In the ‘spirit of the season’, we’ve been doing lots of thinking as to how to make this Advent and Christmas a bit more simple and a lot more meaningful. The simple is coming from circumstance. I don’t have the time, or the energy, to do all the things we’ve done in the past. Our outdoor decorations are about half what they usually are, along with the things I put out in the house. Our tree is up, but still not decorated. We passed on doing our annual open house. And I still haven’t put a wrapped gift under the tree.
But you know what? I’m loving it. It’s like an out of body experience but it’s made us focus on what’s most important – the birth of our Savior.
On the meaningful front, we’re working to make the gifts we do give full of meaning and purpose. Some are store bought and perhaps a gift card or two, but we’ve also searched high and low for gifts of the homemade kind. We’re blessed to have some really talented and gifted friends. If you’re still searching for a gift idea…chomp on these a bit.
TOP TEN: BEST. GIFTS. EVER.
1. Sterling silver jewelry. A sweet friend, former neighbor and the mom of our Godson, Jackson, has been making jewelry for several years now and it’s just gorgeous. Dawn is uuber talented. She does this really awesome bracelet with your children’s names (or your last name, or initials, or whatever). I’ve already put in my order for this year 🙂 She doesn’t have a website, but I have her number. If you’re interested, shoot me an email and I’ll send it to you.
2. Paintings. A friend from high school, Bethany, has more talent in her pinky than I do in my body. Not fair, I know. She’s an artist, a photographer and a super crafty gal. If you live in the Panhandle, you can totally score on the photograph front. If not, you can benefit from her store on Etsy or commission her to do an original painting. We did for Anna-Laura’s room (below) and it’s simply divine. Candace Olson would be jealous.
3 / 4. Photographs. Two spectacular Chi Omega sorority sisters, Shannon and Lauren, do some real magic with those Nikons. We had a photo shoot with Shannon earlier this year and will be giving some of those photos to family members this season. Lauren is equally talented, just in a different zip code 🙂 I’m a believer that photos capture moments in time you always want to remember. You can never have too many. And, it’s totally worth the money you spend.
5. Mummymade. My sweet friend, Agnes, has this really charming Australian accent (it’s totally authentic) and knits a mean scarf, blanket, animal, hat, younameit. She has a store on Etsy that you definitely want to check out. I love, love, love her stuff. I’ve given the animals as baby gifts, the scarves as birthday presents and you can bet some will be under our tree as gifts. She is extraordinarily gifted and you’ll be thankful to have a bit of that talent in your house.
6. Wills and such. Ok, perhaps not something you want to wrap and put under a tree, but if you’re in the market for a new will or estate plan, “Lawyer Shannon” (not to be confused with “Photographer Shannon”) may be the gift you give yourself. After watching my grandmother’s health decline, we’ve seen just how important a will and durable power of attorney can be. Don’t put it off. If you don’t have one, get one. Again, no website, but shoot me an email and I’ll send you her contact info.
7. The Fabric Kitchen (curtains, pillows, home decor, et al). When we moved into our house the bare windows started to drive me crazy. My mom and I worked hard at the last house sewing drapes and crafting cornice boards. That was four kids ago, I’m too tired! So, I called my friend, Cathy and she stitched some of the most beautiful drapes I have ever seen. So well done I could hardly stand it. She’s a perfectionist like me! Again, holler if you need to get in touch with her.
8. Graphic Design. Yeah, yeah, I do this. But I have a pretty talented cohort in crime. Bob is a former graphic guy at Dell. He does some pretty awesome work, so if you have a business, or know someone who does, give him a shout. You won’t regret it.
9. Cookie Bouqets! Who doesn’t love these? If it were up to me, I’d eat the whole thing before giving it away, but who wants a bunch of sticks? Janice, a co-worker of my mom’s, whips up a mean batch of sugar cookies in just about any shape you can imagine, ices them and arranges them super cute. She’s done birthday party favors, Christmas gifts and thank you bouqets for my clients. Best part? She’s WAY more affordable than those franchised cookie places and her work is even better, I think.
10. Music by Sarah Bauer. Once upon a time, Scott and I were young and served as volunteer youth ministers for our parish. We met a sweet high school gal, with an even sweeter voice. Fast forward a decade and that sweet girl is all grown up, a bona fide Christian recording artist who’s married and expecting baby #1 this spring! She has three CDs (“Radiance” is definitely my favorite!) chocked full of amazing songs. I bet Sarah would even personalize and sign the CD if you asked her 🙂
I realized after I generated the list, that many of these folks are “word of mouth” kind of businesses. I hate to give out their phone numbers or emails here – the random blog stalker from Nigeria could be reading this 🙂 I’m all about supporting the small business owners. Holler if you need contact info…I’ve got all these folks on my speed dial!