Do you love to send Christmas Photo Cards like we do? You know those personalized cards with pictures of your and the family?
We love to send Christmas Photo Cards, it’s a great way to give family and friends updates. I love to receive them too! It’s always a pleasure to see how everyone is doing and wonder how much the kids have grown from year to year.
But many folks tend to make Christmas Photo Cards at the last minute donning Santa hats and calling it a day. Then they wonder why their cards didn’t turn out awesome. Well, not so in our family!
Sure you can pop a Santa cap on everyone’s head, and maybe even dress them in Christmas T-shirts or frilly dresses. Then you all can stand together by a Christmas tree and have someone snap a photo. Or hop over to the photo studio at Walmart or Target and have them take your photos. Yes, you’ll have Christmas Photo Cards to send, but will they be awesome? Probably not, they’ll be just like everyone else’s family picture in front of a Christmas tree or fireplace, in short, mundane and possibly boring.
But with a little bit of thought and planning you can send out awesome Christmas Photo Cards this year. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, you probably already have the props; it just never occurred to you to use them in your Christmas family photo.
And yes you can take your own photo at home, have a friend or family member do it, go to a photo studio, or hire a photographer. Do whatever feels comfortable for you and your family and what fits your budget.
Here are some ideas and tips on how you can take send out the most awesome Christmas Photo Cards this year!
Think & Plan
Think about how you want your picture to be. Formal, fun, scenic, or whatever fits your family’s personality.
Think about where you want your photo taken. Sure you can do it at home or at a studio, but think outside of the box.
How about outdoors? If you live by a park or green area you can do a photo shoot there. Or maybe an ice skating rink, playground, or a nice block in your neighborhood.
Once you decide where you want to take your photo you plan on the time to take it. If you’re going to a photo studio then book your appointment as soon as possible. If you decided to shoot outside then you may want to wait until Christmas decorations are out, usually by Thanksgiving, so you have plenty of time to take your photos.
Decide on your wardrobe. PJs are great if you’re going for a Night Before Christmas look. Sweaters are a must if you’re shooting outdoors in cold weather. If you don’t already have the outfits you can buy or borrow some. Don’t forget to check out thrift stores and resale shops for kids’ Christmas outfits, they’re generally worn once and outgrown; you may find some treasures at a resale shop!
Gather your props. Gift boxes, ornaments, gift bags, and even strings of lights make great props. Best of all you probably have them tucked away in your closets! If you need cool Santa Hats check out my crocheted ones here!
Get it done!
Once you decided on place, time, wardrobe, and props all that’s really left to do it to get it done.
On the day of your appointment be sure the kids are well fed and dressed comfy on the way to the studio or photo location. You don’t want cranky kids in scratchy clothing grumbling and crying before you take pictures.
Remember to bring your wardrobe and props. If you’re going to a studio or have hired a professional photographer you may not need to bring your own props, but check with them before hand.
When you arrive at the studio or location get everyone dressed and ready to go. Then smile!
You’ll want to take several poses, and even different groupings. That way you’ll have lots of photos to choose from!
And remember have fun during the photo shoot!
Cathedral Window Jelly Dessert – I can’t get enough of this cathedral window jelly after.
This jelly dessert consists of cubed colored gelatin embedded in a creamy mold. My family usually serves this during the holidays, hence the red, and green gelatin. However it doesn’t mean you can’t have it the rest of the year. I used a silicone polymer pan however you will use any mold you prefer.
Here’s a recipe from Cathedral Window Jelly Dessert.
1 (3oz/85g) box of strawberry jelly powder
1 (3oz/85g) box of lime jelly powder
1 (3oz/85g) box of lemon or mango jelly powder
1 cup boiling water per 3 oz box
⅓ cup cold water per 3 oz box
½ cup pineapple juice
½ cup condensed milk
½ cup heavy cream
4 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups water
3 tbsp unflavoured gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1.In three separate mixing bowls, completely dissolve the contents of each envelope of flavored jelly powder in 1 cup boiling water. Stir in ⅓ cup cold water to each. Transfer each gelatin flavor in square or rectangular containers and refrigerate until they set. Cut the flavored gelatin into cubes and arrange in your preferred jelly molds (I used a silicone bundt pan).
2.In a medium bowl, combine pineapple juice, condensed milk, heavy cream, sugar and salt. Stir with wire whisk until incorporated. Set aside.
3.In another mixing bowl, combine 1½ cup water and 3 tbsp unflavored gelatin powder. Stir until the powder completely dissolves. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes.Gently add 1 cup boiling water to the gelatin mixture then continue stirring until the mixture is clear.
4.Pour the gelatin mixture into the milk mixture, whisking until well incorporated. Pour this gelatin-milk mixture evenly over the jelly cubes in the mold. Allow to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
5.To serve, turn the jelly dessert out onto a serving plate.
*This post contains affiliate links
Our Favorite Cathedral Window Jelly Dessert
That’s it Christmas is over, the last carol sung, the last gift unwrapped, and the last cookie eaten; it’s time to put away Christmas. Ugh! I hate putting lights, ornaments, and all the Christmas stuff away, not as fun as taking them out of storage!
I thought I was clever when years ago I bought a dozen large plastic bins from Walmart to store everything in. Still a good idea, but somehow every year I need more bins.
I don’t know why the same ornaments won’t fit back in the bins they came out of. Of course there’s the new stuff I got at the after Christmas sales, they need to be stored too.
Then there’s the lights, no matter how I store them they mysteriously shift so that the next year I end up spending hours untangling them, or getting frustrated and replacing them with new ones. This year will be better, I hope!
I’m not looking forward to the chore, but it must be done. With a few new storage ideas and taking a few extra steps to organize everything I think I can do this. Here are a few tips I found around the web, cheap organization tips that use re-cycled and re-purposed items most of us have at home.
The bins are still handy, get the ones you can see thru so you know which bins to pull out next year. Assorted bins can be purchased at Walmart, Home Depot, and other discount stores. There are “special” bins such wreath storage bags and ornament storage boxes, they are more expensive and I’ve always thought don’t store much and take up too much room, there are easier and cheaper ways to organize and store all the ornaments, the cheap large rectangular bins work best to keep smaller containers organized in one place.
Before you begin gather your supplies:
Clear sided large plastic bins
Egg cartons, fruit cartons, take out drink caddies, plastic cups, empty water bottles, or ziplock bags – you can use any of these containers or a combination of them – depending on what you have available
Large trash bags (for the tree, and other large odd shaped items)
Clothes hangers (for wreathes)
1. Wrap lights to keep them from getting tangled. This will save you the frustration of untangling them next year.
Before placing them in a bin wrap them around a hanger or piece of flat cardboard (cut slits on each end of the cardboard, they will hold the light plugs in place
Or wind them around empty coffee cans. Use masking tape and markers to label the lights – indoor tree lights or outdoor ones
2. You can use the same technique to store garland or you can store beaded garland in empty water bottles.[spacer height=”-20px”]
3. There are several ways to store ornaments depending on the type of ornament as well as what supplies you have on hand.
Learn how to make this inexpensive hanging bin to store ornaments from Craptastic.
Use the plastic fruit containers from Costco to store large fragile ornaments. It’s easy and FREE.
Store smaller ones in egg cartons.
Recycle cardboard drink caddies and stack them in your plastic bin.
Glue plastic cups on to cardboard and stack them in your bins for fragile and odd shaped ornaments.
Use Ziplock type bags to store ornaments, you can organize them by type, color, etc. This would work well for the shatterproof balls, if you store fragile ornaments this way you will need to use old towels and linens to cushion them and keep them from breaking.[spacer height=”-20px”]
4. Wrap fragile ceramic pieces from your Christmas Village, hurricane vases, candle holders, etc. in old linens before placing them in your bins. Better yet re-purpose hurricane vases, cake stands, and candle holders and use them when you decorate for other holidays through out the year.
5. Hang wreathes and holiday linens to hangers and cover them in large plastic bags or trash liners to keep them clean, dry, and wrinkle free.
6. Slip holiday candles in old stockings to keep them dust free and wrap them in tissue to keep them from being dented before putting them in boxes or bins.[spacer height=”-20px”]
7. If you have the space don’t take apart artificial trees, instead throw a large trash bag over it, secure it at the bottom and place in storage. Next year your tree will be ready to go without too much work.
Or store them in 2 8-in diameter concrete form tubes for easy compact storage.
Once you’re done putting Christmas away you’ll be ready to plan your winter getaway! Call Savvy Nana Travel
for all your travel
OMG! Christmas is in 3 days and you forgot to get gifts for co-workers, neighbors, or whoever! No worries, deep breathe and relax! Here are 6 last minute gifts that are easy and inexpensive to make. Best of all they’re yummy!
Here are 6 easy and inexpensive cookie mixes in a mason jar that can be put together in 5 minutes!
They will make great gifts for friends, neighbors, teachers, and the other folks on your list. Each jar costs about $5 to make, you can make extras for unexpected guests, they won’t go to waste you can always mix them up and bake some yummy cookies for yourself!
You can make the jars look more festive with colorful ribbon and tags. Add on a Christmas cookie cutter, red mini spatula, wire whisk, or other cookie making gadget.
To make them extra festive I used Christmas themed cupcake wrappers as lid covers. Or if you want something more special and homemade make some of my crocheted mason jar lids
. Click here
for the free pattern!
There are even free printable instruction tags for you to use!
Lemon Chip Cookies
Click here for Recipe and free printable recipe tag![spacer height=”-20px”]
Triple Chocolate Cookies
Click here for Recipe and free printable recipe tag![spacer height=”-20px”]
Chocolate Caramel Cookies
Click here for recipe & free printable recipe tag![spacer height=”-20px”]
Caramel Spice Cookies
Click here for recipe and free printable recipe tag!
Chocolate M&M Cookies
Peppermint M&M Cookies
I’m not sure how everyone feels about Santa Claus. I know that there are two schools of thought, those that love the magic of this beloved Christmas tradition, and those that refuse to perpetuate the myth.
The Santa debate briefly raged in our house a few years ago just before my youngest daughter’s wedding. Her fiance, tho not entrenched in the non-believer camp, put forth the argument that children should not be encouraged to believe in a mythical man. My daughter declared this to be a deal breaker; if their future offspring could not be raised believing in St. Nick the wedding was off. They are happily married and the doting parents of a precocious 4 year old who will be celebrating Christmas this year complete with an annual photo and breakfast with Santa. The skeptical man is now fully invested in Santa; he even takes the family dogs for photos with the jolly old elf! We surely made a believer out of him!
Our family definitely falls in the believer camp. We do everything we can to keep Santa real for the children in our family. My then 12 year old grandson wavered in his belief one year, but with a little help from technology we were able to keep Santa real for him at least another year. (He’s now 15, unfortunately there is nothing we can do to persuade him that Santa is real. But he keeps up the front for his younger brother and cousins!)
I know some will disapprove, but in my opinion kids grow up to soon in our fast pace world. I see no harm in encouraging them to believe, reality will come crashing down on them soon enough.
Eventually when they discover the truth they might be disappointed, but if you’ve focused the what the holidays mean to you – family, friends,, faith, and sharing – then the magic of Christmas, and Santa will remain with your children forever.
Here are some tips and activities on how to keep Santa real for your kids this year.
Breakfast, Lunch, or Tea with Santa
We have been going to Breakfast or Lunch with Santa ever since my kids were small. It’s a tradition we keep up with the grandchildren.
Letters from Santa
Watch your kid’s eyes light up in wonder when he receives a letter or package from Santa. This brought a sparkle to my 5 year old grandson’s eyes and even impressed his doubting 12 year old brother that year.
You can order personalized letter and packages starting at $14.95. Click here to begin!
Phone calls from Santa
Download this App for $1.99 and use it every year. Santa will call and speak to your child, you can even request a “naughty” message.
Click here to purchase!
Emails from Santa
Kid’s can email Santa on this App and a few hours later he will respond.
Get this App for .99 Cents here!
You’ve Been Jingled!
Play the neighborhood game You’ve Been Jingled! Have older kids help out Santa boy delivering anonymous gifts to the neighbors, they can be one of Santa’s elves for a day. This game helps teach kids that Christmas is just about getting gifts, it’s more about giving and sharing.
Click here for free printable! [spacer height=”-20px”]
Track Santa as he delivers gifts on Christmas Eve!
Track Santa’s progress around the world on Christmas Eve, we certainly do! Norad has been tracking Santa since 1955. These days they have an awesome website complete with maps, videos, and a peek at Santa’s Village. Click here for the officila Norad website.
Read a “Santa” book with your children during the holidays.
We always read Clement C. Moore’s classic “Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem before bed on Christmas Eve. We have several illustrated copies in our home library. [spacer height=”-20px”]
Help your kids set up cookies for Santa. You can learn how to make this simple Santa plate set hereor use what ever plates and cups you already have.
The most important things is to remember to consume the milk and cookies before the kids wake up Christmas morning![spacer height=”-20px”]
Found on smartschoolhouse.com
Don’t forget Rudolph and his pals.
Be sure to leave out reindeer food, you can have kids make some, learn how here! Or leave out some carrots.
Whatever you use be sure it’s gone by morning.[spacer height=”-20px”]
Embrace the Elf!
Buy and Elf on a Shelf, share the concept of the Elf with the children, and have a great time devising and keeping up with the Elf’s antics![spacer height=”-20px”]
Found on scontent-b-iad.xx.fbcdn.net
Leave Santa evidence.
Just follow the directions here![spacer height=”-20px”]
“Santa” Gift tips:
1. Make “Santa” gifts fun and unexpected.
Kids will surely know it’s not from Santa when they open a “Santa” gift that’s a pair of socks or mittens. You don’t have to buy anything very expensive nor does the gift have to be something on a potentially long wish list. Just make sure it’s fun and not something you would normally gift your child.
2. Shop for Santa gifts without the kids.
No matter what you say if the kids see the gift in your Walmart shopping cart they will KNOW it’s not from Santa.
3. Hide Santa gifts where the kid’s can’t see them.
Keep them hidden until the kids go to bed on Christmas Eve.
4. Use special “Santa Gift Wrap”.
Don’t use the same wrap you use for all the other presents. Keep the Santa wrap hidden as well.
5. Make sure Santa’s handwriting doesn’t look like your handwriting. This is a first give away, specially for older kids who are familiar with your handwriting.
1. When kids ask questions about Santa it’s best deflect the question with your own questions “What do you think?” and ask them why they think that.
2. If you do have to make up an answer keep it simple so you can remember it and reply with the same answer the next time you are asked. You may not remember your answer, but trust me the kids will and will call you on it!
3. Watch what you say when kids are around. It really is true that “Litter pitchers have big ears”.
4. If you have friends and families who don’t encourage the belief in Santa, respect their opinions and ask that they respect yours. Meaning they should tell their children to refrain from sharing their non-belief with your children.
5. Sooner or later school age children will come home from school to say that one of their friends or classmates has challenged his belief in Santa Claus. It’s a good time to teach children to respect other people’s point of view. You can start out by asking your child what he thinks and why. Keep your discussion positive and simple. You can tell your child that there will always be people with differing opinions and that we should respect those opinions even if we don’t always agree with them.
Here’s a printable Christmas Eve checklist from iMom.com
to help you play Santa this year. Be sure to keep it away from kids’ eyes!
I love Gingerbread Houses! I love walking thru Gingerbread House displays during the holidays. We make our own Gingerbread House every year, it’s one of our Christmas traditions.
We’ve made them using store bought kits as well as making our own out of graham crackers and candies. In either case our houses never quite look like the pictures, possibly because we never read all the directions. Nonetheless we have lots of fun making them and the kids love to munch on them.
Image by Savvy Nana
One year at my daughter-in-law’s annual company Christmas party the main event was a Gingerbread House building contest. My son, who along with the rest of us, has a very competitive streak got a bit carried away with their house and built a large patio with swimming pool. Alas he didn’t win,. He claims his loss was due to lack of time and his pool was left unfinished.
Here are a few recipes to make your own Gingerbread House and some ideas to inspire you.
Whether you decide to make your own building materials or use a kit you buy from the grocery or discount store enjoy the activity, and remember you’re limited only by your imagination!
If you decide to make one out of Graham Crackers here’s a tutorial from Meet Penny.
[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
Nancy Clinton who make displays for Chicago Botanical’s annual Wonderland Express makes a fragrant no back gingerbread dough to use on her trains.
This dough can be used to make ornaments, a gingerbread house, and even fake cinnamon sticks! Click here to learn how to make this dough. [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
If you really want to make your gingerbread house from scratch the traditional way here’s a great tutorial from Frog Prince Paperie.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
Once you’ve made your gingerbread, you’re going to need “glue”. Even when we used the kits we still had to make our own icing, there was never enough in the kit.
Here’s Kid’s Activities Blog’s “secret” recipe for Gingerbread Glue.
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Who says you need to use Gingerbread to make a house? Not the folks from Worth Pinning.
They made these cool Log Cabins from Pretzel Rods!
Learn how here! [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
And who says they need to be BIG?
Not Martha will show you how to make these cute gingerbread houses to perch on your mug of cocoa. Kids and adults will love them![spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
You can decorate your gingerbread house with lights made from candies.
Learn how to make them on Bit Rebel. [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
You can use grape branches dipped in chocolate for your trees.
Learn how from Artisan Cake Company. [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
Image from Discount Queens
Or you can make trees from waffle cones.
Learn how from the Discount Queens.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
You can even make these adorable Teddy Sleighs from Tip Junkie. [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
And what gingerbread house would be complete without candy trains.
Learn how to make them using a roll of lifesavers from Passion for Savings. [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
Maybe one day with enough practice your house could look like this and win the Best in Show at the Boston Christmas Festival! [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]