Celebrate · Fun

Friday Five: Gift Wrapping

I love wrapping gifts, just like I love sending and receiving Christmas cards. Basically, paper goods are one of my love languages. I get everything ordered/bought, and once it’s arrived I put it all away in the guest room (or in a sneakier locale if it’s for Bert, as he isn’t as easily fooled as a toddler, bless him). I set aside an evening or two to wrap in the light of a Christmas movie and the tree, or, in this year’s case, in the light of a Christmas movie and, well, regular lights, since the tree is upstairs, Wacey sleeps upstairs, and for whatever reason the sound of paper always wakes him up. In years past, I’ve wrapped everything and then put the non-Santa/Christmas morning/super obvious gifts under the tree, but again, toddler. So I wrapped a bunch of empty boxes and they’ll be placeholders for the next, oh, ten years or so.

Also in years past, I’ve really put a lot of thought into wrapping gifts, and did a sort of theme each year. This year I’m going pretty basic as the boys could care less how their gifts are wrapped, but I do love gorgeous wrapping paper and am happy to lust at beautiful and festive wrapping from afar. I love things that are simple, colorful, and not too fussy, but are a little more than paper and box.Or a bag. I’m kind of against gift bags for stuff that gets left under the tree for a long time, because it makes it waaaaay too easy to peek, and I’m all about the element of surprise.

Not because I ever peeked at my own gifts inside gift bags, of course.

Although, for those oddly-shaped, don’t-fit-in-a-box gifts, give me allll the gift bags.

Letter tags: I think this would be so great for older young kids to help them figure out whose gifts are whose (provided everyone’s name begins with a different initial!) Plus, glitter and baking twine are two of my spirit animals. I might go so far as to try this for some gifts this year. I know, I know, slow your roll, Martha Stewart.

PS–can you imagine what Martha Stewart’s gift-wrapping is like? In my mind, it’s so lovely.


Buffalo Plaid and Kraft Paper: I kraft paper and buffalo plaid is pretty and festive and rustic, even without the evergreen topper. I also love mixing patterns, so throwing in another pattern would work here too! You could use any plaid with this, too, if buffalo isn’t your style.


Sharpie Labels: Again with the kraft paper, I know, but it’s vintage-y and simple, comes in giant rolls, and is thicker than regular paper so you never have to worry about sharp corners poking through. It makes a great neutral canvas (yes I just used “neutral canvas” to refer to gift wrapping), and the red ribbon is simple, easy, but also elegant. I like the idea of writing the name of the recipient directly on the paper–it eliminates the whole gift tag step, and is informal and fun. You could also do this with a chalk pen!


Jingle Bells: Isn’t this the cutest bow alternative?? It adds just a little something extra, to quote Elle Woods, and bonus points it you color-coordinate it to your outfit. You could go gold, silver, or colorful depending on your decor, and vary your sizes if you’re really looking to win at the wrapping game. I think this would be exciting for little kids, too–Wacey LOVES bells, and if nothing else it might buy you a little time on Christmas morning.

Actually, I’ll take my own advice here, as I have several too-large-to-choke-on bells in my Christmas stash. Of course, the ultimate toddler packaging would involve some lights, too, and something that buckles or zip. Basically, a light-up backpack with a bell tied on. Do it.


Mixed Patterns and Plaids: How fun does this look?? My mother-in-law gifted me with some beautiful wrapping paper for my birthday, and I mentioned that it was almost too pretty to just be ripped apart on Christmas morning. My father-in-law said “Why don’t you use it for the fake presents under the tree so they stay wrapped?” and basically, he’s a genius. Like I said above, I’m not putting actual gifts under the tree until the Johnston household is a toddler-free zone (soooooo in the next decade ha) and I love this idea with the different plaids and patterns, it fits our whimsical (okay, juvenile)-yet-traditional vibe to a T. Plus, it won’t seem so futile to make things pretty if I keep bringing them out year after year! I still haven’t found the perfect plaid paper (okay, I haven’t looked, but when we went to get wrapping paper Wacey spent the entire time using his roll as a stick and getting pretend cows up like he does in the barn, so we weren’t exactly in perusal mode)


Now, if wrapping gifts isn’t your bag (see what I did there?), or can’t be because you have a house full of tiny destructive tornadoes, I feel you, because sometimes I just want to put everything in trash bags and hand it over. They do make mint-scented trash bags (to repel varmints), so that’s pretty festive, right? I remember asking my mom if I could help wrap presents and her being like “YES! In fact, you can do it all by yourself!” Now I see what you did there, crafty lady.

Celebrate · Fun · Personal

Cowboy Gift Guide

Happy holidays, it’s December, so here–have another gift guide! I’m sure your blog feed is flooded with them, but if the fella in question is anything like Bert, he’s pretty darn hard to shop for, and probably doesn’t have a Pinterest of things he just stumbled upon online and just loved so much, so maybe one more won’t hurt?

To be fair, this year Bert did give me an actual list, which I promptly emailed to his dad since it was all leather tools and way out of my sphere of expertise. I’m happy to report that I’m now significantly better-informed about various tools and their purposes, and managed to track down some really great things. At least they sound really great!

If you’ve got a cowboy in your life, or a guy that’s into western or outdoorsy-type stuff, I put together a little gift guide for him.

All of the items on this gift guide have been gifted to Bert in some form or another, or he purchased it for himself. Custom bits, boots, hats, and spurs are also great options, but obviously much more pricey and person-specific, so I didn’t include those. If you are looking for those sorts of things, we recommend Jayson Jones, Cowpuncher, Beck’s Boots, and Powder River Hats.



Hot Chillys Long Underwear: Bert loves these! They’re not too expensive, and I’ve washed his one pair at least once a week all winter long for gosh, five years? Maybe more? And they look like new. Minus the fact that the tag is faded beyond all recognition. I should follow my own advice and get him another pair! They’re warm but thin enough that they can be worn under his jeans.

Wild Rags: These are a staple for wintertime, and between the two of us, we have like, 30 or 40. I’m not kidding. You tie them around your neck and they keep the wind and snow from blowing down your shirt. These are great (if unconventional) for the skier/hunter/winter hiker in your life, too–we don’t leave the house without one all winter! There are tons of different places to buy them, and you can also make your own like my mama does, especially if you have a Serger. 100% silk are our fave–they keep you warm without making you sweat, but I’ve found imitation parachute-silk-like polyester that works really well, too.

Fixed Blade Knife: Boys love knives. It’s a known fact. Again, you can find these at many different places, made by many different people, with many different options and styles. The one pictured is the actual one that is on my husband’s person all the time, literally. His uncle made the knife, and his dad made the holster, I’ll link to his dad’s site because he does beautiful work!

Roper Gum Sole Chukkas: Bert and I both have these exact shoes, and they are SO comfortable, and would be appropriate for town and country guys alike! We both (and half the crew) tend to wear them on cow working days because they’re a lot more comfortable to stand in at the barn than regular boots. If you’re looking for a deal, hunt around–I found mine for $27 on eBay!

Yeti Rambler Tumbler: I’m sure you’ve heard of Yeti coolers, but they also make tumblers and water bottles and things! This one keeps beverages ice-cold or hot-hot for like, a thousand years or something. Bert mostly uses his for water in the summertime when he’s horseback, and also? It’s dishwasher safe, and tough tough. #win.  Of course, you could go the whole hog and just get him a Yeti cooler, but if you’re not prepared to spend hundreds of dollars, I recommend this route. If you do have that kind of money to burn, want to send over one of those new seafoam green Yeti coolers to my house? Great, thanks!!

Softshell Jacket: The guys LOVE these, and they all have more than one. They’re so versatile! Once again, everyone and their mother makes  these, from Ariat (pictured) to Patagonia. Costco makes a really nice, inexpensive one, too. My tip: don’t dry these, just wash and lay flat or hang dry. Drying makes them fall the heck apart and it’s pretty sad.

I’ll Drop You Off Devotional: If you’re wanting to focus more on the reason for the season, or simply have a guy that enjoys devotionals  or is needing a departure from the traditional ones, I highly recommend this one. Bert and I both have a copy, and it’s really unconventional but wise, easy-to-understand, and relatable, even if you’re not a cowboy. It was written by the manager of the Bell Ranch before he passed away from cancer this past fall, and it’s really a neat take on the good book from a really amazing person.

Contigo Go Cup: We have a thousand of these. Okay, not a thousand, but when they all show up at once in the dishwasher (or sink, or the mudroom windowsill) after being stashed in tractors and pickups, it feels like a thousand! I put these instead of the Yeti cups because they’re a lot more affordable (Costco has GREAT deals on them), and if you have a husband who’s hard on go cups like mine is, then that matters! They keep things hot literally all day, do not spill (seriously, even when rolling around on floorboards or being smushed under a tractor seat), and fit in a cupholder. Also, they come in more colors than the Yeti, so you can differentiate between his and yours, so yours stay pretty and dent-free.

Scotch Cap: A must have for a guy that’s out in the cold all winter. These are basically a wool baseball cap with a flap to keep your ears warm, so the Luke Danes staple of the winter!

Moccasins: It’s no fun having cold toesies in the house, so mocs are basically a necessity in the wintertime, especially since muddy and snowy boots come off at the door. L.L. Bean’s (pictured) are AMAZING and last forever, but we’ve also had good luck with Minnetonka.

Jeremiah Watt Ring Snaffle: Obviously this isn’t the greatest gift if your fella isn’t horseback (unless he’s into equine decor projects), but these are great basic bits that every cowboy should have in his arsenal. Bert has a few, including this one, and uses them particularly on our young horses but also on a couple of the older ones that are…young at heart? Okay, mostly Asa because he’s a goob but he’s my favorite goob. Reasonably-priced but well-made!

A good jacket: this Schaefer jacket is on Bert’s wish list this year, and is a great choice if your dude likes to wear jean jackets–it’s cut pretty similarly, without a lot of the bulk of say, Carhartt jackets, and Schaefer is great quality stuff. This particular model comes both lined and unlined, in a couple different colors, and is a unique take on the canvas coat. That being said, Carhartt is also a great option, and they offer so many different styles and colors! Again, it’s all about the style and fit he’s going for.

Shawl-collar sweater: Bert lives in these in the winter, and I have a few myself. Keeps your neck nice and toasty (especially with a snazzy wild rag), but can be worn on its own to town or what have you, and are a simple, classic style. We like the wool/cotton blends (although cashmere is heavenly), as they can be washed and dried–dry-cleaning is just not happening round these here parts! This one is from Amazon, but my mom has found so many great ones at Kohl’s! This is a great option for any guy, since they fit so many different styles.

Leatherman: Again, boys and knives. This is a great gift for any guy ever, and you can get so many different models based upon what he might use/need it for. Bert’s has a bottle opener, multiple screwdrivers and knives, a little saw thingy, and probably like a hot dog skewer or something too. A multi-tool comes in handy anywhere from an office to the woods, so you really can’t go wrong. I should actually get one to keep in my diaper bag! Seriously though…

Happy December!