How to make wonderful Christmas memories to cherish? We’ve already touched on the decor and the Christmas game. We discontinued buying gifts for ‘everyone’ in our family a few years ago. The kids were in various stages of their life and most didn’t have excess cash. They had young children, were moving, or were in school and struggling to get by. Why tax their budgets with buying a multitude of gifts for everyone in the family?
We all agreed that getting together was the most important thing, not the gifts. The kids, Dave, and I decided to draw names and everyone seemed relieved by that. We set a limit of $25.00. Who doesn’t want a stress-free holiday season?
Then one year, we started playing the ‘Christmas Game’ and everyone seemed to enjoy it so much! Last year, at Thanksgiving, Tiffany suggested we just do a ‘White Elephant’ instead of drawing names. Brilliant! In the past, the kids and Dave have come to me worried about what they should buy for one of their siblings, their significant others, or in Dave’s case, what he should buy for one of the kids or their significant others. This relieved that stress, too.
Do you know families who buy so many gifts for each other, it’s a crime? What are we teaching our kids? We actually had so much more fun opening just those two gifts from the Christmas Game and the White Elephant! This year, the kids were sharing memories from last year and we all had some good laughs.
Ten-year-old Aidan chose a gift last year and Jon-Michael stole it from him. (You can steal up to two times in our game.) Aidan was upset but chose another gift. Then, Jon-Michael opened the present and found some items for a female. (He gave those to Emily.) You can imagine Aidan’s response. When he opened the gift he chose, it was Play-Doh and at first, his disappointment showed. Then, he realized there was a twenty dollar bill tucked into the top of the cardboard sleeve. You can imagine his jubilation. (He gave Memphis the Play-Doh.) He learned a couple of life lessons that day.
I hope our family and friends remember our memories together, instead of the value of the gifts they received, when they reflect on our Christmas Eve parties.
The Dessert Contest
The dessert contest this year featured items that incorporated the Christmas Tree theme. Remember, everyone is a judge and gets to taste and score each of the desserts. That is why they are supposed to be bite-sized, which means small enough to be eaten in one mouthful! They are scored on Appearance and Presentation, Texture and Color Balance, Flavor and Taste, and how well the Tree Theme is Represented.
In this household, we are not politically correct. Not everyone wins a prize or a trophy. Young and old alike, we deal with reality here.
After everyone voted, Jon-Michael tallied the votes.
The prizes this year consisted of a mini-dessert decorating kit, two 8″ round cake pans, and a Gingerbread cookie cutter set. While I could choose one of each of these for the first, second, and third place, it’s more fun to wrap them and allow the first place winner to choose the prize gift, second to choose from the remaining two, and third place gets the last one. (I pick these up through the year while they are on sale.)
This year, my sister-in-law, Keri, won first prize with her brownie bites. How cute are these?
Second place went to 9-year-old Sophie with these adorable little vanilla bean sugar cookies, which were inspired by a pin on Pinterest. The little faces were made with food markers.
Third place went to Emily and Jon-Michael for their frosted sugar cookies.
Appetizers For Everyone
We stopped having a Christmas dinner many years ago. Once our children began having families of their own and celebrating with their significant other’s families, it became apparent that getting everyone together for a sit-down dinner was nearly impossible during the Christmas holiday. Someone else can tackle that task. We chose to start setting out a display of appetizers so people could come and go. Anything to lower stress during the holidays, right?
Will supplied ham from the local HoneyBaked Ham store. Dave cut the ham and it was served with Hawaiian buns for making mini ham sandwiches.
Dave and I made the Ham and Cheese Stuffed Baby Red Potatoes. They were gone in no time! We should have made two batches.
The Red Pepper-Ham Roll-Ups were made early in the day and the rolls were refrigerated. Then, Alex cut the rolls and added the toothpicks and olives. These are a family favorite.
Aidan requested Gold Star Chili Dip. Talk about an easy dish, this is one! Preheat oven to 350°. In a 9″ x 13″ casserole, spread a layer of 12 ounces of softened cream cheese. Open a 15-ounce can of Gold Star Chili and spread on top of the cream cheese. Add a bag of shredded cheddar cheese on top of the chili. (Use as much or as little as you like!) Heat in the oven until the cheese is completely melted. Serve with tortilla chips.
Last week, I made the little Pizza Appetizers and froze them in Ziploc bags. It was easy to pull a bag of them out of the freezer, pop them in the oven, broil for about 3 minutes, and serve hot on a platter. These are some of my favorites!
Of course, you know we had a vegetable tray, cheese, and a variety of crackers. Tiffany brought her delicious Shrimp Dip and served it with tortilla chips. Oh, my gosh, it is so good. I’ll share the recipe in an upcoming post.
We had a variety of drinks, from wine and mixed drinks to soft drinks. We didn’t have to supply a dessert! We just enjoyed the entries in the Dessert Contest!
How To Make Wonderful Christmas Memories To Cherish? Create your own family traditions and memories. Whether it’s beautiful decor, a contest, a White Elephant Gift Exchange, a Christmas Game, or the foods you serve to your family, make it something memorable.
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas!