"Uh, this teaser image looks like Macy's," Juli called from behind me.
"Is that a bad thing?" I answered.
"Do you think its a bad thing?"
"I don't know, do you think its a bad thing?"
We were at a stalemate. I had a design hangover from the Autumn boxes, and my mind was still filled with witchy designs and occult symbols from the DETC box. And we just started watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And now I had to switch gears and think about Christmas? I wasn't ready.

I couldn't even bring myself to listen to Christmas music yet. It was just barely November. So I put together a list of wintery and waltzy music from the Harry Potter soundtracks. That helped a bit. And then I started looking at trains. Did you know that the Hogwarts Express is a real life steam locomotive built in 1937, and its real life Great Western Railway designation is actually 5972, just like in the movie?

Anyway, we had decided early on that we wanted it to be a holiday party on the Hogwarts Express. Kind of like Murder on the Orient Express, only with less murder and more hors d’oeuvres. How fun would that be? Candy canes on the trolley, house elves serving fruitcake in the dining car, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Thestral playing over the train's intercom system. Christmas tree swaying back and forth, ornaments clanking togther, as the train rounds a corner. Sign me up.

Much discussion was had about how fancy the party would be. If Juli & I attended this thing, what would we wear? A tux and fancy ball gown? Formal wizard robes like poor Ron? Ugly sweaters and jeans? I forgot where exactly we wound up. I think somewhere around if the Ministry of Magic had a Christmas Party and though it wasn't a black tie affair, you'd still want to get a little spruced up. Also maybe don't bring the kids, because although there is no open bar, you know Professor Flitwick is going to spike the punch.

I doubled down on the Macy's look, and made the box and story cards a nice cozy red with soft lights. I was still only reluctantly in Christmas mode, until we decided on a pin design. We considered Mad-Eye as a snowman briefly, but then I blurted out "HE SEES YOU WHEN YOU'RE SLEEPING, get it?, because of HIS EYE?" and laughed uncontrollably on the couch, as Juli endured me for a few moments before probably playing Animal Crossing until I had it all out of my system. Which took a hot minute.

With Mad-Eye as Santa, I was fully in the game now. Luckily I didn't have too much game to play, because Juli took the lion's share of this box. It was great to see her watercolors really shine this time around. I love her art so much, and it's always been the cornerstone of the store (aside from the tea, of course). I started picking up design work because she had too much on her plate, but let's be honest, her art is what made you all fans, so I'm glad you get more of it. I especially loved the trolley and all the elements for the towel background. I hope she shares the original artwork, because although the towel looks great, I don't think the fabric quite does it justice.

I got to a point where I thought I was done with design, and I felt so relieved. And then I remembered that we had decided the welcome card would be a ticket for the party train. Man, for some reason, that took me all day. We must've watched four episodes of Sabrina, and probably some BoJack Horseman thrown in there, too, as I toiled away on the couch, grimacing and grumbling about opacity and texture brushes.

Anyway we got it all done. Shout out to our friend Matt from Haunted Grain Workshop who printed the towels for us. And as always to my inimitable girlfriend Juli, who assembled all of the boxes nearly single-handedly, despite the fact that they were scored (folded) backwards, with nothing but Spotify's Pop Christmas jamz to aid her.

Happy Holidays, everyone!