Jay Johnson -- It's Christmas week. It's the beginning of Kwanzaa. It's Boxing Day week. It's winter. There is so much to celebrate this time of year.
I'm going to be making Martha Stewart's recipe for Boeuf Bouguignon for a Christmas Day gathering of neighbors, and we'll serve a ham and many side dishes from some gourmet stores in the area.
We'll have a Buche de Noel for dessert, which will bring on some ooh's and aah's. In the center of the table will be a large jardiniere centerpiece filled with small wrapped presents. This was my partner's idea, and it shows his great generosity of spirit.
These "stocking stuffers" will be specially selected for each of our 15 or so luncheon guests. They will be festively wrapped, each sporting a gift tag. When the lunch is over and the guests put on their coats, each will receive a stocking stuffer on their way out.
I think that will probably be the nicest part of the entire holiday. Okay, everyone will feel happy and full from Martha's Beouf Bourguignon, and the rest of the edibles will go down nicely. But it's important to make a gift-giving connection with family and friends.
Giving and receiving gifts has been a tradition for centuries. The native potlatch ceremony (see photo above) celebrates "extreme giving," with status conferred on the family or clan who gave away the most possessions.
You could be bankrupt by the end of the ceremony, but you were huge in the prestige department!
Our exercise in gift giving helps us concentrate on each one of our guests and think about things they might like and/or use. Hopefully the small gift will bring some degree of joy. We know the giving part feels mighty good.
Our new stocking stuffer tradition, having our Christmas luncheon guests leave with a little present, will hopefully help everyone focus on the good feelings and appreciation we feel around this special time of year.
Four out of five surveyed Americans feel the holidays are too materialistic (Center for a New American Dream), and that's probably true. I wholeheartedly embrace the Center's vision of developing an Alternative Gift Registry within your network of family and friends. Check out their website, and consider it for your network.
In the 500 video shorts contained in my Design2Share Video Library on YouTube, you will see examples where I have taken my video camera -- a sturdy palm-sized Radio Shack $99 camtastic Sanyo special -- and I shot a video of Holiday Time at Lincoln Center, Holiday Lights!, and Santa Wreath, my little holiday gifts to you and your family.
For 2008, my resolution is to give the Alternative Gift Registry a try for next year's Christmas lunch! I'll feel even better about giving homemade, recycled, second-hand, and environmentally-friendly gifts that are thoughtfully chosen for each guest.
Visit Design2Share's Holiday Decorating Special throughout the months of November and December to keep picking up helping tips for home gifts, holiday decorating ideas, and groovy yuletide decor tips.
And check out our New Design2Share Shop for unique home decor and gifts. We're adding new products all the time, each a hand-picked favorite from the D2S team. Keep coming back!