Sunday, 21 October 2012

Handmade Holidays

Holiday preparations have been started in good measure around here.  After Thanksgiving, and N's birthday (which I have yet to share) we get pretty motivated to get things started so that we can enjoy December without the stress and the hustle and bustle.

Getting Organized:
Every year I print myself off 4 blank calendar pages - September through December.  I usually print these off in January, after the holiday season and jot down a few notes...what I left for too late, what didn't happen, what we loved...then I put them away until September.

September's sheet has things like finding all the cookie recipes, calling to book an appointment for the boys' photo, making my supplies list for Christmas cards.  In October, I start the "big cleaning".  I like to get each room done, one per week, so that when December arrives, I just have to maintain it rather than clean the whole house top to bottom.  I also start cookie dough, a batch or two per week to put in the freezer in advance (did you know most cookie dough recipes can be frozen for three months?).  I also like to start the things that can be done in advance...more on that later in the post.  November I focus on getting things in order - finishing up the cleaning, the cookie dough, shopping for non-perishables - things like that.  And then that leaves December clear for cookie decorating, parades, parties, sledding, and decorating.

Cookies, cookies, cookies:
Cookies are a big part of the holidays for us.  Cookies, if you haven't heard, are my second favourite food group, but I really do try to control myself.  In September, I find all the recipes, make the list of teachers/neighbours/friends that need cookies over the holidays, and hardest of all, make "the list" of cookies to make this year.  In October, I make up a batch or two at a time, roll them up in wax paper, and then freeze them in milk bags or bread bags until we need them.  Incidentally, if you wrap these rolls of cookie dough in fancy papers, they make a great gift for a family that just doesn't have the means or the time to make their own.  Don't forget to label your bags with indelible ink - even though you think you can tell them apart - it's much easier to read the label then to have to unwrap them for a full inspection.

All those cookies need to be delivered in pretty packages too don't forget.  This week, to save some last minute stress in December, I sewed up the bags that the cookies will be packaged in.  I make these in a few different sizes (bigger families means more cookies, and our closer friends also get a nice variety).  I make a few more than I think I will need, that way if a surprise comes up, I can just package up another little bag of goodies.
And all those bags of cookies will need tags, of course.  Last year, I made some fabric feathers and attached some craft feathers, and wrapped them all up with a wood slice tag.  Ummm, we have a cat.  He is a feather thief.  I found feathers for days, not to mention the number of tags I had to remake because the cat destroyed them.  This year, I am opting for some pottery tags.  This is phase one - they have to dry, and be slip decorated, and then glazed and fired...all of which I will do over the next couple of Monday nights at pottery "class".  The cat can't get these, and they were actually quite quick to make up.  I made a few extras in case of breakage.  You can do this with salt dough, or that air dry clay you can pick up at the craft or even dollar store.  I'll try to remember to share them when they are all done.

I'm curious - do you start early to take December nice and easy, or do you thrive on the hustle and bustle?
Feel free to share!


  1. I really like your pottery tags.

    The cookie dough is a great idea.

  2. Absolutely! Although this year I haven't been nearly as on the ball as I typically am. I do start thinking about it in the summer though, all the knitting I always plan to do, and then never manage to finish because I don't start early enough :-) This month we just welcomed a new little nephew, so I haven't spent any time on thinking about Christmas just yet...instead I have been thinking of baby :-)

  3. You are so organized! making up cookie dough and freezing it is a great idea. Would love to see the finished pottery tags. Maybe you could try 'cat paw print' tags, that way the cat might feel more involved and not wreak everything!!