Holiday Crafts and Fun

Christmas Countdown Day 15: Gifts and Giving Week!

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   November 4, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

For many families, gift-giving is among the most stressful aspects of preparing for the holiday season. Wonderful as the tradition can be, it has another side: where the rubber of our budget meets the road of our expectations.

Anxieties abound! Will our gifts be enough? Will we send the right message? Can we afford them? Will we find the year's hot toy ... or should we even try to look for it?

There's another, brighter side to gift-giving. Reading assignments this week will help us draw closer to the true meaning of the holiday season. Today's essay, In Praise of Simple Gifts, is intended to get us off to a good start, reminding us that holiday gifts and holiday giving are only pale reflections of the true gift of the season.

Ready? It's time to take on the gift list and get ready for Christmas with Gifts and Giving Week!    Read More >>

House & Holidays Plan Week 11: Food Storage Week

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   November 4, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

American Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for our bounty--and in most homes, that blessing is most clearly seen in the larder.

In our homes, refrigerator, freezer and pantry hold a wealth of foodstuffs--and with holidays ahead, these food storage areas will be called into front-row service.    Read More >>

We are Thankful: Thanksgiving Blessings Mix Recipe

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   November 3, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Set a pretty holiday table, or share with friends with these small Thanksgiving favors!

Easy to make and fun to eat, Thankgiving Blessing Mix is a simple snack mix favor to remind us of our nation's blessings. Get the how-tos with our Blessings Mix Tutorial.

Bagged in favor-sized gift bags and decorated with a harvest poem, Thanksgiving Blessings Mix brings a festive touch to your Thanksgiving table.    Read More >>

Whose House for the Holidays?

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   November 3, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Judging from my e-mail, what's the single biggest holiday family conundrum? "Whose house for the holidays?" wins, hands down.

It's a universal dilemma for young parents. It's a universal dilemma for their own parents. Where will the "children" spend the holidays?

Shiny new parents of a baby or two yearn to create their own at-home holiday. Their own parents struggle to keep the family together, and preferably at their house.

My own chair sits smack dab in the middle. My children are grown, and I'm a grandmother of a young grandsons.    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 14: Decor Declutter!

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   November 3, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Who doesn't love the parade of autumn decorations?

From the first fallen leaves in September, through Halloween's jack o'lanterns, and on into Thanksgiving's cornucopia displays, it's glorious fun to mark the progress of the fall season with special decor items for our home.

But somebody better tell the retailers! This year marks the almost-complete extinction of Thanksgiving from the autumn progress.

At stores in my area, Halloween items were on clearance by mid-October and replaced with Christmas displays the weekend before Halloween. I stood in the decor aisles, shook my head and blinked rapidly as I realized that "Christmas creep" has finally overtaken Thanksgiving and eradicated it completely.

Not in my house! Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday, valued all the more because it's relatively isolated from commercial pressures. Yes, our family will roast a turkey, ice cut-out cookies in the shape of leaves and pumpkins, and display our cherished Turkey Toodles and Calico Cornucopia decorations.

Best of all? Our family will gather together to give thanks for our many, many blessings. And if that's not worth celebrating, I don't know what is!    Read More >>

State of the Closet: Pre-Holiday Wardrobe Check

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   November 2, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

We’ve all experienced this seasonal panic: it's the night of the office holiday party and a spouse’s good white shirt has gone missing!

Calm the chaos with a pre-holiday wardrobe check!

Assessing the State of the Closet for all family members before the holiday begins means never having to say, "It's in the wash!"    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 13: Holiday Wardrobe Check!

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   November 2, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Caution: holiday parties ahead! What's the state of your family's wardrobe?

Even if you trend to the casual the other months of the year, chances are, you'll get gussied up at some point during the holiday season.

Posing for holiday photos, attending special worship services, or partying away December's Saturday nights, the Christmas season makes a special claim on the family wardrobe.

Will you be ready? The time to check closets for holiday outfits ... is now!    Read More >>

Handle With Care: The Secret Life of Christmas Magazines

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   November 1, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

They're here! Surrounding supermarket check stands, elbowing aside House Beautiful at the bookstore, popping up in fabric stores--even lurking quietly in your mailbox: Christmas magazines!

Now, don't get me wrong. I love Christmas magazines. I buy Christmas magazines. I read Christmas magazines!

As a source for recipes, ideas, decorating schemes, gifts, crafts and all-round Christmas cheer, there's nothing like a good Christmas magazine. Don't even think of trying to pry my collection of Better Homes and Gardens' "Holiday Cookies" out of my clutches!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 12: Magazine Reality Check!

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   November 1, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

When I visit the supermarket during the holiday season (which starts earlier and earlier each year), I don't hum along with the Muzak carols. The old tune "Secret Agent Man" runs through my head as I survey the front-line agents of Christmas Excess: Christmas magazines. They sneak into the racks in September, and by November, they're everywhere. Oh, the glowing turkeys and lavish gift wraps! Who can resist the cheery covers, the promised joys?

You can, that's who. Today, we take aim on the secret agents of Christmas overkill: Christmas magazines. Read them without a giant helping of skepticism, and you're well on the road to a chaotic, over-booked holiday season. Will you allow them to inflate your holiday expectations out of proportion? It's time for a reality check!    Read More >>

One Right Way to Celebrate? Wrong!

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   October 31, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

We don't know where we get it, we don't know where it comes from, but lots of us will stumble over this holiday illusion: "There is one right way to celebrate the holiday season!"

This one's sneaky. It comes to us through images, songs and Christmas cards. It rears up between newly married couples, as they try to blend his way and her way and make their own way in the face of competing in-laws.

You'll see it working in tear-in-eye TV commercials: a happy multi-generational family (all in attractive, color-coordinated sweaters) gathers round a flickering fire.    Read More >>

Create a Holiday Housework Plan

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   October 31, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

For many families, the Christmas season causes more than usual chaos on the home front.

Do you shove stacks of mail and magazines into dark closets to hide them from drop-in visitors? Does your dinnertime schedule fall off the rails when faced with multiple evening rehearsals?

Does Mount Washmore raise itself to new heights in the laundry room, only to be scaled in panic an hour before the Nativity play?

Forewarned is forearmed! A simple housework plan--and family cooperation--will keep things humming at home, holiday or not!    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 11: Holiday Housework Plan!

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   October 31, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Where did the holiday stocking pinch your household last year?

Chances are, a large percentage of seasonal stress arose out of disrupted household routines. Think back to the times that household routines fell apart on you. What was the state of your house?

Frantic clean-up sessions before guests arrive. Late afternoon trips to the supermarket to find something, anything to cook for dinner--and fast! The desperate search for clean sheets to bed down surprise houseguests. Six dozen cookies stalled for want of a stick of butter.

Fight back! The busy Christmas season is no time to play housework catch-up. Keeping on top of household routines--shopping, cleaning, meal preparation--provides a welcome ballast to the seasonal swing.

Time to draft a Holiday Housework Plan: a bare-minimum checklist of household chores, posted publicly to encourage family cooperation.    Read More >>

Christmas Creep: The Selling of the Holiday Season

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   October 30, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

Are you suffering from "Christmas creep"? If you've been shopping lately, you know the symptoms!

Do you cower under trailing tinsel at the supermarket check-stand, trapped between two glossy ranks of Christmas magazines--in September? Do your teeth clench when you must push aside boxes of holiday gift wrap and Christmas ornaments to find school supplies and Halloween treats at your local drugstore? Does your mailbox groan under a daily dose of mail order catalogs, each admonishing you to "order early for Christmas delivery"?    Read More >>

Christmas Countdown Day 10: Schedule Self-Care for Healthy Holidays

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   October 30, 2018 by Cynthia Ewer

What's the secret to cutting holiday stress? Stay healthy!

On December 26th, ask any wife and mother how she's feeling. If she's honest, she'll probably say, "Tired!" Along with the excitement and bustle of the holidays comes another factor: stress and fatigue.

Parties, events, and too many late nights cooking, making and wrapping can take a toll on even the healthiest. Add seasonal stressors like rich foods, alcohol, family gatherings and winter travel, and you've got a recipe for post-Christmas depression.

Solution? Before the height of the season, reinforce good health habits and schedule self-care for healthy holidays ... and beyond.    Read More >>

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