We are well into December, some of you may have your wrapping done and others may not. I have always been one to buy my Christmas presents throughout the year so that December does not seem so stressful timewise or moneywise. This year we are keeping things simple. We bought a favorite book, Tattoos on the Heart (in Spanish) for most of our Nicaraguan colleagues and friends. I have picked out some fun coffee inspired jewelry for my girlfriends and the neighbor kids are getting puzzles and soccer balls (Thanks to Shawna and Tommy).
I love giving gifts, but don’t necessarily need to receive them. With my parents and siblings coming to Nicaragua, we began discussing how we would like to do Christmas earlier this year. Really, it will be a gift to all be together. None of us really need anything, but still I can’t imagine a Christmas not giving my brother his annual boxers or the gross cherry chocolates that my dad always receives whether he enjoys eating them or not.
Each year I try to be creative in how I wrap my gifts. I must admit that here in Nicaragua, I have never found a roll of wrapping paper to my liking. At times, I have been known to bring rolls of wrapping paper over the border from Panama and Costa Rica against Kevin’s wishes. One time I bought a roll in Panama, but it was too long to fit in our suitcase, so I cut the roll in half, packed it in and am still using it today. This Christmas I decided to go with a paper bag brown, red and green, which are actually sheets of thin poster paper.
This year I was inspired by bunches of pine that I found in a Matagalpan market. I put the pine in mason jars around our house last month and have now been cutting off pieces of dried pine to attach onto the gifts. I have also been using cinnamon sticks that are leftover from a project last year.
Last April when I was home for some accreditation courses, I picked up two rolls of clearanced out Christmas ribbon. These little brown Christmas trees add a fun touch to the gifts. My jute and baker’s twine has also continued to serve me well. I bought three rolls a couple of years ago and they are still going strong.
I found these wooden candle holders while we were in El Salvador and have used them as a base to wrap Christmas gifts inside. Here are some fun owl bags that I also found on clearance last year.
Here are a couple more examples of different combinations that I came up with. We are giving massages to my mom and sisters during their visit in Nicaragua (Shhh…surprise! They are too busy packing for their visit to check out the blog), so I made a little note, rolled it up and tied them with some fun accessories.
I printed out a few Feliz Navidad cards (source) to give more of a layered looks to the gifts. I have clipped on most of my homemade tags with mini clothespins that I found at the market. I always love a good market find!
And this is getting a bit away from the actual wrapping, but we did some minimal house decorating with what we have. Here are a couple of nativity scenes that are new to us this year, one that is Llort inspired from El Salvador and the other is from Nicaragua.
Here are a few easy decorations that we hung around the house – lights, ribbons with clipped on ornaments, twine with pinecones and a Feliz Navidad banner.
I love this Christmas tree decoration that we found last year at Oyanca, a fair-trade handicrafts store in Managua. It is pine needles wrapped with colored string. I also printed off a few free Christmas signs (source) and I made a few Spanish versions.
And lastly, we have a few cloth napkins decorated and ready to go along with our Christmas tree which is actually a wooden pallet. The Christmas trees are so expensive here, so we decided to decorate a pallet and put our gifts underneath it. It is functional and festive, but doesn’t have the natural smell of pine.
I hope that this post inspires you to use what you have around the home to decorate for the holiday season!
Enjoy celebrating the arrival and promise of Jesus’ birth, our hope for peace in this world.