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When I was younger, my sister and I had a tradition:  we would pig out on Thanksgiving food, and then sit on the floor with all of the sale papers that came with the newspaper, and we would make a plan. This plan took into account door buster sales and times, our top priorities for shopping (this was at the height of the Old Navy Performance Fleece craze for me, so naturally more scarves and hats were a priority for me), and our need for food (which was always breakfast at Chick-fil-A).

After we made our plan, we watched movies, went to bed early, and woke up to the Christmas season, in which we listened only to Christmas music (back then, in Atlanta, it was on 24/7 after Thanksgiving on Peach 94.9). And we woke up early. Like, dark-thirty in the morning early. Like, four o’clock in the morning. An ungodly time. We were those girls. And we loved it.

The first year that didn’t happen, it was weird, as firsts always are. And I was thinking about that this morning because this year, I have some more firsts. My first Christmas married to my wife. My first west coast Christmas.

And y’all:  a west coast Christmas, especially in southern California, is really different.

In my previous homes, I could count on cold weather to mark the season for me, but as my friend Becky pointed out on her blog this morning (she lives and gardens in Florida), when your weather doesn’t change much, you have to look for other ways to set the season apart.

As Otis can tell you, we have to find comfort where we can.

Otis sink

I look for holiday traditions, like the somewhat-sacred (for me) Christmas issue of Southern Living. 

magazine

I make lists and lists for gift-giving, and when I’ve got my act together, I make Christmas gifts.

finished dolls

I plan my Thanksgiving and Christmas meal menus, and I consult hand-written family recipe books for the flavors of home.

menu planning

And of course, I hit up Starbucks for my peppermint mocha. Which is pretty much the taste of Christmas in a lovely red cup. And this year, since I’ve gotten into sewing, I’ve got a fabric coffee sleeve to use instead of the same old cardboard.

coffee sleeve

I found the tutorial on One Crafty Home, and her instructions are easy to follow, with plenty of photos to guide you through. (I have the highest respect for crafty bloggers who include lots of photos. You will notice that I don’t have photos of my process. I am a mere student in a world of sewing goddesses. Also, the addition of photography to the process of sewing, for me, would likely result in a lot of profanity, tears, and eating of ice cream. I want to be a goddess. One day.) Her instructions also include a printable template for cutting out fabric.

My mom has said that I might need a twelve-step program for my sewing, but I see no harm in making such cute, functional little things like the fabric coffee sleeves. The best part? They’re easy to make in bulk, and they make great gifts. Pair it with a coffee shop gift card and a fun coffee mug, and you’ve got a perfect gift for your favorite coffee-drinking hostess, friend, or family member. And if you want to pair it with a peppermint mocha while you ring in the season in your own way, who am I to stop you? Cheers.