In the first week of October I wrote a blog about preparing for the holidays to reduce stress. Well, here we are! (https://pandoconcepts.com/2013/10/11/christmas-chaos-not/)

Are you “where you want to be” or are you stressed?

Spoiler alert! Christmas is December 25th. The date doesn’t change every year like Easter! This is why either having a “plan of attack” or starting early might have been a good thing to consider a few months ago.

(But it’s not too late! there are still 16 days to go, especially since all days are “shopping days”.)

My first wish for you is that you’ve got your Christmas responsibilities under control and can now start to enjoy the twinkling lights and spirit of the season. If you’re in the stores, I hope you have the pleasure of running into old friends and take time to chat and catch up. If you’re rushing through the season, you’re missing out on the best part – all the people!

Here are a few gifts that will cost little, but mean the world to the receiver! (You don’t have to cook like Emeril Lagasse, these are simple, but thoughtful, ideas.)

2013 - 12 - 7 - Xmas BasketHomemade Bread – in a simple, pretty tea towel – a simple gift all wrapped up in a bright tea towel with a ribbon around it will warm anyone’s heart. (Or bake a variety of items and create your own basket!)

Drinks – Irish Cream, Cordials, and Eggnog – I have a wonderful recipe for Irish Cream which has been a hit for years. I use beautiful bottles (which can be purchased from any craft store or Pier 1) and attach Christmas ornaments, a bow and voila! It looks as good as it tastes. (Maybe next year I’ll try making a cordial myself.)

2013 - 12 - 7 - Jar GiftsGifts in a Jar – Google this text and you’ll find hundreds of ideas! Over the years I’ve made everything from hot cocoa, flavored coffees, dips, Chex Mix, cookies, and soups – I finally even made Pies-In-A-Jar! You can personalize the tags, use a pretty Christmas fabric, and add candy canes or chocolate-covered plastic spoons!

Chocolate-Covered Anything – If you’re not really a baker, than grab a bag of pretzels, popcorn or even strawberries and dip away! Slip into a Ross’s, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, etc. and find dozens of beautiful and inexpensive containers to put them in.

2013 - 12 - 7 - Domino BroochCrafts – It doesn’t have to be edible! Over the years I’ve made bath salts, cards, decorated candles, made holiday brooches from game pieces and even went through a home-made soap-making stage! (A little dodgy to do on your own due to the chemicals – I recommend enjoying this with a friend.)2013 - 12 - Dominoes

My second wish is that as you’re making these, your heart overflows as you reflect on the recipients and the true spirit of the season. It’s “double joy” when you enjoy making them as much as giving them. (Include family in the preparations and the blessings triple!)

Follow this link to my Pinterest for more ideas from many talented people – http://www.pinterest.com/pandoconcepts/boards/