Calm Christmas

I absolutely didn’t expect to have a calm or very enjoyable Christmas. The weeks prior had indicated December wasn’t going to give us a break, and then Jack was slated to be with his dad all week, which generally makes it harder for me to get into the festivities. Still, I dutifully did my shopping and wrapping and decorating. It turned out to be worth it, too!

The Sunday before the holiday, I decided I didn’t care if we weren’t having a big family gathering – I was gonna bake anyway! So I got together with my friend Kurstan and we baked our hearts out. We made cookies and brownies and rice crispy treats and then split them between the two of us. I find baking relaxing and it was also wonderful to spend so much time with Kurstan – between our jobs, her upcoming wedding, and various trips and illnesses, we don’t get to just hang out as much as we’d like.

On Christmas David and I were joined by his sister Stella, my mom and her partner Jim. We opened stockings, had a delicious dinner that was just the right size, played games, and opened up a bunch of presents. We got some awesome things that we wanted and some even better things that we needed. Oh and I made a cake that David has been requesting for the past four years – it turned out perfectly delicious.

Yesterday we had tickets to go see the San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker. It was supposed to be the three of us plus Stella, but David got sick and had to stay home. Jack’s friend Alex took David’s ticket and then Alex’s family ended up getting seats behind ours, as well, so we went in a big group. Thanks to a friend I know in the ballet, we were able to get backstage and see the sets and play in the fake snow, too. It was a magical experience! I’m so glad we got to share it with friends. And Jack loved it just as much as he did two years ago!

Jack got to open all his presents yesterday. He got so much stuff! We’re not quite sure where to put it all but he is super happy with his gifts. I even scored him a couple things he didn’t know he wanted (most beloved is the fire-breathing Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon). WOOT. And he now has a TON of Dr. Who toys, including the 11th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. He’s barely put that down since he got it. I’d say that makes him a happy camper.

So, we didn’t have a huge gathering of friends and family or a giant spread of food, plus some of our celebrating was delayed, but the holiday was pretty drama-free and relaxing. And you know what? I’ll take it!!

Happy holidays, y’all!

Decking The Halls

We’re gearing up for Christmas. This is our first Christmas in our new house, so we are pretty excited! It’s been a rough year, but we are taking every opportunity to celebrate life. I’m trying not to let the fact that Jack has a lumbar puncture and chemo scheduled for Christmas Eve get to me. Blech.

Last year our dog ate our stockings, including the personalized knit one I’ve had since I was a child. To write that wrong, I went to Etsy and found an awesome stocking shop called Forshee Designs and now we all have coordinating stockings with our names on them. They are big and sturdy and gorgeous (and we hung them high – out of Lambert’s reach!).

David and I bought ornaments and Christmas lights at Kmart, since we only had decorations fit for a miniature tree (having lived in apartments for so long). David decked the house with white dangling lights and the windows are lined with blue lights. I put snowflake decals in our front window and we have flickering LED candles in all of the windows. That went a long way to making things feel pretty magical.

Our shopping is nearly done. This weekend I did a blitz on getting stocking stuffers at Pier 1 and Target. I also got some holiday crafts to work on with Jack, including a gingerbread cookie decorating kit. I then hung our Stampin’ Up! advent calendar – filled with chocolate and small toys. I’m not super excited about most of the things we got for Jack this year, but I think the top three would be the Little Thinker CDs (a story is told or question asked on the CD and the kid is supposed to draw along with it), the Creatures Card Game and the animated Ewoks DVD (which he may not like at all!).

To complete our home decor, we just need a tree! We’ve decided we’re getting a real tree this year. I found a Christmas Tree farm in our new town where we can cut our own. I remember doing that as a kid and LOVING it. I can’t wait to take Jack and search for our perfect tree and then take it home and decorate it!

One thing I’m super excited about this year is a DVD we got from Your Santa Story. I went onto the website and input Jack’s info and asked that Santa tell him what a brave and strong kid he is. On Christmas morning a note will appear from Santa to tell Jack about the DVD. Santa will then talk right to him and even tell him where his last present is hidden. I can’t wait to see the look on his face! If you want to give your Christmas a little extra magic this year, go check it out.

I thought I would share the other websites I’ve found helpful in getting ready for Christmas this year for those of you who are dragging your feet! I know it can be hard to get started and it can be stressful to spend all that money. We certainly don’t have a lot to spend this year after buying a house, a car, and paying a bunch of copays so we are watching our spending, but the celebration is important to us so I took extra care to find deals and rebates. Maybe you can benefit from my shopping experience via these websites:

  • Pinterest – This is where I keep track of holiday craft ideas, recipes, and gift ideas. You can follow me there if you’d like (not that I profess to have especially great taste). ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Ebates – You get a percentage back from merchants you buy from when you click through the Ebates site. It’s free money, so you are screwing yourself if you don’t do it – I’ve gotten over $400 back since I joined in 2008! This year I am getting cash back from purchases on Groupon, Amazon, Tanga, The Children’s Place, eBay and Zulily.
  • Etsy – For unique, handmade anything! There are some really good stocking stuffers to be found (like mojito lip balm), personalized stockings (as mentioned above), or that special thing for that quirky friend of yours who likes things like Velveteen Rabbit necklaces or beard beanies.
  • Threadless – For unique artsy or funny shirts. Everyone loves t-shirts, right?
  • Tanga – A great deal site! I particularly like the deals on board games, such as this 3-pack of Dominion for $60 (we love this game!).
  • Nomorerack.com – This site has a bunch of new and amazing deals every day. There’s a flat rate shipping fee of $2 per item. You can get some really fantastic deals!
  • Naked Wines – Usually it’s a losing proposition monetarily to run a small winery. This company helps independent wine makers distribute their wines without the crazy overhead, which means cheaper and more unique wines for customers! If you click my sidebar button over on the right you’ll get $100 toward a $160 purchase – perfect for stocking up for the holidays.

What are YOU excited about this Christmas?

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This post is not a sponsored post and only contains retailers and products that I would personally recommend; however, some of these links are affiliate links for which I may receive compensation.