I know you are here for handmade Christmas present week.

But first?

We are starting at the beach.

Because that’s where this present begins.

This is the Cape Cod beach our family has been going to since I first said the word fish.

My family has a house up there surrounded by a bunch of other family houses and it overlooks the beach. You can walk down to the sand between the jetties and look for sea glass and take a picnic down to the base of Pikes Peak and wiggle your toes in the sand and see Provincetown on the tip of the Cape on a clear day.

And of course? You can skip rocks.

The beach is full of them.

There’s a certain type of rock (I wish I knew what kind of rock it is) that is small and flat and round and makes the perfect skipping rock.

This last summer my sister gathered up buckets of rocks and brought them home and turned them into a present for us.

I can’t believe it.

Because now? The rocks look like this.

Just kidding.

This is actually the back of the present.

I took the picture starting from this side so you could see where we started. These are the rocks from the beach at the Cape.

I’ve skipped these rocks almost as many times as I’ve put Sun-In on my hair at the Cape.

They look like ordinary skipping rocks.



Funny shaped.

But when you flip them over?

They look like this.

A mini nativity set.

Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus.

These are my other sister’s entry into the handmade present contest. This is not the sister of the glitter house. This is my other sister who’s an artist. She’s so talented. and has painted murals all over the country and has her own shop in Kentucky.

(total aside: I need to find a family picture of all of us for reference with all these gifts. I’m even confusing myself with all these sisters and brothers.)

And she painted a nativity set for each one of us.

There’s Joseph dressed all in blue with his hands clasping a staff wearing a slightly bewildered expression.

I get it.

I understand.

He was lucky to find a manger in a stable. His wife has just given birth and a bunch of random shepherds showed up getting all in his business.

It’s enough to bewilder anyone.

But Mary?

Mary is grinning from ear to ear.

She has rosy cheeks and a beatific expression on her face and her hands clasped together in joy.

She’s probably thinking about the multitude of the heavenly chorus and that someone mentioned to her there were wise men with gifts heading her way soon.

She’s pondering everything in her heart.

And then?

There’s baby Jesus.

Those orange and gray things? I’m assuming they are swaddling clothes.

(edited to add: I was wrong. That’s the STRAW. LOOOOL. And the blue is the swaddling. Sigh. I was so close).

He’s smiling because the stars in the sky are looking down where he lay.

And pretty soon?

He’s going to snuggle in manger and fall asleep in the hay.

And this is my favorite thing about all these family presents—so many times it’s like a double present.

This little nativity family?

It’s special not just because my sister painted it.

She painted the nativity on something that was already so precious to me.

A little piece of those lazy summer days that I can hold in my hand.

Rocks that remind me of my father.

Rocks that have skipped across the waves of the ocean.

Rocks that have been there for all the steps and all the laughter and all the stories and all the family.

And that?

Is the greatest gift of all. 🙂

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  1. Image for Kim Kim

    Those are beautiful. What a wonderful idea, such intricate work. Karianne, does everyone get the same gifts? Did you glitterhouse sister make glitterhouses of everyones house? What did you make this year? I love this idea your family has of making homemade gifts. How do all of you find the time? Oh so many questions right. You are all so very talented, keep it up, its an inspiration. Kim XOXO

  2. Image for Kim Kim

    Ok, I have an addendum to yesterday’s comment. Can your family just adopt me? What a creative, thoughtful and talented family! Every year I look forward to these posts and they never disappoint! ❤️

  3. Image for JC JC

    How special is this on so many levels!! Can she give a little tutorial? Did she prime the rock first? Paint with acrylics? Spray with a sealer? I'm tucking this little idea into my pocket of big ideas😉to make my granddaughter someday....perhaps after we collect special rocks at a beach. Such a precious idea and family you have!

  4. Image for JoLynn JoLynn

    This is so precious!!! Thanks for sharing!! Is your sister’s shop in Lexington or Versailles?? I would love to visit it;)

  5. Image for Melissa Melissa

    Such a talented family! we spent Christmas on the cape (Brewster) and it was lovely and uncrowded during the winter. We walked along the beach but it was too overcast to see Provincetown. Having a family home/cottage there is our retirement plan : )

  6. Image for Diana Diana

    What a thoughtful, lovely gift. I wonder if she knew she was going to do this when she bought the rocks home or like me bring stuff home hoping for inspiration for a new project. Oh and bless Westleigh for taking one for the the team. LOL...

  7. Image for Laura Lander Laura Lander

    My mother collected nativities. She had a good many but the most precious were the olive wood one my sisters and I got her from a little shop just outside the Church of the Nativity, a stained glass one made by a local artist from windows ruined in a church fire, and one my sister cross-stitched. It had many kings because the Bible never says how many wise men but only mentions three gifts. So after the first year she was given the nativity, Margaret gave her another king every Christmas.

  8. Image for Gale Eley Gale Eley

    I always love seeing what you and your siblings make for each other at Christmas. Hope you will show the other presents from them and hope your brother has fully recovered. Always love his wood working. Looking forward to all your great ideas for 2024. Love from Paducah!

  9. Image for Kathy Kathy

    Another wonderful gift!!! I love seeing these! Funny that you thought the straw was swaddling clothes! Keep sharing!


    KariAnne, how blessed you are to have such a wonderful family -- and how blessed your family is to have precious you as their sister! These nativity rocks are real treasures and will bring such precious memories of your family times spent on Cape Cod! Have a wonderful day! Thanks for sharing your special gifts with us.

  11. Image for TJ TJ

    I've just started reading your emails. I LOVE your big grin at the "welcome" for your readers! And I'm really enjoying the homemade gifts! They are wonderful. But this one - WOW. I love nativity scenes! This one, with your comments, is priceless! Your sister is a wonderful artist and the nativity is the most blessed for the season!

  12. Image for PJ PJ

    Another beautiful handmade gift! A tiny nativity that you can tuck in anywhere and it speaks to you. I'm looking forward to what you make for them....and a family picture of those wonderful siblings.

  13. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    Wow you have such a creative family! Love her artwork and the fact they came from Massachusetts. Plus they remind you of your dad who was a geologist! Win cubed😀❤️

  14. Image for DeMarie Ingraham DeMarie Ingraham

    And just when I thought your brother couldn’t be out done, this just might have done the trick. 🤣 This is so precious, and such a thoughtful gift. I’m a rock hound and a rock painter. I’ve stuffed my pockets with rocks since childhood. I leave painted rocks in secret places wherever I go… friends’ and strangers’ yards, hiking trails, near lampposts, etc., all with little messages of joy and hope on the back. A fun way to make someone smile.

  15. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    What an adorable gift. Such clever thinking on her part. Your family are treasures. Hold them tightly.

  16. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    Boy, are you lucky to live with all these talented siblings!!! We didn't have any money growing up, so we made each other gifts. I wonder where those gifts are? I am 70 so there have been several years to lose them!!! Lol


    Well, this one brought tears to my eyes.. What a precious double present.. Such a talented family.. Love hearing about your home made gifts of love.

  18. Image for Rita Rita

    What a precious gift. So much talent in one family. My daughter painted a beach scene on a rock we had collected at the beach as a gift for me, quite a few years ago.

  19. Image for Jo Jo

    I love the rock story! It’s a wonderful reminder of those great family memories, childhood experiences- things that made us who we are & carry with us for a lifetime. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Image for Jan Fusco Jan Fusco

    What a precious gift. I love it. I just love seeing your homemade gifts each year. I would love to see a family group picture as you mentioned.

  21. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Oh how sweet and cute! I grew up in the cliffs of the East Northcoast of the States on the Great Lake Erie - and it's all about limestone rocky beaches, No sand, rocks. When we were young we could run barefoot on them! Now in my older years I can barely walk with good sturdy shoes on those beaches. Ya never know till ya lose it what ya had I guess, huh? Anyway - best round flat rocks too and my sister bought our island home from the estate when both our parents were gone......she has 4 kids and needed a big vacation home for sure...........and every time we go up we paint rocks and put them in the "painted rock garden" which was once my mom's limestone natural rock fountain my little brother built for her. My sis filled it in with good soil and it's now a garden b/c one has to maintain a fountain daily or the motor burns out. Next time I go up there I will take a pic to show you. Love your memories of CC and of rocks and family. I totally get it. ♥

  22. Image for Debbie Debbie

    I like Kim want to know does everyone get the same gifts? Wow coming up with it every year ... just talented is all I can say! Love reading these stories Thanks so much for sharing your life XOXO

  23. Image for Susan Susan

    How does a family from McKinney Texas cone to vacation every year in a beach house in Cape Cod Massachusetts? It is so special that you and your siblings gift ach other these precious hand made lovelies! The happiest of gifts tied with heartstrings!

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