Tag Archives: Christmas Traditions

how the grinch stole christmas or the dirty santa gift exchange…

Originally called Chinese Gift Exchange…but because someone has been offended or there is at least the potential for someone to be offended it is being suggested that the name of the game be changed.  The suggested names I have seen are; Yankee Swap, Gift War, Dirty Santa, Rob Your Neighbor or Grinch Christmas.   For the record, I am wondering if Yankees, Santa’s, Neighbors or Grinches will be offended by the name change? What if I am offended that you are offended?  Does that count for something?   hold on, stop the bus, this is heading down a different path than intended…sorry back to the point at hand…

My husband’s family are great sports and make the most of our family gift exchange.  There is always a wide variety of gifts to steal choose from. This year it is our turn to host the Family Christmas Festivities and I needed to brush up on the rules of the game.

For those of you who have not participated in a “chinese gift exchange” you are missing out on lots of laughs and tons of fun.  Here are the rules of the game just in case you decide to give it a go.

Rule #1- If you want to participate in the game you must bring a wrapped gift of a predetermined value!

Rule #2-The gifts should be gender neutral if it’s a mixed crowd.

Rule#3-Once you know exactly how many people are participating in the gift exchange which is determined by the number of wrapped gifts.  You will place numbers in a bowl that represent each gift.  Those participating will each choose a number which will determine when you will take your turn at choosing or stealing a gift.

Rule #5-Each person will take a turn determined by the number drawn and either open a wrapped gift or steal a previously opened gift.  You start with #1 and work your way through all of the numbers.  Unfortunately the person who starts off the game has only the option to un-wrap a gift.  But don’t lose heart you will get a go at stealing if you choose.

Rule#6- When a persons gift is stolen they then choose an unwrapped gift which will end that round or steal a previously opened gift requiring that person to make the same choice.

Rule #7-There are typically a few gifts that are more popular than others.  Once a gift has been un-wrapped and stolen 3 times the gift is frozen.  This gift is no longer in play.

Rule #8-Once you have gone through all of the numbers the person who had #1 and started the game off will have the choice to keep the gift they have or steal a gift that is still in play.  Whatever the decision the game ends at that point.  The exchange does not continue!

The more stealing that goes on the more fun and laughs everyone will have.

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas!!!

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Holiday Cookies

Day 2: Alton's Ginger Snaps

Do you enjoy baking?  I do not consider myself much of a baker.  I am more of an assembler…I can measure and mix and roll things in nuts and dip things in chocolate with the best of you.  However, at this time of year I wish I was an experienced baker.

I am following the Food Channels 12 Days of Cookies and they are wonderfully enticing.

Paula's Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

So far they have been enticing my taste buds with Ginger Snaps, Oatmeal Cookies, Mint Sandwich Cookies and spiced gingerbread piggies.  I can only imagine what will round out this years list.  I hope to try baking at least a few new recipes this year.

Do you have a favorite cookie recipe?

Melissa's Delicate Mint Sandwich Holiday Cookies

Images from the Food Network 12 days of Cookies!

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Christmas…that’s a wrap

 There are so many things I enJOY about the Christmas Season.  There have been years when Christmas was over before it ever got started, or at least that’s how it felt.  Not this year!  I enjoyed every single day of this Christmas Season.   

Here are few of my favorite things!

Jesus’ Birthday! It is the Reason for the Season!

For me the Christmas Season begins the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Our family traditon it for the Christmas Tree to be decorated on the weekend following Thanksgiving! 

 The Christmas Season also begins with a visit to my local Starbucks for a Grande Peppermint Mocha. 

Christmas Candy!  It reminds me of my childhood and my Grandmother’s house. 

Christmas Lights!  Everything looks better all dressed up!

Shopping for Gifts!  It is better to give than to receive!

Wrapping Presents!  They are the finishing touch for the tree!  I wish my gifts looked like this.

Baking sweets to eat and share with friends and family! 

Driving around looking at Christmas Lights with my Family!  It’s a Memory Maker!

The Salvation Army Bell Ringer! 

Christmas Eve Candle Light Service!

Hot Chocolate on Christmas Morning!

A beautiful roaring fire in the fireplace!

Christmas Movies, old and new…The Christmas Story and Scrooged!

Getting all bundled up to go outside!

Having the week off between Christmas and  New Years…Priceless!!!

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Panettone…sweet Christmas bread

This sweet bread appeared in Milan, northern Italy, around the 15th century.  Panettone is traditionally consumed during the end of the year holiday. 

I picked up a nice Panettone with Cranberries and Raisins to use especially for our Christmas morning french toast breakfast. 

Panettone Christmas Morning French Toast

One loaf Panettone sliced into 1/4″ – 1/2″ thick slices
6 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp of fresh nutmeg
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl
Soak Panettone slices in egg mixture until most of the liquid is absorbed
Heat griddle to 350 degrees
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan
Brown bread on both sides until golden brown
Serve with warm maple syrup and sprinkled with powdered sugar
Enjoy!!!

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Happy Christmas….

Wishing you a Joyfully Merry, Happy Christmas!

Picture posted on city-data.com in 2008.

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White Christmases in Houston…Surprisingly Yes!


It snowed in Houston on Christmas Eve 2004 and in December in 2009.  This is a combination of pictures from those snow days!  So contrary to the country song…Surprisingly enough, it does snow in Houston. 

To my Texas friends, Wishing you a surprisingly snowy Christmas!

The Galveston Seawall!

A beach in Galveston, Texas Christmas Day 2004!

December 2009!

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ready or not…Christmas is here!

The first of our family gatherings is tomorrow, ready or not.  I think we are ready.  But if in fact we are not ready no one will be the wiser. 

The tree is decorated and it looks lovely!  Even if I have not found a suitable tree topper.  C’est la vie!

The table scape is missing something.  Not sure what it is just yet, but it is definitely missing something. Any suggestions? The packages need a little dressing up but I can do that while the cake is in the oven. 

The rest of the house looks beautiful.  There is a little touch of Christmas in every room.  Not too much, not too little…well maybe not enough.  But it is a work in progress. 

However, I am out of time.  The first of three Christmas gatherings is upon us.  The first gathering of family is this Sunday December 19th @ 4pm.  The second gathering of family is Thursday December 23rd @ 6pm.  The 3rd gathering of family and friends is a 3 day event with out-of-town company.  I am Ready! Ready or Not but I am Ready for the festivities to begin!

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Christmas cookies…Sandra Lee, eat your heart out!

I really enjoy the food network show Semi-homemade.  Sandra Lee pulls her show together with all of the ingredients for entertaining!  The cooking, the presentation and the decorating.  Total eye appeal!!!

Here are a few semi-homemade ideas that I think would make Aunt Sandi  proud.  The recipes and pictures can be found on-line at Better Homes & Garden, 100 days of Holiday. 

The Cookies!!!

Three-Layer No-Bake Bars

Layers of creamy vanilla pudding and melted chocolate top a buttery graham cracker crust.

Ginger Dips

Dip store bought molasses cookies in melted white chocolate, then sprinkle on snipped candied ginger to create a sweet, fragrant dessert.

Red Velvet Cookies With Cream Cheese Frosting

The Packaging!!!

And to finish it all off there must be a special beverage from Aunt Sandi’s recipe book.  The best hot chocolate ever!

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10 ways to beat the holiday blues…

If I am not careful I can get bogged down with the Christmas “to do” list.  Before I know it I am  stressed out over gifts, budgets and menus and I have missed all the fun.   I read a great article in the Focus on Women magazine I picked up at my local Starbucks.  Here is the condensed version for the full article go to www.FOWmag.com

1. Minimize your stress!  Get your shopping, decorating and Christmas cards done early. Set a goal!

2. Attend a holiday market!  The perfect way to get into the holiday spirit is to attend one of the many holiday markets. 

3. Enjoy the arts!  Check your local paper for a complete listing of Christmas concerts and plays. 

4. Treat yourself!   Enjoy a mani-pedi or a massage.  Enough said!

5. Make a date with your mate or bff.  The hustle and bustle of the holidays can monopolize all of your time.  Make an effort to carve out time for a quite dinner with your spouse or best friend.  Quality time is the best gift going.

6. Be an elf!  If loneliness is what’s giving you the blues, then look for opportunities to volunteer in your community. 

7. Adopt a pet!  If you are an animal lover you can adopt a pet of your own or volunteer at the animal shelter and help the animals find the perfect new home for the holidays.

8. Get out and exercise!  Exercise is great medicine for mild depression.  Take a walk, ride a bike or take a dance class.  Just get moving!

9. Create a blessing diary!  Every day right down 5 things your are thankful for.  You will be surprised at how many blessings you really do have.

10. Create a new tradition!  If your old family traditions bring back sad memories of loved ones lost, then it’s time to create a few new traditions.  Change things up!  Take a Christmas vacation instead of staying home, try some place tropical!

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Christmas things that make me smile…day 2

CHOCOLATE…LIQUID CHOCOLATE!  I am talking about a big mug of creamy hot cocoa or hot chocolate! 

The love affair with the cocoa bean began around 1200b.c. with equatorial Central and South American monkeys that enjoyed the sweet flesh surrounding the cocoa bean.  Mayans were the first true chocolate aficionados treasuring cocoa as a restorative, mood changing cure-all. I agree with the Myans…chocolate is definitely a restorative, mood changing, cure-all in my book!!!

Williams Sonoma has a nice selection of both Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate

According to Williams Sonoma, Hot chocolate is a distinctly different sip than hot cocoa. Inspired by the famed Café Angélina in Paris, where steaming pots of velvety hot chocolate are served with bowls of whipped cream alongside, ours is intensely chocolatey, rich and smooth.

Also, available at Williams Sonoma, From MarieBelle, the popular cacao bar in New York City, this is a true hot chocolate. It’s made from the richest, single-origin Colombian cocoa with a 63% cacao content – not cocoa powder. Preparation is simple: Just add boiling water for a full-flavored, European-style hot chocolate; or substitute hot milk if you prefer American-style hot chocolate. 20 oz. (12 to 14 servings).

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