Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Christmas Countdown Ideas

I adore counting down to Christmas! I love advent calendars and those cute little pocket things with little trinkets inside! I shop for trinkets all year around, especially when we travel. I love picking up items that are unique to the area.  For example, when we were in Cabo last, I picked up individually wrapped Mexican chocolates! I also found some delightful individually wrapped tea bags using Mexican vanilla and tea.  What trinkets are you finding out there?  This is a great time to get good deals on school supplies AND Christmas is a great time to receive new ones!  Here are some wonderful ways to count down to Christmas that you will want to make.

Christmas Tree Countdown by My Sister’s Suitcase
Christmas Countdown Garland by the Crafting Chicks
Christmas Book Countdown by Positively Splendid
Advent Countdown Calendar by Design Dazzle
DIY Advent Jar by Mess for Less
DIY Boxes Advent Calendar by Powerful Mothering
25 Days of Service by I Heart Naptime

So who started all this counting down to Christmas?  Back in the day, the celebrants of Christ's birthday used Advent to lead up to the event.  Each Sunday was a set of prayers and scriptures that were said and candles were lit.  Some attribute the countdown fad to German carpenters in the 19th century who made wooden calendars of tiny drawers in which a treat was held.  This led the way to the current explosion of ways to countdown to Christmas.  Whomever you give credit, it is a wonderful way to build the excitement for one of my favorite holidays.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

21 Things I Do Before December 1

Christmas lovers agree that planning carefully is what makes the season extra special.  Having certain things in place before the official Christmas season makes the season far less stressful.  Here are my 21 things to do before December 1.

  1. I pin every day.  I look for ideas on the things I am planning and I pin away!  Links to my Christmas boards are here
  2. I organize my Christmas stuff by sorting what stays and what is going. I take photos and start selling my stuff in November.
  3. I plan my Christmas card and photo.  We love to send photo cards!
  4. I work on my Christmas blog.  We use this instead of a newsletter.  Here is are our Christmas blogs from years past.
  5. I create a paper calendar for the month of December.  I write down all the dates of events that I hear about on Facebook, online, word of mouth, etc.  When we buy tickets, all that gets added to the paper calendar.
  6. Make a list of movies that I want to revisit and ones that are being released that I want to see.
  7. Create my Spotify list.  I add some songs and take off some that I didn't care for the last year.
  8. Buy a new Santa hat!  When the Christmas stuff starts to make its appearance, I want to buy something and this is something I know I will use!
  9. I order my husband a new set of Christmas socks.
  10. Through the fall I will make and taste several cookies and candies.  Since I am going low carb as much as possible, this is going to be a big event for me this year!
  11. Using the Starbucks app, I look for the season's holiday drinks, look at what I can do to reduce the sugar, and load my "created" recipe into the app for easy ordering!
  12. Send out Facebook invites to my family for our holiday gatherings. I know, they probably roll their eyes, but we almost always have every one there because they knew well in advance when our family gatherings were.
  13. Decide on the lighting plan for the exterior of the house.  This year, even though we are going to Cabo for Christmas, we plan to decorate the exterior even more than ever.  If the inside is going to be lightly decorated, then we are making up for it outside!
  14. Look for the perfect sugar free hot chocolate!  I'll be experimenting with my own recipes!
  15. Purchase my holiday wear.  I always look for a festive sweater, a festive long sleeved tee shirt, and freshen up my Christmas jewelry.
  16. Order my share of Christmas fiction. I love books that have the Christmas holiday as a background.
  17. My hairdresser thinks I am nuts, but I book my November and December cuts and color now. These are time consuming events, so I want to be sure I have them booked and planned into the calendar.
  18. I order our Christmas pjs as soon as I see them. I was able to get our tee shirts at the Christmas in July sale and now I am looking for leggings or pj bottoms.  
  19. Instead of air fresheners we diffuse essential oils, so I make sure I order my pine, cinnamon, sweet orange and peppermint!
  20. I get our gas fireplace serviced in October.  This year I might even switch up the logs!
  21. Last but not least by any means, I find out when The Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon is live on TV.  I know I can call it up anytime on Netflix, but I want the thrill of gathering around the TV and watching it as a family.  Call me old fashioned.
What are your MUST DOs before December first?  Share your secrets and help us all be better prepared for the best holiday ever!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Christmas Candies that You will Love!

Another treat I love to indulge in over the holidays is Christmas candy.  I love that I can give a little and that it will go a long way.  I am learning that a batch can be divided into four gifts, in a smaller tin and it is appreciate as much for its smallness as it is for its taste!

With the world watching its sugar intake, it is safe to say that I won't be making as much candy as usual, so I am considering doing a candy swap with my neighbors. Not as fancy as the cookie exchange, but the idea that I will make a pound of fudge and give her half, if she will give me half of her turtles.  It seems to be a fair exchange!  Plus, cuts down on the amount of work!  Take a look at these goodies and tell me, which two would you want to trade for?

15 Christmas Candy Recipes

Christmas Tree Chocolate Bark by Premeditated Leftovers
Candy Cane Fudge by the Jenny Evolution
Pistachio Cranberry Bark by Flour on My Face
Pumpkin Fudge by Nemcsok Farms
Crockpot Christmas Candy by Almost Super Mom
Cinnamon Whiskey Balls by Home Cooking Memories
English Toffee by the Idea Room
Peppermint Patties by the Gunny Sack
Cinnamon Candy by a Southern Fairytale
Muddy Buddies by Crazy Little Project
Microwave Caramels by Simple As That
Coconut Cream Truffles by Crazy for Crust
Christmas White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn by the Kitchen is My Playground
Chocolate Caramel Pecan Turtles by Lil’ Luna

If you already are a wizard at one of these delicious candies, please leave any tips you have for making them in the comments below.  Let's make our Christmas candy making experiences be good ones!