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Christmas Ideas for the Busy Person

Amanda Coen

 

Christmas Ideas for the Busy Person

Last Days for Posting from Ireland 2022 from An Post - Parade Handmade

Hmmm. Now, where to start. I have had the inclination all week to scribble a few lines about my approach to Christmas and how my Christmas plan is working out. I don't know why. I can't write with much authority on planning. I admit that up front. I find it hard to put the brakes on long enough to think about all that has to be done. I am not a natural planner. Another thing I hate doing is following a plan. So these two combined are not conducive to creating a carrying out a good Christmas plan. Nonetheless, I have to have some sort of guide since I run a handmade gift business and represent other creators in this business and they at least deserve a little planning as does my home life. The other reason is that I always have so many Christmas ideas. Ideas that I may or may not accomplish or add to my 'Christmas Plan', but nonetheless these Christmas ideas exist...

How I Create My Christmas Plan

 Wrap Your Gifts in Beautiful Material and Ribbon for a Change - Parade Handmade

I suppose the main thing I like to do is to spread the cost. I am a firm believer in stowing away or making gifts early so at least I have a head start on the procurement of the gifts.

I love choosing gifts for people but not all in a rush. Early acquisition is key. I keep an ear out all year for little clues that indicate a good option for someone. The colours they like or perhaps the style of thing they like. Perhaps they have admired something of mine. I could consider getting one in their favourite colour for example.

 

Christmas Gnomes made from Logs and Off Cut Fabrics - Parade Handmade

I like to Make a Lot of My Presents

I like to make a lot of my presents. Arts and Crafts. Original things. Pictures, hats, jewellery, cards, pouches, bags, belts whatever. I like to make it relevant though. Sometimes a seasonal theme is a good idea but not for every year.

My husband made lots of little reindeer one year for some special friends and family and last year we made lots of little Christmas Gnomes from logs. We made bigger ones this year for sale on Parade Handmade. They were great fun to do. It was good to get all that done early in Autumn as there's plenty of other things to do in Winter and in the lead up to Christmas.

 Cardboard DIY Christmas Gift Tags for You to Make - Parade Handmade

Make a List and Check it Twice

I make a list of people I want to buy gifts for and a list for cards because some people only receive cards. I write a little detail about the gift or gifts for each one beside their name. I have in my mind how I am going to wrap them. I like to have a style each year. Not super strict. Perhaps it's brown paper with string and clay tags, or maybe it's traditional rich paper with Santa, Christmas trees and robins all over it. Maybe I go Scandi with a natural pared back look and wooden tags etc. I don't use sticky tape any more so I must have string, twine or ribbon of some sort at the ready. Strips of material work just as well.

When I think I have all the presents gathered I lay them all out on a big bed where I can leave them, or on the floor, though I'll have to tidy them away then each time I look at them and then I tick off all of the names that I have something for. Then I can see the gaps I want to fill. I always have a few extra small Christmas gifts to balance the packages fairly.

Loud and Colourful Christmas Wrapping Style - Parade Handmade

Send the Gifts and Cards for Far Away Places First

I am...I am...not sure what I was going to write there...Hmm. Well. When I have the gifts more or less wrapped I start on the card writing and ticking the names off. I try to get all the cards and gifts for sending far, ready first for posting and I will buy a book of stamps for cards being sent to Irish addresses.

 Christmas Decorations at Our House this Year - Parade Handmade

 Your Choice - Pared Back or Go Mad with the Decorations?

Other Christmas plans are decided on for when we will put up the decorations (usually in time for the toy show) and what style of decor we will go for. The one most often chosen is the 'more is more' style. Every piece of Christmas decor accumulated over the years will find a place in the scheme.

Sometimes a more pared back, mature approach, I consider it, is undertaken. This is not a very successful approach in our house because we are not natural minimalists to put it mildly. Like this year. I put forward the notion of a 'natural Christmas'. Ha! Haaaa! I wanted twigs and branches tied with string and to inject the odd bit of red bow or greenery and the odd handmade Christmas gnome. Ha! It's done but I don't think it has worked. Maybe I'll try again next year with more natural additions such as a wreath, centre pieces, pine cones and garlands etc. Not to worry. It's gorgeous anyway.

Big Decisions to be Made

We made the decision not to start Christmas food shopping too early this year because you end up spending way more than you plan to.

What we did do was to make apple chutney from the glut of apples this Autumn. We didn't have glass jars so we froze small portions in terracotta ramekins. Once frozen they were transferred without the ramekins into a plastic bag to be taken out at intervals. This is great because you don't have little pots of left over chutney/relish in the fridge to feel guilty about and you don't have such a worry about finding the right jars or sterilisation of said jars. A clean ramekin from the cupboard will work grand though a quick wash with hot water and suds would help and perhaps you could scald them out before use. ( I am not a food professional.)

My husband took a notion in the beginning of November when we had the dreaded Covid-19 infection, to bake Yorkshire puddings which came out great so we froze a little pile for Christmas. We tested some of the frozen ones for a starter one evening and they were lovely so that is a good idea. They thaw out quick enough but they can be baked with cheese and salami etc from frozen like pizza can.
Last but not least I did the frozen sausage rolls. Two types. How? I bought a roll of ready made puff pastry and cut it down the middle long ways. Then I took a roll of ready made sausage meat, divided it in two, rolled it into two snakes the length of the pastry. On one of the snakes I put slices of salami and sprinkled on some grated Grand Padano or Parmesan Cheese. Then using some water along the edges I folded each of the two lengths over, stuck them down with the decorative handle of a spoon to seal the pastry, pierced the pastry with a knife at intervals and sliced it all into inch size piece or thereabouts. These I left on a freezer proof tub separated inside it with grease proof paper and froze them. (I am very proud).

We don't like traditional Christmas Baking

Christmas Home Baked Selection of Little Biscuits DIY - Parade Handmade

We love cakes and biscuits but not the traditional bakes like mince pies or Christmas pudding or cake. Though sometimes a mince pie with cream is quite nice we don't go for them really.

I prefer to bake smaller lighter treats like apple madeira cake, chocolate buns, danish pastries or eclairs. This year I made chocolate chip cookies, florentines, (I used flaked almonds and walnut pieces instead of cranberries and pistachios) and almond slices (I like the recipe in the link below from the Hedge Combers website because it has no jam or pastry on the bottom. I wanted to make them like the almond slices you buy and for them not to be like bakewell cakes, too much. I won't go into this much as it's for the next blog post. But just to say it was a great idea of mine... (I'm very proud of myself of course.) The recipe for the chocolate cookies is from my sister and is in an image above.

Florentine Recipe from BBC Good Foods

Simple Almond Slice Recipe from the Hedge Combers Website

So now you have it. I've probably left a few things out but you get the gist. It gives me the notion of perhaps making out an actual Christmas Planner for next year. a visual thing would help me enormously. So let's see does that transpire....Heee! I Hope you found some of this post interesting at least if not a source of new ideas then perhaps it echoes what you do and I imagine many people do at this time of year. Take care until next episode!

 

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