Thursday, December 5, 2013

Brooklyn O'Shoney Christmas Traditions + CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY

Daniel and I are celebrating our third married-Christmas, and while we are still new to this whole marriage thing, we're already starting to develop some lasting traditions. Some of them were carried over from our upbringings. Daniel's family especially has some great traditions when it comes to setting up their tree that we have adopted. Other Christmas traditions have just been bred organically, either by accident or by necessity. 

Either way, we're pretty proud of them. Here's our list so far:

1. The Christmas tree must be real, and it must be bigger than the tree which preceded it. 

I'm not sure how sustainable this tradition really is given how long we hope to be married, but so far it has proven true. Growing up, my family always had a fake tree that we would dangerously lug down from the attic. My dad would put it together and my sisters and I would fluff out the branches. Daniel's family, on the other hand, always ventured out to a Christmas tree farm to cut theirs down. 

The Brooklyn O'Shoneys (that's Daniel and I, by the way) have met somewhere in the middle in that we walk about 7 blocks to pick our Christmas tree out from whoever happens to be selling trees in our neighborhood. Daniel walks it back, and I stop at a bodega to buy a bottle of Sprite (did you know that your tree will last longer if you use Sprite to water it on the first day?). 

2. We must listen to Motown Christmas at some point while decorating the tree.

This tradition comes from Daniel's family, and I am honestly happy to oblige because my family would always listen to Mannheim Steamroller whilst setting up our tree. Motown Christmas is an obvious upgrade. The Texas O'Shoneys also listen to the SheDAISY Christmas Album (which, shockingly, has 77 customer reviews on Amazon). We've continued this part of the tradition only as a joke, but it has continued nonetheless.

3. We must have AT LEAST one argument over the use of ornament hangers. 

Daniel vehemently believes that ALL ornaments, regardless of whether or not they have pre-attached strings, should have metal ornament hangers attached to them. To him, this makes the ornaments last longer because he lives in an alternate reality where gravity does not exist. 

This is an absurd notion to me for several reasons. #1. SCIENCE...attaching the hanger to the string causes it to become taut from bearing the weight of the ornament. It then causes said string to wear down faster over time than if it were able to rest on a wide branch. #2. just looks odd to me to have ornaments hanging so much lower than the branches they are placed on. It's MADNESS, really.

Please weigh in on this debate in the comment section. I don't often exploit our marital disputes, but I feel like this one is far too important. 

4. We must wear our Christmas garb whilst decorating the tree.

This vest is very easily the best purchase I have ever made. I bought it at No Relation Vintage in the East Village way back in 2010 while I was here in NYC for an internship. I was so drawn to it that I bought it in October, before a hint of Christmas was even in the air. I love it because it is both tacky and utterly flattering. If I could wear it every day, I would, but instead I dawn it while decorating the tree and also to any Holiday event that follows. Daniel wears a santa hat that we bought at a dollar store. 

5. We must assess our mental health of the previous years by judging our ornament choices.

The above ornament was purchased as a white elephant gift by me and Daniel for a party we threw back in 2011. We loved it so much that we made sure that one of us ended up with it by the end of the night. It's apparently a depiction from Alice and Wonderland, but we just loved it because it looked like an absolute hot mess.

Each year when we look through our ornament box, we can't help but wonder what was wrong with us when we made the decision to buy these things. Like...guys...we've got some weird ones. We're even getting to the point where we can't remember where we got some of them, and when that happens, we just try to blame the ugly ones on friends or relatives (sorry, friends and relatives, I'm sure it wasn't you that got us the sad one-eared bear). 

6. We MUST MUST MUST have a fabulous photo shoot after we are done setting up the tree. 

And we have to capture everything...

even to the point of exhaustion...

...because, damnit, how often do we get to stand in front of such a beautiful backdrop?

We value traditions in our marriage, and we're still willing to add some new ones for Christmas this year. That's where you come in....

Comment with a Christmas tradition that YOU think we should adopt! It can literally be anything -- a tradition from your family, something you saw on Pinterest, or just something crazy that you make up 
-- whatever the case, we want to hear it.

We'll consider all of them, and not only will we add a few to our yearly set of traditions, but you'll also enter for a chance to
(and the hubs).

These ornaments will be homemade.
They will be sentimental.
They will most definitely be strange on some level 
(in the best way possible).
You know you want 'em.

Everyone is eligible, so start commenting!

Today I am excited to introduce you to Marney over at Sunshine and Monograms!

Etsy Shop -- Blog -- Facebook
First things first...that dog. Can we all just take a minute to appreciate how precious that little guy is? His name is Coconino and he looks like he loves cuddling, and I just want to give him all the treats.

Okay, now down to the real matter at hand. 

Marney creates personalized embroidery pieces, and it appears that this woman can basically embroider anything! Check out her Etsy shop to see what exactly I mean, but real quick, here is a sample of what you'll find there:

There is something about baby girls and dinosaurs that just works in my mind. If the same is true for you, snatch up one of Marney's customizable onesies

And if you're looking for some behind the scenes action, head to her blog where she showcases some of her favorite pieces and even gives delicious cooking tutorials. Plus, if you want to see more of Coconino, her blog is the place to be.

It's the holidays, y'all, so if you're looking to get something personalized for a friend or loved one, consider Sunshine and Monograms. Obviously, Marney is willing to work with you on a variety of customizable options, so check her out and tell her I said hey!

Sunshine and Monograms is featured today as one of Avoiding Atrophy's sponsors. If you are interested in advertising your blog or business here, head on over to my advertise page. I offer a variety of ad spots, including guest posts and giveaways as well as sponsor spotlights like you've seen here today. 


  1. Seeing your ornaments on hangers looks like an overprotective elderly woman who doesn't want her ornaments to touch the tree cause they will get dirty. (The tree is beautiful, by the way.) Come on, Daniel. So weird. The metal hangers would be used to like replace a hanger that went missing or something. If it has it's own loop, it goes around the limb! It seems insulting to the system, let the loop do it's job!

    New tradish idea - Frazier gets to dress up. Like a cowboy.

    1. Daniel and I giggled like schoolgirls the entire time while reading this comment. Thank you for your unbelievably convincing argument against ornament hangers. Also, how are you not a comedian?

  2. Me and my bro sleep under the tree Christmas eve, lights blazing in faces. It's awesome, and if a fire starts from keeping the electric lights on all night "unattended" will be the first to know!

    Love the pics :)

  3. Elf on the shelf!! How fun does that look?!

  4. I like the Elf on the Shelf idea, but with like crazy, silly, ridiculous, off the wall ideas and not ideas that would normally appeal to children. ;)

  5. Wow, that waistcoat IS really flattering! I was dubious when I saw the picture of it laying flat, but I was quickly proved wrong!

    Also, I agree with you about the ornament hangers, but that is largely because I grew up with a large, waggy-tailed labrador. Anything that wasn't hooked securely and well over a branch by a string went flying whenever he brushed by.

    This is also partly the reason we stopped putting edible ornaments on the tree. Because he'd knock them off. And then eat them, wrapper and all.

    Our Christmas tradition seems to involve making WAY too much eggnog, because every year my boyfriend uses the Martha Stewart recipe, and every year only realises afterwards that it's meant to serve like 40 people, instead of just 2. However, this is a tradition that I highly recommend. At least for the first two days of drinking eggnog CONSTANTLY.

    Oh, but also we try and buy two new ornaments when we go on a trip each year - we got one each from Liberty in London last year, and the year before we got some from Birmingham. We have to have one each because we always disagree with what's best.

    The way my family do Christmas day drives my boyfriend mad. We're not allowed to open our stockings until we're all awake and downstairs and we open them together - and as we usually attend midnight mass, and when we were kids my brother and I were banned from getting up before 7:00am on Christmas day, this doesn't usually happen until like 10:00am, and he is usually awake by 6:00am wanting to open everything. Haha, and then after that we don't open the other presents until after lunch, so he spends all day just looking at them and moping!

    1. I want to move to London so badly. I have just read your entire blog, and the comic. From you commenting on Christy's blog.
      I feel like we would all be great friends. :)

    2. Ah, thank you! The wonders of the internet!

      I have to be in the right mood for London, because otherwise I become very misathropic and hate Everyone Ever because they keep Getting In My Way. Which when I'm grumpy is a cardinal sin. Obvs.

    3. I live in NYC, and that is my life every day! Everyone, in the way, all the time. Grumpy describes it perfectly.

  6. I'm totally with you on the ornament hangers... the metal hooks are sometimes pretty unreliable, so why use them when it's not necessary??

    My favorite holiday tradition that my family observes is an old Polish Christmas tradition called opłatek (but since my family is super Americanized, we just call it "breaking the wafer"). Opłatek wafers are made of a similar water-flour thing that I assume Communion hosts are made of, but they're big rectangles and usually have little depictions of the Nativity or other Christmassy images imprinted on them. Though if you didn't have the real wafers, you could totally use graham crackers or something like we do once we run out of the real thing!

    Usually before we eat our big Christmas Eve dinner, each person gets an opłatek wafer and then proceeds to "break wafer" with each family member individually. You "break wafer" by pairing up and taking turns wishing each other things for the new year. "Health, wealth, and happiness" are the traditional first three to say, but then you go on to wish things like "success at work," "that you finally figure out what you're doing in your life, you big goof," etc. One of my uncles always wishes that his nieces "don't break too many boys' hearts this year," which used to embarrass me mightily when I was younger. If you have a huge family, it takes forever for everybody to go around and break with each person, but you can do it in a more peaceful and reflective way if you have fewer people! :)

    With each "wish," you break off a little piece of the other person's wafer. So if I were to wish things for my brother, with each wish he would break off a little piece of my wafer. At the end, he then get to eat all the little bits of wafer that were "wished" on. Then we'd switch!

    This is a great way to give thanks for your family and loved ones at Christmas, and to catch up a little with people you may not have seen all year!

    -Annie @ heartsgivenfreely

  7. Tamales on Christmas Eve! Although, to be honest, making them with only 2 people could be considered utter madness. However, it is by far my favorite Christmas tradition. The family gets together a few weeks before and makes dozens upon dozens upon dozens of tamales, assembly line style. Then, on Christmas Eve we break into them. It is insanely delicious. I mean, really, a homemade tamale? There's no way that's going to be a bad thing.

    1. I second the Tamales on Christmas Eve!!!

    2. Hey Liz! I love the ideas of tamales as a Christmas tradition, so I'd love to send you some rockin' handmade ornaments! I've been looking for some contact info on your blog, but I didn't see anything, so please shoot me an email at If I don't hear from you, I'll pick a new winner, but know you've given us a GREAT new tradition. I'm all about it.

  8. Man, I was going to say tamales on Christmas Eve. Being from Texas, especially San Antonio, you don't really have a choice if you want to honor your roots. But since that one was already said, Drew's family tradition is to have oyster stew on Christmas. Unfortunately for him, I don't like oysters or know how to make the stew. So tamales for everyone!!!

    1. Oyster stew, interesting. That sounds like it could be either delicious or awful. What does that tradition stem from?

  9. CHRISTMAS CRACKERS!!! oh yeah.

    or, you can be like my family and do Jagermeister shots on Christmas eve.

  10. We always have seafood with pasta on Christmas Eve. When I was younger and didn't like seafood, I hated this tradition, but now I love it. It's an Italian thing, but it's so much fun to have flexibility with it and change the dish every year.

    You guys could also buy an ornament each year together to commence the Christmas season—those would be fun to look back on and share with your kids one day.

  11. We always make homemade pizzas on Christmas-- I think you should do that, but have a contest on the decorating… maybe make them most similar to your actual tree.

    1. Pizza is literally Daniel's all-time favorite food, so this is a WIN! I'd love to send you some ornaments. Shoot me an email at with an address I can send them to. Thanks for the great new tradition!

  12. We always have an 'It's a Wonderful Night'.
    We go to the supermarket and are allowed to buy the 5 stupidest most indulgent things we can think of.
    Cheese's, boxes of chocs, Baileys, mince pies..anything! Then we go home, snuggle up and watch 'it's a Wonderful life' . It's not too off the wall but it's bloody fun. We have the added bonus that my boyfriend's related to Jimmy Stewart which makes my tiny brain far too excited, he on the other hand will throw things at me if I make him quote the film one more time this year.
    Good luck finding a tradition. In my opinion you can never have enough excuses to do something special.

  13. Sometimes I will still add a hook even if it has a string. And I don't know why. It's weird. And I don't do that with all of them.

    I know the contest is over and you wouldn't want to do this tradition anyway, but I'll still share my wierdness as a kid. We would cut down a real tree when I was younger and when we got the tree home, my dad would have to saw off part of it so that it would fit in the tree stand correctly. For whatever reason, one year I decided to collect the sawdust from the tree and I put it in a jar. From then on I always saved the sawdust until the awful year when we got a fake tree.

  14. Catching up on old posts...I thought you were being sarcastic about that vest being "utterly flattering" until I saw the photo of it on you! Seriously, I'd like one in every color please!


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