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Quick & Easy Mocktails & Appetizers: New Year's Party Food

What's your New Years Eve plans?

Hubby and I do not go out on New Years Eve. Normally he has to work the next day and I don't like to be out on the road with people who do not practice having designated drivers. There has been too many close calls for us and I've seen too many bad accidents.

This year my son, daughter in law, and their 4 children will be here to spend the night. Having a New Years Eve Party with children has always been my favorite type of New Years Eve Party. The kids LOVE it!

Here are some of my favorite appetizer and mocktail recipes for that last minute impromptu party, whether you have children included or just adults.

The best part... NO COOKING REQUIRED for these appetizers!

This Mocktail is what I will be serving the children; it's a classic and so fun! They love to watch me prepare their drink, and love drinking from my good stemware.

2 oz apple juice
1/2 ounce of simple syrup
1/4 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

Place all in cocktail shaker and shake well.
Rim a martini glass with sugar,
Strain cocktail into glass.
Using a tiny star cookie cutter cut out apple slices to float.

Mock Champagne Punch
Mix equal amounts of white grape juice and giner ale. Drop in frozen red and green grapes.
I'm using red sparkling grape juice and 7-up.

For some great adult cookie cocktails, let Betty Crocker lend a hand! Snickerdoodle, Coconut Macaroon & more.

Break out the fondu pot! This 3 Cheese is so easy and yummy.

A quick and easy appetizer is the Smoked Gouda Cheese Balls (scroll down a little). Stick a lollipop stick (or fancy toothpick)  in each to make it easy for guests to eat.

or try these Lollipop Goat Cheese Balls.

1 cup goat cheese
½ cup toasted pistachios
¼ cup golden raisins
12 lollipop sticks for presentation

Finely chop pistachios and golden raisins together. Roll goat cheese into 1" balls and then roll into nut/raisin mixture. Insert lollipop stick.
This recipe was styled by chef Karen Pickus for Good Morning America

And don't forget your tablescape.  Here's my favorite.  I love clocks and this will be fun for the kiddos if I can round up enough. 

The tablescape was featured in Taste of Home.

How will you be celebrating New Years?


Last Minute Gifts

I made up three of these holiday cookie and candy trays for hubby to take to work and share.  I  put a little of all the different candies I made in them.  Everyone loved them and one of his co-workers asked him to bring more fudge today. lol  I'm just glad they enjoyed it all.

Here's what I've made today for the girls...

It only took these three ingredients, all found at Dollar General for a buck a piece.  Dump it all in a bowl, mix well.  Dip up into jars and....

Wahlah!  You have the best face, hand, foot and all over body cream!  It's not greasy at all.

To find out exactly how to make the lotion visit Coloradolady HERE.

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Original Kraft Fantasy Fudge Recipe

This is the original Fantasy Fudge recipe from the back of the Kraft Marshmallow Creme jar. It's very easy and always turns out great! I use the Microwave method. It's so quick & easy and I don't have to worry about it burning.

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 12oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 7oz jar Kraft Marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Microwave method:
-Microwave margarine in 4-quart microwave safe bowl on HIGH 1 minute or until melted.
-Add sugar and milk; mix well.
-Microwave 3 min; stir.
-Continue Microwaving 2 min; stir.
-Continue Microwaving 3 min; stir.
-Finish Microwaving a final 2 1/2 min; stir.
-Stir in chips until melted.
-Add remaining ingredients; mix well.
-Pour into greased or foil lined 13 x 9-inch baking pan. (I like to use a slightly smaller pyrex 11.75 x 7.5 x 1.75 for thicker squares. This helps to keep the fudge from drying out so soon) Cool at room temperature; cut into squares. Makes 3 pounds.

Stove top method:Combine sugar, margarine and milk in heavy 2-1/2 quart saucepan; bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate until melted. Add marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla; beat until blended. Pour into greased or foil lined 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Let cool and cut into 1 inch squares. Makes 3 pounds.

For Peanut Butter Fudge: In place of chocolate chips, use 1 small jar smooth, crunchy or extra crunchy peanut butter.

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2 Minute Holiday Candies

There is so much to do during the holidays, between shopping, decorating, attending get togethers, and cooking; making candy has to be quick and simple for me!

Here are two classic candies you can crank out in a flash.

2 Minute Chocolate Peanut Clusters

1/2 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 Tablespoon Shortening (do not use butter, margarine or oil)
1 cup unsalted Roasted Peanuts (I've used salted before and they were also good. Salt enhances the cocoa flavor)

Microwave chips and shortening until chips start to get soft, about 1 to 1/2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add peanuts and stir.

Drop by small spoonfuls into mini muffin liners or candy papers. Allow to set until firm. Store in airtight container.

Makes about 24 candies.

2 Minute Haystacks

2 cups La Choy Chow Mein Noodles
1/2 cup Reese's Peanut Butter Chips
1/2 cup Peanut Butter (use Chunky Peanut Butter and omit following peanuts)
1/2 cup unsalted Roasted Peanuts (I've used salted before and it was also good.)

Microwave chips and peanut butter until chips start to get soft, about 1 to 1/2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add peanuts and stir. Gently fold in noodles.

Drop by small spoonfuls into mini muffin liners or candy papers. Allow to set until firm. Store in airtight container.

Today I need to bake cookies, but HALF of the Chocolate Crack disappeared this morning! So I also need to make another batch of it for the candy trays I'm supposed to put together for hubby's office. I can't get him to stay out of everything so I can get done! Does anyone else have this problem, or is it just my hubby? He's worse than a kid sometimes!

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Chocolate Crack

Here's a recipe I want to share with all of you because it's sooo easy and I bet you already have the ingredients in your pantry.

It's called a lot of different things such as Cowboy Crack, Redneck Crack, Soda Cracker Candy, Saltine Cookies. We call it chocolate crack because after eating one little piece you are hooked and left wanting more and more!

40 Saltine crackers (my pan only holds 35)
2 sticks unsalted butter (do not use margarine)
1 cup brown sugar (I've used both light & dark)
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (I've used all kinds of chips, but semi's are our favorite for this)

Preheat oven at 425 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil then your crackers.

In a medium pan, melt butter and brown sugar together and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over crackers, covering them evenly. Put cookie sheet into oven and watch closely. Bake for about 4-5 minutes, or until just bubbly.

Remove from oven and pour chocolate chips over crackers. When chips begin to melt, spread out over crackers with a knife to form a solid sheet. Transfer pan to freezer for about 20 minutes, or until completely cooled. Break into pieces and store in airtight container.

This recipe is great using graham crackers as well. Regular grahams, honey grahams and I've even used cinnamon grahams. Try throwing some crushed nuts on top of the crackers before pouring on toffee mix. I made it once with crushed peanuts for the base instead of any crackers.

There are so many different ways to use what you have on hand. Let me know how you like them and made yours!


Red Gold Variety Gift Pack Giveaway Winners...

Congrats Precious of Frugal Makes Cents and Melissa of Loyd Family Eggs.  Precious I know I should have your new address but I can't locate it.  Melissa I do not find an email address for you, soooooo if you both would please email me your names and addresses I will arrange for your gift packs to be shipped to you.  Email me at couponxchange {at} gmail {dot} com.  Thanks ladies!

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Financial Education for Your Kids Through the Four Jar Method

Author Bio : This is a Guest Post by the Webmaster of We Redefine. He provides valuable tips on many topics, such as money savings, investment & debt relief.

We can never underestimate the importance of money management. An individual who understands how to use money wisely is unlikely to get into debt. Most people learn money management at the cost of heart-wrenching experiences. They could have avoided monetary loses and debt if they had exposure to financial lessons at an early age. So how about teaching your children some money management skills? They would thank you profusely for this when they become grow up.

A smart way to teach your children money management is through the four jar allowance method. But what exactly is the four jar affair? Alright, let’s discuss in detail.
The four jar method is a very popular way to teach children how to get wise with their money. Here you teach your kids to keep their allowance in four see through glass jars and spend their money in an organized manner.

The money that you give to the kids is to be kept in four jars. Make sure that they “earn” the money. This will increase their attachment with their hard earned money. Assign a relatively easy task to the youngest kid and allot harder tasks for the older ones. Remember that the money is to be paid at a specific time every week. These small things are important because they have an impact on the young mind.
Ideally the four jars should be on the alms-giving, the spend-as-you-wish, small time savings and big time savings. Check out the details:

The alms-giving jar: Children catch the concept of charity quite easily. So you won’t have any problem to make them understand that a part of their allowance should go to charity. Approximately 10% of the money should be used for the benefit of the poor and the needy. However, you need to supervise the disbursal of charity funds for the first few days because the young children may not understand the importance of helping others. This is not the age for someone to understand that they are luckier than most other people.

The spend-as-you-wish jar: Let your kid feel free to use the money kept in this jar to his heart’s content. Of course there are some family rules. If comic books are not allowed for kids in your house, then he cannot buy them. If junk food is too bad for your child’s health then he must not have them. However, give the kid some freedom. Let him choose what he wants if it’s not anything objectionable.

Small time savings jar: Your kid wants a toy from the local shop. But he hasn’t got the money. Let him save the money for a couple of weeks and then buy it. Instant gratification is a major problem with the current generation. It has pushed millions of people into debt. With small time savings jar, you are teaching your kid the value of patience. Once he develops this habit, he would know that there is a right time to buy everything.

Big time savings jar: Let your child have a taste of investment. He should not spend the money in this jar at least for a year. Initially, this will frustrate him but eventually he will be happy. This will become a habit with him and the glass jar will turn into a bank account one day and soon enough the bank account will turn to bigger investment schemes.

Some habits are needed to be developed from a young age. Financial discipline is one of them. This can be successfully done by introducing the four jar method to your kids. So think about it this Christmas.


Secret Santa Postage Stamp Printable

Therapeutic Crafting has created a wonderful Santa Postage Stamp printable for us.

There are so many things you can do with this printable.  Here's some ideas:
Print and frame it for some holiday art
Print some on tags for Secret Santa gifts! 
Print on hang tags for other crafts and decorations. 

It would also be great printed on vinyl using a Silhouette Digital Cutting Tool if you have one.  One of these days I'll have one of these awesome craft tools! I've been trying to win one forever.  Or maybe they will ask me to do a review and giveaway. How cool would that be? 

To get the instructions for personal use and printing, please visit Therapeutic Crafting HERE.  This printable DOES HAVE RESTRICTIONS!  Please honor them and the owner.  Thanks Therapeutic Crafting for sharing!

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10 Red Hot Holiday Trends

The Betty 10

What makes a trend red hot? When it’s exciting, it’s fresh, and making its mark from coast to coast. From the DIY craze to the rise of beer and bacon, the food trends that made Betty Crocker's red hot list are each very different, but have one thing in common – they’ll get you excited about food.

Here are my three favorites.

Indian Spiced Mini Donut Muffins

Prep Time: 15 Minutes Start to Finish: 40 Minutes

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup butter, melted

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Grease 24 mini muffin cups.

2. In large bowl, beat 1/3 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar and the egg with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and ginger. Add alternately with milk to butter mixture. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

3. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Remove from pan.

4. In large food-storage plastic bag, mix 1 cup sugar, the cinnamon, garam masala and cardamom. Roll hot muffins in melted butter, then toss in sugar mixture to coat. Serve warm.
24 mini muffins

Salted Chocolate Almond Fudge

Prep Time: 15 Minutes Start to Finish: 2 Hours 30 Minutes

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 can (6 oz) coarsely chopped smoked almonds
1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1 cup milk chocolate chips (6 oz)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1 cup chopped dried cherries
1/2 teaspoon Fleur de Sel sea salt, if desired

1. Line cookie sheet with foil. Line 8-inch square pan with foil.

2. In 8-inch nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar, and cook until bubbly. Cook 1 minute longer, stirring occasionally. Add almonds; stir to coat. Spread almonds on cookie sheet. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Break into small pieces.

3. In large microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave 1 minute longer. Add almonds and dried cherries; stir until blended.

4. Spread evenly in 8-inch square pan. Sprinkle with salt. Refrigerate about 2 hours until firm. Cut into 6 rows by 6 rows. Store covered at room temperature.
36 pieces

Snickerdoodle Cookie Cocktail

Prep Time: 10 Minutes Start to Finish: 1 Hour 10 Minutes

Cinnamon Simple Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cinnamon sticks
Snickerdoodle Cookie Cocktail:
1 oz Cinnamon Simple Syrup (2 tablespoons)
1 oz vanilla vodka (2 tablespoons)
1 oz half-and-half (2 tablespoons)
1/2 oz white crème de cacao (1 tablespoon)

1. To make Cinnamon Simple Syrup, mix sugar, water and cinnamon sticks in 1-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; set aside 1 hour to cool. Discard cinnamon sticks. Pour syrup into glass jar. Cover jar, and refrigerate until needed. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

2. To prepare cocktail, fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add 1 ounce cinnamon simple syrup, vodka, half-and-half and creme de cacao; cover and shake. Strain into cocktail glass. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
1 cocktail (1/2 cup)
Tip: You can purchase cinnamon-sugar or to make your own combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To view the rest of the 10 Red Hot Holiday Trends, click on the badge to left. There is cupcake poppers, mancakes, sweet swirl marshmallows and more! Let me know what your favorites are!


Eggnog, Milknog or Eggnot? Recipes

Here's my favorite recipe for eggnog when entertaining for the holidays. It's really easy and tastes so yummy!


In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups milk with one package instant vanilla pudding mix. Stir well until thickened. Add 2 more cups milk and 1 cup egg substitute (like Egg Beaters); mix well. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg until the mixture is well-blended, smooth and coats a spoon. Refrigerate overnight. Before serving, stir in 1/4 cup rum if desired. Serves 10.

Note: If it thickens too much, simply stir in more milk until it reaches your desired consistency.

If you're not a fan of eggnog try these:

When I want a glass of 'nog but don't want to make a bunch here's my Milknog recipe.


6 oz milk
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp french vanilla non-dairy powdered creamer
dash of nutmeg

Blend until frothy. I use my stick blender. Garnish with cinnamon.

Or you can try this one if you like malted milk powder.


Heat 8 oz milk until hot. Add 3 tablespoons malted milk powder, dash of nutmeg and 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk until foamy. Pour into mug and top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.

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Red Gold Variety Gift Pack Giveaway

Red Gold Tomatoes contacted me and asked if I would like to receive a special variety gift pack and giveaway two of them! Loving Red Gold Tomatoes the way I do, I couldn't say yes fast enough.  They always taste so fresh and are seasoned wonderfully.  The tomatoes never taste "canned".

Red Gold Tomato is based in Indiana and pride themselves in locally grown Midwest tomatoes from Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. They are very active in their communities. Yesterday, Red Gold donated over 30,000 pounds of tomato products to two different food banks/pantries.

Here's what the gift pack includes:
14.5 oz. can of 100% Natural Premium petite diced tomatoes
14.5 oz. can of 100% Natural Premium petite diced tomatoes with green chiles
14.5 oz. can of 100% Natural Premium diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil
14.5 oz. can of 100% Natural Premium whole peeled tomatoes
20 oz Premium Tomato Ketchup
1 Red Gold Heartwarming Recipes cookbook
Recipe cards
Reusable bag
Refrigerator magnet and frame
Key chain

There will be TWO lucky people that will win a Red Gold Tomato Variety Gift Pack.  This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.


Mandatory Entry: Go to Red Gold Recipe site and check out their fabulous recipes. Then come back here and comment on which recipe looks the yummiest to you.

Extra entry: Subscribe to this blog via Google Friend connect found on the left sidebar and then come back and comment to let me know you did or let me know you are already a follower.

Extra entry (only 1 tweet per day per person): Tweet "I want to win a Red Gold Tomato gift pack from @EasyFrugalLivin http://t.co/EWdcJVA " Leave an additional comment here on this post with the link to your tweet.

You have until midnight on Friday December 17, 2010 to enter.  I will use random.org to draw the winners and notify them by December 18, 2010. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to claim their prize.
Thanks and good luck!

* A free variety gift pack of this product was given to me for review purposes. This had no bearing on the review and all comments are my opinion and not that of the manufacturer’s.


Corndogs and Curtains

Do you ever have days when you feel like you get nothing accomplished? Or that 10 minute job turns into a much longer project?

Do you ever feel your "to do" lists keep getting longer and longer instead of shorter?

This week is one of those weeks for me.  Yesterday I needed to make some curtains for my patio doors to help insulate from the cold.  I had sheer curtains up that looked great but were just too thin.  The project that I thought would take 10 minutes took an hour and half.

So I needed something quick and easy to go with some leftovers for dinner.  What could be quicker than Corndog Muffins? Thank You Amanda from Better is Little.

2 boxes of Martha White Yellow Cornbread Mixes
1 cup of milk
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup shredded cheese
7 hotdogs cut up (we cut ours into smaller pieces so you get more hotdog in each bite of cornbread

Mix cornbread mixes and brown sugar together.  Add eggs and milk.  Stir well. Gently stir in cheese.

Spoon a little mix into bottom of 18 greased muffin tins.  Add hotdogs. We put three pieces in each.  Cover with remaining mix, filling muffins 2/3 full.

 Bake at 400 for 14-17 minutes until cornbread is done and golden.  Serve with ketchup & mustard dip.

Easy right?  I'm not sure who came up with the idea to put them into muffin tins and bake but I like it better than dipping and deep frying. 

Back to the curtains....

To keep the cost down on the curtains for my patio doors I chose to make them from canvas drop cloths.  This is another idea I have seen all over the internet but not sure who came up with it. I think the first time I seen it was on The Lettered Cottage.  

You see the valance part?  That's how much should have been cut off.  Instead I just folded it over and sewed across it twice to make the rod pocket,  (does anyone know what the real term for that is?) since I can't puddle them on the floor.

The two 6x9 canvas drop cloths cost me $16.  These doors are 104 inches wide.  Heavy curtains wide and long enough are expensive!  I figure I saved at least $50 but closer to $100 doing it this way.  What do you think?  They turned out pretty nice, hugh? I think I will make two more sets, one for the sun room and one for my bedroom.

Be sure to check back tomorrow.  I'll be posting a giveaway!

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Printable BOGO Kikkoman Soy Sauce Coupon

Kikkoman has a couple great BOGO free printable coupons available!
-Buy any 10oz Kikkoman Soy Sauce, get one FREE. (up to $3.00)
-Buy Any Kikkoman Sauce (10oz or larger) Get a FREE 10 Oz Ponzu (Max value $3.00)

I was able to print two coupons of each.

Go here to print your coupons:
Kikkoman BOGO Coupons

Thanks Coupon Dad!

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Eco Friendly Gift Wrapping

I'm fascinated with the Furoshiki gift wrapping methods. It's so eco friendly. Imagine receiving all your gifts like this. All those lovely fabrics to reuse!

Here is a chart that shows the different techniques:

(to enlarge charge for easy viewing, click on it twice!)
And if that isn't as clear as mud, check out this video:

Looks easy, right? Those in the video are my favorites with the bag being the top dog!

What was your favorite? Have you ever given or received a gift wrapped furoshiki style?

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Normally my family and I don't like oatmeal bars. Every recipe I have tried has turned out really dry. This recipe turned out better than any I've tried, being fairly moist.

The recipe does say to bake 20-30 minutes. I had to bake mine 40 minutes to get the middle done.

2 c flour
2 c quick oats
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c butter
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 c peanut butter
1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
6 oz chocolate chips

Stir together flour, salt and baking soda in a small bowl.

In large bowl cream butter and both sugars. Add peanut butter & mix well. Add eggs, milk and vanilla & mix well.

Slowly add in flour mix then oatmeal.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread in a greased 9x13 cake pan.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

Tomorrow I  will be baking some more.  I think I'll do banana bread and some muffins.  Have you been baking anything special?

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1. After writing out the personalized letter FROM Santa, place it in a stamped envelope addressed to the child.

2. Write: Santa, North Pole, Alaska as the return address.

3. Place this addressed/stamped envelope into another stamped envelope with your name and address as the return address. Address this envelope to:
North Pole Christmas Cancellation,
Postmaster 5400 Mail Trail,
Fairbanks, AK 99709-9998

Requests must arrive in Fairbanks Alaska before December 15

OR.... here's my favorite:
To get a Santa picture postmark (shown above) do the same as above but send the letter to:
Postmaster-Santa Claus Postmark
Santa Claus Station
Santa Claus, IN 47579-9998

A note and some tips from the Santa Claus Indiana postmaster:

Are your holiday cards addressed and ready to mail? Consider taking a road trip to Santa Claus, Indiana to send them. This small-town post office is the only one in the world with the Santa Claus name and receives over 400,000 pieces of mail in December. During the rest of the year, only 13,000 pieces of mail are processed each month. The Santa Claus Post Office has offered a special “picture postmark” every holiday season since 1983.

Each year, the holiday postmark is designed by a local high school art student as part of an annual contest. This year’s winner is Shelbi Boehman, of Fulda, Indiana.

Postmaster Balbach asks that anyone interested in getting the special cancellation on their holiday mail follow these guidelines:

• Allow at least a 2-inch by 4-inch space in the stamp area for the picture postmark
• To ensure a good postmark imprint, do not enclose large or bulky items in your holiday mail (Ex: reindeer food, snowflakes, glitter, stickers, etc.)
• There is no charge for postmarking; however, there is a limit of 50 picture postmarks (hand cancellations) per person per day

For more holiday events and information or to view the postmark archive visit their page here.

Here is the letter I'm sending my onery granddaughter. lol  Her two sisters will get a different letter.  It's times like this that make being a grandma so fun. hehe

Dear !!NAME!!,

Rudolph just whispered in my ear that the sleigh is nearly packed. He can hardly wait to lead the reindeer with my sleigh full of toys on our long trip to visit the homes of good boys and girls. The elves are busy putting bows and ribbons on the last of the presents.

I just had to take a minute to write to you and tell you that I found your name on my reminder list to be a good girl.

The reindeer and I are planning to arrive in !!Name of Town!! early to deliver gifts. Please be sure to hang your stocking and be in bed early as Christmas is such a busy day!

Well, Mrs. Claus is calling me for dinner, so I have to get going.

Merry Christmas and Warmest Wishes!



For more sample letters, visit FREE Letters from Santa.


Homemade Gift Ideas: Save Money and Be the Coolest Secret Santa at the Party

I thought today would be a great day to have a guest post here.  Please welcome Kate Willson.

Homemade Gift Ideas: Save Money and Be the Coolest Secret Santa at the Party

The holidays are here! With gift shopping already on the to-do list, this is a great time for every frugal guy and gal to use those thrifting skills. Giving a gift that is homemade is not only fun to do, it can be so much more personal and of course save you cash! And with that in mind, you can feel free to buy a better bottle of rum to spike that holiday egg nog.

Here are some great ideas:

1. Give boxes of chocolates
                                                                              Photo courtesy of Food Network
It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate, and, if you make a big batch of these and give boxes out as small gifts, you can really save money. Go to your local grocery store and buy the best quality chocolate you can find. It’s not that expensive when you consider how many boxes you’ll get out of it, and it really makes a difference in how the chocolates come out. A couple options are chocolate truffles, chocolate fudge, and pretzel turtles. Once you have your chocolates ready to go, buy some cool boxes and a roll of waxed paper to make sure the chocolates don’t stick.

2. Create unique cupcakes
                        Photo courtesy of mominml
Cupcakes are another good bet if you have friends with a sweet tooth. Change it up by doing an unexpected cake flavor like cherry devil’s food or carrot. Or get in to the spirit with a holiday flavor like pumpkin spice. And, most importantly, don’t forget about the frosting! Use a store bought frosting or, even better, make your own with real cream or cream cheese. Here are some yummy recipes to try.

3. Make your own natural beauty products

This is an awesome idea because not only do you save money, you can give your friends products that are guaranteed natural and toxin-free. Plus, you’ll have plenty to spare, so make enough for yourself. It doesn’t get much better than that. This site lists excellent recipes that are wonderful for your skin and 100 percent safe for the body. Try the non-toxic vanilla body cream or the anti-aging vitamin c serum.

4. Screen print your heart out

Screen printing is a cool way to customize any gift. Consider screenprinting an inside joke or favorite quote, or cut out different designs. Screen printing is not too hard, and, once you get the hang of it, it can be really fun. You can screen print on many different kinds of fabrics, but make sure to do a test before the real thing so you know it will come out.

5. Sew your own tote bag

Tote bags are super versatile and always useful. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, it’s a fairly simple pattern. Find a burlap or canvas fabric in a fun color. You can decorate it with cool military inspired buttons, break out your glue gun and embellish it with studs or sparkles, or, better yet, screen print it!

6. Give an herb garden

A window box herb garden is a great way to grow fresh herbs during the winter. Head to an antique shop and scope out their selection of old wooden Coca-Cola boxes or anything else that would fit in a windowsill. Grab some planting soil, seeds, and plastic planters to put the soil in, and you’re good to go.

7. Don’t forget the dog!

Not to forget the most important family member, it’s definitely appropriate to shower your canine companions with homemade goodies, too. Make your own dog treats or a fun toy.

This guest post is contributed by Kate Willson, who writes on the topics of top online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: katewillson2@gmail.com.

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