GIVE, SERVE, MAKE {unique Christmas gifts}

we're trying to really cut back on the typical rush-to-the-mall-spend-your-whole-pay cheque- type of Christmas this year. It hasn't been easy to convince whole families to do Christmas differently, and I respect the hesitation. After all, there have been years of great memories of unwrapping that perfect gift, seeing people love what you've specifically chosen just for them, and presenting someone with a beautifully wrapped box with a bow on top....oooo it makes me giddy just thinking about it!! But the reality is, we forget the down side.

crowded malls.
stuff you don't need/want.
returning said stuff.
worst still, keeping said stuff.

You get the idea. So this year (yes my family has already had one of three Christmas celebrations!) our family has been trying to change Christmas. Highly motivated by this and the aforementioned list. Some ideas I have or have seen done this past weekend: GIVE AWAY, SERVE, MAKE
  1. We all did a secret-santa, but in lieu of gifts, each secret-santa spend around $20 giving to a charity we thought the person would like. My brother Rob got a little confused and bought his secret-santa a real gift, and donated on behalf of each of us to four different charities, but there's no harm there! Instead of giving things we didn't need, about $150 was donated to charities such as Living Water International (digging wells for impoverished people), The Abba Fund (non-interest loans for families that want to adopt but can't afford to), and Second Harvest (collecting fresh, unused, food from restaurants in the GTA and preparing healthy meals for the hungry).

  2. Brad's dad surprised us all by tracking down the necessary documents and spending countless hours doing Rob's taxes from 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, resulting in giving Rob the right to $3,600! What a gift!! Jim gave of himself. His expertise. His time. And Rob benefited greatly, and nothing new was bought, and no money spent!

  3. I sewed two accent pillows of fabric from my fav local store Emeline and Annabelle for my mother-in-law since they just moved into a new place and I noticed their room was looking a little plain. I know she'll LOVE that I made it and there's an immediate connection to me, plus that it's practical since they are still making their new house a home.

    Bonus idea from a blog I love, prompted by my friend Amanda: if you can sew a pillow (aka straight lines, nothin' fancy) you can also makes these!)

  4. Download and print a FREE owl calendar for any friends who love graphic design, cute prints, or owls (I think of my friend Loni who qualifies for all of the above and will definitely make her one!). The link is on my side bar, help yo self!

  5. Give a treat that you can make together. I found a great little recipe for Cranberry Hootycreeks (whatever they are, they look yummy). You can put in everything except the splash of vanilla, butter, and 1 egg, and top if off with a cute piece of fabric. This doubles because you're making it yourself AND giving of yourself (assuming you bake an afternoon away, which, honestly, sounds glorious)

    What are some ideas you're shaking up Christmas this year?


  1. Ems, I really love the way that you write. I enjoy 'listening' to what you have to say, and took the time to do it tonight. My family is notorious for giving things that have been made and are cheap. We've often worked from a limited budget and tried to milk if for all that it's worth. Ironically, as we get older, we have a desire to have more flexibility and develop the ability to use money that we are now able to make.

    Anyways, I have knit countless scarves and made many hats. I hope that my family can be as creative as your father-in-law and help each other out for the holidays! I love the calendar, pillows and heat pads!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Thanks so much Becs! I only did the making of gifts when I was a kid and only due to having zero dollars and no way to get to a mall. Sadly as I got a lisence and job it automatically turned into a materialistic nightmare! Here's to reverting back!

  3. Just wanted to say that I wish we lived in the same city, Emily... because I would so be trying to hang out with you all the time. ;-)

  4. Dearest em,

    God uses your lifestyle to challenge me to be a better woman of God {better steward of time and resources}. thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Love and Merry Christmas to you, lilster and brad ;D