holiday

The Beauty in the Handmade, Secondhand, and Hand-me-downs

Originally, I had zero intentions of doing a post specifically on how I decorated for the holidays. I am not an interior designer.

But, the below picture changed my mind.

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Yesterday, some family got together to bake our traditional Christmas dessert, linzer torte. I was so proud of my work that I wanted to document its beauty.  Looking at this picture reminded me of all the beauty of the decorations I have found secondhand, made with my own hands, or were handed down to me from loved ones.

The Dining Room*

*It’s not really a dining room, I just don’t know what else to call it

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I scored this beautiful glass jar from a garage sale long ago and knew it would come in handy. My original plan was to fill it with seashells from K’s hometown in Massachusetts, but I have yet to acquire more than one. So now the jar gets to be seasonal! It currently holds my collection of cookie cutters. They are too pretty to hide away in a drawer.

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Christmas M&M’s were a staple in my house growing up. After picking some up, I realized I had nothing to put them in! Luckily, I took home a bunch of these mason jar mugs that were wedding favors at a friend’s big day. I couldn’t bare to see any left behind!

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Yes, there is a pumpkin in this picture. He didn’t make it into last month’s compost pick up, so I have been holding on to him until the next. I figured I would have some fun with it and have him wear an elf hat. Why not?!

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This enamel tray was found at an antique market in Northern Illinois and I knew it would be perfect for my kitchen table. The pinecones have stuck around since the fall, and all I had to do was add some festive ornaments.

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Over our closet is a vintage paddle we hung up to pay homage to K’s love of fishing and boating. Since I had an extra string of garland, the paddle got to be decorated too! Next year, I am thinking of wrapping it in lights.

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On our door hangs the newest edition in handmade decorations. You can read all about it here.

Living Room

 

Christkindlmarket is a big deal in Chicago. It is a traditional open-aired German Christmas market right in the middle of downtown. If you are brave enough to battle the crowds, you can get a delicious pretzel and some hot mulled wine, called glühwein, in a souvenir boot mug! I have gone many times with friends and family and displaying the mugs on our bar makes perfect sense.

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Bet you don’t realize our thermostat is in the middle of that picture right? It is usually a blank space on the wall, but now it is home to our Christmas card collection. The delightfully tacky Christmas banner was my parents and I have fallen in love with it over the years and ended up claiming it as my own.

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Last fall, my friends and I spent an evening crafting blanket ladders in a garage. It was such a blast, and I am so glad this piece provides me with memories that one bought from a store could not.

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K had this awful red IKEA pillow that he brought with him when we moved in together. It’s obnoxiously crinkly so it had been banned to the giveaway box in the basement. That was until I decided to give it some new life by turning it into a Christmas pillow. I already had the green and brown felt, so I stitched us a whole new decoration.

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This is the first year I have actually had my own Christmas tree, so that means I had nothing for it. A tree skirt is often common practice, but I saw no reason to waste any money on such an item. We had a red and black plaid blanket that works perfectly wrapped around the tree.

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Knit bunting is now my new favorite decoration. I made one for fall and now one for Christmas!

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No vintage Christmas collection is complete without a creepy Santa Claus! I found him at a garage sale and just couldn’t pass him up. You better watch out! He’s watching you!

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The Gift of An Experience

Father’s Day was a few weeks ago and so was K’s birthday. Both received the gift of an experience from me. My dad has always wanted to do an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River and K got a much-needed massage gift certificate.

Overall, I consider myself to be a pretty good gift giver. I listen throughout the year and make notes on my phone about things people would be interested in. Did you mention in a conversation you would love to learn how to scuba dive? Awesome! I will be taking note.

As I have gotten older, my wish lists have gotten shorter. I would rather receive an experience or activity rather than another sweater. I have even had to make actual requests to my mother to tone it down at Christmas. (sorry mom!)

I don’t need too much anymore, and right now I legitimately have nowhere to put it in our tiny apartment.

If you are having trouble thinking of good “gift of an experience,” here are a few I have either given or have received:

  • tickets to hockey games
  • tickets to baseball games
  • trapeze lessons
  • massages
  • segway tour
  • flight in a WWII plane
  • indoor skydiving
  • cooking lessons
  • money towards specific honeymoon activities
  • tickets to see Anthony Bourdain
  • knitting lessons
  • yoga passes

 

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The Winter Classic in Washington, DC

 

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Learning trapeze

 

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Anthony Bourdain at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago

The point is, I do not need/want a tangible item for every occasion. Being able to do/see things I normally would not spend my money on is the real joy. The gift of an experience has allowed me to I swing on a trapeze, learn to cook pasta, and knit a million scarves!