10 Fun & Frugal Food & Family Ideas for December

BlogHer Original Post

December is a month with no-time-to-breathe. We foodies, especially, go into high gear, baking batch after batch of Martha-Stewart-perfect cookies. We don't shop for gifts, we bake and take them. It's a blessing, it's a curse, both at once. There's already a tension-filled din appearing on Twitter. Is anyone, really, having any FUN? I've collected some ideas on how to celebrate a simple Christmas. Food for thought, perhaps?

(Please, to those who don't celebrate Christmas, my apologies. I hope that similar principles for simplifying the holiday might apply to other faith traditions?)

Look Around the House for a Handmade Advent Wreath Beginning on the first Sunday of Advent (in 2009, that was Sunday, November 29th), many families light the first candle of the advent wreath, adding a second on the second Sunday, a third on the third, a fourth on the fourth, then finally on Christmas Eve, light the center candle. My sister sent this innovative idea for a homemade advent wreath from Small Notebook.

Repurpose Your Cookie Cutters The shapes are so alluring, the metal catches the light. So attach a narrow grosgrain ribbon to a handful or more of Christmas cookie cutters and hang them at different lengths in a sunny window. Another idea, hang them on the tree, just like I'm Mad and I Eat.

Read, Really Read, Those Christmas Letters and Cards When her children were small, Lisa from My Own Sweet Thyme and her husband put aside a sweet time right before bedtime. The kids were already in their jammers, a small cookie or a cup of hot chocolate might await. But the real purpose of the time was to connect with the family and friends whose Christmas cards had arrived that day. Each card was read out loud, slowly.

Repurpose Christmas Cards Aren't they so beautiful? A few years back, I cut the fronts off a few dozen of the prettiest cards collected over the years and then wrote a question on the back. "When do you open Christmas gifts?" and "What goes on top of your Christmas tree?" I wrote some thinking of family members who might want to remember favorite Christmas traditions of their childhoods, others to help friends come to know each other more fully. One year, I used them at the brunch for my annual cookie swap, another year to stretch out a Christmas dinner that was long on food and short on conversation. For another idea, use Christmas cards to make these beautiful paper Christmas decorations from Remodelaholic. For still another idea, use last year's family card to make an ornament for this year's tree, one of the favorite traditions of A Little Piece of 7th Heaven.

Flip the Question Even when we cut back on holiday gifts, before and especially after the holidays, the question is, What do you want for Christmas? and What did you get for Christmas? Instead, ask the question yourself but flip it, What do you want to give for Christmas? and What did you give for Christmas?

Make Soup! ... and never let the pot bottom out for homemade soup is the perfect antitode for staving off hunger before a holiday party or recovering from sugar overload after a cookie-baking marathon.

Mulled Wine Build a neighborhood party around glasses of warm mulled wine (a cheap fruity red wine warmed with a good shot of brandy, cinnamon sticks and slices of orange). It's comforting, it's familiar, it's relaxing.

Tis the Season of Song Transfer all your Christmas CDs to your iTunes. Then create new playlists for each of the moods you're likely have during the holidays, nostalgia, joy, reflection, quietude -- or for the activities you love, baking cookies, wrapping gifts, assembling toys, writing Christmas cards.

Blog Less, Live More Our blogs will wait, our readers have their own lives to live. Comments may be answered later, that redesign will be just as exciting after the holidays and who needs an updated blogroll during the holidays, anyway? (And stats? They're addictive. Stop looking!) In the vein of "following my own advice" (for once) -- this post has only NINE ideas, not ten but you, dear BlogHers, you're welcome to add your own #10.

Say Thank You, But Not for Christmas Gifts I'm so inspired by Denise's post about Five Karmic Thank Yous, it truly belongs on this list. Saying thanks, giving thanks, for the gifts that come without wrapping paper and ribbons, the ones that enrich our days, now THAT feels like Christmas.

And you?
And you, what's your favorite activity this month? Leave an idea, a recipe or a link to a recipe in the comments!

More Ideas?
Food: Ten Healthy Fun Ideas for July
Food: Ten Healthy Fun Ideas for August
Food: Ten Healthy Fun Ideas for September
Food: Ten Healthy Fun Ideas for October
Food: Ten Healthy & Frugal Ideas for November

BlogHer food editor Alanna Kellogg has been known to bake three dozen kinds of Christmas cookies (yes, the kids counted one year; yes, they can count; yes, it was too many; yes, I'd do it again.). This year, she's contemplating the idea of a single orange for Christmas and plans to introduce a whole new family of children to the idea of Jesus' birthday cake.

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