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Here’s the thing about having a full schedule and constantly making a DIY mess in the house you live in: the holidays are less of a festive occasion for decorating, and more often a reminder of all the shit you haven’t done yet.

caulking around christmas tree
You might see a tree; I see wires.

Does drywall dust count as fake snow? If so, I’ve been ready for the holidays all year.

My family doesn’t really have a lot of holiday traditions, but the ones we do have are pretty sacred to us. Most of it also involves alcohol. Case in point:


If it’s the holidays, you’d better believe that there is an empty champagne bottle and some OJ lying around. For whatever reason, Mom associates drinking in the morning with feeling festive, and I really can’t fault her for that. It’s something that all the women in my family partake in each holiday, and it adds just a touch of something special (probably because of the buzz). I think the exact same thing about morning tailgates – they’re not exactly what your tongue wants to pair with your morning toothpaste, but you can’t deny that it’s a special day.

My favorite drink around the holidays is actually Disaronno on the rocks. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, and I never drink it at any other time of year. Naturally, I also like winter craft brews. Red Hook’s Winterhook is one of my go-tos.

We also have other traditions, but they’re almost all inside jokes. If you haven’t read it before, this is the time when I refer you back to our Uncle Knick-Knack story. It’s weird, it’s funny, and it reminds us all that we share a genetically twisted sense of humor. Ahh, family.

Young Sarah at Christmas

Then, of course, there’s the most common tradition of all: wanting a crapload of things all year, and then as soon as someone wants to buy you a gift, not being able to remember what all those things were.

After getting a job offer planted the idea of moving in my mind this year (see here for a lengthy update if you haven’t caught up yet), I realized that what I really want is less about filling the house with more stuff and simply getting rid of all of the accumulated junk that I never use. And finally graduating to more practical items that serve more simplistic purposes. Thus, my Christmas wish list is filled with replacements for things I already have (for the most part), with only one or two exceptions.

2014 christmas wish list

1. A big fat NUMBER ONE on my Christmas wish list is a coffee maker. It might surprise you to know that despite the schedule I’ve had, I’ve never had a coffee maker. I don’t really go to Starbucks either. But when I worked at an office, I drank at least two cups each morning from the company Flavia machine (LOVED that thing, btw). And now that I work from home, I need to bring this back into my routine, especially after finally (!) nixing soda out of my diet. I’m a night owl by nature and have become more sensitive to caffeine this year (probably after stopping my daily consumption after years of drinking it), but I suspect that some of my sleeping troubles lately have been due to both the adjustment of working my own hours and not keeping my morning routine. If it’s got a plug or a battery, rest assured that I’ve read reviews on it before adding it to my list, which is how this Cuisinart Brew Central snagged the top spot; it has great reviews and seems easy to clean in the dishwasher. I originally wanted a Keurig, but I’m a big believer in word of mouth, and several close friends have told me things about their Keurigs that made me reconsider.

2. The Essentials Dinnerware line from Crate and Barrel is another one of those replacement/investment types of purchases for me. Like I mentioned last year when I bought my silverware, I’ve been using the same stuff I had back in college for far too long. Everything is cheap, mismatched, and well past its prime. I picked these dishes because they are simple and white with just a touch of modern appeal. Just like the Caterer’s Plates from Pottery Barn, they’ll suit any occasion, whether it’s everyday use or having friends over for dinner. Food always seems to look more delicious on a white plate, don’t you think? And if I’m the one cooking, I will be using all the help I can get.

3. I’ve been hearing great reviews about Amy Poehler’s book and I would love to add it to my reading list. Funny gal with a lot of things to say. Sounds familiar.

4. A sweet pet portrait of Charlie is on my wish list because I’ve been loving Yellow Brick Home’s work for a long time. I think it would be fun to have a painting of her somewhere in my yet-to-be-assembled gallery wall. Charlie is such a character, and I love that YBH seems to catch each pet’s unique personality on the canvas.

5 & 6. Because of my job, I occasionally make overnight trips to Alabama. When I do, I fill one of the four or five junk tote bags I’ve gotten for free at some point and then spend the entire trip wishing I’d just gone ahead and spent some money on a real overnight bag (they’re all getting the boot, btw). One that I can pack a couple of days of clothes in, my laptop, and an extra pair of shoes, but compartmentalized so I don’t wind up losing an earring or not having a place to stash my toothbrush. The black bag on my list from Lo and Sons was added after seeing this review from Emily Henderson. I absolutely love her style, and I was immediately sold on this bag when I realized it can slip over the handle of a suitcase. It’s stylish, timeless, and has several different access points to keep things organized, so I can imagine keeping this thing for many years.

The Lifetime Leather Tote from Duluth Trading is another one I’ve been lusting after for some time now. I first spotted it online, but saw it in person earlier this year at the Haven Conference (where Duluth was a sponsor). Jacque from The DIY Village was using hers as the world’s most rugged-looking diaper bag (for one of my favorite babies ever), and I love how well-made leather wears over time. This would be a perfect bag to take with me when I need a few days of clothes.

7. Last (and actually least), I’m always looking for a decent pair of earrings that go with just about anything. I’ve successfully found a pair a few times, but since I usually lose them, I don’t invest in a good pair. And if I don’t lose them, they tarnish. I would like to think that getting a good pair would make me more careful about misplacing them, but I’m just as content to switch out a well-suited cheaper pair if and when they’re ruined. This set is from Loft and inexpensive enough that it won’t be too upsetting when these are gone like the rest.

There you have it. Seven items that I’d like under the tree. How about you? Are you in a paring down phase too, or are you wanting everything you see this year (no judgement; sometimes advertisers just know what they’re doing!). What’s number one on your list?

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  1. I was given a Keurig and since I don’t drink a pot of coffee a day (nicknamed “Electric Lady” in psych dept where I worked …2 pots a day will do it to ya!), it keeps me from wasting coffee BUT I can never get it as strong as I like! Will have to check out this one you like. That Duluth bag is awesome in a pic, would drool over it in person and yes, good leather wears really well. My wish list has tools and gift cards usable at say Home Dept! Nothing wrong with fake snow!

    1. One of the reasons tools didn’t make it to the list this year is because I have a few gift cards I’ve yet to spend. I guess I’m still deciding on what new “bling” (anything with a shiny blade) I’m going to buy next ;)

  2. Honestly, I really want nothing. We are so fortunate that I get what I want (within reason) when I want it. I love a deal so we are not talking big bucks here. I don’t spend money on clothes and prefer to make my house pretty. This spring we are fixing up (paint, shutters, new drive, landscaping, lighting!!!) our outside of the house so call it Christmas for me then! If I am really held to wanting something I will tell my husband I want the new hardware (bin pulls and knobs) to match our faucet (bronze). And this means he has to drill a few holes to accommodate the bin pulls.
    What do I really want?? Health! I can’t begin to tell (nor would I) all the issues I have encountered since August. And two colds to date this season! I never get colds and two already? Ugh! Hey, my husband bought himself a coffee maker last year. He got sick of drinking out of the nasty community one. He doesn’t do Starbucks either. So he fills a to-go thermos every morning with his gourmet coffee. It is loud (and irritating) though–check the noise level on yours. Sorry for the carrying on…….

    1. I’m thinking that if it’s programmable and all the way downstairs in the kitchen, I will hear it about as often as I hear the washing machine or microwave. Which is unfortunately never, as I often forget my hot tea in there!

  3. I realize there’s a lot more to this post, but your opening lines are what connected with me the most. This may be grinch-like, but for me the thing about constantly making a DIY mess in the house we live in is that I have a handy excuse not to decorate for the holidays. I haven’t had a Christmas tree in at least 4 years, and I’m actually happier for it. It gives me an easy excuse to relax or catch up on projects, not unpack and repack decorations.

    1. Haha, that’s a good way to think about it. I haven’t had the living room decorated these last few years, and now that my tree is up and twinkling in the corner, it’s just enough to make me happy when I’m running around the house. I guess it feels like I’m finally moving past this whole messy phase.

  4. We’ve got an 8 year old Cuisinart Grind and Brew and it’s still going strong! They are great machines. And you definitely need coffee. :P

  5. I’m hoping for a Vitamix under the tree. Don’t think any of my crew can afford it, so I’ll just keep lusting after it.

    I buy Swarovski earrings. A bit spendy, but sparkle like diamonds without the diamond price. I never fail to get compliments on their jewelry. I don’t know what their silver tone metal is, rhodium maybe, but it doesn’t tarnish or chip. The gold tone metal will eventually wear off, but it takes a loooooong time. Good warranty too.

    1. My mom has the same model I picked out. Thanks for letting me know, I’ll pass it on to her!

  6. So Fat Tire is also a delicious beer anytime really but especially during the colder months. After getting married and now having 3 kids I think I get more satisfaction out of getting rid of things than I do accumulating things. I fear all the “wonderful” toys and cloths my kids will be getting again this year but this time we got a head start and already have 4 bags of gently used toys and clothes for the salvation army!