Fabulous Christmas: Gift Ideas and Traditions

My head is always overflowing with creative ideas, and there’s nothing I like better than turning them into reality. And so I spend lots of time making things. But they’re things no one can hold. You see, I’m a virtual creator. I make things while tapping on my computer keyboard.

But during Advent it’s different. At this time of year, I make real 3-dimensional things. And so do my girls. You might find us at the kitchen table kneading a huge lump of salt dough. Or we could be glueing bits of scrap paper to 1L milk cartons. We enjoy getting our hands sticky and our faces covered with flour as we make inexpensive Christmas gifts and tree decorations.

There are some Christmas things we don’t need to make. (We made them years ago.) They only need to be unpacked from the Christmas box in the garage, and placed around our home. We hang our Jesse Tree on the wall, place our wreath on the kitchen table and arrange our nativity set on our family altar. Despite being made out of inexpensive materials such as felt and salt dough and cornflake box cardboard, they are all family treasures.

It’s Monday and I’m writing about Christmas. Have you guessed this is the topic for this week’s podcast? In this episode…

  • I share ideas for gifts, home-made and to buy, that are inexpensive and don’t add to the pile of ‘stuff’ we all have
  • I talk about some of our Advent traditions which bind our family together
  • I also tell you a little bit about my son Thomas’ birthday and a grief idea I am excited about
Christmas is a fabulous time of year. Is my podcast fabulous too? I hope you’ll listen to find out!

Podcast Notes

Blog posts

Things to Make

A Home-Made Christmas (Part 1): printing and framing pictures
A Home-Made Christmas (Part 3): Christmas card bookmarks
A Home-Made Christmas (Part 4): salt dough angels
A Home-Made Christmas (Part 5): milk carton vases
Grief and an Advent Wreath: salt dough recipe and wreath
Salt Dough: tree ornaments


Grief and Christmas


The Angels of Abbey Creek

Paper dolls

Advent Book

The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean


Thank you for listening!

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    • Vicky
    • November 17, 2015

    Thank you for all these ideas, Sue. I like the idea of the straw in the nativity set and also the salt dough ornaments. I think we may try the journey of the Wise Kings, this year, too – though, our ornaments are made of china so I'm not sure if that's entirely sensible!

    We prefer to keep everything simple, as well, so it's good to hear of some new, very doable traditions. I've already wrapped most of my presents, this year, but I liked your wrapping ideas, too.

    1. Reply


      Oh yes, china ornaments could be a problem. The Wise Men from our china nativity set don't journey around the house. They stay safely on the dining room table. At least I thought that was a safe position. Last Christmas, one of the Wise Men got knocked onto the floor. (I was dusting at the time.) He is no more. Quite sad really. Our nativity won't seem right with only two kings.

      If you've wrapped most of your gifts, you must have done your Christmas shopping. I bet that feels good. I wish I was in the same situation!

      Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode!

    • Wendy
    • November 17, 2015

    Thank you for this podcast, Sue, lovely Christmas ideas! I think I want to try the salt dough angels this year.

    I like the idea of you doing some grief podcasts, too. In fact I want to go back and read your post on Christmas and grief. I feel like I am grieving my dear MIL all over again now that the holidays are approaching. I've even started dreaming about her death again.

    Christmas was her favorite holiday and all year she loved to find quirky little shops to poke through, looking for something that would give someone joy at Christmas. My poor FIL just gave us money to buy our family's gifts (to unwrap with him at Christmas). In one sense I don't mind: he's having a hard enough time as it is, and present shopping is a burden to him. On the other hand, we feel the pressure to have this Christmas be marvelous – or at least not awful. I know it's not just about the gifts, but we're the only part of the family (on this side) with an apparent faith life, so for them, the gifts are the most important sign of love and joy.

    1. Reply


      Christmas is such a difficult time when we're grieving. Everyone else is full of joy and we have to appear that way ourselves. I didn't want to spoil Christmas for my children with my grief. It felt like a huge burden. Yes, lots of pressure to make Christmas as marvelous as usual.

      I can imagine the hole your MIL has left in your lives. Christmas won't be the same without her. Perhaps, healing goes backward when occasions like Christmas come along. The absence of your MIL will be even more obvious when everyone is gathered to celebrate.

      I found it so hard to buy gifts the year Thomas died. It was a real sacrifice doing the Christmas shopping. Of course, my kids were looking forward to receiving presents! I feel for your FIL and you too, having to take on the burden of his shopping.

      I'm still searching for the perfect name for my grief podcast. There are so many ordinary things I could call it, but I'm hoping to come up with something a little different but still recognisable as a grief title. It's not easy!

      Thank you so much for listening to my podcast. I will keep you in my prayers. May God bless you.

  1. Reply

    Trying to hold on to the inner light have put up a post x

    1. Reply


      Your inner light would be missed if you left the blogging world. I'm glad you changed your mind. Perhaps you could just post when you have the inclination. No pressure posting! xx

    • emily
    • December 29, 2016

    Sue, you know what I believe? I believe that every time Thomas has a birthday, and every Christmas, Jesus goes to him in Heaven and hands him an exact replica of the teddy bear you got for him that day.

    Happy New Year. 🙂

    1. Reply


      I love your thought about Thomas and his bears. It made me smile. Thank you so much for sharing it!

      Happy New Year to you too!

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