Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mission Accomplished: Christmas Shopping Complete

Usually I am the kind of person who has their Christmas shopping complete by Halloween. Since Nathan & Ryan were born, I've become more of a procrastinator. Having two sets of twins will do that to you.

For the past 7 years, we have always gone home to Virginia for either Thanksgiving or Christmas (usually Thanksgiving.) It was the perfect chance to spend time with family and we always dropped off our Christmas gifts while we were there. This year we are 3,000 miles away. There won't be any trips to visit family. That means we have to ship our Christmas gifts to everyone. I'm ok with that, because I prefer to shop online anyway. I despise crowds and mall parking lots (even though I got married in one) and I avoid Black Friday like the plague.

Although we have always tried to limit the number of gifts that we get for our children, this year we have come up with a great reason. Each child will get 3 gifts from us, just like the wise men brought 3 gifts to baby Jesus. I stole this idea from a comment on Kate's blog. Also, none of the gifts from us will be a toy, but Santa will bring one toy. With six kids, that's still a lot of presents.

Armed with a cup of peppermint mocha and some comfy pajamas, I hit the computer this weekend and got our Christmas shopping done in one day. And I never even had to get dressed. I love technology! There were only 2 brick and mortar stores that I visited this year and I actually had fun shopping at them. One was REI, where I was tempted to buy a new winter coat but resisted and stuck to my list. The second store was HomeGoods, where I was shopping without a list and using a gift card that was given to me by the awesome folks at Blog Her and
HomeGoods. If you'd like a chance to win your own HomeGoods gift card, check out it here.
I ended up walking out of HomeGoods with a bunch of cool glass. Yep, glass. In true ADD fashion, I am attracted to all things shiny (and sparkly, and purple.) So it's no surprise that I snatched up some awesome engraved glasses for my brother and then couldn't resist a beautiful purple bowl for myself. Shameful, I know. I'm not supposed to be shopping for myself, but snagging a recycled glass bowl for under $7 was irresistible. Call it an early birthday gift to me, from me.
When I put the bowl in my shopping cart, I wasn't even sure what I'd do with it. And then, as I passed the aisle full of sparkly Christmas ornaments, inspiration struck me.
And I came home and filled my pretty, new bowl with some old glass Christmas ornaments. Awesome! Now, if I could just drag myself away from the shiny objects...
The last great find I brought home was a quartet of glass canisters that are perfect for gift-giving. I knew right away that I would use them to make gifts for neighbors and friends.
The kids and I melted chocolate chips and dipped candy canes into the melted chocolate. Then we sprinkled them with festive sugar and popped them into the freezer. While the chocolate was hardening, we made hot chocolate mix.
Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe

*1 cup powdered milk
*3/4 cup cocoa powder
*1 1/2 cups sugar
*1 cup non-dairy creamer

We mixed the ingredients together in a big bowl and I quadrupled the recipe. Then we added the dry mix to the jars and topped it with a layer of chocolate chips. We stuffed some miniature marshmallows on top of everything and sealed the jars. Then we wrapped up two of the chocolate-covered candy canes and tied them to the jars with Christmas ribbon. I printed instructions for the hot cocoa (add 2-3 tablespoons of the dry mix to a cup and hot water) and we attached them to each jar. That was it! Perfect for gift-giving and fun to make.
I'm feeling good that my shopping is done. Our (naked) tree is up. Now I just need to convince Jason that he needs to climb up onto the wet, moss-covered roof to hang Christmas lights.

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