Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a Giveaway


Collapsible Market Tote Giveaway

Be sure to read all the way to end for a Collapsible Market Tote giveaway. Ok, I know some of you will skip there and just get in on the giveaway, but humor me anyway and let me think you’ve read at least part of this post.


New Traditions

Is “new traditions” an oxymoron? I think so, but I’ll use it anyway.

This week at Home Sanctuary, Rachel Anne asked us to think about some things we would like to start as traditions this year. Well, it just so happens that we had already come up with a few changes that may or may not become traditions, but we won’t know until we try.



Because of some scheduling malfunctions, none of my husband’s family is able to get together with us this year on Thanksgiving Day. We have traded off with my family for years where one year we have Thanksgiving together and the next year we have Christmas together. This would have been the year to get together with my husband’s side of the family for Thanksgiving, but it’s not happening, at least not on Thanksgiving Day. We do get to see one son, his wife, and the grandkids the day after Thanksgiving, but that left us with no one on Thanksgiving Day.

We live in a relatively new neighborhood and thought of a couple of neighbors that have moved here from out of state. One family is from Slovakia (which for all you Smarter than a 5th Grader fans is not a state), and we wondered what they might be doing for the day. We invited both neighbors to join us, and even though the Slovakian family does have plans with other friends, they were touched and overjoyed that we would ask them.

We have one neighbor joning us for certain and have since found out that one son will be with us on Thanksgiving Day and have asked another couple to join us. It will be a small gathering, and it will be the first time in a number of years that we haven’t been with extended family for the holiday.

The joy and appreciation that the Slovakian family conveyed to us of merely being asked to join us has warmed our hearts and made us desire even more to extend the holiday beyond just family.



Now, this has something to do with the giveaway, so if you’ve read this far you really deserve the prize, but keep reading anyway.

The first change for this year has to do with “going green.” I’m not much on the green bandwagon yet, mostly because I just haven’t given it much thought and effort, but I had determined after last year to use fabric to wrap presents instead of paper that is going to be thrown away even if we do have good intentions of using the bigger pieces to wrap smaller presents next year.

Ironically, and the irony didn’t hit me until I was standing in my nice clean shower this morning, I found a sale on wrapping paper at JoAnn Fabrics, so not all presents will be in fabric, but some will. Baby steps … .

The next change for Christmas is to exchange family names with my brothers and sisters. In recent years we have exchanged names in a way that was fair and equitable to all families regardless of how many kids they had, but even that left each family with 4 extra people to buy for. We had a reasonable limit on the amount of money we would spend on each, but decided to try something different this year since none of the adults really need anything that we could buy with the $15.00 allotted to them.

With the family name exchange the emphasis is on giving a gift that “encourages family togetherness, acts of sevice, and world peace :-).” Preferably the giving family will work together on the gift and/or be with the receiving family when they partake in the gift so as to have more time together without spending much money. In fact, the less money spent, the better, in favor of spending time together.

Some of the ideas we have come up with are

  • Detail the other family’s car (or just give a good shine to either the inside or the outside)
  • Provide a seasonal service – plant bulbs in the spring, pull weeds in the summer, rake leaves in the fall, shovel snow in the winter, or put up and/or take down Christmas decorations
  • Provide monthly or weekly treats by mail or in person (I often sit at my desk and wish for a dessert delivery service to my neighborhood, seriously)
  • Buy a game for the family and play it together
  • Get together with the other family on a regular basis to play games or some other activity
  • Give a movie night – DVD, microwave popcorn, certificate or $5.00 for pop, etc.
  • Give exotic spices to a family that might want to try new flavors
  • Make a personalized calendar
  • Make a simple scrapbook
  • Have members of your family write on strips of paper what they admire, like, or remember most about each of the other family’s members and put them in a jar for them to pull out and read once a week or as many times as you can think of things
  • Splurge on some food or item that the other family enjoys but has cut out or cut back on because of the economy (like, oh, let’s say, Dove dark chocolate)
  • Make gifts in a jar – cookie mix, soups, etc.
  • Showcase your family’s talents by putting together a book of your favorite sayings and kids’ drawings
  • Put together a cookbook that includes thoughts and art from all family members

Ideas are only limited by your imagination.


Now for the giveaway

A few months ago I purchased a Collapsible Market Tote like the one here


I use it often and get comments from cashiers and grocery packers alike. All of them think it’s great and wish everyone would use these.

So, for anyone who wants to go green – or just get compliments at the grocery store (how often does that happen?) – you can enter by leaving a comment on one of the following posts:

  • A comment on this post that includes a new family gift idea
  • A comment on a day of your choosing in the 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge or the 30 Day Wife Encouragement Challenge (click on the topic in the sidebar and see below for some more guidelines)
  • A comment on a post of your choosing, especialy for those among us who are not married

While you are welcome to comment on anything you want, only one entry will be accepted per person. Keep in mind that both husband and wife can enter by each leaving a comment, so now might be the chance to get a Collapsible Market Tote to keep or give away and choose one of the days of the 30 Day Encouragement Challenge that you would like your husband or wife to “surprise” you with.

All comments – one per person – received by Wednesday, November 26 Friday, December 5, 2008 Friday, December 12 (to coincide with Internet Cafe Holiday Giveaways), are eligible for the giveaway of one Collapsible Market Tote of your choice, assuming the color is available.

Whew, seems like I’ve done all the talking here. Let me warm your coffee and I’ll listen while you tell me what’s going on with you and your family.

Yours for the celebration of life,


Looking for more holiday tradition ideas? Stop by Internet Cafe for their Christmas idea exchange extravangza.


30 thoughts on “Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a Giveaway

  1. My comment includes a new family gift idea:
    This year it is going to be mostly a handmade Christmas. I’m knitting and sewing different items and will probably bake cookies as usual for gifts.
    Our family decided a few years ago to only buy gifts for the kids and then we (each couple or head of household) draw names of another couple or head of household. I’m breaking the rule this year (at least for my parents) I’m knitting them each an afghan to “cover them for all the years they covered me”.

  2. My comment is a new family gift idea:

    I’m going to dress the kids in their Christmas outfits and take some (hopefully) nice pictures of them, then frame them and give as gifts.

    Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Hi there! I can remember as a kid my mom inviting people to our house for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. We owned a hardware store and if there wasn’t an employee that needed a warm home and a good meal, it was someone from school when she went back to teaching. I loved that about the holidays. Sharing it with others. One year my DH and I had an exchange student living with us from Japan and we took him with us to my mom’s for Thanksgiving. I think that’s how the best holiday memories are made…opening our hearts and homes to others that don’t have anywhere else to go.

    Thanks for sharing!

    BTW, my family gift idea is a basket filled with all you need for a cold winter night’s meal. Soup starter, bread, (homemade or store bought), Hot cocoa, and a few festive mugs, napkins and candles. : )

  4. I love the idea of inviting neighbors or friends who might not be with family to join in the feast. We have done that a few times and it is a wonderful addition to the holiday!

    This Christmas we are also cutting back on the gift giving to extended family. Focusing on our children and immediate family this year due to finances. However you inspired me to think of non monetary gifts I can give, and I am going to use some of these ideas to “gift” people with my time and energy with gift certificates for service.

    Another inexpensive gift option is to make handmade christmas ornaments to commemorate something special to the person. Using photo transfer to fabric you can sew a portrait ornament to hang and remember a special occasion, or special person or pet.

  5. Great list…i’m going to share it with my college daughters. We are all having to be frugal with the store-bought gifts this year, but I want to think of things that will be meaningful

    One thing we did last year at our big family get together was provide a craft for the smaller kids to do. My sister brought beads and pipe cleaners and they made simple (yet spectacular!) ornaments and designs with them. It kept them busy and also gave them something to bring home. (We had to quit doing presents for all the nieces and nephews because there are too many.)

    You can create very simple photo books online, and they don’t cost very much.

    The totes look great, and yes, I would carry them just for the compliments.

  6. The kids will be making some picture frames for their Great-Grandmother and Grandparents. For the kids, they are all out of construction paper, for several months now. To save on money (I would be buying these items anyway), and boost their present count, we are infusing their craft box with packs of paper and other crafty type items.

  7. #1 – You are a writer who writes like you think. Right? Reading your blog is like an invitiation inside your head.
    #2 – I’d like some exotic spices since the economy will NEVER disrupt our Dove Dark Chocolate fetish.
    #3 – I’m somewhat of an anti-green personality as so much of it is hype from wacko left environmentalists who put owls and whales on an “endangered” species list, but kill innocent human children who could someday redeem the depleted owl population….. but I’m thinking outloud — OH! Wait – I’m talking to a kindred spirit!!!
    …. anyway
    #4 – I’d like to impress my small town grocery guy – I like RED. And since you photograph them on the stairs, this would make a perfect stair basket — You know, put it in the basket to save a trip, and the next person to treck upstairs must take it… Yes. Great idea for lazy mom.

    You have a nice blog. I’ve often thought about switching to wordpress just for this Mistylook layout.


  8. P.S. We are remodeling master bedroom. Drapes are sunbleached and ugly — they came down this a.m. as the drywall is going up. These recycled drapes will make nice CHRISTmas wrapping paper.

    Don’t tell the environmental wacko’S!

  9. okay i love love love that bag! Did you make it/sell it or can I buy them somewhere? very cool!

    gift ideas.
    i like to make popcorn balls for my family. we’ve been having them since i was little. this year my girls will help me make them!

  10. Great ideas! This is going to be a lean year for us as I lost my job and have been unable to obtain another at this point. We are doing lots of baking for the holidays this year. We are making cakes, snowman soup (you can google this) and fudge. These are great for teacher gifts also. I have also given bayberry candles (I used the scented votives) with the poem and wrapped them nicely. I think the totes are great and would make a nice way to carry all the baked goods to the various individuals.

    Happy Holidays.

  11. Wow, I love the idea of wrapping gifts in fabric. Wow wow! And it probably even looks prettier!!! Love that! And all the ideas you suggested, wowzer. Printing it off! Thank you for the chance to win these incredible baskets for the giveaway!

  12. Once we started having kids, we now only “buy” for the kids. THis year in an effort to have more USEFUL gifts, I decided to make the no sew fleece blankets for all the kids. =) I’m so not a “crafty” person so this is a stretch for me. I hope I get them done in time. I did think about this at least when Jo Ann was having their 50% off sale so it didn’t cost me much and these blankets should last the kids YEARS!! I also make calendars for everyone from shutterfly with personalized dates. I’m all about useful lately! LOL!

    I also decided to do homebaked goods for the coworkers this year. A $20 giftcard won’t buy them much but homebaked goods, they’ll be able to really enjoy!!

  13. Something new that we have started this year, since the kids are a bit older is to allow them to pick out and purchase one of their Christmas presents knowing that they will be giving it away to a need child. My kids enjoyed this so much they asked if they could giveaway another present.

  14. I think I put my other comment in the wrong spot so I am reposting here.

    Our family loves playing games together so here is mine… Apples to Apples Bible version game. I great family fun time and an opportunity to learn more about Gods Word together. If its something someone is interested its listed on my blog… .

  15. I have been making drawstring fabric gift bags for several years, and we love them. Now that I have enough for our family, I’m starting to make them as gifts for extended family too.
    Throughout my childhood one of our favorite gifts to give was coupons for things–backrubs for dad, special cleaning projects for mom, whatever. In my teens I remember once giving my little brother a coupon to take him to the video store and rent one movie just for him (since he usually got overruled by older siblings on those decisions).
    As a school teacher’s wife, I do a lot of homemade/handmade gifts still. I’m actually posting a thing about homemade gifts for kids tomorrow. 🙂

    And those totes look *awesome.* I’ve been carrying my own canvas/denim shopping bags for over a year now, and I love it. 🙂

  16. ALLRIGHTY….This is a FABULOUS give away!!! I LOVE these…have given a few away and I’d love one for my front seat!!:)

    I make a mean butter pound cake and cranberry/walnut cake that always make nice gifts…

    Tomorrow…My bible study girls are making Candy Cane Bath Salts with Bible Study includes…they smell FANTASTIC and look great…simple and sweet and all with a message!:)

    Peace to you!
    Thanks for participating with us today!!

  17. Our family has been putting together family albums for the past couple years. It’s so nice to have them all together and organized. I wish we would have started this years ago!

  18. I am submitting a gift idea: How about videotaping family moments and events throughout the year and putting them on DVD’s. This would be great for Grandparents, siblings or kids living far away. They will still get to enjoy seeing those special moments even if it is taped.

  19. I love this: “With the family name exchange the emphasis is on giving a gift that “encourages family togetherness, acts of sevice, and world peace :-).” ”

    Great idea to have a theme for the exchange.

    One thing we’ve been doing is spend daily time reading a scripture that coincides with the advent ornament for the day to keep our focus on what or Who rather, God gave us. As far as gift giving. We usually make homemade items for extended family and buy 1 toy (yes I said just one) for our kids. This year, I got online and through Gospel For Asia, was able to sit down with my kids at the computer to see video of how this ministry works and let them choose either a pair of chickens or pair of rabbits to give to this ministry (they actually have livestock you can purchase for a family in the 10:40 window).

    Anyway, love your ideas and LOOOVE your collapsable bag. I’d love one in any color!

    Merry Christmas to you

  20. Ohh, I can think of a million and one things to use this for! You’ve got some great gift ideas as well as traditions. I like to bake during the holidays and make little candy/cookie tins to give away. I love the fabric wrapping idea! If only I had a bunch of scrap fabric around here! 🙂 My sister -in-law makes a great gift of hot cocoa mix. The kids and adults alike love it.

  21. Hi! Enjoyed your ideas. This summer for a family reunion we were each asked to send 10-15 pictures of our family to be used in a slide show/album…. It didn’t happen, but I put together some for our family (extended). For Christmas, I am trying to add the rest of the Aunts then copy them off as a gift for all. I had a program on my computer already, so I don’t know what it would cost to buy a slide show maker program, but mine does fade in/out and music. It was fun to put together and to watch.

  22. Last year I crocheted prayer shawls for the women in our family and my close friends. As I crocheted, I prayed for that particular family…then gave them a note with the shawl letting them know their families were covered in prayer. I am trying to give less “junk” and more things that will mean something for years to come. You have a great list here.

    And I’m crossing my fingers that I win a collapsible tote! 🙂

  23. I love all your ideas here – and all the other women’s ideas as well! We like to put together “gifts in a jar” such as cookie or brownie mixes to give to special people at church and neighbors.

    I am having a giveaway too! I just got a late start on this! 🙂

  24. How did I miss this? Your tote looks awesome! What about just visiting with an elderly neighbor? Often what they need most is just people who will listen.

  25. I know I am too late for the drawing, but thought I’d post my comments anyway….
    I am frugal at heart. I get it from both sides of my family. 🙂 So making due with less is a fun challenge for me. I like to do food gifts as well as crafty things. This year I gave a loaf of homemade bread with jars of home made jams. for our family gift exchange. We did the exchange game this year. I am making growth charts for the grandkids by painting on canvas to hang on the wall. The rodman side oif the family has done a family exchange for a few years tha tis si milar to ideas already given. Sometimes it is food gifts, or games for them to play together. Also a zoo pass or similar pass is a greaqt gift for a young family.
    A twig or basic wreath with wrapped candy tied all over it with colorful ribbon is fun. I also like to do flavored popcorn. Try varying from the regular caramel corn (although I have a great recipe for that too) and do lemon popcorn, coffee popcorn, gingered popcorn (all candied). Or for something savory vs sweet, do nacho popcorn by using nacho sauce mix, taco popcporn using taco seasoning, ranch dressing mix is one of my favorites! Get creative!
    And for you greenies, popcorn makes great packing material. I put it in gallon ziplocks and pack around my gifts. that way the presents get there safe and the popcorn is edible! yum!
    I could go on and on, but this is long enough!


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