This is Elias and my very first Christmas together since our marriage in April, so we are trying our best to make it special. As I had assumed, this holiday season has been pretty chaotic, especially because the shop opened two weeks ago and Christmas card orders have been flooding in. It's a good kind of chaos. 

So I thought I'd share a few things that have made this holiday season special. 

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1. Our own little Christmas tradition 
I had this idea last month, to dress up our brand new Christmas tree little by little every year instead of all at once. Elias and I would gift an ornament to each other every year! The idea was that every single ornament on the tree would be a gift from a loved one. This year, we have 3 ornaments on the tree altogether; two from us, and one from our talented wedding photographers as well as dear friends, Candace & Vitaliy aka Pictilio. We are all giddy thinking about our tree ten years from now, full of ornaments from loved ones. 

2. Giving & Receiving surprise gifts
This year, my small group decided to have our own cookie exchange. Each person would bake about 40 of one kind, come together, and exchange them to end up with many different kinds of cookies. We arranged the cookies into pretty boxes and wrapped them up with ribbons. The plan was for us to individually give these as surprise gifts to people we've been meaning to reach out to. I thought I was the only one who had a plan to surprise, until I found a pretty white package at my doorstep when I got home with my cookie boxes. A surprise package from Candace and Vitaliy! The box contained matching "His" and "Hers" mugs, two little tins of cocoa mix, cookies, and a snowflake ornament. How perfect!

3. Decorating our new house for the holidays
Purchasing a new Christmas tree was a given. But what other ways could I think of to decorate the home for the holidays? We were planning on getting a new garland as well, which ended up not happening because we couldn't find one we liked early enough. So I got a few battery operated candles from IKEA for the windows and white Christmas lights for our deck door. But what I'm most proud of so far, are these bunches of fern that I created to hang on our deck door. They were actually "trash" from a wedding we attended recently, which I had saved. Who knew they could turn out so festive? I think some of the most meaningful and fun memories are the spontaneous ones! 

4. Packaging Christmas cards for my very first group of customers
Salt Stains opened only two weeks ago, and I've already printed, cut, folded, and wrapped Christmas cards like a mad woman until yesterday. I believe this is the joy of having my own business...preparing orders that I've designed and made with love, and imagining them in all different kinds of homes in different places. This Christmas season has been so busy but so special for that reason. I feel as though I've shared it with not just old friends but new ones as well. 

I hope 2014 was a meaningful year for you—and this doesn't mean nothing negative happened. Life is full of trials, but the secret is in knowing everything has a purpose in the grand scheme of things. Then nothing is worth losing hope for. There is always joy to be found!