If you are anything like me, and you are reading this two weeks before Christmas, you will agree it is time for a bullet point blog. OK, here you go:
~the absolute best idea I’ve heard in years is to give the kids 4 gifts:
Something they WANT
Something they NEED
Something to WEAR
Something to READ
I SO wish I had done this instead of the dreaded night before thought: It doesn’t look like much – did we get enough?? And then when it is all over, feeling a bit nauseous from the excess and the thought of those who don’t have enough to eat. I’m trying the four things this year with my grown children!
~one of the best Christmas dinners for the harried Mom – you (or better yet try to move into DAD’s famous turkey!!) take care of the turkey and dressing – my boys loved Pepperidge Farm with nothing added (thank you, God) and then get all the sides in reheatable tins from your local grocer or whoever will do a good job for a decent price. It is all those darn sides that take forever and make a huge mess. It will make that holiday meal actually fun!
~speaking of Christmas dinner, when the kids are older, give everyone a job and then one thing will gradually become their own, i.e. “David’s famous mashed potatoes.” “Linda’s famous tomato pudding.” etc. (This "famous" thing seems to be a pattern!) If they are making something they love, they will have fun doing it. Then you and Dad eat everything with gusto (no matter what it tastes like or looks like).
~the hard and fast rule at my house: If you make the meal, you don’t have to clean up! YAY!! If you are the only one cooking – step out of the kitchen for the clean up. Although you may have to sneak back in later to give it the way-you-like-it final touches, try not to complain at the abilities of the cleaner-uppers. Or when others are doing the meal, when the cooking is going on (Daddy bonding time), sit somewhere quietly with your glass of wine and enjoy the peace. Then don’t complain about the cleaning up – it will be worth it. BEWARE: there are those – usually the youngest! – who are savvy enough to know just how much to contribute to the cooking, to make it “count,” so he or she won’t have to clean up :)
~completely stumped on a present for someone? Here are some ideas:
-my favorite one-year-old present – Fisher-Price See ‘n Say – a classic that is perfect for this age – by the time they are two they can easily perform every animal sound to the delight of anyone who will watch! http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=29880566&cp=&parentPage=search
-my favorite 2-year-old present – sounds weird but a set of keys! Go to the local locksmith and ask for some old keys that are duds, soak them in soapy water, add a couple of fun keychains and voila: hours of entertainment.
-my favorite 3-year-old present – anything that flips over – we had a bunny – shrieks of joy every single time. Hallmark might be the spot for this category.
-any teenager - money origami (a dress, a shirt with a tie, a butterfly, a heart, etc.) – youtube it – so much more fun for you…and the receiver, than a bill in an envelope – then you can show them how to do it – even better.
-hard-to-buy-for male relative – variation of above idea – an origami money tree. Get a small artificial Christmas tree, get as much money as you want to give – 10 ones, hide a fiver in there, etc., make some little fans out of the bills and use pipe cleaners to attach them to the limbs. Kids can help you! My brother-in-law LOVED his and swears he will never undo it, as he is saving it in case of emergency.
-hard-to-buy for female relative – everyone seems to love an orchid. I love them too – at least until they lose all their blooms – then I give them to my neighbor (she seems to have the touch that I don’t have). I’m sure you know the trick to watering an orchid – 3 ice cubes per week (or is it 2?).
-for a sweet, faithful sister in Christ – definitely Jesus Calling if she doesn’t have it or the amazing life-changing One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp http://amzn.to/1OZ1seK
*And lastly the easy homemade chocolate sauce you can give just about anyone. A jar with a ribbon is great for a neighbor or make it fancy with an ice cream scooper attached. If you know the recipient will be home when you deliver, you can add a gallon of yummy (store-bought) vanilla ice cream.
Laura’s Famous (haha) Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Sauce
1 ½ sticks of butter
12 ounces of chocolate chips (I think Hershey’s or Ghiradelli are the best for this)
¾ cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
In a small saucepan, melt butter and chips over low heat; stirring occasionally. A double boiler works even better. When smooth, remove from heat, stir in nuts and set aside to cool completely. Ladle in clean glass jars. Makes 2 cups. Sauce will harden over ice cream.