In the spirit of Christmas and lovingly handmade gifts, I came up with two projects I thought I could actually do this year. I bought the supplies well ahead of time, read and re-read the tutorials on Pinterest, and imagined the perfect results in my head. Turns out, imaging things does not make them come to fruition.
My first project was a photo-to-wood transfer project. I spent $21 on gel medium (bought the big jar because I was certain I was going to LOVE this project and want to make hundreds of them). The idea is you cover a piece of wood (in this case, pre-cut wood plaques from Michael's) with gel medium and put a photo that you've printed on a laser printer on top of the gel medium upside down, so the photo will transfer to the wood. You have to leave it overnight first, and in the morning, you get the paper wet and rub off all the paper and voila! A beautiful wood transfer that you then cover with Mod Podge (bought two big jars, at $8 each) and present as a gift. Well. The first thing I did wrong was I didn't use a laser printer. Because who has a laser printer at home? And who has time to go to Kinkos? Not me. So, I used my regular ink jet printer after reading that some people had success with this. Big mistake. The pictures printed fine and everything went according to plan until the next day when I rubbed off the paper and half the printed picture in the process. Whoops! I asked Jeff to sand them down so I could try again. Same results. Crap. Only one turned out even halfway and then I decided it needed to be painted black around the edges so I attempted to make it look "antiqued" by rubbing it with an emery board. Oh my. I sent it to my sister anyway, since it was intended for her and was a picture of her and her beloved on their wedding day. It's not at all what I wanted it to be but since it's the only one I didn't trash, I sent it anyway. FAIL!
My second project still sounds good in theory but I never had time to actually DO it. First I bought a metal stamp set at Harbor Freight. The set contains the alphabet and numbers and a few characters. The idea is that you buy some metal washers at Loews or Home Depot and you "stamp" words or names or what have you into them. You can layer the washers by size and then you string them on a chain, perhaps add an embellishment, and you have a delightful custom necklace. Since it took me so long to get around to doing it (read: I still haven't done it!), I decided last-minute that it would also be cute to make them into ornaments so I had to buy another $10 worth of heavy-gauge wire to string them on. Well. One day it will be really cute. Only not for Christmas 2012.
Why I even thought I had time to do crafts is beyond me. I've always considered myself a crafty person, but the truth is, I am only crafty for the under 12 set. Any kids' craft I'm all over - I can and will do them. But adult crafts - you know, things that are supposed to actually look good? Not so much for me. Add to that the fact that things have been crazy around here this 2012. One crisis after another and no time to breathe, let alone eat or pee some days. Crafts? Fugghedaboutit!
In the same vein, while I was nearly done with my shopping Thanksgiving weekend, I failed to do the extended family shopping until the very last minute and thus was scrambling to mail packages yesterday to the tune of $60, give or take, for postage. Now, I am trying to reconcile this in my head. I used to send gift cards, then decided presents were more fun and more personal. My siblings and I long ago decided to only exchange gifts between the kids. After exchanging the same $10 Target gift card over and over for years, we decided a couple of years ago to send ornaments instead. After all, the kids will be grown one day and then they would have a collection of ornaments for their very first tree in their new apartment. Except that ornaments have to be mailed. In a box. Which is like buying a whole other gift when you consider the postage for each package. So, it makes sense to me to just send gift cards in the Christmas card envelope I was going to send anyway! Gah!
Speaking of Christmas cards, mine are still sitting on my kitchen table. I just finished printing the Christmas letter at 12:35 a.m. on the day the world is supposed to end (it didn't). Now I have to fold and stuff them and hopefully tomorrow I will mail them. I feel like I'm very far behind on this task this year. And the main reason is this: we had NO opportunity to take a family Christmas picture. Seriously. Not because we were pressed for time. But because we were never in the same place at the same time long enough (and/or dressed for the day) to snap a picture. So, I just made a collage of some photos from the past year and called it good. Thank God for Costco, who printed my cards overnight AND had the very good sense to offer stamps for sale right at the checkout. Yay!
I have not baked a single thing this year. Which is weird because I've gained three pounds. Oh yeah, that's all the sugary treats we've received in various gifts. I had every intention of baking several delicious seasonal treats and distributing them to friends and neighbors. Instead I made homemade Bailey's. That's good enough, right?
I have not wrapped many gifts - maybe five or six. I have dozens and dozens more to wrap. I spent WAY too much money - again - and tonight, after adding it all up and paying the bills, I seriously considered doing a huge "return" field trip tomorrow to take back half of what I bought. I go through this every year and always tell myself "this year it will be different:" but it never is! I read a great motto for Christmas gift-giving this year. To reduce the amount of gifts you give and stay within budget, follow this rule: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. Or, like a friend of mine shared, each child gets a book, a movie, an outfit, and a toy (or gadget). I would even add in "an experience" (i.e. tickets to a show/concert). But the way I shop has no rhyme or reason to it, other than "I got it on sale!" I like everyone to have a lot of gifts to open so I buy a lot of things. Christmas morning unwrapping goes on a while in our house. My kids don't receive many gifts from anyone outside the immediate family so I always want to make sure they have "enough." And the truth is, they ALREADY have enough!
We made a list of things we wanted to do over the Christmas season and we're chipping away at it slowly. Most of it will happen after Christmas. Mostly, I just hope the power stays on this year so we don't spend Christmas day in the dark and eat Jack-in-the-Box for dinner because it's the only place nearby that's open and has power! This year HAS to be better than that, right?
What are your Christmas traditions? Here are some of ours:
1. Bake and decorate sugar cookies (Arlie baked sugar cookies last night but then left for Spokane, so....we'll see how that turns out!)
2. Build a fort for sleeping in on Christmas eve (kids only - so far there are beds on the ground but no giant "tent" up yet)
3. Drive around to see cool light displays (we saw one at a church)
4. Go ornament shopping to get new ornaments for each family member (this year I'm scrapping that one in favor of going AFTER Christmas and buying them on clearance!)
5. Watch Christmas movies (we've watched a few)
6. Read "The Night Before Christmas" on the night before Christmas, from a very old book (mine when I was a child)
7. Buy chocolate Advent calendars and open a door in the big Advent house each day (how come I never get a chocolate Advent calendar? Next year I want one with Lindt truffles in it!)
8. Decorate our house to rival Clark Griswold (yes, it's Griswold with an "o," not an "a," like people keep writing. Stop it! And yes, we did it. "We" meaning Jeff did it. He rocks!)
9. Get Christmas jammies (did it, but only for the kids this year)
10. Take a family Christmas picture for the Christmas card (nope, not this year!)
11. Drink Bailey's every night (mommy only)
Ah well, What happens happens. And what doesn't doesn't. What really matters is just chilling with the family whenever and wherever we can. And drinking Bailey's every night. Or maybe that's just me. :)