Thursday, 3 December 2009

Christmas Card Ideas

Warm wishes
The winter images shown here have been discontinued but the basic card design is a fun one that shows a great way to use the mini clothespins. Stamp the solid bar with chocolate brown ink and then attach the clothespins with crafter's pick. It's our favorite glue for a project like this, the paper will tear before the clothespin will fall off.
Items used:
Crafter's Pick
4813E - thick stripe
Clothes Pins - natural
Encore ink - honeydew
Three Presents
We love to use the blocks in creative ways. Here three different sized blocks were stamped with gold and merlot inks. After masking each block, word stamps were stamped over them. Notice how the words are offset so they appear to wrap around the box. Slits were made for the ribbon and each box was then wrapped with different but coordinating ribbons.
Items used:
4546A - small rectangular block
4545C - rectangular block
4547B - block
4835B - holiday cheer
4831B - merry christmas
Happy Holiday tag
These tag cards are quick and simple to make. Stamp the snowflakes and blocks with a gold pad. Then go back and stamp the fun winter images over the blocks of gold. Finish off the card with a bit of ribbon to add a festive touch. These tags fit in Memory Box slim envelopes.
Items used:
4547B - block
4821D - happy holidays
4723B - snowflake
Encore - gold
Colorbox ink - merlot, alpine
Swirl Star Tree Card
Don't forget to use the idea of attaching a tag to a card for an embellishment. We love to use our favorite silver metallic cording to further enhance the project.
Items used:
Impress Ink - olive green
Metallic Cord
Sticky Stuff
Create holiday magic using a fun product called Sticky Stuff. It's a powder that when heated, becomes sticky. To make this card, first stamp an image and color it in. Then take a block stamp and stamp it over the image using Versamark ink. Apply the embossing powder as usual. Heat it until it gets shiny and then sprinkle on the prisma glitter for a perfectly shaped oval that sparkles!
Items used:
Sticky Stuff
Prisma Glitter
4838E - Oval Stamp
Heavenly Joy
To make a card like this, use canvas white PolyShrink. First lightly sand the Polyshrink. Then stamp your image onto it using black Brilliance ink. Color the image with prismacolor pencils and cut it out. Use a heat gun to shrink the plastic. A stencil was cut out of paper and blue ink was applied to the edges to create the clouds.
Items used:
PolyShrink - Canvas white and Sanding blocks
Silver paper
Prismacolor pencils


Christmas Gift Ideas-In Low Budget

Here's a few of favorite inexpensive gift ideas...

1. Gourmet coffees with a personal coffee cup
2. Pound of pistachios
3. Child's artwork, framed
4. Journal with special inscription inside
5. Teacup with box of herbal tea
6. Deck of cards and book of card game rules
7. Homemade cocoa mix in a pretty jar
8. Collage of special photos
9. Gel pens and pretty stationary
10. Bottle of sparkling cider
11. Home baked bread, include recipe
12. Disposable camera or rolls of film
13. Basket filled with deli cheese and fruit
14. Craft supplies
15. Holiday serving bowl or platter
16. Pretty basket filled with special jams or mustards
17. Decorative napkins and napkin rings
18. Fancy chocolate bars tied with a ribbon
19. Gardening gloves with a plant or flower seeds
20. Photo album, hand decorated is even better
21. Makeup tote
22. Prepaid photo developing envelopes
23. Homemade cookie mix with instructions for baking
24. Variety of bread mixes
25. Special coffee cup filled with candy
26. Fancy magazines tied together with a pretty ribbon
27. Gourmet popcorn and flavored oil
28. Locally made barbeque or steak sauce with basting brush
29. Pancake or waffle mix and a bottle of real maple syrup
30. Movie theater gift certificates
31. Board games
32. Jar of sourwood or pure honey with biscuit mix
33. Note cards and book of stamps
34. Picture frames, buy them on sale!
35. Specialty cookbook
36. Pretty glass jar filled with candy
37. Collectible sports cards
38. Muffin mixes with muffin pan
39. Books, there are still a few for under $10
40. Set of dish towels and dish cloths
41. Nail polish kit
42. Pretty night shirt
43. Basket filled with kitchen gadgets
44. Video rental gift certificates
45. Pepper mill and fresh peppercorns
46. Handwritten copies of your favorite recipes
47. For the pets, gourmet dog biscuits or cat treats
48. Baking pans and supplies
49. Prepaid long distance phone cards
50. Small clock or radio
51. Pretty box for keepsakes
52. Colorful Post-It notepads
53. Address book
54. Christmas ornaments
55. Puzzles
56. Blank video or cassette tapes
57. Sewing supplies
58. Flashlight with batteries
59. Favorite quote embroidered on a nice handkerchief
60. Makeup brush set
61. Expensive socks, still under $10
62. Special soaps and bath puff
63. and don't forget my absolute favorite... home baked cookies!
Hope you will be inspired by this list, after all, it's not the amount of money you spend for a gift that matters the most, but that you cared enough to give something special.


Thursday, 22 October 2009

Top 10 Traditional Christian Christmas Songs

1. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph is in my heart for the top Christmas song. Again, because memories of childhood come back to me when I hear this song. The Character Rudolph was created by Robert L. May with as part of his employment with Montgomery Ward in 1939. Johnny Marks adapted May's story of Rudolph into a song, and was sung by none other than the legendary Gene Autry in 1949.
2. Frosty The Snowman
Frosty the snowman, was a jolly, happy soul! Well, you know the rest, but for some reason, the more "Fairy-Tale"Christmas songs really have my heart. I guess because they bring me back to by childhood years, and all the magic that was Christmas. Jack Nelson and Steve Rollins wrote the song in 1950 after being inspired by "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer". The song was sung by the legendary Gene Autry.
3. Jingle Bell Rock
This popular Christmas song was originally sung by Bobby Helms in 1957. Despite the name "rock" in the title, it was actually performed in the crossover style called "Rockabilly" which sounds more country today. It also makes reference to the song "Rock Around The Clock". This song has become a Christmas classic. It's upbeat, and definitely gets you in the Christmas mood!
4. Let It Snow
This song, written and composed in 1945, was never intended to be a Christmas song. It was written as a love song, but with its snowy cheerfulness, it became very popular at Christmas time. This song was also #1 on the Billboard charts in the 1940's. I love this song for it's cheerfulness and it's upbeat tune.
5. Silent Night
This song has a very beautiful, unique history to it. This song originated in 1818 in a small church in Austria. The St. Nicholas church congregation were performing the story of the birth of Christ a couple of days before Christmas. After the play, Pastor Josef Mohr decided to take a long walk home. He sat atop a hillside, looking down at the town, and all its peacefulness and beauty. It reminded him of a poem that he had wrote a few years earlier. The next day, he decided his poem would make a great song. He went to the church's organist, Franz Xavier Gruber, who wrote the music for the song, and the congregation sang it on Christmas Eve. I have also linked that website to this article if you would like to read more about it.
6. Joy To The World
There is very little history to this song, because the song is not that old. The scripture based words are by Isaac Watts, and the music was arranged by Lowell Mason.
Some of the most popular recordings are from the 1950's, such as the instrumental version by conductor Percy Faith in 1954. This song has sparked some great parodies, but we won't talk about those here.
7. Deck The Halls
This song has a very interesting history to it. In the 18th Century, Mozart used the tune to "Deck The Halls" for a piano and violin duet. The song is actually Welsh, however and dates back to the 1700's. Different cultures have different versions of the song, and some even have made completely different songs to the same tune. It is a very popular, world wide song though.
8. The First Noel
This song is thought to have become popular in France in the fifteenth century. Though little is known about it's origin, it was widespread in England in the 1800's where it was sung on Christmas Eve. Noel is Latin, which means "birthday". The song explains about Christ's birth in vivid detail.
9. Jingle Bells
This classic Christmas song dates back over 150 years ago. It was written by James Lord Pierpont and copyrighted in 1857. The original chorus had a more classical melody to it. It is unknown when it was changed with the modern, most popular form of the chorus. Also - did you know that the word "jingle" is intended to be used as an imperative verb, and not an actual type of bell?
10. Twelve Days Of Christmas
I may not remember all of the 12 days, of Christmas, but I still love this song! I have found the origin of the song and it's actually a quite interesting story. England prohibited the Catholics to practice their religion publicly and privately in the periods of 1558 to 1829. The 12 days of Christmas was written as a "catechism song" to help young Catholics with the tenets of their faith.


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

How to Blend Christmas Tradition and Religion

Christmas traditions such as Santa Claus, setting up Christmas trees, exchanging gifts and hanging Christmas lights are fun ways to celebrate the holiday. Families with a religious background often feel the need to abandon these traditions in order to teach their families the religious importance of the holiday. Blending religion and tradition allows families to take part in fun Christmas traditions and still honor the religious reasons for celebrating Christmas.

1. Decorate the outside of your home for Christmas. Decorating gets your family excited about the holiday and by setting up a nativity scene or other religious decorations you can spread the spirituality of Christmas.

2. Read traditional and religious Christmas stories. Rotate back and forth between secular and religious Christmas stories. Encourage your family to enjoy both sides of the holiday.

3. Listen to religious and secular Christmas music. Point out to your family the difference between the two and reinforce the meaning behind songs such as "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger."

4. Attend church on Christmas Eve after exchanging gifts with friends and family. Enjoy the feeling of giving to others and then experience the joy of worshiping on Christmas.

5. Believe in Santa Claus. He is a wonderful Christmas tradition and you can easily incorporate the giving aspects of Santa Claus with the religious reasons for celebrating Christmas.

6. Create your own special family tradition that incorporates the tradition of giving and religion. Find a religious charity to support or volunteer at a shelter during the holiday season.


Monday, 28 September 2009

12 Day Christmas

The twelve days of Christmas begins on December 25 and end just before Epiphany, that falls on January 6. Epiphany is a Christian feast intended to celebrate the 'shining forth' or revelation of God to mankind in human form, in the person of Jesus Christ. The observance originally included the birth of Jesus Christ; the visit of the three Magi (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) who arrived in Bethlehem; and all of Jesus' childhood events, up to his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist.

The Origin
The feast was initially based on, and viewed as a fulfillment of the Jewish Feast of Lights known as Chanukah. This was fixed on January 6 , but over time the western churches decided to celebrate Christmas on December 25. The eastern churches continued to treat January 6 as the day marking Jesus's birth. This has given rise in the west to the notion of a twelve day festival, starting on December 25 and ending on January 6, called the twelve days of Christmas.

Feasting And Merrymaking
In the Middle Ages, this period was one of continuous feasting and merrymaking, which climaxed on Twelfth Night, the traditional end of the Christmas season. During the twelve days of Christmas, traditional roles were often relaxed, masters waited on their servants, men were allowed to dress as women, and women as men. Often a Lord of misrule was chosen to lead the Christmas revels. Some of these traditions have an echo in modern day pantomime where traditionally authority is mocked and the principal male lead is played by a woman, while the leading older female character, or 'Dame' is played by a man. 

The Song
This period is referred to in the song Twelve Days of Christmas. Twelve Days of Christmas is a traditional Christmas song, or Christmas Carol. The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days from December 25 to January 6 or the Twelfth Night. The date of the song's first performance is not known, though it was used in European and Scandinavia traditions as early as the 16th century. 

The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…" The "true love" mentioned in the song refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.

1st Day: The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. 

2nd Day: The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments. 

3rd Day: The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love. 

4th Day: The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. 

5th Day: The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. 

6th Day: The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation. 

7th Day: The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. 

8th Day: The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount. 

9th Day: The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. 

10th Day: The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments.

11th Day: The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles. 

12th Day: The 'twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles' Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.


The Religious Aspect of Christmas

Apart from the fun and enjoyment, knowing the religious aspect of Christmas is equally important. As per the Bible, there is no set of rules or procedure, according to which Christmas has to be celebrated. Thus, there is an immense number of customs that surround Christmas, and it varies from country to country. Many aspects, such as the Christmas tree, the Yule Log and the exchange of gifts are taken from the earlier pagan holiday of Romans. In most Western countries, Christmas celebrations have both religious and secular aspects.

Because of the lack of Biblical instructions, Christmas rituals have been shaped by the religious and popular traditions of each culture that celebrates the holiday. Traditionally, the sacred Christmas season starts with Advent, which begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continues to Christmas Day. The sacred season ends on Epiphany, January 6. 

The Advent
During Advent, Christians make preparations for the commemoration of Jesus' birth on December 25. Each of the four weeks symbolizes a different way in which believers perceive Christ: through the flesh, the Holy Spirit, death, and Christ's judgment of the dead. The Advent wreath, which consists of four candles anchored in a circle of evergreen branches, originated with German Lutherans; the tradition has been adopted by many churches and families. At the beginning of each of the four weeks preceding Christmas, Christians light an Advent candle as they say a prayer.

Christmas Eve
On the Christmas Eve, churches around the world hold evening services. At midnight, most Catholic and many Protestant churches hold special candlelight services. The Catholic "Midnight Mass" was first introduced by the Roman Catholic Church in the 5th century. Christmas Masses are sometimes solemn and sometimes buoyant, depending on the particular culture that conducts them. On this day the worshipers enter the church in communal processions. Church services often feature candlelight and music. Some also include a dramatization of the Biblical story of Jesus' birth. 

Christmas Day
Christmas observances have also assimilated remnants of ancient rituals such as the custom of burning Yule logs; the Yule log symbolizes the victory of light over the darkness of winter. The tradition of lighting the Yule log is still observed, especially by Europeans. Families light the log on Christmas Eve and keep it burning until Epiphany. 

The Exchange Of Gifts
Christians traditionally exchange gifts as a reminder of God's gift of a savior to humankind. Gift giving also recalls an ancient Roman custom of exchanging gifts to bring good fortune for the new year. In most cultures that celebrate Christmas, a mythical figure delivers gifts to children. Since the 19th century, Santa Claus and other mythical gift givers have become increasingly gentle, generous, and forgiving.


Christmas Tradition

The Tradition of Christmas festival has gradually evolved from times that long represented the Christian period. All the traditions and customs performed on this day are only the extension of Roman Pagan to Christian ceremonial. The tradition of Christmas include the 12 days of Christmas, the bright fires, the yule log, the giving of gifts, carols, the feasts, and the church processions, can all be traced back to the early times.

With the passage of time, the nature of Christmas celebration has undergone tremendous change and every year a new tradition begins. Christmas, celebrated to remember and honor the birth of holy Jesus, has evolved from a staunch religious affair into a merry hearted event that include carnivals, cookies and off course Santa Clause. 

The Traditional Elements Of Christmas:

Yule Log
The burning of the Yule Log was taken from ancient sun worship rituals. Yule Logs are supposed to be cut from red oak trees and burned all of Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day. 

Christmas has been widely associated with snow fun activities such as skiing, snowboarding, sled riding, snow mobile riding, or hiking with snowshoes. 

To worship evergreen holly is taken as a sign of eternal life because it did not brown or die in the winter. Some religious groups say that the crown of thorns placed on Jesus' head was made of holly. The berries were supposedly white but turned bright red from Jesus' blood. 

Mistletoe is rarely used in churches because it comes from the ancient Druid ceremony celebrating winter solstice. This once pagan tradition started when a girl would stand beneath the hanging plant and a boy would walk up, pick a berry and then kiss her.

There is no exact date recorded but the idea of leaving cookies for Santa started sometime in the 1930's. Naughty kids use them to bribe Santa at the last minute and nice kids use them as a way of thanking him for all his hard work on Christmas Eve.

Santa Claus
'Santa' has been around since the 4th century. Originally known as Saint Nicholas, the patron of children and sailors, the bishop was immortalized because of his generous and loving nature towards children. 

The very first person to have Christmas lights on their tree was Edward Johnson who worked for Thomas Edison. The use of decorative light has been imperative on the Christmas Day.

Christmas Tree
The tradition of the Christmas tree comes from Germany. The very first trees were oak, the same tree used for the Yule Log. Trees have been a symbol of good luck since the Middle Ages. 

The custom of singing Christmas carols is said to have come from 13th century Italy where a man named St. Francis of Assisi led songs of praise. It is very bad luck to send carolers away empty handed. It is customary to offer food, drink or even a little money. 


The invention of Rudolph was an advertising gimmick. The red-nosed reindeer was born in 1939 when a 34-year old writer for Montgomery Ward named Robert L. May was asked to invent a Christmas story. The company gave copies of the story to customers during the holiday season as a promotion for their stores.