December 18th—7 days until Christmas—Too Many Sweets

I hope this poem I wrote isn’t happening to you.

THE FLAVORS OF CHRISTMAS 

I flavor my poem

with candy canes,

and tree-shaped cookies,

big chocolate balls,

then add some fudge,

and peanut brittle,

four popcorn chains,

a pudding, a pie,

and a Santa Claus cake. 

It tastes so yummy,

I gobble it up.

 

Now all that’s left

of my Christmas poem

is a belly ache.

© Ann Whitford Paul

If you don’t have a belly ache yet, perhaps you’d like to make this peppermint bark.  It’s the elves’ favorite candy and why not when it looks as yummy as this.

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Remember, everything in moderation.  That way you’ll enjoy a stress-free, love-filled Holiday.

November 24th–31 days until Christmas–Gingerbread–Yum!

Start your baking now.  Store your cookies and cakes in the freezer and pull them out when unexpected guests and the big day arrives.  I’m doing exactly that.  Then while I’m off Christmas night helping everyone recover from the big day, Santa and the elves will have plenty of food to keep them content.  The baking inspired me to write this poem.

GINGERBREAD MEN

Their sugar-spice smells

escape from my oven,

slide over the floors,

waft through thick walls,

squeeze under closed doors,

glide up the stairs,

creep into closets,

sneak beneath chairs,

haunting my house—

sweet ghosts of December.

Now a confession . . .

I’m lazy when it comes to baking gingerbread men—all that rolling and decorating is too much for me.  Besides I’ve never found a recipe that isn’t dry and, even though spicy, tasteless.

Instead this year, I’m making these gingerbread cupcakes.  A dash of red or green food-coloring, or red or green sprinkles makes them look festive and they’re delicious.

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Our next post is Thanksgiving Day.  I hope you’ll be so busy with your family that you won’t have time to check my blog until Black Friday while everyone else is out fighting the mall crowds.

May you have a stress-free, love-filled Turkey feast.  All the elves are coming so I’d better get back to cooking.

November 3rd—52 days until Christmas—More Suggestions for your Activity Advent Calendar

Here’s another set of activities for you to enjoy during December with your family.

1.  Spend ten minutes playing with your, or your neighbor’s, pet.

2. Learn a card trick to entertain family and friends on Christmas day.  Google card tricks and you’ll find loads of tutorials.

3. Color a Christmas picture.  Download coloring pages here from the famous book about me.

Christmas_cover - CopyAnd of course the internet is also full of free downloadable coloring pages.

4.   Make a handprint tree to hang in your house.

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While the picture isn’t great, you can still get the idea.  I cut out a large, but simple tree shape of read felt, and a smaller one of white, pasted them together.  Had my niece and nephew (each using a different color) dip their hands into the washable paint and then onto the white felt.  They also signed their names and the date.  Their parents loved the gift and hang it up every year around the holidays.

5.  Bake muffins and give them to the oldest person you know—here’s a lovely white chocolate and raspberry muffing everyone will enjoy.  Sorry, no picture.  My hungry hubby and the elves finished them in an instant.  Your family will, too.  Here’s the recipe.

6.  Make blessing bags to carry in your car and give to homeless people.  Fill them with things like soap, tooth brush and paste, raisins and nuts, beef jerky.  What about a deck of cards?  A book?  For a great web-site with more details and suggestions, check this out.

7.  Make recipe for Christmas morning that can be frozen.  Last year I made this quiche and it was a big hit with hungry Santa and our elves.

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October 30th—56 days until Christmas—More Activities for your Advent Calendar

I promised more suggestions for your Advent Activity Calendar and here they are.

1.  Make popcorn and cranberries strings to hang outside to feed the birds.

2.  Make a paper chain to hang inside.  Use only red and green paper to match the holiday.

3.  Clean one drawer.  Maybe two.  Donate anything in good condition to your favorite charity.

4.  Shovel or sweep the front walk.

5.  Wrap presents.

6.  Make a favorite family appetizer.  Remember these meat balls from last year?003 (2)

You can download the recipe here.  They freeze beautifully.

7.  Everyone work together making supper.  These Spicy Shrimp are easy and a favorite among the elves, probably because they love licking their buttery fingers when they’re done.

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8.  Go caroling in your neighborhood or at a senior citizens center or homeless center.

Come back again for even more activity suggestions for your calendar

October 27th—59 days until Christmas—My Favorite Advent Calendar

Our countdown is into the fifties! Time is moving on. That’s why it’s not too early to be thinking about Advent Calendars.

My Advent Calendar today doesn’t hold gifts. This one is full of activities the family can do together. The easiest part is making the container—I use an old vase, wide enough at the top so that small elf hands can fit inside and tie a bright read bow to make it seasonal.

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Then fill your vase with twenty-five sheets of paper.

What’s written on each paper?

A different activity that you can do together. By the time December comes around, if you’ve been following this blog, you will have completed your shopping so you can relax and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Need some activity suggestions? How about these as possibilities?

1.  Make a card for someone special

2.  Go through your toys and belongings to find those still in good condition to donate to others less fortunate. This has the added advantage of brightening someone else’s holiday and gives you space to put the gifts received this Christmas.

3.  Bake cookies—What about these yummy white chocolate oatmeal cookies?

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4.  Shut down your computer, no video games. Everyone in the family gather around the table and play an old-fashioned board game. SCRABBLE anyone? MONOPOLY?

5.  Do an outside activity together, walk, jog, ice skate, build a snow man.

6, Start a jigsaw Christmas puzzle. Serious Puzzles on the internet has jigsaw puzzles from 13 pieces up to 6,000! Check them out here.

7.  Read a Christmas book aloud.  Perhaps this lovely collection of poems (My alter-ego Ann Whitford Paul has a poem there.)

manger  Or, better yet, this book about ME!

Christmas_cover - Copy

My next few blogs will be devoted to further suggestions for your Activity Advent Calendar. What fun you and your family will have together!

September 11—105 days until Christmas–Yummy Sesame Crackers

As promised, here’s a recipe for the kind of crackers you can eat. 

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They’re yummy, easy to make and freeze well.  Download the recipe here.

Nothing will impress your guests more—especially those who assume all crackers come in a box.  Make these crackers now and enjoy them with a glass of wine, like my dear husband does.  Closer to the holidays make another batch and tuck them in your freezer, ready to pull out and serve to any unannounced visitors.

Just one more way to enjoy a stress-free, love-filled Christmas.

Focus on Kids

We’re getting close to the big day.  Let’s spend it with our kids, grandchildren, neighbors, nieces and nephews.  Make a kid-friendly dinner like this Lasagna, filled with the colors of Christmas—green spinach, red tomato sauce and the star-white of cheese.  It’s so good, kids won’t even know they’re eating a leafy vegetable.  Serve it with crusty garlic bread and a salad.  Then while sitting around the table, play this game.  WHAT MIGHT ANIMALS WANT FOR CHRISTMAS?  The inspiration for this game came from a poem and while spiders aren’t often seen up here in the frigid North Pole, it’s still fun to imagine.

  Wolf-Spider1

  WHAT DOES SPIDER WANT FOR CHRISTMAS?

A shoe for every foot?  That’s eight.

A shiny silver dinner plate

for eating bugs?  Bright red lights

to decorate its web at night?

Using this poem as a starting point, ask the youngest at your table, to pick an animal—a rabbit perhaps?  An elephant?  A whale?  Then she poses the question, “What will ________ want for Christmas?” 

Others will suggest possible Christmas gifts for that animal.  When no one can think of anymore, it’s time for the next older person to suggest an animal and ask the question all over again.

I guarantee laughter at your table.

For desert, bring out a selection of those cookies you have in the freezer.  What could be easier?  What could be better?

Then after everyone, each like a helpful elf, has pitched in to clean up, bundle warmly and walk, or drive, around town to enjoy the bright holiday lights.

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With everyone home for the weekend, it’s a perfect time to start making a Christmas-themed puzzle like this one.  santa puzzleYou can order it here.  Also you can draft your young helpers into making these holiday pinwheels, a favorite kid-friendly, kid-delicious appetizer.

Can you suggest other fun family activities? 

          Next post on December 23rd we’re going to pause from last-minute preparations and count our blessings

Until then, let’s all strive for a stress-free, love-filled Christmas . . .