Waiting for Christmas & Gingerbread Decorations

There’s only one week to go in the countdown to Christmas. At this point, you’re probably so excited you’re ready to burst … or … please, say it ain’t so. You aren’t one of those bah-humbug types, are you? In either case, there’s not long to wait. Here are a few ideas to help the time go faster or, if need be, get you in the spirit.

Bake some cookies. Warm up yourkitchen with sugar and spice and everything nice. In the culinary world, baking is considered more science than art. It requires careful measuring and mixing. With its methodical rhythms, wonderful aromas and fond memories, baking is a great way to spend an afternoon. If your brain is skittering in too many directions, baking will ground you. Then again, if you’re having trouble getting in the spirit, baking cookies will bring you a few hours of sweet nostalgia.

Make a gift, maybe two. I love making Christmas gifts and decorations. You don’t have to be too terribly clever. Think knitted scarves for the kids, a chef’s apron for a favorite cook and spicy rubs for your barbecuing brother. Too complicated, don’t own a sewing machine or know how to knit? Not to worry, if you can string beads or work a glue gun you can make something happen.

Play secret Santa. You don’t need to work in an office or live with half a dozen roommates to play secret Santa. Although, come to think about it, I think the proper term for this particular holiday cheer is elf – as in elf-ing and you’ve been elf-ed. It’s easy to play. Start with a basket, add a few holiday treats, leave it on a neighbor’s doorstep, ring the bell and run like hell. No need to go crazy, a dozen of those cookies you baked, a homemade Christmas decoration and a jug of maple syrup will do nicely. Leave a note suggesting they continue the festivities and go elf a friend or two.

Sing carols. Check the local newspaper, there are opportunities galore to sing your way through the holidays. With community sings and special church services, you have your choice of ‘Jingle Bells’ and sacred music. There is nothing like singing to get into the spirit. So hum your way from one errand to the next and do a few rounds of ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ on your morning walk.

Send a Christmas card. If you are like me, you’ve fallen out of the Christmas card habit. Bring it back this year but instead of rubber-stamping fifty cards, be selective. Choose a handful of distant friends and family, people you love but rarely see, and send them heartfelt messages of holiday cheer. Heck, if you like, make homemade cards to send.

Settle in for a holiday movie marathon. This one is an especially good idea if there is another snow day. Think of it as an excellent opportunity to multitask. Let Bing sing, Jimmy reflect on life’s mysteries and Hugh actually fall in love while you make magic with a ball of yarn or wrap presents.

Re-read a favorite Christmas story from your childhood. My mother read us a chapter a night from the Santa book. Christmas Eve had to be left for Mr. Moore’s poem, so she always timed it to finish on December 23rd. A book from her childhood, the nightly reading is a cherished memory. My sister found reprints several years ago and the tradition was reborn. Reading about the life and adventures of Nicholas the Woodcarver is a wonderful step back in time. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it is a lovely way to spend a quiet afternoon.

Enjoy the countdown to Christmas with friends and family. Bon appétit!

Gingerbread Decorations
These decorations look like gingerbread cookies and have a warm and wonderful scent. Hang them on your tree, use them to decorate an indoor wreath and toss a few into a bowl of ornaments or greens for a clever centerpiece. You can leave the cookies plain or embellish them with paint or glitter. Enjoy!

1 cup or more ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons each ground ginger, cloves and nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup plain applesauce
1/4 cup white craft glue plus more for decorating
Acrylic paint (optional)
Glitter, beads and sequins (optional)
Ribbon

Put the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the applesauce and glue and stir until thoroughly combined. If the dough seems sticky, add more cinnamon. Knead the dough, adding more cinnamon if necessary, until it is smooth, firm and pliable.

Roll out the dough on a cinnamon dusted surface to 1/4-inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Use a straw to cut a small hole in each cookie. The hole will allow you to attach a ribbon and hang the ornaments. If you plan to use some of the ornaments on a wreath or in a bowl, there is no need to cut a hole.

Place the ornaments on a wire rack and air dry. Drying will take at least several hours and up to a few days.

When the cookies are dry, you can leave them as is for a natural, rustic look or frost them. Instead of icing, use paint to outline the ornaments as well as add eyes, noses, mouths and buttons to gingerbread boys and girls. Do not cover the entire cookie with paint. Paint will mask its spicy scent.

If you want a glitzy look, run lines of glue along the edges of your cookies and sprinkle with glitter. Tap off the extra glitter and let the glue dry completely, about 30 minutes, before adding more. Finish the ornaments with beads or sequins for even more glitz.

To hang your ornaments, thread colorful ribbon or clear nylon thread through the holes. To attach them to an indoor wreath or swag, hot glue wire to the backs and wrap the wire around the greens.

After the holidays, store the ornaments in an airtight, mouse-proof tin in a dry place. They should last for several years.

Please note – these decorations are NOT edible!

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One Year Ago – Sticky Buns
Two Years Ago – Cranberry Coffee Cake
Three Years Ago – Fish Stew Provençal
Four Years Ago – Twice-Baked Potatoes
Five Years Ago – Baked French Toast
Six Years Ago – Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta
Seven Years Ago – Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
Eight Years Ago – Potato, Leek & Kale Soup
Nine Years Ago – Salmon & Lentils

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend your time during the countdown to Christmas? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

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