I realize it’s unusual to get a note from a grown up, but it’s list time, so I’m dropping a line to ask a favor. By the way, I’ve been very good this year (okay…pretty good).
You know my two boys are 13 and 11, and my little girl is 8. We’re at a critical time here, Mr. Claus. It pains me to say it, but I’ve got a couple of Santa doubters in this house. Crazy, right? And if they ruin it for their sister, I may do something that puts me at the top of the naughty list.
I’ve dodged this issue for a while, Santa. A few years back, my oldest started coming home with wild reports from his friends.
“Kyle and his brother say there is no Santa,” he’d float.
“Wow. Maybe Kyle and his brother don’t get any presents on Christmas,” I’d respond. Then, with my best mom stare, I’d ask, “Is that a risk you’re willing to take?” That always bought you some time.
Or the other one might say, “Come on, Mom. Tell me the truth. You and Dad buy the presents, right?” To which I could only answer, “Why on earth would we do that?” (more…)
Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like a pretty plate of sweet treats—it’s my go-to gift of the season.
And a busy season it’s shaping up to be. So far, we’ve accepted invitations to an open house, a Hanukkah dinner, a cocktail party and a birthday buffet; on each occasion, I’ll be presenting my hosts a platter of homemade holiday goodies. I’ll also be putting together tins for teachers, neighbors and, of course, my family as they descend to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Before my children came along, holiday baking was a simple, if labor-intensive, affair. I just barricaded myself in the kitchen for a weekend, didn’t emerge until I was done. With three kids and their demanding schedules—basketball, band, gymnastics—that’s not always option. Over the years, I’ve enlisted their help, but after the first five batches, even the most dedicated young chefs can lose interest.
That’s why I’ve developed a few kid- and mom-friendly moves that make holiday baking a treat:
Looking for a quick and simple holiday gift? Giving a homemade treat or a gift basket filled with the ingredients to make a scrumptious nosh will win hearts and be gentle on your checkbook. Read on for a terrific Cranberry Popcorn Ball recipe. Or try this Spicy Italian Popcorn. You can even fill a festive tin with the ingredients and hand-written recipe card. Your recipient will love the gesture, love the flavor, and love having a guilt-free snack during this busy time of year.
One of the things I love best about my friends and neighbors is what gracious hosts they are. All year, my family and I are welcomed at picnics, barbeques, bonfires, dinners—and, of course, a dizzying round of fabulous holiday parties.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be celebrating at casual cocktails, a family tree-trimming soiree, two open houses and a sit-down dinner. And that’s all before the New Year’s Eve festivities.
As you can imagine, my annual roster of hostess gifts has come to look a lot like Santa’s “Nice List.” Unfortunately, I don’t have a team of elves at my disposal. I had to whip up some fantastic gifts that say “thank you for your hospitality” without blowing my holiday budget. More than that, I wanted to bring my hosts something unique and personal that also added to the party. (more…)
When I was a child, December was the longest month of the year. The weeks following Thanksgiving stretched on forever…as every night we opened a tiny door on the Advent calendar to mark yet another day of inching toward Christmas.
How things have changed! Today we’re barely up from our post-turkey naps when everybody’s back in the crazy swing of their busy lives. In this house, Thanksgiving weekend brought a road race, two football games, a baseball clinic and six play dates.
It was time to slow down. I wanted my family together in one place, decking our halls, writing Christmas cards and — yes! — even asking me over and over if Christmas was ever going to come. My kids deserved to share the delicious anticipation I had as a child, and the careful preparations that meant Christmas was on the way.
One of the wonders of the holiday season, however you celebrate it, is the set of traditions you share with family and friends. Whether they’re drawn from your heritage; your cultural and religious beliefs; or your community, these rituals are as unique and varied as you. They help make you who you are today, and build the memories you’ll cherish for years to come. (more…)