The Big Present Puzzle & Making It All Fit

Thanks so much for sharing in the comments on yesterday’s post how you keep track of recipes you find online that interest you and that you may want to make some day. I learned so many new things from you and I’m impressed with the systems you have devised for keeping up with recipes!

One of the reasons I asked that question is because I was contemplating adding a recipe Plugin to BNOTP that would let you easily print out a recipe if you wished. I used to have a plugin on BNOTP that did that, but as with most plugins the authors abandoned it, no longer keeping it up to date.

I try to avoid adding plugins as much as possible since they often fail or are abandoned after a few years, but yesterday I did add another recipe plugin back to the blog. If you click on the RECIPE category at the top of the blog, you should now be able to print out any recipe you find there. The “print” feature will be located near the end of each post. I’m hoping the plugin I’m using this time will be around for many years to come!


Making It All Fit–The Big Present Puzzle

Recently when I posted a photo sharing my Christmas tree this year, several folks kidded me about how I would ever get all the presents into my SUV for the trip north.

Decorated Christmas Tree, Plaid Wrapped Gifts


I was not looking forward to it, that’s for sure! I had no idea how many presents I had purchased until I started wrapping them all.

Christmas Tree with Glass Ornaments


Amazingly, they all fit!

I had a backup plan if they didn’t. A few of the presents were in boxes that were slightly bigger than necessary since I was working with the boxes I already had from previous deliveries.

So, worst-case scenario, I knew I could unwrap a few of the bigger presents and attempt to squeeze them into some of the smaller boxes that have arrived recently with other orders. Or, worst-case scenario, I could unwrap some of the larger gifts and wrap them again once I arrived at my destination.

Fortunately, none of that was necessary. It was like a big ‘ole puzzle getting all the presents in, but I made it work!

Load Up the Sleigh for a Christmas Trip


A side view behind the driver’s seat. The bins are storage bins I purchased recently for my dil for storing away all her Christmas decorations. When I purchased them, I wasn’t thinking about having a space issue. Fortunately, they nested together and the top bin is filled with miscellaneous goodies I’m taking that aren’t Christmas presents…with a few gifts resting on top.


The view looking across the top…


Another side view, this time behind the passenger seat. Since the photo above and below were taken, I’ve squirreled away a few more small items into the nooks and crannies.

One thing that helped with the loading was that I removed the two headrests on the back seats. That made a big difference for fitting in some of the larger gifts. I’ve placed the headrests back into the car so I can add them back to the seat tops after the presents are all unloaded upon my arrival.


My main goal, other than getting ALL the gifts into the car, was keeping the view open to the back. My car needs a wash badly, so the back window is very dirty, but at least I have a clear view out all the windows. I wouldn’t want to drive for 9 hours with the back window blocked…just not a safe idea.

I’ve added five more presents to this collection since this photo was taken. Fortunately, they were in smallish boxes so I was able to fit them into some of the gaps without changing my view out the windows. My suitcase will be up front in the passenger seat, stretching out into the passenger floorboard. I will have a lot more space on the return trip, thankfully!


So, miracles do happen, they actually all fit! lol I’m so glad I didn’t have to unwrap any of the gifts!  Maybe next year I’ll plan to have a few more delivered to where I’m headed, instead of bringing so many with me. But honestly, this did not take me very long at all, and it was kinda fun!

I will have a few more gifts to wrap once I do get there, they were presents I was afraid to have shipped to my home for fear they wouldn’t arrive in time. One gift I am DYING to share with you, but since certain folks occasionally read my blog, I can’t mention it right now. But I promise to share it after Christmas. Maybe I can share it on the blog while I’m there, so you can see how it works. Yeah, that sounds like a plan!

So the sleigh is loaded and ready for the trip north! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I wish everyone a beautiful end to 2018 and a fabulous, exciting start to the new year!

I’m looking forward to another year of blogging and sharing! Thank you so much for following along this past year!

Love to you and your loved ones, dear Friends! Will see you again in just a few days!


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  1. I’m am always so excited when I see a new message pop up.. your subjects are so up my alley.. I love your taste.. and your ideas are so fun.. you have made it such a pleasure for me.. I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday.. I hope they all realize what a gem you are…

  2. I was glad when you changed the sumo plugin. (I guess it was a plugin.) It always popped up on the left part of the blog. Since I already get your newsletter I did not need it and it was sort of an obstacle course trying to read a post. I still get the popup to sign up, but it is not in the line where I read.

    I like to pin a recipe or design idea, but I also save as a word document or pdf just in case the blog is abandoned. My documents get backed up in the iCloud.

    Merry Christmas Susan. Hope your sleigh has smooth sailing. 🙂

  3. I knew you could do it, Susan! That’s my kind of packin’! And I always take pictures of it, whether it’s antiquing with my sisters, or packing for a yard sale or packing to take a load to the antique mall. I love the puzzle and satisfaction of getting it all to fit!
    Have a great time, safe travels, and Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  4. Merry Christmas and safe travels! Enjoy your time with your family.

  5. I’m concerned for your load’s safety, staying overnight at motels. We’ve been broken into before. Great job on fitting it all in. Not easy. 🙂 jw

  6. Drive safe. Love your giant Tetris of Christmas packages- don’t forget your suitcase

  7. Have a safe trip and Merry Christmas with your family.

  8. My fear was the same as Julie W when I saw all of those gifts in the car. Do you have a blanket or two that you could cover them so they aren’t so tempting? Not only overnight stays, but even someone pumping gas next to you might see all those gifts as quite tempting to follow you and try to steal. I’m not a person afraid to travel or drive alone, but I also am very careful to not call undue attention to any personal item in my car, such as a computer or a phone or my purse.
    Please drive carefully, stay safe and have a wonderful holiday visit with your family.

    • Thanks for those suggestions, Pat. I will not be stopping anywhere other than a few quick stops to run into the bathroom in a Cracker Barrel or somewhere like that. I may take a blanket to try and cover everything, that’s a good idea. I won’t stop to eat, will just get something through the drive-thru.

  9. My husband and daughter are really good at packing up the car for trips and camping. We call it the packing gene. Looks like you definitely have the packing gene

  10. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Enjoy being with your family and have a safe trip!

  11. Sherry Darlington says

    Fantastic job of packing! I’m going to show my husband as we too have many presents that have to travel from here to there. Safe travels & a very Merry Christmas !

  12. That’s a super idea to cover all packages with a tarp or blanket. Even just running into a Cracker Barrel could be risky if someone (like in a higher vehicle) spotted all those gifts and noticed you taking an off ramp. I know you’ll have a great holiday and visit and Christmas morning is gonna be wild!

  13. Bobbi Duncan says

    You are so adorable! I love the way you word your messages with such determination and humor. Michael, being an engineer, taught me how to pack…and that is a good thing because I take tons of stuff when we travel. I know you and yours will have a fun Christmas! Looking forward to another year of your wonderful blogs. Hugs!

  14. Careful as you go.

  15. Merry Christmas and safe travels!

  16. Donna zoltanski says

    You are a genuis! Packages look pretty. Enjoy your holidays and family! Have a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2019! Cheers!

  17. Good job getting all that in the car! Be careful when you stop for meals and park where you an keep an eye on it. Bad guys could be tempted to break in. I didn’t see your recipe post so I’ll check it out now. Have a very Merry Christmas and a safe trip.

  18. Wow, I don’t have near that many gifts to give! I am wondering what is in all those boxes:) How many people do you buy for? Just curious. I hope you have safe travels and a WONDERFUL Christmas! I have to catch up on your posts. I have been crazy busy…as we all have. Thank you for your blog, Susan.

  19. Wow Susan,
    I am happy for you they all fit! On the other hand I wouldn’t expect anything less from you… 🙂
    But now, have a good trip and you take care of yourself and… Buon Natale, Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  20. linda c Burwell says

    Susan, l will be traveling too but only for two hours. My son is here from Texas and rented his car from the airport. Thankfully the car is a large sedan Bmw. He is a pretty good car packer so all those oddball packages should fit ok.
    I wish you a very safe drive with good weather! Have yourself a great Christmas with your family, especially your grandbabies!

  21. Marni Nixon says

    Merry Christmas! All seven of my grandson and their parents will be with us tomorrow.I can hardly wait!

  22. Pat Francoforte says

    Susan, you are amazing and inspiring. And so helpful! I look forward to your blog most of all! Have a safe trip and wonderful Christmas with your family!

  23. Sandra D in Joliet says

    Merry Christmas Susan. All the time I was reading about the packages I kept asking “where will her luggage go”? and you answered that. Thank you and have lots of fun and happy memory making. Safe travels!

  24. I was reading along and hoping you would still have room for your personal belongings. Merry Christmas, Susan!

  25. Safe travels and Merry Christmas Susan and to your family!

  26. You did it! Wish we could see the faces when you pull in with the sleigh loaded with all those goodies! I’m with you in having a clear view out the back. I would be lost without a rear view (or my drive would be racked with anxiety). Have safe travels and a wonderful Christmas with your family! P.S. Maybe a good idea to cover the back packages and throw your coat over the front..just in case…as we do live in a new world nowadays.

  27. Hi Susan: Great job packing the SUV. I was so glad to hear you are not stopping overnight or to eat. Like some others, I have been concerned about potential break in with so many enticing packages on display. I hope you have an old quilt or blanket to cover everything — even taking pit stops! Maybe you can park right next to an entrance/exit. Wishing you safe travels and a wonderful Christmas with your family! They will be so excited to see all the packages! Enjoy! Jane xo

  28. You did it! I bet you get some quisical looks on the road. Travel safely and have the best holiday. Merry Christmas!

  29. Cindy Lou hoo says

    Merry Christmas !

  30. Susan, sometime when you are less rushed, would you let me know if you are getting my comments? I never see them after I post, and I don’t know how to get to a previous post’s comments. I hope mine are coming through to you. I just posted one about safe travels. Again, I hope you have a great time and take care on the road! Jane xo

    • Thanks, Jane! I do get them and they are published…it just takes a few minutes for them to show up. I always appreciate your lovely comments! If you’re on a desktop, they should show up at the end of the post. On a phone or iPad, you may need to click on “View comments” at the end of the post to see the comments. I know on my Android phone, I have to click on “View Comments” at the very end of the post in order to see them. I can’t remember how it is on an iPad right now…if they show up automatically or if you have to click something for them to show.
      Thanks! I hope you have an awesome Christmas!

  31. Wow, Susan! Santa could take some tips from you about packing packages in spaces successfully!! I’d love to see the faces of your family members when you pull up into their driveway! Have a safe trip and a wonderful time with your son, DIL and grandsons. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

  32. Merry Christmas to you, Susan. I hope you have a great trip and time with your family and a safe journey back home. My mother and I packed my SUV like that one year when we drove to Tennessee to visit family. I threatened to leave her on the side of the road if she brought one more thing. Good thing I pack light for travel!

  33. A little suggestion for you. I buy a large piece of fleece the color of the interior of my car so that I can toss it over anything I may want to “hide” from casual view of anyone that might want to look inside. It also is handy to have in the car in case you need extra warmth if you get stranded for any length of time in the car, or even if you just need extra warmth! Fleece is pretty wide, so you just need 2 or 3 yards (probably) to go from back of car to back of seats. No one needs to know you have all those gifts in the car!

    • Great idea and it would fold up fairly small for when it is not being used! I like stuff to match as well…lol!

      Susan, Safe travels! I love your blog and all the varied topics! We are the same age so your information is always so relevant for me!
      Merry Christmas! Your family will be so delighted to see you!

  34. Have a safe trip and one when you return. Merry Christmas.

  35. Great packing but if you’re traveling alone, I hope you spread a blanket over all in case you need a rest stop along the way. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.

  36. Great packing but if you’re traveling alone, I hope you spread a blanket over all in case you need a rest stop along the way. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.

  37. Susan…Merry Christmas and safe travels. Your blog is my favorite and I look forward to reading your post in 2019. I make your champagne punch for Christmas every year. It’s so good! I found your blog when you posted this recipe several years ago. Cheers!

  38. Cyndi Raines says

    Great packing job! Safe travels and May you and your family have a very Merry Christmas! Hope our northern weather doesn’t freeze you too much. ♥️

  39. Regality (aka The Quing) says

    Do you hire out to do packing for those of us who are inept at it?

    Have a safe, healthy trip.

  40. cleo headley says

    I kept wondering where your luggage would go!!! Great packing job!! Cover it all up with a blanket or sheets or something. People get so nosey!!
    Safe trip and very Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!

  41. Susan, I had complete faith in your ability to get everything in the car. The suitcase is going in the passenger side, but don’t forget a place for your purse/tote. Like loading the dishwasher, isn’t it ? LOL
    We are all praying for a safe trip and the Merriest Christmas with your family.
    We feel your excitement in the air !

  42. Sheila in Garden City, SC says

    Susan, travel by faith and safe miles await you! Santa’s sleigh pales in comparison to you. You’ve accomplished much and helped us immensely with your many suggestions. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  43. Susan, Merry Christmas to you! This post brought a huge smile to my face when I viewed it. Congrats on your package packing puzzle skills. May your new year be filled with love, laughter, good health and family.

  44. Safe travels and a Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  45. Amazing packing job! Merry Christmas!

  46. I am impressed with your mad packing skills! I think the above-mentioned ideas for covering the gifts are very wise. Safe travels, and the Merriest of Christmases to you!

  47. Yay, you did it! Looks like a Merry Christmas will be had. Have a wonderful holiday & will pray for safe travels! I drive an SUV & whenever we go to buy a new one, our main concern is the cargo space! We always seem to be hauling things! Merry Christmas to you & your family!!!

  48. Susan, thanks for all the joy you bring to us with your wonderful blog! I’ve tried many of your recipes (holiday punch a real favorite), been inspired by your fabulous tablescapes (first time I saw your site the holiday flatware got me hooked on THAT), house tours and products you like (bought the pink evil-eye bracelet). Your hard work on the blog is why it’s the best one out there! Merry Christmas – you make it Christmas for us all year long!

  49. Bonnie Gutierrez says

    Safe travels! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  50. Santa’s got nothing on you. Have a safe and enjoyable trip. Merry Christmas!

  51. It appears that your puzzle skills have paid off as you did a fabulous job ‘loading the sleigh’. If it had been me; it might have been ready by EASTER! Now with that said; do hope that you considered taking the advice of many of your other readers about putting a tarp (or similar) over the gifts for your journey.
    Wishing you safe travels and A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS. -Brenda-
    P.S.: As you know Susan my daughter is a special forces police officer and during her rookie years was on the road constantly and you would be amazed to what extent some people will go to, to steal. For example; now as a hockey Mom she warns other Mothers not to put their purse in their car trunk (as many do) thinking it is safe place for it while in the arena, however it is the farthest from the truth as she recalls instances where the car was broken into (regardless of an alarm system) and the back seat was dislodged for access to it.

  52. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  53. Susan, you are definitely the sleigh from the south! I can imagine your family’s eyes twinkling when you drive up. Merry Christmas!

  54. Dear Susan…”Merry Christmas’ to you and to your family. Lots of love to you all the way from India. Sujatha:)

  55. Dear Susan ‘Merry Christmas to you and to your family. Love Sujatha:)

  56. Susan,
    I am very impressed with your packing skills. You could give Santa lessons!
    Merry Christmas to you and yours. Looking forward to more of your wonderful blog in 2019.

  57. Donna Vaughn says

    Hi Susan! Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog! Unashamedly I have purchased many of your suggestions and “copied” several of your beautiful decorating creations! Also just ordered the gorgeous fir tree for our living room next year as our tree is on its last leg this year! One of my New Year “to do” items is to read your blog beginning with the first post in 2008 as I’ve only been following The Porch for a short time! And yes, our family celebrate Christmas as believers of Jesus! So Merry Christmas and have a blessed visit “up north”with your family!

  58. Merry Christmas, Susan! Thank you for brightening our cyberworld this year. Have a safe and fun trip!

  59. You are a genius packer, Susan and I will bet you thought of theft concerns. Safe travels. You deserve a visit with your family. We readers appreciate you so much, Susan. I’ve learned a lot, laughed a lot and enjoy all you bring to your readers. Merry Christmas.

  60. You give new meaning to “Sleigh Ride” – have a very Merry Christmas and thank you for the fun posts!

  61. Shirley ore says

    Thank you Susan for all your wonderful posts. Merry Christmas to you and your family…safe trip….

  62. Peggy W Nodine says

    Hope your trip was great, with no hitches, and hope you and your sweet family had a Wonderful Christmas. I am a little late commenting, like you so much to do last minute, did not have time to sit down and read the last couple of articles you had posted. Lots of company and over nighters at my house, so was busy with all of them and having a great time visiting with them all. Looking forward to reading everything from you coming up. Thanks again for a great 2018 and wishing you the very best for 2019. Thank you so much, Peggy

  63. I had to “look at this” again….amazing!! We used to have a little plane that we flew to the Midwest for Christmas and packing that was…a challenge…plus we would bring back 20 pounds of “meat!!” Can’t beat a Nebraska steak… franki

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