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Practical gift giving

By Liisa St-Aubin

When it comes to gift giving, we all have that one family member that likes to throw a few caveats into the mix. Whether it be simple practicality or ratio of bedazzlement, it can be hard to stay within their parameters.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the traditional Christmas gift box.

Jelly of the Month
What can be more practical than feeding a loved one for a full year? Bonus: it comes with a monthly checklist where they can jot down notes about the taste and what they like about each jelly. Win, win!

Weeping Angel Tree Topper
For the perfect balance between traditional tree topper and an object of bowtie-quivering fear, you’ve got to go with the Doctor Who Weeping Angel Tree Topper. Why have a tree if no one looks at it, right? This will keep them staring…forever. Just Remember: Don’t blink. Don’t even blink.

Friendship Doves
Who doesn’t want to have a friend for life? Next!

Christmas Toilet Paper
Give the only practical gift this Christmas that will help with the clean up…and because everyone forgets to decorate the bathroom. Also, if your neighbour is being a Grinch, why not spread some holiday cheer and TP the heck out of their house!








Handmade Holiday Cards
Save them from having to do the work of making cards next Christmas (or this one if you gift it to them early enough). Or, you know what? Just write them a sweet message and send them a homemade card in the mail. Everyone loves snail mail. Plus, these come in a big enough bundle you can check 24 people off your list at once.



Tips for Stuffing Stockings

Christmas morning in my family is a ritual. It always goes the same way.

Someone (me) wakes up about an hour too early, and putters around the house not-so-quietly in order to wake everyone up. We put the coffee on and crack open the largest bottle of Bailey’s the liquor store sells. Then we start with our stockings.

Opening my stocking is my favourite part of Christmas, which is bitter sweet because it is the first stage of present time. The stocking is popping at the seams, full of sweet surprises and awesome necessities.

When I reached my adult years, I took on the responsibility of stuffing stockings. Stuffing my mom’s stocking for Christmas morning – don’t worry Santa, I got this – was stressful the first year because my mom is very good at stuffing stockings. I wanted to bring her as much joy as I get when I open my stocking. I quickly discovered making a list is the best way to plan.

stuffing stockings


 Here is a Beginner’s Guide to Stuffing Stockings:

Everyone needs a good tube of Chapstick or lip balm to get through winter. We are a Lip Smackers family, but they can be difficult to find in Canada now!

Gift Card
Tim Hortons. iTunes. Shoppers Drugmart. A gift card is a great stocking stuffer because they are easier to fit in a stocking than an XL double double.

If you have a family member who doesn’t know what an iTune is, popping a good ol’ CD in their stocking works just as well. This is a good chance to throw in a new Christmas album, like A Jann Arden Christmas, or a top seller like Adele’s 25.

Every year my family would go to the children’s Christmas party at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 160. My Uncle would sit in for Santa, and my Grandma would give out small stockings for all the kids. It always had a cane cane, a small toy and a clementine in the toe of the stocking.

Lotto Ticket
Every stocking must have lottery scratch ticket. If you win big, you can take the whole family on a long Christmas vacation – somewhere warm!

You must supply them with something to eat with their Bailey’s and coffee on Christmas morning!

Tooth Brush
You must supply them with something to clean their teeth after having chocolate and coffee for breakfast on Christmas morning!

stuffing stockings

A Big Thing
Stuffing a stocking may seem simple, but they are always bigger than you think they are! It is wonderful to pack a stocking with small treasures, but remember to stuff the stocking with a Big Thing like a Big Grinch to help fill it out!

Gag Gift
Stockings are great opportunity for a gag gift. A bag of Snowman Poop hidden among festive treasures is good for a laugh!

Candy Cane
A beautiful candy cane hooked on the top of a stocking is the perfect Pièce de résistance to the fireplace mantle on Christmas morning. Plus, they can use it to stir their hot chocolate!

Stuffing stockings

Once the stockings have been stuffed, and hung by the fireplace, all you need to do is wait!



Our 15 Favourite Christmas Movie Morals

Christmas Movies allow us to feel nostalgic as we’re reminded of all of the cheer surrounding the festive holiday; but most classics serve another purpose—teaching us valuable life lessons we can keep with us all year long.


1. Movie: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer:
Lesson: Celebrate your differences

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, 1964

We all know the story; Rudolph’s “shortcoming” becomes his strongest asset in the end. He saves Christmas guiding Santa’s sleigh with his glowing red nose. The simple lesson here is that even when you feel like a misfit, your flaws and quirks often become your best qualities.

2. Movie: A Christmas Story
Lesson: Don’t give in to peer pressure

A Christmas Story, 1983

Sometimes we do things we know are stupid, just because someone tells (or triple-dog dares) us to. This can really get us stuck in bad situation. It’s important not to give in to the pressure of impressing others.

3. Movie: Polar Express
Lesson: Everybody has doubts

The Polar Express, 2004

But just because you grow up, doesn’t mean you have to stop believing, especially about things we can’t see or hold like the future or Santa. Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith and just believe.

4. Movie: It’s A Wonderful Life
Lesson: Your life has a purpose

It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946

We have no idea how significantly our lives impact others. If George never existed, he wouldn’t have been able to save the life of Harry, his brother, when they were young. The moral of the story is: George thought the world was better off without him, but in reality, it wasn’t.

5. Movie: Home Alone
Lesson: Be careful what you wish for

"I made my family disappear" scene from Home Alone
Home Alone, 1990

Sometimes, what you think you want and what you actually need are two very different things. You never really know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Sure, Kevin was excited to have the house to himself at first, but by Christmas morning, he was really missing the McCallister clan.

6. Movie: Nightmare Before Christmas
Lesson: Passion is contagious

Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993

Being a leader also means being a team player. Though, no one in Halloween Town understood the true meaning of Christmas, they trusted in Jack’s plan because of his amount of passion towards his vision.

7. Movie: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Lesson: The journey is just as important as the destination

Santa Claus is Coming to Town, 1970

Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses. Achieving your goals can be amazing, but its the friendships you make, and the lessons you learn along the way, that really make it worth the while.

8. Movie: Just Friends
Lesson: Never forget where you came from

Just Friends, 2005
Just Friends, 2005

Chris was so caught up in his new life, that he forgot about his friends and family back at home. After being forced into spending Christmas in his hometown, he realizes that being ashamed of where you come from is pointless.

9. Movie: Love, Actually
Lesson: Sometimes the most simple gestures can have the most impact

Love, Actually, 2003
Love, Actually, 2003

Grand gestures can be nice, but it’s the little things in life that matter the most. Letting someone know how you feel about them can really make an impact on their happiness.

10. Movie: Elf
Lesson: Never doubt your own abilities

Elf, 2003
Elf, 2003

If Buddy gave up, he would have never saved Christmas. When you start to doubt yourself, you make it easy for others to doubt you, too.

11. Movie: Charlie Brown Christmas
Lesson: Love is all you need

A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965
A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965

Linus summed it up perfectly: “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”

12. Movie: Frosty the Snowman
Lesson: Friendship is the greatest gift

Frosty the Snowman, 1969
Frosty the Snowman, 1969

Before Olaf, another friendly snowman taught us that, “Some people are worth melting for.”

13. Movie: National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
Lesson: You cant choose your family

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, 1989
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989

Every family has their quirks. Learn to have a good time and roll with whatever happens when relatives come into town!

14. Movie: The Santa Claus
Lesson: Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing

The Santa Clause, 1994
The Santa Clause, 1994

We don’t always need proof to believe in something. Sometimes, all we need is faith, and then we will believe.

and last, but certainly not least…

15. Movie: The Grinch
Lesson: Christmas Day will always be, just so long as we have we have we

The Grinch, 1966
The Grinch, 1966

Material items will come and go, but the spirit of Christmas lives within the hearts of those who love and celebrate each other.


Frosty the Snowman – Then and Now

For anyone who loves Christmas and has a television – Christmas movies and TV specials are a must! It was a tradition with my family to decorate the tree and watch a whole slew of holiday specials. My favourites were Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Home Alone; as I got a bit older, The Santa Clause and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; and in recent years, I added Elf to that list. However, Frosty the Snowman was not a part of the catalog.

Don’t get me wrong; I’d still watch it. Frosty was often in the middle of a Christmas Special marathon, sandwiched between Rudolph and the Grinch. But as I got older, I’d start leaving the living room for a half hour to help in the kitchen, or quite literally, just sit in my room doing nothing until it was over.

Sounds terrible, right? It was! I was a kid – I didn’t know any better!

It was only in the past few years that I decided to revisit this Christmas classic . . . and what was little me thinking?! It’s great! That’s why I decided to pull together my new favourite quotes from Frosty the Snowman!

Here are my Top Five quotes (that I should have appreciated more 20 years ago) from Frosty the Snowman:


Professor Hinkle: I must get that hat back! Think nasty, think nasty, think nasty!

“Think nasty!” What a great motto for a bad guy!


Frosty: Are you coming to the North Pole, too?
Karen: I’m sure my mother won’t mind, as long as I’m home in time for supper.

My mom has the same rule for me.


Frosty: I mean – I can make words. I can move… I can juggle… I can sweep… and I can count to ten. One, two, three, four, five, nine, six, eight… Well, I can count to five.

That’s just cute. Counting is hard! Especially when you have a different number of fingers on each hand.


Professor Hinkle: We evil magicians have to make a living, too.

Just straight up facts.



So there you have it! My Top Five (new) favourite quotes from Frosty the Snowman. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to head over to Retro Festive and show my love for all things Frosty!



A Very Offbeat Christmas – Part 2: A Family Guy Christmas

A Very Offbeat Christmas – Christmas TV Specials in Three Parts
Part 2: A Family Guy Christmas

They swear, they fart, they make poop jokes, and they teach us the spirit of Christmas. Wait – what was that last one? We’ve looked into South Park and will soon visit The Simpsons, but let’s take a look at the show that never fails to make our jaws drop: Family Guy.

On December 21, 2001 Family Guy aired it’s first and obviously obnoxiously offensive Christmas Special called “A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas.”

Here are five examples of how the Christmas episode is crudely funny:


Peter Griffin: [as a salesman unplugs a display TV] Hey! I was watching that.
Salesman: It’ll be on next Christmas.
Peter Griffin: Who the hell knows when that’s gonna be?

KISS Saves Christmas!

# 2.

Peter Griffin: Merry Christmas to all, and to all, shut the hell up!

# 3:

Mall Santa: Ho ho ho! And what can I bring you?
Stewie Griffin: Oh, a peace offering, is it? Very well… What say you trim those gin-soaked whiskers and bring me some plutonium?
Mall Santa: Well, can you be a good boy, hmmm?
Stewie Griffin: Your inquiry intrigues me. Can any of us be a ‘good boy?’ Are our primal urges innate or the result of the choices we make?
Mall Santa: OK, wrap it up, kid.
Stewie Griffin: All right, Kringle, if the reward is plutonium, then your wager is accepted. I will be… “nice”


Brian Griffin: Seriously, who buys a novelty fire extinguisher?
Peter Griffin: I’ll tell you who: someone who cares enough about physical comedy to put his entire family into serious danger, that’s who.

And, of course, Peter Griffin’s favourite Christmas special, “KISS Saves Santa:”



Since KISS did save Santa, the big guy will be able to put presents under your tree . . . which will obviously be decorated with these fancy ornaments:

Gene Simmons ornament available at Retro Festive!


Family Guy ornaments available at Retro Festive!