Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Almost Christmas! Here's Some Last Minute Tips...

Okay, so I thought I would give some last minute tips for those still rushing around in preparation for the holiday. Lets start with decorations.

Easy Christmas Décor

1. Take a decorative bowl and add Christmas ornaments of mixed colors and sizes.  The best look comes form the metallic-colored glass balls. Voila! Instant centerpiece.

2. Go outside and clip some greenery from evergreens. Arrange the cuttings in vases just as if they were flowers. I  used to use ivy. My grandmother's house was overrun with ivy so each year I would take a bunch of cuttings and put them in vases of water for decorations.  As an added plus the cuttings will grow roots and you can plant them. Any type of evergreen will do. Try holly, pine, and cedar. Decorate the vases with Christmas ribbon.

3. Gather your own mistletoe from the wild. Here mistletoe grows everywhere. Don't take all of  it on a tree though. Just take enough for decoration purposes. Wrap with red ribbon and add little jingle  bells if you like and hang above your doorway. Unfortunately most wild mistletoe will not have berries at this time of year but that's okay.

4. Buy red, green, and white 7 day glass candles. If using the kind with the saint labels then soak them in water to remove the labels. Wash the glass and towel dry. Add ribbon and/or artificial greenery around the top of the candle near the rim. Place them on windowsills or on tables. Makes a good gift as well. 

5. Make a Christmas basket. Take a wicker basket and use tinsel or garland as the "Easter grass". Use Christmas ornaments in place of eggs. Add candy canes and wrapped candy to the basket. You can  use this as a centerpiece or give as a gift.

Easy Christmas Food

1. Punch - Take lime sherbet and 7-up.  The best thing to use is the square paper cartons. Remove the paper wrapper and place the block of lime sherbet into the punch bowl. Pour 7-up to fill the bowl.  If you want a pink punch use a pink-colored sherbet with cherry 7-up.

2. Egg Nog - Buy pre-made non-alcoholic egg nog. Add alcohol of your choice and mix well. Sprinkle powder cinnamon or nutmeg on the surface of the eggnog when serving. Set bowl of egg nog in a larger bowl of ice to keep cold.

3. Potato Candy - Cook 1 small-to-medium sized potato. Skin and dump the flesh into a bowl. Mash with a fork. Add enough powdered sugar to form a dough. It will take a lot of powdered sugar! Roll out the dough and cover with a layer of peanut butter. Roll the dough up like a jelly roll. Slice into pieces. Instead of peanut butter you can also use Nutella and even cake icing.

4. Christmas Bark - Bark is a very simple candy that involves melting chocolate and spreading it out, allowing it to set, and then cutting or breaking it up into pieces. Items can be added to the chocolate. The great thing about bark candy is that it gives the appearance that the cook slaved for a long time making it. In reality it only takes minutes to make and is quite simple. Here are some recipes.

     A. - Peppermint Bark - melt 2 large bags of chocolate chips. You can use a double boiler or the microwave, pausing to stir after every 45 seconds or so. Line a baking tray with wax paper and spray some non-stick spray on it. Pour the melted chocolate out and spread evenly with a spatula. Next, take 2 large bags of white chocolate chips and melt those. When melted if you prefer you can add peppermint extract to the white chocolate. I don't but you can if you like. Pour the melted white chocolate over the layer off regular chocolate and spread out. Crush candy canes or peppermints in a baggie. Do not crush into a complete powder. You want it with small and large pieces. Sprinkle these pieces over the surface of the white chocolate. Allow the chocolate to set and then cut or break up into irregular shaped pieces.

     B. -  Peanut Butter & Chocolate Bark - use chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, sprinkle peanuts on top.

     C - Triple Chocolate Bark -  use milk chocolate as the bottom layer, dark chocolate as the top layer, and then sprinkle white chocolate chips on top.

     D - Chocolate Butterscotch Bark - use chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and sprinkle crushed butterscotch candies on top.

     E - Chocolate Toffee Bark - use chocolate chips and add crushed toffee

     F -  Chocolate Covered Peanuts - pour melted chocolate over peanuts and mix, spread out on sheet and allow to set.

     G - Chocolate & Pistachios Bark - Sprinkle shelled pistachios over chocolate. For a Christmas look use both the green and the red pistachios.

     H - Fruitcake Bark - Sprinkle cherries and pecans over chocolate

     I - S'mores  Bark - Break up Graham crackers onto the tray. Add marshmallows. Pour melted chocolate over mixture. Sprinkle more marshmallows on top.

     J - Chex Mix Bark - Pour melted chocolate over Chex mix or sprinkle Chex mix on top of the bark.

     K - Christmas Cookie Bark - Break up a variety of Christmas cookies into small and medium pieces. Add M&M candies and broken pretzel sticks. Pour melted white chocolate over it and sprinkle with Christmas sprinkles.

     L - Chocolate Covered Pretzels - Pour melted chocolate over small pretzel pieces. Mix together and spread out on the baking sheet to set. With a fork drizzle melted white chocolate over the pieces.

     M - Chocolate Covered Popcorn - Pour chocolate over a bowl of popcorn and mix until everything is coated. Spread out on sheet to set.

Okay, I could go on and on with different recipe ideas but you should be able to create your own. These are all simple and only take minutes to make.

5. Buy undecorated store bought sugar cookies. Decorate with homemade icing and sprinkles.

6. Buy a store bought cake and dress it down and then dress it up. Remove it from it's package and place it on a cake plate. If it has really fancy icing waves then smooth them out with a butter knife. Dress the cake up with sprinkled powdered sugar and berries. (Note: not talking sheet cakes here.)

7. Meatballs/Meatloaf - Fix your meat loaf mix but form into balls and bake. For a glaze use one can of cranberry sauce (the gel type) and one bottle of cocktail sauce. Mix together in a saucepan under  heat until everything is combined. Use to glaze the meat balls. Some people like to use grape jelly but cranberry sauce is way better. After done, remove to tray and add decorative toothpicks. You can use this to make a whole meatloaf and use this glaze that way as well.

These are just a few ideas to hopefully help you survive the holiday!


  1. Thank you for the tips. Happy holidays and happy new year.


    1. Andre, thank you and Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) as well as a happy new year.