Tuesday, December 8, 2009

seriously...i hate being sick. i am so effing bored.

Ohhhh, Christmas. I love Christmas. I love that people get into it and get so intense. I love that people put in EFFORT. It just makes me happy. People so often don't try. They just coast and never see fit to go above and beyond. At least, in my opinion. But at Christmas, people give a shit. Or at least pretend they do really convincingly.

I realized a long time ago that I am really good at giving gifts. It's one of the attributes that makes me the proudest. I find, though, that I'm better at it when I'm "in the zone" of gift-giving, so Christmas is ideal. This progression of thoughts began my distaste for birthdays*. I felt that attempting to buy a birthday gift ruined my "gift-giving street cred" and I just couldn't allow it.

But back to Christmas.

It's my first Christmas owning a house, and I really want to deck the halls. All one of them. I have some decorations, but they're all mismatched and cheap and geared towards decorating an apartment. An apartment I still intend to decorate, since that's still my home. We just really can't afford to buy holiday decorations for the whole house. We can't even afford to give people presents! It's so frustrating. I feel like perfect gifts are just being shoved in my face every day and it's driving me crazy.

I've been trying to find something homemade to give everyone, but even that is proving a daunting task. Just between the two of us, we've got nine siblings NINE! Then there are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins...that's a lot of presents to make, and we haven't even started counting friends. What makes it even more difficult is that the Foliage's family is almost completely Jewish. At least his siblings and his father's side of the family is, which represents the majority of potential gift recipients.

Since most people I know are strapped for cash nowadays, I thought sharing inspiration might be in order.

Here are some ideas I/we have had:

1. From the Nourishing Gourmet: Nature's Candy Box. Who doesn't love chocolate-covered stuff?! We'd probably buy nuts to roast but would buy fruit pre-dehydrated. I really want a food dehydrator. That is completely besides the point.

2. Mead Wine. A good option for the Foliage's adult family members. Mead is made with honey, water and yeast, so we wouldn't have to worry about the grape kashering rules and honey is significant in the Jewish religion. We probably don't have enough time for fermentation at this point, though. And we couldn't give it to my parents because my mom is allergic to fermented drinks. No beer or wine for her. But I feel like this would be a really good option in the future for an unusual and easily personalized gift.

3. Spiced, Toasted Nuts. I just watched this episode and disregarded most of the recipes, but THIS one...mmmm. I love spicy roasted nut mixes. I kind of can't stand Giada in general. But for once she did good by me. I think my dad would love this one, too.

4. The ever-classic Cookie-in-a-Jar. I scoffed at these when I was younger, but now I'm CRAZY about them. You mean I don't have to buy all the ingredients separately on my own?! Score!! The trick is knowing which kind of cookies to choose. I couldn't do a "regular" cookie, but I can't assume all of the recipients would want the flavor I'd choose. Not to mention dietary restrictions. One of the Foliage's sisters is vegan. One of my uncles is allergic to gluten. I would want any cookie to represent our tastes, too, but my boyfriend's flavor affinities are kind of ridiculous.

Flavors the Foliage doesn't like:
-Peanut Butter

He also doesn't like pretzels. Why.the.face. What am I supposed to do with that?! I hate raisins in things, but other than that, I am specification-free. His tastebud priveleges should probably be revoked.

Maybe we'll make an assortment of cookies or truffles or something. What it really comes down to, besides being unsure of what to make, is that it's still so expensive!! Ingredients, time, potentially needing additional kitchen supplies, and then packaging. I feel like what really makes a gift is packaging. I like to go all-out with wrapping. Boxes, wax-paper sleeves, labels, liners, ribbon, bows... When you're packaging something like 30 or more gifts, that still adds up to a lot.

Now the problem of decorating. We're getting a tree (I have a 6' fake one for my apartment). We have some lights and extra strands are cheap. I think we'll probably string popcorn and cranberries or something. Maybe try to manipulate scraps of wrapping paper into some kind of ornaments.

I am all about scraps. When you cut low branches from your tree, save them to go around doorways or for centerpieces. If you've got enough, maybe even a wreath.

Candles are also key for making things look dressed up. They're very holiday-ambiguous, though, so they're a great buy. I'm going to get some branches, dry them out, and put them in a glass vase (hello, Christmas Tree Shop!). Maybe I'll spray paint them silver or gold first. Or maybe I'll leave them natural.

Or maybe I'll just have a bunch of ideas and then lose momentum, leaving the Foliage to decorate. Trust me, this is not a problem. Last year I was so exhausted and just didn't feel like being cheerful. He came up to see me and wanted to decorate, but I couldn't work up the desire to move. I said the apartment was too messy and I'd need to clean before I could decorate. So he set me up with my laptop on the couch while he cleaned and decorated my entire apartment. That's not a huge amount of space, but I was in complete shock. All I had to do was go on facebook, and when I looked up, I had a fully decorated one-bedroom nest. Ridiculous.

*For any of my friends who get really indignant about my refusal to celebrate their birthdays, I said this was the BEGINNING of my thought-process. I really honestly believe celebrating birthdays overall is dumb.

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