Last year, I explained how we have a Perfect Christmas Ornament tradition here in Wonderland.

I actually got it together this year to figure out what I wanted to get for them very early. Since The Dormouse has started kindergarten, she's been obsessed with the monkey bars on the playground at her school. Every waking moment for the first three months of the year was spent considering the monkey bars, practicing for the monkey bars, talking about the monkey bars or otherwise obsessing about the monkey bars (we really need to do something about the addictive personalities in this house). So I knew by September that I wanted her Christmas ornament this year to be a monkey on the monkey bars. That turned out to be a tall order. I Googled, looked on Christmas ornament sites, scoured Ebay, and found... nothing. Apparently, while monkeys are fairly common subjects for Christmas ornaments, monkey bars... not so much.

Enter: Etsy Alchemy. Oh my gosh, why had I never figured this out before???

I introduced my boss to Etsy a few months ago when she was looking for a unique baby shower gift and two days later, she threatened to fire me because she'd spent so much money on the site. If you haven't been there before, you are totally missing out. Etsy is like a giant Internet craft festival -- a place to buy and sell all things handmade. After about three weeks, my boss came in to work one day and threatened to fire me again. Since I hadn't embezzled any large amounts from the company that week, I asked why. "You never told me about Alchemy."

As much time as I've spent on Etsy, I never ventured out of the search box into all the other things Etsy has to offer. Alchemy is a section of Etsy where you commission art work. You post what you want... describe it, it's uses, what you want it to look like or become when it's done. Then the sellers compete for your business. They email you, describe how they understand your request and how they would fill it, give you a price, and then you decide who's bid to accept. It's like one of those Lending Tree commercials.

This conversation with my boss was in the midst of my Great Monkey Bar Ornament Search. So I went on Alchemy and posted my idea. Since I had no idea what I wanted the media to be, I was pretty vague. I got about a dozen bids and each one was totally different: porcelain, glass, resin, baked dough, etc. The hardest part about it was that I had a very difficult time choosing one because there were so many good ideas. Ultimately I went with something that was totally different from all The Dormouse's other ornaments, and unbreakable. (I've had some trouble with some of the ornaments of my youth lasting until my adulthood, so I've been particularly concerned about this in recent years.) I also met some really nice people and found way too many things to buy in the future. That's an unfortunate side effect of Alchemy.

So here it is... my needle felted monkey bar ornament for The Dormouse, created especially for us by Amy. Currently one of my favorite ornaments on the tree.

I love that he has a belly button.

For The Caterpillar, I had a much more straightforward vision and found her ornament quickly on Ebay.

Don't get why the teapot? Take a look at this and I think it'll become more clear: