Story last updated at 12/27/2013 - 3:31 pm
Hosting a tree-trimming party is one of the easiest ways to have a fun gathering for family and friends while getting some of your holiday decorating done. It's best to schedule your party early in December, before the holiday crush of shopping and holiday events are in full force. If possible, give your guests at least two to four weeks notice.
Preparing for the party:
Set up your tree and string it with lights before your guests arrive. Clear out the area around the tree so everyone has easy access to hang the ornaments.
Add festive garlands or pinecone roping around the fireplace, over the doors and throughout the house. Add colorful ornaments in decorative glass bowls and vases and place them around the room. Scatter wrapped Christmas candies on the tables.
Place a few cinnamon sticks or 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of vanilla and 3 cups of water in a pot and bring it to a boil to add a holiday aroma to your home. Play your favorite holiday music to set the mood.
Fill an assortment of baskets, tins or decorative boxes with red, green, gold or white tissue paper or colorful shredded paper and carefully place your ornaments in the baskets, along with hooks or ribbon to hang them on the tree. If your ornament collection includes treasured heirlooms, hang them yourself before guests arrive or wait to hang them until after they've left.
Ask your guests to decorate an ornament or two and hang them on the tree. Have the kids cut out ornaments from construction paper and decorate the front with markers, sticker and glitter. You also can make and bake your own ornaments (see recipes below for Cinnamon Dough and Salt Dough Ornaments), or you can buy plain wooden ornaments from a craft store. Have your guests decorate the ornaments with paints or markers and write their names and the date on the back.
To make old-fashioned garlands, set-up large bowls of popcorn or cranberries, large, sewing needles and spools of heavy red, gold or green thread for guests to use to string the decorations for the tree. Thread the needles before your guests arrive, but do not cut the thread from the spool. It will take a lot of thread for the popcorn garland to cover an entire tree. It's best to slide the piece of popcorn or cranberry to the end of the thread to prevent knots. Make sure that it is well-secured, so that popcorn or cranberries won't fall off, and then gently cut the thread.
Set a table with simple finger foods and appetizers with a winter or Christmas theme or purchase platters from your local grocery store or gourmet deli.
Serve a variety of drinks, including hot chocolate, coffee, eggnog, cider punch and water.
Purchase some mini Christmas stockings as parting gifts, and fill them with a selection of holiday chocolates or peppermint sticks, or for the children, a Christmas puzzle or holiday coloring book with crayons.
Remember, relax, have fun, make memories and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees F.
2. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Work the dough until smooth. Dust the rolling surface and pin with more cinnamon, and roll the dough to 1/3 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out shape, and make a hole near the top with a straw or pencil.
3. Bake in the oven for 2 1/2 hours on an ungreased cookie sheet, flipping halfway through the baking time. Cool on a wire cookie rack. When completely cooled, paint with acrylic paints or markers. String a piece of ribbon or raffia through the hole. Makes 12-14 medium ornaments.
SALT DOUGH CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
1. Preheat oven to 250 F.
2. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Work the dough until smooth; add a little more flour if sticky, or a little more water if crumbly. Dust the rolling surface and pin with more flour, and roll the dough to 1/3 inch thickness.
2. Use cookie cutters to cut out shape, and make a hole near the top with a straw or pencil.
3. Bake in the oven for 2 hours on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cool on a wire cookie rack. When completely cooled, paint with acrylic paints or markers. String a piece of ribbon or raffia through the hole. Makes 15-20 medium ornaments.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children's author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is "The Kitchen Diva's Diabetic Cookbook." Her website is www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook and go to Hulu.com.