Nicole’s Favourite Things: The Festively Crazy Edition

Do you have a Buy Nothing group in your neighbourhood? I do, and it’s really a great thing: people post items that they want to get rid of, and also items – and sometimes acts of service – that they need. I have been able to re-home many items from my house in this way, and it makes me happy to think that someone local is using our outgrown clothes and boots, old towels, and bought-on-a-whim-but-never-used toiletries.

Some of the things gifted on the site are kind of bizarre – partially used salad dressing, for example, expired coconut milk – but hey, no judgement here, the point is to keep things out of the landfill, and almost everything that goes on the site is snapped up.

On my most recent Organization Spree Because There Are So Many People Home All The Time In This Small House, I pulled a big Rubbermaid bin from a closet downstairs. The bins below it were filled with various knitted objects from my mother-in-law, and a quilt my grandmother had made for me as a child, and the bins above it were filled with spare blankets for winter.

You might think that the bin in question would also be filled with similar items, but you would be wrong. It was filled to the brim with gift bags.

I have another box, handily residing on a shelf, that I store gift bags in, and so I did not even realize I have saved every gift bag from every gift I have ever been given. I mean, this bin had gift bags that I remember getting at my baby shower, my baby shower being held in May 2004.

I also was made to realize that every year I buy packages containing hundreds – hundreds! – of Christmas gift tags, and then only partially use the package as I don’t, obviously, give hundreds of gifts annually. In other words, I had stacks and stacks of partially used packages of gift tags. I may never have to buy gift tags again. When I die, my grandchildren will be cleaning out my apartment and will wonder why I have so many gift tags.

Also found: many ribbons, partially empty boxes of cards, and bags of Easter grass.

Thank god for the Buy Nothing group, is all I can say. Two nice ladies took the bags – one specifically taking dozens of wine gift bags, guess what people like to give me – and both commented, after picking them up from my front step, that that was more than they expected. THEY’RE YOURS NOW, LADIES. Enjoy the monkey paws.

My vow to not buy gift tags did not extend to actual gift WRAP because, although I knew, I knew in my heart that I had several rolls of Christmas wrap at home, I still bought a Costco roll on my last trip. We all know how long those rolls last. I guess my grandchildren will also be clearing Christmas paper out of my apartment and thinking that Grandma was Festively Crazy.

I am Festively Crazy! And why not. Here we are, the darkest month of the year, the darkest year of the century/ millennium/ dear god let’s HOPE it’s the darkest year, and, as you know, I’m Feeling Festive.

Nicole’s Favourite Things: The Festively Crazy Edition

Gnome Sweet Gnome

Back in mid-November, I noticed this guy in my neighbourhood.

Cute, right? Then, suddenly, he started multiplying and I was seeing this sweet greenery gnome everywhere around the neighbourhood. Sometimes I would see three or four houses in a row with gnomes on their front steps or gardens. I finally saw a gnome owner – a gnowner, if you will – and she told me that a local nursery was selling kits and giving webinars to Make Your Own Gnome. Right there I knew it was a non-starter for me. I am the least crafty person I know, and if I was to try this project – which the woman said “was tricky in parts” – it would end with a pile of shredded greenery, and me dissolved in a puddle of tears. I did look on the nursery’s website, and the kits themselves were $80, which seemed like a lot to spend for a decoration that would only last one season (I’m half Scottish), and also for something that I would surely destroy accidentally.

This all doesn’t stop me from admiring each and every gnome on my daily walks, nor did it stop me from talking to my husband about the gnomes. Look at how cute they are, I love gnomes, I especially love the kind of gnomes that have faces like that, I wish I had a gnome.

Look what arrived on the weekend!

Dreams do come true! I am now officially a gnowner, without the tears and shredded greenery.

Pulling The Ferrari Out Of The Garage

My friend Liv (HI LIV) uses that term for bringing out the good china, and although I have a full set of Lavender Rose Royal Albert china that was my grandma’s, I rarely use it. It generally comes out for fancy Christmas coffee and treats with the girls, which is obviously not going to happen this year. I do not feel like going through the trouble of bringing out the Lavender Rose for the guys, who do not now and never will appreciate it. However! Our Sunday night desserts have been a variety of the Christmas treats and baking I’ve been doing, which is a perfect opportunity to bring out the Christmas Spode platters.

So many trees.

I love Spode; the platters hide in plain sight year-round. This bowl usually houses decorative balls with Chinese writing, but at Christmas gets filled with pine cones I collected years ago, from my in-laws’, my husband’s childhood home.

Party For One, A Festive Kitchen Party

If you’re going to spend a lot of time at home, and in the kitchen, may I suggest festive tea towels? You can see the Spode one above, but I have a wide variety, almost exclusively purchased post-Christmas at huge discounts (Scottish, again).

I use the wine-themed ones only on Fridays and Saturdays as a celebratory reminder.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside Bum Warmers

FRILUFTSLIV! I know I’ve talked before about My Cozy Buns, the local woman who repurposes old sweaters and makes them into these adorable skirt-like bum warmers, but I do not think I can talk too much about them. I mean. Honestly. How much cuter of an idea can you get? Plus, recycling, upcycling, keeping warm in the winter, looking cute, and friluftsliv! I am normally an all-black-or-at-most-very-neutral colour person, but I saw this set – which comes with a matching headband, not shown – and it was just the perfect pop of festive colour without making me feel weird and conspicuous.

Please note that I am only coatless to take this photo, I immediately layered up afterwards.

Don’t Throw Me Down, Clark

My friend Chloe (HI CHLOE) sent me this coaster last Christmas (she also gave me her heart, but I gave it away) (I hope this year she gives it to someone special) and it makes me smile every time I look at it, which is often.

When this pandemic started, I vowed to write a monthly Favourite Things, and it has really helped me to focus on the positive. I think I’ll keep it up! So tell me, what are your favourite things lately? They don’t have to be festive (but I am here for the festivity!). xo


  1. I have a giant bin full of (1) used gift bags, (2) new gift bags, (3) many many new and partially-used packets of tissue-paper, (4) novelty bags and boxes that I thought I might need, after recently needing them (like, I needed lunch-bag-sized gift bags one year for a particular thing, so then that year I bought a whole bunch more on clearance and then never needed them again; or I thought, “Oh, how cute, these clearance boxes would be so cute for baby gifts!,” and then never had a gift that fit in them). I got rid of a LOT of it when we moved (we have a similar giveaway program in our area), but still have…quite a bit.

    Some happy festive things:

    1. On this third winter in this house, I FINALLY have what feels like A Nice Selection of Sweaters. The first year, I bought anything that was on deep clearance, because I didn’t know what I’d want/wear/need, and that meant a fair number of sweaters in the patterns/colors/cuts no one else wanted, and/or things that didn’t look good on me. But I have grown in Sweater-Choosing Ability/Experience, and the second and third year I have added better sweaters on sale, and now it is fun to choose one each morning.

    2. I let Elizabeth follow her long-held dream of decorating the Christmas tree with A Coordinated Set of Ornaments, instead of my usual gradually-accumulated-over-decades hodgepodge. I’d thought it might be a little depressing/department-store-like, but it’s so fun to see her having so much fun, and it’s a fun shock to have the tree decorated like it never has been before in my lifetime.

    3. Buying allllllll the festive cookies/treats.

    • Oh, I love a good sweater. I categorize them differently for different parts of winter, from light to very heavy. I am HERE for a good sweater conversation. Also, I feel like I need to see a photo of your beautiful tree!

  2. We have three under-the-bed storage bins, about two feet wide by wrapping-paper-roll-length long, one filled with birthday wrapping paper, one filled with Christmas wrapping paper/ribbon/tissue paper/labels, and one filled with gift bags. Many of them are from MY baby shower, in 2013. And as most of my friends have had children already, I suppose they will wait around until Carla’s generation starts having babies because obviously I will still have them at that point.

    I LOVE your bum cover. It is so very cute. And I love your Wham parentheticals.

    • Ha! I feel you. I did keep SOME gift bags (why? I don’t use them). Here’s the funny thing, I rarely have enough birthday wrapping paper. Again, why the dissonance? Why so many gift bags, and Christmas paraphernalia, and NO birthday wrap? I don’t know.

  3. Suzanne, I loved the Wham parentheticals too, but I love you referring to them as Wham parantheticals even more!!!!

  4. I understand the whole gift bag collection completely – because I just sent a great majority of gift bags to Goodwill. Why have I been hoarding these bags, considering I rarely use gift bags? The answer will never be known. Let us not talk of the boxes that I hoard…in order to avoid using gift bags. *sigh* It’s complicated.

    Favorite things right now…
    1. The tree is up and decorated
    2. The porch is festooned with lights
    3. Having coffee from a Christmas mug every morning
    4. Looking forward to vacation. Where I will stay home but won’t be on the computer 24/7

    • Ooooh I am drinking coffee in a Christmas mug right now! I rarely use gift bags too, and I’ve just started to get rid of “that really good box(es) I’ve been saving.” But I always get a bit panicky – should I recycle this amazing box? Or keep it?

  5. One of my favorite things is while reading your upbeat post is listening to the Griswolds on the TV prepare for Christmas right behind me. (one of my two favorite Christmas movies-“Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” Being #2)
    I do love the Buy nothing site; I don’t have that here, but it sounds perfectly awesome. I’ve not bought a gift bag in years and still have more than I can use in my lifetime. I get it.
    Your Gnomes are so stinking cute!! Also, I love your bum warmer and mittens; a nice departure if you’re leaving black for a minute.
    You’ve reminded me that I’ve totally NOT taken out any of my Christmas kitchen towels yet.

  6. I like your yard decorations. We are hoping to get ours up this weekend and to start some holiday baking, too.

  7. bibliomama2 says

    Omg I LOVE my Buy-Nothing group. I have gifted probably literal tons of stuff and it’s so nice when it’s going to people who actually want it and will use it.
    I have festive tea towels too! And we just pulled out the Cowslip pattern Spode that belonged to Matt’s grandmother and his mother always said she’d fight me for but then she gave it to me and then she died, so we use it and laugh and cry and it’s beautiful and sad.
    I love your decorated outside tree so much. My mom gave us some outdoor christmas balls (hee hee) but decorating the back shrubs feels kind of lame.

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