Merry Christmas!

I have your first Christmas/holiday/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Yay it’s December homework for you.

This weekend, if you’re out and about in the world, I want you to start your Christmas shopping. If you’ve already started it congratulations, you’re exempt from this assignment and can instead spend the weekend shopping for Easter bonnets.

I don’t mean I want you to specifically go out Christmas shopping. What I mean is if you’re out, keep your eyes peeled for presents for family and friends. It’ll be easy now that I’ve put the notion in your head. Then if you see something … BUY IT.

You will return home with a bizarre feeling of relief knowing that you have started your Christmas shopping! If the only place you plan on going this weekend is the gas station and the retirement home to visit gramma you might be in trouble unless the people on your list love air fresheners and aluminum walkers.

This is my Christmas trunk(s).



The top case is my sewing kit/basket. The bottom two suitcases are filled with presents.  One good reason to put them in cases like this is you can’t look at the presents all the time and think You know … Christmas is a long way off and I really could use a nice (insert random present from suitcase here).  So far the only 2 things I’ve taken out of the suitcases were 2 presents  for the fella.   I threw them out my front door and now all of the squirrels and chipmunks in my area smell of a custom blended cologne and are making winter nests with pages from the latest John Grisham novel.

This, by the way, is an ongoing assignment.  From here on in I want you to remember about present buying.  So if you go to a new store, an antique shop or are browsing around Etsy and you see something someone would love, BUY IT.  Keep this up for the next few weeks and your present buying could be done before you’ve eaten your way through all the mini Halloween chocolate bars you figured you’d buy early to get it out of the way only to end up eating the entire box yourself.

Speaking of presents, and I swear I didn’t plan this, I wanted to let you know that I am now a contributing write for Lee Valley. I LOVE LEE VALLEY! Honestly. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Lee Valley. Around Christmastime I go through the catalogue and circle things I want just like I did when I was a kid.

You can read my first article for them in this month’s Lee Valley newsletter. If you’d like to get the Lee Valley newsletter every month that it comes out, click here to subscribe.

The end.

Have a good weekend!








  1. Sebrah says:

    Every year I vow to be all ‘done and dusted’ by the 1st of December. I’m never done and dusted until the early hours of 25th December.

    BUT last year (because you can sometimes be quite scary) I got a little organised and was all done and dusted by the 24th.

    I knew you were going to raise this subject soon (and remembering the scary-ness) I’ve started my Christmas Shopping list! Everyone’s having a soup maker. Except the kids. They don’t want a soup maker.

  2. Jane says:

    You inspired me with the Farmher Tshirt. I’m getting it for someone I love but for whom I don’t usually buy a gift, unless something screams her name. That one yelled KATE.

  3. Denise says:

    Well, I can’t claim to shop early like many others, but wanted to thank you for turning me on to Lee Valley. Great online catalog–where I put a couple of things on my personal “wish list” for my son and husband who always need ideas. ;-)

  4. Jody says:

    I find that keeping a list of what I’ve bought for whom also helps. You do know that now your family knows where to snoop!

  5. Carolyn says:

    CHRISTMAS ? Have you went off the deep end… Some one needs to check in on you…. You have turned into a Hot mess… There is no way I even want to think about Christmas… gross… Right now Halloween has filled every space in my head. 24/7 of good spokyness.. I have the l house all done up on the inside. Now I need to set my cemetery on the outside… I love fall…. It brings change and clean air and the smel of soup and baked apples… Picking out the right pumkin and baking the seeds… The walks though woods and heard the crunch of leaves, with beautiful colors. All the critters in the world are gathering up their supplies for a long winter. What a beautiful time of year God has given us.

  6. Kathy Hartzell says:

    Karen, this is a cross blog comment! First, I HAVE also started with the shopping – it is such a thrill when I see something that I think will bring a smile to members of my extended family, and which in turn, brings smiles to me when I load it into the stash. It helps to keep a running list, cuz if you are my age, you might forget just who it was you made the selection for!!!

    About the cat litter to remove old car, suitcase, etc stench…if your kitties won’t use it after, then save it to deodorize the garbage and recycling pails. Used to be a product called Drizit that was just clay litter…and the cheaper NON clumping works just as well and in the 50’s it was my job to stand up the trash can (metal) after the scavengers came by and sprinkle in the Drizit and line it with newspapers!!

    • Karen says:

      Kathy!!! That just gave me a great idea! I’m going to put it in the bottom of the green bin I use in the kitchen. It *always* stinks and has guck at the bottom. I line it with newspaper or paper towels but … it doesn’t always work. ~ karen!

  7. Susan says:

    Since the early 1970’s, I’ve been in the habit of shopping sales with all my friends and family in mind, as well as looking for a generic nice male and female gift. I put everything in the closet, and keep shopping the sales. When someone’s birthday comes along, I just pull one of their gifts from the closet. When there’s some unexpected need for a gift for someone, I pull out one of the generic male or female gifts. Also, not everything is purchased. If I find something to make that I think someone will like, I’ll make it, and into the closet it goes. When Christmas comes along, I’m already done except for stocking stuffers. There’s only one item I’ve bought that wasn’t given to someone for quite some time. I got a Casio sport watch on a great sale one year in the early 1990’s, and then gave up men for a number of years in a fit of pique over what seemed at the time their universal stupidity. Nine years later, I gave it to the man who is now my husband. And the battery was still working! It didn’t die for another four years. Go Casio!

  8. Lesley Williamson says:

    The idea of Christmas is just wrong WRONG WRONG in September when I’m sitting on the deck in the sun with a vodka and diet lemon looking at the trees changing colour in the cemetery next door. My family and friends don’t do presents any more because we all really have everything already, but I do a big honking hamper for the local animal shelter. So this morning after reading today’s post I visited Pet Valu and got that started.

    Now I’m sitting on the deck in the sun with a vodka and diet lemon looking at the trees changing colour in the cemetery next door typing on my laptop and feeling all smug and ahead of the game. So thanks!

  9. Barbie says:

    So you have fragrant and well read squirrels ……. Way to show your steely resolve! See?

  10. SarahP says:

    Now I know what to do with the 2 large trunks I bought at Christies this year…fill them with Christmas presents…thanks Karen.

  11. Linda S in NE says:

    Well Drats! I decided to get right on my assignment by paging through the Lee Valley (new to me)online catalog. Wowzers, I found the perfect gift! Then at the bottom of the page, it said ‘cannot be shipped to the U.S.’. Well phooey, now what? I wonder how my sister would feel about moving up to Canada from central CA? It’s really not too far, plus there would be a thoughtful gift waiting for her, as well as an introduction to a new catalog/company I know she would like. Hmmmm, I’ll keep on it.

  12. Aha! I’ve got so much on my plate right now that I know around Christmas i’ll be WAY too stressed to shop – thanks for the assignment – I’m going to start this now whenever I’m out shopping so I have some of my list done early (Of course that means everyone is going to get stuff from Home Depot when I’m buying DIY supplies, or from the art store when I’m shopping for stuff for school – haha!)

  13. Amber says:

    Yeesh, all you early birds. I’m either intimidated or ashamed, I’m not sure which. I do Christmas shopping like I do moving. Several weeks ahead, I carefully pack or wrap one box. Then I feel satisfied that I am ahead of the game, and promptly forget about it until the night before.

  14. Shauna says:

    I take back my comment…I went on Lee Valley and already found some Christmas presents for my Mom. I guess I will be able to accomplish my homework assignment.

  15. Shauna says:

    It’s girls’ weekend in Palm Springs this weekend. I plan on spending it by the pool soaking up the last rays of sun. I will fail the assignment this weekend, but hopefully can do make up assignments in the coming weekends.

    I’ve never even heard of Lee Valley and knowing how much you like it, I am very excited to go click the link. Right now. Bye. Have a great weekend.

  16. Deb says:

    Oh a new site!! I had never heard of Lee Valley .. fun! Just yesterday I started online Christmas shopping. Game theme this year for the Grandkids … Thanks Karen. (Blankets in my old suitcases .. they were my Godparents)

  17. Reg says:

    Oh drat. I’ve been thinking about Christmas shopping since the end of Aug. because there have been so many sales. Still thinking and not buying. It just doesn’t seem right when I’m still wearing sandals. First hard frost should spur me on. It’s just the kids in the family that we buy for. The adults have all agreed to donate to favourite charities. No one needs another dust collector or ugly sweater. :)

  18. Vicky says:

    I already have 2 gifts for my old man and 1 gift each for my sons. Not a great start but a start. Also paying cash for everything so January will be happy too.

    I really enjoy your blog,Karen. You are a very talented person!

  19. Alexandra Steinmetz says:

    I actually started last week! I was at a winery and saw an amazing snowflake cheese knife. Not going to be a full gift, but a nice little present topper!

    It is so satisfying to start that early and not feel the rush!

  20. Johan says:

    Christmas shopping? what’s the rush? Yesterday just marked the official end of lawn cutting (I don’t’ cut lawn in October, I just don’t) so I have fuel stabilizer on my mind. Wait, that may be a good title for a Country song…?!
    Speaking of Thrift Stores I have taken many a gift there over the years while looking to buy useful stuff. Habitat stores are gold mines.
    Welcome to LV Karen?

  21. Amy Watson says:

    I just love…… your Christmas suitcases…..what a great idea….So was tossing the fellas $#!€ out the front door HaHa…I bet that’ll teach him :)

  22. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Will do Sargent Bertelsen..Never heard of Lee Valley but I will check it out and read your article..Guess it’s a Canadian thing..I love my old suitcases too..

  23. Hope says:

    And don’t forget thrift stores…financial hard times due to ill
    health have made stops there necessary. I have screwed up my courage and just recently bought my first gift there. Like new….It made someone really happy.

    Now I have given myself permission to look there for Christmas!

  24. Erika says:

    I’m giving homemade jams/jellies/relishes/pickles this year. Does it count that I started canning last month, and I’m doing about 50lbs of apples this weekend and another batch of wine jelly tonight?

  25. Casey says:

    My dad buys christmas presents all year (bought and ideas) and keeps track of it all on his phone. If I mention in MARCH that I could use a new camera, Santa somehow remembers next December

  26. Linda Robbins says:

    How did I live this long without knowing about Lee Valley? First, I learn about Canadian Tire. Now this. Soon I may start tossing “u” randomly into words where it doesn’t belong.

  27. rose says:

    Looking at the suitcases make me smile because they have smiley faces on them.

  28. Dagmar says:

    Karen….love, love, love the suit cases. They are both chic and useful. Also, they appear to be in great shape, probably weren’t used for traveling very much. Did they have that odd vintage smell when you got them? And if so, what do you do to get rid of it? I bought a vintage flight attendant make-up case, and for the life of me, 2 years later, and a pemanent box of dryer sheets inside, nothing helps.
    ….thanks, D

  29. Dixie says:

    An assignment that involves shopping??? I am in! I can not garantee, however, that I will buy anything that will not belong to me….have a great weekend!

  30. Sandy says:

    I have already started and have set a goal to be finished by Thanksgiving. Now off to look for an Easter bonnet.

  31. Beth says:

    SOOOOOOO excited for you about Lee Valley! The rest of the mags are awesome, of course… but Lee Valley is something else entirely. Homestead-y, Woodwork-y, Vintage-y. Awesome!

    Congrats :)

  32. Tigersmom says:

    Not only do you have an article, you are the headliner!

    You may have gathered that I don’t do facebook (or any other social media) but I do Pinterest and I pinned your article.

    I always knew you would love tomatoes, you just hadn’t met the right ones.

    And speaking of Christmas, received a package yesterday that contained one of my son’s presents. I’m all over the get it done early assignment. It’s the only way I get to enjoy the bulk of December instead of run myself ragged.

    • Tigersmom says:

      Holy Cow! Thanks for the introduction to Lee Valley.

      I just spent the last 2 hours pinning hardware items from their huge collection. I redo furniture and this is a great resource for certain hard-to-find items.

      I only garden vicariously through you. That way less things die.

  33. Alex says:

    I love Lee Valley too. That’s where I got all my card stock for my business cards. I just got their catalogue in the mail this week. Great to see they recognize your talent!

    • Karen says:

      I know!!!! You’re wood business card girl!!!!! Lady. Woman. Whatever. Anyhow … you know what I mean. (Alex and I met at Blogpodium and she had made beautiful wood business cards with stock from Lee Valley. ~ karen!

  34. Kelly says:

    ALL DONE, I’m grateful to say. I shop the sales starting in January and pop stuff in a big plastic container in my basement. It also helps that I have 3 boys just out of university who need money more than anything else! :)

  35. Lynn says:

    So relieved to know I can spend the weekend Easter bonnet shopping! :) I actually bought a few Christmas gifts only yesterday!!! And congrats on being a contributing writer for Lee Valley…..I will peruse the pages immediately!

  36. Marti says:

    I clicked on all your Lee Valley links and saw that tomato on the front cover and thought “That looks like one of Karen’s monster-successful tomatoes!” And it was! Congrats on the new writing gig. [Do you get points with them for extra readers/page views?]

    (Are we sure there aren’t some “fella items” hidden in those trunks? You know… like his favorite Cross-Fit shorts or maybe one peg from his favorite tent, or the sixth knife from his steak knife set? Oh, wait… am I giving up MY favorite happy ending habits? Hahaha!)

  37. Gerri says:

    Yay! I have happily already started my shopping. I will ignore your post and begin scouting for next summer’s beach chairs.

  38. Susan says:

    I do a lot of online shopping but my absolute favourite thing is to see a Lee Valley package in the mail. Best buy this year? Their magnetic strip – it hangs above my jewelry workshop and all my tools are attached and right where I need them.

  39. Erica says:

    Hey I’ve already started, but with six kids I have a long way to go.

  40. Janie says:

    I Christmas shop 363 (I take Easter & Christmas off) days a year. Years ago I bought a locked cabinet that is now my Christmas closet. Before the closet after present opening I would remember stuff I had bought them, hid it but, had no idea where it was now. The closet saved my sanity….well almost.

  41. Danica says:

    I usually really hate Christmas countdowns because it feels like everybody is counting down to my birthday with me. 90 days to Christmas! 92 Days to my birthday!!!! BUT when I saw this post I thought oh god a whole entire post on counting down to Christmas!!!! HA but this is a good post because when people go out to shop for Christmas gifts they always shop for my birthday gifts….therefore after my long winded explanation I now know if anybody is ahead of the game and buying Christmas gifts then they are out already buying my Birthday gift! :)

    On a side note one year I tried buying Christmas gifts early but couldn’t contain myself and gave them all away before Christmas, I was really broke that year.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. I’ve done that. Or when Christmas comes you see something they’d like even MORE and so you buy it and give them everything. I have to make a point not to do that this year! ~ karen

  42. Raffaella says:

    You’re absolutely right! In the last few years I’ve tried, from September on, to think about Christmas gifts, and yes, it’s a great relief when you open your trunk/box/cupboard and you have just to pack them! :)

  43. Susan Dulley says:

    That is so wild, I have the, well almost exact set of suitcases…Same Size, and beautifully lined in the inside. Got them at Snooty Fox, in Mariemont, Ohio, and love them…I have VCR and DVD’s stored in mine…They are so beautiful. I do think, that mine were actually meant to be used for decoration and not suitcases. Everyone comments on them, almost to the point that before everyone leaves my house I have to stand in front of them just to make sure they do not go home with someone. Just kidding, or at least I think I am….Have a great day.

  44. Meg says:

    OH MY GOD! This post just made my night. This post might mean I’m not as nuts as I thought for thinking about Christmas in September!

    Yesterday I picked up both fall AND Christmas decorations at the craft store. Because the Christmas decorations were there and I’m excitable. Today, I unpacked every Christmas item I had recently moved x-country and repacked all of them in far fewer boxes. (Gave me a *lot* more room in the closet.) Then I found a small stash of gifts and I got so excited with all of this Christmas around, that I was considering wrapping them beforehand.

    I’m SO excited for your Christmas challenges this year.

  45. qtpuh2tme says:

    Done! ~:0)

    I’m one of those gals who learned early that Christmas and birthdays and anniversaries come every year … and always at the same time! ~;) As a result, I also learned to shop all year long for my loved ones. They get great presents, and I don’t get gawhawful headaches brought on by annoying grabby-shoppers in over-crowded mega-malls — especially at Christmas time. (I have a dresser drawer where I stash mine.)

  46. Claire says:

    Start my Christmas shopping? I’m finished! I buy throughout the year whenever I see something. That way I always have presents in the house for unexpected visitors, birthdays, Christmas etc etc. Start. . . You make me laugh! Don’t ever stop is more like it!

  47. Chris says:

    A++ for me! I Christmas shop all year long then tuck my little treasures on the Christmas present shelf in my laundry room.
    Chris =]

  48. Amie Mason says:

    Its like you read my mind! I’ve just started to write my list and start shopping! I should be done in a month!

  49. Laura says:

    I hope you know what a difference you have made in my holiday celebration every December. Your challenge to get prepared early has provided me with peace and joy throughout the entire Christmas season. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Karen says:

      Really? That’s great! Hopefully this year will be the easiest yet. ~ karen!

      • Patti says:

        Yes! I have to echo this sentiment! For the last three years, I have successfully had all my shopping done by December 1st, as per your challenge. This is the best, ever! It makes December so much more enjoyable! Thanks for being a fantastic source of inspiration, always! :)

        I will be out and about this weekend, so I’ll see what I can come up with! :)

  50. Susan Preston says:

    I love Lee Valley! And with 8 grandchildren and no time I start in August shopping for Christmas! When I see it I grab it. Hide it and forget about it till …January! In my family getting a special present in January is a family tradition!

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