Tip 1: Create a Use What You Have Advent Calendar
Create your own Advent Calendar from two muffins, scrapbook paper, and a little ribbon. Cut circles out of your scrapbook paper by tracing a glass or jar and number them from 1-24. Cut another set of circles and jot down inexpensive activities that you would like to do for the holidays. Place your activities into each of the muffin holders and then cover with one of your numbers. Tie a little ribbon on top and hang the muffin tin on a nail in your kitchen and prop up with a picture frame holder. Each day draw an activity to do with your kids as you countdown to Christmas together.
Tip 2: Have a Gingerbread Kind of Day
Gingerbread house making is one of our favorite activities. Little ones can become impatient with the task of putting the gingerbread houses together and can be rough with the delicate construction. Skip the icing packets and use your hot glue gun to pull the houses together to create a stable surface. When you are done making your houses, serve my favorite Gingerbread Waffles for a fun gingerbread day!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter, plus some to butter the iron
- Syrup, whipped cream or fresh fruits for topping, to pass at table
Preheat waffles iron. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy, then beat in pumpkin, milk, molasses and melted butter. Stir the wet into dry until just moist. Brush the iron with a little melted butter and cook waffles. Serve with toppings of choice.
Tip 3: Cookie Decorating & Family Photos in One
When my children were small, it was impossible to get them to pose or smile for the camera, let alone get a great family picture for our holiday cards. Consider hiring a photographer or having a budding photographer friend come over and take pictures as you decorate and make your holiday cookies this year. Not only will you have lots of yummy treats to hand out to friends and family, but you will have your family pictures done in the process. I call that a win-win situation!
Tip 4: Skip the Post Office This Year
One of the best investments I ever made for our family was buying my very own postal scale for home. You can find them at your local post office or inexpensively on eBay. From the comfort of your own house, you can weigh your packages and have them picked up on your doorstep. Free shipping supplies can be found through USPS and can be shipped directly to your home. Make sure to have all of your helpers assist you with stamping and sealing of those Christmas cards and enjoy doing it all while sipping cocoa in your toasty house instead of waiting in line this year.
Tip 5: Biscotti Makes the Perfect Gift
Biscotti is my favorite gift to give to all of the helpers in our life. This Snickerdoodle Biscotti is not only delicious, but also light in calories. Wrap the biscotti in clear party favor bags, tie with festive ribbon, and place in a pretty mug for those special people in your life!
Light Snickerdoodle Biscotti
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 large egg white
Preheat Oven to 350. Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bow bowl. Mix Oil Vanilla and whole eggs in a small bowl and add to the large bowl, your dough will be dry and quite crumbly. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until it pulls together into a ball. Divide in half. Shape each portion into a roll about 8 inches long, and place them six or so inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Flatten each roll to 1 inch thick. Combine the 2 tablespoons Sugar and cinnamon, then gently brush the tops of the rolls with the egg white and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from the sheet and cool for 15 minutes. Cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices and lay them cut sides down on the cookie sheet again. Reduce oven temp to 325 and then bake 10 more minutes, turn over and bake 10 more. They’ll be soft in the middle but will harden as they cool. Cool completely on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.