It had been on my Christmas decor to do list to cut some greenery from the woods or a local park full of pine trees to turn into wreaths and garlands but a quick trip to Lowe's for some spray paint saved me the trouble. They usually cut the bottom boughs from trees in their lot before bundling them up for customers. An employee pointed me to a special bin full of boughs that she said they'd had to dump twice the day before because it had been full. I gladly took what I could carry in my cart. I mentioned this on Instagram and someone said their local Lowe's had been charging for cuttings so before you head out on a special errand I'd call to double check.
After bringing home my stash of cuttings I walked past my dining room table still full of collected ornaments, ribbon, lights, etc. that I hadn't decided what to do with. It dawned on me that I could use some of what I had to make little swags and then we'd be able to eat off our dining table again before Christmas!
I gathered things that I was happy to pass along as ornaments for others to enjoy, grabbed the green floral wire I always seem to have lurking in closets, some wire cutters, and other odds and ends. I cut down boughs to different sizes and layered three or four branches before wrapping them together with wire and making the hook in the back. Then I'd add a few shorter, fuller layers up front before tying them down as well. Then it was a cluster of bells (thrifted but probably from Wal-Mart), a vintage ornament, and a ribbon in a coordinating color. Each swag took about ten minutes to make and our front porch smelled divine when I was done.
After making a handful I realized I had enough left to make one for our home so I used some of my vintage bulbs and some satin ribbon. When the branches die I can just remove the trimmings and reuse them next year.
We made sugar cookies (our second try and from a box) and I let the kids decorate them while I made a plan for getting our goodies to our neighbors and friends. We explained to the kids that we were going to surprise our friends with some goodies and that we had to be really sneaky and fast to make it work. They were thrilled at the chance to get out after dark for a secret mission.
We got a later start than I'd planned but I didn't want to lose momentum on our project. Sometimes that's all the difference between something working out and getting left to the wayside for me. We all walked to the first two houses because they were really close and Sebastian knocked while I snapped photos with my phone. The first neighbor was easy to hide from but I couldn't resist yelling out 'Merry Christmas' from the bushes and then she came out to meet us. The second house we hid around the corner from their porch and then they saw us sneaking away through their window. It was just as fun for us to get caught as it was to drop off treats!
We let Brett and Ruby stay home so they could get to bed while Sebastian and I hit up the third and fourth houses. We managed to sneak the third ones through a gate and not wake their dog (or toddler) before texting that they had a treat and seeing our friend grab them and run out to meet us at the street. The fourth house had an unexpected Craigslist deal going down outside so we outed ourselves and were escorted to the front door to hand them over to a mama with her hands full of a freshly bathed little boy. By the time we were done it was way past Sebastian's bedtime so we had to raincheck our fifth house but we finally managed to deliver it this afternoon with candy canes in place of sugar cookies. Those somehow didn't keep (we ate them).
I have a very specific memory of my parents doing the same with us. My dad was a pastor at a church with a lot of families with financial needs so one year (or maybe a few in a row) my parents decided to doorbell ditch a Christmas tree to some friends of theirs that went to our church that couldn't afford one that year. We had a station wagon so we tied it to the top and parked around the corner where we could see their front door and I remember sitting in the back of the wagon watching them open the door and finding that tree and us giggling from our car. It was the best feeling to treat someone and I'm so thankful my family taught us how easy that is to do.
Our friends and neighbors weren't in need of pine swags and sugar cookies (well, I think we're all in need of sugar cookies) but it was so fun to be able to surprise them with something we had fun making as a family and I hope Sebastian remembers this when he's older.
It's officially the second of four Sharing Joy projects we're planning for December. Our first was the yarn bombed tree and our next will be caroling with Sebastian's cub scout troop at the local children's hospital. I'm still brainstorming project number four. We'll be in transit or in another state when it's time for that to happen so I'm thinking it'll be another stranger project.
It's my hope that our family can adopt this project as a lifestyle once December is over and the Christmas spirit has faded into another layer of our memories. It's not hard to put a little joy out there for others and it doesn't even need to cost anything. It gets us out of our own little worlds and opens up room for interaction and maybe even a little more sense of belonging and community. It's also my hope that some of you might join in and share your ideas, executed plans, etc. in the comments!
Have you ever doorbell ditched anyone before? Toilet papering houses doesn't count, either.