• UO Interviews: Holiday Traditions

    The best gift? A thoughtful one. We brought together some of our UO friends and contributors to hear the ways they show friends and family that they care throughout the holiday season.
    Lead photo by Tessa Barton

    "This year I am creating handmade cards with a specific image and corresponding buzzword for my friends and family. This is often a spiritual practice of sending kindness and love to each person as I draw. I am hoping that the words and images bring insight, meaning, encouragement, and inspiration! I see these pieces not only as cards but also as small pieces of fine art that people can frame and keep in special places to see everyday. Let's keep spreading kindness in this season!" —Marissa Quinn

    “Every year during the holidays a group of family friends get together to bake cookies to gift to friends and family. It’s something I look forward to all year. Last year we baked over 3000 cookies; we mean serious business! It’s a really fun day and we also get to share the results with others we care about. I love the holidays and letting all my friends and family how grateful I am to have them in my life.” Daria Kobayashi Ritch

    "One of my favorite small gifts to give is what I like to call the Crêpes Starter Kit. It includes the recipe for how to make crêpes, along with cute measuring cups that are not only functional, but also pretty and hopefully make you happy while using them. Essentially, it’s a good excuse to gift pretty kitchen accessories. It can also be fun to include some your favorite fillings, mine being Nutella and raspberry jam. Crêpes are something that I grew up eating in France, and are special to me around the holidays since it’s something we always eat when I’m home visiting my family. This crêpes starter kit idea actually started with my mom, who gifted me something similar when I first moved to the US for college. She gave me a crêpe skillet and a measuring cup in liters/ grams so that I could make her french crêpe recipe while far away. So this small gift idea started as something I was once gifted, and loved." —Julia Robbs

    "The holidays are a time for family, for friends, and for travel (but not for me). Here in LA the weather is dry and I want to drink tea and read by fires and do coloring books. I want to buy bowls and smell good and make my friends smell better. I want the people I love to feel loved by me."

    "The holidays can be the perfect reminder of how important and fun it is to be thoughtful. It’s never about the price tag of a gift, but the intent behind it. Some of my favorite things to give friends and family are homemade and close to the heart. They can be as simple as a postcard to let them know you’re thinking of them, a batch of fresh chocolate chip cookies accompanied by a love note, or a hand poured candle scented with essential oils. Get a little more crafty and build a book of your favorite collected quotes and pair the words with photographs or polaroids that resonate with you. Remember, the holidays may be a great excuse to practice thoughtfulness, but don’t forget about the random acts of kindness you can bestow upon not just your loved ones, but strangers, every single day." —Chandler Kim

    "Treasures found in nature are my favorite gifts to both give and receive. Sometimes you’ll find something especially pretty or a stone that catches the light in a particular way, and it’s kind to share that moment with one of your dear ones. And for willing caretakers, sturdy houseplants are good pets. These are all a little decorative at best (impractical at worst), but they’re heartfelt. The necessity of frugality doesn’t affect the sweetness of gift-giving.Monica Uszerowicz

    “Being spoiled with the beautiful landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, we've made a seasonal tradition out of taking off on foggy day trips and photo adventures to the countless mountains and lakes within an hour's drive of Seattle's city limits. Having that time together to explore, create, and reconnect is sacred in it's own little way, and helps keep us all sane and grounded during the madness of the holidays.”Ellie Lillstrom

    "As a kid I grew up doorbell ditching around my neighborhood leaving an anonymous chocolate cake on the porch. My mom taught me that a gift unclaimed is one of the best given. If there's one thing I love about the holidays, it’s  passing along a secret gesture that reminds someone you're thinking of them. I love whipping up my favorite homemade goods and leaving them around my neighborhood, with a simple message to pass-it-along. From me to you, a homemade granola recipe:
    2 cups raw, whole rolled oats
    ½ cup raw nuts, chopped
    ¼ cup raw seeds (sunflower or pumpkin seeds are great)
    ½ cup unsweetened dried fruit, chopped
    2-3 tablespoons grade-b maple syrup or raw honey (or a combo of both)
    2 tbsp virgin coconut oil or other healthy cooking oil
    ½ tsp vanilla extract or almond extract
    1 large pinch fine sea salt
    Directions: Preheat the oven to 300º F. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and use your hands to mix well and toss to coat; it might get messy. Mix in coconut oil until there are no chunks. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until very lightly toasted. Cool before serving or storing." —Tessa Barton

    "My number one, top go-to when I’m grateful for someone and want them to know they’re thought of, is delivering flowers. I take my time putting together personal arrangements I think they would enjoy. My friends and I also host dinners, bake and create homemade gifts together when it’s cold around the holidays. You’re closer to the gift you're giving that way and that’s a lovely thing to receive and give.”—Anna Ottum

    "I like to plan a time to spend together and just catch up with friends. Maybe enjoying coffee or tea together at a favorite cafe, or sharing a favorite dessert or two... It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant — just being able to enjoy a good conversation in person is so important in the middle of what can be a hectic season." —Christina Hicks

    "I tend to get wrapped up in making gifts for others during the holidays, spending the majority of my time developing and creating recipes rather than spending the precious little time I have this time of year with those I love most. This year I’ve decided to trim things down. I plan on creating bags of treats using tried and true recipes I can whip up in a flash, and attaching recipe cards to each package in order to share more than just a moment of deliciousness. I hope these recipe cards get covered in flour, molasses, and sticky dough fingerprints in years to come as my friends recreate the goodies that were gifted to them this year." —Jessie Snyder

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