Tuesday, November 17, 2015

25 Christmas Gift & Gift Exchange Ideas

It's hard to believe that it's almost that time again! I know we're only in mid-November right now but since Halloween and Remembrance Day have passed, it's the next holiday everyone talks about.

I used to run a website called Triple Dot Designs but I haven't been on there for quite some time. I've been checking on the stats every so often and the most popular post is in regards to Christmas. I did a comprehensive list of Christmas Gift and Gift Exchange Ideas. Here's the link: http://www.tripledotdesigns.com/2011/11/25-christmas-gift-gift-exchange-ideas.html.

This year, our family decided to draw names and I'm excited about that. Hopefully everyone enjoys their gifts!

I've copied it again down here...
25 Christmas Gift & Gift Exchange Ideas
Photo Source: Here
We spent a night at my in-laws house this past weekend and we ended up discussing our Annual Christmas Gift Exchange. Currently, we buy a $30 gift for our gender (i.e. if your a guy, you buy a guy gift) and then just pick from a pile. We threw the idea around of drawing names, or gender-neutral etc. I have been searching out different ideas online for gift exchanges and I'll share with you come of my favourites. First, there are gift exchange gift ideas. After that, there are gift exchange games. Click on the bold titles to see the links to where these ideas can be found online. Some ideas are in comments as well. The ones without links are games or ideas I have done personally in the past.

1) Gift Card Exchange - If your limit is $30, everyone buys 3 $10 gift cards to different places. They can be anywhere (groceries, restaurants, movies, clothing stores, etc.). Then you can play a game to exchange and steal the cards of your choice.
2) Specific Annual Themes - Instead of buying a random gift, one year could be books, one year could be family photos, one year could be recipes or baked goods. This is one idea that could be good if trying to save money.
3) The Random Gift - Assign a letter, everyone brings a gift starting with that letter. Alternately, bring a gift starting with the letter of your own name or for your drawn recipient's name.
4) The Re-Gift Gift - This isn't an original idea but I know there are things around our house that we "want to get rid of" (for lack of a better term). If you have something that is taking up space in your house that someone else may want or need (and it FITS the situation), wrap it up for the exchange. This is a great way to save some money. I think the best way to use this idea is for a gag gift where you find something completely random and do the same idea. Mixed CDs, light bulbs, coffee beans, picture frames, etc. Be careful not to offend anyone.
5) Handmade or Cheap Gift - My cousin and I - before we both got married - used to do a handmade/cheap $3 gift swap. It was really fun. I have a Chevy Blazer and he made a model of it out of wood, plastic wheels, toothpicks, and paint. He even made sure that the paint didn't push the price over $3. We had a lot of fun with that. You can do the same with a low-limit gift. Purchase or make something for only $5 or $10. If you're not that crafty or you can't bake, you can buy something handmade from someone (check www.etsy.com or someone local).
6) Gender-Specific Gift - As I mentioned, we currently buy for our same gender. I buy a female $30 gift and Jeremy buys a male $30 gift. They all get put in the center of the living room and then we figure out some order to go in, unwrap the gift and we all keep our chosen gifts (no swapping or changing).
7) Closest Amount Wins - Set a limit of a random number ($13.82 for example). The person who comes closest to the amount without going over wins an additional small gift.
8) Charity/Food Bank Gift - Instead of gifts for each other, bring food items, school supplies, baby items, etc. and donate to your local Food Bank or Women's Shelter or Salvation Army, etc. Another idea could be a Christmas Card with a note saying, "I made a donation to {Charitable Organization Name} in your name."
9) Free Entertainment Gift - Instead of gifts, compose a poem, song, do a dance, tell a joke, play an instrument, etc.
10) The Deceiving Gift - Purchase a gift within your limit but instead of keeping it in its original packaging, put it in a different box/container so it appears to be something else. For example, put a jar of mixed nuts into a box for a coffee grinder. Decide whether to keep the gift a secret until the very end or to open right away.
11) Festive Sweater Gift - The night we told our families that we were engaged, my in-laws were going to an ugly toque party. Well, this would be awesome for either toques or sweaters. Can you imagine opening up a gift with a knit sweater with a reindeer and a large red pom pom on it? So fun. Wear them for the rest of the night for a good time! Don't forget to take a photo!!
12) Board/Card Game - Everyone can bring a board game or card game (within the predetermined limit) and use them as exchange gifts.

1) Draw Names with Ideas Lists - This is the traditional take on drawing of names but instead of just names on the paper, they can include a list of gifts under $30 as an idea of what they need/want. This helps the giver from endless hours figuring out (and shopping for) what to get the receiver and the receiver knows they won't get something out-of-the-blue.
2) White Elephant/Yankee Swap/Chinese Exchange - I know there are many versions of this and it's also called by different names but I will explain how I have always played this traditional gift exchange game.
You can pick an order of how people will choose a game. One year, we went by age - oldest to youngest. Another year, we went by birth month. You can also have people pick cards out of a deck of one suit and pick either high to low or low to high. One other way is by rolling dice. You can see there are plenty of ideas on how to get started.
After the order is picked out, the first person picks one gift out of the pile of gifts. They open the gift. Their turn is then done. The next person in line can choose to "steal" the first person's gift or to pick one from the pile and open it. If they steal, their turn is done and the person from whom they stole goes back and picks another gift. If they open a new gift, their turn is done. At the end, the person who played first gets a change to play again and either steal the last gift or keep the one they have.
We play that a gift can only be stolen twice and it cannot be stolen from the person who stole it from you. Example: If my husband steals my gift, I cannot steal it back from him immediately after. I would have to chose another gift. If you decide to do unlimited steals, be prepared to play well into the night (depending on how popular your gifts are).
3) Draw Names in Age Groups - My sister and her family do this as well. Draw names for adults, teens, and children. Assign a money limit for each group. You can draw names either this Christmas for next Christmas or a couple months before Christmas so it's fresh in your mind.
4) BINGO - Adults can play Bingo and whoever wins a round gets to pick a gift first. You can go further to have the next winner either steal the first person's gift or else open a new gift. Or you can have everyone wait to open their gifts until everyone has their gifts.
5) Guessing Your Gift Game - I have done this in the past too. You do the traditional drawing of names but when it comes to opening, you don't write who it's to or who it's from on the gift. You have to wrap it specifically for the recipient. For example, I play volleyball. The person who draws my name could wrap my gift with volleyball wrapping paper. If someone is a reporter, wrap their gift in newsprint or something similar. Get the idea? The reason you don't put the name on the gift is so that the recipient can guess which gift is theirs. An additional idea for this game is putting a gift that represents you inside of the gift so the recipient also has to guess who the gift is from.
6) White Elephant Guessing Gift - Same idea as the White Elephant with one twist: wrap the present so it represents yourself and they have to guess who wrapped it before they can open it.
7) Christmas Story Exchange - Pass out key words from the story "T'was the Night Before Christmas" and as you read out the story, when someone's word is said, they stand up and say, "Merry Christmas" or something related of your choice and choose a gift.
8) Right/Left Game (also known as Round Robin) - Everyone takes the gift that they brought (or you can mix them up) and sits in a big circle so that everyone is in easy reaching distance. A story is read and every time the word "Right" is said, everyone passes their gift one person to the right. Every time the word "Left" is said, everyone passes their gift one person the the left. Click on the link for a cute little story. You could also write your own. You would want to change up the story so that people don't figure out where to sit to get a gift they want. Other stories can be found here and here.
9) Get to Know You + Question Game 1 - Everyone gets a gift to start. Put some slips of paper into a bowl with a question and a command written on each one. One at a time, everyone pulls a slip out of the bowl, answers the question and then reads the command until everyone has opened their gifts. Some examples:
Q. What is your favourite colour?  C. Tell everyone wearing that colour to open their gift
Q. Where would you like to travel to on your next vacation?  C. Tell everyone to pass their gift 2 spaces left.
Q. Do you like fruit cake?  C. Swap gifts with someone.
Other commands can be swapping gifts across the table/circle, open remaining gifts, swap with person on left or right, etc.
10) Get to Know You + Question Game 2 - Create a list of statements that apply to the group that you are playing the game with. Start with giving each person a random gift. You could also start with them all in the middle and they can choose as the game allows. One by one, read the statements and tell the group what to do next. Here are some examples of the statements that would apply to my family:
- If you will spend Christmas Day working, you can (choose and) open your gift.
- If you have ever flown overseas, you can swap gifts with someone. 
- If you have a sister, you may (choose and) open your gift. (In a family with many sisters, use "more than #")
- If you can solve a Rubix Cube, you may swap gifts.
- If you had to drive more than 50 km to get here, you may (choose and) open your gift.
- If you are wearing green, you may open your gift.
Make up a list of rules before starting. You can choose to say you have to swap or you can keep when the statement applies to you. But if someone is entitled to swap gifts and asks to exchange with you then you must. You can also limit the number of swaps/steals on the same statement.
You may want to have a long list ready and give a general one if you need to get more gifts open (if you're wearing ___...). Once all the gifts are open every statement ends with "swap your gift".
You can also choose to say about 2/3 of the way into the game that everyone must pass their gift one person to the left. The submitter says, "It's hilarious because some people have been working so hard to get the gift they wanted. I make sure there are a few statements left so people can swap for the gift they want again. It's fun in a circle because people run to swap for the gift they want knowing a person can only get swapped once per question."
11) Corresponding Numbers - Number each gift as it arrives. Then, give the person who brought the gift a piece of paper with the same number on it. Tell them to write down a little known fact about themselves. Then fold the paper and put it in a bowl. To start the game, draw a piece of paper and read the fact, NOT the number. The first person to guess who the fact is about, gets the package with the same number. Once someone guesses correctly, they are out of the game. The last gift is for the host. This site has other great ideas!
12) Dice & Doubles - This game is more for if you have a smaller group because I could see it going long... depending on a few things. You start with everyone sitting - or standing if you really get into it - around a table with the gifts in the middle (probably better with smaller gifts as well unless you have a large table). Have 2 dice and a pair of oven mitts ready. Start rolling the dice, person by person around the table (only 1 roll each turn). The first person to roll doubles puts on the oven mitts, grabs a gift, and starts to open it. The dice continue around the table until the next person to roll doubles has to take the oven mitts, put them on, and continue to open the gift. Once a gift is open, that person is out along with their gift. The game continues until all of the gifts are open and everyone has a gift. Challenge: the harder you wrap the present (i.e. more layers of paper, lots of tape, box within a box within a box, etc), the longer the game will go and the more laughs you'll get. This could be done with one challenging gift as an extra fun game rather than your main gift exchange game. Oh, and teeth are not allowed (lol).
13) Pulling My String - Attach a string or yarn to each gift. Put all the gifts under a blanket with the strings available outside the covering. Everyone chose a string. You could pull out the gift right away or everyone pick a string and hold on to the end without pulling, then take the blanket off and everyone can find their way to their present.

More Christmas Games - http://www.santalady.com/xmasgames.html - some are really funny!
Secret Santa Online Organizer - http://www.elfster.com/

Happy Christmas Shopping/Creating. I hope these ideas have helped you as much as they have helped me. I am looking forward to feedback!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Quilt Pattern - Elongated Plus Sign

A few months ago, my friend asked me to help her with a quilt pattern. All she had to go on was a picture of one she liked. I tried searching for some kind of pattern that related but I'm sorry to say that Google failed me this time.

I figured I had to make one of my own and it was a lot more time-consuming than I anticipated.

The original picture:

I'll have my version posted in my shop soon. I also have cutting diagrams that come with the pattern!


I just opened up our work fridge and I smelled something that brought me back to Kindergarten! 25 years later, I still remember my old kindergarten room. I'm not exactly sure what the smell reminds me of or what it was (could have been peanut butter or a combination) but it took me back!

I have that every time I smell apple juice. I am reminded of my Grandma.

Do you ever have this??

Monday, October 5, 2015

Etsy Shop Finally Open!

UPDATE: I've moved my patterns to Craftsy! See them here: https://www.craftsy.com/profile/cotton-cooties

I finally got a few of my ducks in a row and got my etsy shop open. I only have one listing but so far, so good :)


Friday, September 25, 2015

Bento Box Tutorial

Hosting another Ctop and Quilt! So far it's awesome but my feet really hurt. Why can't this concrete/tile floor be made of memory foam?

We had a great meal tonight for the first supper together. We made ham, hashbrown casserole (a favourite!), corn, and Caesar salad. Lots of compliments and it goes over really well!

Anyway, tomorrow I am doing a tutorial on the Bento Box Block. It comes together so easy and so fast! I am going to post the tutorial in my etsy shop soon.

Find the pattern here: https://www.craftsy.com/profile/cotton-cooties

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bento Box Table Runner

Hey everyone!

I made something for Mother's Day for my Mother-in-Law and I think I can post it because I'm sure she doesn't read this anyway :).

I was searching for a fun and quick block to do with minimal fabric choices. I was glad when I found the Bento Box Block because it only used 2 fabrics of contrasting colours/patterns. I watched the tutorial from Fons & Porter and they make it really easy to follow. (YouTube Tutorial)

I had minimal fabric to work with so I decreased the size of my pieces (requiring a little bit of math) but I'm glad with how it turned out!
*UPDATE (August 29/15): My mother-in-law loves it and she has requested another one for Christmas!*

Materials for MY (Smaller) Bento Box Table Runner:
Fabric A: 1 fat quarter dark fabric
Fabric B: 1 fat quarter light fabric
Batting: thick batting or thermal batting for the center

Cutting for both fabrics will be the same. What you cut for Fabric A, do the same for Fabric B.
Seam allowances for this project are 0.25"

FQ - Fat Quarter
RST - Right Sides Together


  • Fabric A:
    • Step 1: Cut Fabric into five 2" strips (cut off the shorter side of the FQ). Your strips should be 2" x 18". You should have a larger piece left over. 
    • Step 2: Cut All your strips into the following pieces:
      • Pieces (1) two 2" x 2";
      • Pieces (2) two 2" x 3.5";
      • Pieces (3) one 2" x 5".
  • Fabric B:
    • Repeat Above Cutting Steps
  • Step 1: Take a Piece (1) of Fabric A (dark) and a Piece (1) of Fabric B (light), place RST and sew.
  • Step 2: Take a Piece (2) of Fabric A (dark), place RST and sew.
  • Step 3: Take a Piece (2) of Fabric B (light), place RST along the top edge and sew (see photos Below)

  • Step 4: Take a Piece (3) of Fabric B (light), place right sides together along the right edge and sew (see photo below).
  • Repeat steps 1 through 4 using the opposite colours to make the inverted blocks.

  • You will end up with 10 blocks of both dark-light-dark and light-dark-light (20 blocks total).

  • Take 2 of each block and arrange them into the larger block below. You will alternate having the colours be opposites of each other.

  • Sew the 2 top blocks together.
  • Sew the 2 bottom blocks together.
  • Sew the 2 top and the 2 bottom blocks together.
  • Continue to sew the blocks together in the same manner. ** Be sure to place them in the same order. For example: If you have a light on the top left, it should be on the top left for all 5 of the larger blocks. ** You will get 5 blocks total.

  • Sew the blocks into a line of 5 blocks.

  • I used the rest of my fabric and made the backing. I put the lighter piece in the middle and cut the darker piece in half and put one on each side of the lighter fabric. This just makes sure you have an even backing pattern.
  • Add a thick batting in the middle and quilt as desired.
  • I machine bind my quilts. I use this tutorial by Jenny at the Missouri Star Quilt Company. It is very easy to follow.

  • I attempted to do a stitch that mirrored the swirl pattern on the fabric but it didn't turn out as well as I would have liked so I changed it to a blanket stitch.

Finished Table Runner

I hope this is clear. It's hard to explain but if you watch the Fons & Porter video, it'll help.
Happy Stitching!

Posting Plan

So I've decided that in order to keep my posting up, I'm going to post at least once a week to start. This could be a DIY, a helpful hint, a snack idea, a quilt or crafting update, or something completely random!

Stay tuned!!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Have I Mentioned?

I'm a Quilter. That's where the "cotton" comes into the picture in case you - if anyone out there - is reading and wondering.

I am really enjoying it. I've always loved to sew. I started my first quilt right after my son was born - this will help me remember how many years I've been doing it!

I joined a local Quilt Guild and it's full of ladies, mostly older but my mom, sister, cousin, and I are in the group too which makes it all the more enjoyable. I think we're the youngest ones and it's fun to be able to see a wide variety of quilt styles, colours, and interests in the group. It's also one night a month away with the girls which is always welcome.

We have a New Years Resolution Challenge in the group too which I've participated in. The first year I did not complete it but last year I did! It's so satisfying.

This year, my New Years Resolution list is pretty intense:
  • Houndstooth Quilt ("Horizon" by Kate Spain)
  • Half-Square Triangle Baby/Child Quilt ("Fox Trails" by Riley Blake Designs)
  • Hexagon Quilt ("Sunnyside" by Kate Spain)
  • Table Runner (No plans yet)
I'm looking forward to how they'll all turn out. I have the fabric for all of them already so it's just a matter of sitting down and doing it.

We'll see how it goes!

Cruisin' into 30

So I'm turning 30 this year (what?!) and my husband is taking me on an Alaskan Cruise!! I am so excited.

We've gone on a few cruises before:
- May 2009 (husband and family, no me): Alaska

- August 2010 (us only - Honeymoon): Mexico (Los Angeles California, Cabo San Lucas Mexico, Mazatlan Mexico, Puerto Vallarta Mexico, Los Angeles California)

- February 2011 (us only): Eastern Caribbean (Port Canaveral Florida, Coco Cay Bahamas, Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas, Philipsburg St. Maarten, Port Canaveral Florida

- February 2012 (us with my parents): Western Caribbean (Fort Lauderdale Florida, Labadee Haiti, Falmouth Jamaica, Cozumel Mexico, Fort Lauderdale Florida)

- December 2013 (us with my sister and her husband): Eastern Caribbean (Fort Lauderdale Florida, Philipsburg St. Maarten, Basseterre St. Kitts, San Juan Puerto Rico, Labadee Haiti, Fort Lauderdale Florida)

I have never been to Alaska and I've heard that everyone who goes there loves it. All the cruises we've done in the past have been round-trip but we're trying a one-way trip this time and flying back home at the end.

Our Itinerary (7-Night Northbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier):

  • Day One - Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Day Two - Cruising the Inside Passage, British Columbia
  • Day Three - Ketchikan, Alaska
  • Day Four - Icy Strait Point, Alaska
  • Day Five - Juneau, Alaska
  • Day Six - Skagway, Alaska
  • Day Seven - Cruising the Hubbard Glacier, Alaska
  • Day Eight - Seward, Alaska

We have always traveled with Royal Caribbean and they have been amazing. For that reason, I won't comment on any other line because I have no experience with them.

Any packing or sight-seeing suggestions??

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year and a Travel Hack!

So I can't believe I haven't mentioned this... to anyone. I have a travel hack I use all the time!
My husband's family rented a house in Fairmont BC for a week after Christmas and over New Years. We have traveled quite a bit over the years we've been married and I'm finding random things that just make life easier.

Do you ever have a shower/tub situation with a tap like this?:

I am not a fan of these because there's nowhere to hang my loofah/pouf/whatever you want to call it. Plus, if it does hang on one of the taps, it seems like it's always wet and that just feels yucky to me.

Now, I always bring 3M HOOKS with me!

They are handy for hanging up wet swimsuits, loofahs, etc. right in the shower/tub. Plus, they can be easily removed with no residue by pulling on the tab (following the instructions).

Poof!! No more loofahs sitting on the bottom of the shower or tub, no more wetness, just an air-dried loofah that's much nicer to pack in your suitcase.

P.S. I also always bring large ziplock bags for wet items (ie. swimsuits, loofahs, and most importantly: to prevent any and all toiletries from leaking all over my clothes!).

I can't be the first one that's thought of this but I thought I'd share for those who haven't heard of this trick.

Happy travels and Happy 2015!!