Holidays and Seniors Tips

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What is good for wrapping gifts other than ribbon?

Raffia or ribbon

When wrappping gift packaages, use raffia rather than ribbon for a nice difference. Christmas raffia (various colors) can be purchased at most craft stores or at Current

What is an easy ´snack´ recipe?

Flour Tortilla Spirals

Quick, easy, make-ahead snack is the keyword for these really good 'snacks':

2 pkgs cream cheese softened
1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
1/2 cup chopped black olives
1 Tbsp chopped chives
1 Tbsp finely chopped jalapeno (toss away the seeds)
1 pkg flour tortillas (large size)
1/2 cup finely chopped pieces of ham (optional)

Mix first 5 ingredients by hand; spread onto flour tortillas about 1/4" thick then roll up. Chill for about 1 hour; just before serving, slice into approximately 1/2" 'spirals'. Can be rechilled, but too long in refrigerator can cause tortillas to become soggy.

What can I do with heirloom Christmas decorations?

Pass on the 'heirloom'

Now might be the time to pass on some of the
family-heirloom Christmas decorations to your children
or grandchildren. Wrap in tissue and place in box with a note of what the decoration meant to you, how you obtained it and date obtained. Keep the memories alive.

What is an easy cookie for guests or gifts?

Easy Coffee 'Crackers'

Really tasty and easy 'cookie''ll need:

1/2 stick butter (or margarine)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
Finely chopped pecans (approx. 1/2 cup)
1 box Club or Waverly crackers

Melt butter in microwavable bowl (in microwave oven); stir in brown sugar and vanilla; add finely chopped pecans.

Place individual crackers on cookie sheet, spoon sauce over crackers, bake 8-10 minutes at 350 deg.F.

Remove from oven and place on platter immediately (do not place on wax paper).
Great for company with hot coffee, tea or spiced apple cider (another tip), or to give to neighbors.
Note: you may not use all the crackers.

What is a tasty, yet unusual cookie, easy to make?

Pecan 'lace' cookies

mmmm..mmmmm...delicate and tasty! Ingredients:
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sugar (granulated)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pecan halves

Finely grind pecans and mix thoroughly with sugar (in food processor if you have one); place in a bowl; add and mix in flour, baking powder and salt. In separate bowl, beat egg; add melted butter and vanilla. Stir into sugar/flour mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls, about 3" apart, onto lightly greased foil-lined cookie sheets. Place pecan half in center of each cookie. Bake at 325 deg.F for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown and lacy. Let cookies cool COMPLETELY before *carefully* removing from foil.
Makes about 4-1/2 doz.

How can I brighten up rooms for guests at Christmas?

Other uses for tree ornaments

If you have more Christmas tree ornaments than you use, consider giving them to family or needy, or:
tie them with a pretty bow and attach to a garland or wreath. One or two 'ball-type' with bow would be nice on corner of mantle, medicine cabinet, or mirror.

Is it safe to dye cracked hard-boiled eggs for Easter?

Dying Easter Eggs

If we dye Easter eggs for the kids (huh...even for ourselves), be sure they are hard-boiled (did I have to remind you? :o), and NOT cracked. Even vegetable-dyes seeping onto the egg can become unhealthy; don't take a chance. Use the cracked eggs for potato salad or deviled eggs.

What is a nice Christmas decoration for a gravesite?

Christmas Wreath for gravesite

Don't overlook decorating gravesites at Christmas time. You can purchase at craft store (i.e. MJDesigns) a wire 'easel' (stand), straw wreath, evergreen garland, 'picks' (gifts, flowers, bells, etc), a few tree ornaments (attach with floral pins), bow. Wrap wreath with garland, add decorations and a large bow. With florist wire, firmly attach finished wreath to stand. Be sure to force easel legs at least 4" into dirt for stability.
Copyright Jackie (Micke) Jinks, 2000

What is a warm meat-dish I can serve guests when entertaining?

Little BBQ Sausages

Depending on the number of guests, you will need one or two packages of the little sausages. Heat these in saucepan with 1 cup BBQ sauce per package. Serve in a fondue warmer-pot with fork.

Can some gifts be dangerous for small children?

Safety First

Watch those gifts small children receive: do they have parts that the child could pull off and swallow? Either exchange the gift, or pull off the part and discard...better safe than sorry! AND...discard ALL plastic-wrap safely; away from child's reach!

What eggs can I safely use for an Easter Egg Hunt?

Easter Egg Hunts

If we're planning on hosting Easter Dinner for the family, schedule time for the kid's Easter Egg Hunt (betcha grownups join in)! Keep a supply of the plastic eggs to use in the hunt; give each child an opportunity to do the 'hiding'. Plastic eggs can safely be used over...and over...and...Have FUN!

Can my pet be traumatized during Holidays?

Watch your pet

Children are natural 'sharers'. Keep an eye on them and your pet(s) during party and holiday times. No food from the table for pets; no chewing up of small toy pieces; no rough playing with pets. If necessary, keep pets in an isolated area/room...for their safety-sake. NO candy, especially chocolate - poison for pets!

How can I easily decorate outdoors with lighting?

Cross on the roof

This outdoor Christmas decoration is especially effective if we have a definite 'slope' to the front roof: with white mini-lights, place lights to form an outline of a cross (not just a'single-line'). Can be other color of lights, but the white glows so nicely.

What is a nice Christmas decoration for a gravesite?

Special poinsettias for home/gravesite

This is a special 'touch' for poinsettias that I place at my husband's gravesite and in vases around the house. Purchase at craft store one (or more) large, silk poinsettia 'bouquet(s)', bottle each of glitter-gold and glitter-green Tulip fabric paint. Paint the 'veins' and edges of poinsettia bracts (the red leaf), and the 'inside' (the actual flower) with gold, and half of the other leaves with green. Let dry at least 24 hours. A really beautiful effect.

What is a great flour-less cookie?

'Surprise' Peanut Butter cookies

These are quick and easy cookies - the surprise being there is NO flour in this recipe :o)

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients until smooth. Form into one-inch balls; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Criss-cross press balls flat with fork-tines after dipping in extra sugar.
Bake at 325 deg.F for 10-12 minutes.
Note: If you have a nice decorative cookie stamp, use in place of fork-tines.
Yield: approx. 2 doz.

What´s an easy way to keep track of my Christmas Card list?

Christmas Card list

With this little book, you should have no problem keeping track each year of names/addresses and sent/received records. Go to:
for the Christmas Card Record Book (prod. #SKU071406)

How can I help guest grab their knives, forks, and spoons?

Wrap 'em up

When entertaining a group with a 'cook-out' or buffet: prepare your silverware wrapped in napkins so guests can readily "grab 'em all" (as in knife, fork, and spoon).

Why should I fly the America flag?

Fly THE flag

Always remember to display your FLAG proudly in your yard, on porch, or auto on 'special' days. We will be honoring ourselves, our nation, and our veterans by doing so. The American flag can be purchased (with pole) inexpensively at Target, KMart and various other locations.

How can I add more warmth & color to my rooms at Christmastime?

Trees for bed-and-bath

What a pleasant surprise for guests to decorate their bedroom and guest bath. We can buy (or make) small Christmas trees to use here. I also put up a bow & ribbon garland around the window (love the 'wired' ribbon) and the medicine cabinet.

How can I save time, money, wear on my shopping trips?

Best way to shop for gifts

For Holiday giving, start with a list of all those people you want to give gift(s) to. Beside each name list 2-3 items they might enjoy/need. If buying clothing, be sure to get the right size listed. You will avoid 'guessing' when at the stores.

How can I make those ´streamer´ bows for gift packages?

Alternative to 'wrapping'

There are times that gift-wrapping is impossible; that's when the wonderful gift-bags really come in handy. Don't overlook this alternative, and be sure to put plenty of tissue inside bag. You can even take decorative picture(s) and glue onto a plain brown bag with handles...make it original :o) Here's where you can apply the 'streamer' bows.

Can I use gift-wrapping other than paper?

An original gift wrap

Don't always think 'paper' for gift wrapping. Look through scrap materials that are on hand, or check cloth stores for 'scraps'; usually priced cheap. Be sure cloth is ironed flat before wrapping. Special patterns for special people!

What is good for Holiday window decorating?

Window Decorating

Easy and non-messy window decorating of vinyl clings (great for apartments) can be bought from Current...Do a search for Frosty Santa Clings by clicking here and here for CandyCanes/Snowflakes.

How can I add more warmth & color to my rooms at Christmastime?

Deck the halls with boughs

For warm and happy rooms, string lighted garland all around your den, family/living room and/or kitchen. About 2 inches down from ceiling, screw in appropriate sized 'cup' hooks (these can be left up all year if bought or painted in color of walls). The longer the lights/garlands, the less 'connections' you have to make; use only the mini lights for safety.

What if I can´t continue to decorate a Christmas tree?

Too hard to decorate the tree

If you find it harder each year to decorate a Christmas tree, consider buying the fiber-optic type; lights already there and no need for ornaments. Keep some of your beautiful ball ornaments and place in large clear vase as table decoration, crowned with small greenery.

What can I do with artificial Christmas tree I no longer use?

Unused Christmas Tree

If you have an artificial Christmas tree you no longer use, consider giving it to: A mission, woman's shelter, Salvation Army, and other place of this type.

Are there dangers with decorating for Holidays?

Do an 'electrical' check

During holidays we decorate a lot, and make use of many extension cords. Do a safety-check: that there are no exposed wires; that outlets are not overloaded; that cords are 'hidden' from children and pets if possible; that decorations cannot be pulled on top of child or pet. Take precautions!

How can I communicate with friends and family at Christmastime?

Writing a Christmas Letter

Not too keen on these letters? They do bring family and friends up-to-date on what we've been doing, and a little closer into the 'circle'. Besides writing your information, be sure and put your name, address, tele #, and e-mail address at the top. Enclose in your Christmas card via 'snail-mail' (write on your P.C. and print on special paper), or send an e-mail with letter attached.

What is a good gift most anyone would enjoy?

A Thoughtful Gift

Can't think of a good gift to give? A thoughtful one would be a gift certificate to a bookstore. Not only will the recipient enjoy a good book, but have an enjoyable time selecting their choice.

What is an easy ´punch´ drink to make for entertaining?

Easy, delicious 'punch'

This is a refreshing, non-alcoholic punch for Holidays, birthdays..and just any time. Start with two pints lime sherbet, three bottles ginger-ale, and maraschino cherries to top. (no juice). Depending on size of punch-bowl, divide sherbet into 4 1/2-pint portions and place into bowl; add ginger-ale a little at a time. Double this recipe for refill.

Why doesn´t the ´action´ toy work?

It won't run!

Remember to buy extra batteries! Most 'action' toys for children do not come with the batteries, so have plenty different sizes on hand to make the gift(s) enjoyable for the child...or grownup!!

What is a good, warm ´toddy´ for cold nights?

Hot spiced apple cider

Almost as easy as the 'mix'. Needed:

1 quart sweet apple cider
8 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
8 whole allspice
1/4 tsp. honey
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
dash of salt

Using a 3-quart pan, pour in cider, add spices, honey, sugar and salt. Cover tightly and slowly heat over low temp. to simmering point; takes about 1/2 hour. Remove from heat and strain. Serve hot. Place 1 cinnamon stick in each cup for nice presentation :o)
Makes approx. 5, 6-oz servings
Note: this can be made days in advance: let chill, store in glass container in refrigerator; heat before serving. Note: if entertaining, use your crock-pot as a 'hot' punch bowl for this, but heat cider before pouring into warmed pot.

What type of ribbon should I use for gift-box bows?

The right ribbon #1

When making an elaborate bow for a gift box, use the type with wire edges...these retain fullness and can be reshaped if flattened. Try using a small width placed over a larger width before tying the bow; contrasting colors are eye-catching.

Should I serve appetizers before a full meal?

Pre-meal appetizers

If you are having a group of guests for a 'cook-out',
plan on feeding them something almost immediately after they arrive. Serve bite-sized portions that won't spoil their appetites for the full meal, but will abate their hunger.

What can I serve at a Holiday get-together?

An easy cheese ball

For entertaining, a quick and easy cheese ball is to mix together: softened 8 oz. cream cheese, 1 cup EACH shredded swiss and cheddar cheese, pepper to taste. Combine in a platter: 1 tbsp. each sweet paprika, sesame seed, chopped pistachio nuts. Form cheese mixture into a ball and roll (covering completely) in dry mixture. Serve with good crackers and a knife :o)

How can I make candy/cookie making easier?

Shipping food gifts

Save plastic frozen-dinner containers or tins to place candies/cookies in to ship, then cover with plastic wrap and bow. If you have no other package 'stuffing' materials, pop some pop-corn to use as the final package-stuffing; makes the shipping safer and easy.

How can I easily decorate outdoors with lighting?

Easy outside decorating

Christmas lighting 'nets' are really nice to place over outdoor shrubbery and easy to put up/take down. Can be draped on apartment balcony railing, or down roof overhang.

What GOOD foods can I put in children´s Easter Basket?

Filling the Easter Basket

Let's not overlook a healthy goodie we can put into our grandchildren's Easter Basket: carrot sticks! Put them in a decorated zip-lock sandwich bag, store in fridge until the last minute, then timely add to basket. Hey...don't forget to tell the kids the Easter Bunny shared their favorite food especially for them to enjoy!

What can I serve at a Holiday get-together?

Use 'plastic' plates

When entertaining, and trying to avoid messy accidents, it's best to use plastic plates rather than paper ones, or just napkins. Oils and grease from food-stuff won't soak thru, and they are much sturdier for people to handle. But DO offer small napkins along with the plate for guests.

What type of ribbon should I use for gift-box bows?

The right ribbon #2

Kids love the curly-streamer type bows. Be sure you have the thin type ribbon that curls when 'stropping' with a scissor blade. Tie 14" lengths of different colored pieces together in center, then 'curl' away...the heavier the pressure when 'stropping', the tighter the curl.

How can I make lump-free sauces and gravies?

Dinner preparations

Start with the menu, then make a list of all things you will need to buy for this great dinner. Don't forget simple ingredients, napkins, paper-plates (small for desserts), and plastic cups (if necessary).

Should gift packages always need a bow?

Alternative to 'bows'

Instead of topping your gift package with a bow, try this: make a 'cone' from colorful paper (or foil), flatten and tape one side to package, then glue a silk poinsettia, a lollipop, glittered pine cone (use your imagination) into cone.

How can I make candy/cookie making easier?

Candy/cookie list

For making favorite candies or cookies, check the recipes first, then make a list of all ingredients you need to buy, and BUY them on your next grocery trip. Check that you have a good candy thermometer, enough baking sheets, wax paper/plastic wrap, and shipping containers.

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Candi Wingate