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Pampered Chef: Christmas Countdown

  1. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    With apologies to those who don't celebrate Christmas . . .


    As of today, October 4, there are only 82 days left until Christmas.

    I thought it would be fun to start a countdown--not that I'm excited or anything. [​IMG]

    I figure this is a great place to post organizing ideas, gift ideas, and such. For instance, today I found a great tip. I've mentioned before about purchasing stocking stuffers ahead.* Today's tip was to put a bags labeled with each person's name on hangers in the closet. As you purchase specific stocking stuffers for each person, you simply place them in that person's bag. Ta da! No more Christmas Eve confusion. Of course, those big bags of candy can just be divided evenly or according to space at the last minute.

    Please add your own tips, gift ideas, frustrations (maybe someone will have a suggestion), or whatever.


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]




    Note: I'm leaving December 10 for Dallas and won't be back until December 15, so I'm counting on lots of help. :)








    *Right now you can get back-to-school supplies dirt cheap. After Halloween fun-sized candy will be on sale. Most will be sealed in Halloween bags, but the candy will be in standard packaging. As long as you leave it in the bag it will stay fresh.
     
    Oct 4, 2008
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  2. KellyTheChef

    KellyTheChef Legend Member Gold Member

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    I am gonna need all the help I can get this year! With a newborn, it's gonna be a wild ride!

    As much as I would like to come and kick you in the shins for pointing out to me that there are only 82 days left...I needed to hear it and get my bootie in gear!! lol
     
    Oct 4, 2008
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  3. Kattyschack

    Kattyschack Member Gold Member

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    I love the tip with the goodie bags in the closet. That would definately help avoid the headaches I always seem to have on Christmas Eve. I don't mind the countdown b/c that only means that there is 69 days until my birthday!!!
     
    Oct 4, 2008
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  4. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Gotcha beat, Kattyshchack. Mine is only 30 days away. :) As a matter of fact, I've decided to tell people that the PC Calendars were specially made with two November 3rds so that I get two birthdays next year. However, they can change theirs if they really feel that's necessary with the stickers. ;)
     
    Oct 4, 2008
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  5. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Kelly, look at it this way, you have a whole 82 days in order to get things done. A little bit each day will get you there with very little stress.

    Step 1--Cut out anything that isn't really meaningful to your family.

    Step 2--Delegate everything it's possible to delegate.

    Step 3--Let go of the stuff you've delegated. If it isn't done like you'd do it, at least it got done. At the very least you'll have a great story to tell, and you'll know never to ask that person to handle that chore ever again. ;)
     
    Oct 4, 2008
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  6. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 5, and there are 81 days left until Christmas.


    Start thinking now about your holiday wardrobe. What will you and your family wear for important occasions? Does everything fit? Is everything in good repair? By planning now, you have plenty of time to replace or repair. You might even find something on sale.:)


    This tip came from organizedchristmas.com.
     
    Oct 5, 2008
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  7. KellyTheChef

    KellyTheChef Legend Member Gold Member

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    This is only our third Christmas in this house. The year we moved, we actually moved on December 23rd!! (BTW- Don't ever do that!!:eek::eek:) There was WAY TOO much going on, so Britt (14 then) and Sean (11 then) did ALL of the decorating from putting up the tree, and everything else! I used to be the type that had to have everything "just so" on the tree. I have spent years getting past that, and that year solidfied it. They did it all and I didn't worry about it, nor did I move one single ornament or decoration. It was soooooooooooooo much less stressful!!
     
    Oct 5, 2008
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  8. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    I think that's often the hardest thing for us to do, is to let go of what we've delegated.

    I used to know a woman who got upset that her husband never helped around the house. Then, I found out that he had once surprised her by cleaning the house while she was at work. He didn't dust, vacuum, or clean the bathroom correctly, and she let him know it (albeit fairly gently). He never did it again. I told her that if she ever wanted him to help again she had to decide which was more important--the help or it being done her way. She argued that she just wanted it done right. I said, "Okay, then you'll have to settle for always doing it yourself." She moved away years ago. I wonder if she ever learned to simply say thank you when he helped.


    Note: from what she said, he didn't pull the do-a-really-crappy-job-so-she'll-never-ask-again trick.
     
    Oct 5, 2008
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  9. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 6. There are 80 days left until Christmas.

    Your tip for today. Buy your holiday stamps soon. This year's Christmas stamps will arrive at your local post office soon. Ask when, because it varies. There are several reasons to buy them soon.

    First, you can buy them a book or two at a time, which spreads out the expense.

    Second, you'll have your pick of stamps. If you've ever been stuck between a choice of Christmas stamps you don't like or using non-Christmas stamps, you'll understand why this is important.

    Third, you'll avoid the long holiday lines at the post office. You know they would just stress you out. Right?

    Fourth, you'll have plenty of time to use up the extra stamps during the holidays. If you're like me, you'll purchase full books of Christmas stamps. It's not likely that you'll have an exact multiple of 20 Christmas cards to send out. I hate using Christmas stamps in February.
     
    Oct 6, 2008
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  10. chefann

    chefann Legend Member Gold Member

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    <giggle> Unless you're like me, who purposely uses the Kwanzaa stamps on my Christmas cards to confuse people.
     
    Oct 6, 2008
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  11. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    That doesn't surprise me at all, Ann. My son does the same thing.
     
    Oct 6, 2008
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  12. christinaspc

    christinaspc Veteran Member Silver Member

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    I love christmas, Last year I couldn't wait till after thanksgiving to put up christmas tree. I don't really care for the snow and horrible weather we get but I love all my decorations and I love hallmark ornaments and so we found a pretty prelite colored tree and all I got on it is hallmark ornaments, I will have santa's and snowmen and baby jesus all through the house I have so many things I have down sided and you can't even tell it.

    I have had halloween decorations out for over a week now. ha-ha.

    Thanks for starting this I can't wait to drag out my tree and all the decorations. Back to finding the clothing to wear for pictures and such I gotta get on the ball with that I don't have anything yet let alone halloween costumes maybe I better start there 1st.

    Kelly I am sure your going to have a great christmas with the new baby.
     
  13. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 7. There are only 79 days left until Christmas.

    Do you need a new tree skirt? Don't buy one. They can be really expensive, and it's something you'll only use for a few weeks out of the year. All you need is 4 or 5 yards of fabric. A tablecloth works well. Just wrap it around the base, spiraling out a bit. After Christmas you can wash it and use it the rest of the year as a tablecloth. Just be sure that you get a color or pattern that you can use throughout the year. If it has little wreaths and reindeer on it, you might not feel comfortable using it in August.
     
    Oct 7, 2008
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  14. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 8. There are only 78 days left until Christmas.

    Plan your calendar. Yes, we're only in the second week of October, but you and I both know that the holiday season ramps up toward the end of October. Sit down soon and look at your calendar.

    • Do you have standard family events? Write them in.
    • Do you have traditional, recurring church events? Write them in.
    • Do you host your own gatherings? Choose your dates and write them in.

    Now the real work begins. Plan a few "get it done" days. If you need a whole day of baking in order to get ready for the cookie exchange, block out that time. If you like to take one day to wrap gifts, block out that time.

    Now, choose the dates that you will be available for shows. If you're like me, you already have shows on the calendar for the next few months. That's great. However, you want to make sure what dates you still have available.

    This is going to sound really strange, especially if you know how busy I am. But, for your own sanity, plan a few days to just take it easy. Write them on your calendar now. Take a day to just watch Christmas movies, or drive around looking at Christmas decorations (both daytime and nighttime), or plan a day to take the kids shopping (maybe you could even fit in a visit with Santa). The important thing is to simply take a couple of days to enjoy the season. If you plan it now, and you block out the time on your calendar as "unavailable," you can legitimately say, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I already have plans that day."
     
    Oct 8, 2008
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  15. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 9. There are only 77 days left until Christmas.

    Plan something fun and low-stress with friends.

    Every year I have a Grinch Party. My friends come over in their jammies. (Well, not everyone, but everyone's comfy.) They aren't allowed to bring anything. I make really simple foods like we used to eat a sleepovers--chips, popcorn, cookies, soda . . . We spend the first 15 minutes or so chatting. Then, we watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original, animated version). After that, we just sit around and talk. The invitation says from 7 to 8 p.m. That gives everyone a chance to leave as soon as they need to. Most stay much later. It's a fun, no-stress evening for everyone. I only invite good friends, so I'm not really concerned about making sure every little thing is in place.

    Feel free to adopt or adapt my idea, or come up with one of your own. The idea is just to have fun with friends.
     
    Oct 9, 2008
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  16. rennea

    rennea Legacy Member Gold Member

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    Love that idea Rae, what fun it must be.
     
    Oct 9, 2008
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  17. chefsteph07

    chefsteph07 Legacy Member

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    I scheduled our family Christmas pictures last week for the first weekend in November, so I'm thinking of what we are all going to wear...we usually color coordinate! I"m thinking red this year, last year we wore blue.

    I started buying my Christmas ornaments the weekend we got back from conference in JULY...I bought $100 worth (I'm a member of the Hallmark ornament club...love it!) and I know there's a few more I want to pick up so I hope to do that by the end of the month and be done!
     
    Oct 9, 2008
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  18. jrstephens

    jrstephens Legend Member

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    I stress over the PERFECT picture for our Christmas cards. Last year I thought I need to do this earlier but with Cole being 5 months old he can change so much in 2 months and I want his to be recent. I want to do a collage of pics. I am hoping my friend that designed my birth announcements can help me. I saw the cutest thing on Rachel Ray last year. You take a close up pic of your tree and use that as your background, and then you use a movie reel and put pics in the squares. It was so cute!! I took pics of my tree last year to use as my background this year!
     
    Oct 9, 2008
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  19. chefsteph07

    chefsteph07 Legacy Member

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    That's so neat..I'm not that creative, I just go to Olan Mills! LOL
     
    Oct 9, 2008
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  20. GourmetGirl

    GourmetGirl Senior Member Silver Member

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    Rae I LOVE that idea! Pajamas, Totino's Party Pizzas and Puppy Chow - makings of a great night!
     
    Oct 9, 2008
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  21. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Alison, girl, you know how to party!
     
    Oct 10, 2008
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  22. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 10. There are 76 days left until Christmas.

    Put those Christmas cards (if you didn't buy them after Christmas last year, go out and buy them soon) along with your card list/addresses. As you're relaxing or watching TV or a movie over the next couple of weeks, address your envelopes. If you include a Christmas letter with your cards, just don't tuck the cards into the envelopes yet.

    BTW, you've started that Christmas letter. Right? Don't try to do it all in one sitting. Write some things. Walk away. Leave it for a couple of days. Come back. Write some more. Have family members read it and give their suggestions. Incorporate the appropriate ones. (If you have teenage boys, they may suggest inappropriate ones. You can ignore those. :)) I generally take several weeks to get my letter ready. That gives me plenty of time to polish it up and make sure it doesn't sound like a brag letter. (After all, we're an amazing family. Hee, hee.)
     
    Oct 10, 2008
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  23. GourmetGirl

    GourmetGirl Senior Member Silver Member

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    What can I say Rae - I've been a natural hostess since the age of 5! (My mom saved a list from kindergarten that I made planning a party... i.e. charlie brings teddy grahams, nikki brings plates, etc - super cute!)
     
    Oct 10, 2008
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  24. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 11. There are 75 days left until Christmas.

    De-clutter before you decorate. If you're like me, you love getting all of your Christmas decorations up. Before you get out that first box of pretties, clear off every surface and clean out every corner. Start now. (You can leave your fall decorations in place, of course.) It will be easier to decorate for Christmas if you aren't trying to tidy things up at the same time.
     
    Oct 11, 2008
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  25. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 12. There are 74 days left until Christmas.

    How does your coat closet look? Cool (or even cold) weather is on the way. Whether your coat closet is an actual closet, an open nook, or something else, make sure it's ready for jackets, coats, gloves, boots, and whatever else your family uses in winter.

    Now, look at it from a guest's point of view. During the holidays you'll most likely have people over. Are there hangers or hooks for your guests? Is there room for a few extra coats or jackets? This will be one of their first impressions as they enter your home. You want it to be a good one.
     
    Oct 12, 2008
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  26. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 13. There are 73 days left until Christmas.

    Give some thought now to your holiday menus. Once you have your menus planned, you can start buying a few of the non-perishables each week. Pick a spot for gathering those holiday items so you can keep them safe for the holidays and so they're not in the way when you're trying to do your everyday cooking. This way you won't have a huge extra expense buying a bunch of stuff when those rapidly approaching holidays arrive.
     
    Oct 13, 2008
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  27. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 14. There are 72 days left until Christmas.


    Now that you've thought about your holiday menus, give any new recipes a practice run. After all, most of us have had that it-looked-good-on-paper moment.
     
    Oct 14, 2008
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  28. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 15. There are only 71 days left until Christmas.

    While you're doing your planning, take a serious look at what you're planning and why. Traditions are wonderful, but only if they're still meaningful.

    For example, I have a friend whose family had a tradition of spending the Saturday before Christmas making, baking, and decorating shaped Christmas cookies. It was a project that took all day. Her kids started grumbling about this while in high school, but she kept doing it, convinced that it was an important tradition. It was during her oldest's second year of college that she changed her mind. She noticed he was using lots of red for his cookies. Turns out he was decorating the reindeer cookies to look like they'd been shot and the wise man cookies as though they were maimed. They still make cookies together, but it's a couple of batches of drop cookies and only takes an hour or two.

    Don't wear yourself out doing things just because you've done them before. Adjust or eliminate those things that no longer hold meaning for you and your family.*


    *This does not include your 14 year old. They don't like anything. LOL!
     
    Oct 15, 2008
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  29. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 16. There are only 70 days left until Christmas.

    Are you a catalog shopper? Do your shopping now. That will give you a chance to beat the shipping rush. You'll also receive your order early enough to make any corrections or exchanges before it's too late.
     
    Oct 16, 2008
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  30. thecougchef

    thecougchef Advanced Member

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    with my brother in iraq i started online shopping for him yesterday. time to get the packages to me, and then get them to him.

    love coming to this thread everyday rae!
     
    Oct 16, 2008
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  31. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Glad you're enjoying it, Meghan. Please include a note to your brother thanking him for his service. His sacrifice is definitely appreciated.
     
    Oct 16, 2008
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  32. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 17. There are only 69 days left until Christmas!

    Have you checked your linens lately? If you're expecting guests for the holidays (or even if you're preparing for unexpected guests), you might want to check your towels and sheets. Do you have enough? Are they in good repair? If they've been stuffed in a closet for a year, they may need a quick wash and dry to refresh them.

    How about your table linens? Look them over. Make sure you have everything you need.

    If you need to add anything to your "buy before they show up" list, there's still plenty of time to look for sales.
     
    Oct 17, 2008
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  33. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 18. There are only 68 days left until Christmas!


    The Furry Guy and I are headed out today to work on our Christmas wish lists. We'll spend the day roaming through stores writing down what we'd like, where it's available, and how much it costs. His family has made these lists for years. They're very handy. We do this together so we can talk about things we don't put on our list. It gives us ideas for one another.

    Even if you don't make full-out wish lists like we do, it's a good idea to spend some time with your spouse, your children, and/or other loved ones roaming through stores. Pay attention to what draws their attention. Now is a great time, before the stores get crowded with holiday shoppers.
     
    Oct 18, 2008
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  34. rennea

    rennea Legacy Member Gold Member

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    I luv you Rae :)

    We make lists every year as well. I am happy to say that I am about 75% done my Christmas shopping already. Yahoo!!
     
    Oct 18, 2008
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  35. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    I love you, too, Rennea. :) Congratulations on having so much of your Christmas shopping done.

    I'm excited that I finally figured out something for my parents. In Martha Stewart's Magazine Have Yourself a Handmade Christmas Holiday, there is a Ribbon Card Holder for displaying Christmas cards. I'll pair it with some goodies they both enjoy. Ta da! The last of my difficult-to-figure-out people are figured out.
     
    Oct 19, 2008
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  36. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 19. There are only 67 days left until Christmas.

    How's your bathroom? Take a look at it from a guest's perspective. If you ran out of toilet paper, would you be able to find a new roll? When you wash your hands, do you have to slog through a jumbled mess to get to the faucet handles, soap, or towel? Now is the time to make any changes in order to make things easier for your guests.

    Make sure you stock up on the soap and toilet paper, too. You'd hate to have Aunt Ethel stranded on the pot while someone drives to the local 7-11 to get more. ;)
     
    Oct 19, 2008
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  37. raebates

    raebates Legend Member Staff Member

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    Today is October 20. There are only 66 days left until Christmas.

    You've begun work on your holiday letter. Right? Here are some helpful hints:

    Start off on a positive note. Over 90% of the letters you receive will start with something along the lines of, "I can't believe the year has gone past so quickly." It may be true, but it's not exactly a happy way to begin. Try something along these lines:

    • One of the blessings of this time of year is the chance to connect with you, my friends and family.
    • We've had a happy, busy year here in the __________ family.
    • Holiday greetings from the ____________ family!

    Shorter is sweeter.
    Now, I'm clearly someone who will use 187 words when 3 will do. However, even the people who love you most will be hesitant to slog through multiple pages of a single-spaced letter that drones on and on about the littlest details. Hit the year's high points. Save the details for personal visits or phone calls.

    Write in your own voice.
    Write the way you speak. If you aren't someone who regularly uses what The Furry Guy calls 50-cent words, don't use them in your letter. Don't try to fancy it up. Just be yourself.

    Keep your audience in mind. If, like us, you send your letters mostly to far-flung family and friends, be sure to identify people by their relationship as well as their name. Hearing that "Bob is enjoying his new adventure" doesn't mean much if they can't exactly remember who Bob is and have no clue what adventure he's on. Saying that your "youngest son, Bob (now 21), is enjoying his time with the Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea" gives them a chance to celebrate with Bob.

    Resist the urge to embellish. Don't be guilty of sending the brag-fest letter. Of course you want to put your best foot forward. Just try to keep things in perspective. Your true colors are more important to your friends and family than some puffed-up piece of family spin.

    Be selective about photos. One or two great shots that illustrate the stories you've told is a great idea. Fifty tiny photos of your trip to the Wisconsin Dells is not.

    Make it personal. Don't send just a plain, generic letter to everyone. Include something personal with each one. I slip our letter in a Christmas card that holds a personal line or two. If you're one of our computer gurus, you might find a way to use your program to add a personal line or two to each letter. However you do it, be sure that it doesn't feel like a bulk mailing from a local retailer.
     
    Oct 20, 2008
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  38. chefann

    chefann Legend Member Gold Member

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    *giggle* I have a cousin who used to send the brag-fest letter. So one year, DH and I put a newsletter (and, yes, it used one of the newsletter templates from Word, with multiple columns, pictures, and headlines) in our cards. Every single bit of it was made up. And I actually had an aunt who thought it was true. We mentioned winning the lottery, building an underground parking deck for our fleet of collector cars, Beaker writing a children's book, and the icing on the cake: finally completing our 100-seat THX-certified home theater, with George Lucas coming over to personally oversee the granting of the certificate.

    My cousin never included another newsletter with his card. Or at least not the cards sent to our house. :)
     
    Oct 20, 2008
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  39. ChefBeckyD

    ChefBeckyD Legend Member Gold Member

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    If you do Shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse...they are due (at least at our church, which is a drop-off point) Nov. 16th.

    I've been collecting school supplies and other little goodies throughout the year, and then, the weekend before they are due we will go shopping as a family to find special gifts to add to each box.

    DH and I have been doing this since our dating years, and now we have so much fun doing it with DS too! We try to do one for each gender, and each age group.

    To find out more how to get involved with this charity, go to:

    Samaritan's Purse
     
    Oct 20, 2008
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  40. rennea

    rennea Legacy Member Gold Member

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    OH Ann I love it!!!


    Becky we have something here called the "shoe box" that the dollar store do and it's along the same line. We do a couple of them every year. Your right it is fun and easy to do. :)
     
    Oct 20, 2008
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