I know that Christmas is long gone, but I still want to record the theme and contents of the packages we sent to our families*. Elena did a great job with her part, and Jenny and I spent a lot of time putting them together. I was quite happy with the results, and we got very favorable reactions from the recipients.
This year’s theme was Elena’s Nursery Rhymes. We picked several classic nursery rhymes and included a small item to go along with each one. Most of the gifts were ornaments for the tree, but there were a couple of exceptions. Jenny put together a booklet with all the nursery rhymes and a picture of Elena that matched each one, but the recipients had to figure out which item went with each rhyme. I hope it wasn’t too hard–you be the judge. In no particular order, here they are:
- Ladybug, Ladybug: Jenny put together refrigerator magnets like the ones described here, using ladybug stickers under the decorative marbles.
- Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and What are Little Cowgirls Made Of?: We ordered these ornaments from Oriental Trading Company.
- The Muffin Man: Jenny made a chocolate chip muffin mix. Everyone absolutely loved these; I’ll add the recipe when I get a chance.
- This Little Piggy: We made plaster casts of Elena’s foot, then painted and decorated them. We made one attempt at pressing her foot directly into the wet plaster, but she was just too wiggly (it was good we put paper down to protect the carpet). While regrouping and reformulating our strategy we stumbled upon Moon Sand, which holds its shape when molded. Pressing her foot on the sand was quick and made a perfect impression, on top of which we poured the plaster. The process preserved a surprising amount of detail.
- Row, Row, Row Your Boat: The implementation on this one was more than I bargained for. Rowing is my sport, so I really wanted to use this rhyme. I couldn’t find any good ornaments to purchase, so I decided to make some instead. First, I found instructions for making paper clip people. The base was half of a styrofoam ball painted to look like water. We cut out the boat from some quarter-inch thick wood planks, fashioned the riggers from popsicle sticks. Finally, toothpicks were just the right size and length to serve as oars; since he’s mid-stroke, I didn’t have to worry about making blades for the oars. We hot glued all the pieces together, then snapped the assembly into a clear plastic ornament.
Even though the rower took the greatest amount of time and effort, it might be something that would interest other people. Jenny and I have toyed with the idea of refining our process so we could manufacture and sell them next year. What do you think? Would you buy something like that for the rower in your life? If you’re not a rower, imagine that a similar ornament was available for other sports–skating, basketball, baseball, rock climbing, or whatever else. What would be an appropriate price? Would you be interested in custom orders so you could specify a color?
We’re already thinking about a theme for this year’s package, but we plan to keep it a closely guarded secret until after Christmas. You can probably expect that Elena will have an even bigger role. In fact, just last night Jenny showed me Elena’s first artwork.
*It occurs to me that I never wrote down the theme of our 2008 packages, which was A Taste of Our Travels. We included a treat from each of the special places we had visited during the year: hard candy from our Caribbean cruise, salsa mix from Fredericksburg, steak seasoning to commemorate Dallas, Austin’s favorite pancake mix, and a tub of baby food to represent our future.