Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Gift Wrap

Call me crazy but I love wrapping presents. I find it relaxing and seeing the finished product just makes me smile. I'm not overly meticulous (my corners don't always line up and the tape usually has dog hair stuck in it) but I do like to get creative. This year, in keeping with my Christmas colour scheme of red, white, and brown, I wrapped all our gifts in coordinating paper.

I always keep a few rolls of regular, ol' brown parcel paper from the post office on hand as I find it's the easiest to jazz up and suitable for all occasions. I also picked up a roll of cranberry red paper from Ikea and a patterned red paper from Superstore.

Since my wrapping paper is pretty basic I like to use unique ribbons to dress my parcels. Red, white, and brown twine, leftover lace trim, and some scrap fabric work perfectly in this area. Last year I topped my presents with pine cones as well but there are lots of other clever finishings for gifts (think feathers, sprigs of pine, dried flowers, or small plush toys for young kids).

I'm not a big believer in greeting cards so I usually just make my own little gift tags from craft paper and Washi tape or stamp the recipient's name right on to the wrapping paper. It's cheap and personal and looks pretty crafty too!

Gift bags are, of course, a quick and easy way of wrapping presents. When I receive a gift bag that I like I hold on to it for future use. I also keep generic shopping bags that don't have store names on them to use for gift wrap. The Dollar Store is a great place to buy inexpensive bags and tissue paper too.  

If you wrap your presents early enough they can really add to your holiday decor. Now I can't to unwrap them!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Santa Baby

One of the activities from our advent calendar was to visit Santa. We took Wesley to meet Santa at the mall last year and it was a successful trip (ie no tears). The photo was adorable so we decided to make it an annual tradition. I had pretty realistic expectations about this operation, I've seen photos of friends' almost-two-year-olds with Santa and they're not great, so I thought he would probably sit on Santa's lap and maybe he would look at the camera. When we got there we were the third people in line so during our 5 minute wait Wesley would wave and smile at Santa and laugh when Santa waved back. This was great! My expectations grew: maybe we'll get a genuine smile for his photo! Instead, we got this:

This was the best of the options. He didn't cry but he sure wasn't impressed. Oh well, I love it because I think it really captures the moment. (Note: he smiled HUGE when Santa gave him a candy cane - why don't they do that first?).

And because I can't help myself, here is last year's photo:

What a difference a year makes! I have both photos framed next to each other and every time I look at them I smile. Then I see this photo and burst out laughing:

Hahaha! Maybe next year we'll get the perfect Santa photo. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent Calendar

I've been on a bit of a hiatus over the last, oh, 7 or 8 months while I've been back to work but now that my little one is in day care full time I've found some tiny pockets of time to myself and I've been DYING TO BLOG.

Last year I didn't blog at all about my Christmas decorating so I thought now would be a good time to make up for that. I'm not the type to go crazy with the seasonal decor, I subscribe more to the theory that "less is more" so come holiday time we only decorate our mantel and Christmas tree, which is just enough for me.

Our mantel is easily the focal point of our open concept main floor. Because it is so long it is my favourite area to decorate. The past couple of years I've stuck with a pretty neutral Christmas colour scheme of red, white, and brown. I love the rustic, natural look of browns and beiges mixed among cranberry red and ivory. Last year I made a long garland by knotting little pieces of red and taupe scrap fabric along a strip of white linen. I laid it along the top of the mantel then broke it up with clusters of giant pine cones that my mother in law brought home from California. A simple pine wreath and some faux berries in a vintage milk bottle were added in as well.

One of my favourite blogger's, Mary from Urban Farmgirl, was selling these rustic advent calendars in her shop and I fell in love. I was so excited about how the little linen bags match my holiday decor perfectly. I was also excited to be able to count down to Christmas with my son without feeding him candies every day. I made up 10 tags with activities to do together such as baking cookies, tobogganing, and visiting Santa, as well as 5 gift tags, which correspond to small presents.

Of course, the other 9 bags have chocolates in them (I couldn't deprive the little guy).

We're only on Day 6 of our advent calendar but little Wesley is catching on. I won't lie, he's the most excited when he finds a little red candy in the advent bag but he's also had a good time decorating, visiting Santa, and baking cookies so far. Tonight he opened gift number one and ate supper by battery-operated candlelight.

Who knew that an advent calendar could create so much family fun?