Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Christmas 2010: let the shopping commence!

June 14, 2010

Well, I didn’t quite intend it to happen so soon…but on Saturday I bought my first Christmas gift of the year!  Not that I had set out to do so.

I was in a pharmacy/drugstore, waiting to buy some contact lens fluid, when I noticed this cool set of lip glosses.  Cool for a younger woman, that is.  Much younger.  Like: 15.

We have a 15 year old friend of the family.  She is a sweet girl, but she is 15 going on 25 (or would like to be), as is the way of many teenage girls.  So buying for her has become rather difficult.  You just know that what you buy her is going to be wrong – either not cool enough, not expensive enough (this is the girl of $400 cellphone lust), or somehow just plain wrong.

So my eyes lit up when I saw this Lip Smackers collection.  It seems to fit around the demographic, and is a practical gift (who doesn’t need lip gloss of some sort, at any age?) that will also appeal to her girly, feminine side. 

Although it’s still only June, I thought I’d better snap up this set because a) there was only one left on the stand; b) I’ll come back another time and there’ll be none in stock or; c) I’ll forget all about it.  Then in December I’ll be scratching my head, going, “Now what the heck should we get Fern this year?”

A novel way to regift

February 27, 2010

The post-Christmas rush to sell unwanted gifts on eBay is no secret – the typical ad being a detailed description of the gift, followed by “Unwanted Christmas present” or “I love it but it’s not my size”, something like that.

I like the novel approach one young lady took with some unwanted Christmas gifts (rather a lot of them, one might observe – but teenagers are notoriously difficult as gift recipients). 

Instead of taking the mundane, item-by-item approach, she simply bundled them all up into one “mystery parcel” and auctioned the lot on Trade Me (New Zealand’s answer to eBay).  You can read all about it here.

I’m impressed by her creative approach, and also how much money she made by making the contents of the parcel a mystery – rather than the usual way of describing and photographing everything in detail.  I don’t know if I’d ever do the same thing myself, but I rather admire her chutzpah!

Christmas card decoration

January 23, 2010

You can see why I was reluctant to throw out this pretty card.

Here’s how an attractive Christmas card avoided being thrown out in the trash recently, and instead ended up as a beautiful decoration which will grace our tree this December and every year thereafter, I hope.

Inspired by The Gifted Blog’s recent post about how an artist turned some gift wrap into a beautiful Christmas decoration, I decided to do the same with a pretty Christmas card we’d received.  It was a good quality card, featuring an angel made of three layers of felt and fabric.  January rolled around, but that card was simply too gorgeous to throw out…but what to do with it?

Charissa’s post was the answer to my predicament, and has provided me with a decoration that is not only pretty, but is a keepsake that will remind me of my friend Jan, who sent it.   

Now an angel decoration to grace the Christmas tree every year.

A late New Year’s resolution

January 5, 2010

One lot of gifts I didn’t get around to making at Christmas was gifts to my friends in the service industries.  Namely, our mechanic, my hairdresser, the helpful librarians at the local library.

In the haste of the season, and with an active toddler at my feet most of the time, I just didn’t quite get around to making or baking anything for these lovely people.  But I bet they’d’ve loved it if I had. 

So next year, I vow I’m going to get my act together sooner – much sooner – (November?) – and make sure that all these terrific people have a thankyou gift from our family at Christmas.  It’ll probably just be some home baking; but it’ll be good home baking, nicely presented and with a card.

(Of course, in some places, notably North America, it’s expected that people should tip their service people at Christmas.  I feel that this is a little less festive…but when in Rome…)

The “panic” gift

January 3, 2010

I got a “panic” gift just before Christmas. 

I’d sent a box of chocolates to my cousin and his wife, with a Christmas card and some recent family photos.  He mustn’t have expected anything, because a week or so later, just before Christmas, I received a hastily wrapped (or so it looked) gift, with a Christmas card; inside it read, in essence: “Dear cousin, Merry Christmas, from your cousin and family”. 

Why do I think this was a panic gift?  Well, apart from the late date and done-in-haste wrapping, I think the card was the giveaway.  No chatty note about family developments in 2009 or plans for 2010 – just the bare minimum.

I have no beef with this panic gift (if indeed it was a panic gift – I’m just speculating that it was).  I just think that sometimes people need to be able to accept unexpected gifts with grace and go, “Oh!  Okay.  That was nice of her.”  Rather than: “Ohmygod!  She got us a gift and we didn’t get her one!  Panic!”  And maybe just send a really nice thank you note, or if you want to reciprocate, send a New Year’s Gift, or make a note to be sure to send a gift next Christmas.

Sometimes it’s just better to relax…and not panic.

Christmas: taking stock

December 30, 2009

While the Christmas season still lingers in the air, it’s a great time to make some notes about what worked for you this year, giving-wise, and what didn’t.  That way, you can refer to it next year and draw upon your jotted-down wisdom.

For example:

  • “I left the wrapping too late, then had to do it all on Christmas Eve.  It was a nightmare!  Must do it much, much earlier next year!”
  • “I bought cheap Christmas cards on special after last Christmas.  Then this year, when I got them out and went to write on them…I hated them!  And in the end I had to go out and buy a whole new set, because the ones I’d bought looked so cheap and nasty!”
  • “The twins have outgrown Duplo and now prefer Lego.”
  • “Tyler was thrilled with that passport cover.  Maybe get him a luggage tag by the same designer next year, as he’s going to be doing more travel.”

That sort of thing.  Some things may spring to mind immediately; others may only come when you peruse your Christmas gift list and have a think about how your presents were received.

Trading post for unwanted gifts

December 23, 2009

Here’s a new spin on how to move along unwanted gifts: a swap shop has opened as a sort of ‘clearing house’, where you can drop off a present and pick another one at the same time.  A very novel approach!
http://www.stuff.co.nz/oddstuff/3189991/Shop-to-swap-unloved-gifts

Christmas culinary cliches

December 22, 2009

Almond, lemon and ginger gems - fresh from the oven.

At this time of year, in this part of the world, there are two seemingly unavoidable treats: mincemeat fruit pies and shortbread. 

I quite like the little pies, and am neutral on shortbread, but prefer both in moderation.  The problem with them being Christmas treats is that there is a glut of them at this time of year; every Christmas party you go to, the mince pies and shortbread get wheeled out.  Again.  And again. 

So the two things I never bake or give at Yuletide are…well, you guessed it.  Also Christmas cake.  People – much as some of us do like these foods – do get heartily sick of the sight (and taste) of them by late December. 

Instead, I bake chocolate brownies – a rich, moist slice that is a perennial favourite – and a little sweetmeat called “almond, lemon and ginger gems” which are baked in little paper patty cases.  Mature folk particularly enjoy the latter, I find, as crystallised ginger was once a common baking ingredient (alas, not so much these days).  Gathered up in little cellophane bags, the little home-baked gems and brownie triangles look incredibly tasty…and NOT remotely like mince pies, shortbread or Christmas cake!!!

Sale of the century. Well, year.

December 20, 2009

To hit the pre-Christmas sales or not, that is the question.

I did that the other evening, in the interests of research (and getting some last-minute gifts).  And here’s what I found:

Pros: There are actually some very good bargains out there.  Half price discounts are not uncommon, with even 25 or 30 percent being quite routine.  Gone, it seems, are the days when we paid full price for everything right up until Christmas Day and the discounts only started the day after.

Cons: The crowds, dear sweet Jesus, the crowds.  Hordes and hordes of people, a crush of humanity.  If you can’t handle people en masse, the sales just aren’t for you.  I went into one department store and struggled to get out again!  Such were the thronging queues at the cash registers by the exits, backed up with dozens of shoppers.

Also the parking was terrible.  It almost took as long to get a park as it did to drive to the mall in question.  After 10 minutes of aimless driving around the carparking storeys, and very nearly giving up, I lucked out solely on the happenchance that a movie had ended at the complex’s cinema, and a few people came out and drove away, freeing up some car parks.

Upshot: Well, the bargains are there, if you have the patience, if you can handle vast crowds and if you can find parking two blocks away.

It’s a wrap!

December 18, 2009

Everyone has their own approach to wrapping Christmas gifts. Some leave it all to the the last minute and do it all in one (big) hit.  Others get them wrapped in-store at the time of purchase.  Some people wrap all their gifts in the same paper/ribbon combination, others like variety.  Some, like my mother in law, love buying gifts but hate wrapping them!

A new approach I’m trying this year is a two-phased system: wrap the gifts in giftpaper when I have the time and privacy, noting the recipients’ names either in biro or with a gift card/sticker.  Then, closer to Christmas Day, I’ll finish off the job by trimming the wrapped gifts with ribbon, curling foil and rosettes. 

The advantage with this approach is that I can take my time with the trimming, in order to get it right, and not have to do it in private.  For, unless the gift is a distinctive shape, nobody will be able to guess the content’s identity once it’s safely wrapped in paper.