skill, votive candle making, which is trickier than I first thought. I used this tutorial with some modifications (after reading this forum thread). All of these items are also useful for our family, in fact I needed more skin salve and Christmas was an excellent excuse to make some.

Each family/parent will be getting a different combination of the above gifts.

Extras (misc gifting):

  • Wire wrapped sea glass pendants. The kids and I made these together using these directions. These were easy to make and are just so pretty. Some are hanging on our tree, others are stocking presents for the grandmothers. 
  • Photos, photo cd's and digital photography gifts. Last year we gave Damien's mom a digital photo frame and this year we're giving her a new photo card with recent photos.

wrapped seaglass

Hoped to make but didn't have time to finish:

  • lip balm stocking stuffers
  • herbal tea mixes

What I paid to have done and was sorely disappointed by: 

This year I planned to mail-out a family photo and give some of my favorite flower photos to friends and family. But... (I'm going to try and make this simple) the color profile that got attached to the photos as I exported them from my photo software for developing was wrong, all wrong. Which I found out too late. Like after paying $$ and getting them back.

I cried. I ranted. I raved. I got over it. I didn't let that ruin my Christmas but it sure did ruin my day. 

I still had these from last year which I am giving as holiday cards (not a mass mailing mind you) along with gifts. 

Beyond Family & Friends

Last week I saw that my friend Spring was selling her music to raise funds for the adoption of their two boys from Haiti. I jumped at the chance to buy a few cd's to give to appreciate family members and support a great cause.

As a family we decided to support and orphanage in Uganda and give a gift to World Vision. We're still "shopping" through the catalog deciding what to give.

From the Kiddos

Sharing what my kiddos have crafted for each other and extended family members is going to have to be another post. They exchanged their gifts early, just tonight in fact, seeing as we are traveling for Christmas with limited room to haul gifts to and from Canada.

I know all mothers are biased about their children but I am just so impressed with what Celine, Laurent and Brienne have made this season. Their talents grow more each year and their genuine desire to give something that the other person appreciates and loves is so, so precious to me. They are so, so precious to me.

Wrapping it Up

Each year we raid our craft closet and sewing storage for recycled paper, ribbons, yarn, fabric, paints, markers, and stamps for wrapping gifts. Wrapping the presents is half the fun and I think some of us put as much thought into the package as we do the gift inside! We like to do this days in advance of exchanging gifts, if we can, so we can appreciate all the pretty packages under the tree.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • Candelion

    Candelion on Dec. 21, 2010, 6:05 a.m.

    What love! I can't get enough of everything you do/make. I only hope to take photos that are half as beautiful as yours (once I figure out how to work the dslr I just scored off craigslist!). Thank you so much for sharing!!


  • Amanda

    Amanda on Dec. 21, 2010, 11:58 a.m.

    Lovely gifts, Renee! I love every one of the heartfelt things you chose! Very sorry about the photos, that is a huge disappointment.

    Can I ask about the candles? I read somewhere you need a special wick for that true? Where did you buy your wick? I have a box of beeswax waiting to go!

    Enjoy your travels :) and the holiday!


    • renee

      renee on Dec. 21, 2010, 1:45 p.m.

      Amanda, ask away about the candles...

      For this first round I used zinc core, pre-tabbed wicks. I bought these ones from Better Bee. Which is also where I purchased my votive mold. Now with that mold I can make candles anytime I want (smile).

      I don't know anything about needing special wicks. I also borrowed The Candlemaker's Companion from the library and it didn't say anything about that.

      In the future I want to use braided pure cotton wicks but this first time around I decided to use the zinc core, though they don't burn as environmentally friendly (at least I assume as much).


      • Amanda

        Amanda on Dec. 21, 2010, 6:07 p.m.

        Thank you! I am hoping to try this, though not in time for this year's Christmas gifts. I started reading through some of that forum and found some interesting stuff, some of which makes the process seem a bit intimidating (there is evidently some testing to do with your wax to see what wick to use?!?!?!). Your candles look beautiful! Did you try burning one yet? The smell is just intoxicating to me! :)


        • renee

          renee on Dec. 21, 2010, 7 p.m.

          Oh yes, I definitely tried burning them. I had to do test candles to see what wick combination worked best. I ended up cutting one wick off of the tabbed bottom and twisting it with the tabbed wick and using a "double wick" for the best burn. 

          It was a process of trial & error but the great thing with wax is that you don't waste it if the candle doesn't burn well. You just blow it out, melt down the wax and start again!

          I've been burning these candles all month. Beeswax votives have a long burn time. And yes, the smell is so, so wonderful.


  • Francesca

    Francesca on Dec. 21, 2010, 1:51 p.m.

    Totally in awe. The wired sea glass looks stunning, I can't wait to be back home and follow your links for instructions and directions on what kind of wire to use!


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