December Odds & Ends

Can you believe it is exactly one week until Christmas? With Thanksgiving occurring early this year it felt like I had all the time in the world to prepare, but as we enter the final stretch I find that my to do list doesn’t seem to be any closer to being finished than in prior years. I’m happy to be able share a few of my holiday tips and tricks with you in this month’s Odds & Ends to hopefully make the remainder of your December a little easier. Do you find these tips and tricks handy? Check out my October and November Odds & Ends for more useful ideas. 

Christmas Card Contacts

During December I look forward to checking the mail each day for holiday cards from our friends and family. It is so fun to look through the photos and read about everyone has been up to over the past year. I always hated the thought of tossing the cards at the end of the season, but holding onto cards year after year would have only added clutter. I came across a genius tip several years ago that allows me to enjoy the holiday photos we receive all year long. As cards arrive we place them in a decorative bucket. After the holidays I take an hour or so one evening to go through through the cards, snap a quick picture using my phone and add each picture to the contact information that I have for the individual or family on my phone. I can then recycle the cards guilt free knowing that whenever I send or receive a phone call, email and text I will have the pleasure of seeing their lovely Christmas photo. It even connects to my SUV so that if I have an incoming call the photo pops up on the touch screen to let me know who is calling.

Chocolate Croissants

Several years ago we were gifted some amazing chocolate croissants from Williams Sonoma. They arrived in a special freezer pack on our doorstep. After reading the instructions we decided to keep them frozen until Christmas Eve, then let them rise overnight so that we could enjoy fresh, warm croissants on Christmas morning. They were such a hit that the following year I looked into ordering them myself. Unfortunately, the $39.95 ($2.66 each) price tag for 15 croissants seemed a bit steep. Then, I spotted a box of frozen chocolate croissants at Trader Joe’s that were selling $4.50  ($1.12 each) for a package of 4. We decided to give the Trader Joes’s chocolate croissants a shot and found that they are very similar to the Williams Sonoma version. Both require that you put them out to rise the night before you plan to bake them, make your home smell heavenly and produce a flaky, buttery pastry with a delicious melted chocolate center. The biggest difference is the price tag. If you are looking for a special treat to enjoy this season I would recommend picking up a box of these yummy chocolate croissants on your next visit to Trader Joe’s. I like to set out a platter of warm croissants alongside a build your own parfait bar that includes yogurt, fresh berries and granola so that everyone can serve themselves breakfast while we open gifts.

A Trick to Keeping Your Scissors Sharp

 Is there a more satisfying moment when wrapping gifts than when your scissors easily slice through the roll without ever having to open and close the blades??? I hate when, mid slice, my scissors suddenly catch and rip the paper. Between opening boxes, cutting wrapping paper and curling ribbon my scissors are getting their fair share of use this month. This can lead them to become dull more quickly than usual. I have a great trick for keeping your scissors sharp. Before you toss that square of aluminum foil that was keeping your Christmas cookies fresh, fold it several times until you have a piece of foil that is at least 4 layers thick. Next, cut the foil into strips. Finally, test your scissors on a nearby piece of paper. If they are still dull, repeat the process. Your scissors should now be ready to slice through that next roll of paper without a hitch. 

My Winter Uniform

Chances are if you stop by my house during the month of December you will find me wearing this outfit that I recently picked up on Black Friday.  This pair of joggers and long sleeved top are the pieces I gravitate towards if I know I am spending a day close to home or need something comfy and cozy to change into after a long day out and about. The soft spun joggers come in six different colors and are currently on sale for $24.50. The long sleeved top is one of several softspun styles offered including tunics, hoodies and tees and currently on sale for $18.90. These soft and stretchy styles will quickly become your go-to ensemble for watching movies, wrapping gifts, trimming the tree, baking cookies, etc… Throw on a down vest and a pair of Uggs to go see Christmas lights or pick up some last minute stocking stuffers.  You will not regret adding these items to your gift list or gifting them to yourself this winter. 

Gingerbread House Decorating Tip

Decorating a gingerbread house has long been a holiday activity that my whole family looks forward to year after year. Trying to maneuver a bag of stiff frosting from one of the pre-assembled kits we typically buy can be frustrating for small hands or decorating novices. A few years back I came across this can of cupcake icing on the grocery store isle. I liked that it included decorative tips and would eliminate the mess of transferring icing into a bag. I decided to give it a try and found that it was easy for both myself and my kiddos to dispense icing evenly with less effort and resulted in a much better looking gingerbread house. Ever since discovering the Betty Crocker Cupcake Icing I try and remember to pick up a couple cans before we decorate our gingerbread house. I prefer the white icing because it gives our house a snowy look, but you can also buy cans of icing in an assortment of colors including pink, blue, red and green. I display our gingerbread house on top of  this serving platter and cover it with this extra tall glass bell cloche so that it doesn’t attract ants.  

Do you have a tip or trick that makes your life easier around the holidays.? Share your advice in the comments section for Parker Posts readers to see. Wishing you a joy filled week 😘

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