Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Facts

– Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.

– Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

– In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous—a lot like today's Mardi Gras parties.

– From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.

– Christmas wasn't a holiday in early America—in fact Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the country's first Christmas under the new constitution.

– Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.

– The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith's 1607 Jamestown settlement.

– Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.

The Salvation Army has been sending Santa Claus-clad donation collectors into the streets since the 1890s.

– Rudolph, "the most famous reindeer of all," was the product of Robert L. May's imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.

– Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Candleholder

Cast a glow on children's faces with this simple, charming hand-painted candleholder. Follow the winter theme by turning the snowman into a snowflake or a Menorah.

What you'll need:

  • Baby food jar (emptied and rinsed out)
  • Paint
  • Ribbon
  • Tea light candle
  • Paintbrush

How to make it:

  1. Empty out and wash jar.
  2. Tie ribbon around the top, but back from the edge so the flame can't reach it.
  3. Paint any kind of design you wish on the jar. Try snowflakes, hearts, tree ornaments, etc.
  4. Put small candle inside.
  5. Light and watch how pretty it is.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Festive Polka Dot Ornaments

These are so easy to make you will be amazed. Grab some glass ball ornaments and some paint and decorate these pretty and festive tree accents!

What you'll need:

  • Glass ball ornaments
  • Red and green acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • ribbon
  • empty egg carton

How to make it:

  1. Turn the empty egg carton upside down. This will serve as your stand as you decorate.
  2. Place ornament upside down on egg carton, resting it between egg cups.
  3. Using the handle end of a paint brush, dip the end of the handle into paint then dot onto the ornament. You will need to re-dip after each dot.
  4. Dot all around the ornament and let dry completely.
  5. Once dry, tie a piece of ribbon through the hanger hook on the ornament.


  • You can use clear glass ornaments for this easy project, or if you prefer, use frosted or colored bulbs, adjusting the paint color accordingly.
  • Glass ornaments are available in abundance at most stores that carry holiday decorations. You may even have some packed away in your Christmas boxes!
  • Change the size of the polka dots by using different sized paint brushes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Best Christmas Movies of All Time

The Christmas season wouldn't be complete without watching our favorite Christmas movies while sipping a cup of hot chocolate, hot tea or cider. So kick up your feet, pop in a DVD and get ready for some great holiday movies!

It's A Wonderful Life (1946) - We watch it every year, and it just keeps getting better.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - Definitive proof that Santa really does exist.

A Christmas Story (1983) - I double dog dare you not to like this one.

White Christmas (1954) - Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye head up this Christmas classic. But the real star of the show is Irving Berlin's score.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965 - TV) - Generations of kids have grown up on it.

Elf (2003) - Will Ferrell drives this great-for-the-entire-family Christmas comedy. Of course the uncredited appearance of Peter Billingsley is a special holiday treat.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 - TV & 2003 cinematic) - It's fun to watch the TV version and the movie version back-to-back.

Home Alone (1990) - The first one, not the sequels! A really good family film for the holidays, except there's no family! Funny gags, hilarious antics and truly feel-good moments as well.

A Christmas Carol (1938) - The best version of the well-worn Dickens literary classic. At only 70 minutes in runtime, it's short but sweet classic. Beautiful set designs and powerful acting performances put this one of the must-see holiday film list.

The Santa Clause (1994) - Features one of Tim Allen's few successful big screen performances. So full of heart and charm it's becoming a holiday season staple.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) - Gotta love the holidays with the Griswalds. Watching Clark's ineptitude makes us all feel a little better ourselves.

Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus (1991 - TV) - Richard Thomas, Ed Asner and Charles Bronson star in this cheerful and uplifting version of the 1974 original. Will challenge you to look at things a little differently.

Holiday Inn (1942) - Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire bring this oldie-but-goodie to life. Bing Crosby does Christmas so well! Crescendoes to the magnificent debut of "White Christmas". "I'm dreaming of a ...."

The Polar Express (2004) - Adapted from Chris Van Allsburg's Caldecott Medal winning children's book of the same name. If you can look past the creepy computer-generated characters, this one's pretty good. The animation is spectacular as it features a rousing song and dance number in the train's dining car as well as a truly harrowing runaway train sequence.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Hope you enjoy your day with family all around! Don't eat too much turkey! Need to save some room for dessert!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Popcorn Squares

Popcorn and granola add a healthy crunch to these peanut-buttery treats.


1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup granola cereal, with larger chunks broken up
1 cup roasted and salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
3 cups plain popped popcorn

1. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil. Heat the honey in a large saucepan until it boils, about 2 minutes. Add the peanut butter and stir until mixture is well blended.

2. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the granola, the peanuts, and the popcorn until everything is coated.

3. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Refrigerate the pan until the mixture is cool, about 30 minutes.

4. Cut the mixture into small squares (we got 25 from our pan). The treats will be a bit crumbly, so you may want to serve them in paper candy cups.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey Tracks

Wild turkeys have been known to run up to 20 mph, but that might not be quite fast enough for these tasty appetizers to escape being gobbled up. This fun snack recipe will have everyone making tracks for more.


crackers (your family's favorite)
cheese spread or softened cream cheese
crunchy chow mein noodles

1. Spread the crackers with cheese, then arrange chow mein noodles atop each one to resemble a 3-toed turkey footprint.

2. Tip: The tracks look particularly good if you choose some of the curvier noodles that don't lie flat in the cheese.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tepee Treats

Historically, an Indian tepee was made from a cone of long poles and a hide covering that appeared shiny white until the hearth fire cured it. Construct a village of similarly handsome -- though edible -- tepees with this food craft.


Sugar cones
Confectioners' sugar
Unsalted butter
Vanilla extract
Cake-decorating icing
Decorative candies

1. In a mixing bowl with an electric beater set at low speed, mix 2 cups of sifted confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup of softened, unsalted butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract until smooth and spreadable. Stir in a bit of milk, if needed.

2. Use the icing to lightly frost eight ice cream sugar cones, then place them in the freezer for a few minutes until the icing hardens.

3. Now use tubes of cake-decorating icing to draw linear patterns and images and glue on decorative candies. For lodgepoles, insert toothpicks into the tip of each cone.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Turkey Napkin Holders

These brightly colored turkeys make a festive and functional complement to any Thanksgiving dinner table.


5- by 7-inch Colorful Poster Board
Craft Knife
Double-sided Tape
Glue Stick
2 Googly Eyes (available at craft stores)
Red and Yellow Construction Paper

Time needed: Under 1 Hour

1. Cut head and feet shapes in the top and bottom edges of a 5- by 7-inch rectangle of colorful poster board, leaving a 2- by 7-inch center band.

2. Use a craft knife to cut 2 wings near the center of the band.

3. Curl the cardboard by wrapping the ends of the band around something round, such as a rolling pin. Remove the band, overlap the ends, and secure them with double-sided tape.

4. Use a glue stick to attach 2 googly eyes, a red paper wattle, and a yellow paper beak. To adorn each mini tom with fancy feathers, simply fold a colorful napkin accordion style and tuck it inside the ring.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Turkey Place Cards

Finger print a flock of tom turkeys for festive place cards.


Nontoxic ink pad
Blank place cards

Time needed: Under 1 Hour

1. Press a thumb into the inkpad and then on paper to print a turkey's body. Use the same technique with fingertips to create a head and feathers.

2. Use markers to add a beak, wattle and feet.

3. Complete the cards by writing in guests' names.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Turkey Hats

Put a feather in your cap (and everyone else's at your holiday feast) with this festive chapeau.


Brown paper bags
Cardboard (cereal box)
Glue stick
Colored construction paper
2 small white pom-poms
Black permanent marker

Time needed: Under 1 Hour

1. From the brown paper bags, cut a circle 3 1/2 inches in diameter for the turkey's head. Next, cut a 3-inch-wide band to fit around your child's head.

2. From the cardboard, cut a strip 5 by 1 1/2 inches to use for a neck. Fold it three times accordion style, then glue one end to the back of the paper circle.

3. For a beak, fold yellow construction paper and cut out a small double triangle (1 1/2 inches along the fold). Cut a rounded L from red paper for the turkey's wattle.

4. To create eyes, draw a black circle on each pom-pom with the marker. Glue the eyes, wattle and one side of the beak to the head. Let them dry. Then, glue the loose end of the neck to the center of the headband.

5. Now, wrap the headband around your child's head; mark where the ends overlap, then remove the band and glue the ends. Finally, glue on construction paper feathers and wings.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turkey Napkin Rings

Kids will be eager to help set the Thanksgiving table with these little napkin-holding gobblers.


Flat wooden craft spoons
Tempera or acrylic paints
Paper towel tube
Orange pipe cleaners
Black marker
Tacky glue
Red felt

Time needed: Under 1 Hour

1. Five craft spoons are required for each ring. Using tempera paint, color one of them yellow for the turkey's head, the others, a variety of colors (they'll be used for tail feathers).

2. For the turkey's body, cut a 2-inch section from a cardboard paper towel tube and paint it brown.

3. From orange pipe cleaners, shape a pair of short legs with three-toed turkey feet. Fit the legs through small holes in the cardboard tube, bending the tips inside the tube to secure them.

4. Use a marker to draw eyes on the face and use tacky glue to attach a red felt wattle.

5. Finally, glue the head to the front of the body and the tail feathers to the back.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Top 10 Thanksgiving Movies

Roasted turkey, tasty stuffing, vegging out with the Macy’s Day Parade… what could be better? Maybe a family-friendly flick to help you through your food coma? Here are a few movies to get your family in the mood for even more turkey!

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973) - What's a holiday without a Charlie Brown/Peanuts cartoon? In classic Peanuts style, Charlie Brown gets roped into preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for Peppermint Patty and friends without any time or ability to make a real meal.

Garfield's Thanksgiving (1989) - Thanksgiving television special that has made its way into many families holiday traditions. What holiday could the fat cat possibly love more than Thanksgiving? Especially when Jon decides to invite the vet over as his date! Join Garfield, Odie and the gang for a feast of comedy.

Pieces of April (2003) starring Katie Holmes reminds us why Holmes first made it into our hearts with a brilliant, charming performance as an eccentric, tattooed and pierced April Burns living with her African-American boyfriend Bobby. In an attempt to mend some broken bridges with her estranged family, April and her boyfriend invite her dying mother and judgmental family to their low-class apartment in New York City. Trying not to appear a failure in front of her family again, April races around the apartment complex to find a way to cook her turkey and still finish the dinner before her family arrives. It's a comedy of errors with a lot of heart you won't forget.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) - Is a classic comedy with comedic giants John Candy and Steve Martin. Neal Page (Martin) and Del Griffith (Candy) are travelers trying to get home for Thanksgiving with their families but after a canceled flight the opposite personalities end up pursuing other methods to get home. A classic effort by both Martin and Candy and a must for comedy lovers. (your secret Santa's favorite thanksgiving movie!)

Home for the Holidays (1995) starring Claire Danes, Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr., and directed by Jodie Foster, is another comedy set around a family Thanksgiving. Claudia Larson (Hunter) has to go home for the holiday and gets caught back up in her crazy family.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) is always a television network favorite for Thanksgiving. Maybe because the movie takes place in November, or maybe because of the cornucopia of sweets and fun. Go for the original and enjoy the brilliant performance by Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka with your family.

What's Cooking? (2000) invites the viewer to Thanksgiving with Jewish, Vietnamese, Hispanic and African American families in Los Angeles. This movie shows the humor in normal holiday stress and problems while showing how different cultures and families approach the holidays.

Alice's Restaurant (1969) is blast from the past featuring a great soundtrack with Arlo Guthrie's landmark title song. The characters are warm and colorful and make for some serious and fun scenes.

Scent of a Woman (1992) combines the genius of Al Pacino and the charm of Chris O'Donnell. O'Donnell's character takes Thanksgiving break to care for Pacino's character as a blind, retired military man. They end up on a crazy weekend in New York City and explore some intense themes.

Son in Law (1993) sends another kooky Pauly Shore character into a family of traditional conservatives when he spends Thanksgiving with a fellow student.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fall Fingerprint Tree

Hand print and finger print crafts always make wonderful keepsakes. Here’s a fun way to celebrate the coming of Autumn while preserving your child’s size and age at the same time. Get ready for a messy good time!

What you'll need:

• White construction paper or card stock
• Orange construction paper
• Scissors
• Acrylic or poster paint in green, brown, orange, yellow, tan and red
• White craft glue

How to make it:

1. Line work surface with newspaper and place white construction paper in the center.

2. Start by showing the child where you want to place his/her arm on the paper, you will be painting the bottom of the forearm, palm and all fingers.

3. Use brown paint to cover bottom of forearm, palm and all fingers, use a generous amount.

4. Help child carefully lay their arm and fingers down on the paper, fingers extended. Hand should go in the center of the paper to allow room for the leaves. Gently press down and roll each finger, palm and arm onto the paper. Lift arm straight up into the air.

5. Wash paint off arm and hand and dry completely.

6. Place a nickel sized amount of each color paint into a paper plate. Have child dip their finger into the paint and onto the paper creating leaves of all different colors. The fingers on the paper are the branches, so put the leaves at the end of the branches and all around them.

7. Use a paint brush to add some grass at the bottom of the tree.

8. For older kids, add a few flowers in the grass. Use a small dot of paint on their finger to create the center and flower petals. You can even add a little squirrel in the tree by dotting on a head, body and tail! Use a black marker to dot on the eye. You can also add a few “falling leaves” by dotting two or three colors falling from the branches and use a marker to add a few squiggly lines indicating motion.

9. Make a frame from the orange construction paper by gluing around the back edge of the picture.


• This project has fun variations for Spring as well. Make all the leaves green using two or more shades, then add red dots for apples or white and pink dots for flowers. Use a construction paper color for the frame to match the season.

• It’s best to show children a finished project first so that they understand what they are trying to create. This will make it easier to envision their own picture.

• Be sure to have a bowl of water and some paper towels handy for cleaning off fingers.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hands-and-Feet Turkey

Children will enjoy tracing their hands and feet to create this one-of-a-kind paper turkey craft for Thanksgiving.

What you'll need:

  • Construction paper in brown, tan, orange, red, yellow and white
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Wiggle eyes (optional)

Step 1 - Trace the child's hands and feet

  1. Trace two feet (with shoes on) on brown construction paper.
  2. Trace two hands on tan construction paper.
  3. Trace two hands on red construction paper.
  4. Trace two hands on orange construction paper.
  5. Trace one hand on yellow construction paper.

Step 2 - Cut out all the pieces

Cut out all the hands and feet tracings.

Step 3 - Make the Body

Put the two feet tracings together to make the turkey body and head, placing the heels together one on top of another, and spreading the bottoms apart as in the illustration. Glue.

Cut two feet out of the orange scraps, then cut a diamond shape for the beak. Draw the eyes on white paper and cut them out, or use wiggle eyes. Make the wattle out of red construction paper. Glue each piece onto the body as shown.

Step 4 - Attach the tail

Glue the red, orange, and yellow construction paper hands behind the brown body to make the tail.

Step 5 - Wings

Position the two tan hands on either side of the body to make the turkey's wings and glue them in place.

You're Done!

Enjoy your decoration. Be sure to put the date on the back, so that in future years you'll be able to know when it was made.

Have fun making a whole flock of turkeysor enjoy making a turkey each year to chart how much your child has grown.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thanksgiving Word Find

Word finds are a popular way to pass some time. Here's a Thanksgiving word find that is rather whimsical. Click on the picture for a bigger view of it. You can also save this word find on your computer and then print it out if you wish. Enjoy!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sugar Coated Pecans


  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pound pecan halves
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Grease one baking sheet.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg white and water until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. Add pecans to egg whites, stir to coat the nuts evenly. Remove the nuts, and toss them in the sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.

Happy Birthday Sandy!!

Hope you have a wonderful birthday Sandy!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanksgiving Votive Candleholder

Add a light touch to your seasonal dinner table with this Thanksgiving votive candleholder craft. This is a fast, fun and easy holiday activity for kids.

What you'll need:

  • Baby food jar
  • Thanksgiving or Fall stickers
  • White glue, like Elmer's
  • Paintbrush
  • Glitter, optional
  • Raffia or ribbon

How to make it:

  1. Apply the stickers around the jar. Press firmly all around the stickers.
  2. Using a paintbrush, completely cover the jar sides from right below the jar threads to the bottom of the sides.
  3. Sprinkle with glitter if desired. Let dry.
  4. Tie raffia or ribbon around the jar threads.
  5. Insert a votive candle and display as part of a Thanksgiving center piece.
  6. Make one for each guest and use as a place setting. Your guests could take home the candle holders as a gift.
  7. Happy Thanksgiving!