Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Will Handmade Christmas Gifts Make A Comeback?

Decades ago, Christmastime was simple.  Gifts were handmade, families gatherings were much-anticipated, credit cards weren’t a billing option, and Black Friday hadn’t even been conceived.

Fast-forward to today.  In an environment in which the national unemployment rate hovers at 9% (much higher for certain segments of the population), poverty rates are at the highest level since 1993, household debt approaches a staggering $12 trillion (although it did decline slightly), and foreclosure rates of which we’re all vividly aware, I wouldn’t have imagined shoppers spending billions of dollars in discretionary shopping in the past few days.

So exactly how much was spent?  Black Friday 2011 sales hit a record $11.4 billion, a 39% increase over last year.  Add to that the $1.25 billion spent on Cyber Monday (another record-breaker), it’s almost inconceivable that unemployment rates could be so high.

In my mind, I imagined that there would be no time like the present (no pun intended) for a cultural return to homemade gifts for the holiday season.  (Disclaimer: I am a Christian and celebrate Christ’s birth, but do recognize that others celebrate holidays for which they shop during this time of year.  I am in no way referring to this time of year as “the holidays” for purposes of being politically correct.)  However, sales figures prove that my mental picture is wrong. 

Humor me.  What would Christmas look like if we turned a cultural corner and went back to the simple days of gift-giving and celebrating? 

  • Batches of baked goods would be exchanged
  • Families would gather to dine and sing carols
  • Scarves and mittens would be knitted with care
  • Stress level would decline
  • Toys would be built by the hands of loved ones

But who am I kidding?  Based on recent consumer spending, despite household debt figures, I don’t think we’ll make a return to simpler Christmas celebrations of old.  I’m not even convinced that consumer spending could go any lower without the proverbial bottom falling out of this already-dismal economy. 

Let’s face it.  Deal-seekers who camp out in front of electronic stores days before Black Friday, clickers who load and submit shopping carts on Cyber Monday, and a culture in which we want it all and we want it now, are both curses and blessings.  They are curses because they lead to rising household debt, but they are blessings in that without them, the unemployment rates would be much higher.

So, no, I don’t think handmade gifts will make a comeback anytime soon.  I still plan to bake a few batches of goodies though. 😉

Merry Christmas!

CC

 

Blue and White Christmas Theme

Last spring, I painted my family room.  I had grown bored with the six-year-old wall color and the general look of the room, so out went the colors of my favorite football team, and in with something refreshing and “breezy”.  The formerly burgundy room was transformed into a beachy oasis in which the tan flooring represented sand, the white bookcases and trim are the clouds, and the light blue walls are my cool, relaxing sky.

Here’s a glimpse…

As I finished the first roll of the paintbrush, a thought came to mind: I would no longer be able to use the Christmas decorations that I’ve collected over the years.  The traditional red, gold, and green simply won’t fit in with the room’s new color scheme.

With that realization, I knew I’d have to hit the stores soon in search of new Christmas decorations that would complement, not distract from, the family room’s new theme. 

As if sent from above, I saw and advertisement for a “make and take” Christmas ornament session at the local craft store.  So, I hopped into my van with my youngest daughter in tow, so that we could get an idea of this year’s decorative trends and she could learn about the importance of being able to make something with her own hands.  Get them started young if you can.  Crafting can be therapeutic.

My reward/craft for obediently trekking to the store in search of cool Christmas decorations on a hot, summer’s day?  A beautiful clear ornament that was ultimately covered inside with light blue glitter and a pretty silver ribbon on the outside.  I love it!  My daughter chose white glitter for the interior of her ornament and it is equally beautiful.

 

Now, fully thinking about the work that I had ahead of me, I earnestly began my hunt for more decorations.  Due to that dogged determination (I love to decorate!), I soon found a supply of ribbons that was literally being stocked into bins as I perused the DIY aisle.  It didn’t take long for me to make a few selections for my new color scheme.  I am now the proud owner of 5 rolls of silver and white festive ribbon.  Note to self:  Need to brush up on ribbon-making skills for maximum decorative impact.

Fast forward to tonight.  This evening’s shopping trip turned up a set of snowflake ornaments that make an excellent addition to my small, but growing, collection of decorations for this year.

So, here’s everything together.  Obviously, I have my work cut out for me, but I love a challenge!

For the robust decorative look that I prefer, I’ll need to make many more trips to see what great finds are out there just waiting for me to spruce up my newly decorated room for the upcoming holiday season.  I’m also looking forward to making a few ornaments.

One more thing: no Christmas decor would be complete without matching wrapping paper.  You wouldn’t want to sabotage months of searching by using paper that doesn’t enhance the look, would you?

Happy decorating!

Share your pictures of your Christmas decorations here.

CC

Family Christmas Gifts

The cold blast that parts of the country are experiencing and the advancing months on the calendar have me thinking about the upcoming Christmas season.  Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year.  Obviously, the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, is the true reason for the season, and I feel beyond blessed that He was sent here to save us.  The gift of Jesus is immeasurable.  Along those lines, but obviously not of the same magnitude, the joy of showering my children with gifts is immeasurable to me.

While the joy that gifting my children brings is immeasurable, the amount of money that my husband and I spend to make their dreams of dolls, video games, other assorted electronics come true is very measurable.  In fact, the amount that we spend is set in stone.  Each child gets the same budgeted amount and must live within their means.  What a novel idea! 

In a household where everyone has what they need and most of what they want, I wonder how necessary it is to continue filling our empty spaces with material things just because there’s a budget for it.  My intent is not to be a scrooge, but to turn our focus from solely tangible items to memory-making gifts with some, or all, of our gift money.  Perhaps we can begin a new family tradition that would demonstrate an immeasurable love for one another and for others.

A few ideas that I’ve thought of so far are:

  • Adopting a family and sharing our blessings with them
  • Taking a family vacation for the holidays – the gift of time
  • Purchasing season tickets for amusement parks or sporting events
  • Buying several $5 or $10 gift cards and distributing them randomly to strangers based on the Spirit’s guidance

As I sit here typing this blog, a commercial for spending Christmas in Branson, Missouri is playing on the television.  Is that a sign?  LOL!

Our household is a democracy of sorts (parents can veto just about anything though), so any ideas must be presented at a family meeting where a vote would ultimately be held.  It’s a bit late to hold that process for this year as each kid has already mentally spent their gift budgets, so any decisions would not take effect until Christmas 2012.

Have you adopted a family gift tradition in your home?  If so, what is (or has been) on the gift list?  Any comments would be greatly appreciated!

CC