I Have an Idea: 50 Shades of Christmas



Sometimes ideas don’t turn out as planned.

Let me explain. You may want to get yourself a cup of tea, or something stronger and settle in. This may take awhile.

Every year I struggle with what to get my husband for Christmas. I really enjoy giving an unexpected gift, but he doesn’t always make it easy.

A couple of years ago I came up with what I thought was a great idea: a destination present. After some research, I found The Harry Houdini Museum, which was within driving distance and would be a surprise!


My next problem was thinking of a good way to wrap the gift. How do you creatively wrap an experience?

I saw the above picture of Houdini on the website and was inspired. I remembered I had saved some hardware off a purse I had thrown away thinking they may come in handy…

Then I remembered the Sock Monkey my niece gave me…

On Christmas morning, I was so excited for him to open his present. When I handed him the present I explained in a rush, “It’s more of an experience.”

This is what he saw when he opened the bag.

CM Houdini Monkey.JPG

I was confused when he looked confused and embarrassed. Our children looked embarrassed. I realized I maybe was too good at surprising! Sock Monkey did not resemble Harry Houdini- at least not enough.

To add insult to injury, the museum wasn’t open anymore.

Lesson learned: Sometimes fun isn’t as functional as one would hope.


Back to the Basics for his Birthday!



Favorite Things: Brown Paper Packages Tied Up with String


Because I live several states away from most of my family, I have to mail presents. We used to exchange Christmas and birthday presents with everyone. As our numbers grew, we lowered the number and decreased the expense of gifts by picking names among adults and children. Some families exchange birthday gifts and some don’t, but regardless, I have mailed more gifts than I can count at this point.

Because so many gifts were being exchanged for some years, I had plenty of opportunities to experiment with wrapping and packaging presents. I like to tailor the package to the person just as much as the gift. My goal is for the receiver to see a cohesive display of gifts from the moment they open the box that hopefully makes them smile and feel special.



One wrapped present that I was especially pleased with was the “bow-tie ribbon.”

Our friend is a snappy dresser, so I decided to make a “bow-tie ribbon” for his birthday package.

I used brown craft paper for the gift wrapping and had fabric left over from a Birthday Quilt Runner I made for a quilt guild contest (another story for another day– it ended badly) that I thought would make a festive looking tie.

I found wonderful directions and a pattern on the site Tie-a-Tie.net.  I measured the circumference of the box, which was 16 inches, so I made the pattern that length.Pattern

After a few tries of tying it this is how it looked! He loved it!


I also made one for my son- here is how it looked!