Tacky Ornament Exchange

Every year, our newly married community group from church has a tacky ornament exchange.  It all started before our group was formed.

{{Dramatic Reenactment}} There wasn’t a newly married group so my friends decided to join another community group.  One of their first interactions was at the group’s annual ornament exchange party.  My friends thought it was a tacky ornament exchange, and proceeded to make fun of every ornament opened.

Only, it wasn’t a tacky ornament exchange.  And all the people had put a lot of time and effort and love into selecting their beautiful ornaments.  Awkward!!!!

So when we formed our community group, we decided to have an over-the-top tacky ornament exchange.  No hurt feelings.  Every ornament guaranteed to be made fun of.  That was four years ago.  Since then, the party and the competition has grown.  Most of us have found our ornaments by September.  We give out an award for the tackiest ornament.  It’s a tacky giant stocking with puffy paint and room for each winner to write their names.

Spoiler alert: This year The Professor and I won.

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Boom.  A creepy prawn.  Its legs and antennae are spring loaded.  They jiggle.  Like a roach.

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I named him Larry.  Larry says, “I’m watching you.”

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Larry has a habitat of green sparkly seaweed!  The seaweed garland is about four feet long.  It’s super gross.

I bought Larry in Canton, Texas at the Canton Trade Days.  The lady selling them – along with a selection of creepy sea-animal themed ornaments – thought they were the most beautiful things ever.  I had to work to keep a straight face when agreeing with her about the elegance and ethereal beauty of my roach-like ornament.

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Here Larry is getting wrapped up in tissue paper.  I call this photo First Impressions.

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And then I used my gift wrapping powers for evil!

Yes, that’s green paper, red ribbon, orange striped ribbon leftover from Halloween, and of course, hot pink and lime green whale ribbon from my niece’s birthday present.

Bahahahahahahah.  (Evil laugh).

I made a cheese ball.  The recipe will be up tomorrow.

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Speaking of cheese balls…

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Some of the guys wore dorky ties that they’ve never been allowed to wear outside the house, post marriage.  But we love our dorks.  The Professor pulled out his Looney Tunes tie.

Are you ready for a tour of tacky!  Let’s dive in and see the tacky ornaments and the awesome couples who received them!

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There was the ballerina cow.  Sorry the picture is blurry.  Dick and Ann were in motion, getting into their ballerina stances while people shouted, “Jazz Hands” in the background.

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Holy cow!

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Addie and Ryan were thrilled about Larry joining their family.

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We named this ornament a Stafford Monster, after the couple who brought it.  It’s going to a good home, as you can see.

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Leg lamp from A Christmas Story.  This guy got stolen a few times.

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Why yes, that’s gold reindeer poop.  According to the folklore (or the sheet that came with the ornament), Santa collects magical gold rainbow poop, which he uses to fund his lavish lifestyle.

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Donnie and Heather have two little girls, so this sparkly, glittery fish went to a good home.

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I’m not sure what this is?  Frankenweenie?  A comical take on a hell hound?

And can Tyra Banks please come give me photo taking lessons?  I’ve gotten into this habit of scrunching up my shoulders when I take a photo, making me look like I have four chins and a hunch back.  Help me Tyra.  Teach me to smize!

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When Addie bought this, the checker asked her if she’d found everything okay.  She told her, “No, I wanted a pirate lizard, but I had to settle with a pirate frog.”  He jiggles just like Larry the Prawn.

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Speaking of lizards, this is a horny toad with a Santa hat.

We had the party at Ben’s house, but his wife Kristin was sick.  So we partied while she slept.  We felt bad, but Ben was an awesome host.  He even gave me instructions on how to make hot cocoa from the special pinteresty cocoa pops Kristin made.  Kristin, you’d be proud!

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And a Benjabread man, which was equal parts disturbing and hysterical.  It won second place.

And that was our party.

Silly holiday traditions with friends are one of my favorite parts of Christmas.  For the next year, we will hold on to our giant stocking trophy with both honor and pride.

So do you have any favorite silly holiday traditions?????

Gift Wrapping Tutorial: Part Two

I hope you enjoyed the first gift wrapping tutorial where we wrapped the first two gifts and looked at the exciting world of working with tissue paper, basic gift wrapping, hiding tape and making six-loop bows.

Get excited everyone because today is all about wrapping with double-sided paper, tying four-loop bows, creating tulle bows, and selecting gift bags!  Yahoo!

Why do I love gift wrapping?  It shows someone how much you care, it’s pretty and – only taking a few minutes per box – there is some major immediate gratification involved.  So let’s delve in to the second and last gift wrapping tutorial!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

Gift Three: Double-Sided Paper

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Who doesn’t love double-sided wrapping paper?  But it begs one important question – what do you do with it?  How do you capitalize on the double-sided printing except to wrap it like normal and for the person to say “oh this is double-sided paper,” while unwrapping?

I have an answer for you.  It involves just a few extra steps, but will make your gifts look extra special!

Select a box that isn’t too big or too small.  A gift too big will be difficult to manage with this wrapping style; likewise, a gift too small will be tedious to wrap and may result in you throwing the box across the room.

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Start by cutting an extra long piece of paper – add about five inches to the amount you would normally cut.  I cut my paper a bit too thin and ended up using another piece, so ignore how little the edges are in this picture.  It will be magically rectified in just a second.

Tape the first side of paper down on top of the box.  Instead of taping near the middle, the paper should cover most of the box top.

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Fold the untaped edge under at a right angle, so the paper has a nice clean edge.  Secure the fold with a piece of tape.  This tape won’t be seen, so just slap it right on.  You can see the green band of paper I’m holding – that’s the part I just folded and taped.  Now make another fold – this will be where the underside of your paper shows.  Make it as wide as you want.  Mine is about three inches wide.

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Tape both sides down with the same folded tape method we used to wrap the packages in the first post.

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Now it looks like this.  Both edges of the green band are taped down.  My edges are way too long so I trimmed them.

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You’re going to wrap the ends upside down from the normal box wrapping method.  Start by taping the green flap and adjoining paper to the box.

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Fold and tape the bottom flap.  Make sure to use the tape-folding method so no tape shows.

Tape showing is the cardinal sin of professional gift wrapping, if you haven’t noticed.  It’s like how good updos have no bobby pins showing – your hair is supposed to appear to be magically defying gravity and all other laws of physics.

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Next we can tie a bow.  Choose ribbon that contrasts with the reversed strip of paper.  This bow is similar to the six-loop bow from the first gift wrapping post.  Smaller gifts usually do best with smaller bows, lest the bow swallow up the gift.  That would be sad.

Tie a ribbon around the gift, centered on the flap of paper.  Tie it into a knot with about five inches of excess per side.

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Now it’s time for the bow.  Start by making a loop of ribbon.  My loop is about two inches long.  Pinch the sides together, turn the ribbon an entire turn, make another loop.

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Now you have two loops.  Repeat.

Cut the bow off the spool of ribbon and tie it onto the ribbon already around the package  – I go into more detail about this process in the first tutorial.

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Clip the edges and you’re done!

Excuse the ribbon’s frayed edges.  I bought new scissors after this photo shoot.  They’re bright turquoise, and I told The Professor they’re only for ribbon – not for cutting paper or green onions or breaking down chicken.  Then he reminded me that I was the one who used scissors to cut paper, green onions and chicken.  Not him.  So then I reminded myself of all the new scissor rules.

Gift Three, Part 2: Tulle

Still intimidated by ribbon?  Have no fear.  I have just the thing for you – tulle!  It’s beyond easy.  It always looks perfect.  It is a shiny, puffy miracle.

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Tie a piece of tulle around the present with a few inches of excess, just like you would do with ribbon.  Now make a bow.  Because the tulle is so thin and gauzy and beautious, you can do a lot more loops with the tulle than the ribbon.  There’s no pinching or twisting involved.  Just go back and forth making a few loops, holding the ribbon in the center.

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Tie it down to the ribbon already on the package, and cut the excess.  It fluffs up beautifully!

Easy as pie.  Pie’s actually hard to make.  Easy as snow cones.

Tulle ribbons also flatten easily in shipping and look great again after just a few seconds of fluffing.  If you happen to be mailing packages to grandkids, this is a wonderful material to use in wrapping!

Gift Four: Gift Bags

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Fact – I hate gift bags.  I think they’re over priced and not fun to wrap and not fun to open.  But whether you’re in a hurry, you’re wrapping a kid’s toy that’s oddly shaped, or if you happen to love gift bags, sometimes they’re the way to go.

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Rather than buying a $2 disposable gift bag, I like to buy a reusable tote.  So many stores have them these days.  They’re great for grocery shopping, taking lunch to work and beach bags.  I paid just between $2 and $3 for this Pier 1 Imports tote.  It was the perfect size to wrap the stuffed animal, and now it’s the perfect size for lunches.  Plus, it allows your guests to think of you as they use their reusable tote.

www.accidentalokie.com | gift wrappingJust a little tissue paper, and this gift wrap is beautiful, reusable and green!

Thanks to Brandi from Life by Brandi, a natural-light photographer in Oklahoma City, for these photos.  I couldn’t possibly take pictures of a step-by-step wrapping tutorial, and I was thrilled when Brandi said she’d help me!  If you live in Oklahoma, you should check out her awesome photography!!!

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I hope you enjoyed the gift wrapping series!  Good luck with all your wrapping.

Let us know – how much of your gift wrapping have you finished?

Gift Wrapping Tutorial: Part One

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Gift wrapping is one of my favorite parts of Christmas.  I love putting in the effort to make each gift, as small or grand as it might be, something special and cherished for the recipient.  Plus – let’s be honest – I just like making things pretty.

I spent my college years working in high-end retail where proper gift-wrapping technique was drilled in me.  Substandard wrapping jobs were torn open by the shop owner and wrapped again and again until perfect.  I learned how to wrap fast and efficiently, and how to select wrapping materials that are as frugal as they are beautiful.  And now I’ll share all my tips with you!

I worked with Brandi from Life by Brandi, a natural-light photographer in Oklahoma City, for these photos.  I couldn’t possibly take pictures of a step-by-step wrapping tutorial, and I was thrilled when Brandi said she’d help me!  If you live in Oklahoma, you should check out her awesome photography.  She does a lot of family and little kid portraits, and said she enjoyed working with me because she didn’t have to bribe me with candy to smile.  Or so she thought…

We took so many photos of several wrapping tutorials that I’m splitting them up into two posts.  Today, we’ll look at basic wrapping, utilizing tissue paper and a six-loop bow.  Post two covers utilizing double-sided paper, four-loop bows, working with tulle, and selecting innovative and environmentally friendly gift bags!

There are a lot of photos in this post.  I wanted to give you as much information as possible without insulting your intelligence.  Sorry if I ere on the side of not enough details or too many.  Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

Okay, put on your Santa hat.  It’s time to delve in!

Assembling Your Materials

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Pull out ribbon, wrapping paper, tissue paper, tulle, tape – any old scotch tape will do, scissors, stickers and gift tags.

For the sake of simplicity, I didn’t add gift tags to this tutorial, but I will show you which step to add the tags to your bow if you’re using a hanging tag and not a sticker tag.

I prefer the thickest wrapping paper possible.  If it’s not thick, you can’t pull it tight around the gift box – it will just tear at the corners.  I get my wrapping paper from Hobby Lobby during Christmas.  It’s 50 percent off, which makes it about $5 for a huge roll, and I only buy patterns that can be used year around.  Now every year I buy one roll to add to my collection.

Wrapping on a hard surface is best.  Sometimes I wrap standing up.  Sometimes sitting down.  Sometimes sitting on the floor, although my back regrets it afterwards.

Gift One: Wrapping a Shirt Box

Most of my loose gifts – ones not already in their own package like a board game – go in a shirt box.  I get a big pack of multiple sizes from Hobby Lobby every year.

tissue paperFirst, make a tissue paper lining.  Lay a two-layer stack of tissue paper over your assembled box to measure the length.  Then fold the stack under until the paper is as long as the box.

tissue paper

On a flat surface, lay out the paper and give it a strong crease along the fold you measured.  The key to working with tissue paper is to keep it sharp and unwrinkled with strategic creases and folds.  Sure you’ll smush up tissue paper if protecting and packaging a breakable item, but more often than not, flat, creased tissue paper is the way to go.

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Most tissue paper isn’t wide enough to be wrapped around the box, so make a second folded tissue paper stack for the other side of the box.  Place them box in the box so that there is room on each side of the box for a tissue paper flap.  Place the item your wrapping in the box.  Make sure to fold it nicely.

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Now bring the two sides together.  Fold the top layer of tissue paper over so that it meets the bottom layer about half way across the box.  Make sure when you fold the tissue paper that you make a crisp fold.  Secure it with a sticker or piece of tape.  I got these fun mustache stickers at Hobby Lobby, but you could do anything from festive striped tape, funny stickers or monogram stickers.  The world is your oyster…err sticker!

Use this fancy tissue paper wrapping technique for anything you put in a box – clothes, china, books, picture frames.  Make sure to still include the tissue paper to protect breakables, just wrap it all in the beautiful folded paper.

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Now it’s time for wrapping paper.

Only cut just as much as you need, and always cut an entire piece of paper.  Never cut out a square of paper, leaving a scrap left on the roll.  You can save your scraps, but save them in a separate roll.  It’s those scraps hanging off the roll that catch and cause large panels of your wrapping paper to get ruined.

Tape your first edge down really well.  This is going to anchor the rest of the wrapping, so make sure the tape is secure.

If you have a little extra paper on the length of your package like I had here, fold it over rather than cutting it off.  Folding the paper gives the edge a strong look, and hey, it’s less work!

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Now turn the package so the untaped flap is facing towards you.  Trust me.  It’s a small but important step.

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Place a piece of tape on the flap.  The sticky side of the tape will be facing you and affixed to the inside of the wrapping paper flap.  Fold the tape over, pull the paper tight around the package and affix the folded tape to the box.  Repeat to the right and the  left of the tape if it’s a long box.

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You’re halfway finished and there is not a single bit of visible tape on the package.  Fold in the corners, tape them down (no folding the tape this time since the flap will cover any tape) and and fold up the top flaps.  Repeat on the other side.

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Stand the box on it’s edge and tape the side flaps down the same way as the center fold – with the tape folded under the wrapping paper and hidden.  Once again, it works best if the flap is facing away from you.  Repeat on the other side.

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No tape!  Look at those sharp lines!

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Now it’s time for ribbon!  Conventional wisdom/wrapping etiquette (if there is such a thing) says the ribbon should cover the back seam.  So this package’s bow is on the long-side of the package since the seam was also on the long side.  I try to always do this.  But sometimes I’m running low on ribbon, so I don’t.

Take your ribbon and measure out enough to wrap around the package plus enough for a good bow.  Tie a knot.  This is where you can tie on a gift tag.  I tied on this cute jingle bell I found at Pier 1.  Tie another knot to secure the tag or bell.  (Skip this if you didn’t add anything).  Then tie a bow!

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You can make the bow perfect after it’s tied by grabbing the loops of the bow in one hand and the tails in another and giving them both a gentle tug.  That should help everything to even out.

Gift Two: Tying a Multi-Loop Bow

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The bigger the package, the bigger the bow! I wrapped this board game with a two-inch thick ribbon.  It’s a great size for big bows.

Start by measuring out your ribbon.  You’ll need enough to tie a bow around the package’s length and width with about eight inches of excess on either side.  I like to measure my ribbon by wrapping it around the package.  Then I cut it, pull it off the package, establish the exact middle of the ribbon and start again.  Remember when tying these wrap around bows, you’ll need to turn the package upside down and start at the underside.

The bigger the package, the bigger the bow!

Tie one knot.  Now it looks like this.  It’s pretty, but look at how nicely tufted the tied ribbon is.  And look at how sad and out of place the flat bottom ribbon looks.  Sad faces all around.

This important step will make it all right.  It will also keep you from having to ask someone to stick their finger on your ribbon.

I learned this step my first week working at one of my college boutiques.  I asked a sweet lady named Sadie – a seventy-year-old African American woman who could have walked straight out of a Harper Lee story – if she could hold a finger on my bow.  She said, “No, honey child.  You’ve got to learn to do that yourself.  We’re all too busy to stop and do that for each other.”  She showed me this step and I never looked back.

Start by identifying the ribbon forming the top of the knot.  For me, you’ll see that my right hand is holding it.  Next, thread that ribbon under all of the ribbon to the exact opposite quadrant of the package.  It’s going to go to where my left hand is.   Notice my green guiding arrow.

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Now it looks like a complete mess.  Have no fear!

I’ve switched the ribbons in my hand.  Now my left hand is holding the ribbon that was threaded, and my right hand is holding the bottom ribbon, which has naturally moved into the top right quadrant of the package.   Tie it into a knot.  Magic is about to happen.

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Magic!  Now all four ribbons are pulled into the knot, not just the top ribbon.  This is a little trick that makes a huge difference in the appearance of your gift wrap.  Do it a few times and you’ll be able to do it in your sleep.

This is also when you would tie a gift tag on.  You want the gift tag to be on a fairly long string, because the bow will be a few inches on either side.

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To tie a bow: take a length of ribbon and make your first loop.  Scrunch it together at the end, twist the ribbon an entire turn and make a loop on the other side, making sure to scrunch and twist the ribbon at every step.

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Soon it looks like this.

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Place the bow on the knot of the ribbon already wrapped around the gift.  Hold down the center of the bow on the knot.  Remember how I said to leave about eight inches of excess ribbon when you wrapped ribbon around the box?  Grab that and tie a knot around your bow.  Tie it really tight.

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Now it’s affixed.  You can fluff it and mess with it until it’s perfect.  Trim the excess.

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And there you have it!  It looks so special and decadent!

I hope this was helpful to you and all your ribbon-tying endeavors!  Don’t forget to check out Gift Wrapping Tutorial Part Two!