It’s 2021 and Christmas seems far away already. But we had a very cozy and quiet December culminating in a . . . cozy and quiet holiday. Very different from other years, but still good.
I always enter the season with ideas of buying lots of secondhand items for gifts or making homemade gifts. I hate to spend money on something new if a cheaper, used option exists that works. For personal budget reasons, for “declutter the world” reasons. So here’s the rundown:
From eBay and the Buy Nothing group, I found used snow boots for N and F. But I waited too long for T and had to buy his from Target. I also had to get him new snow pants and a heavy jacket. I asked my mom to get them all warm hats and gloves, when she asked what they needed.
Books: all used, from Thrift Books and Better World Books online. One for T, more for N and F. (N and F were actually pretty excited about their books.)
I bought a few new toys (Barbies, K’nex). New clothes from Gap, Abercrombie and Hollister for T and F. (It was what they wanted, and really cute, especially the girl stuff.) I bought some cool measuring beakers for T, for baking.
T made homemade brownies and chocolate chip cookies as gifts for various family members. We all made cookies around the 18th: some for us, some for Santa, and the rest I gave as gifts. Finally used some tins and canisters I’d been holding onto forever. I used a recipe with a note I made last year: “Truly the best.” They really are in terms of not having to chill the dough and staying pretty soft after baking (how the kids like them). Need to find the link. And, found a great glaze and we had fun decorating. I love the snowmen. Did I mention that we couldn’t find our cookie cutters and had to freestyle everything?? Not too shabby!
Other gifts for various folks: a Haddon Culinary gift certificate, shower steamers from Occasionette, beanbag chairs, cargo pants from Target, Wawa gift cards, local NJ wine.
I dried more herbs in anticipation of giving homemade Italian seasoning out, but that never happened. (Update: gave some to mom.)
I made homemade photo cards using the free Adobe Spark app, art from old Christmas cards, construction paper, and a big box of cardstock mom gave us, along with a paper cutter. Fun, although time-consuming, and I didn’t even make that many. I concentrated on people who haven’t actually seen pictures of us lately. But glad I resisted the urge to spend money on a card design site, cause I am a sucker for those. (I also made some regular cards, no photos.)
Christmas Eve: I worked til 1, then came home and finished up wrapping. First time in years that I didn’t have to wrap til 1 am Christmas morning! Later, we did the Christmas quiz (a relatively new tradition) with family over Zoom. Then Tom made his Popeye’s copycat chicken sandwiches. For dessert we had special French ice cream from Haddon Culinary, Stock’s pound cake that was a gift from a West Side Lady, and cookies. I made the kids watch some of It’s a Wonderful Life, then we switched to A Christmas Story. Oh and we watched Christmas Vacation earlier in the afternoon. A wee kitten cuddling up with us was the perfect touch. (I always think about the scene in Little Women when they’re just sitting around playing with like ten kittens and how therapeutic that would be.) We also opened a bunch of gifts to each other. The only bad thing was that the wind was howling, and the kids had a hard time getting to bed because of it (massive rainstorm).
So the big gift was an experience gift! We went to Camelback, arriving Christmas evening, leaving Sunday (two nights). Hence all the snow gear gifts. It felt good to get away and mostly just lay around. Brought the 1,000 piece puzzles they recieved as gifts (used on eBay) and worked on one a lot. Played Exploding Kittens (gift from mom). Enjoyed the cheesy fireplace.
Room service for dinner from the onsite pub Christmas night — can’t beat that! It was really good! Went tubing Saturday night. Frigid!! But fun. I think the kids minds’ were sufficiently blown; not like it’s this wild experience, but it was new for them. I think we would go back, although Camelback service-wise is a little spotty.
It was hairy at the start though. N flat out did not want to go and complained a lot throughout the trip. T was wary at first. F, bless her heart, was super excited from the gate. N doesn’t like surprises. Didn’t like “winging it” as far as meals. I get it. It all worked out in the end.
I should mention that I treated myself to the Wassail candle from Occassionette. Such a great scent. ($25.) Tom got me body scrub and shower steamers from Cynplicity in town, so more support for small biz there. I also treated myself to new pajamas from Abercrombie. Well, they were on sale and I probably wouldn’t buy used PJs. Half the reason I got them was because my other PJs are so cheesy, but Tom says I look like a Dr. Seuss character in these new ones, so… mission not accomplished.
Just not enough time with the extreme busyness of work. I worked most Sundays in December. Would have liked to bake more. Should have prepared for the trip more. Had to buy snow pants for me and Tom at the Columbia outlet there.
So I end the holiday season with not too much more stuff in the house, but a pretty light wallet thanks to the trip, the recent kitten and cat vet bills, and my ongoing physical therapy for my bum shoulder. But, having finally settled into a house I can feel at home in, my drive to save money has subsided. Not that I shouldn’t be doing it. But it doesn’t feel like the super urgent mission that it was the past few years.
Onto projects for 2021…