Tag Archives: Giftmas

Giftmas 2019 Wrap-up

Together we raised $1,380 for the Edmonton Food Bank. Because of their incredible bulk buying power and the infrastructure they have built up over the years that money equates to 4, 140 meals.

4,140 meals!

Just take a second to breathe that in.

4,140 meals. Because of you.

Thank you!

Whatever role you played to help make this happen — blogger, donor, signal-booster, cheerleader — thank you.

Our best year yet.

Oh! And also? I have prizes to give away.

The first winner of the snowman drawing contest, as chosen by the bloggers is Megan Fennell for this lovely:

Snowman by Megan

And the randomly drawn winner from the contest is this one by Scarlett Van Goethem:

Snowman by Scarlett

I really enjoyed the snowman drawing contest and I may do it again next year with a couple small tweaks.

There is one more prize to give away. The winner of the Rafflecopter prize. That person is Elizabeth D.

I have contacted all the prize winners by email, so if you see your name up there and haven’t heard from me, please check your spam filters.

One final note. Something weird happened late yesterday where the fundraiser was simultaneously open and closed:

I don’t actually know what happened there, but I DO know that a $25 donation was made directly to the food bank after that happened which was meant to go through our fundraiser. That is why our final total here is different than the final total on the fundraiser page.

Congratulations and thank you once again!

Can’t wait to see what we do next year! 😉


My Food Bank Story

Every year I organise a fundraiser to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank. And every year I’m asked, “Why the food bank?”

The story I usually tell is about how the food bank helped make our Christmasses a bit more merry when I was kid and my mother was a single mother of three struggling to make end meet on a waitress’s salary. Because it’s a good story, and a true story, and I can add a little joke to it because of that one time we found caviar in the food hamper. Which, to  child-Rhonda, was the very epitome of ‘rich’ and also ‘gross’.

But the more I tell that story the less comfortable I am sharing it. Because though that is my story, it’s more my mother’s story. And I’m not sure she’d be 100% happy with me sharing it quite so widely.

My mother was a proud woman, and like it or not, there is still a stigma attached to receiving help from the food bank.  There shouldn’t be. But sometimes there is.

Unfortunately, my mother passed away some years ago so I can’t ask her permission to share her story.

But I can share mine.

When I was 22 or 23 and  my daughter, Dani, was very young, I was a single mother. We were living in small town Alberta where I was going to school full-time (thank you Athabasca University) and working full-time as a waitress to make ends meet. Money was tight (mostly because of the exorbitant costs of internet service in rural Alberta at that time) but we managed.

Then Christmas came.

Even though I was able to cover all our needs eleven months of the year, that twelfth one was a doozie. Not only because of the costs of putting presents under the tree, but also getting the tree, and the decorations, and the food to put a feast on the table, and, and, and…

So I applied for a Christmas hamper from Family and Community Support Services. And got approved.

And that meant I would have a turkey, and a whole bunch of trimmings, for Dani and I to feast on for the holidays. And beyond the holidays because that bird was huge and we were only two people — one of whom was like 2.

It meant I was able to buy her all four of the Teletubbie dolls secondhand off Ebay and not just one of them.

It meant one fewer thing I needed to stress over, and that is an amazing gift for a young, struggling, single mom. I promise you.

And I chose to support the food bank every year because I want to pass that gift along.

So far this year’s fundraiser has raised $1,180 (or 3,540 meals) but it’s open until the end of the day, so there’s still time to tick that number up a little bit.

Every dollar donated is equal to three meals, so every dollar counts. Every one.

If you can give a little, please do:


Donate to the 2019 Giftmas Fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank Here

Dear Santa (2019)

Santa Magic

Each year since 2011 I have written a letter to Santa Claus and shared it on my blog. Please note that this is not an actual Wishlist that I want my friends to buy me things from, it’s just for fun.

Dear Santa,

I was really good this year, Santa.  Honestly. I tried to be kind and helpful. I worked really hard, and supported my friends and families the very best I could. It’s been a difficult year for so many people, including us, but I’ve done everything I can to make my corner of the world a better place.


For Christmas this year I would really like:

  • A new Oilers jersey. Unfortunately, the one I have is Cam Talbot’s, and he doesn’t play for us anymore.

    I’ve spent a very long time thinking about this and I think I would like 4 — Kris Russell’s jersey. It wasn’t an easy choice… my original list included 97, 29, 44 and 4. But here’s the thing. Everyone is gonna have 97 and 29 — those two are no-brainers. In the sea of Oilers fans they aren’t even a blip on the radar. But while Kassian (44) and Russell(4) aren’t superstars in the way that McDavid and Draisaitl are, they are pretty stinking awesome. And not just because of how they play on the ice — though that too — but even though I’ve never met them I feel like I know something of their character, and I really admire them both.

    I eventually decided on 4 instead of 44 for a couple reasons, but one of them was that the game after taking a shot to the head that required him to have stitches to his ear, Russell was back on the ice blocking shots. And that kind of toughness is next level and deserves some appreciation.

  • I also want a Marc-Andre Fleury jersey. Yeah, I know he plays for Vegas not Edmonton, but, well, Vegas is kinda my side team and I’m a pretty big Fleury fan-girl.
  • I realllly need a new whiteboard, please. The one I’ve been using for the past couple years is getting pretty stained. I mean, an alternative would be some sort of whiteboard cleaner that would clean these stains away but I have tried everything I can think of to no avail.
  • I still want to try this bourbon, and I still haven’t. So if you could sneak a bottle into my stocking that would be awesome.
  • You know those baseboard transition things I asked for in 2011? Well, they would be awesome. At this rate we’re going to re-do the floors again before we manage to get them installed.
  • Finally, I would really, really love to have a successful Giftmas Fundraiser. Our goal this year is $1000 and if you don’t think that’s terrifying me you don’t know me at all. If we can raise $1000 that will be 3,000 meals for struggling families and that would mean the world to me. If you could spare a little magic to help make it happen I would really appreciate it.

Thank you, Santa. Merry Giftmas!




If you would like to support our Giftmas Fundraiser and donate to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank  you can do that here:


And if this is the first time you’re hearing about it, here are some important links that will help you catch up to all the things that are going on, and why I hope you’ll want to help 🙂

Long update with all the details –> http://rhondaparrish.com/archive/giftmas-2019-lets-do-this/

See how the fundraiser is currently doing –> http://bit.ly/Giftmas2019

Learn about or enter the snowman drawing contest –> https://www.patreon.com/posts/snowman-drawing-31876321

See all the snowmen currently entered into the contest –> http://rhondaparrish.com/archive/so-many-snowmen/

Check out or enter the draw to win awesome stuff:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So Many Snowmen

Every year as part of putting together the blog tour and fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank, I get to make the blog graphics. Those graphics decide my colour scheme for the tour. I always try to make it not too Christmas specific because not everyone celebrates that holiday, so then what theme would I choose? Will it be green and fir-centric? Red and filled with bows?

This year I thought, “Why not snowmen?”

And then, as I was poking around through stock art to find some images to plop text onto, I was impressed by the great variety of styles of snowmen.

So then I thought, why not have a snowman drawing contest?

So I did.

The contest is open to entries until December 15th. All the details are here https://www.patreon.com/posts/snowman-drawing-31876321

But here are some of the entries that have come in so far. In no particular order:

And of course:

Please donate to help support our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank


And then enter to win a whack of amazing prizes here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giftmas 2019 — Let’s Do This!

The Giftmas Blog Tour and fundraiser to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank is back, and with a fun new addition this year — a snowman drawing contest!

Every year some friends and I get together to participate in a blog tour and fundraiser for the food bank. It’s that second part that is the most important, so let’s focus on that for just a second.

The Edmonton Food Bank’s mission is to feed the people in our community and also to help find solutions to the causes of that hunger. That means not only do they work to fill the cupboards and bellies of the most vulnerable among us, they also work with them to offer “free employment assistance, English & math upgrading, budget advice, personal counselling and information on affordable housing.” [Source] as well.

But their resources are always strained, especially around the holidays, and while no one should ever go hungry, so many holiday traditions rotate around food and the dinner table, that food scarcity can be felt even more strongly at this time of year than others.

If you can manage it

Please donate to help support our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank


Because of the Food Bank’s bulk buying power, every dollar you donate equals 3 meals for hungry people this year. So you know how people say ‘Every dollar counts?’. Every dollar really does count. So much.

And that is for every Canadian dollar, which means my American and British friends can get even more bang for their buck!

Can you spare 3 meals? How about 6?

Our goal this year is $1000. That’s our most ambitious goal ever and I’m more than a little bit nervous about it.

But wait! There’s more!

Here’s this week’s blog tour schedule. I will also be blogging every day, and including a link to each blog so if you check back here you won’t miss a thing.

I’ll also keep a running update on how we’re progressing toward our goal.

I’ll also be sharing some of the entries from the snowman drawing contest. Because, did I mention? There’s a snow man drawing contest!

To enter: 

  • Draw a snowman. Use whatever medium you like — pencils, crayons, computer programs, it’s up to you. Make it as simple or complicated as you’d like.
  • Write the words ‘Giftmas 2019’ or #Giftmas2019 on your snowman picture somewhere
  • Email a copy of your snowman drawing to rhonda.l.parrish@gmail.com
  • Use the subject line ‘Snowman Drawing’

In that email tell me if you’d like to be identified as the snowman’s artist when (not if) I share your entry on my blog and social media or if you’d prefer to remain anonymous. If you do want to be identified, also tell me if you have a website or social media link you would link me to include with your picture.

Parents are welcome to enter their children’s snowman art. Any entries from people under the age of 18 need to be sent via an adult because winners will need to provide a snail mail address to receive their prizes and, for obvious reasons, I don’t want to collect personal information from minors.

Entries must be in my inbox by midnight MST on December 15th.

Winners will be announced on December 17th.

The winners:

Two prizes will be awarded. The first will be chosen by the Giftmas blog tour bloggers by secret ballot. The second will be a random draw.

The prizes:

Winners will each receive a snow man plushie, a $10 Amazon gift card and a book.

If the winner is an adult the book will be a signed copy of Mrs. Claus. If the winner is not an adult the book will be a copy of The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.

I almost hesitate to say this, because this blog post has already been quite long but, uh…

Wait! There’s more! LOL

If drawing a snowman isn’t your thing (but c’mon, everyone can draw a snowman!) but winning prizes is, check this out:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can win a whole whack of prizes including:

  • signed copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas from Beth Cato
  • a free manuscript evaluation, up to 100k words from Stephanie Lorée
  • a physical copy of Painting Kuwait Violet by Pamela Fernandes
    a steeped in prayer mug
  • 4×4″ encaustic block painting by Cindy James
  • 100 plastic glow-in-the-dark alien toys from Jennifer Lee Rossman
  • a signed ARC of ICE by Candas Jane Dorsey
  • 5,000-word copy edit/proofread from JB Riley
  • e-book copies of the Storms in Amethir series and the two Circle City Magic books by Stephanie A. Cain
  • owl Mitts (hand crocheted wristlets with owl designs on the back) from Lizz Donnelly
  • tuckerization or query critique by Premee Mohamed
  • minimum 4 stanza poem about subject of your choice by Stephanie Weippert
  • 75% of Tammalee’s Patreon income for December
  • paperback of Haunting the Haunted by E.C. Bell

Possibly best of all, by entering the draw and using the social media options to earn extra entries you are helping signal boost the fundraiser and supporting it that way. So even if you can’t donate directly, perhaps your signal boost will put this on the radar of someone who can.

And you’ve got a shot at an awesome prize pack for doing it 🙂

That’s an awful lot of stuff for one blog post, so here is the tl;dr version —

Please donate to help support our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank


And if you do donate to support the fundraiser, consider nicking one of these graphics to brag about it on your social media, blogs and mailing lists. Perhaps you’ll inspire someone else to donate as well?


Thank you!

Sign Up for the Giftmas 2019 Blog Tour

Every year I host a blog tour in December to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank. I call it the Giftmas Blog Tour and I would like to invite you to join me this year 🙂

The blog tour will take place from December 9th through December 16th and it will include:

  • A fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank
  • A snowman drawing contest
  • A Rafflecopter giveaway
  • Stories
  • Recipes
  • and more!

In December I will be looking for monetary donations but for right now what I’m looking for are bloggers and prizes.

To donate a prize to the Rafflecopter (which we use to encourage donations to the food bank and sharing on social media to spread the word about the tour/fundraiser) or for the snowman drawing contest all you need to do is follow the link at the bottom of this post and tell me what you’re donating.

Once the tour is over and I have the winner’s contact information I will send it to you and you will send them the prize you’ve donated.

In previous years prizes have included books, critiques, Tuckerizations, bookmarks, crafts, artwork… I think there was even cookies one year? So, basically, anything you can think of.

To participate in the blog tour you need to have a blog* and a willingness to write a blog for the tour.

We don’t have a theme this year (aside from the snowman drawing contest) so you can write about anything you want. Share cookie recipes, a holiday story (fiction or otherwise), try your hand at drawing a snowman, talk about favourite December activities, share a holiday playlist — whatever you want.

Each post will be required to share a link to the fundraiser for the Edmonton food bank and will be encouraged (but not required) to post the Rafflecopter code and information about the snowman drawing contest.

Easy peasy.

To sign up to participate in the blog tour, simply follow the link to the form below and fill it out.

If you have a day you’d prefer to blog on, include that on the form. If you don’t just put ‘N/A’ and I’ll ask you to cover whatever day has the fewest participants.

Sign-ups will close November 23rd so sign up to blog and/or donate a prize before then so you don’t miss out.


And thank you very much!

*however you define ‘blog’. Some people have used self-hosted elaborate blogs, some have used Goodreads and occasionally we’ve even had people use public Facebook posts

Dear Santa (2014)


It has become a Giftmas tradition on my blog for me to write a wishlist of gifts I’d like Santa to bring me. To be super clear, I’m not asking any of you to buy these things for me… well, with the possible exception of Jo LoL I just like making wishlists 🙂

Dear Santa,

I have worked really hard this year and been (pretty) good on top of that. I feel confident I ought to be on your Nice list, anyway. So with that in mind, this year for Giftmas I would like:

  • A white board. Not a huge one, I just want something to keep better track of anthology deadlines (ones I want to submit to and ones I’m editing LOL) and have it easily visible. Originally I wanted a chalkboard but Jo was like ‘Gah! Dust!’ so… white board?
  • As you probably know, I drink a lot of tea. I do not, however, wash a lot of dishes. I’d like the “Art Harder Mother Fucker” mug from Chuck Wendig for when my favourite mugs arLise Watiere dirty. It probably goes without saying that I’d like the larger size, but just in case…
  • I’m not following WWE as closely as I was last year, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still like their swag. I really love Dolph’s new shirtAJ’s shirt, and pretty much all of Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns’ clothes (except the women’s tee shirts because they always rip right away).
  • Lise Watier’s winter collection this year is amazing. I’d be especially grateful to see the Teal Iridescent eyeshadow in my stocking. Though really, anything from that collection aside from the lip colours (bleh) would find a very good home with me 🙂
  • I’m nearly out of the notebooks I prefer to write my first drafts in, if you’d be willing to help me restock that would be awesome. My preferred type are the ‘Journals’ with the fake leather covers from Winnable.com because awesome.
  • I’m always open to new books, more music and Dragon Age: Inquisition looks like a lot of fun (even though I still haven’t played DA: 2. But whatever.)
  • This year my favourite charity thing (because Niteblade is regularly donating to Save the Chimps and Fauna Foundation) is the Girls’ Take Home Rations from Plan. Awesome idea.
  • Oh, and Santa, you know how three years ago I said, “I could also really use some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done.” Well… we have some of the riser thingers (one is even installed!) but as for those baseboards… can ye help me out, dude?




And now, because it has also become a tradition, Tim Minchin everyone:


G is for Giftmas

It’s the season of giving, so I’m marking down A is for Apocalypse (because books make good gifts, yo!)

A is for Apocalypse edited by Rhonda Parrish, cover design by Jonathan Parrish

“In A is for Apocalypse, the world ends in both fire and ice-and by asteroid, flood, virus, symphony, immortality, the hands of our vampire overlords, and crowdfunding. A stellar group of authors explores over two dozen of the bangs and whispers that might someday take us all out. Often bleak, sometimes hopeful, always thoughtful, if A is for Apocalypse is as prescient as it is entertaining, we’re in for quite a ride.”

– Amanda C. Davis, author of The Lair of the Twelve Princesses

On sale now at:

CreateSpace (paperback) –> $17.99 $14.99
[Use promo code TY6D2CWD for a further 10% off]

Smashwords (electronic copies) –> $6.99
[Use promo code FC62Z to take $2 off]

Amazon (paperback) –> $17.99 $14.99

Kobo (electronic copies) –> $4.99
[on sale until January 4th]

Amazon and Kobo are being a little slow in updating, so if they aren’t showing the sale price refresh the page. If they still aren’t showing it, I apologize. They should soon.

Giftmas Advent

Giftmas Eve - Photo by Rhonda Parrish

Some people purchase advent calendars to count down the days toward Christmas but for us Advent is an event, not an object.

December 1st we set out 25 candles (usually on our fireplace mantel as you can see from the picture above of last year’s display). Some time after dinner the three of us (Jo, Danica and myself) will turn out the lights and turn on the music. In all the time we’ve been celebrating Giftmas together I don’t think the musical selection has changed. The CDs sitting beside the Advent display invariably are:

  • Salva Nos – Mediaeval Baebes
  • A Medieval Christmas – The Boston Camerata
  • Christmas Through the Ages – Various
  • Meowy Christmas – Jingle Cats
  • A Sesame Street Christmas – Sesame Street
  • Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors – Original Cast
  • The Bells of Dublin – The Chieftains

With the music playing, one of us will light the appropriate number of candles (one on the 1st of December, two on the 2nd, three on the 3rd…) while another hands round a box of chocolates or other such goodies.

Some years we just stand and watch the candle flicker and talk a while before blowing the candles out but my favourites have been the years when Jo would read to us. Usually it’s Dickens. One year it was The Cricket on the Hearth and I’m pretty sure we’ve done A Christmas Carol a couple times. My favourite year was one of the Christmas Carol ones. Dani and I sat on the loveseat while Jo read and I crocheted an afghan in the candlelight (which grows brighter and warmer every day of the month and more and more candles are lit).

It felt very homey, very snuggly.

Do you countdown the days to your holiday celebration in any special way?

I saw a wine advent calendar the other day that really got me thinkin’… Perhaps that’s a new thing we could incorporate into our existing traditions. It sure would make the season merry!


This month on my blog I’m sharing holiday traditions, mine and other people’s as well. This is the second of those posts, you can find the first, entitled Giftmas Cards (and subsequent ones) by visiting the main page, here. Happy Ho Ho!

Holiday Traditions

December is creeping ever nearer and I thought it might be fun to spend it sharing holiday traditions on my blog.

To that end I’m asking my friends and readers (that means you) to write a guest blog about your holiday traditions and email it to me at rhonda@jofigure.com by December 1st. What I’m hoping is that I’ll get a really nice selection of posts talking about New Year’s (Chinese and otherwise), Christmas, Giftmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice and especially anything I missed.

Other than that the posts/stories you share be true and be about the winter holidays the door is pretty much wide open on these blog posts.

Want to give away a book or use them to pimp one of your ongoing projects? Please do.

Rather share a holiday story from your childhood? Yes please!

Feel like telling us all what you’re doing this year? Sounds awesome.

If you have any questions or concerns about details drop me a line (Here, there, anywhere we connect) and please consider contributing.

As my youngest niece (quoting a big purple dinosaur) has been known to say, “Sharing is caring.” so let’s do a little of both, and have some fun along with it.

C’mon… you know you wanna!


ETA: Okay, we’re going to relax the ‘The story you share needs to be true’ rule with one exception — if you’re a writer you can also choose to share a story about one of your character’s winter holidays. Because why not? 🙂



Dear Santa (2013)

It’s become a tradition on my blog that each year I write a letter to Santa about what I want for Giftmas. Not because I want any of my blog readers to buy me those things, but just because sometimes it’s fun to put together wishlists. If you make a Giftmas (or any other winter holiday) wishlist please leave a link in the comments so I can stop by and take a look 🙂

Dear Santa,

This year has been pretty good, especially compared to last year, and if we don’t count diet I’ve been pretty good. So with that in mind I don’t feel bad writing and asking you for a few things…

  • CMPunkHoodieI started watching wrestling again this year, Santa, and though I have a few items from the WWEShop I don’t feel like my wardrobe has been sufficiently wrestling-ified. I like most of the wrestlers (except the Wyatt Family and The Real Americans) so I’m not super particular about what you get me. Though, if I had to choose I’d really like CM Punk’s retro hoodie, The Shield’s sweatpants and The Usos T-shirt


  • I’m always looking for more books, Santa. You could check my Amazon wishlist or my Goodreads ‘Want to Read’ list, but both of those are incomplete. I really love short stories so best of anthologies are a pretty safe bet, and I could use a new vegetarian cookbook as well (bonus points for slow cooker recipes because finding meatless ones that aren’t spaghetti sauce is a freaking challenge). Also, I know I have Code Name Verity on my kobo, but I think I also need a physical copy of it. Because reasons.


  • I haven’t had any new jewelry in quite a long time, so maybe it’s time to change that. I am big on silver and sort of simple designs, and when I did a quick google to find some examples for you, Santa, I found this lovely ring which comes in silver but also in this metal I’ve never seen before. It’s lovely. I’m including a picture below for you. Pretty, no?


  • Finally Santa, you know how for the past two years I’ve asked you for “some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done.” Well, you’ll never guess what I still need this year. Yeah. Those. If you have room in your sleigh that would be super awesome, thank you.

Thank you Santa.



I’ll leave you with two movies today. The first is White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin. Last year I described this as ‘One of my favourite performers performing one of my favourite Christmas songs’. It’s still that, and it still makes me cry.

The second movie is a montage that totally reminds me of Tre (our dog) and Eowyn (our grumpiest cat). Maybe it will make you laugh 🙂

Happy Ho Ho!