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Monday, December 21, 2020

Tuesday Before Christmas

A Christmas Tree

"I have been looking on, this evening, at a merry company of children assembled round that pretty German toy, a Christmas Tree. The tree was planted in the middle of a great round table, and towered high above their heads. It was brilliantly lighted by a multitude of little tapers, and everywhere sparkled and glittered with bright objects. There were rosy-cheeked dolls, hiding behind the green leaves; and there were real watches (with movable hands, at least, and an endless capacity of being wound up) dangling from innumerable twigs; there were French-polished tables, chairs, bedsteads, wardrobes, eight-day clocks, and various other articles of domestic furniture (wonderfully made, in tin, at Wolverhampton), perched among the boughs, as if in preparation for some fairy housekeeping; there were jolly, broad-faced little men, much more agreeable in appearance than many real men -- and no wonder, for their heads took off, and showed them to be full of sugar-plums; there were fiddles and drums; there were tambourines, books, work-boxes, paint-boxes, sweetmeat boxes, peep show boxes, and all kinds of boxes; there were trinkets for the elder girls, far brighter than any grown-up gold and jewels; there were baskets and pincushions in all devices; there were guns, swords, and banners; there were witches standing in enchanted rings of pasteboard, to tell fortunes; there were teetotums, humming-tops, needle-cases, pen-wipers, smelling-bottles, conversation-cards, bouquet-holders, real fruit, made artificially dazzling with gold leaf, imitation apples, pears, and walnuts, crammed with surprises; in short, as a pretty child, before me, delightedly whispered to another pretty child, her bosom friend, 'There was everything, and more.' "

                From Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens, 1812-1870

In addition to making treats, I've been busy wrapping gifts. One of my gifts is an Italian dinner in a bag, as I mentioned in this post on gifts to add to your grocery order. Here's how I wrapped it all up. I had a brown paper craft bag (reused from last year), red tissue paper (also reused), red ribbon (again reused), and a printed page of clip art (illustration of different pasta shapes) that I individualized.

After cutting out the clip art, I glued it onto the front of the bag, then filled the bag with the Italian food items, added the tissue, and tied with the ribbon. Simple enough.

For the next gift, I didn't have enough gift wrap. And the newspaper that I thought I had can't be found (we don't take a regular paper, but get one free every few months). But what I did have are grocery store ads. Colorful, but it doesn't quite say "Christmas". 

I wrapped the box in the ads and took it out to the garage.

Using silver spray paint, I covered the ads.

I added some diagonal swipes of gold to the silver to help obscure any ad markings that might peek through. And finally, I topped the gift with a bow.

In the kitchen, I'm still whipping up goodies for gifting -- Monday, a batch of thin mint cookies and some individual cocoa mixes.

The cocoa mix is simply powdered milk, cocoa powder, and confectioner's sugar. Layered in the plastic cone on top of the cocoa mix are mini chocolate chips, then holiday-colored baking sprinkles, and finally mini marshmallows. When I decorated cookies over the weekend, I saved the baking sprinkles that didn't stick to the icing. I think they look festive layered in the cocoa cones.

I hope your week is off to a great beginning!


  1. I had to look up teetotums. It sounds like they were a kind of top. I love old Christmas stories and illustrations. I remember one (in one of our Best In Children's Books) called Christmas Every Day. It was about a little girl who thought that Christmas should be every day of the year, so one year it happened for her. As you might guess, the novelty wore off quickly.

    Lili, thanks for sharing the postcard. The image is so pretty. I think you must have an eye for color combinations and ways to make your gift presentation look pretty. Your Italian dinner wrap looks especially elegant--who would guess that you used pre-loved items in pulling it together?

    1. Hi Kris,
      I had to look up teetotums, too. It's a shame that so many playthings and games are now obsolete. I love that story about the girl who wanted Christmas to come every day. That's an excellent lesson for us grown-ups, too.

      Thank you. I like the way the gift bag turned out, too. I had wanted it to look like it perhaps came from an Italian specialty shop, filled with a curated selection of Italian foods. I'm pretty certain the recipients will be pleased with the contents. I know I drooled over some of them! (Not literally -- LOL) Let's just say that one of my daughters was able to get an order in to an import store near us, and I piggy-backed a couple of items onto her order.

      Have a wonderful day, Kris!

  2. Charles Dickens is sometimes credited with being the father of modern Christmas and I guess the above writing is one of the reasons why. How wonder the scene is that he created.

    I really like the Italian gift bag that you created. It does look like it came from a high-end shop and once again you've shown your talent for making things attractive.

    We sometimes wrap in ads here, especially my son who does bother to buy wrapping paper. However, that's where we stop. As long as the box is covered we're good to go. Do you wrap all of the presents for your immediate family with such care for detail that you've shown us here? I would not be surprised if you did because you do so many other thoughtful, additional things for them.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I can see why Dickens would have earned that title.
      Oh, thank you. I have fun with packaging.

      As for do I do this for my family, the wrapping -- it all depends on the year and how much time I have. For years when I don't have the time or energy, I have a bunch of reusable fabric gift bags that I use for family. Items can just slide in and I tie them closed with a ribbon. But I try to have a few things wrapped in paper so everyone gets that moment of tearing (or in some cases, neatly sliding) off the paper.

    2. Your family wrapping sounds similar to ours. We reuse a lot of gift bags but try to vary that with some wrapped packages.

    3. Gift bags sure are easy, and they lend themselves to being reused for many years, as the paper is so sturdy.


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