Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December Holiday Newsletter - Crafts & Food

The holidays are a time to celebrate our families and friends.  Unfortunately with the push to buy, buy, buy.....and run from one activity to another, sometimes we forget the simple things that mean the most.  Included in this newsletter, you'll find a few crafts, a few recipes (all very simple for the most part)......so make the time to share making them with your kids, or friends, or how about your kids and their friends!  The time you spend with them will become those treasured memories for the future.

Strawberry Santas!

This is so cute, and a great little finger food if you're having guests over, or just want to surprise the family with an extra special treat!   Wash the strawberries and remove the leaves.  You may want to cut the top off to leave a flat surface so they'll sit up right!  Then, cut the tip off, and using the canned whipped cream, squirt just a little on the bottom half and gently place the remaining top on top of the whipped cream--press very gently.  After that, using just a little whipped cream, put the pompom on his "hat" and a little button on his tummy.  Using black or brown gel icing in a tube, place a small dot for his eyes and you've got a nutritious and yummy little delight for whomever you're serving this to!



Window Ribbon Ornaments


Do you have one of those windows that you're never quiet sure how to decorate during the holidays?  Maybe it's big and wide and you feel like it would cost a fortune to fill it up?  Or you've been looking for something original that your friends and neighbors will "ooo and aah" over when they see it?  Here's a great idea.  Using different lengths and colors of ribbons, secure glass ornaments in a variety of colors.  the easiest way to hang them, rather than one by one, is go to Lowes or Home Depot and buy an old fashioned yard stick.  Wrap the ribbon around the yardstick then secure it with a staple....or if that hot glue gun is still warm, a little dab will do ya!


 Footprint Snowmen

This is so much fun to do, and a great gift idea for grandparents!  Using either card stock, or a tightly woven fabric as your display area, and water based paint, have each member step on the display area (not to heavy though so their toes don't end up running together).  By the way....be prepared for a lot of laughing, and have lots of paper towels ready to wipe off the paint.  This is one I'd probably do in the bathroom so you can stand them in the tub and wash their feet off after they've made their print.  Once the paint is dry, decorate to your hearts content.  If your kids are a little older, you might want them to do the decorating.  Be sure to label each footprint with each person's name. And, don't forget the year!!


S'mores Gift Bag
                                             
Looking for a simple last minute gift?  Here's an adorable idea for those that love chocolate and s'mores!  You can get the little gift bags at Party City, or any craft store.  Using graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars, layer the ingredients, and tie it off with the ribbon of your choice and a little label.  You could even include this with decorative mug filled with ingredients for hot chocolate.  Every one will love this, because it has what most people love......chocolate, easy to make, and originality!  The key here is making it personal.



                                                   hot cocoa dippers

 Who doesn't love a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter day or night!?  Here's the perfect accessory for the cup.  Using a pointed knife, gently make a hole about half way through each marshmallow.  Insert your candy canes into the hole.  Remember, marshmallows are sticky by nature on the inside, so they should grip the candy canes with no problem.  With a basting brush, very lightly brush the bottom of each marshmallow with a tiny bit of water, and roll in red sugar sprinkles. 

Salt Dough Ornaments 
 (this is really fun and inexpensive--even the little ones can join in on this)

1.) How to make salt dough:
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • Up to 1 cup of water (add gradually)
  • Optional - food coloring and glitter (add to your preference while mixing--but remember, if you add color now, that's the color you have to work with....unless you're making more than one batch)
  •  Combine the salt and flour then pour in the water gradually, stopping when it has become dough-like and not too sticky. There should be no residue left on your fingers when you touch it. Knead it on a floured surface for a few minutes to make it soft, workable and stretchy, like you would with any dough. Roll it out, using a rolling pin till its about 1/8" thick.
Using your choice of  cookie cutter shapes, simply cut straight from the dough. Christmas shapes like
trees, stars and hearts are always popular. Using a drinking straw poke a hole through the center, near the top, of each shape so that ribbon can be threaded through later.  This is also a great way to make an imprint of their little hands......simply use a bowl, or glass big enough to cut a circle larger than the children's hands.  Have them push their hands into the dough and viola!

Lay them on some greaseproof or baking paper and on a baking tray. Cook them on a VERY low heat (around 100 degrees C/ 202 F) for up to 3 hours. If the shapes are over 1cm thick then they will probably need to be turned over during cooking.  Let cool.  

Paint them with any water based paint, and allow to dry.  Once the paint has dried, you can glue on buttons, shapes, or add more glitter.....let your imagination (or the kids) run wild.  Allow everything to dry for several hours, then using ribbon, thread through the hole and hang on your tree.  (By the way--keep these in a sealed zip lock bag after the holidays when you're storing them.  This way moisture and or bugs won't have an opportunity to ruin your masterpieces!)  You can also spray them with any sealer to help protect them through the years.

Well....all this work has made me hungry, so how about a snack!?

Christmas Tree Brownies

This is pretty self explanatory (because I know all you reading this are far more talented at making these than I am!)  Using your favorite cakey brownie recipe, cut into triangle shapes after they're cool, decorate with gel icing, sprinkles, or M&M's and add a small candy cane as shown for the trunk.  This would be a great treat for the kids, or maybe even they're school party.  Who doesn't love brownies! 

What's that....you're still hungry?!  How about this.........




Reindeer Cookies (no bake--whoohoo!)

This are amazing easy to make, and so much fun.  Everyone loves these.  Using the Nutter Butter
cookies, mini pretzels, M&Ms and white icing.  You can see how to put these together.....the kids will have a blast assembling their own team of reindeer!  The question is......how many will be eaten......and how many will you get to show off?



Decorate your walkway!

 For those of you that live in the parts of the world with ice and snow, this is an amazing fun way to mark your pathway, or line the patio during those cold winter months.  Fill latex balloons with water, adding food coloring when they're about half full.  Place them where you want outside, and just wait for Mother Nature to finish the project for you.  Once they're frozen, take a sharp small knife and peel off the balloon.  I think these would look great with some kind of lighting to highlight them at night!




Candy Cane Stars

I thought this was so clever!  Made purely of candy canes and peppermint candy, you have a clever and original decoration you can use any where.  I suggest you lay out the candy canes on a flat surface (use a sheet of foil under them). and once they're in the shape you like, use a hot glue gun to secure them.  The peppermint candies are hot glued to each point, as you see, and finished off with a bit of red ribbon (although you could use any color you want).  Let the glue harden, then using a nylon thread, or piece of ribbon, hang where ever you want to display it.  Watch out though......you may find them eaten at some point.....



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