[Christmas 2009 round up]

For Christmas this year (or I should say this past year) Jon and I decided to exchange gifts that wouldn’t cost anything. It was an exciting and delightful creative journey of suspense, surprise and serendipity.

We are going for an old school scientific/ecological environment in our living room and I’ve been obsessed with all things entomology as of late. Jon (who has always been an entomologist at heart) picked up on this and decided to create an insect showcase complete with butterflies, a dragonfly and a beetle. He did this by carefully selecting decorative/textured papers and then printing black insect drawings onto them. I was completely enamored when I opened the gift and from far away they actually look real (everyone thinks they are!). One of my favorite things about this gift is the story behind the shadow box frame. Because this exchange was not supposed to cost anything, Jon got creative. He found some old Euros from our 2007 Paris trip and took them in to be exchanged into US dollars. The total ended up being just the right amount for the frame. So technically it wasn’t zero dollars, but I think his ingenuity makes up for it.
Jon has been asking for a painted family portrait for a little while now so I thought I’d better start working on it for his Christmas gift. I was originally going to have us all together on one canvas but I thought it might be more fun to have individual portraits scattered about the wall (which will also make it easier to add any new additions down the road).
I only managed to get Jon’s completed by Christmas but I’m excited to finish up with the rest of our family. I am happy with how this turned out and really feel like I captured what I see and feel when I look him. When I walk by this painting I think, “that’s my Jon”. He likes it too. Win, win.

I think I like this zero dollar gift idea. Might just be doing it again next year…

December 27, 2009
January 20, 2010


  1. Reply

    lisa :: the red thread

    January 4, 2010

    Your zero dollar gift idea is fantastic… and wow, I’m so impressed with both your gifts. Your portrait of Jon is awesome!

  2. Reply

    Searching for Sporadic Surprises

    January 4, 2010

    What a fabulous idea!
    Now you both have such thoughtful gifts to treasure from Christmas 09.
    Very inspirational post!

  3. Reply


    January 4, 2010

    Oh my these are just the sweetest gifts I have seen aroung, how very creative (both of you).
    Wish you a very Happy New Year 🙂

  4. Reply


    January 4, 2010

    thank you for your lovely comment on my blog, i’m happy to discover yours 🙂
    i’ll come back!

  5. Reply


    January 4, 2010

    I hope you will excuse my ‘French’, but that is f*cking brilliant! And your portrait is so fabulous! I am very impressed with the two of you.

  6. Reply

    made by matchgirl

    January 4, 2010

    That’s fantastic! Great ideas, might have to do that zero dollar gift exchange myself next year with the hubby. Thanks for all of your great ideas.

    Also, you are AMAZINGLY talented! That portrait is awesome.

  7. Reply

    made by matchgirl

    January 4, 2010

    p.s. do you do custom family portraits? Thanks!

  8. Reply

    Natalie | The Bobby Pin

    January 4, 2010

    LOVE that. Husband and I set a $40 limit and actually did really well. I think it is the creativity and stuff that makes it fun.

  9. Reply


    January 4, 2010

    i can’t believe those insect are actually prints. they look awesome!!

    and your portrait of jon captures him perfectly. you are so very talented!

  10. Reply


    January 4, 2010

    I will be making that zero dollar rule for every Christmas now! what an awesome idea!!

  11. Reply


    January 4, 2010

    I love how each gift is so much from the hear. Every time you see them you both will feel love for each other!

  12. Reply


    January 5, 2010

    Love the portrait! You captured him perfectly. You guys are too cute.

  13. Reply


    January 5, 2010

    You guys have too much talent for one family. I love the painting and the insects are amazing. Way to go you two.

  14. Reply

    Jackie Kersh

    January 5, 2010

    you are a creative match made in heaven! both such lovely gifts. enjoy.

  15. Reply


    January 5, 2010

    oh!! i love the painting!!!
    do you do custom?? I think it is an amazing idea for a family portrait!!

    Renee x

  16. Reply

    Alina Chau

    January 6, 2010

    Love your blog, very inspiring!

  17. Reply

    Pam Calvert

    January 6, 2010

    Wow…I’m SO impressed with your hubby! He’s talented, too! I really thought those bugs were real. LOL!

    And your portrait of him was wonderful. What an amazing idea. I think I’ll have to steal it for next Christmas with my hubby. Tee hee!

  18. Reply


    January 6, 2010

    Jon’s portrait is AMAZING!!!!!!!

  19. Reply

    Sam Made

    January 6, 2010

    You are an incredible artist. I love your aesthetic. I really like this idea of gifting something that cost nothing. I think I will try this with my boyfriend next year. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Reply


    January 6, 2010

    How I wish I had piles of money laying around for all sorts of nice things. Then I would hire you to paint portraits of the dear folk in my life. Your work is brilliant.

  21. Reply


    January 6, 2010

    I wish I had piles of money laying around for nice things. I would then hire you to paint portrains of the dear folk in my life. Your work is brilliant.

  22. Reply


    January 8, 2010

    what an amazingly talented couple you are! both gifts are beautiful.

  23. Reply


    January 8, 2010

    Thanks for all of your kind comments. I definitely recommend doing the zero gift idea.

    For those of you inquiring about custom portraits, I do offer portrait drawings in my etsy shop and if you are interested in a painting, you can contact me at merrileeliddiard[at]hotmail.com and I’ll give you a quote based on the number of subjects, size of canvas, etc.



  24. Reply


    January 15, 2010

    Merrilee, that painting is perfect. His smile looks just right.

    I sure miss you guys.

  25. Reply

    MISS B

    January 20, 2010

    This whole exchange was amazing and I adore your portrait!


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