Greening Christmas: Trees and gifting

The Tree
The last time I wrote about a Christmas tree, we were using an artificial number that I found abandoned in our building’s basement.  That tree served us well, but for the past two years, we’ve had the real deal (the artificial tree is still hanging out in the basement, just in case there’s a year we aren’t able to get a real tree).

On Saturday afternoon, Matthew and Gabriel headed out to PaPa’s (Matthew’s grandpa) to cut a field tree (i.e., a tree growing in an unmowed field where it would eventually be cut down anyway).  These field cedars are not what you find at a tree lot (or a Christmas tree farm — we saw lots of those in Oregon!).

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They all have a sweet, Charlie Brown Christmas vibe, and I’m totally good with that.  Of the few that were about the right size, Gabriel picked this one, and Matthew cut it down with the “chainsaw.”

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Bicycle rack?  Christmas tree rack?  Same difference!  Not quite as cool as hauling your Christmas tree by bicycle, though (the distance to Matthew’s grandpa’s rules out that option for us).

We had a bit of a debacle with the tree last year, due to an inferior tree stand.  My MIL came to the rescue with a much better hand-me-down, and we had no problem getting the tree in place this year.

We didn’t have time to decorate it on Saturday night.  Gabriel waited very patiently until after breakfast on Sunday morning, and then we got down to business.

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We have a nice assortment of kid-friendly (read: sturdy) ornaments for the lower branches.  (Tip: if you run out of ornament hooks, unbent paperclips work very well.)

Tree, trimmed!

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Official tree-trimming dance?

 

Green wrapping
I swear I started a post on this topic a year ago, or at least took some pictures, but I cannot find said pictures anywhere.  My strategy last year involved using pages from the December issues of our [free] local foodie magazines (Sauce and Feast).  There were lots of festive pictures to go around (think cute cookies, candy canes, etc.), and it worked well.  I’m planning on doing more of the same this year.  Receiving blankets also make great reusable gift wrap!

Experiential gifts
This type of gift requires no wrapping.  Remember that time I wanted to be Pink?  Specifically, the high-flying, aerial artist on display at the Grammies (and throughout her 2013 ‘Truth About Love’ Tour).  Well, it turns out that there are aerial arts gyms in St. Louis.  We looked at classes at Bumbershoot Aerial Arts last spring, but the timing wasn’t right.

When Matthew brought it up in November, there was an “Intro to Silks” class that worked for us, and I suggested we do it as our Christmas present (in addition to taking care of Christmas shopping, this route made it a bit easier to swallow the price).

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We’re doing pretty basic things, but our instructor didn’t waste any time getting us on the silks.  The above photo is a bit deceiving — my legs are in a wide V-shape, and NOT straight out to the sides.  Our third class is tonight, then we break for two weeks, and finish with three more classes in January.

Pre-loved gifts
I’ve been thinking about getting Gabriel a doll house since his birthday this summer.  Though he doesn’t know he wants a doll house, I think he would enjoy playing with it (and I would enjoy doing it with him).  I didn’t want to break the bank on this purchase, but I also wanted something decent.

I’ve been checking Craigslist off and on since mid-November.  I had my eye on a Plan Toys model with an asking price of just under $200, complete with furnishings.  That was still really more than I wanted to spend (especially since I don’t know if G will enjoy it), and so I waited.

Two weeks ago, another option popped up, also made of wood (brand is Ryan’s Room, which I’ve never heard of), asking $100, and very close to where we live (it would have been tricky on the longtail, but I could have easily biked it home, if we had a flatbed bicycle trailer).  It’s not perfect, but it’s in pretty good condition (I negotiated $20 off the asking price).  I’m really looking forward to watching his reaction on Christmas morning!

Gabriel is very into playing doctor.  We have a pieced together “doctor’s kit,” and I love seeing the creativity he uses in creating doctor instruments.  I didn’t want to undermine that creativity by running out and buying a plastic play doctor set, but I liked the idea of adding to his medical kit, so when I stumbled across an awesome, real (I think — we’ll see!) stethoscope at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store, I snatched it up.

That about does it for us.  I’d love to hear about other great experiential or pre-loved gifts — please share your ideas!

Ghost of Christmas past

So Christmas is old news, seeing as how we’ve already rung in the New Year, but better late than never.  Unless you’re having any VERY belated holiday celebrations, you probably don’t need my fun green gift wrapping break through, so I’ll tuck that idea away for next year.

As expected, Sir did not lack for Christmas gifts.  The highlights included a pony from his great grandparents . .  .

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Of course, everyone knows that it’s best to ride bareback . . .

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. . . while holding a hairbrush.

Speaking of riding, one week before Christmas, I found a Balance Bike on Craigslist.  We’d debated Balance Bike versus regular bike with pedals and cranks removed, but the good deal, combined with the timing and the fact that we hadn’t done much in terms of Christmas shopping, sealed the deal.

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He’s not quite ready for it, but he’s very interested, and all signs indicate that he’ll be ready to cruise come spring.

I’m happy to report that all of his Christmas gifts (from Matthew and me) are of the new-to-us variety, though I did find out the hard way (almost empty toy shelves at the SVdP thrift store) that I am not the only parent to buy secondhand for Christmas — must plan ahead for that in future years.

I particularly delighted in the gift my sister gave us — beautiful homemade stockings.  I knew I wanted something special, and liked the idea of making them myself, but I lacked the equipment/skill/time to do so.

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Aunt Mollie to the rescue!  It’s so fun to know that we’ll be hanging these stockings for many years to come.

Here’s hoping that 2013 is off to a good start for all of you!