It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

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Written by Kari @ Living Strong Health & Wellness, Contributing Writer

Truly, this is the most wonderful time of the year. Well, I actually could say that any day of the year, because I believe if I wake up alive – then it’s the best day EVER! But seriously – this is my most favorite holiday season of the year.

The decorations, the baking, the gift giving, the memories – I enjoy it all! To top it off, I live in Colorado which brings with it the added glory of beautiful snowfall, bright blue skies and plenty of outdoor activities.

When December rolls around, I usually have three things going on in my house at all times: crafts, baking and keeping warm! Today I want to share with you something from each of these areas that you could possibly tackle this December in your own home! They’ll make great gifts, your house will smell amazing and you’ll never want another latte from Starbucks again!

Tackling Christmastime at Home:

#1 ~ Crafting

Christmas Card Wreaths

christmas card wreathTrying to find new ways every Christmas to display all the beautiful cards we receive isn’t’t always easy. Long before Pinterest made it’s way to our lives, we had to rely on hard copy magazines to find creative ideas.

I found a fun display idea in a Martha Stewart Living magazine years ago – and it’s how I’ve displayed my Christmas cards ever since. They don’t take up a lot of room, you can actually view the cards that people took time to make and send you and they are easy to store since they don’t take up any room! Check out how to make your own Christmas Card Wreath Display here!

Tiered Serving Platter

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Since I enjoy entertaining, I also want to be creative when it comes to displaying food! I like depth and dimension instead of just everything flat on a table. About 3 years ago I made these 3-Tiered Serving Platters out of china and wine glasses (along with some clear epoxy) and gentle hands. These allow you to have more food on the table, adds dimension so food is not looked over and it just looks pretty! The total cost for me to make just one of these was around $3.50 – and that includes the epoxy. Not bad! See how easy it is to make your own here!

Pillow Sleeping Mats

pillow matsI’m not a big fan of buying toys. Ever. My children get plenty of toys from relatives, so when Christmas rolls around I like to give them gifts you can’t find at the store! This is when you have to be creative because our children in this generation don’t always know what to do with, let’s say, paper dolls, army men, marbles or jacks. They also might not know how to respond to something that doesn’t ‘do anything’.

Am I wrong? Now I’m not talking ALL children, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, but this is how most of our culture operates. Most toys they are given have a specific purpose and it doesn’t allow our kids to use their imaginations, nor do they allow them to work on focus, memory or right brain/left brain activities. Three years ago I made my kids Pillow Sleeping Mats. They like to lay on the floor when they watch movies and we have hard wood floors – so they always looked uncomfortable, so I wanted to fix that. This was such a simple project, didn’t cost much and they use them to this day. All you need is 5 pillow cases, 5 pillows and a sewing machine. They are easy to clean, fold accordion style to store and make family movie nights more enjoyable! Check out the tutorial here!

Decorative Tiles

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These are fun gifts to give to just about anyone! If you have kids, it’s even a greater gift, because it displays their artwork. It’s simple and inexpensive: go to your local Home Depot and pick up some tiles (I used white, but you can use whatever your little heart desires), some colored sharpie markers, felt or clear bumpers and some clear gloss spray. Draw or write on the tiles, allow to dry and coat with clear gloss spray (I did it three times, allowing drying time in between each spray). Once they’re dry, put the bumpers on the bottom. Most people have just used them as decorations, but I know some who have used them. To wash, they need to be hand washed in tepid, soapy water.

#2 ~ Baking

Baked goods at Christmas is one of my favorites. I love to bake. I love to share. So, baking goodies for Christmas to give out to my friends and family is wonderful. I usually bake about 10 different types of treats, package them all pretty and bless people with them.

I’ve learned throughout the years, though, that since there are so many desserts and sweet treats floating around the office and homes this time of year, that you don’t have to go overboard! For every person, package 2 of each treat, put them in a fun container that will keep them fresh for a few days and polish it off with unique wrapping, ribbon or jute with a hand written name tag on it. This way they’ll enjoy every bite and won’t have to throw away all the extras they just couldn’t stomach.

Here are a couple of my favorite recipes that I use. The truffles are dairy-free and grain-free and super healthy. The chocolate chip cookies are THE BEST recipe around, but I did tweak it to use healthier options, so for a special treat, these are great.

Intense Chocolate Truffles 

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

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#3 ~ Hot Drinks

I tend to be cold a lot. If it ever dips below 70F degrees, I’m chilly. Living in Colorado – you can guess how often that is. So on days like today when I woke up to -8F degrees (with windchill of -23F degrees) – I needed something to warm me up. Typically I’m a tea person, but in this jolly season, I like to sip on my infamous Slow Cooker Cinnamon Lattes or From Scratch Hot Cocoa! Both of these are delicious and such special treats while you’re watching Christmas movies with your family, wrapping presents, or enjoying some chill time with your girlfriends while Michael Buble sings Christmas Carols in the background!

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Lattes

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Hot Cocoa

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How ever you choose to spend your time this Christmas season, choose to be productive, make memories and remember why it is we are celebrating this month. In all the gift giving, dessert baking and decadent hot drinks – choose to be a blessing to those around you. Smile at a stranger, give your kids extra hugs, take someone to lunch, say Merry Christmas and just pour out love wherever you go!

What will you be busy doing this beautiful December?

About Kari

Kari Newsom is a Colorado native who is married to her best friend and they have two children, a turtle and a pug and they live on 5 acres in a small town in Colorado. As a Certified Health and Nutrition Consultant, her passion is to educate people on the realities of living in divine health through simple instruction found in the Bible and through traditions passed down through the centuries. Her motto states: "Health Made Easy. A Life Worth Living." and she is spending everyday fulfilling this ministry God has given her. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, her Blog and Pinterest.

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