A holiday party with heart (+ free pattern!)

Happy holidays from Martingale!Before we depart to be with our families during the days leading up to Christmas, we wanted to take a moment and say “THANK YOU!” for being a part of the Stitch This! blog. Your creativity, your stories—your spirited answers to Quirky Questions—are a true gift, allowing us to connect with you in a way we’ve never been able to before. It’s been a delight to get to know you this year! We also wanted to share a special Christmas story with you—one that’s very dear to our hearts.

You see, each year we host a holiday party in the office. An entire week of festivities, really. It used to be that we’d exchange names and create handmade gifts for recipients. But over the last few years, our gift exchange has taken on a life of its own.

The idea is simple:

  1. Exchange names, “secret Santa” style.
  2. Choose a toy, game, or other children’s item that reminds you of the person whose name you selected.
  3. Exchange the childlike gifts at the holiday party. Giggle, laugh, snort, and cackle like children at the gift choices made for your coworkers.
  4. Gather up the children’s gifts and take them to Toys for Tots or another organization that distributes Christmas gifts to children in your community who need them.

This year we added another charitable element to the gift exchange. Instead of wrapping gifts with paper, we chose a greener alternative—we wrapped them in pillowcases! Our design and production assistant, Connor, has an amazing mom, Diane, who offered to stitch enough pillowcases for each person in the company to wrap their gift.

32 pillowcases!
A whopping 32 handmade pillowcases—thank you so much, Diane!

Free pillowcase patternIf you like the wrapping idea but are wondering to yourself, “How do I make a pillowcase with only four days left until Christmas?,” here’s a free pillowcase pattern that you can quickly whip up in multiples to use as gift wrap or give to a charity. (We’re sending ours to Quilter’s Corner in New Milford, Connecticut, who are trying to collect 600 pillowcases for the families and children at the Sandy Hook School.)

The pattern comes courtesy of Pamela Lindquist, author of Pillow Party. Thanks for your generosity, Pam! Download the free pillowcase pattern. (If you make pillowcases to donate, be sure to add your tally to American Patchwork & Quilting’s 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge.)

Holiday tree--before and after
The Martingale holiday tree, before and after the party.

This year the gifts we exchanged brought on smiles, chuckles, and outright hilarity—just like last year. A few examples of gifts given at the party include:

Gifts for Durby and Connor
Word games and a children’s dictionary for copywriter Durby; an Easy-Bake Oven for design and production assistant Connor (he and his mom whipped up a ton of gourmet goods for the cake walk earlier in the week!).

Gifts for Dorothy and Linda
A cell phone for chatty account manager Dorothy; a laughing Mickey Mouse for administrative assistant Linda (who has an infectious laugh of her own).

Gifts for Karen B and Keith
Princess shoes for acquisitions editor Karen B. (a self-proclaimed shoe hoarder); a cuddly plush puppy for chief financial officer Keith, who has a real-life dog that looks just like it!

Gifts for Mary G and Tracy
An interactive storybook buddy (to bounce new book ideas off of) for editor in chief Mary G.; a Clue game for key accounts representative Tracy—whose gift giver was “clueless” about what to get her!

Gifts for Pam and Mary B
A brand-new mobile home for retiring administrative services manager Pam; a talking backpack for organizational mastermind/marketing coordinator Mary B. (Perfect for Quilt Market!)

In addition to the gift exchange, we had a week-long series of holiday festivities. They included a three-day-long Bingo game (whew!), a cake walk, guessing jars (with M&M’s, Skittles, and Smarties), a potluck, and a crowd favorite—the Ugly Stocking Contest. Just take a look at some of the astounding entries:

Ugly stocking contest

We also had random drawings for prizes such as gift certificates, movie tickets, fabric bundles, and more. Connor’s mom, Diane, also made some adorable aprons for the giveaways:

Sarah, Karen B., Pam, and Durby—all ready for holiday baking.

And there you have it—the holidays, Martingale style. Thanks for letting us share our story.

We’ll be back to blogging on January 2nd, and it’ll be business as usual. But when we return to the office after a long winter’s break, we’ll be reminded of all the fun we had—and the bit of good we did—as a team of happy elves:

Martingale elves 1

Martingale elves 2

May peace and joy be yours during this holiday season, and in the coming New Year!

Happy holidays from the staff at Martingale

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