Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Way We'll Christmas {and some deals}

My tree isn't up yet. The freak babies are still snoozing somewhere in a plastic tub. The ground isn't white. I'm not wearing flour in my hair or glitter eyeliner.

Wait, I never wear glitter eyeliner. Though come to think of it, maybe I should.

Sidenote: My brother-in-law very recently guessed my age at 40. Not that there's anything wrong with 40, except that I'm not.

Sidenote 2: We visited our new church for the first time, a church packed to the gills with, uh, dear persons of the golden age. A particular white-haired lady creaked up to me and grabbed me about my shoulders, hugging me as though she'd known me forever, then exclaiming, "You look just like my sister-in-law!" (WHAT????) She paused. "Except she's not as...(wait for it)...tall." Homegirl was at least 72. Maybe her brother has a taste for younger women?

Sidenote 3: Just last week, Ruby gleefully announced, "Mommy, you're almost like a Grandma! Well, you're not just look like one!"

All of that to say, pass the glitter eyeliner.

But this isn't at all why we're here. The Christmas season is rightfully upon us and yes, the Fall banner still hangs sleepy in the window, but give me a few days. I'll hop aboard.

Two years ago we started the tradition of not opening gifts on Christmas day. I love it. It feels right to hold that day aside to feel the full beating of the day's truest heart.

This year, we've decided to do something else: We're loving others as much as we love ourselves. So whatever we spend for us, we'll spend equally for someone in need. "Us" includes family members, friends, teachers. It's anyone who is ordinarily on the list.

We are not big spenders at Christmas, but I do love giving gifts. This year it'll simply be more important than ever to keep an eye on the budget and find some killer deals. I've got my spreadsheet ready and I'm excited to see how it goes. Who knows, it could all be a bust. But I love the idea and I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Tomorrow, there are some pretty amazing bargains happening.

I bring you...the swoonery:

Redeemed - Truly Treasured - Wallet
Dayspring : 30% off entire order (including sale items!) using the code 30SUPER all day Monday. I'm quite enamored of this Redeemed wallet.  How fun would it be to wrap a gift card up in this?

Love is my anchor necklace

Lisa Leonard jewelry 25% off all orders. (I'm a sucker for all things nautical. FYI.)

 Have you grabbed a fashionABLE scarf yet? Free shipping all day on Monday.

That should get us started, right?

I'm working on a list for Cory. I'm always so bad at coming up with a list, but people, you can't even imagine how rogue Cory goes without a stinking list. It's painful. I'm talking beige Snuggies or nothing but Burt's Bees, like twelve different things, including the big Christmas gift-set. (If you still don't believe me, read this.)

So tell me, do you have a certain way of doing Christmas? Is there a particular tradition you love? Do you find it all as complicated as I do? (I'm on a serious mission to uncomplicate this year.)

Show me your cart, friends.

All links are affiliate links.


  1. I'm all kinds of messed up... thanks to Jesus and this new group of friends I hang with on Monday nights.

    I'm ready to give it all away, and yet holding on, and yet wanting to give, and yet wanting to hold on.... I'm all kinds of messed up.

    Perhaps I just need to make that list you talk of. Stick. to. the. list.

    Something I'm horrible at.

  2. lol. My husband's philosophy is if I love one bottle of scented lotion, I will simply adore five bottles. It's like my years supply. I don't buy lotion; I just wait for Christmas.

    We try to pick a family every Christmas to do something for...sometimes it's money, a gift, a meal...whatever they need and we can do at the time. The kids really get into this and I love it.

  3. i don't feel like decorating one bit (probably because i'm tired and had the flu so i'll take that back soon, maybe). of course i want to celebrate Christmas. heck, i want to celebrate it each day. but we make it so extravagant in this day and age (do i sound like my mom when i say that?? yes). i can't help but think of the manger. so simple. plain. bare bones. but real and glorious. that's what i want our Christmas to be.

  4. My secret, where Christmas shopping is concerned, is simply this: my husband does it all...every bit of it...including for his own presents. Sometimes I throw out an idea, but then I let him find the deal. He's a shopping genius.

    1. Oh, I'm laughing SO HARD at what this would look like in my house! But seriously...for you and possibly others? Revolutionary! :)

  5. We started a tradition to give no gifts at 'christmas' but to ring the new year in with some gifts for the children (we have 5). I am also having a baby on the 31st. I have next to no capacity to even think of the obligatory gifts that will be expected for my husbands family. It is hard. My heart gets caught between change and the old me. I never know what bits of me to release abd which to hold on to whilst the whole time remembering that, that is not my job in the first place.

    1. I like this! We have the cousins exchange names and that's all we do for extended family. Cory and I usually exchange something because it's our only gift and it's kinda fun to have a reason. :) I'm with you though, that tug/pull is always there. Every year, we work through a little more of it. Congrats on the babe!!

  6. well. i love you. and probably will ramble a bit.

    first. people think i am my baby sister's mama.

    she's 24. i am 31.

    also, we do a similar thing, giving needy what we give ourselves/family. blessings abound! sometimes things get crazy, like the amazing cardigans you save up for and haven't even gotten in your house with, you hear that gentle whisper to march them to the girl you know who would about die for them. and needs them way more than you. and you don't even hug them before you pass them on. that's jesus. not me AT all.

    as a little girl, we didn't have a thing. one Christmas we awoke to a living room full of treats, presents, clothes and new bibles. an anonymous family blessed our socks off. now that i am older, i get how much that meant to my parents. not just the gifts, but their kids witnessing nameless folks give so lavishly, when they would never hear a thank you from us. taught me so much about jesus and how to DO giving!!

    1. Hannah! That same thing happened to us when we were kids! We were so, so poor. My husband grew up the same and remembers his church delivering gifts to his house. So thankful for those experiences now. They made our hearts more generous.

    2. Me, three. I'll never forget the brown and orange striped towels that came as part of the Christmas booty. :)

  7. i've simplified gift giving for our kiddos over the years to:

    1) something they want
    2) something they need
    3) something to wear
    4) something to read

    stocking gifts are from Santa.

    hubby and i often go shopping together to pick something out we'd both enjoy together or just enjoy the luxury of picking something out we would not normally spend money OR we invest in an experience like a live show of some sort.


  8. Well, we adopt a person secretly. We pray about who it should be. We don't pull a name from a tree. Then we pray about what should be in the box. We fill it up full and then drop it off. We wear black and creep up. We ring the doorbell and run like the wind. The note inside tells them that Jesus lives them, that he's the reason. It doesn't breathe a word about who we are. My kids love it and we are surprised every year by the details that God so clearly directs.

  9. i don't think it's possible you look like a grandmother you gorgeous thing. but i too would like some glitter eyeliner. everyone keeps telling me how tired i look. it's like, "thanks a lot. that makes me feel super duper." :)

  10. We have lots of little ones in my immediate family, so we do one gift for each kid from the aunts/uncles, and one gift apiece from their grandparents. My sisters and I are going to do a Favorite Things present exchange with each other-we decided on a dollar limit and will buy our favorite thing to share with each other. Can't wait!

  11. Over the past couple of years I have come to the conclusion that I'd rather not exchange gifts but to use all that money on folks who need it! BUT, I am alone in this. So I struggle to balance blessing the blessed even more and being a total "party pooper". We aren't extravagant, but nonetheless it is too much!

    We do lots for others, but I'd love to do even more!

  12. I for one am refusing to rush out to get our tree and put it up when the calendar still says November. I find it weird when so many people rush to decorate a month in advance and then rush to take it down on Christmas Day because they are sick of it. Here's a crazy idea for them, don't decorate 6 weeks in advance. Personal Pet Peeve. But I digress...Modern day struggle, how to make it special and nice for your kids while simplifying it too. Sometimes the only time I really feel the spirit,is the hour at church on Christmas morning. That, and looking at the tree lit and having a cup of tea while John Denver is singing "O Holy Night"!!

  13. We are continually working toward a more Christ centered Christmas each year. It is hard to break the traditions you grew up with. When we told my Mother-in-law that we would not be "doing Santa" with our kids she replied, "Give me a break!" But I am so glad we chose not to do the Santa thing. Things we have done that I love: keep gifts very simple, but still give gifts out of love. Make most of our decorations or find them dirt cheap at thrift stores. Do a Christmas devotional as a family (we have used Ann Voskamp's for the last 2 years). Bake together, go see Christmas lights together, sing LOTS of Christmas songs together, go to our small town Winterfest together, watch Christmas movies together. I wish I could change the extended family, Christmas induced stress. My least favorite question- what do your kids want for Christmas?? Why is that question sooooo stressful?? This year, I am WAY simplifying my need to Martha Stewart bake. I have finally realized it is extremely silly for all of us to be exchanging plates of baked goods. The notable exception to this is the pretzle, chocolate, salted carmel stuff that I blame you for! The new thing we are doing this year that I am super excited about: we are making a random acts of kindness advent calendar jar and will chose a different random act of kindness to complete every day till Christmas. And that is my short answer of how we do Christmas. You are welcome!

  14. Every Christmas Eve we watch "The Nativity". Going to bed with the birth of Christ fresh on my mind is a great way to set my mind right for Christmas Day.

  15. We do exchange a few gifts on Christmas after we read the Christmas story and count our money jar. That's the jar of change we have saved all year just so we can search through the World Vision catalog and but something for someone who needs it(They are hoping for a cow this year). I love listening to my children discuss and figure out what they can "buy". They love it to and always try to "sneak" and count the jar during the year. Children are so generous, we(I) am always humbled by watching their giving. We also celebrate Christmas all the way up to January 6th which is Epiphany, so not only do we count down with Advent we also celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. I love celebrating. :) Epiphany is when my children get the big gift they really wanted and we talk about the gifts the magi brought and eat King cake.

  16. SO excited about Christmas this year!
    we are doing minimal gifts for our kiddos...they're all on board.
    and after praying about who to be able to help, the Lord led us to sponsor a family in Ohio! so excited!
    He also allowed us to 'adopt' Jorge and Raphael, two sweet little Mexican orphans. glory be to's ALL Him! i am so excited about sharing the Gospel with everyone i can! it's gonna be great. :)

    my hubby grew up poor, too, and he always talks about the year that someone dropped off gifts for their family of 12. he will NEVER forget the baseball blanket that he got.

    oh, and girl!!! you DO NOT...i repeat, DO NOT look anywhere NEAR 40!

  17. I am coming out of lurking to tell you to wear the glitter eyeliner! I am 41 and I wear gold glitter eyeliner all the time. It makes me happy and my 8 and 10 year old daughters love it.
    Also I must admit we do it up big, really big, for presents for Christmas. But we also give a lot to others. We send money every year at this time to the orphanages our girls lived in for the first year of their lives. We love to bless the nannies that were a blessing to our family. Without them we would not have the amazing children we have now.

  18. I am enjoying reading everyone's great traditions and ideas! My family and I open gifts Christmas Eve and I always make a gift for all my Girl's as that is all I have (no boys) so it's a lil easy.

    I enjoy receiving and giving handmade gifts whatever it may be, comes from the heart.

    We too find and host a family for Christmas, someone God leads us to during the year.Makes our hearts feel full.

    ~Blessings Kim

  19. We usually try to go low-key on the gifts and this year we're sticking to a "handmade only" rule. Lots of them will be handmade by us, some by others (I can do a lot, but jewelry making is not my forte...). I love the thought of showing our family members and friends that we care, not by spending money, but giving our time and effort.

  20. I love your swoony stuff. : ) As for traditions and how we "do" stuff, well, I wrote a post last week about trying to get the holidays "right" and how I've sort of given up on that. It's still complicated-ish but I feel free. And when I'm living out of freedom, things seem simpler...even if they aren't. Geez, that probably makes no sense.

    1. Love this, you, etc... Off to check out your post. You make perfect sense here. Freedom!!!

  21. Oh my goodness, I'll just be honest here. There is a big-time war raging within me... All of this minimalist/non-frenzied business makes so much sense and really resonates with me...until I start shopping. This transition is difficult! My friend said she does 3 gifts for each of her kids b/c they're not getting more than Jesus did. And I'm like YES! And then I just can't go through with it. And my kids are really sweet about getting gifts, not bratty in the least, so it makes me want to go crazy for them. We don't go in debt, I pretty much stick to the budget, but I definitely catch the fever more than I probably should...

    I didn't know Dayspring was so awesome. I seriously only knew their cards were awesome! Their whole website is swoony but that Jesus treeskirt is the best treeskirt ever!!!

    Also, you are in zero danger of getting run over by a reindeer, sister. Zeeerrrooo.

    I love so many of these traditions I'm reading. I'll be borrowing quite a few of these! Thanks for calming down the frenzy, FPFG and company. :)

    1. This is what I love about life and people: We all process things a little differently. I like that we can talk about what we do without everyone wigging out. I like what Scooper said above about living out of freedom. Because there's nothing wrong with getting gifty.

      We each just have to sort of listen and lean, you know? He's telling me something different than he's telling you. Who's to say that He's not telling Cory to buy me a $230 colorblocked cashmere sweater from J Crew? Who's to say.

    2. I love that she just said you're in zero danger of getting run over by a reindeer. True, of course...also seriously funny.

  22. Wow. I'd totally forgotten about your freaky holiday baby wreath! LOL and I do mean Lots of Love!

    Brad and I stopped buying gifts for one another a few years back. We usually go out for a nice dinner and save $$ for our winter vacation in January or February. Plus..his bday is in December, mine is January... our wedding anniversary is in's just too much. How many unique gifts can we keep giving one another in a 2+ month period? It became too stressful, so now we don't, which I like better.

    We generally just buy for the nieces and nephews. Let's be honest..most adults usually end up receiving gifts they don't want or need.. "Thank you Dave for this Norelco beard trimmer! I shall give it to Brad!" Brad "Thanks Tracey for this Bath and Body Works Body Balm! Fab!" It just ended up being silly.

    We also choose someone to be gifted anonymously. One year it was a co worker of Brad's who was having a rough time. A few of his other co workers were inspired by what we wanted to do, so they chipped in $$ as well. The giftee received a large chunk of love and cash, some giftcards and a nice card letting her know she mattered, that she was loved and people were thinking of her. This year I want to do something nice for the hardworking ladies at my local Dollar Store. Not sure how to keep that anonymous. Ideas??

    The greatest part: Not everyone "gets" it. Last year, an in law sent me an email with the subject line "Gifts???" and the email said "Did you send us something???? Because we still have not gotten anything!!" Needless to say, I was enraged. It was also a bad year. Brad was on disability and we weren't doing well financially, so that just felt very rude. Oh, and it WAS rude!

    Anyhow..that's how we rock it in the frozen tundra! It's been fun reading everyone's ideas and traditions.

    Have a rad Monday, Shiny!



  23. I just finished writing my post for tomorrow about how we Christmas. I love to {take it down a notch} and soak it all in. That doesn't usually happen though, so this year I'm being more's the only way to achieve a peaceful December. There are far too many obstacles thrown our way so I have to be on gaurd at all times. :)

  24. A few things in no particular order..
    1. Urban Decay has great glitter eyeliner and other kinds of eyeliner too. And it's all cruelty free and some items are vegan too. And they have cool names for their colors like "mildew,zero, and 1999". Love their stuff.
    2. Get yourself an Amazon wishlist. Super easy to set up and throughout the year as you see things you may like, big or small, you can add them to your list with one click from any website. I have a public list for me and the boyfriend/spousal equivalent/domestic partner/I am tempted to get married just to have a better title for him and also a private list because the boyfriend claims my family always buys the "good stuff" off my list before he can get to it. So, I keep a private list just for him. It's full of Lisa Leonard jewelry options at the moment as well as a few items from 31 bits. I am happy to provide a note on how to set up a wishlist for those that fear the tech.
    3. I have a hard and fast rule about no decorating before 01 DEC for Christmas. No one on my street seems to share this rule but I like to give November some respect and not dive into the holiday hall decking until it's officially December. I also hang my favorite wreath on the inside of my door so I can see it everyday because it makes me happy.
    4. My 86 yr old Nanna has declared she has enough stuff and this year wants only donations to the local animal shelter, which is sweet. She has also promised to adopt a kitten for anyone who defies her and deliver said kitten to us because she's equal parts sweet and fiesty and just to prove she means it, she sent each of us a newspaper clipping with a kitten up for adoption that she has picked out for us "just in case".

  25. Just found your blog and love it! And glitter eyeliner...I may have to add that to my Santa list this year!

    Mamalode "America's Best Parenting Magazine" now on iPad

  26. We're spending almost nothing on our 3 kids. We've been saving all year for a generosi-tree. Each night the kids are picking something to give too, and we're posting a pic on the special little tree. They're really excited. So are we. Itsmthenfirst Christmas season I've been pumped about in awhile.

  27. a couple of years ago (after our traditional family gift exchange between aunts, uncles, and cousins just turned into a gift card swap) the extended family decided instead of doing the gift card swap we would each put our money towards a charity of our choice. We all bring a little bag with our charity's name inside to hang on a miniature tree!

  28. I'm a cheapskate tightwad raised by Depression Era parents. We wash out baggies and reuse them.
    Don't cry for my babies. I'll nab them a pair of jeans somewhere (they say not Goodwill, Mama :)
    And probably some "boy spray" in their stocking so they can better catch a girlfriend.
    C'mon with the Money Shot...I'm ahead of you.

  29. landon told me about that conversation, and in the retelling i narrowly escaped (bless you, lori) being tossed into the around 40 boat. anything after 34 and we DO NOT ROUND UP, PEOPLE.

    also, your christmas idea is sublime. but mostly i'm here about the not rounding up.

  30. We have seriously uncomplicated this year. We aren't buying any gifts for our ever growing number of nieces and nephews. What a weight off. We've decided to spend that money on experiences instead when we are together. It really works out better because those kids don't need more stuff and don't appreciate what they get anyway. Now I can focus more on just being with my little family and creating memories.

    1. How was that received Jen? We just got a phone call that family is buying us a VERRRRRRRY expensive gift for Christmas. This after we said no gifts. Now I am unsure... Halp

  31. Andy and I keep Christmas gift giving very simple...
    We don't buy for any siblings or nieces and nephews....we all have too much as it is, so we all decided to stop the madness YEARS ago. It is so WONDERFUL. We did this on both sides of our family. LOVE it.

    As for our immediate family...our big tradition is that we buy ornaments for one another. We've been doing this since our very first Christmas he's given me 16 and I've given him 16. We also started this tradition when our kids were born, so they each have as many as their years are. I love that they will have a box full to take with them when they leave home one day.

    We keep gifts for the kids simple and easy, too. 3-4 each.

    This year we're providing Christmas for a family in need....and we can't wait! We're all going to go shopping for kids literally can't WAIT.

  32. Love this. Love your heart, as always.

    A few years ago we decided the gift opening would only happen when our kids were into it, meaning they were interested and appreciative. We found our children to be tearing into a present and barely seeing what the contents were, eager for the next (whatever it may be). Now we stop after one and return after a hike or after lunch or the next day. Our kids savor the experience and remember each gift as it should be honored. Oh man it's awesome.