We Had Ourselves A Merry Little Christmas

My Christmas stocking contained both deodorant and concealer, which leads me to believe that Santa Claus is telling me to take a hint. Then again, my brother Tom received tooth-whitening products from no fewer than two separate family members, one of whom was me. (We don't only give each other personal hygiene items for Christmas, in case you were wondering. Nope, they work quite well for birthdays as well.)

Now that it's all over, did you have a lovely Christmas and/or totally regular weekend during which most of the shops and restaurants were closed? We certainly did, with all of my siblings converging upon my parents' house in San Diego, just like something out of a Diane Keaton movie (I was thinking more The Family Stone than The Godfather, though your mileage may vary.) We ate, we drank, we ate and drank some more, and then we played Balderdash and collapsed like human turducken in front of the fire. Then we did it for the next five nights until it actually was Christmas.

This is your brain on Christmas dinner.

One of my very favorite things about Christmas—I would say my favorite thing, but please bear in mind that this is also the time of year during which a glug of Baileys in one's morning coffee is universally accepted—is that it is pretty much always exactly the same, from year to year to year. For the past 31 of them, in fact, my Christmases have followed a solidly unchanging pattern: we eat the same food, we play the same games, we sing the same songs, and we say the same things. As I've got older and realized how many things in life are unreliable and ever-changing, I've found it more and more of a comfort that Christmas always stays reassuringly the same. (My brother Luke wrote about this way better than I could have done right here.)

So this is how we do it. Our ritual always begins a few hours before it gets dark on Christmas Eve, when we get out of the house; sometimes we go to a carol service, sometimes we just go for a walk. This year, we went down to the beach.

I apologize if you are reading this from Minnesota or Canada or somewhere and are incensed by the presence of flipflops on our feet.

When we get home, it's dark and we change into our finery, the definition of which has changed a little as we've aged (I, for one, have retired my Christmas-themed dresses with frilly collars in favor of a nice sparkly top and jeans. Maybe the good mascara.) We eat the same food we've eaten every Christmas Eve of my life—lots of sandwichy finger food type things—and then we open our presents from our extended family overseas; stockings and presents from immediate family come the following day. This is a holdover from my dad's German side of the family, and the way he always did it growing up.

When we were little, Christmas Eve was also the time in the proceedings that we were visited by "German Santa," who would always mysteriously materialize to deliver the overseas presents just as we were out of the room. (Curiously, we never saw English Santa either, though that didn't stop my brother Tom from making Santa Traps in his room every year in a valiant attempt to catch him. One of them involved some sort of slingshot getup that left a large hole in the wall when Tom tested it beforehand, which I think my dad was less angry about than he would have been if Tom hadn't tested it and it had left a large hole in my dad instead.) 

After the eating and drinking and overseas-present-opening on Christmas Eve, we have a family singalong. No photographic evidence ever exists of this, because it would be too easy for other people to use it as blackmail material. One year we took a video of us doing the Twelve Days of Christmas—complete with actions—and now none of us can ever run for public office.

In the morning, we wake up to stockings on the end of our beds. I think stockings on the end of your beds might be a particularly British thing, because Sean was baffled by it; his stocking, growing up, was always hanging from the fireplace. Because my parents still humor their 31-year-old, 28-year-old, and 22-year-old kids with this particular tradition, we've started returning the favor and making stockings for them as well; my dad never had one growing up so he has been particularly pleased by this development. Especially now that he is old enough for it to contain a miniature bottle of whiskey.

Once stockings have been opened and mimosas consumed, it's time to open the presents under the tree. This year, I made a gross error, and decided to wrap all of my presents in brown kraft paper. In my head, this looked minimal and sleek and understated. In reality, however, it just looked like I'd wrapped all of my presents during the second world war, when no other supplies were available.

"Awww," said my sister Susie, mock-sympathetically. "Did you ask for wrapping paper in your ration book and not get any?"

Thanks for nothing, Pinterest. Next year I am buying as much crappy commercialized wrapping paper as I can get my hands on.

Christmas Day is a blur of present-opening, champagne-drinking, and the consumption of everything edible within a three-mile radius. We eat around 3pm, at the table my sister and I have set the day before.

We pull crackers, wear the hats, tell the awful jokes, and—once we've reached the point in the meal where even glancing at another potato would cause spontaneous combustion—we take turns reflecting on the previous year and our hopes for the new one. That sounds very Oprah, I know, but basically, we just answer questions that I've written down on scraps of paper and tucked under each of our plates.

The rest of the day passes in a pleasant stupor—one of my other favorite things about Christmas is that you seem to drink all day and yet never get drunk—and in the evening, we play some sort of game; this year it was Balderdash, which I feel it is my duty to mention that I won. Sometimes there is cheese, if we're not too stuffed, and sometimes there is eggnog. Then there is sleep, glorious sleep, and we wake up the next morning looking forward to doing it all again the next year.

So that's my Christmas, but I'm curious about what yours looks like. If you celebrate it, does your day follow roughly the same pattern? What do you do differently? What are your traditions? Stockings on the end of your bed or hanging from the fireplace? And if you don't celebrate it, do you spend the day a particular way?

(There are more pictures of our Chrismas 2011 here, none of which, unfortunately, contain my new steam mop, which I unwrapped with the unrivalled glee that my Self Of Christmases Past would have unwrapped a new pair of rollerblades or a Barbie Dreamhouse. That's right, Internet, I put a steam mop on my Christmas list. Wait for it, wait for it: a bread box, too. Somewhere, my 18-year-old self just rolled her eyes in embarassment. Whatever, 18-year-old self: like a lava lamp was so cutting edge.)

Dec 27, 2011

I tried the kraft paper wrapping too. Mine looked nothing like the photos on pinterest, despite having purchased $100s in various yarn for embellishment. Now my problem is that I have a gazillion more yards of kraft paper that I'm not sure how I'll use. I'm with you, it's back to regular wrapping paper that I'll send $100s on just like I did the yarn.

Your Christmas is much like ours, except our stockings are on the mantle.

Happy Holidays!

Dec 27, 2011

I also did the brown paper! The only thing I did differently was I stamped everyone's names on and got thick, pretty ribbon (on clearance!) to put on them. I think that made all the difference for mine. The bonus was that I bought it 2 rolls for a dollar and barely even used an entire one, so at least I saved money doing it!

Dec 27, 2011

I'd love to have a set tradition like yours! We do spend most of the day with family, but we have to go between my mother's house and my spouse's parent's house. Eventually, we will spend most of the day at home with our children, but not for a couple more years.

We hang our stockings on the mantle, although we used to hang them from the curtains when we didn't have a mantle!

Nothing But Bonfires
Dec 27, 2011

Yep, mine was some cheapie IKEA stuff too! Oh well, at least I can now make brown paper packages tied up with string whenever I need to.

Dec 27, 2011

I'm reading from Minnesota, and while it's not flip flop weather, it's also not white. Having grown up here, Christmas just isn't the same without the snow. I'm considering a do-over in a couple of months when we're buried in the stuff.

Dec 27, 2011

I too did Kraft paper based on a pinterest inspiration and my WHOLE family made fun of me as well! Never again, plus it was really hard to wrap with!!!

Dec 27, 2011

1. I got a giant bag of calcium chews in my stocking this year. Thanks, Santa/Mom?
2. I'm from Minnesota and it hovered near 40 and 50 degrees all Christmas weekend (which is supremely exciting considering we had about 3 feet of snow at this time last year) so there is not actually not so much flip-flop jealousy. Let's talk again in January, though.
3. I also tried wrapping in brown paper one year and found it quite difficult and disappointing. Next year I'm going vintage with Sunday comics.
4. Your family seems so lovely. Care to adopt me?

Dec 27, 2011

Holly, It was 52 degrees here in Minneapolis yesterday so no need to be sorry. Those of us that have no need for a "white Christmas" are basking in it!

Dec 27, 2011

You have a lot of readers from minnesota. I find this funny for some reason. In North Dakota, we too had nice weather and went for a hike in the buffalo wallows (a small stream made more gully-like by gigantic creatures rolling around in the mud) which lead to my family's homestead from 1909 or whenever it was that my great-grandfather and his 8(!) brothers settled there from the Czech Republic. The fat dachshund came along and acted all big-dog for the first 45 minutes or so but his little legs gave out and we had to take turns carrying him the rest of the way. Then we wandered around all the old dilapidated buildings on the ancient farm and envisioned nine-year-old versions of my grandmother and her sister Emily hawking lemonade and cherry soda during the barn dances my family used to throw back in the day (and by "the day" i mean 1935ish). Then we went home, drank bad beer and good wine while frosting christmas cookies. We pick a different theme for them every year. Last year I think it was something political. This year it was "small towns" and my first cookie was of a very abstract depiction of a meth lab, because don't all small towns have meth labs and shouldn't they be depicted on Christmas cookies? Of course my family told the priest about the meth lab cookie at dinner that night. He was horrified, of course. My family clearly doesn't have a very good filter. I also went for a couple of glorious runs down lonely (minus one gigantic deer and a few pheasants) gravel roads though wide open spaces. It was heavenly.

Dec 27, 2011

Tom and his Santa Traps just made my day. What did he plan on doing with Santa when he caught him?

Dec 27, 2011

Your Christmas sounds wonderful!

We have set traditions too - Santa sacks (basically fancy pillow cases) at the end of our beds, massive Christmas lunch, and then opening presents into the wee hours of the morning on Boxing Day (I come from a massive family!).

I wonder what countries do stockings on the mantel? I'm from Australia and we have Santa sacks on the end of our beds.

x Jasmine

Dec 27, 2011

I wrapped all mine in brown kraft paper, too. And I bought the most enormous roll EVER (like, 1000 feet or something--$50 worth), so looks like I am wrapping in brown kraft paper forrrrever.

Dec 27, 2011

I did the packaging paper too and stamped everyone's name on with stamps I bought at Michaels for $15.00. I agree with Shauna; the stamps make all the difference.If I could attach a picture to my comment I would show you just how adorable it is stamped. Sadly, you'll just have to take my word for it.
Your Christmas sounds amazing. Mine includes children. Lots of children. Children that scream, and children that cry. Children that get so excited about Christmas, they spend the entire day in a "I'm going insane with Christmas excitement!" frenzy. It's ridiculous and wonderful all at the same time.
One tradition we have is to open a new pair of Christmas pjs on Christmas Eve every year and watch the movie, Lady in White.

Dec 27, 2011

Our family tradition is Christmas Eve tamales for dinner. When my son goes to bed, all the adults exchange gifts. That way on Christmas morning, it is all about Mason and we get a chance to watch him open his gifts. Now that he's almost 6 I think our gift opening will have to change. When he woke up, he was like..."where did all your presents go?" I told him we opened them up the night before and received a strange look for that. It was dreary and rainy here in Texas this year. Very glad for the much needed rain, but kinda hard to tell the little guy he couldn't go out and ride his "big wheel".

Dec 27, 2011

Your family Christmas looks absolutely spectacular.

Please give us more info about your steam mop! I received new laminate floors for Christmas, and after spending frustrating hours researching steam mops on Amazon and watching the prices literally change before my eyes, I disappeared into a mulled-cider-spiked-with-Southern-Comfort coma.

Speaking of which, I spent this Christmas on an island of misfits. I'd love it if you checked it out! http://domestiphobia.net/2011/12/26/apparently-my-house-is-the-island-of...

Dec 27, 2011

I just felt the need to add: Minnesota in the house!!!

Dec 27, 2011

I used brown kraft paper as well (and actually have in years past) but I spruced my packages up with various colored ribbons, handmade gift tags, and some evergreen trimmings which I think helped make it look less ration-chic.

Dec 27, 2011

It seems like this was the year for brown kraft paper. I, too, wrapped my gifts with it but I was pleased with the results. I even received a few compliments on it. I used coloured ribbon, so maybe that made a difference.

Your Christmas sounds very lovely and I'm particularly jealous of the sing along!

Dec 27, 2011

our christmas celebrations are essentially the same--my heritage is british, so you and i have many of the same traditions. my mom used to put our stockings at the end of our bed, until we got a cat that liked to play in them and chew on the stuffers while we were sleeping, so now they sit on the hearth on christmas morning. our traditional christmas eve meal is fondue with roasted potatoes, sometimes yorkshire pudding joins the menu. we were also in the san diego area (oceanside to be exact), and i too was a victim of the brown kraft paper. i gave my boyfriend his brown gift on christmas eve (the only adornment was his name in turquoise glitter sticker letters), and he said he "really enjoyed the minimalist look." i took the hint and added a quick tie of navy satin ribbon to the other gifts that were waiting under the tree for christmas morning. that seemed to be the saving grace--otherwise, they would have likely fallen to the same fate as yours. its the thought that counts?

Dec 27, 2011

I have done craft paper wrapping the last 2 years. The secret is to get the red and green craft paper and decorate with ribbons or, preferrably, with snowflakes made by your daughters. It looks tres festive. At least I think so! http://www.elzabelz.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-at-our-house.html (last picture)

Our Christmas doesn't involve that much singing (I may need to remedy that), but lots of eating and joking, and wearing of silly hats. By the way, my mom found the most beautiful crackers this year- Meri Meri. GORGEOUS. And, good jokes and tokens. Plus, really nice hats-none of that tissue paper stuff!

Dec 27, 2011

I like to buy really obnoxious wrapping paper (the brighter, the better) for everyone's gifts. Luckily my brother-in-law also likes wrapping presents; otherwise there'd be a pile of gift bags and tissue paper under the tree.

There have been a lot of changes over the past few years, but one constant is persimmon pudding. My mom makes the Chez Panisse version - which is SO GOOD - and we devour it on Christmas Day. We are allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve (when we were kids, more presents would magically appear between bedtime and morning, so there was a limited selection). My mom still stuffs stockings for all of us, including my husband and the aforementioned BIL.

Now that we have a baby (this was her first Christmas), I'm looking forward to seeing her react to Christmas and all our traditions, big and small.

Dec 27, 2011

Well, come on over to my blog and see EXACTLY what my Christmas looked like, why dontcha? Confession: I actually worked on Christmas day, so the photos you see were taken on Monday, which is the day we celebrated because we were both off! (We're always a little off, but you know what I mean.)

Glad yours was merry!

Dec 27, 2011

I LOVE hearing about other people's Christmas traditions; thanks for sharing yours! Growing up, our Christmas' were full of traditions, but now that I and all my siblings are grown, married, and have children, some things have had to change, though we try to hold on to as many of the old traditions as possible.

Dec 27, 2011

It sounds like you had such a lovely and relaxing time! Our Christmas weekend went by too quick, but was nice.

I also tried the adorably folksy kraft paper wrapping this year and was not impressed. Not only did it not turn out like the Pinterest versions, it was difficult to maneuver!

Dec 27, 2011

By far, our "best new thing" this holiday was having an adorable little 8-month-old granddaughter (our first :-) on hand to enjoy the festivities.

I solved the wrapping dilemma rather handily about ten years ago -- went out the week after Christmas and bought up many yards of holiday patterned fabric on super sale with which I made a collection of various-sized bags (like pillowcases, from fist-sized to "giant"). All I have to do now is toss a gift into the bag and tie it off with some festive ribbon. When I'm really lazy I don't even do tags -- just remember the blue ribbon is for Jeff, white for Jenny, white and blue together = a joint gift for Jeff *and* Jenny, etc.

Santa fills our stockings (hung by the chimney with care :-) with stuff like dental floss, batteries, post-it notes, and cough drops. Oddly enough, poor perennially-neglected mom rarely gets much of anything in her stocking (sigh) One of these days Santa's helpers are sure to catch on.

Every so often we host a homeless international visitor or two, and Santa always pulls out the stops on those stockings which is a lot of fun. We had a girl from Japan in tears one time when she called her family from here on Christmas morning. She had expected to be only a guest/observer at "a typical American family Christmas". I didn't need a translator to tell me that she was exclaiming over the mittens, and costume jewelry, and stuffed animal, and nail polish..."all for me!"

I love your holiday traditions, Holly -- family togetherness, FTW!

Dec 27, 2011

I wish my Christmases were like yours (full of alcohol and traditions!). My husband and I are both from families that don't drink AT ALL. Dry Christmases filled with 15 screaming children? No thanks. :) But once we have our own kids, I plan to make traditions much like yours! With stockings from the mantle, of course. :)

Dec 27, 2011

Growing up, my sister and I were allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve (any present of our choosing) and then all of the other presents were saved for Christmas day. Christmas night was always spent traveling a half hour north to visit all of my dad's elderly Norwegian relatives. I have very fond memories of the car trip through the dark, listening to NPR (usually Prairie Home Companion), and then sitting at my great aunt's table and indulging in all of the Scandinavian goodies she had whipped up for the holiday. Now that she's passed there is no one left to make lefse and rosettes like she did (always served with "orange juice" aka Tang). She had no children of her own and was simply the best and I always get a little teary when thinking of her this time of year.

My husband's family does their feast and opens gifts on Christmas Eve, and then Christmas day is all about seeing the latest blockbuster at the movie theater. We rotate Christmases between our families (we live far away from both) and at first this tradition seemed awful, but now I (shamefully) look forward to it. My husband and I found ourselves at home on Christmas this year and we happily indulged in the newest Mission Impossible.

Dec 28, 2011

What a lovely family tradition Holly. Coming from Australia I always have happy memories of christmas day spent at my grandparents place filling up on turkey and pudding then waiting the agonising 1 hour before we could jump in the pool (had to make sure none of us kids got cramps!). Now my grandparents have gone and I've grown up, my husband and I spend one year working (both healthcare workers) then the next either spent at my parents, my sisters or our place which also involves a lot of travelling.
By the way I love the table settings - were the pine cones your idea? And also I happen to love the simplicity of brown paper wrapping.
Happy holidays to you.

Dec 28, 2011

I love your table setting, its beautiful. Our presents were wrapped in kraft paper too! but with this red and green twine and we had little vintage christmas stickers to write peoples names on, i liked the way they turned out.

We always had santa sacks which were hung on chairs at the dining table near the christmas tree and we always have a real tree which we choose and cut down ourselves. Christmas day we usually have a big family lunch and then go to the beach followed by an afternoon nap under the fan since being from Australia it's a summer Christmas, i always wish it snowed here though.

Dec 28, 2011

Your Christmas sounds glorious, and the table decorations are divine!

As children my sister and I were always allowed to open one present the night before, though it was always something educational! Pah! My two bachelor Uncles would drive from Sydney overnight and we would have to wait until they arrived to open any presents on Christmas day... So christmas morning was spent hovering over the front window waiting for their blue car to show up.

Our Christmas day evolved when I married my husband. My husband and I get up early to cook breakfast (croissants, round cut bacon, scrambled eggs, sausages, home made hash browns and sometimes pancakes) and my lovely parents drive over with all of our presents. My sister lives with us and is in charge of setting the table. We then destroy our lounge room with shredded wrapping paper providing hours of entertainment for our two cats. My parents particularly enjoy buying presents for our two cats and two beagles, and the beagles love ripping open their presents.

We then take a nap, wake up, pack our bathers and drive to my parents house where we have lunch - which is usually three types of roast, salads and baked vegetables. This is followed by lots of swimming in the family pool and a couple of board games. We then go home (with a huge plate of leftovers) and drink until midnight.

The day following Christmas Day in Australia is boxing day, so its basically a repeat of Christmas Day without the presents!!

Happy New Year Holly. I still envy you your last new years!

Dec 28, 2011

Christmas Eve the husband and I have our Christmas together since Christmas Day is with the extended family. We go to the Carol Service and then come home to exchange gifts. We always give each other a little Lego set in our stockings (hung on the mantle) so we spend the rest of the evening drinking scotch and playing with Legos while watching A Christmas Story. Christmas Day we pack everything up and head to the folks' house and spend the day eating and drinking in shifts after opening gifts. Truly lovely and low key.

Dec 28, 2011

We live in Vancouver and all of our family is back in Ontario so we no longer have the traditional Christmas festivities. This year we exchanged gifts and then headed out to Stanley Park to walk the 8km around the sea wall. We thought it would be deserted but a lot of people were out doing the same thing. We also rarely get snow in this city as it hovers at 5 Celcius for most of winter. But mountains are ten minute drive away if you desire it.

Pickles & Dimes
Dec 28, 2011

Another Minnesotan here! I walked the dog this morning in my flip-flops, so it's all good. One Christmas tradition we have that I wish would go away is that we eat pizza for dinner. FROZEN PIZZA. It started years ago when my parents told us we couldn't open presents until after dinner was cleaned up, so my brother said, "Let's have pizza then. Clean-up will be easy because we'll use paper plates!" So, let's see...that was 25 YEARS AGO, and I think it would be nice to have real food for Christmas. Maybe next year!

Nothing But Bonfires
Dec 28, 2011

Aw, I think the pizza is a nice tradition! It has a great story behind it.

Also, Minnesotans, I am sorry to have assumed your weather would be too cold for flipflops, but I am also heartened to know that I "know" so many people there: Minnesota is one state I REALLY want to visit in 2012, so maybe we can all meet up for a drink. In our flipflops.

Dec 28, 2011

Yet another Minnesotan here, and if you visit, I would totally come to a flip-flops-only meetup in Minneapolis or somewhere!

It was ridiculously warm this Christmas, and I missed having snow in December. It just doesn't 'feel' like Christmas without the snow, you know?

As for traditions, my extended family always gathers to eat snacks and sing carols (from a specific songbook that I think is circa 1955) on Christmas Eve,and we MUST sing 'Silent Night' last or my grandmother nearly has a stroke. Christmas Day, my immediate family goes to mass, eats a late brunch with egg pie (like quiche) and caramel rolls, and open presents. Then we go my aunt/uncle's house to play games and have more merriment.

My mother skipped the actual stockings this year in lieu of just giving us Fererro Rocher, chocolate oranges, and Lindor chocolates in their regular packaging, and that's for my husband and I (30) and my 24 year old sister. :)

Dec 28, 2011

I'm compelled to join in the Minnesota shout-outs. Our 10,000 lakes aren't quite as frozen as usual, but I accept the apology, anyway. I love the photo of the surfers on the beach.

I'm quite jealous of your Christmas traditions! Nothing has really stuck in my family, and for a few years I've actually dreaded Christmas and juggling my split up and inconsistent family.

And you and your sister did a lovely job with the table!

Camels & Chocolate
Dec 28, 2011

I'm sorry, but all I can think of now is how insanely fun it would be to play Balderdash with your family. I'm sure there are some, erm, interesting definitions. Do you play the traditional version or the newer one with the various categories (dates, movies, etc.)?

Dec 28, 2011

I too asked for and recieved a steam mop. My 15 year old self would be puzzled over a.) how excited I was to receive it, b.) how disappointed I was to not be able to use it right away due to a sinus infection, and c.) how disappointed I was not to receive a dust buster also. I also had my eye on a cute turquiose bread box and a matching banana hanger at target today. I may go back with my christmas gift card and buy them.

Dec 28, 2011

I am jealous of your holiday drinking...I am pregnant this holiday season and wanted nothing more than a freaking mimosa. So glad that you all had a great time.

Dec 28, 2011

I think the trick with the craft paper as wrapping paper is to use thick, shiny ribbon. I did it, and it looked great! Lots of people commented on the "fancy" wrapping. On a couple of gifts, I even tied a candy cane into the knot which I think looked even better (plus, the recipient gets a candy cane).

Dec 28, 2011

Being a Catholic, we have a few Christmas traditions:
- Novena Mass prior to Christmas day - Attending mass at 4:30am (I kid you not!) from Dec16-24. They say that if you complete all the 9 masses and make a wish on the 24th it will come true. (I've completed twice myself when I was younger and yeah both of my "realistic" wishes did come true)
- Noche Buena - This is the Christmas Eve Dinner, after dinner we open presents (unlike you we don't have socks, the gifts are just under the tree)
- Christmas Day Mass - Fortunately this one is not at 4:30am. The time is the same as the Sunday masses.
- Christmas Day = lazy day + eating left overs from Noche Buena.

**I now live in Sydney and away from my family, so unfortunately I didn't do most of it. I'm hoping my husband and I will create new traditions here**

Venita Michelle
Dec 29, 2011

In our family, we celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas. The 12 days preceeding Christmas, we each get a small gift, a card with a memory written inside, and candy. The gifts usually lead to a big one, given on Christmas morning, or late on Christmas Eve if my mom is begged enough to give in and let us open our packages early. We also spend Christmas Eve eating party food (hors d'oeuvres), watching It's a Wonderful Life, and playing board games. Christmas day is usually spent traveling from house to house, stuffing ourselves silly with cranberry salad, pecan pie, and green bean casserole.

I love your family's traditions of a beautiful table setting and the sing-a-long. I may have to add these to my family's traditions. Merry Holidays!

Dec 29, 2011

I think when you go simple on the paper, you really have to up the ante on what you do with other embellishments for the package. I used kraft paper too this year, and I was pleased with the way it turned out! I did the yarn thing it sounds like several people also found on Pinterest, and it worked really well since I had to stuff all my wrapped gifts in my suitcase to take home with me. I mostly just wrapped yarn around the gifts a few times. I also made a few pompoms. It got lots of compliments. I also found some ornament scrapbooking stickers for cheap that I put on each package. I think that really made it. They were the really nice 3D kind.

Dec 29, 2011

Thank you, Holly! Thank you for sharing your family Christmas with us once again.

I first started reading your blog around Christmas last year...maybe right before??...and was spellbound at Tom's attempt to make it out of London on time, the merriment once you all were together, and we can't forget your lovely teal Beach Cruiser! And Scotch Eggs, yum yum! Your entire Christmas post made me smile for quite a while.

This year, I looked forward to reading about your family Christmas even more. Christmas 2011 was difficult for my family (several family members- my nephew included - died during 2011) and with my entire family in CA and me NOT in CA...let's just say I was dreading Christmas and the Holidays in general.

In a way, reading about your Christmas has become one of my traditions. You've a lovely family and I pray that 2012 will keep you all Happy & Healthy!

And yay for steam mops :-)

Russell Hicks
Jan 01, 2012

Sounds like a fab Christmas!

By start contrast our Christmas eve was spent sailing through mountainous seas from Guadeloupe to Antigua but we made it just before dark. Then New Year's eve a big race, only 23 boats made it to the finish from 41 starters, one capsized, nasty conditions, lots of broken gear. No, I don't know why I do it.

Happy New Year!

Russell & Tammy xxx

Jan 03, 2012

Hey, I got a steam mop this year too! My new Christmas traditions (at home with just my husband involve): Christmas Eve homemade Chinese food, drinks, It's a Wonderful Life and Love, Actually in our new Christmas pajamas; brunch, gifts, and stockings Christmas day, and a big dinner after lounging all day.

Sounds like your family had a great Christmas, too!

Jan 08, 2012

What lovely traditions. My family is very small (just 4 of us) and our Christmases are lovely, but I would be lying if I didn't say that I miss the huge three-day Christmases with my numerous ex-in-laws (who were also British and German) in Baltimore.

Keep the kraft paper. Go to Papermart.com and buy oodles of gorgeous ribbons for cheap for use year round.

Feb 01, 2012

I'm way behind on all the blogs I read, so this is way late... but I have to say, I adore your family. Or at least the way you write about them and present them to the internet. I don't actually know them, of course. But you all just sound so lovely. In fact, I would say that I covet your family, except that's probably a weird thing to say, so I won't say that.

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