Quite a few years ago, our family decided that all of our Christmas presents had to be homemade.  This was fun at first, but got to be stressful as sibling competition intensified and the presents got more sophisticated.  So last year, we added a twist – all presents had to relate to a specific country.  We each put the name of a country into a hat and Mom picked the country for Christmas gifts 2012.  This year’s country was Spain.  And to add an additional twist, the Christmas pot-luck had to have foods tied to Spain as well.

A few weeks before Christmas while perusing Pinterest, I found these flamenco dancers made from clothespins (see directions here).  Janice helped with making a set of them to use for package decorations.

bf_flamenco_girlsOne of them was featured in my Christmas card.


Our family celebration started out with a Spanish feast.  Kathy made a “Spanish Tortilla” – kind of a potato/onion frittata considered by many to be the national dish of Spain – along with garlicly marinated Spanish olives.  Greg prepared an awesome shrimp/ham/chicken paella in his new paella pan – everyone had at least two servings of that.  Jim & Joanne brought crusty Portugese (that’s pretty close to  Spain!!) rolls filled with ham and cheese – a favorite Spanish lunch.  And of course, no meal is complete without Mom’s traditional Christmas green jello salad.



Once the meal was over, it was time to open presents.  Here are the unique gifts we made for each other this year:

Beautiful placemats stenciled with a moorish style stencil (okay – it was a Martha Stewart stencil, but it looks moorish)-


Candles made from cut-down wine bottles, and decorated with similar moorish style stencils-

bf_candle_group bf_candle_L

Buenas Nochas (“Good Night”) pillow cases-


An Eldorado-inspired sparkly gold candle holder, accompanied with a poem written by Mom.  In Spanish legend, Eldorado was a legendary “Lost City of Gold”, that fascinated explorers since the days of the Spanish Conquistadors.


by Zoe Winston Mattlin

There’s gold in Eldorado
The Spaniards used to say.
They took their lighted candles
To help them find the way.

They walked and trudged for days and nights,
But no man ever found
The wealth that legend promised
Was buried in the ground.

So listen not to myths you hear
To lure you far away –
The gold that glitters brightest
Can be found at home today.

And finally, red Trivets made from wine corks mounted in a picture frame.  Included was a poem written by Joanne about the origins of cork-



We learned a lot about Spain this year, but amidst the good food and awesome gifts, we are making another modification to our homemade Christmas tradition for next year.  We picked another country (France), but this time, in addition to a French feast, we will only give each other French-inspired ornaments as gifts.  Hopefully, that will reduce some of the competitive holiday stress next year (Yeah, right!).  After a few years, we’ll all have a collection of handmade ornaments inspired by different countries around the world.

Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday, and we wish you a Happy New Year!