Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Best of Three: Christmas Ideas To Inspire Your Ideal Festive Period


[ annca / pixabay ]

Sometimes, one just isn't going to cut it.

A cookie, fresh from the oven - who ever has just one of those? Someone with more willpower than I do. A holiday - wouldn't life be better if we could finish one holiday, then skip off on another? There are some things in life that you just need more of.

So when I came to think of writing this - ideas for things to do over the Christmas period - I thought: why just make one suggestion for each category? For a start, that seems like there's a possibility I could suggest something that someone doesn't like the idea of. So those people have to be denied, without a recipe, or an idea for Christmas crafting for kids. What could be more miserable? I want to cater to all!

And while I was at it, I thought: why just double up? Surely triple the fun is all the better? Chocolate chip cookies are great. Double chocolate chip cookies? Even better. But triple chocolate chip cookies? Now you're talking my language.

Category One: Recipes
The sweet treats of Christmas are what make it so amazing. If it sounds like I've got cookies on the brain, then choice one is going to come as no surprise at all...


[ pezibear / pixabay ]


Chocolate chip cookies are a must! In terms of recipes, I love this one from Betty Crocker, the mother of all amazing sweet delights. You might want to add a few more chocolate chips - I find half a cup extra is enough to get the cravings satisfied. You can make them more Christmassy with a sprinkle of icing sugar or cut them with themed cutters; it takes them outside of the everyday.

Another favorite is pinwheel cookies. The great thing about these is that they're so very versatile. You can add your own flavorings - that recipe is an idea, but basically, go wild with your imagination. The distinctive pinwheel is created by coloring two sets of doughs and then rolling them together - it's a lot easier than you’d think. Red and green are a classic for Christmas, but white and blue gives a fantastic "frosted" impact!

If you prefer your cookies to be chewy, then these ginger cookies are a great option. The spice is subtle but has that distinctive Christmas aroma that scented candle makers have been trying to capture for years.

If you prefer your Christmas treats to be more on the savory side, then I've got you covered too. These canapés look absolutely amazing - they're perfect if you're expecting guests. Or if you just fancy a night in front of a Christmas movie with lots of canapés and some mulled wine...

Category Two: Crafting
Keeping kids busy during the Christmas holidays is not the easiest of things. You couple the sugary treats with lots of free time and you've got a recipe for a minor site of mayhem. The best way to channel that energy is into Christmas crafting.

As the saying goes, the only limit is your imagination. However, there's something for all ages that can not only give you some quiet time but also help make your house look spectacular.

Less Experienced / Younger Children

Paper crafts are the best way to go. Something simple like paper chains allows rooms for creativity. Snowflakes are the obvious answer, or go for something more ambitious like these:



[ PDP / PixaBay ]

You can then use wire to paint on halos and all of a sudden you've got a string of angels to hang up!

Middle Experience / Preteens

[mazaletel / flickr ]

You can still stay within the realms of paper crafts, but make them a little more intricate. Use themed or glitter paper to stay in keeping with the season. You can find plenty of ideas here - should keep you going to 2017!

Any Ages Above

[ marcosaasilva / pixabay ]

You can pretty much go ahead with any ideas that you can find aimed towards adults. I really love the idea of ornaments. They are intricate and time-consuming while having the benefit of being immediately useful. It's a lot easier to add a new bauble to the tree than grabbing the step ladder to string up some paper chains.

Category Three: Keeping Safe

I know, this may sound like a little bit of a downer - but it's one to remember. Actually having an accident at this time of year (rather than just reading about it) is what would be the real downer, so a little leeway is allowed.

Keeping safe during the festive period is not as easy as it sounds. There's so much going on that you might not be as vigilant as you usually are. You can lose track of things, leave something on for too long or just entice an opportunistic burglar with presents stashed under the tree.

So, without further reflection, three important safety things to remember...

[lhotsky / pixabay ]


Fairy and tree lights can look amazing and give a room the perfect festive atmosphere - but they do get hot. It's not recommended that you leave any tree lights on unattended, and give them an occasional break when you're at home as well. It's also important to keep your tree moist if it's a real version; dried out pine needles are much more flammable.

If Christmas for you involves family and friends descending (with more Christmas toys), you might find yourself rushing to find transport. You could be going to local festivities or just for a cleansing walk among nature, but there’s limited space and a lot of people. You end up with something like a clown car, trying to pack as many people in as possible. It's important to remember, even if you're struggling for space, the car and booster seat requirements of young children. It's very tempting just to dismiss the issue - especially if it's a short ride - but the problems caused by not doing so are going to last a lot longer than the 12 days of Christmas.

I've already briefly mentioned it, but it's worth reiterating. Every year, houses are burgled due to the presents sitting under the tree. Now, I'm not suggesting you do away with that tradition, but do try and shield the tree from view. At the very least, a well-placed net curtain can save your blushes - and your enjoyment of the holiday. If you have an alarm, no matter how tipsy on mulled wine you get, make sure you arm it at night as an extra layer of protection.

Category Four: Cleaning

There is no doubt that the period brings with it new cleaning challenges. For a start, there's just so much stuff - particularly if you're cooking for a large family. Playing hostess for out-of-town relatives can be difficult as well, meaning your usual chores can double overnight.

In the midst of it all, it is possible to bring some calm back to proceedings. Here's my three valuable tips for dealing with a houseful of guests, not to mention just the usual family number being around for longer than normal...

Switch to cheaper bed coverings. If you've got guests, the last thing you want is to be worrying about your 100% cotton sheets and your best bath towels. Go for cheap, simple options that you can pick up for a few dollars - and then throw away later if needed. This helps to save their blushes also; if there's an accident with lipstick on pillowcases, you can absolve their guilt by admitting it's only a cheap stand-in that they've ruined.


Use as few cleaning products as possible. Most of the holiday season is going to be spent clutching the chance to clean whenever you possibly can rather than being able to spend a couple of dedicated hours. It, therefore, makes sense to use products that have multiple applications, or even consider using the cheap eco-hacks you can find online.


Get kids involved. Let's be realistic, there is no greater threat of Santa's mythical Naughty List than in the run up to Christmas! Give each child (both yours and visiting children, providing it's okayed by their parents) a chore and reward them with a star for doing it. Even better, give them one of the cookies you made earlier - if you can bear to part with them that is!

Category Four: A Season of Joy



[ jill111/ pixabay ]

Can you keep the peace? Arguing at Christmas with family members is something of a stereotype, but it's still one that can happen. Nothing will ruin the festivities quicker.

Try and intervene before it gets worse if you see it happening, separating the parties into different rooms if necessary. If it's you feeling the irritation, practice a few self-calming techniques.

If it's children fighting, separate them even quicker than you would with adults. When they have calmed down, insist that they apologize to one another. If they're young enough, a few more mentions of the Naughty List might work wonders at this point. The double-apology is very necessary, as not only does it make them take responsibility, but ensures they know there are consequences to bickering.
Try and keep alcohol to a minimum. Yes, it's Christmas, but alcohol is also notorious for how it loosens inhibitions. If necessary, water down a troublesome guest's allowance in the effort for family harmony. For example, if you water down wine 50% and then dip the rim into wine to imprint a taste, they won't notice the difference. Everyone else, however, just might.

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

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