Organized Christmas

Cranberry Hootycreeks Cookies In A Jar

   December 8, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Pretty, festive and easy to make, Cranberry Hootycreeks make a welcome holiday cookie-in-a-jar gift.

Dried cranberries and white chocolate chips give a seasonal spin to these chunky oatmeal cookies.

To make, you'll layer flour mix with oats, dried cranberries, white chocolate chips and chopped nuts for a pretty jar gift; we make it easy with a free printable gift tag!

Reindeer Poop: A Silly Stocking Stuffer To Make

   December 8, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Santa knows if you've been naughty or nice, so what does he leave for naughty little girls and boys? Reindeer Poop!

A silly stocking stuffer (of dubious taste!), Reindeer Poop is easy to make with this simple recipe, Reindeer Poop poem, and free printable Reindeer Poop gift tags.

Mix up a batch today to get a seasonal giggle from coworkers or family members.

Candy Cane Soup: Tutorial for Hot Chocolate In A Cone

   December 7, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Ready to give a Christmas spin to a seasonal favorite, Snowman Soup?

Try Candy Cane Soup, layered hot chocolate in a cone!

A larger gift than single-packet Snowman Soup, Candy Cane Soup layers three or four servings of hot chocolate mix, fixings and a candy cane packaged in cone-shaped treat bags or disposable cake decorating bags.

Package this family-sized stocking stuffer in gift bags, add to movie gift baskets, or pair with a plate of Christmas cookies for an easy seasonal gift.

Choose your favorite printable gift tag to makes your handmade holiday gift sparkle!

Ship Easy, Ship Quick: Holiday Help from the USPS

   December 7, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Ready to ship holiday gifts to family and friends? Check out these resources from the United States Postal Service! With free shipping boxes, online tools and a helpful holiday mailing calendar, sending gifts and holiday cards no longer means a long wait in a longer line.

To make the most of your Postal Service, check these resources:

  • Free Shipping Boxes and Envelopes. Need to box holiday gifts for shipping? Visit the USPS.com Online Store to order a variety of free Priority Mail boxes and envelopes. But hurry! You'll need to place your order soon to get your holiday shipping out on time.
  • Check the Calendar. Stay on top of holiday mailing deadlines with the a convenient holiday mailing calendar. You'll know at a glance when and how to ship gifts to be sure they arrive on time for Christmas.
  • Buy Holiday Stamps. Buy holiday stamps online for best selection of Christmas designs, and to save a trip to the Post Office. For a small convenience fee, your choice of holiday stamps is shipped straight to your mailbox. Easy!
  • Ship From the Comfort of Home. Want to avoid the line? The USPS Click-n-Ship® service lets you calculate postage, print mailing labels, schedule carrier pickup and check delivery status right from your computer. Save time, save gas and avoid the crowds!
  • Go Mobile. Want to do all of the above ... on the go? Check out the USPS Mobile® app for smartphones and tablets. Keep tabs on holiday shipping right from your pocket.
  • USPS.com Holiday Planner

Candy Cane Bath Salts In A Jar

   December 6, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Looking for an easy, inexpensive holiday gift? Pretty layered bath salts make a perfect gift for teens, co-workers or teachers. Sparked with the holiday scent of peppermint, Candy Cane Bath Salts are a seasonal treat.

Makes 12 gift jars at a cost approximately $1.50 per jar.

Free printable Candy Cane Bath Salts can be used as a hanging tag, or trimmed to fit beneath the outer ring of a Mason jar lid.

Make a Gingerbread House!

   December 6, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Are you looking for holiday crafts for kids? Try a gingerbread house!

Making a gingerbread house with a mold and melted bark coating is so easy, anyone can do it! Well, maybe a kid can do it, with a little help from grown-ups with the parts that require sharp knives and the microwave.

Here's what you'll need to make a gingerbread house.

Rhonda's Cranberry Bread

   December 5, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Tangy cranberries spark up this buttery Cranberry Nut Bread recipe, from Christmas Notebook blogger, Rhonda Coulter.

With the sparkling flavors of cranberries, walnuts and orange, these moist loaves freeze well and can be made in quantity.

Add them to your holiday gift baskets for a welcome taste of Christmas! Paired with Chocolate Coffee Spoons, this recipe makes a perfect, personal Christmas gift.

Make and freeze these quick breads up to 8 weeks before Christmas for holiday giving.

Candy Cane Reindeer

   December 5, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

He's sweet, sassy, and easy enough for children to make: a Candy Cane Reindeer!

Our little Candy Cane Reindeer makes a great craft project for school, scouts, church groups or Secret Santa gifts.

Using candy canes, chenille stems and google eyes from the craft store, Candy Cane Reindeer make great stocking stuffers--or add them to holiday gift wrap for a sweet touch!

Make Room For Santa: Pre-Season Toy Declutter

   December 5, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Holidays ahead! About this time of year, it's a good idea to contemplate the toy situation in your child's room. Adding Santa's bounty to overstuffed kids' rooms is a recipe for January clutter disaster.

Clear the decks and cut kid clutter with a pre-holiday toy clear-out!

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.

Child's Journal in a Jar: Printable Journaling Prompts

   December 4, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Spark young writers with a clever non-food gift in a jar: a Child's Journal in a Jar!

This set of colorful journaling prompts asks simple, kid-friendly questions. Cut, folded and tucked into a mason jar, you'll create a Journal in a Jar to turn journaling sessions into fun!

We've made it easy to craft your Child's Journal Jar. These free printable prompts include colorful legends and graphics to make a pretty gift.

Add a free printable gift tag to your Journal in a Jar for a professional touch. Perfect for teacher gifts, stocking stuffers or Secret Santa!

Welcome Home ... for the Holidays!

   December 4, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

The approach of the holidays! There's nothing quite like it to turn our hearts toward home.

Literally. The first week in December could be termed "Housing Dissatisfaction Week." It's a little-known seasonal indicator of the coming of winter--and it afflicts many of us as we plan Christmas celebrations.

Look around. What do you see? Dirty carpets. Furniture that's seen better days. Mismatched china, cluttered kitchens, drab and bedraggled window coverings.

Date-Nut Bread

   December 3, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

It's a natural for holiday gift-giving: Date Nut Bread!

Moist and fruity, this sweet quick bread makes a wonderful addition to holiday gift baskets. Double-wrapped in plastic food storage wrap, it freezes beautifully.

Toast and top with cream cheese for a Christmas morning treat!

Christmas Countdown Day 42: Holidays Ahead!

   December 3, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

We did it! Time to look ahead to the holiday season ... because it's here!

For the past six weeks, we've been preparing for Christmas together. We've assembled a Christmas planner, organized gifts and giving, and conquered holiday chaos in the kitchen. Each day, we've pondered new innovations and old traditions, moving ever closer to our goal: a serene, joyous holiday season.

This is not to say that we're all ready! I'd venture that 98% of us still have more to do. Not only is this no surprise, but it's normal. That's why the Countdown ends where it does. There's still time to complete holiday preparation, and nearly all of us will need it.

Low-Cost, No-Cost Ways To Celebrate Christmas with Kids

   December 2, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Cutting costs at Christmas doesn't mean celebrating like Scrooge. It's not about what you buy--it's about what you do!

Putting "celebration" at the center of the season--and taking the focus off of gifts and giving--can be the key to happy holidays that don't break the bank.

Better, when it comes to kids and Christmas, cheap is good! Simple, inexpensive family activities can be as meaningful as pricey Nutcracker tickets--and no need for scratchy dresses or dress-up suits.

Try these no-cost, low-cost ways to celebrate the holiday season with kids:

Christmas Countdown Day 41: Focus on Traditions

   December 2, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Christmas. For many of us, our picture of this holiday is a static one: we've "always" done this or we "always" do that.

Indeed, that idea of tradition and stability and connection is one of the deepest and most meaningful themes of the holiday!

I make Aunt Bill's Brown Candy or Mim's Texas Pralines because my mother did, my grandmother did, my great-grandmother did.

Celebrating that connection is wonderful, but don't let it blind you to the very real fact that Christmas also changes.

If I compare our current Christmas celebrations to my childhood holidays, I find that today's rejoicing is longer, faster, more intense and more expensive. Not better or worse, but different.

This is, I humbly submit, as it should be. Children grow. Families change. On growing older, many of us explore new spiritual depths, finding meaning in different places.

Rocky Road

   December 1, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Easy enough for children to make and so delicious! Rocky Road is just the thing for the chocoholic in your life.

Melt and mix chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and butter to form a chocolate base, then spark the candy with peanuts and miniature marshmallows.

You can vary the flavor by subsituting milk chocolate chips for semi-sweet. For a holiday touch, replace half the marshmallows with pink, peppermint-flavored marshmallows. Yum!

Snowman Soup: Recipe For Warming Winter Gift

   December 1, 2016 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.

Christmas Countdown Day 40: Plan Holiday Parties!

   December 1, 2016 by Cynthia Ewer

Will your family celebrate the holiday season with a party?

It's an occasion that can fluster the most experienced hostess--and if you're new to the art form, you can experience a royal case of the jitters.

We've got some tips and printable planning pages that will get you started, but throwing a party is a learning experience.

That's why I want to tell you about my birthday party a couple of years ago. It was a surprise, cooked up by my sweet but not domestic husband.

A few days before, we'd been talking, idly, about birthdays. I realized aloud that I'd not had a birthday party since I was 15, not to mention a birthday cake. Over the years, I'd become the party giver, never the guest of honor.

Doctor Steve decided to fix things. First, he did something smart: he went to see Joyce, our area's premier party diva. She advised him to have a little dessert party. A cake, some cheese, keep it simple, she said.

I'm not sure she realized how literally he would take her words.

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