Tammy’s Top Ten (t3 report) Holiday Ideas

I won’t say that I’m doing all ten of these this year. In fact, I’m not. But given that I have a 15 year old, it does mean that I’ve assembled a relatively fruitful portfolio of things that we’ve done during the holidays. I hope one or more of them will stimulate a fun idea for you.

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Here are a few things that we’ve done and will continue to do during the holidays. I hope that you’ll be inspired or share a fun holiday tradition in your own home.

  1. Have a wrapping paper making evening. Brew the hot chocolate and turn on the holiday tunes. We’ve rolled out long sheets of butcher paper and put out markers and glitter and paint. Paint it up, let it dry and then, wrap your gifts in it.
  2. Buy a special food or drink to share during the season. When I was little, this is when the bowl of nuts and the nutcracker appeared. Maybe you fancy one of those ruby red grapefruits from the warm country, egg nog or as I did today, soy nog. How about a special box of chocolates? Regardless, have one thing that is indicative of a special time.
  3. Do a read around.  Assemble of good collection of books that have a holiday theme. Select one and after dinner have everyone take turns reading a page. This is great fun with kids and probably with adults too. Have them all bring a holiday poem.
  4. Have a signature snack that you can throw together and take to a get-together or share at the office. Last year, I gave a list of favorites. Getting comfortable with one or two takes an enormous amount of pressure off during holidays and other times.
  5. Make gingerbread houses. I haven’t actually done this but my children are fortunate enough to live across the street from a lovely neighbor who does this as an annual tradition. She takes all our kids for a couple of hours and they return with magnificent sweet creations.
  6. Have fun and creative project like Ben’s Bells. This is a beautiful concept for spreading kindness. We copied the idea this year and made up just a few bells. We hang them in unsuspecting places; at the tree at the grocery store, in the median of our street, on a desert trail.

    Ben's bells

  7. Create a meal tradition. I have friends who’ve shared stories about how the table is decorated. For a long time, when we are home on Christmas Eve, we’ve made homemade pizzas. Everyone participates, it’s casual and there’s a wide variety to satisfy a diverse group of tastes.
  8. Keep it simple. This year, we’re remodeling in one room which has thrown our Christmas decorating into disarray. Oh well. If the cards don’t get sent or the cookies come from the bakery instead of your oven, just go with it and know that you’ll have opportunities to change it in the future.
  9. Buy some local gifts. We’re less into gifting at this stage in our lives but we do enjoy knowing a local merchant who has hand-crafted or imported our particular gift. It’s good for you. It’s good for the merchant and it’s a real way to build jobs in your local economy.
  10. Visit a local establishment that has a special celebration. Our favorite is the Desert Botanical Gardens where thousands of glowing luminarias grace the desert and the live music create a truly spiritual experience.


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Blessings to each and every one of you!

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77 Comments

  1. I just love the notion of Ben’s bells. Thank you, Tammy. Best to you and yours this holiday season!

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  2. Tammy, this is so beautiful and helpful too. I really liked them all, but will remember #8 and do what we can do, remembering there will be more times in the future. I also like to do somethings after Christmas for others. There is that deadline looming and when I can’t get in somethings I wanted to do, I go ahead and make Christmas last a little longer. :) Blessings and peace to you and yours too!

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  3. Best wishes to you too, Tammy.

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  4. and may many blessings come your way :)

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  5. I’m a fan of your T3′s reports. Your T3 on dinner helped me immensely last time and I’m taking up a few from here too. I love the idea of hot chocolate and wrapping papers…and also a signature snack. Effortless and so much fun.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope you’re having a good time :)

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    • And me to you Rukmini. I have loved watching you grow online this year. My hope is that in the next couple of years I will get to visit you!

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      • Oh Tammy! Really? I wish that happens. You are totally staying at mine.

        And thanks. You have been an inspiration and a support and you know that.

        Also, the glass jar that I had put up on ebay is now SOLD!!! My very first sale.

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  6. All ten will definitely be fun. My husband loves me to read to him, so now we’ll take turns. Love the last pic.

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    • That’s great. I used to read to my husband in the car on road trips but I haven’t done that in a long time. Maybe time to go out for a drive…

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  7. Love all of these, and am doing most things from your list. Thanks for sharing and reminding me of a few things I almost overlooked ;)

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  8. Hope your Holidays are Merry and Bright ~ filled to the brim with inspiration and illumination!

    Homemade pizza on Christmas Eve sounds like a great family activity.

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  9. Great list! Looks like it’s time for me to make chocolate truffles again. Dairy-free; I use coconut milk instead and a variety of liqueurs for flavorings.

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  10. These are all good, Tammy! Have a great Holiday Season!

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  11. Tammy, a post suffused with warmth and Christmas cheer. I don’t know which I will stampede to try first: that wonderful wrapping paper evening, or a visit to a local Christmas event….as always, I adore your take on life and the special touches- like Ben’s Bells – which it provides. Thanks.

    Reply
  12. Great ideas, so happy to report we have completed 8 of projects!! wow!! I love the idead of ben’s bells..will have to incorporate this next year!!

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    • And you’ve had a magnificent year with your blog! I really enjoy it Vianney. Let me know if you do the bells.

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  13. Lisa H

     /  December 12, 2011

    We always made and decorated sugar cookies when I was growing up. Now that I have children, we do the same. Sometimes we invite friends, sometimes it’s just family. Either way, it is a fun way to start the season. We take the cookies, wrap them in saran wrap, and tie with ribbon to hang on the tree and give out to friends.
    I really like the bell idea, as it reinforces what the holiday season is truly about.

    Reply
  14. Kathy

     /  December 13, 2011

    Thanks Tammy. In recent years I’ve been slashing things off my Christmas “to do” list resulting in a lot less stress. Our gingerbread house making tradition was on my cut list for this year (frosting gets all over the place, house walls don’t stay up, dog gets up on table and eats it when we leave the house, etc) but I think you’ve convinced me to keep it – the kids do love it. The trick is to figure out what is meaningful for your family and what’s not… I love the Ben’s Bells idea – thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Well, as I said, my kids go to the neighbors house to make the gingerbread houses! John actually had a great idea of a fund raiser for our shelter – thought we could sell the kits for a good price and then go make them with the kids in the shelter. It’s worth exploring in the future.

      Reply
  15. I always enjoy your lists! This year, we are especially focused on buying from our local merchants, cooking and sharing food, simplifying. I should have a wrapping paper party—I’m such a terrible wrapper. One thing we like to do is brew up hot chocolate or hot tea, and take a ride through neighborhoods to look at the lights and decorations.

    Best wishes this season to you and your family, Tammy.

    Reply
  16. Such wonderful list of traditions you shared, Tammy ! I love all of them, thank you for sharing them. Here there will be a traditional meal on Christmas Eve but during Advent Time I am creating handmade Christmas cards; whoever is free helps me baking cookies or decorating the house/garden. What I enjoy a lot is listening to special Christmas songs in the evening when the candles are lit up or visiting elderly people in homes and sharing a hot chocolate or Winter tea.

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    • Handmade cards would be wonderful especially coming from you! I know that with your quilting and photography creativity, they’d be remarkable.

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  17. I’ll definitely be returning to this list :) I think the Ben’s Bells idea is wonderful; maybe I can throw in a poetry twist.

    Thank you for sharing! PS, I nominated you for two blog ‘awards’ (see my recent post)…I’m sure you probably already received them, though. Happy Holidays :)

    Reply
    • I would love to find a bell with a poem! Great idea. And thank you so much for the awards. That is very kind of you.

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  18. So nice – really like your ideas. All except the soy eggnog part – come ON Tammy, lol.

    If ever there was a time for a decadent, creamy full fat treat it’s December.

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  19. Thank you, Tammy, and blessings to you. I’m happy to be back in sync with RSS Feeds! I missed you.

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  20. I think you are very good at tradition! We do some of these and also watch holiday videos–White Christmas, Rudolph & Grinch–all huddled under one big quilt.

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  21. Beautiful!!! I love the read-around – fabulous. When i was growing up my parents put the tree up on Christmas Eve. We always had a bowl of nuts with a nutcracker and tangerines. I still get walnuts in the shell and tangerines at Christmas time and fondly remember my parents and the magic they created for us. Lovely post, Tammy – just like you – lovely!

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  22. Oh gosh, I know this post should calm me down, but it actually just makes me stressed about the fact that I’ve bought no presents and Christmas is 9 days away! :S

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  23. Great tips! I like to keep it simple. My Christmasses are very calm.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  24. Great list. I practice Nos. 8, 9 and 10. Will keep the others in mind for the future.

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  25. Thank you for all the inspiration for the holidays. It’s such a beautiful list of ideas. I particularly like the idea of keeping things simple, but also to do creative project like your Ben’s Bells. Thank you for sharing

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  26. These are beautiful ideas for the holiday season! In Germany, having a walk over the Christmas market and enjoying a mug of hot mulled wine (or hot spiced apple and elderberry juice, as a non-alcoholic alternative) would be obligative, too. ;)

    When I was small, I used to bake cookies and make a gingerbread house with my mom. We decorated it with sugar icing and put gummibears and smarties on it, and then covered the windows with red paper from the inside and put holiday lights inside so it would shine nicely.

    I also love this season for enjoying table games with family and friends. There is one I especially love, it’s very atmospheric because it has to be played in the darkness. It has a playboard representing a forest ground, and then big and smalls firs made from wood are set up on that. Then, there’s a tea candle that moves across the board by some rule, and with it moving, the shadows cast by the firs change. The players have little imp figures that have to stay in the shadows and to be brought to some place in safety. With these little imps, you can only walk through the shady parts of the playboard, but with the movement of the tea candles, these change all the time.

    Now I want to play this game immediately! I shall when I visit my parents, and then I’ll blog about it so you can see it! :)

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  27. I love the idea of the bells, and placing them in curious places. That is so sweet..and I love to decorate brown paper for wrapping paper! great idea.. have a fab christmas week..c

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  28. Such fun ideas, Tammy! I love that you post them. My daughter and her Egyptian boyfriend went to Spain last summer (among other places) and they are making paella for Christmas with chorizo and rice and shrimp. That sounds fabulous to me! (We are going to Georgia to visit Barry’s parents for the holidays.)

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  29. thirdhandart

     /  December 17, 2011

    Very nice Holiday ideas! I especially have to admire number 6. Ben’s Bells is a beautiful concept.

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  30. Fabulous ideas. Makes me wish my children weren’t all grown up. I’ve been mostly buying local for a couple of years now, it’s good to support our community. I also like buying the “goat” and “cow” cards from Oxfam

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    • So great that you’ve got the local bug! I’m surprised how tough it is to convince some people.

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  31. another great post Tammy. Hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas

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  32. The small acts of Kindness do indeed mean the most.. many thanks for taking the time to comment upon my Blog Tammy.. you have a nice blog spot here.. Love and Light sent your way .. Sue ~Dreamwalker

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  33. Sally Mom

     /  December 18, 2011

    Such a wonderful reminder of the joy that Christmas and love brings. Traditions change as the family grows and yet those special ones live on.
    I to love buying local and helping with the nursing homes and volunteering with locals, cooking for the friends struggling right now. Helping strangers was something we did when the children were young. Giving up a gift so someone else has one. Cookies and popcorn and cranberry strings, ah, I smell them. I love your bell idea! It all sounds wonderful. I can hardly wait!

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  34. We almost always made gingerbread houses when I was a child! Mom baked for days beforehand (cookiesheet after cookiesheet) and made some serious “cement” to hold everything together. Pretzel fences, gummy bear ice skaters, tin foil ponds, chocolate shingles…

    The rule was you could start eating them on Christmas Eve and they had to be discarded on New Year’s. One of my grad school roommates actually took the recipe off and made one, so while I haven’t kept up the tradition, it’s still out there. These days I just make some cookies and take them to work to share.

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    • I like the rule. They are so messy but this year my husband and son made them on cookie sheets. The art of getting the “cement” right is the hardest part.

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  35. Lovely ideas, Tammy! And I like how low-pressure they are. Like many others, I also love the idea of Ben’s Bells. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

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  36. Love you Holiday Ideas. In all of them, it centered on the family sharing ways to make this season as magical as possible. I’ve been making a gingerbread house for the past 3 years with my son. This year was a bit flop. The house kind of gave way , so I ended covering it with lots of candy. But I think it’s not how elaborate the house is but the thought that we did it together with our kids is what gives it meaning. I plan to make a tree too with mainly his works as center piece. May not be the typical HGTV or Martha Stewart tree but it’s our kids masterpieces and nothing can top that right?
    Wishing you and your family love , peace , joy and good health this Christmas and everyday thereafter.

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  37. Great ideas, Tammy! I really like the Ben’s Bells idea and just might do it sometime. :) This is a season of such lovely traditions.

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    • The Ben’s Bells are contagious. I keep thinking about them and they’ll be fun to do all year long.

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  38. Your family sounds like a lot of fun to be a part of! You are to be commended for putting in so much effort – and love!

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  39. What great ideas to bring specialness to the season. Making your own traditions is what can make it so special.

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    • I agree – traditions are fun although my kids were fussing on our traditional New Year’s Day hike yesterday.

      Reply
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