By Mary Heyl
There may be less than two weeks until Christmas, but there are still lots of fun, easy ways to make your holiday special this year! From new ways to enjoy your holiday cards to easy recipes to keep or share, there are still plenty of opportunities to savor the season and skip the stress.
Now is the time of year when holiday cards from friends and family are arriving daily. Enjoy these thoughtful reminders of the many friends and family in your life by displaying them as part of your holiday décor.
Don’t let those cards sit in a pile on your coffee table! Instead, use them to jazz up your kitchen cabinets so that these pretty cards are at eye level. Measure a length of grosgrain ribbon (about 2 inches wide) the length of your cupboard door and secure the ends together inside the cabinet using poster tack or thumb tacks. Use clothespins to hang your cards as they arrive so that the whole family can enjoy them!
If wrapping lights or garland around your staircase bannister is part of your annual décor, take it one step further and include your cards! Run a length of ribbon along the bannister just below your greenery and use clothespins to hang each card as it arrives.
With just two weekends left until Christmas, you may find yourself hosting a holiday gathering or two. For an easy, festive treat, make cranberry dip, which is perfect to serve with buttery crackers or pretzels. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine 1 package of fresh cranberries (12 oz) with 1 cup of sugar in a 2 quart baking dish, stirring well to coat the cranberries. Bake, covered, for about 30 minutes, until the cranberries pop and release their juice.
Remove the cranberries from the oven and stir in 1 cup of apricot jam and 1 cup of chopped pecans. Refrigerate overnight to blend the flavors. To serve, allow an 8-oz package of cream cheese to come to room temperature, and pour the dip over it. Enjoy with crackers or pretzels!
Headed to a holiday party or a cookie exchange? Easy salted caramel fudge drops are the perfect treat to bring along with you. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 6 ounces of unsweetened chocolate and 1/3 cup of butter (cubed) in a microwave; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. In a large bowl, beat 1 package (17.5 oz) of sugar cookie mix, 1 large egg, 1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and the chocolate mixture. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are set. Press a caramel-filled chocolate candy into the center of each cookie. Let stand for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with coarsely ground sea salt. Remove to wire racks and allow to cool (makes 4 dozen).
If you’ve discovered the benefits of essential oils and would like to share the goodness with friends, then this fun 10-minute DIY soap is the perfect gift for you to make! Cut a shea butter soap base (available in 1 or 2 pound blocks) into cubes and put them in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave at 30-second intervals until the cubes are completely melted. Stir well after each session. Then, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (peppermint is a great idea for the holidays!) and mix well.
Pour the mixture into soap molds. Add a few drops of soap colorant (red is nice for peppermint) and use a toothpick to swirl the white shea butter and the colorant together. Allow to cool completely before removing the soap from the mold. Stack them and wrap with a ribbon for a nice gift!