A Christmas Gathering 2010

For the past 8 years my church has put on an event called A Christmas Gathering. It is hard to describe…there is a bit of food, some idea seminars, giveaways for everyone, LOTs of women, music and despite our best efforts it is always a late night πŸ™‚ The first one we did there were about 65 women in attendance…now it is about 2500 (two nights of about 1250 each night). Women are crazy!

My friends Meredith did a seminar on Traditions, Linda on chocolate dipping, Marlyn on Gadgets & Gizmos, and Lori did one on decorating for the holidays on a budget.

Lori made these cute roses, I can’t wait for a few moments to sit down and make some. You can find the directions here. After every seminar everyone in the crowd received a giveaway. See the glass hurricane on Lori’s table…everyone went home with one of those!

I help in random ways every year. A couple of years I have done a seminar on photo tips or diy gift ideas. This year I was asked to host a little diy contest. Entries were submitted online, narrowed down to three finalists and the finalists presented their ideas on both nights. A winner was chosen by the audience each night.

Here are the ladies, with myself and the wonderful Denise Lopez, presenting their ideas:

I thought I’d share a few more pictures of their ideas. I am so thankful I didn’t have to choose the winner…they were all super fabulous!

First was Kara Paslay and her “Book Sculptures”. Kara created all kinds of fun items using discarded books.

The second finalist was Ashlee Baker (Tweet Baby Designs). Ashlee submitted an adorable sewing kit in a canning jar. I loved this idea for a gift. I think it would be great for just about any generation of girls.

And the third finalist was Marie Darby. Marie submitted customized lampshades using 8×10 sheets of vellum.

You can visit the girl’s blogs/websites if you have questions about what they created. If you’d like to reach Marie, you can email me and I’ll get you her email address. For those curious, Marie won both nights. Congratulations Marie!

I also got to meet a few blog readers. AND I finally got to meet Lacey McKay of A Cherry on Top Photography. We have emailed a lot and know several of the same people, but had never met in person. It was so great to finally meet her! I think I rambled a lot, but I was going on no sleep and more coffee than usual. Sorry Lacey if I scared you. I am working on convincing her to do more advanced level photography workshops so all of you that keep asking me to do a SnapShops Level 2…start emailing Lacey. (Do you think she’ll stop being my friend after posting that?!)


In the past 8 years I’ve changed in regards to how I feel about the Christmas Gathering. For the first few years I looked forward to the actual event and all that would take place in the company of all those ladies. Though I still enjoy the event, it is the process of preparing I have grown to love. An event like this takes thousands of hours of work in planning…mostly done by volunteers. Those volunteers working tirelessly to pull off an event this size are some of my dearest friends.

When you get 2500 women attending something there will always be lots of laughing, fun and typically some grumbling and complaining. It used to really bother me to hear women complain when I knew all the hard work my friends put in to make it a great night. I try to ignore all that these days and celebrate how incredible the women in my life are. Every time I went up to the church this week I saw my friends, the women that know me the best, doing jobs that they will not be thanked for. They were baking, decorating, organizing, cleaning, folding, setting up, pricing store items, and the list goes on and on. They stayed up all hours of the night, pushed babies in strollers while setting up food tables, and gave their best at jobs that are only noticed when they aren’t done.

As I watched my friends over the past few weeks I realized how grateful I am for their influence in my life. I could have friends that are self absorbed and more concerned about what they are wearing than on how they can help others, but I don’t. I have amazing women in my life. Those amazing women are the moms to my children’s friends. My kids are going to be influenced by friends who are raised by incredible mothers.

I live a very rich life.


This is my favorite picture from this year’s Gathering. My friends and I had a girls night and made 2500 mini cupcakes….so much fun.

I live a very sweet life.

Happy Monday….I hope it is sweet.

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  • Amy - What a great event! I lurrrve the lampshade idea & sewing jar & that wreath is ah.m.a.z.i.n.g.! I love your quote “gave their best at jobs that are only noticed when they aren’t done.” having played both the roles of planner and volunteer, I know what it is like to pour your heart into something only to hear others complain, although most of the time those complainers did nothing but show up. Don’t let them get to you πŸ™‚

  • Gevay - I wish we had a night like that around here. I would be there in a heartbeat. I am sure all of you and your friend’s hard word is noticed by the Most High and it’s His opinion that matters the most!

  • Jen - oh my goodness! i am in heaven right now! i am completely inlove with the book pages wreath, how original. so many talented ladies <3

  • Jenn W - This is the 4th year my friends and I have attended The Christmas Gathering. It is great every year!! It was also 4 years ago that I started reading your blog, after seeing your presentation at The Christmas Gathering. It is such a fun evening and a great way to start the holiday season. Thank you all for all of the work you put in to making a great event.

  • Sarah - I wish we had something like this where I live! looks like soooo much fun; alot of work i’m sure, but soo much fun!

  • mandiesmithsegura - Wow! This looks like such an inspiring event! Thank you for sharing, Ashley!

  • Kathy - I hope I’ll be in town for it one year. My mom has told me how wonderful it is! Love the creativity of all the women involved!

  • Katie - What a great event…I wish we had something like that around here! Thanks so much for sharing…makes me extra thankful for my girlfriends this time of year πŸ™‚

  • Tricia - What a fun event! Such a blessing to have friends like the ones you have, and to be a part of something so great! Thank you for sharing. Not just because it’s fun to see the pictures, but because there are great lessons to be learned here. There are great reminders of the kind of women that we all want to be, and a little extra motivation to avoid being the kind we don’t want to be.


  • Jen - That is a wonderful event. Thanks for sharing. You do have a rich life.

  • Caitlin - I love having close friends that spur me on in Christ and have kids my kids age! It’s truly a blessing. Looks like a fun event! I love the wreath and the sewing kit ideas. πŸ™‚

  • Lee - Oh my goodness, what a tremendous event! Thanks so much for sharing. I have to figure out that book page folding – and love the lampshades πŸ™‚ Very wise words about the volunteering. As a “serial volunteer” – my husband’s phrase – I appreciate kind thoughts!

  • Sarah - … and those cupcakes were DELIGHTFUL! thanks for all your hard work.

  • Marangelie Caballero - i enjoy reading your blog so much. beautiful photos, crafts, ideas, children. i do not know you personally, and i know you are a women with faults like us all, but i do look up to you. i hope, if the Lord wills it, to one day pour into my own children the way you do. you inspire so many. just wanted to say thanks!

  • Alissa - I think that is so wonderful! It would be amazing to go to an event like this.

    I will definitely be making a few of those glittery roses for Christmas decorations!

  • Casey - wow! the lamps shades are amazing! I love that idea of having pictures on it. Looks like it was a fun event

  • Anna - Wow, that event looks so amazing and fun! Wish I lived just a teeny bit closer to have attended! You are very blessed to have amazing women in your life! I long and pray for that and the Lord is slowly but surely answering those prayers! Cherish your friendships…friends make your life just a tad bit sweeter. πŸ™‚

  • kelsey i - can’t wait to try some of these great ideas! here’s one i thought you might like!


  • Kara - This year was my 2nd year to go to the Christmas gathering and i so appreciate all the work that goes into it. I used to work at a church so I understand all the b4 stuff that goes on and is not noticed by everyone. Please tell ur friends that I had a blast and am so grateful for a night with women where we can just sit and laugh. Such an awesome night that I look forward to every year now.
    Question–do you know where the “Special day plate” was from? LOVEd that idea πŸ™‚
    ANd I saw u walking around b4 with ur husband and I was going to say hi but I know u were super busy!

  • Jess - Oh my word! Those cupcakes look divine!
    What a fun event to plan AND to attend! I think I’m going to have to try those roses – they are too cute!
    Love your blog – you do a great job!

  • CharlaL - If the gathering were a holiday it would be my FAVORITE holiday! I look forward to it like no other girls night the whole YEAR!!! I used 3 pages in my new notebook!! Which was a FAB idea BTW! Please let your friends know how much me and my friends ENJOY all you do! Thanks for all your efforts! Those cupcakes were AWESOME! I put my hurricane on the mantle THAT night when I got home! I loved voting on the next big thing and am already trying to figure out how to do the lampshades!!

  • Alice H - I have got to get a hold of Marie!! I want to make a lot of those photo lamps!

    You guys do an amazing job at getting everything set up! I always have such a great time going. Maybe next year I can be a part of it.

    Those cupcakes were yummy!

  • emily anderson - yah ashlee baker! that is the cutest sewing jar, eva.

  • hearttypat - awww… your blog always give me that nice fuzzy feeling inside. For some reason, my mac hasn’t been able to load your blog for the past 2 weeks. I was upset, real upset, I’m just glad your blog is back up again! Now, i have to catch up on your posts! Thank you for making my day, as always!

  • Sara - Any chance you could ask Marie to do a tutorial here? That would be absolutely amazing!

  • Christina G - I love that lampshade!! Do you think that you could show us a diy or have her guest blog with a diy for that?? It would make an amazing Christmas gift for me to make for several family members!! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  • Krista @ Blue Eyed Yonder - So much creativity! This sounds like an awesome event, so much fun! I love the book art. I made something similar this year with my Halloween display.


    Who knew books were good for more than reading? Lovely work ladies! πŸ™‚

  • KaraM - Oh man, this year was my first time to attend A Christmas Gathering with my girlfriends. We had SOOOOO much fun! Everyone was so good and so funny. My favorite was the Picture Lampshades.

  • allison - as one of those people who regularly volunteers for events – i so hear ya about the people who have no idea how much work goes into an event, and have the nerve to complain. i pity them. really. they have no idea how much satisfaction someone can feel when you volunteer. i am grateful that i can do it. and that’s thanks enough for me! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

  • Jessica Cudzilo - Any way Marie could guest post and share her DIY here? That would be fantastic!

  • Kristy C - It looks like the nights went well. I was thinking about you and the other amazing women both nights hoping you all would feel your work paid off. Also, I love those lamp shades!

  • Carolyn - It all looks wonderful! I especially love the book page wreath and the cute, little sewing kit…the muffins look delicious too πŸ™‚

  • Jenny B. - What sweet sentiments about your friends! I’ve discovered that the best friends are made through working together on something bigger than yourself. Oh, and by the way, my 21-month-old is now shouting, “Cooookiieeee!” after seeing the mini-cupcakes picture. Thanks. πŸ˜‰

  • Joy Balsbaugh - Is there a how to for the lampshades? those are amazing! Or a website where she sells them? thank you for the wonderful post!

  • Kelly - yea for making 2500 mini cupcakes! love it. I recently did a post also about working together with selfless friends. Such a blessing! Kelly

  • Pam - I would love to know how to make the vellum lampshade. Would you have directions or be able to get them for me? I believe Marie Darby was the creator.
    Thank you

  • Rebeckah Cardiel - I don’t even know you or all the ladies who put forth such great work, but I’ve gotta say….indeed, you do live a very rich life! It’s nice to see someone who appreciates the blessings she has, and can give back, too. πŸ™‚ Hope you and yours have a very merry Christmas, and all the best this new year can bring.

    <3, Rebeckah

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