When I was small, my own mother spent what must have been months - possibly even the entire year - making a miniature horse farm for my Christmas present. From Scratch. She bought the shingles, the slate, the tiny hinges, she cut the wood and designed the professional-standard show horse barn from the ground up. No pattern, no pre-cut forms, nothing. She built, hinged and stained the split-rail fences. She painted the model horses to make them unique - roans and appaloosas and paints. She mullioned the windows. It was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen.
This was, of course, a few years after my father had made me a three-story dollhouse out of the hollowed-out trunk of a massive fallen tree. From scratch. With his bare hands. You could see the marks of his expert chisel on the smoothly rounded walls. The bark was left on the outside of the tree, with windows cut into it. My mother, in turn, upholstered tiny canopy beds and sewed curtains for the windows. They built furniture and little wooden ladders to get from one floor to the next.
So you see, there was a high standard set in my family when it comes to creativity. I'd venture to say they set the bar even a bit too high for my blood. Where on earth, just for instance, did they POSSIBLY FIND THE TIME??????????
I ask you. I beg of you. In any case, when it came to our first major Christmas with our daughter (she was home last Christmas, but not old enough to be interested in presents of any complexity...it was more about the crinkly paper), I didn't have a chance. I really didn't. I'd just opened a home business, a didn't have daycare, there would be no barn-building for me before this particular holiday.
My compromise? A bunny house. The Q is particularly obsessed with bunnies this year. So, take one abandoned and dilapidated dollhouse (found by my sister-in-law on a curb, awaiting the garbage truck), a couple bags of dried mosses, some tiny train-set decorations, a few scraps of vintage paper, and a length of burlap, and a bottle of wood glue....
...and, ta-da! One bunny house. I finished it one late night while watching The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (so if it has an air of bleakness to it, you can guess why).
And Q spent hours playing with it the following morning. To my surprise, she did not immediately destroy it (nor has she since).
It's no miniature horse farm, but...for year one, I guess it will have to do!