December Holiday & Christmas Fun Facts
• The US Postal Service will deliver over 20 billion pieces of mail between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
• According to the US Census Bureau, US Christmas tree farmers will earn over $485 million in sales during this holiday season. Over 20 million cut trees will be purchased this Christmas season with the state of Oregon being the largest supplier. Of course, those trees need to be decorated and what could be better than Christmas ornaments. The US imports over $605 million worth of Christmas ornaments from China to meet the US demand for decorations.
• The $3.2 billion game and toy industry thrives during the Christmas holiday season. Nearly 50,000 shopping malls are distributed across the US.
• According to Hallmark Research, Christmas is by far the biggest holiday for greeting cards. An estimated 1.9 billion Christmas and holiday cards will be sent to family, friends and loved ones during the December holiday gift season.
• Skiing and snowboarding are the most popular winter time sports. Followed by ice hockey and cross country skiing.
Need some help getting in the Christmas spirit? Consider a trip to Christmas, Florida or to Christmas Island which is an Australian territory in the Pacific Ocean.
Inexpensive Homemade Christmas Gifts
Nothing is sweeter or more welcomed than a batch or two of homemade cookies. They’re delicious any time of year but they make the perfect Christmas gift. If you start early, you can get everything done well before Christmas Eve. Here are some tips on how to make sweet inexpensive homemade Christmas gifts.
First, select pretty baskets or tins in which you will p
lace your cookies. This is the most crucial step as presentation is key. The more unique and upscale your container, the more wonderful your gift will look.
Get creative. You can find small picnic type baskets, baskets with pretty ceramic side handles, antique cookie tins, festive new glass boxes or plastic tins. If it can hold a cookie, it will work. A good place to look is at craft stores where they have everything. You can even stack your cookies in a glass vase that is wide enough to fit.
Once you have found your vessel, include some pretty tissue paper. Select a Christmas themed tissue with printed snowmen or trees or just go with silver, gold, red or green. You’ll wrap the cookies in plastic food wrap and then include the tissue as a basket filler and outer wrap for the cookie packages.
What you bake is completely up to you. If you have a family favorite that everyone loves, go for it. If you’ve never baked before, you can find hundreds of cookie recipes by searching “Christmas cookie recipes” on the web. There are entire sites devoted to nothing but cookie baking. You’ll be surprised at the limitless expanse of options available.
Choose cookies that will travel and hold up well if you need to ship them. Biscotti are hard enough to make the journey as are Springerle, a German pressed cookie. If you don’t have to ship, you can pretty much make anything you like.
Go out shopping for the finest ingredients you can afford. Buy the best chocolate chips, vanilla beans and nuts you can. Great ingredients really do make all the difference. Check your list twice as there’s nothing more frustrating than having to run out for one spice you forgot when you’ve already got the mixer running.
Set up a work station where you have all your ingredients for one type of cookie. Put the ingredient away as you use it so that you know it’s already been added to the batter. Use lightly colored aluminum cookie sheets to avoid burning your cookies. Watch them carefully so you can take them out at exactly the right moment.
When your cookies are cooled, you can freeze them for up to two months. That means you can bake several batches ahead of time and when Christmas rolls around, you can assemble all your baskets. Try to deliver your Christmas cookie gift baskets right away after you have filled them when they are still at their freshest.
Include the recipes if you like. Friends may love them so much they’ll ask you how to make them. You’ll be putting smiles on a lot of faces when you show up with a lovely cookie basket or tin. Just be careful, because once you’re known as the Cookie Lady, they’ll be wanting more cookies every year!
Christmas A Modern Celebration
The Saturnalia of ancient Rome was a time to feast, much as Christmas is in Italy today. The feasts, the games, the gift giving, the music, and the religious rituals are all very much part of the December festival season in modern Rome, much as they were in antiquity. This has not changed in over two thousand years.
Modern Ritual: Foods For Saturnalia
Here are some traditional Saturnalia recipes prepared by the women of ancient Rome. Enjoy them this festival season.
Hon Eyed Dates (serves 10)
"Pit the dates and stuff them with walnuts or even pine nuts .... Roll them in a little salt and fry them with honey. Serve."
- 1 pound dried dates
- Walnuts, 1 for each date
- Salt, as needed
- Honey, as needed
Use good-quality dates (they should not be sticky and the skins should not come off easily). Pit them by making a cut on one side. Fill each cavity with a walnut. Roll them lightly in salt and cook them in honey in a skillet until they are caramelized. As soon as the dates are caramelized, put them on a lightly oiled plate to prevent sticking. Serve.
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 Â½ cup semolina flour
- 1 large egg
- Â¼ teaspoon salt
Mix ricotta with the semolina in a medium-sized bowl. Beat the egg and stir into the mixture. Add salt and mix well.
Pour enough oil in a pan to cover the Globi. about an inch, and heat the oil.
Drop the dough in teaspoonfuls into the heated oil, and fry until brown. Remove and drain well on a paper towel. Dip in honey and serve. Globi can also be dipped in salsa or other sauces.
December's rituals bring promise. For Christians, it is the promise of salvation and a better life with the birth of the Christ Child. For the pagan Romans, it was the promise of the Golden Age and the Rule of Saturn. It is the promise of a spiritual life, a life blessed and in accord with the deities.
Saturn harkens back to the Golden Age, an age of piety. It is for this age we must now hope. At the millennium, we begin the New Order of the Ages. For spiritual guidance, we can learn from the gods and goddess the ancient practices. As Saturn asks, "Who would bring incense to my smoking altars?"
The first age was golden when authority was not needed. Men and women revered justice and virtue. They kept the faith.
Christmas Crafts For Kids
Christmas time is a joyful time for everyone. The kids especially. Unfortunately, the kids can get bored while out of school for Christmas vacation. These fun and entertaining Christmas crafts for kids will keep the both busy and entertained.
Here you will find several easy Christmas crafts for kids of all ages. Santa crafts, reindeer crafts, snowman crafts and many more! These Christmas crafts are sure to be just what you need to keep the kids entertained!
They can give their ultra cool creations to family and friends or take them to school to give as teacher appreciation or kids Christmas gifts.
Santa Christmas Crafts for Kids
What's Christmas without Santa? From empty Pringle chip cans to wooden spoons to empty plastic cups, just about anything you have around your house an be turned into a jolly Santa Claus craft. Kick the holiday season off with these fun kid crafts. They will have fun, stay busy and enjoy every minute of it. Best of all, they'll be proud of the little Santa Christmas gifts that they've created for their friends and family.
Reindeer Christmas Crafts for Kids
Have tons of fun with your children creating these Rudolph Reindeer Christmas crafts. They are fun, easy and your children will love them! Combine these crafts with a special showing of the classic Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer movie and your kids are sure to have a fun-filled holiday.
Clothes Pin Reindeer
To make a Clothes Pin Reindeer you will need:
- 3 old fashion clothespins
- 2 'eyes'
- 1 red pom-pom
Start by gluing two clothespins together, one in front of the other. Then glue the other one in the front upside down. Add the eyes, the pom-poms and allow it all to dry. Taa-daa. You now have a Clothes Pin Reindeer. You could also paint the clothespins brown before you begin to add a little color.
Christmas Tree Crafts for Kids
Let your children decorate your home with these adorable Christmas tree crafts. They are sure to keep your children occupied for hours!
Jeweled Christmas Tree
These jeweled Christmas trees can be used as ornaments on your tree or throughout your home. They also make great gift tags.
What you will need:
- Card stock
Draw a Christmas tree using on the cardstock and then cut it out. Glue green jewels around the edges to create the tree shape. Go back in and glue single jewels for ornaments and lines of jewels for garland. Once your glue has dried. Poke a small hole into the top of the tree and create a hanger using the ribbon. You can attach these to Christmas gift baskets and gifts to make cute name tags as well.
Snowman Christmas Crafts for Kids
Is it snowing outside? Keep the kids occupied with these cute Snowman crafts. Here are several crafts that you can do with your children during the Christmas holidays. The great thing about Snowman crafts is that they can be used all winter long when kids are stuck inside because it is so cold outside. Enjoy!
Christmas Crafts for Kids Using Recycled Christmas Cards
Every year we get Christmas cards and even have some left over from the ones we sent out. Instead of throwing them away, get creative. Here are some great craft ideas for kids using recycled Christmas cards.
Christmas Card Scene
Another fun kids-craft using recycled Christmas cards is building creating a picture. Let your children cut out scenes, trees, presents and other picture from the Christmas cards. Give them a piece of construction paper or poster board and let them glue the pieces to the poster board to create their own. It will be fun, creative, and they'll end up with eco-friendly favor cards.
Miscellaneous Fun Christmas Crafts for Kids
Here are some more Christmas crafts that your children will love. The crafts listed below would make great inexpensive homemade Christmas gifts for the children's Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, and teachers. From wreaths to ornaments, the symbols and decorations at Christmas-time are numerous so we've included a few more craft ideas here....
A greeting I give unto all, Into whose hands this paper chances to fall.A greeting which often our fair hearts doth cheer, 'Tis "A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."
Be you Yankee, Canadian, or Half-breed free, Police officer, Policeman, or Eastern M.P.,
Cattle king or cowboy, I care not a jot;
Or a swell from the Old Country fresh and hot.
To each one and all I at this time extend,
This welcome of friendship to all as a friend. Old settlers, noted as "wrestlers" bold,
Have learned in the past how to gather up gold,
But whilst all here strive for what most men still crave, in the hour of death its man's soul cannot save. There's a pearl of great price offered free to all,
Which this Christmas season to our minds recalls;
Let all then take heed this great pearl first to find,
To which the world's wealth is not equal combined.
It is offered alike to rich and to poor,
And upon the holder will always ensure,
In the midst of this world its toil and its strife,
In the pressure of business and bustle of life,
In sickness, in health, a true friend ever near, With "A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."
Family Christmas Traditions
Christmas is synonymous with family so as you all gather together this holiday season consider these great annual tradition ideas for your family. If you don't have traditions in your family, there is no time like the present to get started making lasting memories.
Creating annual family Christmas gift traditions and fun activities are especially important for families with young children. It will give them something to look forward to from year to year and will create memories that they will truly cherish as adults. Someday they'll pass these same joyous traditions on to their children.
I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Five Great Tradition Ideas
1) Attend Candlelight Christmas Eve Service - If your family goes to Christmas church services, why not make it a tradition to attend the midnight service which is usually candlelit. When I was a kid, we'd go to this service and each person would get their own individual candle. During the service, we'd pass the flame from one person to the next and the lights were dimmed to unveil a gorgeous candlelit church. I still cherish this memory today!
2) Go Christmas Caroling - What a fun way to spread some Christmas holiday cheer around your town or neighborhood. Just gather up a group of friends, fellow church members or your large family and head out for an evening of singing. You'll be surprised how many houses cheer you on and even invite you in for a hot cup of cocoa and a Christmas cookie! It is great fun.
3) Open Gifts Christmas Eve - As a kid, there is nothing more exciting than opening presents. You try and guess what you getting the entire month of December even shaking the presents under the tree. Why not spread the excitement over two fun-filled days? In our house, on Christmas Eve my parents let us kids open our presents from our out of town relatives (like my Aunt in Ohio). Another idea is to let each child (and adult too) open just one present on Christmas Eve. Then everyone can open Santa and family presents on Christmas morning.
4) Watch a Christmas Themed Movie - For the last 20 years, my family has watched Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation every Christmas Eve. We all look forward to a big tin of holiday popcorn and laughter in front of the TV. Just choose a classic like Charlie Brown or the Muppet's Christmas Movie and gather the family for an enjoyable night of movies. Don't forget to have some yummy foods on hand like holiday cookies, candy-coated popcorn, peppermint hot chocolate, and a big bowl of eggnog!
5) Give a Christmas Tree Ornament - One of my college friends decorated his Christmas tree every year with a huge collection of airplane ornaments that he had received from his grandmother over the past 20 years. He may not have appreciated them as much as a child, but as an adult, he cherished each and every one of them - especially after his grandmother passed away. So if you have grandchildren, nieces or nephews or even your own children, giving them a Christmas ornament each year is a fantastic kids Christmas gift. Be sure to make it special for each child by choosing an ornament that coincides with their interests (my friend ended up being an aerospace engineer so I guess Grandma knew what she was doing).
Another idea is to buy an ornament for each child wherever you travel that year. If you go on a beach vacation, get each of the kids a beach themed gift. If they play a sport, get them a sports-themed ornament - some companies will even personalize them for you. When the kids are old enough, they can help Mom & Dad decorate the family Christmas tree by hanging their very own collection of ornaments. And someday when they have a family of their own, they can continue to use the ornaments to decorate their family tree and tell their ornament stories to their own kids.
Interviews of Favorite Christmas Traditions
Start a family Christmas tradition in your home this year!
5 More Great Christmas Traditions
6) Volunteer at a Charitable Organization - What better time to teach your children about the less fortunate and giving back to the community than at Christmas time. Check with your local food shelf and homeless shelter to see what they are doing for community members during the holiday season. Whether you help with Toys for Tots or serving a holiday meal with all the fixings at a local shelter, your kids will learn some valuable lessons regarding what Christmas should be all about. After all, they say you get back what you give ten-fold and the sheer happiness achieved by serving others is a gift in and of itself.
7) Drive around to see Christmas Lights - Many people turn their homes into pieces of artwork over the holidays by covering their yard and house in dazzling displays of Christmas lights and winter themed accessories like blow-up Snowmen. So enjoy a winter evening with your family by loading up the car or truck and driving around town to see all those beautiful Christmas displays. Some towns now set up huge light displays in county parks or along beach board walks to raise money for charity or other local causes. Be sure to check them out if you can in your local area.
8) Give Santa & His Reindeer Some Treats - The anticipation of Santa's arrival gets kids so wound up that it is sometimes difficult to figure out how to burn off all that extra energy. Turn their excitement into an activity by helping them make a Christmas snack for Santa and his reindeer. Whether you leave out a plate of Christmas cookies and tall glass of milk for Santa or you do something a bit more involved, this is one activity that will reinforce their excitement over Santa's impending arrival. Remind them that Santa's reindeer need to eat too so they should sprinkle reindeer food on the snow or near the chimney (things like nuts, cereal and pretzels work great).
9) Throw a Birthday Party For Jesus - With so much emphasis on presents, trees, and shopping during the holidays, Jesus can often times get lost in the mix. Throwing a birthday party for Jesus is a great way to remind kids that Christmas is really all about Jesus' birth. Bake a cake, birthday cookies, or some cupcakes with your kids and have them help you decorate it to say 'Happy Birthday' to Jesus. You can even gather the family to sing prior to cutting and eating the cake on Christmas Day. Don't forget the birthday party hats too!
10) Visit Santa Claus - Although some kids are scared to sit on Santa's lap, many love the opportunity to give Santa a letter and to sit on his lap while Mom or Dad takes a cherished photo. Get the entire family involved with a trip to see Santa by getting them dressed up in some festive clothing and then taking a photo to use on your Christmas cards. If you are planning to send cards to family and friends, be sure to go see Santa a few weeks before Christmas to allow enough time for processing.
Welcome To My Holiday Gift Guide!
Children get so excited about Christmas that they're just about ready to burst with joy. Sometimes you need to channel that enthusiasm into something useful so that you all make it through the weeks leading up to Christmas with your sanity intact.
Why not get the kids involved in counting down the days until Christmas? That way they'll be in the know as to just when Santa is coming (and they can stop asking you ten times a day!).
One fun way to involve the kids is to make an advent calendar. These are calendars with doors for each day until Christmas. Little holiday cookies are waiting behind each one.
You can purchase these from stores or online. Choose one that has fun things behind the door that bear each date. Some come with toy trains or vintage animals. Others come with tiny Christmas trees or ornaments. Still others have candy behind each door. This is by far the most popular for children whose anticipation level is already set on frenzy. They have something to enjoy while waiting for December 25th. Remind children that they are not allowed to peek and see what's behind the dates that haven't arrived yet.
Make Your Own Advent Calendar! - See How
Be Kind & Volunteer or Donate
Another way you can encourage children to participate in a Christmas day countdown is for all of you to do 25 good deeds for someone else. You can make a calendar with December 1st through 25th on it. Each day every member of the family does something special for someone else.
It could be that dad warms mom's car up in the morning before she leaves for work. Or it could be that your youngest fed the dog. Any deed either inside the home or out can count. Everyone writes their good turn on the calendar for everyone to see. You can also plan weekend deeds as a family such as working at a soup kitchen for the afternoon or visiting a nursing home to sing carols.
The personal involvement your children have in spreading the cheer will keep them diverted from agonizing over how many days they still have to wait for their presents. You may even find that they want to help others more than open a mound of their own presents. Doing good is contagious.
Give to Those Who Help
Your children will be as excited for the holidays as your home environment allows. You might try to keep the excitement going by baking a different batch of cookie each day and giving them out to police and rescue workers.
Or you can put a new ornament on the tree each day. You can give each other handmade holiday gifts each day or notes to say how special you are to each other.
Get everyone involved, even the older children who pretend they're too cool to care. They really do still want to be included even if they act nonchalant.
Interactive Advent Calendar
Your Christmas advent season will be filled with laughter, joy and maybe even cookies if you plan to celebrate each of the days until Christmas. Get out there as a family and do special things for others or just for fun. Your children will have delightful memories of the holidays and may even continue the new traditions with their own families one day.
Handmade Christmas Candle Gifts
How to Make Homemade Candles
Maybe you're looking to save a few dollars this Christmas or maybe you just love to craft. Either way, you can make holiday gifts this year that are better than anything you could buy in the store.
The appeal of the handmade gift is universal. Since the beginning of Christmas celebrations, handmade and heartfelt gifts have been the tradition. So, step back from consumer frenzy and make a batch of homespun gifts this year.
One thing that's always a crowd pleaser for inexpensive holiday gifts is a homemade candle. You can save containers all year or buy them before the holidays to make poured candles. The wax, scents, and wicks along with everything else you might need is all found at craft stores. You can buy candle jars there, but it's almost better if you re-purpose some fun jars and containers.
As long as they are heat-resistant enough to hold wax, you should be fine. Just make sure your container is flame retardant and don't use any loose rope or floral decor that could catch fire.
Start with melting the wax in an appropriate pan or container. Craft stores sell a pitcher designed for melting wax. You can use it on a hotplate in your craft room or on a stove, just be very careful!
You melt and then pour from the same jug so there's no mess. Wax comes in large blocks at the craft store.
Consider what you'd like to include in your candles as far as embellishments and pretty decor. This is a great time to make the candle unique and beautiful.
You might want to throw in some rosebuds or rose petals or pine branch pieces for the holidays. Or you might choose to leave the wax as is.
Lemon slices and other dried fruits and nuts look pretty in candles. Just be sure they are dried out so they don't rot inside the wax.
How to Make Candles - See it done
Choosing a Scent
Once you have your idea of the inclusions, pick a scent. You can go with pine for the holidays, peppermint, rose, orange, or any fragrance you think your recipients will like.
Scents are available in the soap and candle-making aisle at craft stores and you can also find essential oils at health food stores usually as well.
Just be sure to ask them if what you're buying is okay to use in candle-making.
Adding the Wick
Place your wick in the jar. Most wicks come with a metal bottom that you can anchor down before pouring the wax. If you're using a spool of wax that doesn't have the metal plate, just tie a length around a pencil and place it over the top of your candle container.
Add any scent you've chosen into the melted wax. You don't want to try to add it after the candle is poured or hardened. It has to mix through the wax or it won't scent the whole candle. Also, add any color at this time.
Pour your candles after arranging any inclusions in the jar. You can also put additional pieces on top of the candle once it's poured.
Leave your candles to set in a place where they won't be knocked over. If you have used a container you're going to give the candle in, you're done.
If you used a mold, separate the mold and take out the candle gently. Trim the wick and you've got yourself a wonderful home made item for a holiday gift basket!
How To Throw A Christmas Cookie Exchange
What is a Christmas cookie exchange? Never heard of one? A Christmas cookie exchange is a festive Christmas party where everyone swaps cookies. Each guest brings two dozen homemade cookies—one dozen to swap and one dozen to serve at the party. Everyone goes home with a sampling of other guests’ cookies as a sort of Christmas food gift. It’s so much fun and so easy to host. Why not try throwing a Christmas cookie exchange party yourself this year?
First, you’ll need a guest list. Think about who you’d like to invite. This is a good time to invite people who may not know each other as the atmosphere is so light and jovial. You might invite friends from work, family and friends from the church or gym. Everyone will mingle together over a favorite subject—cookies.
Next, you’ll need to send out invitations. The more people you invite, the better the selection of cookies will be. But you might want to set the limit at 12 people. Ask everyone to bring two dozen of their favorite cookies. The only requirement is that no one can bring store bought cookies. It ruins the flow of the party when there’s a batch that isn’t homemade. People like to talk about the recipes and find out how everyone else made their batches. It’s no fun if someone just went to the store.
In the invitation, also ask if everyone would bring copies of their recipe. This serves not only as a great way to get everyone recipe copies of the cookies they loved best, but also to ensure that people who may have allergies to certain ingredients stay away from the ones they shouldn’t eat.
Finally, ask that everyone bring their own container or holiday basket big enough to hold all the cookies they will be taking home.
Once guests arrive, the party is really simple. As each guest comes in they place their one dozen Christmas cookies on the main sharing table. They place the other dozen where the host has set up the cookies for eating. When the time comes for the swap portion of the party, the host will gather everyone and tell them to start going around the table and selecting the cookies they’d like. Each person takes a few different cookies and the circle continues around the table. Everyone then gets a second turn around the table and loads up on cookies again until they are all gone.
The fun of this type of party is that you go home with several dozen cookies that are very different. You get to sample all sorts of cookies that you might never make yourself. You can then take home the recipes and try your hand at baking the ones you like best. You can share the rest of your take-home cookies with your family and freeze the rest for later.
The host will offer coffee, tea, and the cookies that were brought for eating that night. Whatever is left over can either be left with the host or she may decide to let everyone have another chance to take home more cookies.
You may be cookied out by the end of a cookie exchange party, but it’s a good kind of tired. It’s much more fun to eat homemade cookies you didn’t have to bake.
Making Your Own Gift Baskets
Everyone loves to get Christmas gift baskets. Christmas is the perfect time to tailor a basket especially for someone you love. You can make it much more creatively than any store-bought version because you know what your recipient likes best.
Because you're making it yourself, you can be creative and really think about what your recipient loves. Each category that follows features a nice set of ideas for the people in your life this holiday season.
Get creative and really personalize the gift to your recipient, they will love your thoughtfulness!
For The Shut-In Aunt or Grandparent
You can do up a food basket. If you have an elderly aunt or friend who can't get out much to go shopping, fill up a basket with shelf-stable items that she can keep in her pantry. That way she won't have to run out as much to shop.
Fill it with canned goods, pasta, tomato sauces, rice, beans, cookies, and other treats. Package it all in lovely gourmet food gift baskets with a big bow. You might tuck in a coupon for a free ride to the grocery store any time she needs it.
Recipes for In-a-Jar Desserts
- Brownie Mix in a Jar Gift Recipe
Learn how to make those famous gifts that everyone wants this year. Put your 'brownie mix in a jar' into their gift basket this year for an added treat! They'll love it, and it's like giving them a whole pan of dessert.
- How to Make a Cookie Mix in a Jar Gift
Ever seen cookie mix in a jar presented as a gift and wondered how to do it yourself? It's not hard at all and you can do it as an assembly line and make several cookie gifts at once. The kids can get involved too. It's a great choice for a craft for...
For The Movie Lover
Another fun gift baskets are the movie gift baskets. Include popcorn, bowls, soda, movie candies, and, of course, DVDs.
You can also include a Netflix or Hulu Plus subscription which the recipient can use to get movies of their choice delivered to their home. Or pop in a few DVDs of new releases you know they'd like or know they haven't seen yet.
You can also include a gift certificate to a local movie theater so they can hit the town on movie night. They'll love this!
For The Kids
Baby baskets are a major crowd pleaser. Fill a bucket or basket with toys with a particular theme. Maybe it's all board games or classic games. Maybe it's all Nintendo DS or Wii games and controllers.
Keep the theme specific to the recipient's likes. A little girl would love a doll-themed basket with all the accessories designed to fit her doll.
Older kids will love a basket filled with gift certificates to stores they love. Then they can pick out their own toys and you don't risk buying the uncoolest toy ever.
For the Host/Hostess
For the hostess who has you over for the holidays, you can create a themed basket based on her likes and various hobbies.
Does she love to do her nails? Get her a manicure gift certificate and a pretty new nail polish along with some nail tools. Does she love to garden? Pack a basket with all the essentials.
For the husband, you can create a basket with a gift card to a restaurant he likes or include tickets to a game or sporting event. As long as the gift matches the recipient's tastes, you really can't go wrong.
How to Make a Gift Basket - Video
For Your Guests
If you have guests flying in to visit you for the holidays, try not to make a huge gift basket as their gift. How will they get it home? It will be more of a hassle than anything.
Instead, make a basket collection that folds (such as a soft fabric basket or tote) and fill it with things that are easy to pack like gift cards or DVDs. If you want to go above that, add in gifts that they can use before they go back home, like snacks or passes to something local.
Avoid liquids like bath oils which can burst and ruin things in their luggage or might not make it onto the plane because of regulations and such.
For Your Wife
If you are a husband wanting to make a special gift basket for your wife, leave all the typical, practical items out. Don't fill it with items she could use to clean the bathroom or time-saving gadgets for doing laundry quicker. Go for the impractical.
Fill it with wine and wine glasses, candies, chocolates and goodies. A charm bracelet can be draped around the bottle's neck for an elegant surprise that she'll love.
You'll be the holiday hero if you show up with a basket that took you time to make and which contains items of luxury and relaxation.
For the Active
If you want to give a gift to someone who lives a very active lifestyle, you can create a basket filled with fun activities for them. The best bet for anyone is going with a yoga theme. Yoga is a great way to increase flexibility and relax your mind.
For a gift basket around this theme, consider adding a yoga mat, DVD, water bottle, yoga block, resistance band, and maybe some organic snacks. You can't go wrong!
A Christmas-Themed Gift
If you have to create a gift basket for someone that you don't really know all that well, then you probably don't have a general theme idea for them. Instead, you can just go with a typical Christmas-themed gift basket to make it easy on yourself.
Things that you might include in this type of gift basket include Christmas cookies, Christmas cookie cutters, festive kitchen towels, classic Christmas movies (such as A Christmas Story, Elf, It's a Wonderful Life, The Grinch, Santa Paws, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation)
Tips for Celebrating Baby's First Christmas
Your baby will meet many important milestones her first year, but perhaps none is more special than baby's first Christmas with the family.
The joy of the company, the foods, the smells, and who could forget the holiday gifts. This delightful memory will last forever, so you'll want to plan on capturing it in photos and video to remember and cherish later in life.
For Them, Not You
Everything will be new for baby's first Christmas. Whether she's two days old or 11 months, you'll want to preserve every second of it. Get extra batteries for the cameras so that there's no chance of missing it. Snap shots of her opening gifts, greeting relatives she hasn't seen in a long time, and tasting traditional family foods for the first time (if she's old enough to eat them).
Dress baby in a memorable but comfortable outfit. There are adorable rompers that have cute wording on them to commemorate the big first. A mini Santa suit is always a good idea. No one can help but falling in love with a pint-sized elf. And your pictures will reflect the joy and happiness of everyone around.
Keep Baby Routined & Rested
Baby won't usually understand what all the fuss is about. Christmas isn't meaningful to her yet; so try not to overdo it. She'll still need her nap and she won't want to eat many of the holiday foods even if she is almost a year old. Too much noise and traveling in and out of too many parties can be tiring for baby and she may get cranky.
So, to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas, limit your outings. Invite people in to spend part of the holiday with you. You might have an open house so everyone gets to see your little cherub for Christmas. Then, when everyone leaves, you can have your own gift-opening ceremony.
Babies are often more interested in the wrapping paper than the actual gift. So don't go wild with the gift-buying. Aunts and uncles will come out in droves with armfuls of baby's first Christmas gifts. Instead, spend time with baby talking and playing and laughing. Those are the memories that are dear and irreplaceable.
If you want to start a new holiday tradition, this is the year to do it. Maybe you want to start an ornament collection for baby to take with her when she's grown up. Give her an ornament every year for Christmas and write the date on the bottom. Take a photo of the family with baby and the ornament. You'll have lots of lovely snapshot memories.
Don't Expect Too Much
Don't be disappointed if your baby isn't as enthusiastic as you are about the holiday season. And ultimately, remember not to expect too much from yourself or from her.
Allow her to keep her regular schedule as much as possible, and if you're traveling, try to let her sleep at the same times she would at home.
Plan to work in a few extra naps as baby will be doing more things and is apt to need a little more down time to rest up.
Traveling with Baby
When traveling for baby's first Christmas, don't make such tight timelines that you are likely to miss your plane.
Traveling with a baby can mean extra stops for changing and feeding. So build them into your schedule. Bring lots of extra bottles, diapers, and toys on the plane to occupy a bored baby. Think about ear plugs as well if you think baby may be frightened of the noise. Portable pack and play cribs are amazing for traveling with your baby. It's portable, and easy to set up and take down. Not to mention, it helps bring a little bit of the 'norm' along with you and your family.
Give to Charities This Christmas Holiday Season
Many people give to charities all year long. And many want to make an extra-generous contribution around the holidays. There are so many ways you can bless others who might happen to be less fortunate, even if it's just by making a small donation. Here are some places that you can look into when you're considering giving.
Samaritan's Purse/Operation Christmas Child
This organization is now gaining recognition for their Operation Christmas Child shoebox charity. People are asked to fill a regular sized shoe box or plastic bin of the same size with goodies for impoverished children in various countries.
Things to pack in your box include toothpaste and toothbrush, small toys, stuffed animals, socks, or soap. They ask that you not include liquid items that could leak or foods that could spoil.
Along with your generous shoebox, each child will also get a copy of the Christmas message in their own language. There are various collection sites in each state, usually at churches, where you can drop off your shoe boxes.
Workers across the globe distribute the shoe boxes by hand to thousands of children for whom this may be their only holiday gift. You can contact Samaritan's Purse at www.samaritanspurse.org and you can also give a cash donation online. This is an excellent way to see that these children get a holiday gift this winter.
How to Pack a Shoebox
Ending world hunger is the goal of Heifer International. They provide "living loans" to starving families in impoverished areas across the world in the form of cattle, goats and other livestock. You can order from their gift catalog and provide the cost of a cow, chick or other animal to a family overseas.
This not only provides food and nutrition for the family who receives it, but it also helps them make a living selling eggs or milk or other products gleaned from their animal. They can be reached at www.heifer.org. You can find out more about where your gift goes and other ways that you can help.
Be An Elf
There's a way to brighten a family's Christmas this year that puts a smile on everyone's face. An organization called Be An Elf (www.beanelf.org) allows certain post offices across the United States to allow "elves" access to children's letters to Santa that would otherwise go unread.
You can purchase the things the child asks for and mail these kids Christmas gift baskets to the child to arrive by Christmas day. Often the children ask for basics that others take for granted like shoes and clothes.
You can also make donations by check and mail them to the family. The designated post offices are listed on the Be an Elf web site. It's a wonderful way to spread cheer to those less fortunate.
Watch for Charity Scams - Here's how to avoid them
Do Your Research
No matter which charity you choose to give to, you should research it before you send anything. Are they legitimate? Do they have a number you can reach them at? Have you heard good things about them? Most charities are 100% fully committed to placing your gift in the hands of those who need it most. So, be generous with your excess this Christmas season.
Yours may be the only Christmas basket a family or a child receives this year. It's a heartwarming feeling knowing you took the time out of the crazy business of the American Christmas season to think of someone in another part of the world who isn't as fortunate.
Tips for Decorating Your House for Christmas like a Pro
Getting The Job Done
The holidays are coming and you're dreading the thought of crouching into the crawl space to pull out boxes of old Christmas decorations. You know the lights will be tangled and the ornaments will be crushed. No one in your family wants to pack everything up when it's over, so you just end up throwing it all in boxes. Sound familiar?
Storing Your Decor
Tips & Tricks
You can decorate your house for Christmas the way professionals do with a little care and planning.
First off, make a plan for how you will store decorations even before you get started this year. If you repeat the cycle of stashing your ornaments haphazardly, you're going to have the same problem next year which is always stressful, on top of buying holiday gifts but that's another story...
Experts buy tubs in red and green so they can easily spot their Christmas decorations from among the other things stored in an attic or basement. These boxes go on sale around the Christmas holidays and are on clearance come New Year's Day. So pick a few extras up.
Keep the boxes your bulbs came in. That way, they have a safe home and you'll know if any are missing when you put them away!
Toss Out or Give Away Unwanted Items
Now, go through all your decorations. Throw out any that are broken or beyond reasonable use. Has anything molded or rusted in storage? Toss it. Any broken glass should be bagged up carefully to avoid cuts. You surely have things in your boxes that are unwanted and unloved. You may have a ceramic reindeer with a broken antler. It's time for it to go.
Or you may have a set of Nutcrackers that you got as a gift which are just not your style. Those can be donated to charity for someone else to love.
Christmas Decoration Inspiration
Label the Storage
Experts also label their boxes. If you want to have an easy time of decorating, label each container with what's inside. Simply writing "Living Room Angels" is enough.
You'll remember and you don't have to get crazy with an itemized inventory list of each box. A quick few words will save you lots of digging in the end.
Mismatched & Old Items
Once you have weeded out all the broken ornaments and busted light strands, you'll feel good about what you have left. Professionals design rooms, they don't just slap up a few decorations and call it a day. They take time to find items that complement each other and work nicely together.
If you have mismatched ornaments and lights in colors that don't work with your decor, give them away. If they have sentimental value, or if they were inexpensive homemade Christmas gifts of years passed, consider working them into your decoration and making the most of their appearance.
Frugal Christmas Decorating - Do It Like a Pro
Get Matching Items
Start fresh by purchasing your Christmas decor at the department or big box retailer. Each year, these stores come out with entire collections that are designed to work together effortlessly. Which is always nice in the long run, and especially for the years to come.
Brand name collections are known for offering collections each year that work with the ones from the year before. So you don't have to buy new every year.
Pick a Theme
And Go With It
Pick a theme. Maybe this year you want to do all snowmen or all silver and white. Or maybe you want all vintage Santas or reindeer. It's up to you. Then choose ornaments and decor that sticks within your theme. Don't grab that multicolored lit wreath if you only want to do silver this year. It will clash. But you can spray paint anything that you love and have already that doesn't match.
For instance, you might have some Christmas trees that are perfectly good but in an awful color. Spray paint them gold and they'll fit in with just about any theme. Experts don't use items that don't work in a room. They are selective for the most dazzling results.
Tips For Getting Organized This Christmas Holiday
Keep it Simple, Get Organized
Seems from the day before Thanksgiving to New Year's Day life becomes a whirlwind of chaos. There are gifts to find, parties to attend and give, cookies to bake. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be. You can get organized if you just plan ahead.
Don't Do Too Much
Destress Tip #1
Who says you have to accept every invitation you receive this Christmas? It's okay to send your regrets to one or two events-especially if they fall on the same night.
Organize your calendar so you are not running from place to place. Fifteen minutes at one party and then off to another for an hour before heading to a third does not make for happy holidays.
Get a Calendar You Like
Destress Tip #2
By the end of the year your planning calendar may be illegible with cross outs and scribbles. You can find great bargains on leftover calendars at the end of the year. Dollar stores are great places to find them. Grab one and tack it up for November and December. Put it in a place you will see it every day.
The refrigerator or somewhere in the kitchen is a good choice. If you like the design and the space available for writing events in, you're more likely to use it. So don't choose one with minimal writing space if you like to write big and bold. Full month calendars work best so you can see your schedule laid out all at once.
Buy in Advance, Once
Destress Tip #3
Forgot the tape? Used your last sheet of wrapping paper? Don't run out to the drug store and spend more than you have to. Plan ahead for your holiday wrapping needs. Visit that dollar store, where they will have started putting out the Christmas wrapping supplies in October, and pick up a bundle of supplies. Get an abundance of paper, tape and bows. At a dollar each, you can afford to splurge. If you have any left over, you'll be ahead for next year.
Grab other things you might need while you're there at the dollar store. Candles and wreaths are often available as are other holiday decorations and projects for the kids to give as holiday gifts. Take some time and look around. Get it all in one trip.
Buy the Mega Way
Chances are you can't throw a stone without hitting a Target, WalMart or Sam's Club. Everywhere you go you'll find mega-retailers just waiting for your business. There's a good reason these stores are so popular. They are convenient places to find everything you need, at a good price, all at once. Go armed with your gift list as well as a list of any holiday supplies you need. You can spend a few hours there getting everything done. It's less time than you'd spend rushing from mall to mall searching for Christmas gifts here and there.
Visit the toy aisle and get everything all at once. Then, hit the holiday aisle. You'll find decorations, plates, cookie cutters and everything else you need to make the house festive. Grab ingredients such as nuts, flour, chocolate chips, oil and baking powder that you'll need for your Christmas cookies while you're there. Shopping at one store for everything makes financial as well as logical sense.
Staying Organized Helps Your Sanity
Stay organized this year by thinking ahead. Buy for your family and closest friends and then keep a gift closet stocked with extra presents for those who stop over unexpectedly with a gift for you. Keep extra inexpensive holiday gifts, bags and tissue so you can just pop a gift in at the last minute. Plan out the day you'll bake instead of spreading the baking out over several nights during the week. Get it all done at once and it will be more fun and productive. You can always freeze the cookies until you're ready to distribute them.
The holidays are fun when you're not stretched like a rubber band. This year, organize and you'll be spreading the cheer instead of circling the mall for a parking spot.
- December Holiday & Christmas Fun Facts
- Inexpensive Homemade Christmas Gifts
- Christmas A Modern Celebration
- Christmas Crafts For Kids
- Christmas Greetings
- Family Christmas Traditions
- Welcome To My Holiday Gift Guide!
- Be Kind & Volunteer or Donate
- Handmade Christmas Candle Gifts
- How To Throw A Christmas Cookie Exchange
- Making Your Own Gift Baskets
- Tips for Celebrating Baby's First Christmas
- Don't Expect Too Much
- Give to Charities This Christmas Holiday Season
- Samaritan's Purse/Operation Christmas Child
- Tips for Decorating Your House for Christmas like a Pro
- Label the Storage
- Mismatched & Old Items
- Keep it Simple, Get Organized