gift wrapped life

I don’t care what they say. You can judge a book by its cover. Or at least a gift by its wrap. I actually couldn’t care less what’s inside a package. I love the foreplay of an unopened gift, sitting beneath a pine tree, its silver-blue needles glittering their way down. I adore the build, not just “up to Christmas” but in everything. The planning phase, the shopping with top gift guides like this, the infatuation, the idea. I love, and always have loved, the idea more than the outcome, with the exception of my children and chocolate chip cookies.

It’s art. Let me say at least that, too. You have a big event, a date, a reunion, you pen in a hair blowout and a makeup application. Meanwhile, no one gives a shit what you’re wearing, if you chose browns and neutrals over the plummy smoky eye because they’re too concerned with their own impressions. Did anyone notice the bald spot, the weight gain, the fourth husband? And, you know what? Yes, and no. They noticed, but they really don’t care, and neither should you. Still, you’ve got a valid point: sometimes, you enjoy the “getting ready” more than the ready.

I’ve been obsessed lately with makeup. I apply it. Phil tells me I don’t need it, that I’m a beautiful woman without any of it, and wearing it makes people think that I have to wear it, that I’m hiding in it. This, for the record, goes into one ear, and out into a blog, because I don’t give two shades of shadow. Women really don’t dress or success for a man. We may acquiesce, second-guess, and—under the influence of alcohol—undress; nonetheless, come morning, we suppress all that we transgressed. And none of it really mattered much anyhow.

Makeup really isn’t about pretty. It’s art. I love makeup for the effects, for the fashion of it, for the trends and the blends. No, I’m not going to surround one eye with a TRIANGLE of Mongolian Yellow shadow any more than I’m going to sport an asymmetrical bob. But, man, there’s just something to be said for pretty packaging. Last year I went “Crafty Christmas” [think newspaper wrapping, burlap, and ephemera, beneath the tree]:

gift wrap 12
gift wrap 02
gift wrap 05
gift wrap 06
This year, I’m embracing the Swiss Snow Chalet. Think Nordic and overhanging eaves. Also think, “Red, White, and Paper Bags.”

I’m wrapping everything. One book at a time. I’ve sworn off buying utter crap for Christmas and am only purchasing educational toys, books, and toys emphasizing gross and fine motor skills (from bicycles to Montessori trinomial cubes).

I’m also trying to mostly give gifts tied to a specific experience, so it’s not about “the toy” and it’s more about “the event” and time spent together as a family:

– Something train-related for Lucas, with “tickets” to train museum
– Abigail wants swimming lessons, gymnastic class, and a “heavy duty art class.” That, quote, by the by, best all year. So, why not give hints to each lesson? A bathing suit, leotard, and paint palette.
– Trip to feed the Giraffes at the zoo with a stuffed giraffe or giraffe puzzle.
– Planetarium “tickets” with some solar system type toy
– Tea cups, good for an afternoon of Tea
– Monkeys in a box? Print out a bunch of them? For a day at Monkey Joes [A bouncy house destination] – Baking Gift – wrap muffin pans or mix, and make it a special baking event just for each of them, one on one
– Fishing & Seashore themed gift (have the books)
– Family Pirate Picnic at Pirate’s Cove (bought a Thomas the Train Pirate’s Cove Pirate Ship)
It will all go by too fast. The wrapping paper stuffed into a garbage bag, piles of toys to be put away, a mention of who got to open more gifts than the other (despite it being even), then the cleaning, the company, and thankfully, the wine. I love every sip of it, the dress to unimpress clothes, treat bags filled with homemade cookies, hot mulled alcohol in one version or another, meeting parents, meeting friends, remembering names, forgetting rules and yourself, coming, finding, and going… home.



  1. I love your gift ideas! Experience gifts always make such great memories.
    We’re trying to cut out the “utter crap” this year too. Something cute that helps me– a Victorian tradition of Christmas giving, each child receives “Something to wear and something to read; something you want and something you need.” Figuring out which category a gift falls into helps me keep from overdoing it, especially in the “want” only area.
    Happy wrapping and unwrapping!

    1. GBH – What a neat idea! Stephanie – Idea envy, gift wrapping envy too…I was finishing mine at 4:30pm yesterday…just prior to the 5pm arrival of my family! Just as an aside, what do you use to tame your curls/wear your hair straight? Pardon the randomness : )

  2. I have been on a big make-up/skincare kick lately, too. I, somehow, discovered the make-up guru section of youtube and can’t stop watching. I’ve never been a big make-up person, but since I’m now 36 and just started using a magnifying make-up mirror (!!) I’ve decided it is time to focus on it a bit.

    Thanks for the MAC free shipping tip the other day – I bought my first MAC products!


  3. Your writing here on your blog has always been like water flowing over rocks in a peaceful brook, like the beautiful music behind the words in a song, like the ebb and flow of a tide. Some of the best examples can be found in this post, and all of it wrapped together made this delicious to read. You have a way with words, Stephanie. (You have a way of making them your b¡tch! ;)

    “Women really don’t dress or success for a man. We may acquiesce, second-guess, and—under the influence of alcohol—undress; nonetheless, come morning, we suppress all that we transgressed.”

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