|One of my gingerbread creations|
Every year at this time, I think about what worked during the holidays and what didn't. First...
Things That Worked
1. Design my Christmas cards for next year on iPhoto
Order them, sign them, and pre-address the envelopes for next year. When December 1st rolls around, all I have to do is write a personal note or two, seal the envelopes, and add postage if necessary. Then, drop them off at the Post Office before the maniacal Christmas crowds hit. I also custom design my stamps on photo.stamps.com. PhotoStamps.com
2. Giant Christmas Cookies & Holiday Wafer Papers
This year, I ordered 6-inch and 7.5-inch cookie cutters from fancyflours.com. Instead of making a ton of little cookies out of my gingerbread dough, I made a total of 4 giant cookies. After they cooled, I piped on some pretty white cream cheese frosting stars and added silver dragees for a shiny finish. Santa nibbled half of a big gingerbread snowflake when he delivered our presents, and we just finished off the last cookie today. Do not overlook the beautiful holiday wafer papers. They are made of potato starch & printed with edible ink. The Victorian Christmas wafers make exquisite gingerbread postcards. Super-neat & lots of fun to work with! fancyflours.com
3. Programmable Flameless Candles
I replaced all of my fireplace candelabra candles with Pottery Barn's flameless 4" ($16.50) and 6" pillars ($24.50). These candles are super-neat because they can be programmed to come on at a certain time, stay on for 5 hours, then go off. Each candle requires two C-batteries, which lasts for 500 hours. Durable wax exteriors create a realistic looking candle. The control switch is on the bottom of the pillar. No one would be able to tell that these are not real candles unless they were told. I consider these candles the best holiday find of this season! Pottery Barn Flameless Candles
4. Silver Tinsel Tree
There comes a time in every family's evolution when decorating a big, fresh tree doesn't work anymore. The kids are too old for it, and it becomes an immense chore to decorate and un-decorate the tree. No more dry needles to vacuum up! Our 5-foot, tabletop, silver tinsel tree gleams and sparkles with a single strand of white mini-lights and a couple of dozen silver & red jingle bells. I wrap an old Christmas quilt around the base and let it drape down around the sides of the table. Everyone appreciates it as much as a living tree, and we don't have to worry about it drying out. A breeze to put up & take down. Pop it into its box in the garage for another year. Fake trees are the way to go! Ours was purchased from West Elm three years ago and is no longer available. But, Amazon has some nice silver trees in a variety of sizes that come pre-lit: Tinsel Trees
5. Bag it! Stuff it! Tag it!
Stock up on gift bags, tissue paper, & stick-on tags during the after-Christmas sales. This year, I wrapped almost all of the gifts in gift bags & tissue. Wow, I had no idea how much easier it would be and how much time I would save! I was able to bag each gift the day that I bought it, so no more late nights on the floor wrapping presents. Stick-on tags made it super-easy & fast to label the bags, and I used tie-on tags for variety. We saved the bags for next year, and I'll reuse the tissue to pack the out-of-state Christmas boxes. We wrapped a couple of boxes that were too big for bags, and they looked nice mixed in with the bags.
My favorite squishable, shippable eco-bags came from The Container Store. Watch for their collection of gift bags next year! Creative gift containers