christmas

How to Keep Your Christmas Decorations Up All Year Round (List-cember #7)

My least favorite part of Christmas is the moment it ends. Right after that clock strikes midnight, everything is over. All the planning, all the stress and anxiety, (probably) all the Christmas cookies. Like the day itself, they vanish into thin air, leaving only the memories behind.

Tonight, as I wrapped presents for my family and friends, I sat on my couch, basking in the season. I took a good look around my house, marveling at all the decorations we’ve hung up, dreading the day we’ll have to take them down and leave the walls plain again.

Decorations have always been one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love the lights and the sparkles and all the red. I love the pride people take in filling their houses/cars/desks/etc. with Christmas spirit and the tradition of strangers coming together to marvel at that pride. It makes me wish Christmas lasted all year long. Though I suppose that would take away the novelty of it all, wouldn’t it? Then again, should we really need to consider pride, spirit and community a novelty? Shouldn’t these actually last all year long?

This got me thinking. What if when we took down our decorations, we took what they represent with us? For example:

1) Christmas Lights

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These quite simply make people look and awe. Whether it be with their colors, their arrangement, or their uniqueness. In many ways, even though we look at Christmas lights our whole lives, every year it feels like we’re seeing them for the first time. This is the same way I feel about people when they show unwarranted kindness or unthinkable bravery. It’s not that I forget these qualities exist, it’s just a pleasant and inspiring surprise when I come across them. So in this upcoming year, what if we made an effort to be these displays of light? I think it’s safe to say, especially in today’s society, the world could always use some more light.

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2) Ornaments

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I love ornaments. (So much so that I hand out superlatives every year.) I love that—at least the way my family does it—they are all unique and have a different story and memory associated with them, and that after all this time we still tell them. Pictures have this same quality. Unfortunately in this digital age we so often exile photos to the Internet and never think of them again. We need to print more pictures. We need to put them on display and remember the memories they capture. That way, in the moments we’re feeling low or nostalgic, we don’t have to scroll through our phones and try to dodge the pressures of comparison, we can simply look up at our wall or on our desk or bedside table and remember a moment that meant a lot to us.

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3) Paper Chains

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By now this might be a rather outdated decoration, but I still love me some paper chains. More than anything, they remind me that I can make things with my hands and they don’t have to be perfect. These days with the constant access to websites and services that will do practically everything for you, it’s easy to forget that we have hands of our own built for crafting. Then again, with all the Pinterest wizards dominating the Internet, it’s easy to get discouraged when we try. But, like a paper chain, things we make by hand, whether it be home improvement projects, gifts, or a hot meal from scratch, it feels good to sit back and realize that you made it; that you put in the time and did it yourself.

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4) Snow Globes

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My sister collects Christmas snow globes and is always one to walk over and shake them in a store. I think they give her, and me, and most of the general population a minute or two just to breathe. With a few shakes we stand and watch the snow or glitter fall, listening to the song that winds down, and for a moment we’re transported somewhere far away. While this might be harder to do in the general chaos of life, we can always take a second to stop and breathe; to take in the sights and sounds and smells around us and just be in that moment, completely as it is, just as we would until the song ended and we put the snow globe back on the shelf.

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5) Christmas Music

I know, I know, this isn’t technically a decoration. But when you consider that Christmas music is playing from every speaker, everywhere you go, for almost two straight months, it kind of turns into one. Call it an atmosphere decoration if you will. Granted, this “atmosphere decoration” technically exists all year round, chameleoning to fit the designated atmosphere (i.e. “elevator music”). But there seems to be this general agreement that in November and December you only listen to Christmas music and in January-October you listen to everything but. As I elaborated in this post however, I say listen to whatever you want, whenever you want. Decorate your atmosphere with music that makes you feel good no matter what time of year it is and no matter what anyone else thinks.

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So, as you start to de-decorate your house in the coming weeks, try to remember what it is about the decorations that draw you to them. Is it the light? Is it the color? Is it the associated memories? Then go out and find it in the confines of an average day, or create it yourself. Magic is not dictated by a calendar, and neither is goodness or glitter for that matter. So spread it around and soak it in, no matter the season.

10 Christmas Gifts I Loved/Hated (As Told By Photos) (List-cember #5)

If you count today, there are officially 11 shopping days left until Christmas! Isn’t that crazy? Isn’t that disgusting? Isn’t that reason enough to start panicking?! Sharpen your pencils ladies and gents, because the answer is D: ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Yes, we are closing in on that day which—along with school picture day—we put away our pride and let a camera snap unflattering photos of us because we know it will make our parents happy. Is there a more awkward brand of picture than a gift opening picture? I think not. Is there a more honest picture than a gift opening picture taken early on Christmas morning? Again, I think NOT.

So, in the spirit of “can you just look at me and smile PLEASE,” let’s dive into a second edition of: Christmas Gifts I Loved/Hated (As Told By Photos)…hopefully by next year I’ll have a catchier title.

You can read last year’s here

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Okay now THIS—THIS RIGHT HERE IS AN OUTFIT. Listen Mom and Dad, I know it’s Christmas morning and all, but I can’t just sit around in this outfit at home. I have to get out there and start a dance crew. I’m gonna call up that guy Vanilla Ice Cream and see if he wants to collab.

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What (Probably) Happened Here:

Dad: I’m going to take a picture of the tree.

Me: Did you want a picture of my bracelet?

Dad: In a minute.

Me: Here it is.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: I’m not ready to be a mother.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Eat your heart out, Laura Ingalls. I’m about to sport the HECK out of this denim.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: HELP! HELP ME. SOS. FLARE GUN FLARE GUN FLARE GUN. THIS BABY IS A DEMON AND IT HAS TAKEN MY MIND HOSTAGE. CALL THE POLICE. THE FIRE MARSHALL. THE PARK RANGERS. EVERYONE.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: HEY, SLEEPYHEADS! I got myself out of bed. I dressed myself. I sat myself nicely on this wooden stool so you can photograph me. I even set the camera up on a tripod because this is my best angle. The LEAST you can do is get up so we can open some of these presents.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: What? Like you’ve never slept in a stocking to try and get a peak at the big man.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Okay so the little hand counts minutes? No. Wait. The little hand counts hours. So if the little hand is pointing at 12, it’s 12 o’clock. Wait, but it seems like the big hand is also pointing at 12 when it’s 12 o’clock. So does the big hand count hours? I’m screwed.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: This is a cool bike. I can totally ride this bike, right? This is a great gift. An amazing gift. A gift for the ages. And I’m excited, right? I’m totally excited.

What My Sister is (Probably) Thinking Here: She’s scared sh*tless of that thing.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: I’m super stoked about this jump rope I just got, but to be honest, I’m still raving about these sick pajamas I got for my birthday. Why is no one talking about The Lion King II? I thought it was a high quality film. And don’t even get me started on the music, I mean “One of Us?” “He Lives in You?” Talk about chills. But yeah, this jump rope is also pretty cool.

2017 Ornament Superlatives (List-cember #2)

Last year I introduced you to a few of my family’s noteworthy Christmas ornaments by handing out superlatives reminiscent of a high school yearbook. And since I went over to decorate my parents’ house last night, I thought it was only fitting to introduce you to a few more.

Thus, here is the second installment of Ornament Superlatives, enjoy!

(Also, in case you missed it, you can check out the first installment here.)

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Most Likely to be Missing a Piece

(or be some sort of break dancing angel baby)

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Most Likely to Have Eaten a Compromised Cookie

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Most Likely to Peek-At-Choo Gifts Under the Tree

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Most Likely to Have Just Found Out it’s an Ornament

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Most Likely to Have Glued a Beard on His Face to Try and Blend In

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Most Likely to be an Extra from Santa’s Vogue Photoshoot

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Most Likely to be Santa’s Mode of Travel When the Reindeer Get Old and Tired

(Hint: Foot Propeller)

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Most Likely to Give You Nightmares

(Note: This dethrones last year’s previous winner)

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Most Likely to Have Previously Topped a Cupcake

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ALSO: Most Likely to Make You Want a Cupcake

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Most Likely to Make You Wonder What a Llama Has to do with Christmas, then Make You Wish You Had a Christmas Llama of Your Own

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My Top 10 Christmas Movies (List-cember #1)

Hello and welcome back to the second annual List-cember!

In case you missed it last year, I dedicated my December to posts centered around lists. Some were Christmas themed, some weren’t, some will be returning for a second edition this year, some won’t. Regardless, I’m excited to bring you the second installment! I hope you enjoy and I hope you give me opinions on things you’d include if you wrote one of these lists. I’m all about the input, people, give it to me!

To kick us off, I’ve got somewhat of a controversial topic: Christmas movies. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about people during Christmas time, it’s their devotion to watching what they consider THE BEST Christmas movies. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about these kind of movie watchers it’s their tendency to debate over why they think their Christmas movies are THE BEST. Now, I’m not here to debate, really, I’m more just standing here with my list and a white flag saying, “these are my opinions, and I totally respect yours.” But if you have a Christmas movie you love that I didn’t include, please let me know. Because if there’s one undeniable fact about Christmas movies, it’s that you can never watch too many.

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10) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

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I’ve really only seen this movie a handful of times, but it’s one of those that I constantly forget how funny it is until I watch it again. It’s Chevy Chase in his prime and it’s one of my dad’s favorite movies, which makes it that much better.

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9) The Year Without a Santa Clause

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This is a classic from the 70s where Santa wakes up with a cold after Thanksgiving and decides not to deliver presents that Christmas. Instead he sends out two of his elves to figure out if anyone still cares about Christmas or even believes in Santa anymore. I realize that the way I’m describing it makes it sound totally depressing but it’s not. (At least not all of it.) It’s got cute characters and catchy songs that I’ve been singing my entire life, so if you haven’t seen this one, I highly recommend you check it out!

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8) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

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This is another classic that’s undeniably adorable. We all know the story of Rudolph and how he saved the day—or rather, Christmas Eve night—but this gives us some backstory on the little guy, including his friendship with an elf named Hermey and his run in with the Abominable Snow Monster of the North (no relation to King of the North, Jon Snow.) Fun fact: There is a point in the movie when Rudolph yells, “I’m cuuuuuute!” and my family quotes this approximately 30 times a year.

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7) To Grandmother’s House We Go

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If you were anything like me as a kid, you were OBSESSED with the Olsen twins, so it’s really no surprise that the girls’ Christmas film holds a firm place in my top 10. In this story, the girls overhear their mom saying she needs a vacation, so they sneak onto a UPS truck in the hopes it will take them to their grandmother’s house. Mind you, the girls are only about six years old, so this causes some panic among multiple parties, but it’s undeniably cute and makes me smile every time.

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6) The Grinch

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I can already cross this one off my “to-watch” list this year because my roommates and I watched it while decorating our house the other day. It had actually been a few years since I watched it and I forgot how good Jim Carrey is in it.

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5) It’s a Wonderful Life

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This is one of those movies that always makes you think a little bit more about how lucky you are to have what you have, especially during the holiday season when the general mindset is focused what you want. I think it’s an important one to watch each year, if only to hear Jimmy Stewart yell, “MARRRYY.”

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4) A Christmas Story

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I take it back, this is probably my dad’s favorite Christmas movie. We’ve undoubtedly watched this movie upwards of 20 times in my life and we still laugh at all the same parts. Recently, I got a flat tire and I thought of the scene when Ralphie drops his infamous F-bomb, and while I’ve never had much of a dirty mouth, it still made me very grateful my mom rarely bought bars of soap. Fun fact: my family actually owns two bb-guns like the one shown in the movie and we break them out every Christmas to shoot old ornaments. Additional fun fact: no eyes have been shot out…so far.

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3) Love Actually

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I’ve been trying to stop myself from getting cheesy and saying I actually love this movie, but, well, anyways. I do love this movie and I watch it every year while I wrap presents. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry and it gives me all the warm fuzzies. Also, Hugh Grant’s dancing scene is one of my favorite things that’s ever happened in a movie.

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2) Elf

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At this point, it has to be almost impossible to make a Christmas movie that can hold up among the oldies, but Will Ferrell managed to do it a few years back—woah, I just googled it, and this actually came out 14 years ago, yikes—and I think it will forever be regarded as one of the best Christmas movies ever made.

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1) The Family Stone

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I know, I know, this one has got to be a little bit of a surprise for most people. As far as I know, my family is the only one that consistently watches this EVERY year, sometimes more than once during the Christmas season alone. But it is undeniably my favorite Christmas movie and probably one of my favorite movies of all time. I don’t even know what it is about it, maybe it’s just the place it holds in my family’s heart. But we laugh and laugh and cry and cry every year as if we’ve never seen it before and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Last Minute Christmas Shopping Tips (List-cember #7)

I have always loved Christmas shopping. I love the paper, I love the bows, I even love the ribbons that take me 15 times to curl. And since it is less than 4 days until Christmas, a.k.a CRUNCH TIME, I thought it would be helpful to give you some tips on finding the best gifts.

Not to brag (and by that I mean, listen up, I’m about to brag) but I’ve finished my Christmas shopping. My presents are already wrapped and under my tree! (Brag over) I was way ahead of the game this year! (Woops, sorry, now the brag is over) But that doesn’t mean I can’t relate to the struggle and panic associated with the week of.

In years past, I’ve often found myself in the 20’s of December, pacing around the mall and/or my living room, very calmly asking myself, “WHAT THE &*%# AM I GOING TO DO?!?!?”

As fun as it is to send yourself on a downward spiral of worry and panic however, it kind of ruins the magic of the gift giving season. So whenever I reach that point in my shopping experience, I return to these steps:

 

1) Relax

Seriously, start by just breathing in and out, for as long as you like. (Or until you pass out, but that’s not recommended) Then, remember that there is no “perfect gift.” There is no be-all end-all present you have to find amongst the thousands of red tags in order to retain a healthy relationship with whomever you’re shopping for. Take careful note of the cliché, “it’s the thought that counts”, and then move to step 2.

 

2) Reminisce

I often like to shop for people one at a time. So once I’ve picked a victim loved one to start with, I’ll open up an imaginary slide projector in my mind and scroll through all of the memories and conversations I’ve shared with them over the past year, to see if anything stands out. Even if I can’t come up with anything specific, I’ll take concepts and inside jokes and look for gift ideas that relate.

 

3) Visualize

When I get an idea of something I might want to buy for that person, I visualize what their reaction will be like. Will they laugh? Will they cry? Will they roll their eyes (in a good way)? How do I hope they’ll react?

 

4) Add to Cart

I’ll admit it, I’m a big online shopper, but this step can apply to both web and in-store searching. After I find what I want, I’ll stick it in my cart and just let it rest there for a little while, giving me time to repeat steps 1-3. Now, I realize this is more difficult when you’re shopping on the last few days before Christmas or, say, Black Friday, because there are hundreds of other hungry shoppers willing to fight you for whatever the item(s) in question may be. But it’s a general rule (and by general rule I mean, THIS SHOULD BE OBVIOUS YOU CRAZED ANIMALS) that once something is in your cart, it’s yours. So for the most part, you shouldn’t have any prying hands. Just stick it in the cart, let the prospect of the purchase marinate, and do a lap.

 

5) It’s okay to crunch numbers

Anyone worth giving a gift to will not care how much you spend on it. Take note of where you are financially and don’t put yourself out just because you think you have to. If times are tough, sometimes the best gift is company. Just take the time to go see them, give them a call, write them a letter, anything that says, “I appreciate you,” because in the end, that’s the core of gift-giving.

 

6) Be proud of your gift

There have been so many times when immediately after I’ve bought something, I convince myself it’s the stupidest idea ever, especially once I see or hear about a gift being given by someone else. That’s way better than mine. It’s way more expensive. It’s way more adorable. It sparkles. Etc. Etc. Etc. But then I think about how, no matter what gift I am given, I’m always filled with gratitude, and gratitude is one of the greatest feelings in the world. So be proud of the fact that you’ve put in the time and effort to help someone you love feel it.

 

6) Go ham on wrapping

I’m a perfectionist, so I often spend a lot of time trying to make a gift look as clean and nice as possible. However, sometimes it’s best to just kitchen sink it and wrap it with whatever you can find, in any way you can muster. Some of my favorite materials I’ve used in a pinch are aluminum foil, paper towels and staples.

 

7) Be thankful for their “thank you” and don’t expect anything in return

It’s extremely easy to walk into a gift-giving situation with your ego high and your expectations higher. You are proud of the gift you’ve bought and are expecting something good in return. Truth is, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Take time to appreciate the gratitude they have for you and learn to love that more than anything they may give you in return.

 

I wish you all the luck in your last minute shopping endeavors, and more importantly, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

 

Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.

10 Christmas Gifts I Loved/Hated (As Told by Old Photos) (List-Cember #6)

We all know that it is incredible to receive a gift, of any shape or size, from anyone. And while oftentimes that gift is marvelous, we’re all occasionally going to get pink bunny pajamas (or the figurative equivalent.)

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Regardless, there will always be a family member close by waiting to take your picture, and asking you to show off said marvel and/or bunny pajamas.

For me, my dad is always that family member. And it turns out that when you take my general disdain for having my picture taken and mix in the pressure of having to instantly love a gift that’s been given to me, it makes for some pretty amazing photos.

Here are 10 of my favorites:
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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: HECK YES, Mom & Dad! An Abu stuffed animal AND an Aladdin book?!? I’m so happy I might…well…actually, can we take a bathroom break?

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Honestly, has anyone ever seen me wear yellow? Soooo not in my color wheel, y’all.

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 What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Do any of these amazing ladies have bangs quite like mine?

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: OH NOW THIS IS A COMFY CHAIR. Dad, I know you like your recliner, but this makes my butt feel like it just won the Superbowl and is now going to Disneyland. Seriously, you should get one of these for yourself.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Awww yeah, baby. One step closer to completing my collection, which will no doubt be valuable FOREVER.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Does this jacket make my hips look big?

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: At what point did I grow a beard and start taming reindeer? What in the ho ho ho am I supposed to do with a plate?

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Woody!! Buzz!! Forget “Andy’s coming!” because Kim. Has. Arrived. and I will totally accept you for the talking toys you are.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Mom, Dad, you get me. You really, truly get..zzzzzzz

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This next one isn’t a post-gift reaction, but more of a strategy to make sure the photo of which will have no reason not to be outstanding.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Ignore her big guy, I’ve been good and I’ve got a long list for you. You might want to grab a pen…

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Here’s to another wonderful season of gift giving and incredibly unflattering photos taken way too early!

Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.

2016 Ornament Superlatives (List-cember #3)

One of my favorite parts of decorating for Christmas is opening up our boxes of ornaments and finding that they (almost) all survived another year in garage captivity. This year, while pulling them out one by one, I got a feeling reminiscent of a principal watching all of their seniors graduate. There they were, all my little babies, fulfilling their potential on the branches of our tree. I WAS SO PROUD. And like any graduation, I felt it was appropriate to hand out class superlatives, here are the results:

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Most Likely to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

(Because yes, that says Kim’s 1st Christmas, and if you can survive 25 years in a box in the garage you can truly survive anything.)

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Most Likely to Ask You Your Favorite Color or Serve You the World’s Greatest Cup of Coffeead7c627d-b5d6-4d28-ba27-0cc85041d2fc

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Most Likely to Make You Go “AWW” (Happy 26 1/2 years Mom & Dad!)a72deae0-9674-419c-8827-d6a80e9133a7

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Most Likely to Send Me into a Rant About My Glory Days (4th Grade)8bcce25a-c414-4256-a36a-5c93fc37bcc4

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Most Likely to Ignite an Endless Stream of Movie Quotese61ff1f3-9f52-4c64-9abf-7add180c1227

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Most Likely to Leave You Moo-ing Christmas Carols

 (because yes, it moos them when you squeeze it.)

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Most Likely to Arrive in Your Mailbox When You Write to Santa in June13f9317d-98f4-41ea-bd57-8b4b2ac95eaa

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Most Likely to Give You Nightmaresbe3e52f1-f54a-41ea-8142-a3fbf52ba4ca

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Most Likely to Pose the Question: “Where is Pooh’s Shirt?”64930edb-51a8-4a54-8462-8c3e573ea75c

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Most Likely to Have Been Made in a Rush to Get a Christmas Cookie67dfffc7-4f9a-4d0b-b0d2-5e0d4f395b09

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Most Likely to Make You Laugh After a Few Spiked Eggnogs1180a537-3aff-4d87-b21f-4c4007c02984

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Most Likely to Have Voted Yes on the California Marijuana Propc210c5bb-b98b-428e-9074-e1e2a04df485

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Most Likely to be the Greatest Ornament My Toddler Sister Ever Made and My Loving Mother Decided was Worth Keeping Forever, Even Though it’s Legitimately Just a Round Piece of Cardboard with Minor Purple Accents,  a Hole Punch, and a Ribbon, Though, Now That I Think About it, That Really Does Make it the Greatest Ornament Ever Made, and Kept, and Discussed at Length Every Year with Maniacal Laughter and Eye Rollsf3174a29-13b0-435b-9439-68ab4fcef1e3

Congratulations to all the graduates. I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to see where the future takes you. (Spoiler Alert: It’s probably our tree.)

Miss a List-Cember post? Find them all here

Top 10 Christmas Seasonal Products (List-cember #2)

Oftentimes it’s the greatest things that are stamped with two of the worst words in the English language: Limited Edition. And with the Christmas season now completely infiltrating department stores, TV Channels and radio stations, leaving few seconds of the day without a twinkle, a jingle, or a ho ho ho, it’s important for us to take advantage of the LE benefits associated with this otherwise intimidating time of year.

So in the hopes of preventing you from missing out on some of the best things this season has to offer, here is a list of the top 10 Christmas Seasonal Products.

Enjoy them while you can, as often as you can!

10) Snow Globes512161ce-c381-4636-b976-cfedeabb9eb7

One could argue that these are not actually seasonal because they are sold year round, but those spring/summer/fall knockoffs almost always contain glitter rather than snow, and they are not and will never be called “glitter globes”, so let’s just agree to agree because there’s no disagreeing with that fact. Speaking of facts, my sister buys a snow globe from Target each year and they’re adorable.

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9) Winter Oreos
I love these because they give me (what I consider to be) a valid excuse* to buy Oreos.

“Oh look! They’re Christmassy! Must have.”

*Note: I use varying versions of this excuse whenever Nabisco releases a new flavor, changes their packaging, and/or Target moves them over one aisle.

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8) Starbucks Red Cups2jukhstm-2500-1667

I’m not a coffee drinker, and if I’m being really honest, my favorite product from Starbucks is their old fashioned donuts, but this doesn’t negate the fact that I love their seasonal cups. They always find a way to summon me through the double doors for a hot chocolate. Speaking of which…

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7) Hot Chocolate

I get it, this is another “glitter globe” situation, but let’s not waste time arguing. Let’s just agree to agree to believe that hot chocolate tastes best when the world is cloaked in tinsel and reindeer, when your breath is fogging up the air and you’re standing there trying to look wintery and adorable when in reality your hands are numb and your forehead is itchy as hell from the trendy beanie you’re wearing, and when you pile a warm mug high with marshmallows before sitting down to watch Frosty the Snowman with your family, only to immediately burn your tongue, causing the rest of the Christmas season to be essentially flavorless, but also great and magical and the stuff dreams are made of.

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6) Fiber One Pumpkin Bars

Have you ever wanted to participate in the pumpkin spice phenomenon of fall/winter but don’t want to do so in an intense way (i.e. lattes and cookies and cereal and candles and underwear—probably) and are looking for your “dip toe in pool” opportunity? This is it.

WARNING: These contain addictive properties, thus causing the healthy and balanced 90-calorie promise to be void once you’ve had 5 in 5 minutes…

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5) Christmas Albums

Much to the chagrin of Apple iTunes and music providers everywhere (because I know they work endless hours every year solely to earn my $8.99) I don’t often buy new Christmas albums. Ever since I was little my family has had about 6 CDs we’ve turned to for our Christmas music, and so I usually just stick to those. However, I can’t deny that I love seeing all the Christmassy album artwork popping around come December. This year some of my favorites feature Brett Eldredge tossing a shimmery ball to himself, Kacey Musgraves wearing earmuffs, and Pentatonix dressed as the only group of carolers I ever hope come a’ knockin’ at my door.

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4) Christmas Themed TV Episodes

I briefly thought about doing an individual post about “the best Christmas episodes ever,” but after doing some brief research, I found lists far more entertaining and comprehensive than mine would have been, so I’m going to let those writer’s keep doing what they’re doing. That being said, here are just my top 3:

4c) New Girl – The 23rdtumblr_lw71xajcmt1qgjybho2_250

The end of this episode just makes me so happy. The friendship, the lights, the undeniable Christmas spirit of strangers who had every right to be upset that Jess & co. showed up on their street in the middle of the night, screaming for them to turn their Christmas lights back on, it’s all magic.

4b) Friends – The One with the Routine
friends-routine

Need I say more?

4a) Saturday Night Live – Jimmy Fallonjimmy-fallonI have always been a big fan of everything Jimmy Fallon does, so I was over the moon excited when I heard he was coming back to host the Christmas episode of SNL in 2011. Naturally, he exceeded all my expectations and gave me all the joy.

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3) Love Actuallylove-actually

I know, I KNOW. Glitter globes. I get it. Yes, you could watch Love Actually every day of the damn year if you wanted to, but it’s just not. the. same. They make so many “but it’s Christmas!” references throughout the film, causing you to always walk away with some “but it’s Christmas!” plan for you own life, thus making any other viewing period sub-par than Christmas time.

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2) Christmas Cookieschristmas-cookies

My family has an entire day in December (which not-so coincidentally is this Saturday) dedicated to baking family cookie recipes, making me an expert on this subject, and qualifying me to make the following statement: Christmas cookies rule all and you can never eat too many*.

*Yes you can, and in doing so you will almost certainly wake up at 2 a.m. and spend a solid hour kneeling on the bathroom floor in your snowflake pajamas regretting everything, while simultaneously looking forward to doing it all again next year.

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1) Ritz Snowflakes

To be honest, these are the entire reason I wrote this list. I could have easily just called it “The One and Only Christmas Seasonal Product You Will Ever Need, Ever”, then pasted a picture of these and went on my merry (Christmas) way. But then I decided that they’re not really the only thing you will ever need, ever, they’re just the only product I’d run up and down the aisles at the grocery store searching for after the first of December. So, I just made them number one and worked my way down, ultimately resulting in The Greatest List of Christmas Seasonal Products You Will Ever Read, Ever (if I do say so myself.)

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Have any Christmas season staples you turn to come December?

Let me know!

Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Every Christmas, those in my family who are 18 and over draw names from a hat for the annual gift exchange. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. The truth is we all cheat based on ideas we’ve formulated throughout the year so that the gift giving process will be smooth and fun. This year, I drew/completely chose my Aunt Tracy, because I had an idea that was sure to wow.

Flashback to 2 months earlier.

I’m on Pinterest at 2 a.m. browsing craft ideas, going through my usual process of saving and skipping. DIY bookshelf? Save. DIY leather pants? Definitely SKIP. Suddenly I see it. A craft that is not only “doable” but perfect for a fun, personal gift. I look at the calendar: 11/28, I’m way ahead of the game.

Over the next couple weeks I shopped around looking for supplies, very conscious of the impending due date, yet lacking a stitch of worry for its steady approach. As with every December, this one was chock-full of events with family and friends and I found myself without a lot of time or energy to take on my “wow factor” project. At times I wondered if I should pursue a new idea, however these thoughts were always immediately squelched by daydreams of her unmatched adoration for the final product.

Flash forward to crunch time.

Suddenly I can count the days until Christmas on one hand and my project sits at only 30% complete. My calm confidence has become panic, and my daydreams have become nightmares. I picture myself handing her a tragic excuse for a gift. I see disappointment in her eyes and my family shaking their heads. I have to finish this, and it has to be perfect.

I reach out to my dad and explain the situation: project not done, Christmas soon, SOS, 911 please.

Thankfully he agreed to help and the next day I brought all of my materials into work, ready for after hour assembly.

“What exactly are we making again?”

“A personalized, Guess Who game board.”

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(Remember this guy from your childhood?)

“Cool, let’s do it.”

So, after everyone had left, my dad and I spread out all our materials, took a seat, and dove straight into chaos.

After noticing early on that the materials I bought greatly differed from those displayed in the tutorial, we found ourselves having to get very creative. At one point my dad mcgyvered a hinge with a paper clip and some pliers, at another I almost super glued a wooden dowel to the floor. What started out as a quick assembly turned into a 4 hour long production of innovation and silent whimpers. And after some additional improvements made at home that night, as well as some clutch work put in my dad the next morning, the final product sat on the kitchen table, ready to be wrapped. Like any perfectionist, I could note a handful of improvements to be made but when we arrived at my Grandpa’s house Christmas morning, I knew it was time to let everything go.

Flash forward to the first rip into the shimmering paper.

My aunt cautiously tears away strips, slowly revealing my biggest stress of the holiday season. She flips the board upside down, awakening all the faces of her family members. She coos, laughs, and smiles at me wholeheartedly.

“I absolutely love it!”

That night, as I felt the last minutes of Christmas tick off the clock, I lay thinking about the past few weeks. About all the panic and dread. About when she tore off the paper and I saw nothing but love in her eyes. It was at that moment that I knew that even if the entire thing had fallen apart in her lap she still would have loved it. In that moment I had no worries about whether the gift was perfect or not. All I knew was that I was thankful to have a family I love so much, that inspires me to drive myself crazy in the hopes of making them smile, and I was thankful to have a family that loves me so much, that both embrace my imperfections wholeheartedly, and are there to help when my whole idea falls apart.

 

 

(The link for the tutorial I found is: http://www.almostmakesperfect.com/2015/01/07/diy-guess-who/)