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

28 Comments (leave a comment)

  • How much fun. I want to work there!!! Happiest Holidays to you all.

    Stephanie on December 21, 2012
  • I love the ideas for the toys and then wrapping them in pillowcases. Perfect! Merry Christmas to you all.

    BJ on December 21, 2012
  • Merry Christmas to each and everyone of you and may your New Year be filled with joy, good health and happyness.
    Happy Quilting,
    Carol Morgan in Delaware

    Thank you, Carol, and the same to you!

    —Carol Morgan on December 21, 2012
  • what a wonderful idea! I love that you all had so much fun AND that two groups of people will benefit from it! Merry Christmas to all of you!

    —Monique on December 21, 2012
  • Thank you all. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

    —Sylvianne on December 21, 2012
  • What a wonderful gift exchange idea … and it looks like you had lots of fun! Happy Holidays!!!

    —Nancy L. on December 21, 2012
  • That is the way to do a gift exchange! It really celebrates the giving spirit of the holidays and looks fun too. Have a Merry Christmas with your families! Till next year … best wishes to all.

    —Diane on December 21, 2012
  • Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

    —Dee on December 21, 2012
  • Marry Christmas to each and everyone of you. I am new to the Martingale site and I love every minute (hour) I spend reading, looking at everything, downloading patterns. Thank you for your wonderful informative site.

    —Helen on December 21, 2012
  • wish I’d of been there looked like a fun filled evening!1!! merry christmas to everyone1111

    —Flo Gervais on December 21, 2012
  • This is a great idea! I’m going to do it with my family. They are all grown and we don’t exchange anymore. This will add a fun and helpful joy to the day!

    —Pat on December 21, 2012
  • Really sorry I couldn’t download the pillowcase pattern!

    Karen, I’m sorry you’re having trouble… I’ve just emailed the pdf of the pattern to you. Enjoy, and happy holidays! ~Jenny

    Karen Alexander on December 21, 2012
  • You all are great, but I want to get to know Connor’s mom!

    —Beth T. on December 21, 2012
  • You guys are the greatest!!! Love your site and all the heartfelt information and care you give us. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you and may Martingale be prosperous in 2013. Thank you!

    —Mary Ann on December 22, 2012
  • Sounds like you all had a ball, what a fun place to work!

    —Carol on December 23, 2012
  • Happy holiday celebrations and especially happy new year. Thanks for sharing so much of yourselves. Cheers

    —Carol on December 24, 2012
  • Dear Martingale Grup! i love your pachwortk pettern, and I sew lot’s of them. Sorry the material are very simply and expensiv, but ! keep the family klothing, ang by secondhand.
    Merry Christmas and happy New Year to everybody- Magda from Hingary, Budapest.

    Magda Frittmann on December 28, 2012
  • Do you have any job openings? This place looks like the funnest place to work ever.

    Hi Donna,

    I’m afraid that there aren’t any openings at the moment, sorry!


    —Donna on January 9, 2013
  • May you all have a Merry Christmas. I love your stuff-I knit and quilt. Keep up the good work.

    —Sue on December 23, 2013
  • What a fun idea to exchange toys an then donate them. Pillow cases make great wrapping, thanks for the ideas

    —kathy on December 23, 2013
  • Happy Christmas to you all! Looks like you all had a wonderful time celebrating this season 🙂

    Janet on December 23, 2013
  • Cheers and thanks for all the tips, pictures, sharing and giving us all a chance to say a little something about our projects or challenges. I love the blog.
    Happy New Year

    —Carol on December 23, 2013
  • Wow. . . what a fun place to "work"–make it like play! Because I am still finishing my son’s karate t-shirt quilt and managed to print my pictures for t-shirts of my kids’ pets on the wrong side so they won’t transfer, ugh!!! I will make the ‘wrapping gifts in pillow case" idea my next year’s goal. Thanks for the great site. And Merry Christmas to all you creative people.

    Carolyn White (Sewing Sue2) on December 25, 2013
  • After reading this compiled my fabrics for pillow cases for next year…if I can stitch them in January, December will be free!! ya right! I spent the month of December stitching fun clothing for our new grand dog…she even got a fur coat with matching booties.
    Thanx for all the wonderful ideas…my favourite site to spend late evening with.

    —Sylvia on December 28, 2013
  • I love the gift idea. I may suggest that our guild do this next year.

    —DebrafromMD on December 19, 2014
  • I have always said the staff at Martingale do everything with style and grace. Your Christmas celebrations continue your tradition. So proud to be one of your authors. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a healthy and prosperous new year.
    Eileen Wright

    Thank you for such kind words, Eileen. Wishing you a very happy holiday and a wonderful New Year too! –Jenny

    —Eileen Wright on December 19, 2014
  • Looking through my library of quilting books at all the Martingale publications…I feel so blessed to have supported such a fine company. God bless you all and Merry Christmas.

    —Marcie Decker on December 20, 2014
  • I moved a few years back and lost an older Martingale quilting book. Trying to replace it. The cover had a young woman with light hair who said she grew up around quilting. I think the last thing in the book was how to make a pillowcase and it was the type that had 3 pieces to it and it told you how to fold the pieces and sew them together. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks, Mel

    —Mel on July 18, 2021

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