I have this beautiful Advent calendar my sister gave to me. The little doors open to reveal mini compartments that have the honor of housing little treats. Of course with 5 kids, the dilemmas are:
1. What to put inside? and 2. Who gets it? oh yeah, and 3. Can it be cheap?
Here’s how I do it:
On the back of the box is a list indicating who opens the door on which day. So with 5 kids, each child opens 5 doors between December 1 and December 25.
The following items are inside (one item on each day and each child eventually gets the same thing just perhaps not in a row. For example, I put in 5 quarters and each child will have one by Christmas. Inside a few doors the kids will find a scripture from the Christmas story or a nice idea (like “Say a prayer for someone.”) to remind our children what this precious season of Advent is really about. Click here to get the verses.
- Quarters (each child gets 1)
- packs of gum
- hair accessories for the girls and chap-stick for the boys
- fun ribbon (they LOVE using mine)
- foil wrapped chocolate Santas
The options are endless and don’t have to cost a lot. Comment and share with us how you prepare for Christmas.
Every year, Mary hosts a Wreath-Making Brunch. She invites friends over for a fun morning of chatting, eating, and wreath-making. For a lot of us, this day has come to signify the start of the holiday season. After all, once you make your wreath you have to hang it up…let the decorating begin! Our wreath of choice is the boxwood wreath, as our yards are full of the plentiful greenery. For as much as you see these wreaths sold for, you would think that they are difficult to make. Not true! Even a novice can tackle this project, and the product looks amazing!
- straw wreath (any size, but we like 18-20 inches for the front door)
- plenty of boxwood branches (simply break off full clusters from existing boxwood bushes you or a friend may have in your yard)
- greening pins (u-shaped wire floral pins)
- magnolia leaves,
- heavy-duty scissors or snips
- decorative ribbon
First, be sure to leave the plastic wrapping on your straw wreath form. This will make it much easier to work with. Make a loop with your chenille and secure it to your wreath with a greening pin or two. This will be your wreath hanger. Using your greening pins, secure magnolia leaves to the same side that your hanger is on. This will be the back of your wreath. Work backwards so that you are covering up the pins as you go. The magnolia leaves will protect your door and make a pretty backside if you are hanging the wreath on a glass door or window.Now turn your wreath over. Begin affixing the bunches of boxwood to the wreath with the greening pins. Again, you will want to work backwards to cover the pins as you go. Cover the entire front of your wreath and then you can use the same method for the inside and outside surfaces until you don’t see any of the straw. Fill in as needed.You may need to give your wreath a “haircut” to tame any stray sprigs of boxwood. Once you have evened things out, you are ready to add a bow and display your beautiful project.
Every year after Christmas I feel guilty about throwing away all those beautiful Christmas cards. Here is a craft that will help relieve some of that guilt. You can make beautiful Christmas tree ornaments with a few items, a little know-how, and your old Christmas cards.Materials:
- old Christmas cards
- large hole punch (mine is 2 inches; the larger the punch, the larger the ornament)
- ruler or straight-edge
- craft glue or hot glue gun
- string, wire, yarn, or some other means to hang the ornament
Begin by punching circles from your Christmas cards. You will need 20 for each ornament, regardless of size. Make one extra to be your pattern (see below).
Now you have to make an equilateral triangle on the back of one of the circles. If you are a geometry whiz, you may know exactly how to do this. I found that folding the circle to make an even triangle was what worked for me. This is the hardest part, I promise! Now cut off the three sides of the circle, and you have your pattern.
Trace the triangle on the back of each circle. Now fold each circle along the lines so that you are folding the picture toward itself to make 3 “flaps” on each circle.
You are now ready for assembly. The top and bottom of the ornament are each formed by gluing 5 triangles together. They should form a kind of dome shape. The middle of the ornament is made by gluing 10 triangles together to form a straight band. To do this you will have to arrange them point up, point down, point up, etc.
Now you have 3 pieces that need to be glued together. Simply match up the flaps to assemble the entire ornament.
If you start now, you can have all your teacher gifts, neighbor gifts, etc. done before next Christmas season rolls around.
Hmmmm….what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers? For practically pennies you can whip up this delicious soup using what’s left of your turkey. Ingredients:
- leftover turkey carcass (take most of the skin off, but leave any meat that remains on the bone)
- 4 large carrots, washed and sliced
- 3 celery stalks, washed and sliced
- 5-6 cups of water, divided
- 1 cup of beef broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb. rotini (aka. corkscrew) noodles
Begin by placing your carcass in a large pot and adding about 3 cups of water. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Remove carcass from the pot and allow the liquid to remain. Once the carcass is cool enough to handle, pick away any and ALL worthy scraps of meat. Leave no meat left behind. Place all of the meat in the pot with the liquid. PS: This entire step can be done ahead of time and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days before continuing with the rest of the step.
Add the remaining water along with the broth, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes and then reduce to a simmer. While this is simmering, cook rotini according to the directions on the box. Add cooked noodles to the soup. Allow pot to simmer for 10-15 more minutes. Serve with bread if desired. Happy soup season!
Put on your blinders and resist the urge to join retailers in the pursuit of Christmas. We still have Thanksgiving on the horizon. Before you encourage your family to make wish lists, have them jot down what it is that has them so GRATEFUL this season.
I used good old construction paper to make this tree and its leaves. Over the next several days each member of our family is welcome to add his or her own appreciation for life’s blessings. By Thanksgiving we will have a maple tree bearing all our gratitude. This one was written by Emily (pretty sure she meant to add an “e” on everyone, but she was in such a hurry to add her leaf to the tree – so sweet!
Some of you may be wondering what you can throw together to take to Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s a cute idea that you may already have the ingredients for and is sure to steal the show.We aren’t reinventing the wheel…you can find this same idea all over the Internet. The great part is that you can make it your own with whatever you have in your crisper right now. Here are the basics of how we did it, but feel free to substitute different veggies that you may have on hand.
- a variety of peppers
Cover your platter with lettuce to make a nice fluffy backdrop for your turkey. I used carrots and red peppers to make the feathers. The sliced cucumbers form the body. The bottom of a pepper makes a nice face. I used pepper remnants to make the beak and waddle. I used raisins for eyes, but you could use blueberries, black olives, or anything else that resembles little turkey eyes.
This tasty treat is yummy enough to share at a party, yet simple enough to make for an after-school treat for the kiddos.
- 8-10 cups popped popcorn (I used the salted microwave variety)
- 2 lbs white candy coating
- 1 cup pretzel sticks, broken in halves or thirds
- 1/2 cup M&Ms
- festive sprinkles**You could also add/substitute Rice Chex, marshmallows, peanuts, chocolate chips, etc.
Melt white chocolate candy coating in a large microwave-safe bowl. Mix in popcorn and pretzels until coated. Mix in the M&Ms. I wait until the end to add these so the heat from the white chocolate doesn’t melt the color off of the candies.
Spread the mixture out on waxed paper and shake sprinkles on top. Cool completely, then break into pieces. Enjoy!
Our kids eat these “cuties” like candy. To make a healthy favorite festive for fall, we made a few minor adjustments.Peeled: Simply peel the clementine and add a thin sliver of celery to look like a stem.Unpeeled: Using a permanent marker, draw your best jack-o-lantern face.Yeah, it’s that easy and the recipient of this sweet treat will LOVE it!!
This snack will make you and your kids smile. It is a nutritious treat that will give your little ones the willies.Use cheese circles (like mini Babybells) for the body, carrot slivers for the legs, M&Ms for the eyes and mouth and mini-Triscuits for wings. Cute.