Organized Christmas

M&M Cookies In A Jar

   December 10, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Child-friendly, fun craft gift, M&M Cookies in a Jar is perfect for teacher gifts, Secret Santa or stocking stuffers! For a holiday touch, use M&M-brand chocolate candies in seasonal colors.

Our free printable gift tag carries out the M&M-brand theme! Bold and bright, this two-sided tag comes in three lively colors. Print and fold to create this colorful gift-in-a-jar.

Welcome Home ... for the Holidays!

   December 10, 2017 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.

Adult Journal in a Jar: Make-Ahead Gift to Print

   December 9, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Looking for an easy make-ahead holiday gift? It's a journal in a jar!

Jumpstart journal writers with a quart-sized canning jar filled with folded strips of paper. Each one contains a single thought provoking journal prompt. Paired with a pretty blank book, a Journal Jar makes a great gift.

We've made it easy to craft your Journal Jar. Free printable journal prompts have colorful legends and graphics to make a pretty gift. Add a free printable gift tag for a professional touch.

Make Room For Santa: Pre-Season Toy Declutter

   December 7, 2017 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.

Christmas Blessings Mix Recipe

   December 5, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Count your blessings with Christmas Blessings Mix! Small bags of snack mix, each ingredient reminds us of a holiday blessing.

Bagged in favor-sized gift bags and decorated with a holiday poem, Christmas Blessings Mix brings a festive touch to your Christmas celebrations.

Share them with church friends, co-workers or family for a meaningful gift.

Mason Jar Recipes: Holiday Ideas for Gifts In A Jar

   December 5, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Gifts in a jar! These frugal consumable gifts feature bath salts, cookie ingredients, holiday beverage mixes, baking mixes or bean soup fixings layered in a glass canning jar, or Mason jar.

Mason jar recipes make easy homemade Christmas gifts. Topped with a colorful fabric circle and a free printable gift tag, they're a welcome holiday treat.

We've got all you need to know to make gifts in a jar. Get started with our instructions, tips and mason jar recipes for holiday giving. Printable gift tags make it easy to craft a special holiday gift!

One Right Way to Celebrate? Wrong!

   December 4, 2017 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.

Easy Holiday Gift: Chocolate Coffee Spoons

   December 2, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

A simple gift for the coffee lover in your life, Chocolate Coffee Spoons will give a sweet taste of mocha to the morning brew.

Wrap these chocolate-dipped spoons in holiday cellophane, add a pretty ribbon and stand several on-end in a new coffee mug for a quick, homemade gift ... that's sure to please.

Bundle them with a packet of Snowman Soup for an easy stocking stuffer!

Try these recipe variations:

Christmas Countdown Day 42: Holidays Ahead!

   December 2, 2017 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.

Sew Simple Gift: Make a Hanging Potholder Dishtowel

   December 1, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Craft a pretty kitchen towel for all seasons with this sew simple craft: a hanging potholder dishtowel. Designed to button around an oven handle or towel bar, it's a useful, festive gift.

Using coordinated kitchen linens for this project, you'll need only a potholder, a kitchen towel, a button and some basic sewing skills to create this colorful holiday gift.

With materials for each towel priced at just over $1.50 at the dollar store, you'll bless your budget. Better, each towel takes 15 minutes or less to craft, so it's perfect for busy schedules.

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

   December 1, 2017 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 1, 2017 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.

Seven Tips for Sparkling Christmas Letters

   November 30, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Christmas is coming, holiday cards and letters fill the mailbox--and it's time to write your family's annual Christmas letter.

Want your letter to stand out from the crowd? Looking for ways to spice up the same-old, same-old Christmas greeting?

Try these seven tips for a sparkling holiday letter.

Snowman Poop: Silly Stocking Stuffer to Print!

   November 30, 2017 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.

Christmas Countdown Day 40: Plan Holiday Parties!

   November 30, 2017 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.

Easy Gift: Starry Night Melt-and-Pour Soap

   November 29, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Transparent soap the color of the sky. A crescent moon and shining star glow through a sweep of glitter stars.

This project teaches how to add cut-out opaque soap inclusions to clear bars. A bonus: free printable gift tags make this a great gift for any occasion!

Makes 1 4-ounce bar.

"Gimme, Gimme" v. Doing Good: Teaching Children to Give

   November 29, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Recently, I eavesdropped on an online discussion about teaching children to give.

The original writer was a concerned, conscientious parent of a preschooler. This father shared his plan to teach his daughter about holiday giving. They would, he wrote, sort through the child's toys and set aside several toys "to give to needy children."

An admirable effort, I thought--until he set forth the rest. He hoped to locate a charitable agency that would permit his daughter to hand her toys directly to the child who would receive them. This way, he felt, his child would learn what giving meant in a direct and unambiguous manner.

I stared at the screen and asked "What is wrong with this picture?"

Christmas Countdown Day 39: Teach Children To Give!

   November 29, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Today's guest editor, Cub Reporter Perry Bear, takes on a ticklish parenting dilemma.

How do you teach children to give during a holiday focused on receiving?

Today's essay focuses on how to model and teach giving during the season.

Perry has a suggestion, too, which is not so bad for a little teddy bear!

We Whisk You A Merry Kissmas: Stocking Stuffer To Make

   November 28, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Ready to share Yuletide greetings ... with a clever twist? This "We Whisk You A Merry Kissmas" stocking stuffer is a sweet surprise for the chocolate lover in your life!

A homemade Christmas gift, a "Kissmas Whisk" is easy enough for children to make and give--and with ingredients from the dollar store, it's inexpensive to make.

Makes a great teacher gift, stocking stuffer or office Secret Santa present.

Christmas Countdown Day 38: Make Room For New Toys!

   November 28, 2017 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!

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