Picture Perfect Placemats

To make a personalized placemat, you will need: glue; two 8 1/2″ x 11″ (21.6 cm x 28 cm) pieces of colored paper; an 11″ x 17″ (28 cm x 43 cm) piece of white paper; Christmas pictures or stickers; permanent marking pens; photographs; and clear, self-sticking paper.

  1. Glue the colored paper side by side onto the white paper.

  2. Create a border around the edge of the placemat by gluing on Christmas pictures, putting on stickers, or drawing on a design with the marking pens (see illustration).

  3. Arrange the photographs on the placemat and glue them in place.

  4. Use the marking pen to label the photographs.

  5. Cover the placemat with clear, self-sticking paper front and back for easy cleanup, or have an older person laminate the mat.

Memory Calendar

To make a memory calendar, you will need: a ruler; a pencil; a 7″ x 11″ (18 cm x 28 cm) piece of lightweight cardboard; marking pens; twelve pieces of 7″ x 6″ (18 cm x 15 cm) white paper; glue; photographs; small holiday stickers, a 2000 calendar; and a stapler.

  1. Measuring 5″ (13 cm) down on the cardboard, draw a horizontal line to divide it into two sections. Write the year 2000 at the top. Right underneath, arrange your photographs, glue them in place, and decorate as desired. Make sure that you stay within the 5″ (13 cm) section of the cardboard.

  2. On one piece of paper, measure 1″ (2.5 cm) up from the bottom and draw a horizontal line. Measure 1″ (2.5 cm) up from that line and draw another. Repeat until you have drawn 5 horizontal lines, each 1″ (2.5 cm) apart.

  3. On the same paper, measure 1″ (2.5 cm) in from the side and draw a vertical line through all but the top space. Repeat until you have drawn 6 vertical lines 1″ (2.5 cm) apart. You should now have 35 squares with a blank strip left at the top (see illustration).

  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the remaining pieces of paper. At the top of each paper, write one of the months of the year, with the days of the week below it (see illustration).

  5. Using the 2000 calendar, have an older person help you label the days with permanent markers. If you wish, label holidays and decorate them with stickers or special designs.

  6. Stack the papers in order, with January on the top and December on the bottom, place them on the lower section of the cardboard, and staple twice through all thirteen layers (see illustration).

Cookie Cutter Ornaments

To make these colorful ornaments, you will need: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup water, a rolling pin, Christmas cookie cutters, a drinking straw, a paintbrush, acrylic paints, felt-tip pens, clear resin spray (optional), and string or ribbon.

  1. Combine the flour and the salt. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, mixing thoroughly with each addition. Form a ball and knead for about eight minutes.

  2. On a flour-dusted surface, roll out the dough to 1/8″ (3 mm) thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out ornaments. Use the end of the straw to make a hole in the top of each shape.

  3. Place the ornaments on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350° (175° C) for 35 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes.

  4. Using the acrylic paint, paint one side of each ornament; let dry, then paint the other side. Use the felt-tip pens to decorate your ornaments; let dry overnight.

  5. Have an older person help you spray your ornaments with clear resin spray (optional). When completely dry, thread 8″ (20 cm) strings or ribbons through the holes, knot the ends together, and hang the ornaments on the tree, give them as gifts, or use them as package decorations.

Gift Bag

To make this gift bag, you will need: a paper lunch sack, scissors, glue, white and different colors of construction paper, and markers or crayons.

  1. Cut out two large circles, approximately 4 1/2″ (11.5 cm) in diameter, from the white construction paper for the head and body of the snowman. Use colored construction paper to cut out a hat, two arms that look like branches, a scarf, and a carrot-shaped triangle for a nose.

  2. Glue the body and the head on the paper sack. Draw the eyes, the mouth, and buttons down the body. Glue on the nose and arms.

  3. Decorate your scarf and hat. Glue onto the snowman.


It is suggested that an older person be available to help with these recipes.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 pound (.45 kg) lean ground beef

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup grape jelly

  1. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. With clean hands, mix the ground beef into the mixture.

  2. Shape the mixture into 1″ (2.5 cm) balls and put them in a single layer on a greased 10″ x 15″ x 1″ (25 cm x 38 cm x 3 cm) jelly-roll pan.

  3. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400° F (205° C) for 15–20 minutes or until no longer pink inside.

  4. In a saucepan, mix the ketchup and grape jelly together and bring just to a boil. Place the meatballs in a serving dish and pour the heated sauce over them.

Makes about 2 dozen meatballs.

Trees in the Snow

5 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

5–6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk

1 1/4 pounds (570 g) broccoli florets, rinsed

  1. In a large pan, bring the water and salt to a boil.

  2. Carefully drop the potatoes into the boiling water; cover, return to a boil, and cook over medium heat 20–30 minutes or until fork-tender.

  3. While the potatoes are cooking, place the broccoli in a large saucepan, add 1″ (2.5 cm) of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Cook the broccoli over medium-low heat 10–12 minutes or until barely tender. With an adult’s help, drain well; keep covered until ready to be served.

  4. Have an adult drain the water off the potatoes.

  5. With a potato masher or an electric mixer, mash the potatoes and mix in the butter and milk.

  6. To serve, place the mashed potatoes in a large bowl, then stand the broccoli “trees” in the potato “snow.”

Festive Punch

1 package (3 ounces/85 g) lime gelatin

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup boiling water

3 cups pineapple juice

2 cups cold water

3 cans (12 ounces/355 ml) lemon-lime soda, chilled

  1. Combine the first three ingredients together and stir until dissolved. Mix in the pineapple juice and water, then chill for a few hours.

  2. Just before serving, add the lemon-lime soda.

Chocolate Christmas Logs

2 tablespoons butter/margarine, softened

1/2 cup light corn syrup

2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup dry powdered milk

3 cups powdered sugar

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the first four ingredients together.

  2. In a small bowl, stir the milk and sugar together. With clean hands, knead it into the chocolate mixture until well blended and smooth.

  3. Roll the mixture into four long logs. Cut each log into several short ones. To store, wrap in waxed paper and place in the refrigerator.

Holiday Popcorn

8 cups popped popcorn

1/4 cup butter/margarine

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1 package (3 ounces/85 g) cherry gelatin

  1. Grease a 10″ x 15″ x 1″ (25 cm x 38 cm x 3 cm) jelly-roll pan and set aside.

  2. Put the popped popcorn into a large bowl.

  3. Place the butter and corn syrup in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until blended. Stir in the sugar and gelatin and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and stir and simmer for 5 minutes.

  4. Quickly pour the mixture evenly over the popcorn and stir with a wooden spoon to coat. Spoon the coated popcorn into the greased pan and spread it evenly. Let it cool; then break it into clusters.

Christmas Sandwich Cookies

2 packages (18 1/4 ounces/517.4 g each) white cake mix

4 eggs, lightly beaten

2/3 cup vegetable oil

8–10 drops red food coloring

1 package (8 ounces/227 g) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter/margarine, softened

6–8 drops green food coloring

3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. In a large bowl, beat the cake mixes, eggs, oil, and red food coloring together.

  2. Form the dough into 1″ (2.5 cm) balls, place them about 2″ (5 cm) apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten them slightly. Bake at 350° F (175° C) for 8–10 minutes. Cool for a minute, then remove from the sheet to cool completely.

  3. In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese, butter, and green food coloring together. Mix in the sugar and vanilla. Add more sugar if needed.

  4. Spread the frosting on the bottoms of half the cookies, then top with the remaining cookies. Makes about 2 dozen sandwich cookies.

Cheesy Cracker Spread

1 package (10 ounces/284 g) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed

1 package (8 ounces/227 g) cream cheese, softened

2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese

4 green onions, chopped (include only a little of the green part)

2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped

crackers of your choice

  1. With clean hands, and working over the sink, squeeze the water out of the thawed spinach. Place it in a large microwave-proof bowl.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients except the crackers; mix together.

  3. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes; stir. Repeat this procedure until the cheddar cheese is melted and completely blended into the other ingredients—between 4 and 12 minutes. (If a microwave is not available, place the ingredients in a saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until blended.)

  4. Refrigerate the spread until ready to serve with the crackers.

Illustrated by Patric Gerber

Photos by Lana Leishman, posed by model