Monday, December 22, 2014

My Holiday Ten

Ten Things I'm Doing for the Holidays

Baking Every Day: I may be only an average cook but to be conceited for a moment, man, can I bake. I kick off the holiday baking season by making my guy a real German chocolate cake for his birthday, and then I get into experimenting with breads, sweet rolls, cookies and other treats. I always discover new keeper recipes this way, like making apple strudel with puff pastry. The nice bonus of baking during the holidays is the heat from the oven keeps the kitchen warm, and your house always smells wonderful.

Giving Something Back: 'Tis the season to be generous, and to do my part I'm making an effort to volunteer, donate food and hand out books. If you receive a food gift this year that doesn't fit into your holiday menu plans check with your local food bank, homeless shelter or foster care program to see if they can use it for their clients.

Handmaking Gifts: Since my surgeries created some financial challenges for us I'm handmaking most of my gifts this year. I often make lap quilts (you can download a bunch of free quilting e-books from McCall's Quilting by signing up for their newsletter here), food gifts or crochet a warm scarf or hat.

Including Others: In keeping with my parents' tradition of always having an extra place at the table, we're inviting people to share meals and good times with us during the holidays. These are usually people who live alone, who don't have the means to do it on their own, or who would otherwise have nowhere to go.

Listening to Christmas Music: Over the years I've acquired a great collection of Christmas music, and every day in December I load up the CDs in the stereo and let them play; The Nutcracker Suite is my favorite holiday mood booster.

Making Books: I burn through a lot of journals during the year, so whenever I have some spare time I've been making new blank journals for 2015. One interesting article I saw recently shows you how to easily make a custom journal from a composition book (which you can buy at most dollar stores.) This is also a nifty idea for gift-making.

Recycling Christmas Cards: Almost any used Christmas card can be turned into a postcard by clipping it in half and writing on the back of the cover image. Small cards make great gift tags, too. Martha Stewart has nine more ways to recycle your holiday cards here.

Remembering Dad: My Dad may be gone but he will never be forgotten; there is one thing I do every holiday that is just between him and me, to let him know he's still here in my heart. This sort of habit helps with the sadness, too.

Show Your Appreciation: There are people in your life who provide you with regular if not daily service, and the holidays are a great opportunity to say thank you to them. Living out in the country makes us a bit inconvenient for deliveries, for example, so every year I show my appreciation for our wonderful rural postal carrier with a gift card to our local grocery store (a great one-size-fits-all gift, too, as no matter what holiday anyone celebrates, they always need to eat.)

Writing Real Letters: E-mail and texting may be convenient, but nothing beats receiving a handwritten letter in the mail, so I'm setting aside time every day to write a real letter to someone on my Nice list.

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