365 Days of Christmas is keeping the spirit alive
all year to enliven your world.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Color Christmas Lights Are You>

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You Are Green Lights

Your holidays are a time of rest and solace.

You take time to reflect on the year that's passed.

You also enjoy connecting with friends and family you've lost touch with.

The holidays are your opportunity to remember what's important in your life.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Easy Homemade Gifts to Make for Christmas

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We certainly love to receive gifts but there is more joy from giving gifts. This, unfortunately, can turn into an expensive venture as our list of recipients continues to grow and the prices continue to creep higher. A fantastic way to give Christmas gifts is to make them yourself. This is not only a great cost-saving way to give, it also adds a personal touch to your gifts and is a terrific bonding activity for the whole family. Get your creative juices flowing with these great homemade Christmas gift ideas:

Box of Homemade Christmas Ornaments
This is a great gift idea for anyone as it can be personalized to suit ages and personal interests. You will need a box of plain round Christmas ball ornaments. For a sports fan family, you can paint the ornament to look like a soccer ball, a basketball, a baseball, and so on. You can also paint on personalized season greetings or names. Another idea is to put colorful beads, metallic shreds/tinsel, a feather (to represent an angel), paint (then swirl ornament around to get good coverage), or small toys inside. More ideas include placing a small photo or flower insides.

Box of International Teas (or Coffee)
This is a great way for your family and friends to experience different tastes of the world. Invest in a number of different boxes of tea from different places in the world. Many types of tea can be found at your local supermarket or mass merchandise store, for example, green tea from China, masala tea from India, black tea from Kenya, Earl grey tea from the UK, etc. For more specialized tea, you can find great deals online, especially if you buy in bulk. Then pack them in pretty plastic bags, simple baskets, or mugs. Remember to  include a card explaining the different types of tea and where they are from.

Box of Homemade Treats
Roll up your sleeves and get your hands sticky making homemade fudge, cupcakes, truffles, mini loaves of bread, brownies, candy, &/or cookies. These are fun to make, fun to decorate, and fun to eat. Get out the tried and true family recipes to use. 

Personalized Wrapping
Get creative with your wrapping too. Many options include pretty but inexpensive plates, mugs, disposable foil pans, colorful plastic wrap, and Christmas patterned Ziploc bags.

Written by Nisha Sharma from Freebies365.co.uk and Storm Litz.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Personalized Christmas Gifts

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With the festive period fast approaching, the spectre of what gifts to buy family and friends is upon us, and with topping last year’s purchases and buying for those that seem to own everything already, the task is becoming more difficult every year. Tailored Christmas presents are one way to get round this conundrum.

·      An old favourite is simply to make something from scratch. This method is particularly nice when the present comes from a child.  The gift actually means something and will more than likely adorn the wall or mantelpiece of a loved one for years to come.

·      Personalised mugs, hats, t-shirts, etc. are a great way to make what is usually a pretty standard Christmas gift into a more enduring and meaningful offering. The process for arranging this sort of present is fairly easy and can be done in most cases simply by sending off a relevant photo. The end result will belie the actual effort put in!

·      If you want to really make a point with a personalized Christmas gift why not go for a private license plate? For a new motorist or a seasoned driver with a new car, a personalized plate would be a perfect gift.

·       A photo frame of the digital variety is a great modern take on a classic heartfelt present. By loading up the frame with snaps of friends and family, before wrapping up for Christmas morning, you can take the hassle out of the technology for a loved one and give them a gift that will always be fresh.

·      Lastly, everybody likes to let themselves 'go' over the Christmas period, so giving the gift of chocolate is always a winner. We all know about the selection box on Christmas morning but a more refined cocoa present, with a personalised message, from a good chocolatier is a great way to give a custom gift.

Written by Daniel Nicklin on behalf of Search Laboratory Ltd. and Storm Litz.

Clever Personalized Christmas Card Ideas

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Have you been thinking about what you will do for this year's Christmas card? Are you tired of buying the same boxes of snowman and reindeer cards?  Are you looking for a fresh, fun new idea? Consider sending a more personalized Christmas greeting - a photo Christmas card is a unique way to send holiday wishes to friends and family. 

Photo Christmas cards come in many creative styles and colors.  Some cards have one focal photo while others feature two or more photos. Many Christmas photo cards have the option to include a short personal message.

Here are some ideas to help you create a clever personalized Christmas card using a photo card:

  • Think 'outside the box' when choosing a photo. Not all photo Christmas cards need to have a picture of the kids sitting on Santa's lap or the whole family posed in holiday sweaters. Capture another fun family moment where your family's personality shines through - baking Christmas cookies together, a family ski trip, making the annual gingerbread house, or finding the perfect Christmas tree.
  • Have trouble getting everyone to smile and look at the camera at the same time? Consider a photo Christmas card that allows for multiple photos. Choose photos that give everyone a moment to shine.
  • Don't forget the pets (they're part of the family too). Put a Santa hat on the dog and some reindeer antlers on the cat and snap that photo.
  • Optimize your color scheme. While your whole family doesn't need to dress in red or green, having everyone dress within the same range of colors will make the photo seem more cohesive. Or change all the photos to black & white or sepia toned, so you don't have to worry about the colors clashing. Coordinating the colors will help you choose a Christmas photo card design that compliments the color scheme of your photo(s).
 The sky is the limit when it comes to designing your personalized Christmas photo card, so have fun creating some Christmas cheer! 

Written by Kevin Phelps from SEO.com and Storm Litz.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Ugly Christmas Sweater

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You have heard the phrase 'another man's junk is another man's treasure.'  Here is an updated version:  One man's ugly, tacky sweater is another man's sparkling, fun sweater.

Do you remember the gawdy, over-rated, sparkly, light-up sweaters from about twenty years ago?  Guess what?  They are back in fashion.  In the case of the Ugly Christmas Sweater, the more lights, patterns, sparkles, colors, fringe, reindeer, snowmen, Christmas trees, glitzy, the uglier; the better the sweater is according to Ugly Christmas Sweater.

Each sweater is one-of-a-kind and hand-crafted in Vermont, USA.  You can beam with pride that you are wearing a genuinely ugly sweater.

It Is Okay to Say Merry Christmas

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Every Christmas, anti-Christian groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, sue some city for erecting a nativity scene on public property. Likewise, fearing they may be perceived as politically incorrect, a handful of retailers replace the word "Christmas" with "Holiday" in their marketing.

It may seem like a small issue, but these things are significant because they diminish the importance of the Christian foundations of America.

Our ideas of justice, mercy, liberty and love for our fellow man are deeply rooted in the Bible, and particularly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That's why America has been a light among the nations in the world.

Like the angel who appeared to the shepherds saying: "I bring you good news of great joy," we Christians have a story to tell about the blessings of honoring God. Telling that story can start with wearing and sharing the 2011 Christmas button.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Black Friday Info

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Black Friday Info is a one-stop destination for everything shoppers need for Black Friday 2011. From early access to Black Friday ads to bargain-hunting tips to the best deals from top retailers. 

Check Your Christmas Lights

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As a person who usually decorates more than an average of 20 Christmas trees every year, I can tell you from experience it is MUCH easier to check your strand of Christmas lights before you put the lights on the tree or intertwine it with the garland, etc.

There is nothing more frustrating than getting all the lights situated just the way you want and then find out the lights don't work, especially if you have the older lights.  Why is it one light doesn't work and the whole strand has to be damaged.  On top of that, it is difficult to go through the whole strand to find that one light that is causing all the trouble.

This year I saw a new television commercial for the Light Keeper Pro.  It fixes the strand of lights with the simple click click of the device.

I think I need this item.  Here is a video that shows just how easy the Light Keeper Pro is.

Have you tried this new item?  Does it work?  Let me know what you think in the comments.

If interested in purchasing this light-saver, check on Amazon.

(This is not a review.  I did not get paid via cash or item.  This item was listed as purely incidental.)

Don't Go Broke for Christmas

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Inexpensive Resources So You Don't Go Broke for Christmas

Haha, remember that old song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, – well, I wonder if the spirit of ol’ Bing would update that to 'I’ll be broke for Christmas.' Hey, I’m not complaining because I know a lot of people out there are in the same spot. This year has really sucked in the financial department. I think we feel it more around Christmas time because we want to be generous this time of year. We want to splurge and shower our friends and loved ones with wonderful gifts, delicious things to eat, delightful toys, great fun, dashing parties, and merriment – the whole ball of wax. But alas…what’s a Christmas time junkie to do when she’s short on cash?

Well, I don’t know if it will help but I’ll give you my own version of Christmas on the cheap. Here’s what I do (in no particular order):

1. I comb the thrift shops, discount stores, consignment stores, library sales, dollar stores, and clearance shelves.

2. I check the grocery store flyer's for whatever is on sale.  For example, if roast beef is less than $2 a pound, well then, that’s my Christmas meal.

3. I use my old Christmas cards to make collages, framed art decor, boxes, gift tags, etc.

4. I go for walks and collect pine cones, sticks (for primitive tree), greenery and put them in baskets and vases around the house to help give it that Christmas look.

5. I handmake many of my gifts (bake brownies & cookies, create gifts in a jar, scrapbook pages/albums, & scrapbook jewelry, cards, ornaments, etc.) for the mailman, mechanic, teachers (when my kids were in public school), neighbors, the local fire station, the local police station, the local senior citizen center, etc.

6. I invite friends for a potluck movie marathon. Four friends each bring a dish of some sort, add three movies, hot cocoa, and you’ve got a party.

7. I drive around the neighborhood at night and admire the Christmas lights and displays.

8. If I’m exchanging gifts with friends, we set a limit, like $5 and we stick to it. You can find some great inexpensive gifts that people will cherish:  fuzzy Christmas socks, nice pen set, note cards,

9. A hand-written letter listing what you admire most about the person is an awesome gift.

10. I’ve also been known to give coupons for 3 hours of pet sitting or kid sitting, a home-cooked meal, an afternoon of shoveling snow, 3 hours of cleaning, or an afternoon of driving so they can go shopping and do errands.

I take whatever talents or resources I have available and I turn them into the most Christmas-y thing I can think of . . . and you know what, it works.

WOW Tours - The Christmas Village

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Let's kick of the Christmas season with a bang.  Today I am hosting a giveaway.

Today I'm the hostess for the WOW (Women On Writing) Tours.  A group of women bloggers each host a day this week to introduce you to author Melissa Goodwin.

I'm so excited to share with you . . .

Please let me introduce to you:  Melissa Ann Goodwin.

Her Bio: 
Melissa is a native New Englander, now living in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband, artist J. Richard Secor.  She has written extensively for Fun for Kidz, Boys’ Quest, and Hopscotch for Girls.  She was a regular feature article contributor to the Caregiver's Home Companion for more than five years.  Her work has appeared in Guideposts’ Angels on Earth, Caregivers’ Home Companion, Caring Today, The Lutheran Digest, The Peak Magazine, The Andover Townsman, and the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette.  The Christmas Village is her first novel.

I was lucky enough to receive a signed copy of The Christmas Village yesterday.  I was up part of the night reading this great book.

About The Christmas Village:

"When Jamie Reynolds comes to his grandparents' Vermont home for Christmas, he just wants things to go back to the way they were before his dad disappeared.  Time and again he is drawn to Grandma's miniature Christmas village, where he imagines that life is perfect.  Late one night, the village comes to life before his eyes, and his fantasy of escaping into it becomes very read indeed.  Jamie discovers that the village is called Canterbury, where the year is 1932.  He becomes fast friends with Kelly and Christopher Pennysworth, and is taken in by Ida, who runs the local boarding house.  But he also makes a dangerous enemy of the mysterious and menacing Jim Gordon, whose return to town is nothing but trouble.  As Jamie desperately races against time to find his way back home, he is suddenly faces with a terrifying choice:  to go ahead with his plan to leave, or to stay and help his friends, at the risk of never going home again."

The book is an easy read and full of fun adventures.  It is a wonderful story about Jamie and his imagination.  
The book keeps you fully entertained as the mystery of Canterbury and Jim unfolds.  Melissa's writing style is fresh and vivid.

My rating (1, lowest; 5, highest): 5

Join the fun and come along on the adventure of The Christmas Village.

For more information on Melissa and her fabulous book, check out these resources:

Melissa's blog, Writer Yogini.
The book has it's own blog, The Christmas Village Book.
The book's Facebook page.
The author's Twitter page.
If you can't wait to read The Christmas Village, click here to purchase the book now.

Now onto the giveaway . . .

Leave a comment (about the book, about the blog, about Christmas) this week and I'll announce the winner on Sunday, November 27th.  Only four days left to enter the giveaway to receive a copy of The Christmas Village.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Start of 2011 Christmas Season

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Thanks to so many that have left me comments and personal emails regarding my whereabouts.  I appreciate all the concerns.  Sadly, my health has taken a big turn for the worse this past year.  Also, since I started homeschooling my children (and remember, I am single mother) it has been very difficult to find time for me and things I want to do.

But, here I am.

I have LOTS of Christmas reviews, Christmas songs, Christmas stories, and Christmas ideas to share with you, so please come back and visit often.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Largest Indoor Christmas Tree in UK

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Largest Indoor Christmas Tree in the UK is featured at the Ideal Home Show Christmas 2011

The largest real indoor Christmas tree in the UK at 15 meters high and over 7 meters wide, is set to be unveiled as the central feature of this year’s Ideal Home Show at Christmas at London’s Earls Court.

Towering over the show, the 30- year-old Norwegian Sitka Spruce, will be dressed in a selection of festive decorations and illuminated with stunning lighting provided by Philips.  Over 12 runs of 20 meters of cable will be used to illuminate the tree, which will be powered by a series of low wattage, energy efficient Living Colors Philips LED lights.

The 8-foot-tall balsam fir chosen as Grand Champion will be supplied by Elveden Estate, near Newcastle, and is the largest indoor Christmas fir Tree that you will see anywhere indoors in the UK this year. The giant tree will be transported to London’s Earls Court on a flatbed truck, and installed on a steel tree stand. 

After its life as the largest indoor Christmas tree, the wood will be cut and donated to young London based furniture designers and recycling enterprises to be used in furniture making. Any leftover product will be chipped and recycled at Elveden Estate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Gift of Thoughtfulness

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Yes, I'm aware that it's the thought that counts.
But, I am also of the age where I detest clutter. Though, I do enjoy collecting things and even lining up the various tchotkes and other well-intentioned gifts that I have gotten for Christmas. Now, I guess, a part of me has turned into a scrooge because if I get one more body lotion, one more scarf, or one more tea towel, I am going to scream. I do donate these items and feel very good about bringing them to Goodwill.  Please think about sending a simple card before sending me one more bar of soap that I don't need. You see when you give me one of those items then I get the impression that the gift has nothing to do with me and everything to do with your being able to cross me off your checklist.
I, too, have been guilty of picking up five scented candles, four boxes of chocolates, three pairs of generic earrings, two extra scarves, and a dog collar with a dog treat when I get exhausted and simply want to be finished with my gift shopping. These items just simply seem to scream from their cluttered shelves and tables "Grab a few of me and be done with it." Well, this year I am going to resist the temptation of those chaotic tables and shelves and leave extra time to select items that have personal meaning for the people that I give gifts to. I mean, how many scarves can you really wear with the one winter coat? How many tubes of lotion can you stuff into your night table drawers? 
So, join me in this challenge and call to action.