Holiday Crafts and Fun

Magic Reindeer Food: Printable Stocking Stuffer

Organized Christmas -

   November 26, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Many families leave cookies and milk for Santa, but what about his reindeer?

Sprinkled on the lawn on Christmas Eve, Magic Reindeer Food leaves a glittering path--and a sweet snack--for Rudolph and friends.

An inexpensive stocking stuffer, Magic Reindeer Food makes a great classroom or Secret Santa gift.

Package this simple recipe in zipper food storage bags, and add a free printable gift tag containing the Magic Reindeer Food poem to make Magic Reindeer Food easy to make--and to give.

Make Christmas A Family Affair

Organized Christmas -

   November 26, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Who knows why? How did it happen? Women--wives and mothers--have come to bear the brunt of holiday preparation.

It's enough to make Barry Manilow sing! Women plan the meals, list the gifts and shop until we drop. We cook, we clean, we decorate--and we wrap and wrap and wrap.

Our hands cramp from addressing Christmas cards. We go short on sleep to run the sewing machine late into the night. We rise before dawn to anoint the holiday bird and entrust it to the oven.

Christmas Countdown Day 36: Celebrate! Week

Organized Christmas -

   November 26, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

We're in the home stretch! It's Celebrate! Week at the Christmas Countdown, a time to tidy up our preparations and shift gears into full holiday mode.

Take stock today! Find and tie up those loose ends.

This week, we'll complete and mail Christmas cards, finalize gift-buying and gift-making, and plan any holiday parties.

We'll finish holiday decorating, inside and out. We'll focus on family, bringing all family members into the holiday preparations. We'll consider the children, and find ways to teach children about giving, not just about getting.

Most of all, we'll rejoice. While the holiday season means many things to many families, for all, it's a season of joy and celebration.

You're nearly ready ... to celebrate an organized Christmas!

Control Christmas Tree Clutter with an Under-Tree Storage Box

Organized Christmas -

   November 25, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Christmas is a time of cheer ... and clutter! You'll find Christmas clutter lining each box and storage bin as you pull out holiday decorations.

An ornament box spills over with hanging hooks and zip ties. The tiny red-tipped light bulbs you need to make light strands blink. Special tools and assembly sheets for your "nevergreen" artificial tree. The dandy gun-shaped light tester, complete with instructions and replacement bulbs. Left to their own devices, they scatter around the house, never to be found when you need them--but popping up to haunt you right into the new year.

How to bring order to Christmas clutter? An under-tree storage box.

Christmas Countdown Day 35: Catch-Up Weekend!

Organized Christmas -

   November 25, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

It's coming, it's really coming ... it's here? Oh, NO! The Saturday after Thanksgiving can be a time of flagging motivation. How is it that, despite cooking for three solid days, the leftovers give out less than 48 hours after the Thanksgiving feast?

In spite of all the preparations, no one feels really prepared for the Christmas season to come--and after the Thanksgiving holiday, it's no longer possible to avoid the obvious. Here it comes!

It's natural enough when you think about it, but nobody expects to be a bit depressed at this point of the season. But for many of us, there's no "good enough" when it comes to the holiday season. No matter where we are, plans, prep or purchases, this is the week we feel the strain.

Have you made a Christmas planner, gotten organized for gifts and giving, and done more holiday prep than ever before--but still, you feel anxious?

Time to relax--with a catch-up weekend!

Christmas Countdown Day 33: Give Thanks!

Organized Christmas -

   November 23, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

We are thankful! Today, America gathers for family, feasting and football. It's the purest of our holidays: a day set aside to be grateful.

Gratitude is an attitude. Psychologists have proved that Pollyanna was right: counting your blessings creates a blessed heart. Those who are grateful weather life's minor storms more easily.

So be thankful, America!

And our Canadian friends, and readers from throughout the world? You can be thankful, too--no assignments today on the Christmas Countdown!

Christmas Countdown Day 32: Prepare a Holiday House!

Organized Christmas -

   November 22, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

There's something special about a holiday house!

This weekend sees a long standing Ewer family Thanksgiving tradition: on Black Friday, my husband and I will scour the storage room, drag out the boxes, and begin decorating for Christmas.

Lighted garlands, fresh poinsettias, bright bows will change the entire feeling of our home. "It's such a merry, cheery holiday house, Sweetie!" Dr. Steve is sure to remark.

Yes, my dear husband loves the holiday season. So much so that he'll spend 30 minutes poring over the professionally-installed holiday lighting on a neighbor's home and laying plans for the coming weekend.

Will he do our neighbors one better? Only the Home Depot knows for sure!

Clutter-Free Gift Solution: Think Consumable!

Organized Christmas -

   November 21, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Gift-giving. Seldom do we engage in an activity that invokes so many conflicting values.

On the one hand, we hope our gift will entertain, educate, and amuse.

We dream of seeing our special gift proudly displayed in the home of the recipient.

We hunt and search and shop, trying to find just the right gift to stand for the relationship we're celebrating.

On the other hand, gift-buying brings us up against our limitations. While our emotions urge extravagance, our wallets counsel frugality.

Save on Decor: Frugal Holiday Decorating Tips

Organized Christmas -

   November 21, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Nothing says "Christmas!" like a beautifully decorated home. Fragrant greens, twinkling lights, holiday centerpieces all set the stage for a merry holiday season.

But at what cost?

If you believe catalog vendors, department stores and florists, be prepared to lay down a bundle to create that holiday home. Each year sees a set of new colors, new images, new trends, all designed to part you from your holiday dollars.

Christmas Countdown Day 31: Decor Inventory!

Organized Christmas -

   November 21, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

It's a race!

Watching our neighborhood over the past weekend, I had to smile. First one, then three, then an even dozen of our neighbors mounted their entries for the year's holiday light show.

Fads and fashions come and go. Last year, a few "early adopters" outlined their houses with the newest lighting fad, strings of light that race along the trim and roofline--and the year also saw the arrival of giant inflatable snowmen, Santas and reindeer on neighborhood front lawns.

What will be this year's holiday decor must-have?

Make a Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Topper for Thanksgiving

Organized Christmas -

   November 20, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Blessings are popping up all over for Thanksgiving? Celebrate them with this free printable Thanksgiving topper for Jiffy Pop® popcorn!

Add our free printable template to a package of Jiffy Pop® brand pop-in-pan popcorn for an easy "popcorn topper" craft gift.

Shared with family, friends or co-workers, it's an inexpensive way to share the blessings of the Thanksgiving season.

How To Make Jiffy Pop® Popcorn Toppers

Thanksgiving Jiffy Pop Popcorn Topper Template

Christmas Countdown Day 30: Trap Ideas With A Tearfile!

Organized Christmas -

   November 20, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Been to the mailbox lately? If your house is anything like mine, the Christmas catalogs are here!

That's not to mention the holiday issues of my favorite magazines, which seem to dive into my supermarket shopping cart whenever I'm not looking.

Christmas magazines and catalogs are fabulous resources for seasonal decorating, gift ideas, and Christmas recipes—but en masse, they can become too much of a good thing.

When the piles avalanche from every side table, finding an article or a recipe that caught your eye a few weeks ago can be an impossible job.

How do you keep all that good information without being crushed by stacks or drowning in paper? Answer: a set of tear files. It's the "Pinterest" solution for old-school idea files.

Snowman Soup: Recipe For Warming Winter Gift

Organized Christmas -

   November 19, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Warm the hearts of good little boys and girls with a packet of Snowman Soup!

Take a single-serving package of hot chocolate mix, chocolate candy kiss, marshmallows and candy cane, package in a mug or holiday-themed goody bag, then add a free printable gift tag or bag topper for a cheery winter gift.

Easy enough for children to make, Snowman Soup is perfect for stocking stuffers, office gifts, Secret Santa presents or 12 Days of Christmas gifts.

A Perfect Christmas?

Organized Christmas -

   November 19, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

"Oh, to have a perfect Christmas!"

This potent illusion grabs us by the throat sometime in September. It lifts only on the afternoon of December 25, in concert with the 3 p.m. Christmas post-gift letdown. It's a fancy subscribed to by many well-meaning holiday planners. It sells one heck of a lot of Christmas magazines.

To my dismay, it may even have motivated you to join the Christmas Countdown!

Christmas Countdown Day 29: Decorate Week!

Organized Christmas -

   November 19, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Thanksgiving's arrived, and we're on the home stretch to the Christmas season: welcome to Decorate Week!

Today, it's time to take stock of all we've achieved, and chart a course for the remainder of the Organized Christmas Countdown.

Where are you with your holiday preparations? Ahead of the game this year? Congratulations!

And everyone else ... including me? No matter what we've managed to accomplish, many of us still feel more than a bit behind. Thanksgiving gives everyone a shove toward reality: the holidays are here, ready or not.

To quell any feeling of "behind", take a look back! Along the Countdown, we've clarified our values, begun gift lists, built a budget and gotten a head start on holiday cards or letters. Gift giving is underway, and the kitchen is stocked and ready for holiday meals ahead.

Are our preparations "perfect"? Of course not! Because, as explained in today's essay, there's no such thing as a perfect Christmas--one thing to keep close in our minds as we complete our preparations for the holiday ahead.

Ready? Set? Decorate ... for an organized Christmas!

Gifting Guidelines: The Unwritten Rules of Gift-Giving

Organized Christmas -

   November 18, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Christmas is coming! Do you understand the unwritten rules of gift-giving?

Each of us carries within ourselves a set of rules about gift-giving. Seldom acknowledged and rarely discussed, these rules determine what we give, how much we give, and to whom we give. Despite living only in our minds and expectations, the unwritten rules of gift-giving govern everything from the office Secret Santa exchange to the family's morning under the Christmas tree.

Save Time With Holiday Baking: Make It A Specialty!

Organized Christmas -

   November 18, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Food and the holidays go hand-in-hand! Holiday cooking magazines are among the first signs of an approaching holiday season.

Sumptuous desserts, winsome cookies, glowing turkeys warm our images of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year.

But oh! My aching feet! Even those of us who lead a Little Debbie life from January to November succumb to holiday baking madness. Cookies. Breads. Pies. Candy. It wouldn't be the holidays without them--but isn't there any way around the baking chores?

Christmas Countdown Day 28: Create a Baking Specialty!

Organized Christmas -

   November 18, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

As Get Cooking Week comes to a close, we look ahead to next week's Thanksgiving feast--and the kick-off to the holiday season.

Today's assignments wrap up final Get Cooking chores, preparing for busy December evenings, gathering hospitality supplies, and contemplating ways to simplify baking.

With today's reading assignment, we share the secret for simplifying holiday baking chores: developing a "specialty".

A simple strategy to streamline the holiday cook-a-thon, a baking specialty saves time and stress in the holiday kitchen.

Finally, we finish the week by thinking ahead to upcoming Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales. Ready? Get organized ... for a great holiday season!

Holiday Survival Kit: Six Last-Minutes Additions For Your Shopping List

Organized Christmas -

   November 17, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

The holidays are here, with wall-to-wall shoppers at the supermarket. Who wants to have to join them?

Instead, assemble a holiday survival kit. Before you shop for the holiday meal, check supplies of these often-forgotten items for your holiday gathering.

Pencil these items into your regular shopping list--and save a last-minute trip. They'll keep the fun in the festivities!

  • Automatic Dishwasher Detergent. Hosting a holiday gathering means lots (and lots and LOTS) of dirty dishes. If you use an automatic dishwasher, be sure it's stocked and ready to roll!
  • Club Soda. It's the non-caloric drink of choice with a squeeze of lime ... but an extra bottle can be a cleaning lifesaver when applied to the inevitable spilled food. Use it to blot fresh wine, gravy or pie stains for tablecloth or carpet first aid.
  • Paper Towels. Unfamiliar cooking routines, helpers washing their hands and little-kid clean-ups can burn through a roll of paper towels in record time. Keep a backup waiting!
  • Toilet Paper. If it's "just us chickens", a missing roll is no big problem. Not so when you've got a house full. Avoid red faces with a fresh supply!
  • Camera Batteries. Don't make the family wait to dive into the feast (while the cameraman raids the childrens' toys for fresh batteries). Stock up or charge rechargeables now.
  • Sandwich Bread. What's the number-one reason for a Black Friday trip to the supermarket? "We're out of bread!" Grab a loaf today, and be ready for turkey sandwiches (and no cooking!) on Friday.

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