Grocery Shopping

December’s Grocery Shopping Plans for a Simpler Month

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Christmas Spritz Cookies The Prudent Homemaker 

 Spritz Cookies made with my grandmother’s vintage cookie press. These are the fastest and simplest Christmas cookies I’ve ever made.

 

Can you imagine a December without shopping?

No food to buy.

No gifts to purchase.

 

The chance to stay home: making cookies and treats from items in your pantry, making meals from a well-stocked pantry and freezers, making gifts from items you already have on hand, making memories as a family as you sing Christmas carols together before bed every night of the month, playing board and card games as a family in the evenings instead of being out shopping (and picking up takeout because you don’t have time to cook after work and shopping), watching Christmas movies as a family, etc.

 

BUT . . .

Maybe you still have presents left to buy.

Maybe you have groceries to purchase.

Christmas Bedpost The Prudent Homemaker

 

Could it be simpler, though? Could you avoid the time you spend shopping, standing in line, etc.? 

 

You could decide to shorten your Christmas list to what you’ve already purchased (and/or make any remaining gifts using what you have on hand in your kitchen or with any supplies you have).

You could order the last gifts on your list online and have them shipped to your door. (Amazon has a free trial of Prime if you want two-day shipping for free for the month, plus you can watch movies from home with it).

You could order groceries and have them delivered. (I’ve never tried this option, but many stores have free and/or discounted delivery options for the first time you place an order. I can see an extra appeal in this if you don’t want to leave the house in inclement weather). 

You could limit your grocery shopping to just two stores for the month.

You could decide to eat what you have in the pantry and freezer and not go shopping.

 

I’ve decided to keep my December shopping as simple as possible. I still have many gifts to make and I am wanting to bake often, both of which require me to be at home.

 

I’m limiting my December grocery shopping to $40 at Sam’s Club, which comes from a $25 gift card I earned on Swagbucks and a $15 gift card I received as a gift, and $25 out of pocket.

I looked through Sam’s sales flyer and am purchasing two things that will each be $2.50 off in December. One is balsamic vinegar, a regular staple in my pantry. The other is Nutella, which I only buy in December when it goes on sale at Sam’s Club. It’s a large jar (26.5 ounces/751.26g) that comes in a two-pack, on sale $6.48 (that makes each jar $3.24, or $0.122 an ounce/$0.0043 gram.)

I’m planning on saving the time of walking around the store and standing in the checkout line by ordering everything online and having it ready for pickup. I’ve never done it before, but this service is free, so why not have a bit more time in my life? It certainly doesn’t take very long to add it to my cart online. I’ll have my husband pick it up on his way home from work, and he can fill up on gas (which is cheaper there) at the same time.

 

Sam’s Club:

corn tortillas (110 count)

milk (1 gallon)

salted peanuts (52 ounces)

mozzarella cheese (5 pounds shredded)

balsamic vinegar (1 liter)

brown sugar (7-pound bag)

Nutella (2 26.5 o./75126g jars)

 

I’d like to purchase some clementines for both fresh eating and Christmas stockings, but that will depend on what sales are out there. I’m allotting $15 out of pocket towards clementines, if I find a sale right before Christmas of $1 a pound or less (there are sometimes coupons available for these, so I’ll keep an eye out). If I don’t see that price close to Christmas, I’ll pass on purchasing these.

I’ll spend $10 on dish soap for hand washing. I usually buy this at Walmart, but since I am planning to go to Target anyway this week to pick up a few small items for Christmas gifts, I will purchase this there. I want to keep my shopping trips (and standing-in-line-time) to a minimum.

Christmas Table Runner Detail The Prudent Homemaker

 

A few ideas to make your December a bit more peaceful:

 

Advent calendar activity ideas Simple things you can do this month to keep the spirit of Christmas.

Rethinking Christmas Stockings. A simpler, less expensive approach to filling stockings.

Seven Frugal Ways to Decorate for Christmas

A Gift a Day. My current and past year’s simple, inexpensive gifts, often made from repurposed materials, that you can make in a day. I’ll be sharing more gifts this month as I complete them.

My Food Gifts board on Pinterest

My Christmas Crafts for the Children board on Pinterest

Ten Ways to Add Joy to Your Life When You Don’t Have a Penny to Spare. Don’t let a super-tight financial month keep you from finding joy.

Gifts You Can Make Right Now in Five Minutes or Less

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

 

 Deciding to keep things as simple as possible is helping me to stay more peaceful this month.

 

What are you doing to keep things simpler this month?

 

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113 Comments

  1. Brandy, being home is always more peaceful. I love your ideas. Since we sent Thanksgiving cards, there are no cards to send this month. In addition, we do not have holiday party plans.

    I shopped online for business and pwrsonal needs.

  2. I also have decided that our Christmas will be simpler from now on. I have all the dinner fixings tucked away. All gifts are waiting to be wrapped. I will be purchasing a chain for a pendant with a gift card from swagbucks. I have tons of brand new decorations salvaged from a jobsite several years ago. They are all color coordinated and came from Costco. If course they will go on my 10 foot Christmas tree I bought at Goodwill last year for 10.00. We will attend mass, have dinner and exchange presents. I have found all the Christmas movies and will make special snacks. Other than buying for my three children, I have a gift for two of their friends. I have 8 new neighbor children in my very small cul de sac and have bought them large size Hershey bars. I will tie the bundles up with ribbon and a free Shutterfly Christmas card. I have decided to do some baking for a local center that feeds the homeless one night each week. I have several ingredients that I would like to use up and this is a great way to spread the joy. I also have decided to take goodies to several businesses in our extremely small town too. So many people have been so kind to me during my recoveries from 4 surgeries the last 13 months. While deep cleaning, I found several children’s toys that had been out away in my gift closet so long ago. I took them and dropped them off at a Toys for Tot location. I have to make two trips into the big city this month. Any shopping with my very last month of SNAP will be done at this time. I have some ECB’s from CVS that I may roll on any good deals but I do not plan on spending any money this month. I will have more swagbucks at the end of the month and plan on using them to buy after Christmas sales items for sugar cookie for her February birthday. College boy is filling the car up with gas ,so my plan should work well. I found college girl a three inch stocking for 50 cents that has her initial on it. I am sure we will all laugh at how adorable it is with her stick of fun in it. Happy holidays my friends.

  3. Brandy, can I ask which spritz cookie recipe you use? I’ve been in search of a good, easy-to-express spritz cookie recipe for several years now. If I can find one that works out, I will make a tons of cookies and decorate them festively, as you did, to send in to my DH’s work. I actually pulled out my cookie press two days ago to do that, and then put it away until I could find a good recipe. And your recipe must be fabulous, because your cookies look fabulous!

    As for my December plans, I only have two social get-togethers that I’m hosting, and I’ll be do that the same weekend, so that a lot of what I bake/make for one event can be used for the next event (plus I traded for some of the ingredients using my local trading app). Plus, as much as possible, I’ll be baking in advance and freezing the dough. My Christmas gifts for friends, I already have, and just need to wrap them (and I already have all the supplies), and my Christmas gifts for my work colleagues and the DH’s work colleagues and the two families I plan to do cookie exchanges/gifts with/to will all be baked and wrapped. With the exception of gifts for my immediate family (and we always set a low price limit), I won’t be paying for any other gifts this Christmas, except for the cost of pantry ingredients to bake them.

    I do some have shopping to do: mainly fresh fruit, some veggies, milk, and some baking supplies (raw almonds, blanched almonds, icing sugar, candied fruits, condensed milk) when I can find a sale or a coupon or hopefully both.

    It’s going to be a fun and baking-filled month! (My favourite kind!) Hope everyone else is looking forward to this month as much as I am!

  4. To keep things simpler, I am making lists, things to buy, things to make and actually doing meal plans. I don’t want to over spend, forget a gift or panic, “what’s for dinner”. It’s so easy to get into the crazy way of thinking this time of year and not enjoy advent.

  5. I have done a lot of my shopping online this season. I work at least 50 hours a week and dont want to spend what little free time I have walking around a store and fighting the crowds, standing in line then fighting my way out of the parking lot.

  6. Lovely post and beautiful photos.

    To make our Christmas simpler I completed all gifts by the end of November. This included wrapping & card writing. This year I have bought for a total of 28 people at a cost of $415.

    We re-use our 10 year old Christmas tree and decorations. We add the children’s Christmas crafts to the tree each year. We put the tree up together, having fun and listening to chansons de Noel, including Petit Papa Noel.

    We attend many local and free christmas events/fetes/concerts including a Bethlehem walk.

    On December 24th the children decorate a gingerbread house. Then we go to the city for the night to participate in lots of Christmas festivities, have a rooftop swim and wake up to a decadent christmas buffet breakfast. We then go home and open presents (and stockings) and celebrate with our extended families at our house. We have a Bouche de Noel for dessert.

    I love our family christmas traditions and the fun of December. It is a blessing.

  7. I forgot to mention we also do a book advent. I wrap Christmas books and each day the children open one to read. I re-use the same books each year.

  8. This is just one thing, but we are invited to several potlucks this month. Rather than do different recipes or something fancy, I am going to bring mashed potatoes to every single one! Potatoes are inexpensive, mashed potatoes are easy and most everyone loves them.

  9. We have opted not give as many gifts this year. Last year the gift giving was not reciprocted to my daughter (who is significantly younger and on the autism spectrum) from certain family members. It was heartbreaking to witness. So this year we will not be giving to them. I will not be giving treat bags to all family members nor baking treat trays for bowling banquets, as I have in the past, so our baking needs are also significantly decreased this year. Furthermore, I am not making gifts for school staff, since she is now in high school (though I may give some baked goods treat bags to her EAs and support teachers). It feels very different, without having to buy, create or make all these gifts. I miss it…but it is definitely a much simpler Christmas because of it.

  10. No gift shopping. One trip per week to the grocery store for my weekly grocery buying. I don’t decorate for Christmas, but I do decorate with snowmen for winter so I will use what I have on hand. I will use blue and white tissue paper that I have saved from gifts to make tissue paper balls and fans to hang over the table for Hanukkah. I need menorah candles and a new dreidel. I will order these from Amazon using their free trial membership for Prime. We are finally getting cold weather here in the deep South, so I plan to make potato soup, homemade bread, and homemade cinnamon rolls for my family with items from my pantry. I will stay home as much as possible.

  11. I’m really trying to simplify things this year. My daughter’s birthday is this weekend, and we’re having a (very) small friend party. Turned out only two of her four invited friends could make it, so we’re doing a tea party lunch at home and then I’m taking them to a discount matinee (we see movies in the theater once or twice a year), followed by a spaghetti dinner back at home.

    I’ve bought as many holiday gifts online as possible (keeping the UPS driver employed!), and am focusing on eating out of freezer and pantry as much as possible (we’ll have half a pig coming in a month or so and need to finish eating last year’s pork before it arrives!).

    I’ve turned down holiday gatherings with all but my closest friends, because there is just not enough hours in my day. I’ll catch up with the others after the holidays. I’m sewing a couple of gifts for my daughter, but scheduled time off of work (I have plenty of PTO) during a week when she’ll be away at her grandparents’ house to make them, so I don’t have to try and squeeze it in late at night or early in the morning while she’s sleeping.

  12. I have lots of work in December. This blog is my stress relief…lol. I have a large teddy bear ($20 at Walmart) to give to my two yr old step grandchild, and I will give each of my four grown children $20. So, I will spend a total of $100 for Christmas. That is all I can really afford this year. I do plan on baking the turkey I did not bake on Thanksgiving, and making cornbread dressing, as well as some other family favorites. I have most of the ingredients I need. I am running low on potatoes, and will have to buy some of those. I have a close family member, with cancer, who is scheduled for surgery the week before Christmas, so, I am more concerned about survival rates this year. We will be having a very subdued Christmas, and no one is complaining. We are just grateful everyone in the immediate family is still alive. I hope to get some rest during the holidays.

  13. We also do this and the kids love it! I have checked out library books in the past if I haven’t had enough Christmas books to wrap. It is a nice way to encourage the bedtime routine for little ones too, because it’s so fun.

  14. Your cookies made with the vintage press are beautiful. My mother in law kindly gave me her spritz cookie press (which she obtained by redeeming books of Green Stamps) and I used it for many many years until it rebelled mightily in its old age. The modern version, in plastic, does not seem a worthy replacement.

    We keep Christmas simple here as well. We have a rule, one small gift for each of the others. In a group of 6, that means each person has 5 small gifts- a pair of socks, a food treat, a paperback book or some pens. We’re just happy to be all together again under the same roof, if only for a week.

    I like how you keep Christmas, too.

  15. I tried a new one from the Better Homes and Garden magazine yesterday (that I get with a free subscription). It used Greek yogurt in place of part of the butter, which made it less expensive than the all-butter recipes. I have pinned others from Pinterest that I want to try as well. The cookies taste about the same as the regular butter ones (they are all somewhat plain) so what you put on top or bottom makes a big difference. I want to try large sugar crystals, a lemon recipe (with lemon in the dough), a peppermint glaze over a chocolate dough, and some others. I linked to my Pinterest cookie board above towards the beginning of the post; hopefully you can find some you like!

  16. This was a lovely post. It’s so good this time of year to focus on peace and family and the ‘reason for the season.’
    I will buy the ham for our Christmas dinner the week before the holiday, plus a few items for stockings. That week we are also going to Costco (three hours away) — primarily so my husband can be fitted for hearing aids. He has needed these for a while, and getting them at Costco will save us several thousand dollars over the price of a local store — making the drive worth it. While there, I will stock up on flour, olive oil, vinegar, peanut butter, coffee, and some other items we prefer to buy there. It will be a big trip, but we have set the money aside to do it. Also, this Saturday, our local pet store has their annual sale on pet food — $10 off each big bag, limit 2, so we will buy two bags — a big savings.
    All the presents have been shipped off to family and friends — almost all of them home made. My husband and I are only exchanging stockings. The cards are going in the mail today. After my two holiday concerts this weekend that obligation will be met, so I plan to enjoy a couple of low-key get-togethers with friends, bake some cookies and make caramel corn, watch Christmas movies, listen to books, and knit.

  17. I love this! I’ve been feeling the holiday stress this year, even though we pay for gifts with credit card rewards (so all gifts are essentially “free”). I think it’s important to prioritize simplicity during a time of year when it’s reaaaaaally easy to go overboard. I signed myself up for way too much, so I’m focusing on taking it one day at a time.

  18. Brandy,
    As I read your post this morning, a sense of peace settled over me. You have such a nice way of educating us on living a frugal lifestyle while appreciating the beauty that is around us. You are such an inspiration to so many and I appreciate all that you do here on your blog.
    Your cookie photo today stopped me in my tracks. It looks like it belongs in a magazine. So pretty. I am wondering whether you make and freeze your cookies and, if so, what is the best method for keeping them fresh tasting and looking pretty when serving time comes?
    The Christmas you describe sounds ideal to me. At my stage of life, it has become easier to achieve simple. The decorations went up the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year I sent many things to a thrift shop that works with the local children’s home. I also sold some of my vintage things on Ebay. This was a first to me, but it has proven to be worthwhile.
    Now that the house is ready, we are enjoying the lights and candlelight in the evening. I have been roasting and freezing the heirloom pumpkins that played a prominent part of the fall décor. That will come in handy for holiday baking and soup. I bake many cookies every year. Usually I wait until later in the month as I want them to have that just baked taste. I’m thinking I may start early if those of you who bake and freeze are willing to share your experiences. I am also planning to make some gifts of food for those on my list.

  19. Rhonda – So sorry your family was insensitive to your dear daughter. One Christmas, members of my family inadvertently did that to my son. We had a family policy of no gift exchanges as it could be quite costly for everyone. However, one set of in-laws who were new to the family did not understand that no gifts meant NO GIFTS. Their son had just married into my family. They showered their son and new daughter-in-law with a room full of gifts which were unwrapped in front of the rest of the family. My son, the only child in the group, patiently watched while all the gifts were unwrapped. Although he had a disappointed look on his face, he said nothing. In the moment, my heart broke just a little too.

  20. You are such a breath of fresh air, always. I’ve been taking advantage of client work slowing down just a little earlier than usual to really take my time with things this year and just be quiet. Thank you for the thoughtful blog, and merry *everything* to you and your family!

  21. This was a perfect post. I will read this one again and again.
    My husband and I have been scaling back the holiday frenzy anywhere we can for years. We aren’t party people, so if we have one dinner to attend for the holidays, that’s usually it. It suits us!
    I have simplified my decorating and given away a lot of my old decorations. Since we observe Advent, the only decoration we have right now is the Advent candles, which we’ll light in order each Sunday, with a reading. I will decorate for Christmas before Christmas Eve, but I do it as late in the month as I can get by with.
    One problem we used to have was that we had large families. Even though we drew names for some family members, I realized that my husband and I, a young, struggling couple trying to start a family, were buying and making 35 gifts each year, if we gave everyone on our list a single gift, and that didn’t count each other or our kids. In fact, we often had no money left to buy each other a gift, so we called a halt to most of the gift exchanging, with the exception of immediate families. That worked great for years. But now, our kids are grown and we’ve added sons-in-law, grandkids, a step-grandkid, and the list is growing bigger again. I refuse to stop giving gifts to my siblings (we only have 2 left, and our parents are all gone), husband, our kids, their spouses and my grandkids, so we have tried to at least make the gifts we exchange smaller and less expensive, for everyone’s sake. Still, it means I’m once again shopping for a lot of gifts, even though I often make some, too. What have others done in this situation?

  22. Hi, Brandy: What a sweet post this was! I enjoyed it so much; good, useful information for you young wives & mothers. It’s always better to keep things simple. It’s then easier to make what you do more elegant, cost effective, and of quality. And certainly more memorable and meaningful to your children. I would love to hear ideas from “empty nest” mothers who might be trying to figure out how to go about Christmas presents, etc., with grown children who have their own families. One large gift for the family, separate, cash, or gifts? And grandkids are another story!!! Its hard to see your children struggle, as they make their own way, and you want to do so much for them. However, you don’t want to injure their pride either. And you want them to learn, as we all did coming up with our own families. Thanks again, Brandy. Both my daughters now read your blog and love it.

  23. I have a metal one that is not more than 10 years old. I have to admit I’ve only made them once or twice and they were not a great success, even with my husband helping with the actual pressing. I should experiment–probably after Christmas–as I already see time getting short here. I have most things bought–three or four gifts left to buy–but have given little thought so far to the family party I will host between Christmas and New Year’s. Nothing is wrapped yet but my supplies are all in place, so I will spend some time doing that very soon. I did have surgery 2 days before Thanksgiving, so that is my excuse when I need one. I am nearly recovered now–about 90% anyhow. Still needing extra rest mostly, and my sleep schedule is out of whack because of it. I feel fine until I suddenly run completely out of energy, like slamming into a brick wall. Luckily, I am making it until after dinner most days! Plod steadily onward is my motto–I like to have the last week before the holiday for baking and have almost everything else done by then. That’s the goal!!

  24. I have baked and frozen Mexican wedding cakes and chocolate chip cookies. Both are fine when thawed. The rest I pretty much want freshly baked. Since we are only two here, sometimes I freeze half the recipe of cookie dough and just bake off when I want more cookies. Also a time saver. The older I get, the fewer the number of cookies I make. We just don’t need to eat them so frequently either.

  25. I freeze my cookies. What I do is put them on cookie trays where they aren’t touching and flash freeze them for several hours or overnight. When they are rock solid I then put them in bags (I have a food saver so I bag them that way) and since they are already frozen they don’t stick to each other and mess up any icing or decorations.

  26. We are trying to eat out of the freezer and pantry as much as possible to keep costs down, and to use up things that need to be used. I’m making a lot of soups and crock pot meals; today we made crock pot pasta with marinara sauce we made this summer and beef in the freezer. My Christmas breakfast will be a breakfast casserole with veggies and bacon, monkey bread with frozen dinner rolls and homemade caramel sauce, and fruit salad with citrus and pomegranates.

    We’re also making most of our gifts this year, or giving the gift of experiences. We’re making caramel chocolate popcorn, homemade hot chocolate mix, and some cookies. For experiences, I’m giving my mom a trip to a nearby pottery show in the fall and a day together. For my husband, he’s going to get some time to himself since he’s the stay at home dad and gets so little time without the boys. For the boys, they will get a special date with each of us, a new toy, and a new book. Some of our extended family are getting donations made in their honor to a favorite charity. All of this means that wrapping is minimal and our gifts of time and donations are probably cherished more than the “stuff” might be.

  27. We have cut back on all of our holidays this year. My oldest has some sensory issues. In the middle of Christmas last year it hit me that it was all too much for her. When she starts breaking down, I stress out and between the two of us we nearly ruined the holiday. All year we have discussed Christmas and the fact we are doing only one gift and a stocking. We will spend the day with people we love and hopefully it will be less stressful on all of us.

  28. I have debated FOR YEARS about sending either Thanksgiving or Valentine’s cards instead of Christmas. But, I’ve never done it!! We get cards from two families that send them out in mid-January with a recent pic of their Christmas. They both say their cards were always late anyway so they took the pressure off themselves & send them after all has calmed down. It makes perfect sense to me!! Maybe one of these years….

  29. Your cookies are lovely! I’ve always loved that kind, but never had a press. I’ll have to settle for someone else’s because we certainly don’t need a pile of delicious cooking laying around for 10 minutes lol!!

    We don’t do any shopping, online or otherwise. I send money to the last of our 27 nieces & nephews. I embroidered towels for some friends & I made fudge & caramel corn for others. We’re really a retailer’s nightmare lol.

    We had an unseasonably warm Nov. here and it just cooled into my soup weather yesterday! I celebrated by making some Antler Soup, as we call it. I got this recipe from Midwest Living years ago. They cited it from a lodge? called Antlers or something similar, in Wisconsin, I think. Essentially, it’s creamy chicken & rice. It has celery & carrots, too. Very delicious.

    A funny story about our name for it…My mother in law was here for a visit one winter and I told her we were having Antler Soup. Her eyebrows immediately twitched together, clearly surprised. Being ever the polite guest, I could tell she was DYING to ask about it. Instead, I offered while leaving the room, “Don’t worry. I simmer the antlers for an hour so they’re tender.” I could hardly keep from giggling. When my husband got home from work & we sat down to eat, he said, “Oooh, I love Antler Soup!” I was taking biscuits from the oven & I heard my dear mother in law ask him quietly….”Where do you get the antlers?”
    The two of us fell apart laughing. Fortunately, she has a good sense of humor! (and she ate two bowlfuls!) She said, “The reason I thought you were serious is because I remember the Depression! People ate all kinds of stuff. I thought the folks in Kansas might have developed a taste for antlers!”

  30. Hi Brandy! I always enjoy reading your posts – you are really amazing! I thought I would mention that as I was making my list for Sam’s, it showed $1 Instant savings on Clementines. My price in CO is $5.48 for 5 lbs. I know that is a tad higher than your target price, but I thought your regular price might be different than mine too, so it would be worth checking since you are going there anyway. Merry Christmas!

  31. I have a plastic Wilton one that I bought on deep discount at Target after Christmas several years ago & it actually works really well. I’ve used my grandmother’s metal one as well and was please with the results.

  32. What a great post! I have saved it to read again in a day or two. 🙂 Good inspiration.

    Because I am expecting baby #5 in February, and thus slowing down now, I planned ahead more than ever this year, and I’m keeping things simple. Thanksgiving went more smoothly than ever because of this, and I suspect Christmas may too. I have already done so much a little at a time, and I am continuing to do a little bit each day.

  33. Our CHristmas Plans will also be simplistic this year. The adult children are getting a gift card or cash for the couple then a small token gift to open. The children (11 and under) will be receiving a limited amount ($) in gifts plus small things that I am making. My husband and I will be focusing on small, essential things that we really need instead of extravagant things that we want.

    There will be no expensive “Honeybaked Ham” ($70+) but we will enjoy a lovely Smithfield from the wholesale store. I am also cutting back on the snacks and finger foods to focus on what people really like. My emphasis for December and January is to reduce food waste and cut down on grocery expenses. I have saved chicken and dumplings to make a chicken pot pie and leftover beef stew to make a beef pot pie with homemade pie crusts!

  34. My husband and I are empty nesters and our daughter and her significant other live in another state. No grandkids, but two grand-cats! 🙂 She came home for Thanksgiving so I made a point to have any gifts wrapped so she could take them home to save me shipping. I’m trying to get them to think of the holiday ahead of time and start thinking of what traditions they want, what they want to eat, etc. They both have big sweet tooths so I had a specialty cheesecake sent to them as I feel like sometimes when you are struggling or just starting out, it’s the extra stuff that gets lost. I thought a special dessert treat for Christmas would be fun for them and something they certainly wouldn’t buy themselves.

  35. Brandy, your cookies are beautiful. Since I am “hibernating” to avoid the flu, I am not going out much at all.
    I have my mother’s cookie press and I am tempted to make some. I am, however, going to make fudge as it ships well
    and can be frozen, too. I’ll send some to my great nieces. And to my nephews and nieces. I will use my rewards coupon to buy meat and put the month’s worth in my freezer. I may get it delivered. I love just staying at home. I love the one pan chocolate chunk cookie recipe on the Baker’s chocolate box. Google: BAKER’s One-bowl Chocolate Chunk Cookies on the kraftcanada.com website. Soft, chewy, easy to make! We are still undecided about having a Christmas Day lunch (dinner) at
    our church. Only 6 people showed up last year (although we all had a great time). Because of all of the flu going around, we may just stay home. I am starting to make ice lanterns for outside. On Christmas Eve, I will turn on the led lights inside the ice lanterns. My goal is to line the driveway with them. Cost is very low and little storage is needed for the tealights.

    Due to financial necessity, I have cut back on gift giving. My plan is to no longer give birthday gifts but only Christmas gifts.
    This is because there are 11 family members now. To go out shopping for each member and then ship presents to each amounts to about $600 not including the price of the gifts. At Christmas, I only have to send to two locations (because they have all gathered together) so the cost is greatly reduced. I am sending very modest things this year. In the past, certain nieces were very ungracious about the gifts they received so although I haven’t cut gifts out to them entirely I have cut back. It is the thought that counts but that seems lost on some of them. I was taught that even if you don’t like a gift, you never say anything like that but cheerily and graciously say thank you. I think that as special as it is to receive something as a gift, it is equally special to give thanks back freely in a heartfelt manner. If one doesn’t like a gift, then one can quietly do anything with it later (give it to charity) without hurting the giver’s feelings. Since I almost never see any of these relatives, I would never know what they did with my gifts.

    I just received a coupon in the mail for a free deep dish apple pie. If the Church has a Christmas Day dinner, I will take it as one of the desserts.

    I think it is excellent to figure out how to take life easier as we approach Christmas.

    Ann

  36. Do you have Sprouts Farmer’s Market there? I just got a new ad & 5 lbs of cuties are $3.98 this coming week. Hope you can get some!

  37. I finally finished the last of my Christmas presents, a hat for my husband. I read on another blog that someone on Etsy sold yarn made in the colors of the London tube (subway). I managed to find the seller and bought a skein. It was $25 plus shipping, so very expensive, but the husband loves London. We used to live in Scotland and whenever we could, we went to London for shows and he rode the tube as much as possible. It was hard to find time to knit it when he was not around but I think he will really love it. And hats in Alaska are quite useful!

    Our vet needed some woodworking advice and he knows the husband does it for a hobby. Long story short, he traded 10 hours of vet services for 10 hours of tutoring from my husband. We thought it was too much but it was what we offered and we took it with great thanks. So, next time the pups need something, we have a credit at his office.

    Found an ugly Christmas sweater for $2.00 for my husband but it didn’t fit. (Salvation Army store). Resold it on Craigslist for $45! I have never done that before but it was still in the original wrapping when I bought it so I figured I would give it a try.

    Did a mystery shop for a free oil change for son’s car, as our Christmas gift to him. The value if he paid for it would have been $65, so it was a good deal for both of us. I am also giving him 5 dozen frozen of his favorite cookies, so he can eat them a little at a time.

    Had a ton of cranberry relish left over from Thanksgiving; I got a bit carried away when making it. Last week I read on this blog about using it for muffins, so that is what I did. Turned out great, so thank you to the person who mentioned it! Husband also ate it in his breakfast porridge for a week, so finally used it all up.

    This year I made sauerkraut for the first time, from my purple cabbage that I grew. Yesterday we tasted it for the first time—wonderful! And it was so easy, so I’ll make more next fall. The color was gorgeous too, a jewel toned lavender.

    That is it, except for the usual frugalities of reusing and repurposing.

  38. My son has CP and is very young mentally for his age. That was done to our son and it broke my heart. I try to explain that he might be physically the same age as his cousins but he still loves Santa and believes.

  39. I pick my four granddaughters up everyday after school. We do homework and I make supper. They love hot chocolate but it gets a bit expensive when you go through four at a time. I used to make a mix when my children were small but can’t find the recipe. Would you mind sharing your recipe?

  40. As my daughter, who was 13 yrs old at the time, watched all her college aged cousins open their gifts, she asked where her gifts were. Nobody even acknowledged her or her question. She was understandable upset, but again, nobody even acknowledged her. We have bought gifts for those kids every single year, even during times when we didn’t have much money to spend. I don’t even want to go to Christmas this year with them, but unfortunately feel obligated as it is my husbands immediate family.

  41. Hi Kelly,

    Just a quick thought about a family gift: maybe you could buy them an annual membership to something they love to do. The zoo, a museum, a national/state park, an amusement park, etc. I know when our family was young, we didn’t have much money for extras such as memberships, but we treasured them when we had them.

    Another thought that just came to me was from my childhood. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, things were tight for my parents and a lot of others. My mother’s parents bought each of their five grown children half a cow to help feed their families, and each of the grandchildren got the exact same thing. One year all nine of us got a new pair of pajamas and a walkman. It doesn’t have to be fancy, because what they’ll remember are the little family things. The way every year my grandfather let us kids open a gift before dinner even though my grandmother and their grown daughters loudly protested. Or how every year without fail, each of us grandkids got in trouble and were separated by pieces of furniture. Those are the wonderful memories I cherish. If you can give them that, however it works out for your family, then you win.

    Much love and joy this Christmas season to you all,
    Shani

  42. I have very successfully frozen many treats that I make for Christmas, be it cookies, squares, tarts or fudge. I just place them in containers with waxed or parchment paper between layers. They last in the freezer for a month or two. We usually start baking in November and are often eating leftovers well into January. Lemon tarts are one of the few exceptions…they need to be made only a day or two before hand. If you are concerned and want the “fresh baked” taste, then I suggest freezing the unbaked cookie dough or tarts ahead, then have a baking day just before Christmas. With everything ready to go, it will definitely save you lots of time while still being freshly baked.

  43. I am not an empty nester, but I can tell you what presents I have always appreciated the most from my parents. The houshold items, especially the ones that helped me save money in the long run, have always been the presents I appreciated the most. Things like my food saver, dehydrator, and kitchenaid mixer are items I may not have been able to afford myself, but have come in very handy.

    As for my daughter, I would have been thrilled to receive a gift like a year membership to a museum or zoo in my area. Or even better, the offer of “a week at grandma & grandpa’s house”, as opposed to yet more toys. It’s the experience and opportunity to create wonderful memories that would mean the world to me and my child. Of course, when in doubt, clothing is always appreciated, too!;)

  44. Rhonda, I am so sorry that your daughter has experienced this . I wouldn’t wish it on any child. My sweet sugar cookie has also been left out in to many times to count. It makes me want to cry. She is so kind and generous that it truly breaks my heart. I now allow her to travel each year to visit with extended family at Christmas. She is welcomed by each and every person no matter how far removed they are by actual family relationship. She has a special young man in her life on the spectrum and I go out of my way to love him. She decided this year that he needed a warmer winter coat and we shopped Thanksgiving sales until we found the perfect deal. Got a matching hat too. His feelings tend to get hurt so much easier than hers. If people could hear his stories, they would hold their head in shame. I dont believe in tit for tat, but at some point ,I feel used. In 10 years, his large family never gave her anything. Nothing !! Now I buy for my three and just two others including him. I hope your young lady has an outlet where she is loved and accepted. A few friends have made her life so much easier. She has always had a few friends from school. Special blessings for one young lady named Tiffany who was previous. Merry Christmas.

  45. We have a small Christmas of my parents, my sisters family of 3, and me. Sometimes we will invite people we call orphans, those who would otherwise spend Christmas alone, either because they are far from family or they have to work at inconvenient times on Christmas day.
    However presents are lavish and shared. For example this year Mum asked for an iphone. Dad, my sister and I are all going in for an iphone 6 to give to her. The other kind of present we give is a goat or chickens to a charity that gives these gifts to folk in less prosperous countries.
    My family tend to have special foods for Christmas that we don’t eat at other times of the year (turkey, garlic prawns, and plum pud), so its not always simple, but its always got loads of love.

  46. The $20 I referred to earlier, is the “family ” gift. My daughter is married so it is for her and her husband. Ditto for my oldest son. I also give my single sons (two of them) $20, so my amount has not changed. Since I have four kids and each kid (or kid’s family) receives $20, that is the total ($80.) I do give the only grandchild a gift, again with a $20 limit. So, the only “gifts” I will do are for grandchildren. That is why $100 is the total I spent on Christmas gifts. It will increase if I have more grandchidren, but I hope to keep it at $20 per grandchild, so as not to let it get totally out of hand in future years. I will add, I pay for car insurance monthly for three of my kids, and health insurance for one of those three sons, since he has significant, life threatening illnesses (my other child, my only daughter, refuses to accept any help and has offered to help me with her brother’s medical expenses.) So, I feel I help monthly, as to what is needed, and there is no need for me to stress about Christmas presents to my four grown kids and their spouses.

  47. My father passed away eight years ago, but he was famous for his practical gifts — one year, I don’t remember if it was Christmas or birthday, I received a case of toilet paper, a 25-lb bag of dried pintos, and an enormous ball of twine. The twine was hay string that he had saved over the years, tied together and wound into a large ball, presented to me in a bucket that had once held laundry detergent, with a slit cut in the top to feed the string through.. We still have the string in the pantry (and still use it) and I smile and think of him every time I see it. People laughed when I told them about the gifts and friends would always ask “What did your father give you this year?” But we loved those gifts and not one of them ever went to waste.

  48. I’m not Allyson, but I hope you don’t mind if I chime in. I’m making a new batch of cocoa mix today, so I had my recipe out. It’s originally from Alton Brown: 2 cups powdered sugar
    1 cup cocoa
    2 1/2 cups powdered milk
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons cornstarch

    I mix everything together and process it in the blender, to get the milk granules really fine. I find it mixes better this way. You can also add a dash of cinnamon or cayenne pepper if you like. Add two heaping tablespoons to each cup of cocoa, with hot water. (The cornstarch makes it a little creamier than leaving it out.)

  49. I have been consciously downsizing Christmas over the past few years. My family all live far away from me and have their own families and now that jobs are more settled and my nieces and nephews are older I’m no longer needed to pay for things or to look after the nieces and nephews. I’m the only unmarried sister so it was always expected that I would travel to them and frankly it started to feel as though my invite was more of an obligation on their part than anything else so now I stay home and enjoy my own little apt.
    I exchange some gifts with friends (although even there we now tend to go for consumables or experiences), send cards to overseas family and friends and enjoy some activities with friends here in town. There are a number of social events leading up to Christmas and I do have Christmas breakfast with friends who live in this same building but that’s it – no one ever seems to think to invite me for Christmas dinner so I make myself a nice lunch and have a glass of wine – and then I always have a new book to look forward to.
    When I lived in a bigger place I always hosted the big Christmas party for friends (up to 40 people) but now I do brunch or tea for 5 or 6 or host the occasional game night. Much easier to manage in a small space. I also used to go all out decorating and had tons of different colour sets of decorations and household accessories to match but these past few years I’ve given away or donated a lot of these and just keep a couple of colours which I switch up from year to year. This year I’m having a few mobility issues so decided not to bother with the tree. But I have some lovely glass bowls that I’ve filled with decorations, I have a few select items on display, and I will pick up some poinsettias this weekend and that will suffice.
    I have also returned to church and have been enjoying the advent services and talks etc.
    I used to get so stressed and spent so much money that by the time the big day arrived I was exhausted – I find that by cutting back I am much more able to actually enjoy the time by myself and with good friends.

  50. Yes, if you are helping with ongoing expenses, its just a small thought or token that counts at Christmas. And, yes, I am learning how the expenses can grow and get out of hand very quickly if you don’t have some type of understanding or plan. Merry Christmas to you and yours…:)

  51. These are good ideas. In lieu of food, I’ve thought about gift cards to a favorite discount grocery store, as its those extras that get you during the holiday season sometimes. I love the memories of your grandfather! Yes, these memories are among the true “gifts” of Christmas. Merry Christmas to you and yours…:)

  52. Thanks for the ideas! Yes, I’m thinking its better to help with the necessities and also giving my daughters time by helping with the children, at the same time creating memories with them. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  53. LOVED the memories of your father! My parents were older, and grew up during the depression, so I understand totally! I don’t know what they would think of all the excesses of today’s world. For them, you were always preparing and planning for the future. Nothing was wasted. And yes, any gifts were practical – they would not know any other way. Thanks!

  54. Our Decembers usually end up being easier and simpler because most of the sales are now in November (and online). I enjoy how quiet everything is. I’m hoping to bake gingerbread for houses this year and do more with Christmas cookies. There were so many good meat sales that we don’t really need much for this month either.

    I would be interested to hear how your online pickup goes in Sams Club. I’ve found that it takes awhile for the associate to show up and then ring up my order and prefer getting it myself.

  55. I use the one from the 1963 Betty Crocker Cooky Book
    Esther’s Spritz Cookies

    1 cup butter (don’t substitute margarine)
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 1/4 cups flour

    chill at least 1 hour – preferably overnight
    don’t use parchment paper
    make sure the cookie sheets are cold. I use 3 sheets – 1 int he oven, one cold one being filled and 1 empty sheet chilling in the fridge.
    Bake 6 – 9 minutes until set, but not brown.

  56. I love hearing about everyone’s plans.

    The plan for grocery-shopping this month is to buy the staples I need for making meals. I am out of most things, other than a good supply of carrots, spaghetti squash, pumpkins, carrots, frozen berries and masa flour for tortillas, so these will feature strongly in my meal plans. I’ll spend $100 Canadian, which is worth less than $100 American, in a place where food is more expensive. I should still be able to get quite a few staples back in my pantry. I’ll also buy the makings of a simple Christmas meal, which will include some kind of pork roast, ham or a whole chicken, depending on what has the best sale. I will also find some chocolate!

    I’ll be doing a little baking for a couple of gifts and for my own enjoyment. I’ll be sending individual e-mails or making phone calls to relatives and friends, so that’s how I’ll stay in touch with people over the next few weeks. It is always fun to hear back about what people have been up to. I am decorating with lights around my front window, which stay up until the beginning of February and a nativity scene in the living room, which is white ceramic. I put it on a red cloth. The furniture and carpet in my living room are a deep red, so it takes very few touches to make it festive for this season! A little Christmas music is fun too.

    I am not attending potluck parties this year. I’m going to focus my spending this month on getting my car repaired and getting some bills paid, which will help me get a better start to the new year.

  57. Really lovely post Brandy.
    We are just in survival mode this month as I am back at work and we are trying to iron out kinks in our new routine with 2 little ones to get out the door to daycare every morning and in bed early at night. This month the focus is on making my schedule as efficient as possible. All the Christmas presents are wrapped and ready to go. Looking forward to snow and some rest over the holidays.

  58. Yes, I am doing the same with my girls, as they start their own journeys as wives/moms, their own Christmas activities and traditions. That is a good idea to do something special for them that they would not otherwise even consider in their own budgets. Here in the south, Red Velvet cakes are a necessity 🙂 so I have begun ordering these from a home bakery, someone I know who started their own business. It helps me, them, and my girls! Have a Merry Christmas with you and yours….

  59. Luba, can you post about it here in say, early October? Since I make mine, I’d like to get a head start. I’d sure like to use the darling turkey stamp I just found at a garage sale!!!

    Also, it’s not really the fear of being different for me. I just don’t think about it until it’s too late. I’d start this February, but I already made 40 Christmas cards! Thanksgiving is a good goal for me. I should also write it in my calendar….

  60. My three children were all married within a couple years, so as most newlyweds money was tight, as the family doubled. They decided they didn’t wanted to spend on buying for everybody. Instead we came up with the idea to adopt an angel from the Angel Tree. (In the local school system, they identify families with children that could use assistance with Christmas gifts). So as a family we have been choosing an angel for the last few years and we divide up the child’s needs/wish list. Sometimes when it works out, we even go shopping together to pick out the gifts and wrap them. It saves us time, money & stress as to what to get each other, plus gave us a new family tradition. Those gifts are turned in early in Dec so they can be delivered. Then we just get together in the middle of the month for our Christmas dinner together and build gingerbread houses, play games or watch Christmas movies. We do have some grandbabies now, so we do buy for them, but that’s it. It’s less stressful this way, plus I try to have it a little earlier in the month so that I don’t interfere with my children’s spouses sides of the family get togethers. They have several places to go and some traveling to do, and I want to make it less complicated for all of them so we can have an enjoyable time at our house without them feeling they have to rush to be somewhere else.

  61. Brandy,

    Merry Christmas to you and yours. You have provided so much inspiration and joy for our Christmas this year. 2017 has been a year of great loss. Our only daughter passed away in April and we lost our primary income source in June. Yet, I serve a God who is faithful and compassionate. He has brought me such marvelous ideas through your blog. I am repurposing an old leather trench coat into 4 derby style hats for my men folk. I’m monogramming some hankies from an old sheet. Lastly, I plan to make homemade goodies for treat boxes. Thank you for the beautiful photos and brilliant ideas.

  62. I live in Canada and our price point for a 5lb case of clementines is $2.98! I’m not sure how we managed to get a lower price on clementines than the states, especially since we can’t even grow citrus here!?!

  63. Thank you. Lilli. I’m glad that your daughter and her special young man have you in their lives. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

  64. My grandparents gave each of their children’s families the same amount of money year after year, no matter how many kids each family had (or not). When the grandchildren became adults with their own homes, they gave a smaller amount of money to each of us. Again, every grandchild received the same amount wether or not we were married or had kids. I assume they continued to give the same set amount to their children.

    My parents often used that money to fund most of our Christmas. I split what was given to me between my children’s savings accounts.

  65. As of yesterday we became a one car family. My husband’s truck didn’t start yesterday. It honestly is a relief to me. It means no getting out of the house in inclement weather for me. I don’t know if we will be able to fix his truck or not. I think if we can we should sell it. We actually need the money. I was job hunting but now I am going to concentrate on our home. It is actually a relief to not have to drive anywhere.
    Shopping is going to be at a minimum this month. We already bought toys for grandchildren and great nephews. wish I had seen this blog post before I bought the toys. I had forgotten how much I loved paper dolls as a child. I will remember for birthdays and next Christmas.
    I will bake for the rest of the family. I’d like to do something for my two sons. I think babysitting for one and a special dinner for the other will make them both happy.
    We find out about husband’s job on Tuesday. It has been a long six weeks thinking his job is going to disappear. He has been working hard trying to keep it. Finally, the suspense will come to an end.
    Brandy, I love your blog. It is so full of good ideas and it actually supports me emotionally. It is wonderful to see how you and others live in such an upbeat way through trials when there is a lack of money.
    I love the story When Queens Ride By . Yesterday, despite my fears, I put on makeup, and a dress. Decorated my table with a bowl of fruit in my China and made dinner from what I had on hand. My husband noticed and like it. Even though we have been packing ( there are boxes in our front room.) I want to unpack my Christmas decorations. We have a very small fake tree I would like to put out and decorate. I love Christmas! We enjoyed Christmas music on the internet yesterday. I have a diffuser and diffused peppermint and orange into the air.
    My husband will be coming home from work soon. I want to make breakfast for him. Thinking of making a coupon book just for him for things he would like for Christmas. I did it for Valentine’s one year and he loved it! One year I made a jar of special memories. He really liked that. Another year I made a game of memories where he had to read a poem or rhyme that led him to something in our house that reminded me of our love together to something else that reminded me of things we have done together that we enjoyed. I had a long list of things and poems the last had a long letter of my love for him. That was definitely a favorite. Maybe i should do that again. I love my husband and family and like to do nice things for them. I am glad to find ideas that don’t cost money and are actually more special than money spent on a material gift. I value thought and effort. But as far as my boys go. I just need a hug from them. Actually I would take that from my husband too. Hugs and time together are nice.

  66. I love your ideas. We won’t be home at Christmas because we have a planned family gathering.
    It has added an extra layer to the “hoopla” this year, but I’m combatting it with a list and advanced planning.
    I’ve finished all the gifts except stocking stuffers and two items for my husband. (We may pick those up together since he and I give practical gifts.). I’ve made out the basics of a week’s menu and started picking up the big items to carry with us.
    Thanks for the reminder that “enough” can be enough!

    I use the pick up feature at Sam’s Club a lot. I like knowing up front what I want costs and I like not feeling the pressure to add more to the cart in the store because everything looks so good. Our Sam’s Club actually has black beans and pinto beans (dried) right now that are a good price for my area. I picked up a 12 pound bag of each and I’m doing the “12 Days of Pintos,” where I share my version of 12 online recipe tries using pintos. It’s encouraging me to look at them in a different way and stretch our protein further.

    Hope you have a wonderfully peaceful week!

  67. A professional baking tip from my daughter: To get your lemon cookies tasting more lemony, take the sugar of that recipe you’re going to use and mix in grated lemon rind the day before baking

  68. Patsy, that’s what I frequently did-mailed them after Christmas to arrive before Epiphany. We would travel on Christmas Day en route to our parents, so I would address them on the long ride and then mail when we arrived. For awhile it bothered me that I just couldn’t get them out before Christmas. Then one time my aunt remarked that she would always get a little blue once Christmas was over, after the children left and she’d taken down the tree. About that time she said, my card would arrive and was a great “pick me upper” for her. I never worried about them arriving after Christmas again!

  69. Brandy, my grandmother makes spritz cookies every year and they are always my favorite. She decorates wreaths with bits of chopped maraschino cherries and green sugar. She dyes part of the dough green and makes green trees .She adds cocoa powder to another portion and makes chocolate camels. They always add variety to the cookie tray, and are relatively simple.

    Yours are beautiful and make me want to get out my vintage press this snowy weekend!

  70. I forgot to mention that we use saved wrapping paper from the previous year (pieces from larger packages) to wrap the books. My four year old has loved helping with the wrapping this year, and I don’t worry about the waste if a piece is too large, since it is getting a second use.

  71. I have the end of school term frenzy here until the 15th. Then I’m off until after New Year’s. So I plan to do most things after that. The tree is up and lighted, but not decorated. I will put décor around the house this weekend. I am having a few friends over next week for a cookie exchange/cheese and champagne tasting. They will decorate my tree them. I have done it this way for years and we always have a great time.
    Since we have no children, and our families are far away (with no small children), so Christmas is very low key for us – mainly experience gift certificates/tickets or restaurant gift certificates. A few small gifts and stockings for my husband and I, but that’s it. I will start after the 15th.
    It is going to be super cold here this weekend, so it is a perfect excuse to do my baking. Chocolate peppermint sables, spritz, gingerbread cookies, hermits, raspberry almond shortbread thumbprints (or Linzer’s if I’m still feeling ambitious), and snickerdoodles are on my list.
    I will make a loaded baked potato soup, pastisio, Cajun chicken and vegetable alfredo, and chili for meals this week. I have all other ingredients on hand, but may pick up fresh milk rather than use dried.
    I need only pick up the last minute items (mostly pre-ordered) for my party next weekend late this week.

  72. Margie, This sounds like my kind of Christmas.

    I have had many happy, busy Christmases over the years, but really like to spend a quiet time in my own home, rather than trying to fit in with other people’s celebrations. I make sure that I connect with the people that most matter to me, and pick and choose the parts of Christmas celebration that most connect me with the holiday.

    I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

  73. My goal for December is to not shop for 3 weeks at all. I bought all my Christmas menu today so I hope to not shop again until New Years Eve and even then, I hope to buy only for our New Years celebrations and husbands special dinner in January. I am confident I can do it. If I succeed that means I can set aside my grocery budget leftover from December for our garden savings to be used next spring. I really want to succeed this month! Hope you all succeed in your goals this month too. You all encourage me greatly!

    LSM

  74. I am so sorry for your loss. I wish you the blessing of wonderful memories of Christmas past and
    a peaceful Christmas this year.

  75. Tammy, I will keep my fingers crossed and prayers for a good outcome on Tuesday. Whatever the outcome, take comfort in knowing that he did his very best in trying to keep the job. It sounds to me as if you have a lot of blessings in your family. You have love, the best blessing of all. I really like the idea of a long letter to your husband. I hope you have a blessed Christmas together. Ann

  76. I’m glad you commented about your purple sauerkraut. Hubs and I recently made our first batch of kraut and were wondering if it would work with purple cabbage. Now we know. 😀

  77. In addition to Amazon and online Judaica shops, I have started to see Target and Walmart offer Hanukkah items in most locations. Target usually does one end cap with a menorah, dreidels, and other novelty items like Mensch on a Bench. Walmart has cards, giftwrap, stickers, etc. I know how hard it can be to find stuff, so I just wanted to share if anyone is looking for Hanukkah.

  78. I make many of my cookie and bar doughs about a week or so in advance and store them in the frig. That way I can set it out on the counter to come to room temp (if needed) and bake them up after dinner. If you do any with mint though, I advise NOT doing this – mint seems to permeate everything even if it’s well wrapped!

  79. Ann,
    Thank-you for your prayers. He has worked so hard. You are right. We do have a lot of blessings in my family. We do have love. And yes, I agree, that is the best blessing of all.

  80. I love, Love, Love this story! It brought tears to my eyes. First reason is I lost my Dad 7 months ago and second reason is there is a lot of thought and love put into those practical gifts!

  81. Jennifer – I had never heard of pastisio, so I did an internet search and found several recipes. I have added it to my winter menu plan. Many thanks for the mention !

  82. Our Christmas will be simple low key this year. We are blessing a friend who lost his job and home. We really don’t need anything and decided he needs the help more. Thankful my sisters house survived the Lilac fire. They don’t want anything either. We are having a simple dinner and playing games and counting our blessings this year.

  83. I made cranberry salsa with our leftover cranberry sauce and it was wonderful. I added a chopped jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice. It was great with nachos or just plain tortilla chips.

  84. My grandparents always host Christmas the weekend before Christmas. I am always so grateful to have one less place to try to squeeze in on Christmas Day. For me, it’s more about being able to be with family rather than celebrating on the actual day.

  85. I have already bought all but 1 christmas present. I have wrapped most of them, except for a few I’m still waiting to receive in the mail.

    Yesterday, I went to Aldi and picked up the last of the stuff I needed for holiday baking. My pantry is stocked quite well, so I should be able to find something to make for our holiday gatherings. We should have 3 to attend.

    We are working on cleaning out the freezer. I will make zucchini bread for several of my coworkers. My last day of school is dec 15th, so I am happy that I have quite a bit of time off before Christmas to do those last minute things – although I’m hoping I don’t have many last minute things to do.

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