Christmas is Coming

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I know that the year is rolling by and before we know it Christmas will be upon us.  In fact I read this comment on a discussion forum a couple of days ago,

“Everyone is so busy and it will get even busier as it gets closer to Xmas… which I haven’t planned anything….”

This got me thinking as to why everything has to be busy in the lead-up to Christmas.  I love Christmas for the joy of being able to share the day with my family, especially the grandchildren.  I do not enjoy the commercialism of it nor the endless round of parties, celebrations and gift-giving.  The associated stress and pressure is simply not worth it.

Christmas Shopping

I try to switch off to most advertising at any time but I find it particularly insidious at this time of the year.  Every conceivable type of business is exhorting us to buy their goods so that they can be delivered by Christmas.  Worse still, are the offers of no repayments until the New Year etc, etc.  Just remember that everything has to be paid for at sometime and do you really want to be paying for Christmas at this time next year?

Like many other aspects of our life, we have managed to eliminate a lot of unnecessary Christmas festivities and focus on what is important to us.

This year we will be keeping it simple.

Neither The Duke nor I attend any work functions.
The Duke and I will go to a local festive gathering.  It is an opportunity to socialise with our neighbours and is hosted by a different family each year.  Everybody brings their own drinks and a plate of food to share.
We will take our grand-daughters to see the Christmas lights in our area. I want to take them to a carol service at the local church.
We will spend 5 days at the beach with family.
Christmas lunch will be at my sister’s place with extended family.
Gift giving for the family will focus on experiences and/or consumable gifts.

Over the next 6 weeks I will share some of the things you can do and make in the lead-up to Christmas which are memorable but relatively easy on the budget.  Please share any special ideas from your family.

In the meantime, here is a photo I took yesterday when I went to Caloundra to meet some friends for lunch.  I am hoping for some similarly spectacular weather when we spend some time there at Christmas.

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A Christmas Table & Leftovers

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Each year I review my Christmas catering efforts to see what worked, what didn’t and what could be changed.

As I have explained, this year was quite different as I catered for a small family gathering of 4 in an unfamiliar kitchen with limited ingredients.  I shopped with a view to minimal leftovers as well as a very simple menu.  You can see the menu in my previous post.

Entree
This was the entree – grilled asparagus and prosciutto-wrapped haloumi.  There was a roasted capsicum sauce to accompany it.

Main course
Here is the table set for the main course with grilled salmon, chestnut and cranberry stuffed chicken roll and 3 different salads.

It was very enjoyable and there is nothing that I would change.  The menu could easily be used for a bigger group with minimal additional effort.

We visited relatives on Boxing Day so the leftovers had to wait until the following day when I used them to  create a main meal salad.  I do not have a photo but here is the ‘recipe’.

Potato & Salmon Salad

6 tiny potatoes
1 small piece of grilled salmon
1 stick of celery
1/4 red capsicum (bell pepper)
Herb mayonnaise

Boil the potatoes until just tender.  Cool and cut into small pieces.  Flake the salmon and add to potatoes.  Add finely sliced celery and diced capsicum.  Toss ingredients and stir mayonnaise through.  Chill and serve on a bed of salad greens with tomato wedges.

The recipe is based on exactly what I did and it served 3 adults for lunch.

What creations have you made with leftovers during the festive season?

How Green Was My Christmas?

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Well, Christmas is over for another year and I hope it was a good one for you and your families.

One of my goals was to reduce our overall environmental impact from the festivities so it is probably time to review what I did and whether it made a difference.

Cards – I only sent 11 Christmas cards by post this year.  This is a significant reduction over the years.  There was a time when I posted between 50 and 60 cards each year.  I sent ecards and emails with our family newsletter.  These are generally well-received, save time and money for me, reduce clutter for the recipient.  I will continue to do this.

Gift-wrapping – this year I made fabric gift bags to use which seems to have been successful in making a significant reduction in the amount of wrapping paper which ended up in the recycling bin.  There was still some from gifts we received but that may change in time, who knows?  Perhaps I will make some for Belle to use next year as well.

Gifts – I made a few hand-made gifts and also a couple of experience gifts and some Oxfam Unwrapped gifts which seemed to please the recipients.  I need to plan my handmade items a bit further in advance next year.  I received a couple of practical and requested gifts so I was very happy.  A bathmat, colander, air mattress, gluten-free sauce and dressing and a Kathmandu voucher as well as a promise of dinner when we are next in Melbourne.  We do not want to be overwhelmed by ‘stuff’ and my family understand that. Yay!!

Food – we made a conscious effort not to over-cater and were mostly successful.  I have fruit cake leftover as well as a little smoked salmon and some cold, grilled chicken.  All of this will be stored appropriately and used to avoid any waste.  We had a special meal with close family but did not over-indulge.  Next year I would like to try to be more organised with my garden and be able to use more home-grown produce.

I am pretty happy with our achievements and will continue to  work on improving each year.

I would love to hear about your celebrations – what worked and what didn’t?