It all began with a simple regifting. In college I lived at the home of my friends, Mary and Peter, who have the mustache family featured here . I had received a gnarly angel , carved out of wood with crossing eyes. Mary and I had quite a laugh out of it and on her birthday, I wrapped it up and with much fanfare, bequeathed my treasure to her. And so began The Ugly Angel Exchange. Each year at Christmas, we scour the local bargain stores for the ugliest angels available. It is always a little embarrassing to take them to the check out, wondering if the cashier actually thinks that I like my angel. Mary's kids are in on the exchange now and help find the yearly prize....I think even finding a few in gas station gifting areas. It's one of my favorite things to do each year.

I have quite a few pretty girls now. See that one with the hand up greeting pose, who opens up at her belly button. Unbelievably, we gave each other the exact SAME angel that year. Oh, Big Lots, how we love your $2 treasures. The white one in the front looks like the grim reaper angel. There's the American flag angel hiding out in the back. Goodness, we get a laugh every year.

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I used to show people my display and ask them what they thought about my angel collection and then watch the pained expressions as my friends tried not to lie and tell me that they were beautiful.

Here's a real beauty...she might be my all time favorite. She kind of looks Lord of the Rings-ish, don't you think?

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So another thing we do at our home is have a "kids' tree", a pre-lit fake wonder which is draped with all the crafty goodness that Ruby can spin up.

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Part of the reason that we have a kids' tree is that I just can't let go of the big tree.....I want a pretty tree....I should be a less controlling mom but I just can't be...oh, well.

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And then here are some of the frames that I was talking about with my kids' pictures in them every year. My friend asked me where I got them and the answer is that I usually try to pick them up in the after Christmas sales for next year. Target is a little thin on frames this year but I have gotten them from Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn and Michael's too.

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My dear friend, Cathy B., I have to credit with this idea. I LOVE it! I alluded to it on our Christmas tree post. Every year, Ben whacks off the bottom of our tree trunk and I write at the bottom in sharpie the year and anything unique about the Christmas. I have eight now on my table with tealights. Another reason why I can't go the fake tree route.....as much as Ben has gotten used to the challenge of cutting the trunk to his wife's specifications, I am not so sure he would like to saw through metal.

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And the chocolate advent calendars from Trader Joe's. Ah yes, breakfast is gulped down each morning for that little bitty chocolate hiding behind the doors.

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Searching for the number, any number really....

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In their mouths, solemn concentration on sucking those chocolates right down.....

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Oh okay, I know you wanted a better look.

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What are your traditions?

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