Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Brainstorming for Christmas
Now that December is officially here, it's time to start planning some of the Christmas projects I want to do this year. I'm hoping you guys can give me some ideas with some of them, so I can get the ball rolling on things.
One of my favorite things about Christmas is the creativity it inspires in so many people. I love to see the baked cookies, and the gift wrapping, and the Christmas cards...all of the things that people create with their wonderful imaginations. I also love to use my creativity during the holiday season.
No, I'm not quite her... and wouldn't really want to be her...
but I do love to get all crafty and creative this time of year. (By the way, her WEBSITE does have some really cool stuff on it. Sure, you might have to devote an entire day of your life to make one cake, but still some good stuff there for the holidays.)
I've been known to make handmade gifts (I have one pretty big project that I'm not going to jinx by talking about, but of course I will share with all of you after the holiday!), and every year the girls and I create a homemade ornament to give to every member of our family (usually this adds up to around 25 ornaments) and I also write a Christmas letter each year.
This is where the brainstorming comes in.
My Annual Christmas Letter
I am at a loss--a virtual brain freeze--when it comes to my annual Christmas letter. Years ago, when I first decided to write a Christmas letter to include with my cards (I'm a writer. I love to write. It seemed like a natural thing to do.), I decided that I would not write the typical "listen to how great my family is" bragging sort of letter. At the same time, though, I wanted all of my family members and far-off friends to know what was going on with our lives over the past year.
So, I always try and do some sort of creative spin on the whole Christmas letter idea. One year I did a multiple choice quiz; another year I did the "Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" from the year before; one year I did a Top Ten list of things from the year; and, in my favorite of all, I wrote a satirical letter where I proclaimed all of the wonderful things that Gary, and the girls, and I had accomplished over the year (which was especially funny when several people thought it was true; although it's hard for me to see how anyone could have believed that Gary had invented a new flavor for Coke, even though he works for Coca Cola, or that McKenna had won an essay contest that won her a trip to the White House!).
Which comes to this year.
I need some sort of fresh ideas.
Can any of you think of some sort of clever way to present my Christmas letter this year? Do any of you write Christmas letters and, if so, how do you do them? Cmon now...I need some help!
Christmas Ornaments by the "Elf Sisters"
Every year, the girls and I work on a handmade ornament that we then package up and give to pretty much everyone in the family. This started back when McKenna was just three years old, after Gary and I got married. At the time, we labeled the ornaments as made by "Santa's Assistant McKenna." When Delaney came along, they were made by "McKenna and her Elf Assistant, Delaney." Since Sydney's been around, they've been made by the "Elf Sisters McKenna, Delaney, and Scout." The ornaments are always well-received and I hope that people look forward to getting them every year (one of Gary's aunts asked me at Thanksgiving if the girls were making their ornaments this year, so someone is!).
Which comes to another quandary...I'm not sure what type of ornament I want to make.
I saw an ornament that I wanted to make in a scrapbooking magazine not long ago, but for the life of me now I can't find it no matter how many times I google it. I think I can make it from memory--it was made by attaching little circles or squares of patterned paper onto styrofoam balls (using pretty sewing pins to attach them). I also figure that it would be cute with felt shapes too.
But, hey, good stuff happens when you start to Google. In looking for "styrofoam ball ornaments," I found these that do the same thing as I was thinking with felt or paper, but do it with little flowers. How cute is this?
Yep, that might have to be it.
But I would love to hear any of your homemade ornament ideas! Let me know what sort of ornament has worked for you; are you making one this year?; what should I make?
The 12 Books of Christmas
I love to read and I've been reading a lot lately (in fact, I really want to do a post sometime soon about the different books I read over the Summer and into the Fall), and I came upon the coolest project on Goodreads (a really cool community for book lovers). It's called The 12 Books of Christmas and it challenges you to read twelve books before the 25th--but there's a catch. You have to read a book that starts with each letter for C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S D-A-Y.
The challenge also asks you to read A Christmas Carol for the letter "C," but then the rest of the books are all up to you (and they don't have to be Christmas-related; they can be mysteries, nonfiction, classics, whatever).
I've got a few ideas for a couple of them (I'm trying to use books in my own stash for the challenge...books I may have never gotten around to reading), but I'd love any ideas from you guys. Are there any favorite books that you would recommend that start with any of those letters? I'd love to hear them from you!
A Cookie Swap
I had a girlfriend from church ask me the other night if I'd like to take part in a cookie swap. Yes!!! I replied. I've always wanted to do a cookie exchange, but never have. (This is where every guest makes a dozen cookies for every other guest attending; everyone goes home with a ton of cookies to use throughout the holiday season!).
I love to bake, so this is right up my alley, and I have some old-school favorites that I can choose from. Things like decorated sugar cookies (a classic that I grew up making with Mom), peanut butter blossoms (peanut butter cookies with a chocolate kiss in the middle), or pecan balls (sometimes called Mexican wedding cookies), which are pretty much my favorite Christmas confection.
But I want to try something different, and these look good (Irish Creme Delights)...
and so do these (Milk Chocolate Mini Sandwich Cookies)...
(Those recipes are from Better Homes & Garden's online site, but I also love AllRecipes.com. They've just started a Cookie a Day Countdown that's sure to have some yummy recipes, if you want to check it out HERE.)
What are your favorite cookies to make at Christmastime? I'd love to discover some new recipes, so share away please!
I just. Love. Christmas. and I am definitely getting in the spirit.
And now, for something totally random--that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Christmas, but does have something to do with food.
Tonight (Tuesday) I got it in my head to make homemade pizza (do you ever do that? just decide that you want to cook and want to do something you haven't done lately?). I have great memories of making homemade pizza with Mom and Dad when I was growing up (back when I was in junior high, we used to do it on Saturday nights). So, I made two of them last night. One with pepperoni for the girls. Another one with pepperoni and green peppers on one side, and the other with pepperoni, green peppers, and mushrooms (for me! Yum!). Wasn't sure what the girls would think about it--they are used to either Papa John's takeout or Tombstone frozen; LOL--but they all liked it a lot.
It was really yummy, and I've seriously got to make them more often!
And then after dinner, as I was reading a book for my challenge mentioned above (I started The Alchemist for the "A" in "Day"), I had these yummy ginger thin cookies. I'm a BIG fan of gingerbread, gingersnaps, ginger anything really and discovered these delicious thin cookies. I had them with some coffee (remember: I've discovered coffee at the ripe old age of 40, although it really consists more of the hazelnut creamer than the coffee itself). Mmmm....a good way to end the day...
As I get older, I find that simple things--like eating a ginger cookie, making pizza dough, hanging up ornaments, reading a book--just make me feel nice and happy. It's a good feeling.
I can't wait to share my Christmas decorations with all of you. I've got at least one more day of getting everything set up like I like it, and then I will share.
And now...I can't wait to get some ideas from all of you. As my second grade teacher Mrs. Martin used to say, "put your thinking cap on"...and share your ideas for my Christmas letter, ornament, books, or cookies (or all of them!!).