Christmas Meal Planning

Last week, I mentioned that I like to plan all of my Christmas meals in advance, but I didn’t share with you what that looked like. Today, I thought it might be fun to share what I’m planning to prepare and take with me to all of our events, as well as some of the recipes. I’ve broken down what we’re taking where calendar style, so let’s dive right in.

December 20: Work Cookie Swap

I’ll make a plate of my favorite chocolate chip cookies to take and leave at the office. Rather than using a serving dish, I’ll use this simple — and disposable — idea I saw on Pinterest:

Christmas Eve

Noon luncheon at Travis’ grandparent’s house:

Whatever we bring to this get together will have to travel well as his grandparents live 45 minutes away. At the moment, I’m torn between bringing a simple potato dish (Meghan Potatoes, below) or Pioneer Woman’s Pretzel Turtles. Either way, I’ll have all the ingredients on hand to make both.

Meghan Potatoes

Ingredients: cream of potato soup, one can of water, a cup and 1/2 of sour cream, 2 cups of cheddar cheese (divided), garlic and pepper to taste, shoe string frozen french fries, crackers, 2 T melted butter

Directions: Combine soup, water, sour cream and cheese. Slowly add fries to sour cream mixture until all the potatoes are thoroughly covered. Place potatoes in a dish and sprinkle with additional cheese and crushed crackers, repeat layers. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake at 375 until bubbly.


Afternoon gift exchange with Travis’ immediate family:

Hooray! This is a meal-free event. I’ll just bring whatever’s left from his grandparent’s house for snacking.

5 p.m. Dinner with my paternal grandmother:

This is one of three times my entire extended family gets together, so it’s always a lot of fun. I’m known for deserts, so this year I’ll be making a red velvet bunt cake! Rather than using the ganache the recipe calls for, I’ll use a simple cream cheese frosting instead. I’d hate to cover up all of that pretty, red cake!

This recipe is surprisingly easy and a real crowd pleaser. Plus, I can make it in advance!

9 p.m. Gift swap with my Dad, stepmother, and extended family

This is when we get together with my Dad and immediate family. We’re definitely too full to eat a meal, but since we socialize well into the wee morning hours, we end up snacking a lot. This year, I’m planning to make a Chicken Cheese Ball (it’s delicious!), plus I’ll bring whatever cake leftovers we have.

Chicken Cheese Ball

Ingredients: 1 large can of white chicken, 1 tsp. chicken granolas, 8 ounces cream cheese, 1 small chopped onion, slivered almonds or pecans, crackers for serving

Directions: Combine all ingredients and roll in nuts. Serve with crackers.

Christmas Day

Christmas day is a lot simpler for us. In face, we don’t have to even leave our house if we don’t want to!

10 a.m. Christmas breakfast with my Mother’s extended family, hosted by us

This is a potluck event, so I’m only responsible for providing the eggs and one dish. This year I’ve decided to make a sopapilla cheesecake, which sounds really fancy but is basically a cinnamon cheese danish. I’ll halve the recipe below.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Ingredients: 2 cans crescent rolls, 16 ounces cream cheese, 1 ½ cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions: Lightly spray a 9×13 pan and roll one can of crescent rolls along the bottom. Mix cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Pour mixture on top of crescent rolls. Spread the second can of crescent rolls on top of cream cheese mixture. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cinnamon together and sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

5 p.m. Christmas dinner with my Mother, stepfather and grandmother, hosted by us

Happily, this is also a potluck affair, so I’m not responsible for the entire menu. This year I’ll be making:

  • Roast Turkey
  • Mashed Potatoes
  •  Pineapple Casserole (see below)
  • Sweet Tea

Pineapple Casserole

Ingredients: crushed crackers, 7 ounces shredded white cheddar cheese, 6 T all-purpose flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 (20-ounce) cans pineapple chunks in juice drained

Directions: Combine flour, sugar and cheese. Stir in pineapple until evenly coated. Place mixture evenly in dish and top with crackers. Bake 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees until golden and bubbly.

That’s it! While it seems like I’ll be spending a lot of time preparing dishes, it’s much less than what I’ve done in years past. What’s your favorite holiday dish?

DIY Personalized Christmas Ornament

One of my very best friends got married earlier this year to a great guy we met during the Labor Day holiday.  They live out of state, so we were super excited to visit them. Of course, I couldn’t visit without at least a small gift to commemorate their marriage.

Since the couple didn’t have a traditional wedding, I knew a traditional gift (casserole dishes, bath towels, etc.) wouldn’t do for this new family. My friend is seriously into crafting, so I knew she’d appreciate a homemade gift.

I whipped out my Silhouette SD and got to work. Since I’ve had Christmas on my mind lately (read more about that here, here, here, and here),  I knew just want to make for this sweet couple. A Christmas ornament for their very first Christmas tree as a married couple!

First I gathered my supplies:

  • Flat ceramic ornament
  • Dark green craft paint
  • Glitter craft paint
  • Silhouette SD and red vinyl

First I painted the ornament with the dark green paint. Then, I painted over the green with the glitter craft paint. The glitter paint didn’t have any tint to the actual paint itself, so it could be brushed over any color. I found it at Joann’s.

Next, I cut out their monogram for one side and the year of their marriage for the other.

The last thing I did was seal the entire ornament with Mod Podge so the vinyl won’t peel off over time.

Voila! Instant ornament! This is so easy and so adaptable. I’m thinking I might have to make a few for our tree this year.

I’m linking to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch. Join me!

Getting Organized: Christmas Gifts

I mentioned last month that I begin buying Christmas presents in July. In years past, I haven’t had a great method for organizing these early-bought gifts, but that’s changing this year!

Previously, I’ve bought gifts and then labeled each gift with a post-it note before leaving it on the bed in the second guest bedroom. (More about the second guest bedroom here.) This method has worked decently well for the past couple of years, but all those shopping bags all over the bed downstairs starts to give me hives after awhile. Plus, when I actually begin to wrap the gifts, I lose track of what’s been wrapped and bought. It’s just not a system that’s working for me.

If you don’t like something, change it, right? Well, that’s exactly what I’m doing this year. Not only am I using my Christmas Binder to help me keep track of what I’ve bought by person, I’m also organizing the early-bought gifts by family group in the gifted dresser that’s in the second guest bedroom.

Concealing the gifts in drawers as significantly improved by clutter-induced hives. Each family group gets its own drawer, and I even have a drawer left over for stocking stuffers/filler gifts.

Why am I storing Christmas gifts in a guest bedroom? Two reasons:

  1. This room is rarely used for guests.
  2. I turn this room into a gift wrapping room for the holidays.

I feel pretty good about knocking out this small organizational feat so early on. However, I know that surviving Christmas sometimes is more of a journey than a race. Too poetic? Basically, I’ve got a long ways to go before I’ll have Christmas managed this year.

Christmas Organization Checklist:

  1. Create a notebook of some sort to keep track of gifts, receipts, craft ideas, etc.
  2. Keep notebook organized. (ongoing)
  3. Organize presents as I buy them by family.
  4. Gather supplies for crafts early. (in process, but probably ongoing)
  5. List what gifts I’ll be making this year and complete them before December if possible
  6. Hold myself accountable by blogging about Christmas progress.

(Checklist was originally seen in this post.)

There are only 132 days until Christmas! Will you be ready?

Getting Organized with a Christmas Binder

Since I promised myself I wouldn’t let Christmas creep up on me this year (read more about that promise here), I’ve been busy.

Christmas Binder

I’ve stared working on a few crafts and gifts, but my first priority was creating a binder to help keep me organized this Christmas season. The binder will have:

  • Pocket for receipts
  • Complete list of family members to buy for
  • Separate page for each person on list with ideas and already bought columns
  • Menu planners
  • Page for each event we attend
  • Blog ideas
  • Section for craft ideas/inspiration
  • Shopping Lists

So far, I have all of my family members in the binder with gift ideas, or things we’ve already purchased for them. We try to start buying Christmas gifts in July every year. This year, we’re off to a pretty good start.

I am so going to be ready for Christmas this year, and I’m even going to be able to enjoy myself along the way. Bonus!

p.s. There’s only 153 days until Christmas. Will you be ready?

Christmas in July

Each July marks the beginning of my Christmas shopping/crafting. Why do I start so early? There are several reasons:

  1. I big fat LOVE the Christmas season. I wish we celebrated Christmas year round. No joke.
  2. I have to buy a lot of presents, and this gets expensive. If I can spread the buying out over a few months, the budget doesn’t suffer so much in December/January.
  3. I like to spend the entire month of December enjoying the season, not frantically decorating and shopping for gifts.
  4. Our wedding anniversary is in December. We like to celebrate, which sometimes means a trip away or simply a weekend doing nothing but spending time together ie not frantically decorating or shopping for gifts.
  5. I’m not a good last-minute holiday crafter. I like to craft because I want to, not because I have to.
  6. People are sometimes difficult to buy for, and I like to take the time to find just the right gift. Especially if I’m making the gift or spending a lot of money on one gift.
  7. After May, we’re pretty much done buying gifts for the year other than Christmas. This makes July the perfect time in the yearly budget to start buying Christmas gifts.
  8. Hobby Lobby begins putting out their Christmas items in July, and I can’t help but be mesmerized by the aisles of ornaments and décor. I always leave really inspired to create for Christmas.
  9. I really, really, really like thinking about Christmas.

Last year, I didn’t do so well with the whole Christmas in July idea. It was the only time I’ve ever fallen off the bandwagon, and it really set the tone for my Christmas season. I spent a lot of time shopping when I would have rather been with family. Our wedding anniversary was merely a blip on the radar. Our budget suffered from trying to fit everything in last minute. Wrapping presents ended up becoming a very unhappy marathon event. Presents weren’t properly organized and ended up at the wrong places. I didn’t get to all of the Christmas crafts I had envisioned. I didn’t send Christmas cards.

This year is going to be different. I put it out there in blogland, so now I have to follow through. I’m going to do things I’ve never done before to ensure last year doesn’t happen all over again.

Here are a few ideas I have:

  1. Create a notebook of some sort to keep track of gifts, receipts, craft ideas, etc.
  2. Keep notebook organized.
  3. Organize presents as I buy them by family.
  4. Gather supplies for crafts early.
  5. List what gifts I’ll be making this year and complete them before December if possible
  6. Hold myself accountable by blogging about Christmas progress.

I’ve already got a few projects in the works for some Christmas gifts, and I can’t wait to blog about them and everything else as the Christmas season approaches. Only 163 more days until Christmas! Trust me, it will be here before you know it. Will you be ready?

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