No Gifts for Christmas: Things to Do with Family Instead of Buying and Giving Gifts

Last night I finished all of my Christmas gift preparation! Gifts have been wrapped and are just waiting for Christmas day. However, although it’s fun to give and receive gifts at Christmas–you don’t need gifts to have a wonderful Christmas. As my siblings and I have grown up, some being married and have children now, we have changed the ways in which we approach gift-giving at Christmas. We all seem to agree that Christmas is less and less about presents and more about quality, special time together. My whole family is probably all together only about once a year and so our time together has become one of the most precious gifts.

Today I’m giving you some ideas for how to celebrate Christmas with your family (and/or friends)–without having to have gifts involved.

Go on a trip together

The Christmas before my oldest sister was married, my family went on a skiing vacation to North Carolina. We rented a huge van and road-tripped all the way from Oklahoma. That was also the year that we each had portable, personal DVD players (anyone remember those?). Although the majority of the road trip was probably spent watching 5 seasons of Gilmore Girls, I still remember that experience and it was so much fun. Once we arrived at our destination, we checked into our cabin rental that overlooked the mountains and the ski lodge. We cooked food, watched movies, and prepared to go skiing the next day. The weather was so warm that the ski resort had to create fake snow–that was interesting to watch! Once there was enough “snow,” we headed out and had a great time. Who knew skiing in t-shirts wouldn’t be so bad? Haha! I’m so thankful for that time we had together before the dynamic of our family changed. We have been on trips together with my brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephew since then–and it just keeps getting better. Why not save and invest in a family vacation instead of buying gifts? I highly recommend it!

Make and serve a meal to a family in need

Last year my family and I made some meals for the families of patients at our local hospice house, instead of doing gifts. I loved being able to do that for some of our local families who were experiencing grief, loss, and sadness during what should be one of the happiest times of the year. We weren’t able to personally meet any of the families, but it was an awesome experience to know that we helped to take care of them in a small way during Christmas. There are so many other ways you can help others during Christmas and it doesn’t have to even be a grand gesture–anything, no matter how big/small, helps!

Have a family night

Instead of gift exchanging, have a day/night just for family fun! You could bake cookies, make hot cider, play board/card games, watch Christmas movies, drive around and look at Christmas lights, make a bunch of Dubsmash videos, etc, and just focus on spending time together. My most favorite memories are definitely of my parents, siblings, grandchildren, and pets all housed up together and it being just wild!

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Black Friday Traditions

Black Friday is next week and I’m really excited for that day. I’m not excited because of shopping and sales, but because of a Black Friday tradition my family and I have done for probably close to 15 years. Each Black Friday morning, we sleep in a little bit, throw on comfy clothes, and then meet up at Utica Square in Tulsa for coffee and shopping. Utica Square is located in mid-town Tulsa, OK and it’s such a gem to the community. The Square is an outdoor shopping center that houses stores like Madewell, Gap, Loft, Ann Taylor, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Kendra Scott, Starbucks, etc. It is so beautiful there around the fall and the holidays! On Thanksgiving night, the Square has the tradition of gathering people there to watch as they turn on the Christmas lights–that is such a fun event to go to also. Utica Square just holds a special place in my heart because of the memories, it’s a great place to take a walk, it’s where I take the majority of my blog photos, and because it always makes me so excited for the holidays.

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Maybe I’ll see you there on Black Friday! What are some of your Black Friday traditions?

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Ways to Style: Fall Outfits

Fall is here again! I’ve broken out the flannel, sweaters, jackets, boots, etc and I couldn’t be happier. Today I’m sharing with you some different fall outfits and how to style different pieces of clothing, in case you’re needing some outfit inspiration. If I can find the exact item again, I’ll link it below. If I can’t find the original, I’ll try to link a similar item.

Flannel Shirts

Outfit Details

FLANNEL SHIRT: Madewell (similar one hereVEST: (similar one here) JEANS: KUT from the Kloth RIDING BOOTS: Old Navy (Similar ones here)

Outfit Details

 FLANNEL SHIRT: (similar one hereJEANS: KUT from the Kloth BOOTS: Target

 Cardigans

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CARDIGAN: (similar one here) TEE: Gap Factory  JEANS: KUT from the Kloth BOOTS: Stitch Fix (similar ones here)

Outfit Details

CARDIGAN: Target (in petite sizes in-store) TSHIRT: A.N.A. JEANS: Gap Factory BOOTS: Target PURSE: Stitch Fix (similar one here)

Sweaters

Outfit Details

SWEATER: Skies Are Blue (similar one here) JEANS: KUT from the Kloth BOOTS: Stitch Fix (similar ones here)

Outfit Details

SWEATER: LOFT (similar one hereJEANS: KUT from the Kloth BOOTS: Target TOTE: (similar one here)

Button Downs

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Outfit Details

SHIRT: Amazon  JEANS: KUT from the Kloth BOOTS: Stitch Fix (similar ones here)

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Outfit Details

SHIRT: LOFT JEANS: KUT from the Kloth FLATS: Lucky Brand

Jackets

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Outfit Details

TSHIRT: Gap Factory (similar one here) JACKET: Old Navy JEANS: KUT from the Kloth  BOOTS: Target

Outfit Details

JACKET: Amazon SHIRT: Amazon JEANS: KUT from the Kloth BOOTS: Target

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Packing for a Long Weekend in One Bag

It’s September–my favorite month of the year!! Today in Oklahoma it is absolutely beautiful and that makes me so happy. I hope you are enjoying the first day of a new month and that you have a wonderful, long Labor Day weekend! A lot of people choose to travel when there are long weekends and I am no exception. I am leaving town to go see some family, who I haven’t seen in years, and I’m looking forward to spending some time with them. Also, because of the specific airline I needed to use to get to my destination, I am only allowed to take one bag, period, on my flight. When I found out that information my first thought was, “challenge accepted.” Today I am going to show you what kind of bag I am taking, how I got all the absolute necessities packed, what I am taking to wear on this trip, and what I decided to leave behind.

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I’m really excited to break in this bag and use it on this trip! I found this canvas duffel bag on Amazon and decided it was a good investment for me because of how much I travel and because some of my other luggage was work out. I like the canvas material, the black detail, and the leather straps. You can also get this bag in other colors, I’ll link it here. This bag is the perfect size for this trip because it does fit everything that I need.

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Sometimes I will use packing cubes to help compact items and I think I found these on GroopDealz a while back. For this trip, I used a small packing cube for my swimsuit, socks, compact raincoat, and a few other things.

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As far as getting everything in, I tried a few different methods to see which worked best. I folded clothes, tried another packing cube, and then found out that it was better to roll all of my shirts and lightweight items. Because my pants are thicker material, I just folded them and set them on top of the smaller packing cube.

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Because I do have limited space, I tried to make everything smaller and only take what I absolutely needed. I am taking a clutch purse that I can easily grab out of the main bag and one that holds the basics (i.e. passport, cash, mints, sunglasses, ear buds, pen, chapstick, protein bar, phone).

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Toiletries are something that I can over-pack because I’m always afraid of forgetting something. However, since I am going to see family members, I skipped all of the shower things like shampoo, conditioner, etc., because I know they will share.

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These shoes have been trusty sidekicks for months now (my Chacos have even lasted me 12 years) and they’re coming with me. These leather sandals and my Chacos are super comfortable and are versatile for wearing with different things. I am wearing a pair of sneakers to the airport and also because they are more bulky than my sandals.

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Makeup is also another thing that I can over-pack but I’m keeping it super simple this time and taking mostly travel-sized, basic products.

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Packing clothes has become so much easier than recent years for a couple of reasons. Number one is because all of my clothing is pretty much neutral and number two is because I actually really like and love wearing the clothes that I have. Aside from the clothes I’ll be wearing at the airport, I’m taking a pair of denim shorts and a pair of black linen pants–both of those can be worn with any of the tops I take. I’m taking a set of pajamas and a shorts for swimming and/or hiking. I’m taking two flannel shirts and a cardigan that can be layered and worn depending on what the weather will be like. All of the t-shirts below can also be worn with anything else that I pack. Making clothing versatile is something that helps to make the packing/traveling process so much easier, at least for me, because you really don’t have to think that much about what you’re going to wear.

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The things that I am leaving behind this trip are my Polaroid camera, extra toiletries, larger medicine bottles, and my regular laptop case. I always take my Polaroid camera with me to document trips but I decided to leave it this time for the sake of space and the fact that I will have my phone with me. The extra toiletries I just didn’t need this time and if I do–I can always go get some or ask a family member if I can use theirs. I put a few medications into a Dramamine tube, put it in the side of my purse, and it didn’t take up any room at all. I took my laptop out of its regular case and put it into a drawstring back that I can wedge in between my rolled clothes.

Ok, so that is how packing went this time! I hope that, if you are traveling this weekend, you have a wonderful time and that these tips have been helpful. What are your plans for Labor Day?

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25 Random Facts About Me

Happy Friday, my friends! In case you are new to Love From Amy, I thought I would share some random, fun acts about me on the blog today! Have a great weekend!

  1. I took piano lessons for about 10 years and can barely remember anything.
  2. I love the ocean, it’s my happy place.
  3. I could eat carbs all day long.
  4. My favorite movies to watch on a rainy day are Doris Day movies, Little Women, any Jane Austen movie, or any of the Lord of the Rings.
  5. I love to read.
  6. I hate clowns, the circus terrified me as a child.
  7. In high school I thought I wanted to pursue a career in Interior Design and I even took classes for a few semesters. However, I learned that I might be interested in Social Work more because all of my designs were counseling offices or social work agencies.
  8. I have been to over 30 states in the US.
  9. My favorite color is gray/grey.
  10. I’m a little bit obsessed with the British Royals.
  11. I’m a little bit obsessed with anything British, to be honest.
  12. I hate mushrooms.
  13. I have an extreme anxiety response every time I see a snake.
  14. I used to think that Shamu was my best friend.
  15. I actually really enjoyed college.
  16. Iced coffee is one of my favorite things about summer.
  17. I’m a self-proclaimed meme nerd.
  18. I have been consistently blogging since January 2016.
  19. One of my favorite places that I’ve been to is Portugal.
  20. I really want to visit Greece at some point in my life.
  21. My favorite episode of The Office is the one with the Rabies Awareness 5k.
  22. I have never broken any bones but I have had one surgery.
  23. I really love coffee.
  24. I’m obsessed with my nieces and nephew and will talk about them to anyone.
  25. I wanted to be a ballerina when I was younger, and still kind of do but I might be too old to learn new tricks, haha!