rockin’ around the Christmas tree

If you were reading a couple weeks ago, you saw this post, which featured a character much cuddlier than the one I am about to introduce to you.  Behold, the Christmas alligator:

Though the kitten, which started this whole business of pet-rocks-that-look-more-like-pets-than-rocks, required many tiny, furlike brushstrokes, the alligator challenged me more.  Possibly because I’ve never held an alligator, known anyone who had one for a pet, or been closer than five feet away from one.  (We actually had an alligator visit the library a couple years ago.  Creepy as heck, even though it had its mouth banded shut.)

To compensate for my ignorance, I performed several internet searches for various parts of the reptile’s body–eye, belly, snout, tail, etc.  I freely adapted the colors because if the whole thing were dim greenish brown it wouldn’t have made a very fun present.

As it was, the two-year-old boy who received it immediately shouted, “Alligator!”  (I was impressed he said that instead of, “Crocodile!”  Clearly all my googling paid off in an accurate representation.  Riiight.)

The next exclamation made me laugh; he began marching from one grown-up to another, shoving the pet rock near our faces with a menacing, “Tick-tock!”  Although I think Hook’s nemesis actually was a croc….

Alligator Boy’s sister, the recipient of the kitty cat, didn’t say, “I got a rock” as I joked she might.  What she actually said was, “I forgot what a good artist you were!”  As if she were twenty-four instead of four, and as if we had been separated for years rather than a couple weeks.  Ha, ha–kids.  I’m just glad the gifts went over well.  Giving handmade in an age of battery-operated always makes me a smidge nervous.

Speaking of that, I’m curious about your gift-giving habits.  I recently discovered a great post about holiday budgeting.  Hubby and I follow a similar plan.  We agree on a dollar amount needed for gifts and travel, then sock away toward that as we’re able each month.  Some months we have more expenses than others, so we don’t necessarily set aside the money in twelve equal installments.  I also dip into the Christmas fund before it’s full, documenting the expenses, which count toward the total.  That way I’m free to buy whenever I find good sales, so I often complete my shopping before other people start.  This year I finished in October, except for the handmade things.

After Hubby and I have traveled and purchased gifts for everyone on our list, we each buy one gift for the other.  Sometimes we make a list (last year our lists were three or four items long) and sometimes we don’t.  We agree on a budget for the gifts we’ll exchange, then we evenly divide whatever money remains in that year’s Christmas fund and spend it on ourselves.  We do all this after Christmas so we can stretch our cash a little further at end-of-season sales.

I like our arrangement’s simplicity.  I also like the fact that it makes Christmas about Christmas, rather than an expectation of a great haul of stuff.  Stuff’s okay, but apartment living is teaching me to be much choosier about my stuff.

What about you?  Do you still get giddy as a kid about Christmas presents?  Do you have a Christmas-shopping strategy that works well for you?  Do you have other ideas for handmade presents?  Do tell!

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