Creating a Holiday That Matters



 

It’s that time of year again, and we often find ourselves in that same place we started last year: overwhelmed, overtired and overcommitted. Alas, this just might be the year to create simple holiday traditions that you can live with and concentrate your efforts on creating memories rather than debt this holiday season.
Over the years, many traditions have been created in our house, and each year I try to find a new and simple way to celebrate the season that will fit beautifully into our budget. I wanted to showcase a few traditions that have really brought meaning to our season and helped us create a holiday that truly matters.

Embrace Handmade Gifts

Homemade gifts are the best to give and to get. Being a crafter, I am always looking for ways to incorporate a handmade element into the gifts that I give. The handmade gestures don’t have to be great, but small handmade elements let the person know that you really and truly put a lot of thought and care into the gift that was created.
 
Try creating or selecting a handmade gift and adding your own personal crafty spin by embracing thrift store and handmade elements into your gift-giving. Luckily, even if you are not a crafter, you can still enjoy the beauty of giving and getting handmade gifts by shopping through Etsy.com. Not only are you saving money by creating handmade gifts, you are also celebrating and supporting handmade entrepreneurs by buying handmade.
 

Create a New Tradition With Gifts

Last year we discovered a new tradition that has greatly influenced our gift choices for our children and has relieved a lot of the pressure of finding the perfect gift for each child. On a blog called, “Dandee” (http://dandeedesigns.blogspot.com) she shared a family tradition of giving gifts that has eliminated a lot of the overspending and stress of selecting gifts for her family. Instead of buying oodles of gifts, she recommended simply select four gifts for each child under the categories of Want, Need, Wear and Read. 
 
Selecting from these four categories has helped me simplify our shopping process. Giving the perfect gift to your spouse can be made easier by applying these same categories. Last year, I walked away with a shiny new cookbook, a waffle maker, two loaf pans and a pair of new slippers last year that I absolutely loved!
 

Create a New Countdown to the Holidays Tradition

Each year, we try to create a new and fun way to count down the holiday season. In past issues, I have shared about our tradition of creating a Christmas Jar of activities to countdown the holidays. Each day we randomly draw from a set number of activities and enjoy a holiday activity together as a family.
 
This year, our life with our two children has become increasingly busy and scheduled. We have two school schedules, extracurricular activities, homework, holiday programs, holiday family events and so much more going on. Our life of leisure seems to have taken a detour, and I have had to be more thoughtful in our approach.
Instead of doing a jar, we created a handmade Advent Calendar that I created from two muffin tins and scrapbook paper. In each muffin holder, I folded in an activity that we could do together, and then covered it with a circle of scrapbook paper with the day on it. We no longer had to be spontaneous about what we were doing because I jotted down each activity on our family calendar. Although the mystery was discovered for us, we still gave the kids the surprise of drawing what we would be doing each day, and it brought a lot of joy and excitement for us as a family. 
 

Remember What the Season is All About

As we become tired and overwhelmed with all of our holiday obligations, we can lose focus on what this season is all about. For me, it’s about being together and celebrating the family and the true meaning of the season. It’s about giving to others and enjoying the traditions of the holiday that have become so important to us.
 
Whether it be dining on our annual feast of Gingerbread waffles, going for our day of sledding fun, our handmade creations made in the kitchen to share with friends and family, the beautifully decorated Gingerbread houses or the visit to see the holiday lights in our holiday pajamas, all of these moments are special because we are together.
 
From our house to yours, we hope that you enjoy a wonderful holiday season filled with the things that truly matter!
 

A Holiday recipe from the Clark House

For this recipe, you only need a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon and the necessary ingredients. If you don’t want the cocoa powder to look coarse, pop it in your blender or food processor and blend until it is the powdered consistency of the store-bought packets. I usually skip this step though because, frankly, this lasts about half a second in our house, and I am on to making the next batch. For gift-giving though, processing is a nice touch!

Hot Cocoa Mix
4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup non-dairy coffee creamer
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (4 ounce) package instant chocolate fudge pudding
 
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. If a finer consistency is desired, you can pour the mix into a blender or food processor and run it through that. Store in an airtight container. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup (depending on your cocoa preference) of the mix to an 8 ounce mug of boiling water.
 

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