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12 Days Of Christmas - Straight No Chaser


Easy Rolled Christmas Sugar Cookies


1 package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup butter or margarine -- softened
1 tsp vanilla, almond extract or lemon extract
1 egg
White or colored granulated sugar


Heat oven to 375º.

Beat half of the dry cake mix with the shortening, butter, vanilla and egg in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, or mix with spoon. Mix in the remaining cake mix.

Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Roll each part 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes; sprinkle with sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until light brown.

Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool.

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Christmas Recipes, Crafts And Kids Activities

Christmas Eve Traditions

“What are you doing Christmas Eve?” The answer to that question is usually the same: “I‘ll be at home with my family.” Around the world, Christmas Eve traditions are celebrated in different ways but most involve spending time with family.

Do you identify with this tradition? It is Christmas Eve morning and there’s a lot to do! You load everyone into the family van, and begin the search for the perfect tree. Your youngest child gets to choose the tree. It’s tradition. The tree is loaded onto the top of the van. On the way home, the kids “ooh” and “ah” as you drive by houses decorated with Santa Clauses and reindeer, while snowmen glisten on the front lawns.

Once home, all of the decorations are unpacked that have been made or collected over the years - memories of Christmas past. It’s time to prepare the evening meal. Christmas carols are playing on the radio and everyone seems to be singing or humming along. The Christmas spirit is alive and well. What are you having for dinner? Turkey, ham, fish or the traditional goose? Or, perhaps antipasto followed by pasta with crab sauce. How about dessert? Will it be plum pudding, homemade cookies, or Italian pastries? Odds are that you’ve prepared the same dinner for years and look forward to enjoying it again this year.

With the food in the oven, everyone gathers together to trim the tree. The children are adding their favorite ornaments to the bottom half of the tree, while mom and dad trim the top. After the tree is decorated everyone counts to three and then dad plugs it in. The lights sparkle in brilliant colors. The children’s faces light up at the sight of it all.

It’s time for dinner and the family comes to gather around the table, which has been beautifully decorated. Afterwards, dad reads Clement Clark Moore’s "Twas the Night Before Christmas", as mom and the kids sit around the fireplace. Sleep-eyed children are put to bed, but not before putting out milk and cookies for Santa – another tradition.

As the kids fall asleep, mom and dad have one more tradition left. The rest of the night is spent wrapping presents and assembling bicycles. It’s about two in the morning, and the last of the presents are put under the tree. It’s time to bid Christmas Eve a good night.

Christmas Eve traditions haven’t changed much over time. Whether you live in an apartment or own a home, treasure the traditions handed down by your parents and grandparents. For one day out of the year we all become children again, taking in the wonder and beauty that is Christmas. More importantly, however, it’s all about family.

More Christmas Ideas:
Little Kids Christmas Crafts
The Ultimate Christmas Guide
Christmas & Advent Celebration For The Holidays Package

Fun Games On Christmas Day

Now the gifts have all been opened and paper is strewn around the room, but that doesn't mean the fun has to be over! How about some fun games to make the day even more memorable!

Santa Hat Game

One way you can do that is play the 'hat game'. With the hat game you give everyone a Santa hat when they arrive. They don't cost much and they can be purchased for about $1 each. Everyone can go about his or her day wearing the hat to give the atmosphere a festive look, but that's not the main objective of the 'hat game'.

The main objective of the game is to 'lose the hat' because you don't want to be the last one wearing one! As people go about the day opening gifts, playing games with the kids, eating, chatting etc. there's bound to be at least one person who will forget to take it off and will be declared the loser!

Quess What's In The Sock Game

Another good game is called the 'guess the contents' game. What you will need is a pair of heavy-duty socks that come up to about your calf and then some Christmas related items. You'll want to have 2 of each item and you'll put 1 of each item in each sock. You could use things like candy, small ornaments, tape roll, pinecone, etc... Next you'll let each person feel the sock and tell them how many items are in the socks. The purpose of 2 socks is to make the game go faster but if the group is small 1 sock will do. Have each person write down what they think the contents of the sock are. The one who wins gets to keep the socks!

American Idol "Christmas Style"

If you have some people who like to be the center of attention in your group, you may opt to play a little game of "Christmas Idol". You will need to set up a couple of tables for the "judges" to sit and then let the performers take the floor and sing a Christmas song. Have them dress up for the part and have some fun with the song to make it more entertaining. To add a little twist to the judging you may want to let the kids judge the adults and visa versa if you have some kids who like to ham it up as well. For the adult winners you can give them a Christmas CD and for the kids some kind of toy or candy will always be a hit!

More Christmas Ideas:
Little Kids Christmas Crafts
The Ultimate Christmas Guide
Christmas & Advent Celebration For The Holidays Package

Christmas Cheer Without Breaking the Bank

If asked, most people will say that the best part of the Christmas season is all the beautiful decorations and yummy food! Everyone loves all the sweets, cookies, cakes, pies and candy, but they also like all the cheery and warm decorations that abound everywhere!

If you're on a tight budget you may feel like you can't offer much for the holidays, but as they saying goes, "it's not the cost of the gift that counts, it's the thought". Just take a look around at what you have to work with, and of course you can always give some kind of baked goods or other homemade goodies.

We don't have much money ourselves, so I make big batches of different kind of Christmas cookies and then put them in cookie tins or on sturdy paper plates wrapped in cellophane! They are always one gift I know will always be loved regardless if the recipient is young or old!

Decorating is another thing that can be done without having a big budget to work with. Maybe you have some decorations from previous years or you can pick up some simple red, green and gold streamers to decorate around the house.

If you have some old Christmas baby clothes or stuffed teddy bears around perhaps you could put them in a small child's chair by draping the sweater over the chair and have the bear sitting snuggled in the corner of the chair. Find a nice corner of the room to place the chair or near the tree if possible.

Candles are another thing that always adds a nice touch and they can provide the atmosphere with some wonderful scents as well. The small votive candles are inexpensive and can be used in a number of ways for decorations. For instance you could put some votive candles floating on some water in a festive bowl of some kind or place them in groups of 3 on a small plate and scatter them around on the end tables or coffee tables.

Candy canes are always popular and don't cost much. You can hang them around at various places or make some candy cane bouquets and place them in some green or red glasses or other festive glasses you may have.

It's not about how much you spend it's about spreading a little Christmas cheer in the best way you can.

More Christmas Ideas:
Little Kids Christmas Crafts
The Ultimate Christmas Guide
Christmas & Advent Celebration For The Holidays Package


Christmas Card Organizing and Displays Ideas

The average family receives over twenty Christmas cards each year. What happens to them after Christmas? Do you throw them away? Instead of doing that, use those Christmas cards to make holiday displays.

Christmas Card Tree
The tree can be hung on string or small hooks. The smaller cards are displayed at the top. Each line gets a little wider so that you are forming the shape of a Christmas tree. The cards should be hung so that people can open them and see who they were from. For a more permanent display, the cards can be tacked to a piece of fabric that is attached to a rod. This makes the set up and breakdown easy each year.

Christmas Card Window Decoration
Christmas cards can be hung around the window like a border to make a display. The cards can be tacked directly to the top and sides of the windows. For windows facing the front of the house, make a display that can be seen from the outside. Using only the picture on the front of the cards, string them on a piece of ribbon through holes punched in the top center of each one. Secure the ribbon to the window so that the cards are in view. Let a string of white lights hang intertwined with the cards to illuminate them.

Christmas Cards as Ornaments
Your favorite Christmas cards can be displayed right on your tree. Punch a hole and run a thin piece of ribbon through each one. Knot the ribbon and curl the ends of the strands. Secure each card to the tree in a place where it will be seen. Propping the cards against a branch of the Christmas tree allows you to keep them sitting open so they can be read without disturbing the tree.

Christmas Cards Display Ideas
Christmas cards received for the current year should enjoy their day in the spotlight. Display them on the mantle. Another alternative, if you don’t have or don’t want to use the mantel is the coffee table. Have a piece of glass cut to fit the top of your coffee table. Take each Christmas card and arrange it on the top of the coffee table. Throw glitter or confetti, in Christmas colors of course, on the table among the cards. Cover with the piece of glass.

Christmas cards are not just for a year to be tossed away once the holidays are over. You can use them each year to remind us of people long gone and special moments. Finding different ways to display your cards throughout the years will let others share in your special memories too.

More Christmas Ideas:
Little Kids Christmas Crafts
The Ultimate Christmas Guide
Christmas & Advent Celebration For The Holidays Package

Making Homemade Christmas Cards with Kids

The Christmas holidays are the most joyous time of the year for families. Especially important is the time families spend together decorating, wrapping, and baking. So let’s explore how you can spend family time making homemade Christmas Cards with your kids.

Here are some items you will need. Buy a Santa coloring book and a package of colored construction paper. Cut the construction paper to the size of the cards your family wishes to make. Get out the crayons, magic markers of all colors, cotton balls, pipe cleaners, ribbons, glue or glue stick, sparkles, red, black and green fabrics, and small candy canes. Your family is ready to begin making unique Christmas cards.

Christmas Tree Cards
Make Christmas tree cards by drawing several trees on green construction paper. Cut the trees out. Glue fabric and candy to the cards for a beautiful visual effect.

Santa In A Chimney Cards
Draw a house with Santa climbing down the chimney. The card can be decorated with cotton balls for Santa’s hat and beard with a line of trees cut from construction paper for the front of the house. Use colored markers to add ornaments to the branches of the trees. Sprinkle glitter on the ornaments, as well as the tree, to resemble snow.

Santa Cards
A picture of a full-sized Santa could be cut out of a coloring book, and pasted to the front of a card. After it is colored in with crayons, add fabric to enhance the picture. Make a green sack out of material and place it over Santa’s shoulder; use black material to glue onto Santa’s boots; use the red material to glue onto Santa’s hat. You can adorn the card with small candy canes.

Reindeer Cards
Draw a reindeer and sleigh card. Instead of drawing antlers, take some brown pipe cleaners, arrange the brown pipe cleaners into antlers and glue the pipe cleaners to the top of the reindeer’s head. If the coloring book has a picture of the sleigh, cut the sleigh out of the book; color the sleigh using crayons; and paste the sleigh in front of the reindeer.

Once the fronts of the cards are decorated, your family can write a personal Christmas message inside the card, with everyone signing their names using colored crayons or markers. Or, to really make the card special, insert a family photograph and sign all your names.

Making personalized Christmas cards is probably one of the most popular craft ideas for the entire family. While the kids are on Christmas vacation, take a day to sit around your kitchen or dining room table and create memorable homemade Christmas cards.

More Christmas Ideas:
Little Kids Christmas Crafts
The Ultimate Christmas Guide
Christmas & Advent Celebration For The Holidays Package

Pin The Beard On Santa Game

When it comes to silly party games, it seems unfair that birthdays get all the attention and Christmas none. It's time to bring back some silly party games for Christmas, and "Pin the beard on Santa" is as good a place to start as any.

To begin this game, you need a cardboard cutout of Santa. This can be purchased at some party stores, or even little gift shops. It doesn't have to be large, but it should be a big face of Santa. You can also find these at educational supply stores, or teacher supply stores, in the section of other cardboard decoration items that teachers put on classroom walls.

Once you get Santa's face home, cut off his beard. That's right, cut if clean off. There's no point in pinning Santa's beard on him if it's already there, right? The beard you sliced off can either be thrown away or keep it to tape back up later, if you want to use Santa's face for another game or as decoration.

Now, you can create several beards out of different items. It's easy to take a piece of thick cardstock and cut the beard out of that, or you can use foam with adhesive backing. You can simply peel the backing off right before it's used. You could also make the beard out of crumpled white paper, simply computer paper or the like. If you want to get a bit more elaborate, create Santa's beard out of cotton balls or a large piece of cotton pulled and shaped into the semblance of a beard.

If you have 5 people playing this game, you'll need 5 beards. 10 people? 10 beards. You get the idea.

You play "pin the beard on Santa" exactly as you play "pin the tale on the donkey" and similar games. Spin the person around, make sure they are blindfolded and then have them try to replace Santa's lost beard. Self-adhesive foam works well because once they place it on the picture of Santa, it's not going to move, so they can't change their blindfolded mind and change the position once they pick a position. It's there for the duration.

You can add several variations to this game. For example, you can buy a full-size cardboard Santa (again, the party stores often have these, or school supply stores, or you can make one of your own without much effort). You might have people pin the boots on Santa, pin the hat on Santa, or pin a red button nose on Santa.

Any good game offers a prize for the winner, and this one is no exception. You could always offer Santa to the winning "pinner" or you could have something more elaborate like a Santa goodie bag, filled with Santa pencils, Santa erasers, a Santa coffee mug, and Santa-themed candy.

More Christmas Ideas:
Little Kids Christmas Crafts
The Ultimate Christmas Guide
Christmas & Advent Celebration For The Holidays Package

6 Ways To Find Cool Christmas Gifts Even When You're A Last Minute Shopper

So you are a last minute Christmas shopper? I'd assume that perhaps you'd have forgotten all about Christmas gifts if someone hadn't reminded you of the same! Or maybe your money was very tight and you really didn't want to buy any Christmas gifts in the first place. The golden rule of Christmas shopping is that you shouldn't be shopping at the last hour. At this moment almost all stores dry up and you may as well return empty-handed.

But wait, all is not lost! There are still some cool places where you can find some amazing gifts for your buddies. In this post I will mention six such places to you.

While there are several places you can shop for Christmas gifts, you should give up the idea of buying the perfect Christmas gift for your family! Having said that the places I go to for last minute Christmas shopping are the following:

1. Fast Food Restaurants: Well, even if you don't like fast food, most people do! Just go to any fast food restaurant and buy a gift certificate for your friend. Just be sure you don't hit the restaurants at the peak hours (a.k.a., mealtimes).

2. Movies: Does your friend love watching movies? Then you can sure give them the gift of a lifetime by buying them a ticket for the hottest movie of the month. Most theaters sell movie passes during the Christmas season. Just grab one and pass it on to your family or friend.

3. Thrift Stores: Thrift stores are almost always empty during Christmas. However, don't let that fool you. You can get good gifts from thrift stores provided that you are willing to search for it with patience. It does take some time to come up with a great gift from a thrift store, but it is worth it. Of course if you don't want to spend some time on gift shopping then thrift stores are certainly not for you; in that case, you can always get a good gift certificate for the gift recipient.

4. Hardware Stores: Hardware stores are not just for those who want gizmos and power tools. If you hunt a little, you will come out with a pretty cool Christmas gift for your buddy. And if your buddy happens to be a gizmo freak, there is no better way to gift them than buying them the latest gadget!

5. Pet Supply Stores: Is your gift recipient an animal lover? Then you would do a good job by visiting a pet supply stores. Pet supply stores not only sell goodies for animals, they also sell different cards based on different animal themes. You can easily find a dog-themed or a cat themed card there.

6. Your Computer: Last but not the least, don't forget your computer! The internet has an innumerable supply of free stuff. You can get anything for free online, right from music MP3s, ebooks to softwares. Just download one to your computer and email it to your friend. They will appreciate it!

As you can see, just because you are a last minute Christmas shopper doesn't mean that you have to be contented with second-class and leftover Christmas gifts no matter how late you are!


How to Make a Gingerbread House for Christmas

Would you like to make a gingerbread house this Christmas? There are a few options. Either start from scratch, which may take more than a day to complete, or buy a Gingerbread House Kit which includes all of the items you’ll need to build this holiday favorite. Whatever the choice, your kids will have a lot of fun making it. This is a perfect way for them to use their imagination and creativity.

If baking is not your thing, simply go out and buy the kit so that your kids can spend more time decorating it. Putting the house together is pretty simple. Just follow the instructions given in the kit. You will need edible glue to hold the pieces together.

Make the glue using this recipe:

1 egg white
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 cups confectioners sugar

Make sure the glue is thick – like glue should be. Put it into a piping gun or cake decorationg bag, and you are set to go.

Once the house is built, you get to start on the fun part. Let the kids pick out what types of candies they want to use to decorate the house, for example, gum drops, M&M’s, candy canes, or cookies.

Here are some more ideas:

• Put some trees in front of the house. How about using pretzel sticks with green candy leaves attached?

• Add food coloring into part of the glue to add color to your gingerbread house. Use the colored glue to outline the windows, roof, and other parts of the house.

• Make gingerbread cookies as people and set them in front or inside of the house. Decorate the gingerbread cookies to give them a more personal touch.

• Perhaps the kids would also want to add a chimney. Use licorice squares.

• Add a gingerbread Santa cookie on the roof.

• Want to add your family pet? Buy animal crackers and place them outside the house.

• Take a graham cracker and pipe on the family name, or the names of the kids who decorated it. That’s a great personal touch.

There are so many ways with which kids can decorate a gingerbread house because their imagination is never-ending. The main thing is to provide the tools and then have fun doing it. Whether it is a small, medium or large gingerbread house, the possibilities are endless. Not only will they have fun, but it will be a learning experience as well. Be sure to take lots of pictures!

More sites on How To Make A Gingerbread House:
Simply Recipes: How to Make a Gingerbread House
Gingerbread House Recipe. How to Make a Gingerbread House.
How to Make a Classic Gingerbread House
Gingerbread House Recipe for Christmas With Complete Instructions ...
Make Your Own Gingerbread House
How to Make a Gingerbread House: Includes Recipe and Decorating Ideas
How to Make Gingerbread Houses - wikiHow
How to Build a Gingerbread House - Mahalo
and How to Make a Felt Gingerbread House Homeschoolist

Make a Gingerbread House! on YouTube:

More Christmas Craft Ideas:
Little Kids Christmas Crafts
The Ultimate Christmas Guide

Christmas Gifts for Teens 13-18: Be Creative and Cash In!

Every gift-giver, whether you are a parent, friend, or sibling wants to get the edge on buying gifts that will be appreciated. Many of us spend hours scouring the malls and boutiques to get our imagination fired up in pursuit of the ideal gift for our teen.

Appeal to the teens creative side by selecting some craft kits. Make sure the craft kit you select is in sync with your teen’s tastes. For example, of your teen is not the artsy type, don’t purchase a craft kit that involves designing and hand painting an item such as a banner, or tote bag. Instead, find something more appropriate. There are many choices and craft kits are also affordable and fun.

Bear in mind that some boys will get excited over Play Station 3 and the latest video games. In addition, for the active teen, Hasbro Games Milton Bradley makes a Dance Twister that is great fun. It comes with a DVD, so they can follow the dance steps and move to the music. It has added value because the whole family can participate, and is a wonderful way to spend quality time. It appeals to both boys and girls.

For your teen music lover, CD’s or an Ipod always hits the spot. Just make sure you are certain of their favorite musical groups before you make a purchase. You can also purchase a gift card online so your teen can make the selection.

For teen girls 13-15 who tend to enjoy glamour products, consider a session at a day spa. Not only will you be spending time together, but your teen will feel really pampered. Day Spas can be costly, so if you’re on a tight budget a visit to the local cosmetics counter for a free make-over will give your teen a chance to try and then buy her favorite lip glosses.

There are several factors to consider in buying gifts for teenagers, 16 and up. Basically, teens in that age group are very particular, brand conscious and savvy about new trends. They know what they want and where to go to get it, so cash in on one of the best teen gift ideas of the season—give the gift of cash! Not only will your teen be thoroughly delighted and the envy of all their friends — (who will probably talk about the disappointment over the new set of PJ’s, or rollerblades they didn’t want), but it will save you the leg-work and wear and tear of walking around the mall and boutiques.

Even if you give $25-$30, the excitement of having cash in hand will override the actual amount you give. Don’t think you have to put a $100 bill in your teen’s hand. Any smaller denomination will be truly appreciated. Who knows? Your teen might surprise you and spend it wisely.

Even though most teens are computer savvy, not all teens would consider a computer an ideal gift. Some teens prefer to add to their already expanding DVD, or CD collection, and take great pride in owning the latest releases. DVD’s and CD’s are moderately priced, and buying boxed sets can also save you money while making a great impression on your teen. Keep in mind your teen’s musical tastes and favorite films when making selections.

Make Your Own Christmas Wreaths

Most people want to place a sign of the season on their front door. Usually the decoration of choice is a Christmas wreath. Wreaths don’t have to only go on the front door and they don’t only have to be made out of artificial pine garland or real pine sprigs. Think outside the box this Christmas and create a beautiful and unique wreath.

The holiday wreath on the front door welcomes people to your home. Traditionally it was good luck to hang greenery because it remained green throughout the winter when everything else had died. Greenery gave a pleasant scent to the air inside the home as well.

Wreaths are usually made of evergreen pine sprigs and decorated with bows or holly with berries. The Christmas wreath has evolved into so much more since the early days of Christmas celebrations. They have become bigger and more ornate each year.

Most stores carry undecorated wreaths. These are artificial wreaths that are just waiting for you to add your magic touch. If you plan on using the same wreath each year, let each member of the family add something to it to symbolize the uniqueness of the whole family.

Bows are a great choice for additions to any wreath. The fabric can be looped around the wreath or you can use a hot glue gun to attach smaller bows to the front of the wreath. Tiny figures like English horns, cherubs, Christmas trees, Santa ornaments, and pine cones can be added to the wreath as well. A blast of spray snow on the tips of the pine needles brings a touch of winter to the entire decoration.

Dried Fruit
If you want to get away from the pine variety of wreath, try dried fruit slices. Thin slices of fruit like apples and oranges can be dried and arranged in a circle. The slices can then be glued together in the shape of a wreath. Add sprigs of holly, mint, and other herbs to create an even more inviting scent. Don’t limit your wreath to just the front door either. Fruit wreaths can be hung in the kitchen or dining room. Cover them with a varnish or other coating so as not to attract ants and insects to your creation.

Wreaths can also be made out of fabric and stuffing. A festive cloth can be used to make a tubular shape. Stuff the cloth with pillow filling to give it a full look. Add herbs to the filling or try a scented spray to the outer covering. These wreaths can be hung on bedroom doors and in any room where you want a nice, clean holiday smell.

A Christmas wreath can be created from any number of items. Look at what you already have and see what you can do with before you purchase a wreath from the store. Put your thinking cap on and in a few easy steps, you could have a house full of holiday wreaths in no time.

More Christmas Ideas:
Little Kids Christmas Crafts
The Ultimate Christmas Guide
Christmas & Advent Celebration For The Holidays Package

Making Christmas Wrapping Paper with Kids

Making Christmas wrapping paper with kids is an enjoyable activity to do with your kids. Here are a few to consider.

Tin Foil -
Using tin foil as Christmas wrapping paper is a great idea. Take a gift and wrap it in aluminum foil, which you can purchase at any supermarket. You can decorate the wrapped gift in several ways. Attach a Christmas card or cut out pictures. Or gather together some Christmas stickers and place the stickers you have on the box.

Fabric -
Another idea is to take fabric, and use it as Christmas wrapping paper. This is ideal for a small gift. Simply wrap the fabric around the gift and close the top with a ribbon.

Sunday Newspaper -
Make wrapping paper from your Sunday newspaper. The newspaper is filled with full color inserts and Christmas ads, which are usually two to four page store specials. The Sunday paper also usually contains comics, as well. Select some pages and pull out the pages that you choose. Take some scotch tape and tape the pages together so that you have enough paper to wrap the gift. Attach a bright ribbon to match the colors in the paper. This is a unique and fun way to wrap a gift, and I am sure the recipient of this present will be delighted at your ingenuity and imaginative style.

Kids Artwork -
Kids love to show off their artwork. Why not wrap the gift in plain newsprint or a paper bag and encourage your child to decorate it? Your child may be more excited about their artwork than presenting the gift itself. Simply present your child with the standard tools – crayons, markers, rubber stamps, stickers -- and let them go crazy with it.

If you don’t have paper bags or newsprint, you can take the artwork that your children bring home from school to create Christmas gift wrap. Simply take several pieces of their existing art and help them use it to wrap the gift. Just make sure it isn’t their “most special favorite” artwork before you begin.

While most people are deciding on what Christmas wrapping paper to buy, making Christmas wrapping paper with kids can be so much more enjoyable, and easy to do. Whether you use tin foil, ribbons, ornaments, drawings, or goodies – these original ideas will make Christmas gift wrapping a pleasure for you and your kids.

More Christmas Ideas:
Little Kids Christmas Crafts
The Ultimate Christmas Guide
Christmas & Advent Celebration For The Holidays Package


Christmas Honey-Cola Baked Ham

A quick and easy way to prepare a ham for Christmas dinner...


12-13 lb. pre-cooked ham
2-3 liters of Coca Cola soda
Cloves (whole)
Honey or corn syrup


Prepare ham by placing it in a deep pan with rack. Pour enough soda into pan to bring liquid up to middle sides of ham. Steam (simmer) slowly for 2 1/2 hours. Ham will look very caramelized. Cool ham for 10 minutes on a cooling rack. Brush with honey or corn syrup. Score ham and pierce with whole cloves. Brush again with honey/corn syrup and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden. Serves 10-12.

Making "Scents" Of Christmas

Here are 3 recipes to help you add that special Christmas "Scent" throughout your home during the holidays!


3 tbsps of ground cinnamon
2 tbsps of ground cloves
1 tbsp of anise seed
1 tsp of ground nutmeg
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 quart of water

Mix the spices together. Add water. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally, then simmer on low. Add water as needed. Dry mix can also be used as gift.


Peels of 2 oranges
3 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
2 1/2 cups of water

Combine in a saucepan. Simmer, add water as needed.


1 pkg. of pickling spice
1 pkg. of whole cloves
1 pkg. of stick cinnamon
1 can of apple juice

Put all ingredients into a crock-pot. Fill to top with water. Bring to boil, put on simmer. Add water as needed.

More Christmas Ideas:
Little Kids Christmas Crafts
The Ultimate Christmas Guide
Christmas & Advent Celebration For The Holidays Package

More Santa Craft Ideas for Kids

Kids love Christmas crafts. Santa craft ideas for kids are an easy and fun way to spend time with your kids during the holidays.

Here are a few ideas to choose from.

Santa Picture:

Let’s begin with Santa pictures. There are a variety of Santa coloring books available during the holidays. Choose a picture from the book. Cut out the picture of Santa, and place the picture in the center of a sheet of white construction paper. Use a glue stick to secure the picture.

Color the picture with crayons. Once the picture is finished, place cotton balls to cover Santa’s beard, and one at the end of his hat. You can even glue black buttons for Santa’s eyes, and a red button for his nose. Decorate the blank area of the white construction paper by drawing candy canes or trees. When the picture is completed, your kids can sign their names directly under the picture. Take a piece of cardboard and glue the picture to it. Place the picture in a frame, and place the frame in a special place in your home for all to see and admire.

Santa Christmas Cards:

Making Santa Christmas cards is another craft idea your kids will enjoy. Take a piece of white construction paper and measure the paper to a size of 5x7 inches. Cut the construction paper to that size. Fold the construction paper in half, either horizontally or vertically. Encourage your children to draw their own version of Santa on the front cover. Use crayons or colored markers. After the picture is finished, your kids can write Christmas messages on the inside of the card. Homemade Christmas cards are wonderful to display in your home or send to relatives and friends.

Make a Santa plate ornament for the Christmas tree:

You'll need crayons and markers; cotton balls, a dinner-sized paper plate, and color sparkles. Draw Santa, without his red cap, on the plate using the crayons or markers. Add the cotton balls for his beard. You can even glue the cotton balls into a V shape so that Santa's beard hangs off the plate. The cotton balls can also be used for Santa's hair, too. Use a blue marker to color in Santa's eyes, and a black marker to draw Santa's glasses. Use red food color on a cotton ball to make Santa's nose. You can color the rim of the plate with red or green and add color sparkles to it. Finally, place the Santa plate on the tree by inserting an ornament hook at the top of the plate.

As you can see, there are so many different ways to involve your kids in creating, making, and decorating Santa Christmas ornaments, pictures, and cards.

More Christmas Ideas:
Little Kids Christmas Crafts
The Ultimate Christmas Guide
Christmas & Advent Celebration For The Holidays Package

Reindeer Christmas Craft Ideas for Kids

Do you know the names of Santa’s reindeer? Maybe or maybe not, but everyone knows “the most famous reindeer of all.” Kids will love to create their own Rudolph.

Cardboard Rudolph Art

This one is simple. Using a 5x7 writing pad, take off the brown cardboard at the back. Use two large black buttons and place them on the cardboard to make the reindeer’s eyes. If you don’t have buttons, you could use almonds or dried beans.

Color a cotton ball using a red marker, and glue the cotton ball onto the cardboard to make his nose.

Take two popsicle sticks, color them brown, and glue each stick to each end of the cardboard for his ears; and with a magic marker, draw a curved line for his smile.

Put Rudolph on a plate stand to display him in your home.

Paper Plate Rudolph Mask

Another idea is to take a paper plate and turn it into Rudolph mask. Lightly color the plate with a brown crayon to begin.

Then, you can make the antlers. At the top of the plate, glue two brown pipe cleaners for antlers. Then cut two or more smaller pieces of brown pipe cleaner and twist them around the longer pipe cleaner, turning them outward to create the antler effect. You may need to reinforce the antlers with a hot glue gun after your child is done creating this mask.

Cut holes for the eyes and color around the holes with a black marker to make his eyes look darker. For his nose, cut out a circle from any red fabric (even patterned fabric would be cute). Glue it onto the plate.

Then, draw a big smile with a black crayon. You’ve got an adorable Rudolph mask. Simply glue a Popsicle stick to the bottom as a handle and your child has a mask to wear. Now all you need are a few more and you’ll have all of Santa’s reindeer.

Now that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been created, have you been thinking about the names of the other eight reindeer?

The answer is: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.

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Easy Christmas Gifts in a Jar

Sometimes it is the simple things in life that makes us happy. Easy Christmas gifts in a jar are one of those simple things.

Love to make gingerbread cookies? Why not put the ingredients in a jar; write the recipe on red construction paper; cut the construction paper to the circumference of the jar; and wrap the construction paper around the front of the jar with white ribbon. Place a green bow on top of the lid of the jar.

Brownies are a wonderful gift anytime of year, but especially during Christmas. Find your favorite brownie recipe and put the ingredients into a jar. Type up the recipe, roll it up, and place the rolled recipe into jar along with the ingredients. Wrap the jar in color cellophane, and tie the cellophane with red ribbon.

Have you seen those spice green and red candies? There are sold in most supermarkets. This would make a perfect Christmas gift in a jar.

Jelly beans in a jar are another traditional Christmas gift. Easy, fun, delicious, and low in calories as well.

M&M’s in a jar is another wonderful Christmas treat. Buy a bag of red and green M&M’s, either plain or with nuts, and fill up a jar as a Christmas gift which anyone would love to receive.

A traditional Christmas gift in a jar is the colorful hard candies, such as peppermint sticks; Christmas hard candies with filling; red and white mint swirl candies.

For chocolate lovers, why not put chocolate pretzels in a jar. Chocolate pretzels come in packages, and are available in your local supermarket. What a sweet treat this gift would make.

How about theme gifts in a jar? Examples are: Chocolate golf balls; chocolate baseballs; chocolate footballs; chocolate soccer balls. Any of these fun theme gifts would be a hit with anyone who enjoys these sports.

No matter what you choose; traditional; off-beat; baked or bought, making easy Christmas gifts in a jar is fun and allows you to be as creative as you want to be. Gifts in a jar can be an inexpensive treat to give to your colleagues at work; your friends, and even your family members.

The best part is you can go to your supermarket or shopping club and stock up on your favorite candies and chocolates, to make as many jars of treats as you need. Happy shopping.

Six Popular Christmas Tree Themes

More than ever before, the traditional Christmas tree has evolved from the standard that we grew up with into an array of Christmas tree themes. Here are some of the most popular Christmas tree themes.

An angel tree is quite popular. A white tree adorned with golden-winged angels on its branches, gold garland, and an angel atop the tree. A tree skirt made of gold gives the tree a beautiful finishing touch.

Hummel ornaments tree theme. They are quite delicate and beautiful. Place each ornament on a branch and just add white lights. Place a larger Hummel ornament atop the tree. The skirt could be elegant and simple; perhaps a brown skirt with a lace border.

Musical trees are popular as well. Place different instrumental ornaments on the branches and use a piano key skirt.

Toyland trees are very popular for the young and old alike. Remember the movie Sound of Music? Why not decorate the tree with your “favorite things.” For example, use dolls in white dresses with blue satin sashes; ornaments of cream colored ponies; sleigh bells, and crisp apple strudels. Use turtledoves to represent “the wild geese that fly,” and use white construction paper to cut out and paste “the moon on their wings.”

Decorate your tree with candy. Your kids will have a great time deciding which candies to use. Put candy canes on the branches, and string a garland of different colored lifesavers around the tree. If you are decorating a white tree, hang long red vines on each of the branches, or tie silver-wrapped kisses on the branches to resemble bells.

Cookie trees are another favorite. Bake your favorite cookies or, in addition, hang your favorite cookie cutters on the tree as well. Ensure that when baking the cookies, you reserve a hole to insert the ribbon. Make Christmas cookie balls and string them around the tree, by inserting a thread through each ball.

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Chocolate-Peppermint Refrigerator Cookies


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine -- softened
1 egg
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tbsp milk
1/4 cup finely crushed hard peppermint candy


Beat powdered sugar, butter and egg in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour and salt. Divide dough in half. Stir cocoa and milk into one half and peppermint candy into other half.

Roll or pat chocolate dough into rectangle, 12 × 6 1/2 inches, on waxed paper. Shape peppermint dough into roll, 12 inches long; place on chocolate dough. Wrap chocolate dough around peppermint dough, using waxed paper to help lift. Press edges together. Wrap and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.

Heat oven to 375º. Cut roll into 1/4-inch slices. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet to a wire rack to cool.

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Christmas Gift Ideas for the Discriminating 10-12 year old

As children get older, they get more of an opinion about their Christmas gifts. You think back on the days when your little toddler would beam if you handed him a coloring book and now you’ve got a 10 year old who has very particular tastes. So, what’s a gift-giver to do?

Many children between the ages of ten and twelve like to get involved in art projects, but some parents don’t appreciate the mess they leave behind. For the young artist at heart, Crayola’s Color Wonder Sprayer, a splatter-free airbrushing toy is a fantastic option. Priced affordably at under $10 at Amazon, the airbrushing toy comes with four different spray cartridges in an assortment of vivid colors: aqua, orange, green and fuchsia.

In addition, it comes with a twelve page Color Wand Paper tablet. Your child will have hours of creative fun watching the colorful mist transform into exciting color. An item of this type engages your child’s imagination, and as a bonus, you can frame the art work to help boost your child’s confidence and help them enjoy a sense of pride in their work.

Or perhaps your young artist would enjoy a trip to an art or frame store to purchase canvas and paints. If your child is truly interested in art, a set of brushes or an art class would be the perfect gift.

For boys who enjoy toy racing cars, the X-men Race set make a perfect gift. Although moderately to expensively priced at about $80, the racing set comes with two cars, Marvel heroes, and a winding track twenty feet long that also curves and loops. The cars race at a scale speed of 450 MPH to guarantee excitement and super charged fun. If you are on a budget, you may consider more affordable racing car sets. You don’t have to spend as much on other brands, but it does require some legwork and research until you find the best price. You may find what you need at eBay.

For the inquisitive child, Action Products International offers the Curiosity Kit- Jr. Bureau of Investigation affordably priced at under $15. It’s appropriate for both boys and girls and allows the child to engage in imaginative play, as well as stimulating their critical thinking skills.

The kit comes complete with a working camera, flashlight, and tweezers to collect evidence, evidence bags, badge, and crime scene tape. So if you have a budding Sherlock Holmes on your gift list, the curiosity kit will be a big hit this holiday season.

When in doubt, you can always purchase a gift card from your child’s favorite store. Your child will enjoy the independence of making a gift selection on their own.

Christmas Gifts for 7-9 Year Olds - Child’s Play

There are a variety of affordable and fun Christmas gift ideas on the market this holiday season. You’ll have a blast shopping for your children.

For example, if your child is a budding musician there are toys geared towards his talents. Get your little one inspired to play music with some of the electronic keyboards you’ll see in stores. Groovy Tune’s electronic keyboard and stool, guarantees hours of sing-alongs and creativity. The price is right too and makes an affordable and exciting gift idea at under $50.

For active boys, action figures are moderately priced and abundantly available in stores. You can find action figures for The Pirates of the Caribbean. If your child is a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean, he’s in for a treat, because there is a wide selection to choose from. Boys will be delighted with Super Hero action figures and accessories. Action figures also engage the imagination and will help your child enjoy creative play.

The perennial Mattel Barbie is a favorite for girls and your little girl may already have her heart set on receiving one for a gift. In any case, some stores feature Barbie with clothing and accessories to keep your child engaged in creative play. Barbie has many feature films available now, like Fairytopia and the 12 Dancing Princesses. Each movie has corresponding dolls that you can purchase. You may still be able to find some good prices for Barbie in some outlet stores. As a supplement, for fans of Barbie, the Barbie color-n-style head makes an exciting gift idea and will teach your child about good hair grooming. Most Barbie products are affordably priced and you can from time to time, find a sale.

Although boys and girls are very fond of Play Station 3 and video games, an educational gift can sometimes entice them as well. For instance, a telescope can be an ideal and moderately priced gift. Check the outlets first and you may be able to find Tele-Science’s telescope for under $25. A telescope stimulates interest in the field of Science and is by far one of the most popular educational products on the market for children.

To Lego, or not to Lego? Most children will be delighted to play with Legos and like the Barbie, Legos are an old time –tested favorite. The Legos Creator 1,000 piece tub is affordable in outlets for under $15, so you can’t go wrong.

Homemade Christmas Gifts for Family Members Who are Away

Families love to spend the holidays together. Sometimes, circumstances are such that family members aren’t able to be present in the same place during Christmas. There are many reasons that some family members can’t be together during the holidays. If they are in the military, they could be stationed overseas. Family members who are ill may find it hard or not possible to travel long distances.

When situations arise that keep families separated don’t let it stop you from making those who can’t be with you feel they are still a part of the celebration! Homemade gifts sent to them through the mail will help you to accomplish this. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Do you own a video camera? Create a holiday video for far away family members. Each person can talk about how much they miss them and send their own personal message of love. Kids can drop hints about what they want for Christmas too. If you haven’t seen the person in awhile, talk about what has changed in your life to get them up to speed.

Along the same line as videos are scrapbooks. Scrapbooks are like a hyped up photo album. They can contain funny sayings, neat designs, and other added ornamentation that you wouldn’t find in a photo album.

Scrapbooks can be about the person who is missing, about their family back home, or both. Each person can create a miniature scrapbook of themselves to send. Scrapbooks contain magazine clippings, announcements, and other keepsakes not just photographs. Use your imagination and come up with new ideas that will make the gift special for the family member who can’t be with you.

If you decide to send edible homemade gifts, be sure to check on the requirements for shipping those gifts. Not everything travels well through the mail. If the gift is breakable like cookie mixes in jars, they must be wrapped well with bubble wrap to prevent accidents during shipping. You’ll also want to be sure you send the gifts early enough so that they arrive on time. Check with your local post office to find out how much time you should give for the package to arrive.

Homemade accessories like scarves, hats, and gloves are easy to ship and even kids can make them with a bit of help. These items are always needed in cold weather. Using solid color yarn will make them more versatile with different outfits.

Certain homemade gifts can be too large or bulky to send in one piece. Package the gift in separate parts and send instructions for constructing it on the other end. This can actually be fun for the family member receiving the gift.

Speaking of fun, jigsaw puzzles provide hours of brain boggling fun. Create your own using a blow up of a family portrait. Glue the picture to a piece of cardboard and cover it with clear contact paper. Create different shapes in the picture and cut them out. Paste a smaller copy of the picture on the top of the gift box so that the person reassembling it will know what the completed puzzle should look like.

Homemade crafts are appreciated by family near and far. By sending homemade gifts you help the miles separating you seem closer and the heart warming thoughts put into the gifts will show no matter how far apart you are.

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Fun Santa Crafts For Christmas

If there’s one thing that kids love to do it’s create things. The holidays are just the right time for them to have free reign with crafts. Since everyone is hard at work decorating the house, kids can lend their creativity to the moment by creating their own decorations of Santa Claus.

When you mention Christmas kids think of Santa Claus. The bearded man in the red suit has fascinated young ones for decades. Show the kids how to make fun Christmas crafts that feature Santa.

Before you buy anything, check around the house. Primary colors for Santa Claus are red, white, and black. Go on the hunt for materials that match this description. A bag full of cotton balls can be turned into a white beard for several crafts. Pipe cleaners, wooden clothespins, pieces of fleece or felt, and Popsicle sticks are excellent for many holiday crafts and Santa crafts are no exception.

Once you’ve turned the place upside down, head out to the store for the items that you are missing. Using items that you already own saves money especially when there is more than one child and they want to make a lot of crafts.

Christmas Stockings, Hats or Scarves
Let’s return to those cotton balls. If you have some generic Christmas stockings lying around, give them a face lift. Use a black marker to draw the face of Santa Claus on the stocking. Attach a cotton ball beard, eyes, and a nose with non-toxic glue. These items can also decorate Santa Claus hats and scarves. Be sure to let the crafts dry completely before hanging or wearing them.

Santas Puppets
Paper bags are for more than just lunch sandwiches. The end of the bag where it folds can be outfitted with a Santa Claus face to make a merry puppet. Make hands and arms with extra felt pieces. Let kids stand their puppets up on canned food cans to dry. This idea also works well for sock puppets.

Santa Cup Dolls
Red plastic cups or small terra cotta pots can be turned over and used as Santa’s body. A Styrofoam ball can double as Santa’s head. Give kids the space to decorate and dress Santa the way that they want to. Get them to make enough of these Santa cups or pots and place them on your table as a small gift for each dinner guest.

Santa Ornaments
Using clothespins and pipe cleaners, you can create miniature Santa ornaments for the Christmas tree. Remember, younger children will need more help and supervision no matter which craft they are making. For older kids, spread the craft items out over the table and see what their imagination can conjure up.

Santa is a big part of the celebration of Christmas and therefore should be part of the household decorations and festivities as well. Santa crafts are easy holiday fun that allows kids to contribute to the decorations and be proud of their completed work too, so let them show their creations off as much as they want to family and friends who come by to visit this holiday season.

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Family Christmas Eve Traditions

The most exciting night of the holiday season is Christmas Eve night. Kids will turn in early on this night. But, before they do, share some Christmas Eve traditions with them that will make the night even better.

Some families use Christmas Eve as a time to open one present each. Since the majority of gift exchanging is done on Christmas day, everyone can open a small gift the night before. An idea for parents is to purchase a small gift for kids just to be opened on Christmas Eve.

What about the meaning of Christmas?

The Christian meaning of Christmas came into being more than 2,000 years ago in a stable in Bethlehem in the Middle East. The Christ child was born to the Virgin Mary and her carpenter husband. The story of the birth of Christ can be found in the Bible in the book of St. Luke, Chapter two. Gather everyone in the living room and share the story.

You can read the bible verses to the group. For the little kids, continue by telling the story in your own words so that they can understand it. Christian bookstores
picture books about the Nativity so the children can see as well as hear.

One tradition that is a good one to observe on Christmas Eve is for each family member to tell what they appreciate about the holiday season and other family members. Questions like this get the children thinking about something other than themselves and the gifts they may receive. The younger ones may still yell out that they are thankful for toys and candy, but as the family continues with the Christmas Eve tradition each year, their thinking will expand to the outside world.

Fix everyone a cup of hot cocoa or apple cider and sing songs of the season. If it is cold outside, light the fireplace. Each person can take a turn starting off the singing of their favorite Christmas carol. By the time the singing and sipping is over, the young ones will be ready for bed and everyone will be full of the Christmas spirit and ready for the big day ahead tomorrow.

Yet another reading tradition involves reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas just before everyone is ready to go to bed. As children get older and learn to read this is a great story for them to read to the whole family as well.

Good holiday movies are another Christmas Eve tradition that can be shared by the family. Some favorite choices for kids:

Home Alone
Christmas on 34th Street
A Flintstone Christmas Carol
Muppet’s Christmas Carol

These holiday movies are hilarious and great for the whole family.

When the younger kids fall asleep you can upgrade to other movies if you’d like. Some funny ones are:

Christmas with the Kranks
Deck the Halls
The Santa Clause

More nostalgic movies include:

A Christmas Carol
The Christmas Shoes
It’s a Wonderful Life
A Christmas Story
White Christmas

When you fall asleep visions of sugar plums will be dancing in your head, too.

Family Christmas traditions are important. They lend meaning to our lives and give kids a stable base to grow on. As your children grow and have families of their own you’ll love watching them pass on the good times and family traditions they grew up with to their own children. There is also bound to be some funny (or maybe even embarrassing) times you’ll laugh about for years to come as Christmas time is great for creating lifelong memories for the whole family.

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