Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Traditions: Gift Exchange

Growing up, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve were very busy days for my family.  Every Christmas Eve involved taking a trip south from my hometown to visit relatives on my Dad's side of the family and to attend mass.  We'd drive back late at night and jump in our beds so Santa would come, and wake up early Christmas morning to an exciting and magical morning with stockings and presents galore.

Later on Christmas Day we would celebrate Christmas with my Mom's side of the family in a town nearby.  When I look back, I remember the holiday as being a wonderful family filled and present filled time.  Now that I have my own young children I have to wonder how my parents pulled that routine off year in and year out.  It must have been exhausting for them.

Back then, the one thing that we were not able to do on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day was to have special time with our immediate family and exchange our special gifts for one another.  There simply wasn't enough time.  The tradition that we developed to alleviate that problem was to start exchanging presents, one per night starting December 20th (4 days prior to Christmas Eve since there were 5 members in our family).  For four consecutive nights we had a bit of family together time.  It was really nice.

Moving forward to this year, my family will continue the one gift per day exchange, even though we don't have nearly as busy of a celebration schedule on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day compared to the days of my youth.  Our kiddos will receive more than enough presents from Dear Old Santa, and we'd really like them to enjoy the presents we give them and that they give each other.  I love that we can extend the holiday this way.  Here is a chart Lucky and I made to keep track of our exchange:

I made the chart in Microsoft Word and she typed the names and numbers!

Our numbered days break down like this:
Day 1: December 21st
Day 2: December 22nd
Day 3: December 23rd

We've already given the first day of gifts last night and Bill opened this package of surprises from me last night:

And he found this personalized art display inside (which will probably end up in our master bedroom):

This silver frame was a clearance score from Target for $3.24.  I put some of my faux bois wrapping paper as background and then printed, traced and cut out 'b + b' letters out of white card stock.  I used double side tape to stick them on top of the wrapping paper background and now it reminds me of an initial tree carving.  

Even though Bill has seen this faux canvas already, it was originally a surprise for him, so I wrapped it up for him as a surprise for a second time.

Bill loves the song Arms by Christina Perri, so I printed off the refrain on cardstock and painted a little heart with craft paint and stuck it in yet another $3 clearance Target frame.

I have seen prints on Etsy with this saying on it, and I love it, so I decided to recreate my own version.

This wood sign started out as a simple wood plaque from Michael's.  I believe it's full price was $2.49, but I had a coupon, of course.

I painted the plaque blue and then worked to get the font size and word layout that I liked the best.  I taped the paper onto the plaque once it was dry in the exact position that I wanted the words painted.

It's hard to see in this image, but after I traced around each letter with a sharp pencil, indents were left in the wood.  I filled in each letter with brown craft paint to finish it off.

The square frame was 100% inspired by this post by Young House Love:

They made key art for each of the places they called home since they met.  Our frame includes the condo Bill lived in when we met, the apartment we lived in when Lucky was born and the two houses we have lived in since moving to Minnesota.

Here's Bill opening up one of his frames:

Since I like to break things down cost wise, all 5 art pieces set me back a little over $35 (roughly $7 per personalized piece of art).

'b + b' tree art $11 including frame and wrapping paper (lots of paper leftover still!)
Faux Canvas $10 with a coupon
'You put your arms around me' sign $3.24 for the frame
'Happily Ever After' sign $2.10 (with a 15% off entire purchase coupon)
Key Art $10 for the IKEA frame

Total: $36.34 

The kids have some special presents coming their way as well, but I'll probably post about them another time (I don't want anyone to spill the beans before gift giving time.)!!'s one picture that I have to include!  Sailor Lucky!  I picked up a whole bunch of costumes at Target once they reached 90% off after Halloween.  Our kids love to play dress up, so Bill gifted Lucky with a sailor girl costume and the pink outdoor bunny chair seen behind her.  The chair was another clearance find from Target.  The total for both items was less than $5.  What are we going to do when the kids have more specific Christmas wish lists:)??

As for the presents that Lucky and Charm give to Bill and has become a tradition to take them to the dollar store and let them choose whatever their little hearts desire to purchase.  It's so much fun to bring them, and it's such a safe environment to give them the freedom and flexibility to make an independent gift choice...after all, whatever they choose will only set us back a dollar!  While I'm not sure what dollar store treats are coming my way, I do know that Bill will be unwrapping some keepers!  All the presents have been chosen and wrapped with love and love is really what Christmas is all about!

I'll be back tomorrow with a quick post to announce the winner of the Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway!  Can you believe Christmas is only 3 days away?!

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