Holiday Crafts and Fun

Christmas Countdown Day 38: Make Room For New Toys!

Organized Christmas -

   November 27, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Santa's coming ... will there be room to store new toys?

Adding Santa's bounty to overstuffed kids' rooms is a recipe for January clutter disaster--and don't even try to tell this Nana to scale back on presents for the grandchildren. Bah, humbug!

About this time of year, it's a good idea to contemplate the toy situation in your child's room.

It's a fact of modern life. Children's playthings have exploded in number, size, and complexity, while children's storage options have remained static.

Just try storing a Happy Meal collection in the average toy box! Even the best-organized kid's rooms can easily drown in today's toy avalanche.

And nowhere is the clutter more apparent than at Christmas. Time for a sneaky/secret/flat-out toy reduction!    Read More >>

Simplify Holiday Traditions: Do Less, Enjoy It More!

Organized Christmas -

   November 26, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

"Tradition" is a powerful force that sometimes pulls an unsuspecting family along in its wake. Do your holiday traditions serve your family, your values and your spiritual beliefs--or are you running a tired and joyless circle each holiday season in the name of tradition?

To cut stress during the season, don't wait to give your family's holiday traditions a stiff scrutiny.

Give some thought to your family's holiday traditions well before the season is full upon you. Try these ideas to simplify your family's traditions--and deepen the season's joys!    Read More >>

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie In A Jar

Organized Christmas -

   November 26, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

A deluxe cookie with a sweet taste of the Hawaiian Islands, White Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Cookies are a sweet and tender accompaniment to hot coffee--or a cool drink.

A recipe from C&H Sugar, this layered cookie in a jar mix makes a happy holiday gift for family, friends or classroom teachers.

Our version includes free printable gift tags.

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Candy Cane Cookies

Organized Christmas -

   November 26, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

This is a wonderful cookie, but I find it a bore to make. Each and every year I drop this one from my list, and each and every year my daughter asks, hopefully, "Are you going to make those candy cane cookies this year?"

Each and every year I reply, "Well, all right, but ONLY if you'll help me!"

The reason for this devotion is obvious from the first taste. These cookies are distinctive and wonderfully flavored--and they look, smell and taste like Christmas!

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Christmas Countdown Day 37: Simplify Holiday Traditions!

Organized Christmas -

   November 26, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Here at the brink of the season, many of us find ourselves gasping for breath. Where did the time go--and are we ready?

Right about now, take a moment to consider your family's holiday traditions. Do they still fit, or have you outgrown them? Will each celebration add joy--or stress--to the season's celebrations?

Sure, take a critical eye, but also, take heart! Some of the most joyous holiday moments happen when you're off the clipboard, enjoying one another. Reach for them!    Read More >>

Magic Reindeer Food: Printable Stocking Stuffer

Organized Christmas -

   November 25, 2018 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.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown: Celebrate Week

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   November 25, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

We're here and it's time to celebrate!

Celebrate! Week sees us into the full swing of the holiday season, prepared (or nearly so) for a great holiday with family and friends.

During Celebrate! Week, we complete gift shopping, mail Christmas cards, plan parties and put the finishing touches on holiday decorations. During this phase of the Countdown, we also gather information--memories, traditions, debriefing--that will guide our preparations for next year.

Ready to celebrate? Let's get organized!    Read More >>

Make Christmas A Family Affair

Organized Christmas -

   November 25, 2018 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.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 36: Celebrate! Week

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   November 25, 2018 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!    Read More >>

Cut Tree Clutter with an Under-Tree Storage Box

Organized Christmas -

   November 24, 2018 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.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 35: Catch-Up Weekend!

Organized Christmas -

   November 24, 2018 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!    Read More >>

Snowman Poop: Silly Stocking Stuffer to Print!

Organized Christmas -

   November 23, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

If good little boys and girls get Snowman Soup, what do the naughty ones deserve? Snowman Poop!

This inexpensive holiday gag gift is easy to make for office gifts, Secret Santa exchanges or stocking stuffers.

Naughty but sweet, it's sure to get a holiday giggle from family and friends.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 34: Record Holiday Memories!

Organized Christmas -

   November 23, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Who says holiday traditions have to be "sweet"? Thinking about Christmas trees, I can't help but laugh at my childhood memories.

An Episcopalian home, our family kept a "good Advent". While we observed special Advent customs and decorations, no Christmas tree entered our home until December 24, the first day of the liturgical Christmas season. The tree then stayed up until Twelfth Night, and we'd make a little family party as we took it down on January 5th.

"Awwww!", I hear you say. Well, there was just one tiny little problem: our family lived in hot, dry Las Vegas, Nevada. Buying a once-fresh tree on December 24 was an ever-changing adventure!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 33: Give Thanks!

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   November 22, 2018 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!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 32: Prepare a Holiday House!

Organized Christmas -

   November 21, 2018 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!    Read More >>

Save on Decor: Frugal Holiday Decorating Tips

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   November 20, 2018 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.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 31: Decor Inventory!

Organized Christmas -

   November 20, 2018 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?    Read More >>

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

Organized Christmas -

   November 19, 2018 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.

Christmas Countdown Day 30: Trap Ideas With A Tearfile!

Organized Christmas -

   November 19, 2018 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.    Read More >>


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