Who doesn’t love to occasionally look back and see from where they’ve come, and reflect on where they’re going? 2019 was a year we tackled new topics and connected with new partners, yet, we also wrote about things near and dear to our hearts. So, we thought it would be fun to look back at our most read posts written in 2019.
Every summer we love to encourage kids to get outside. So, for the last few summers, we’ve hosted camping trips to local and state parks throughout Minnesota. Michelle writes about the fun had on these trips in the most read article of the year.
Just posted a few weeks ago, Nora’s article on using your skills and time to make gifts seemed to resonate. (Plus, it’s not too late for some last minute gifts before the holidays are over for this year). 🙂
Earlier this December, we hosted our annual Grateful Gathering and Bites Bar & Grill, just south of Pine River. It’s a moment where we pause before the busy holiday season and take the time to reflect on the past year and ponder the future.
This gathering was a bit bittersweet as we bid a fond farewell to three of our favorite coworkers, Bob McLean, Kathy Hoefs, and Janis Redfield.
Kathy will be leaving us to work on her growing event center with her husband, Marlon. Bob, a Resilient Living Campus mainstay since the start, is retiring. Though mid-2020, he’ll take up the mantle of District Governor for Rotary District 5580 (accompanied by his wife, Terri). Janis and her husband, Robert, are snow-birding south to Florida to soak up rays, walk on beaches, and live life to the fullest (in sandals). We wish them the best.
Janis’ (left) last day is at the end of December. We will miss her dearly.
Bob’s seeing triple!
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the average American spends so much on wrapping paper during the holidays that they could use it to cover almost 6,000 football fields with shiny, Santa clause covered paper. This year, we should try to see if we can minimize how many fields we can cover with these alternative wrapping ideas:
If you are a long time reader, you may remember Quinn’s article on Furoshiki. Furoshiki is a traditional folding technique originating in Japan. All you need is a pretty square of fabric big enough to wrap your present with. No tape or ties needed!
You can buy cheap cuts of fabric or use old bedsheets to create your very own wraps. Check out this great video demonstrating how unique your gifts will look.
2. Brown paper
This is a timeless classic. If you want to add even more style, be creative with markers or crayons to draw your very own artwork. Colleague, Nora W. just told me the other day that she gifted a package wrapped in brown paper to her nephew. He refused to open it because Nora had drawn Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer in her own style. He cherished it more than what could have possibly been inside the box. Very cool.
Smaller trees and homemade ornaments can make your holiday greener.
You don’t need to have new decorations each year. You can make your own ornaments from paper or make your very own play dough and paint them. You can also see what your parents or grandparents might want to pass on. The majority of my tree ornaments are from my mother after she cleared out her basement. (My most favorite ornament given to me is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Leonardo with my name across his belt. It’s *ahem* radical.)
You could spend time with your loved ones by stringing popcorn, cranberries, or Kix cereal together. When the Christmas season is over, you can hang it outside for the birds to eat. Another idea is bringing in pine boughs and pinecones to decorate your mantle or entrance way. You’ll carry the scent of nature inside, making for a special experience.
Another fun activity that helps with is going to see light displays in your community! Think about it this way – it can be a fun activity for the entire family, and if you’re not putting up as many lights in your home, your technically saving some energy with praising the community holiday displays. Often times must-see holiday lights can be seen at local parks and historical buildings.
As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, there are a lot of great alternatives to material gifts – volunteering/donating, giving experiences, spending quality time together, travel, etc. However, if you are choosing to give a material gift, there is something you can do to make it far more meaningful and extra special: Make It Yourself. Sound scary? It’s not! I promise. Let’s start with the warm fuzzies of why you might do this before moving on to tips and ideas.
Reasons to Make Homemade Gifts
- They’re Gifts of the Heart: Let me tell you, making gifts is not a quick feat, but they mean more. Not only does the recipient appreciate the item, but they’re appreciating the thought, creativity, time, and work that went into making them something extra special – what a great way to show you care during the holidays! I love hearing the shocked “Auntie you MADE that?!?” when a gift is unwrapped. It’s so much better than any “wow!” from a store-bought gift.
- They’re One of a Kind Gifts: When you’re making your gifts, they are absolutely one of a kind. Which means making a gift for that person who has everything and needs nothing may be a lot easier than finding the perfect gift for them.
My fav hat made by a friend.
Even if you’re making the same thing for two people, chances are they’re slightly different! If the gift is a common item, such as a hat, it’s not just another hat. It’s going to hold a special place in their collection because it was made with love (see reason number 1).
- They’re Personal Gifts: If you’re willing to take time to make a gift for someone, chances are you’ve put thought into it ahead of time and chose that gift because you know it’s something they’ll love. Beyond that, making gifts allows you to personalize every detail. In homemade gifts you have the luxury of choosing the style, size, colors, type, fragrance, flavors, etc., all ensuring it’s just right for that special person.
- They Can Be Fun & Relaxing to Make: Notice that I said “can” – which is addressed in number 1 below. Many times, people find a lot of joy and relaxation in the actual making of a gift, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved! I’ve found making no-sew blankets while I watch a movie with my husband or listening to an audiobook while I paint decorations for kids’ rooms to be oddly therapeutic.
- Reuse & Upcycle: Making gifts gives you the perfect opportunity to turn old things into new, helping us reduce our environmental impact. Recycling or fabric scraps can be used in many kids’ toys, old house hold items like jars could be used in home decor, old clothing could be turned into new fashion. Get creative!