This post was sponsored by Joann Stores. All content and opinions are my own.

For the last few years, I’ve been lucky to have all of my sisters nearby. My sister Ali, her husband, and two girls moved to Michigan this December and it’s left a big void for all of us here. We didn’t get to see them as much this year because of COVID-19 and now they are so far away.

We didn’t want our sadness to overwhelm us. So an unconventional change and year called for an unconventional new tradition!

Love Packages

Love packages are one of the quickest ways to my heart. These little packages of love have meant so much to me when I was in college, on a mission, or from a loved one who knew I was struggling. They always seem to arrive when you need them most and make you feel close to that person even though you are far away.

For me, a love package requires the following:

  • Something handmade that feels personal and meaningful
  • Gifts/treats that you know the person will love
  • Fun packaging that brings some light into their lives

Shopping at JOANN Fabric and Craft Store

I partnered with JOANN for this project because they have everything I needed to make these love packages special. 

Toys & Dolls

My daughter Olive and I donned our masks and lathered up with hand-sanitizer and went to the store. Olive is so close with our two nieces that moved away. She calls one of them her sister and refuses to accept that she’s her cousin. It’s cute and now a little sad that they are apart. Olive was quick to look through the selection of toys, dolls, and gifts for the girls. 

Home Decor

I spent some time also picking out decor for Ali’s new home. They are moving into a cute little fixer-upper and I know how hard it is to make a new place feel like a home at first. I picked out some cute things to help them claim the space for themselves.

Wrapping Paper

For the past few years, I always go to JOANN to get a very specific black and white Christmas wrapping paper. I also pick up crafting paper which is my secret weapon to make Christmas presents look amazing. In a pinch you could also use inside out grocery bags!

Crafting Supplies

I also took my son Charlie separately (again, soaked in sanitizer) to help me get the craft supplies we needed. We picked out different cute wooden ornaments that are ready for paint!

Home-Made Paint-Dipped Ornaments

My mom, growing up, would always give us girls an ornament for every Christmas. They’d always tie into something that happened that year, like a Disney ornament for the year we went to Disneyland. Each of us girls had a little shoebox where we’d keep our annual ornaments and as we’ve all moved on to our own independent lives—we still have these shared boxes of memories with each of us.

My favorite ornaments were the hand-made ornaments. Thought went into every ornament, but the ones that took more time, effort, and some creativity always stand out to me. I really loved that JOANN is encouraging people to make their own gifts with #handmadewithJOANN. This year in particular, when we are all stuck at home, it’s a great time to do something creative for someone you love.

We decided to make these super cute painted ornaments for Ali’s family. Here’s how we did it:

  • You’ll need paint, plain wooden ornaments, paintbrushes and craft paper. 
  • Lay down craft paper on your table. This makes clean up a breeze and you can add paint directly onto it. 
  • Squeeze your paint directly onto the paper. Use small paint brushes to paint designs onto the ornaments. I like to do stripes, my kids like to free-style. 
  • Hang the ornaments to dry. I set up a drying rack out of kitchen canisters and a paint stir-stick. 
  • After the ornaments dry, hang them on the tree or, in our case, pack in tissue paper and send away!

Custom Gift-Wrapping

My ultimate Christmas flex is how well I do gift-wrapping. I was appalled when I saw how many pieces of tape my partner had to use on gifts the first few years we were married. Now he’s a pro because, well, (brushes shoulder off) he got some pro tips.

I love to create unique, graphic patterns when wrapping presents. There’s nothing that I love more than seeing all the presents under the tree and these just pop SO much.

Separate Wrapping Paper

One tradition we’ve had with our family since early on is that everyone gets their own unique wrapping paper. It makes it so easy for the kids to identify their gifts on Christmas morning. It also helps us identify if maybe one kid got a bit more than the other. I mean, it’s not perfectly balanced, but if you see a mountain of wrapping paper with sharks and santa hats on it, you know Ben is going to get a bit cocky about how great his Christmas was.

Ali’s girls are similar in age so this trick is particularly handy. We divided the gifts up quickly and evenly. Then we wrapped each present in it’s own paper.

No arguments this year 🙂

Creating Graphic Christmas Wrapped Gifts

Like I said, craft paper is my secret Christmas weapon and this year, it delivered again. You beautiful, overlooked material. You can get rolls of this plain brown paper at Jo-Ann. If you’re in a pinch, you can also use the inside of a grocery paper bag, but some gifts won’t really fit into that size.

I adore this black and white Christmas wrapping paper in combination with the craft paper. The craft paper warms it up and the black and white paper is so bold and pops against the dark green of the tree branches.

Wrapping Paper Scrap Bows and Ribbons

I always save my scraps from the previous years Christmas wrapping paper. There is so much you can do with it, but my favorite tricks are to make it into bows, ribbons, and accents.

Scrap Bows

  • Take a long scrap of wrapping paper
  • Fold the paper in half and use a small piece of tape in the center
  • Repeat this process over and over, layering the paper scraps on top of each other
  • Voila! A bow!

Wrapping Paper Ribbon Curls

  • Cut thin strips of the wrapping paper
  • Get a large pair of scissors
  • Place the end of a strip on the blade of your scissors
  • Slowly bend and pull the strip over the surface of the scissor blade with your thumb applying pressure to it
  • After you release, you’ve got a ribbon!

Scrap Accents

  • My most common accent is kind of like a graphic bar across the present
  • Take your contrasting paper scrap and cut the longest pieces you can into thick strips
  • Fold the wrapping paper over itself multiple times to create a thick band
  • Tape the band to your present to add a cute accent

So the next time you are tempted to jump straight to recycling all of these scraps or left over paper from last year’s Christmas—maybe hold onto it. I’m all about using things as much as  you can before throwing them out.

Feel The Love

After I got it all packaged up and into the box, I felt so excited! I can’t wait for them to get the present and see what’s inside. Even though I don’t get to see the looks on their faces this year, it was nice to spend some time thinking about them and my love for them while putting this package together.

I know we can’t all be with the ones we love this year, but this is a great way to FEEL close to one another. Spread the love my friends and be safe! Happy holidays!