Easy holiday decorations

We finally got around to putting up our tree, decking our halls and in general preparing for the upcoming Christmas season.

Over the last few years, we’ve done a few things to make the decorating a little easier.

  • If you get a freshly cut tree, see if they’ll give you scraps. Scraps are great for easy decorations like door hangers and advent wreaths. If you don’t get a freshly cut tree, many places that provide trees give away these scraps. It never hurts to ask!
    To make the door hangers, simply gather the cuttings and tie together with twine, a rubber band or string. Cover with a pretty bow. If feeling extra creative, add a backing of wrapping paper. Bonus: the wrapping paper keeps any sap off your door.

Tree Scraps

  • You can also use the scraps to decorate an advent candle wreath. We just wove the branches in and out of the metal ring and tied it with twist ties.

Advent Wreath

In addition to the advent candle wreath, we have an advent countdown. Every year before we pack the holiday decorations, I make sure to pre-fill the box with candy (this year, Dove Chocolate!). Without fail, every year, I’m surprised. Since we waited until Dec. 9 to begin decorating this year, we got to open nine days right away!

Advent Countdown Calendar

  • After learning the hard way that sap doesn’t discriminate between a tree skirt or carpet, we now take measures to protect the carpet by putting a towel under the tree stand. The towel winner for the special spot this year was a gift from Vocalpoint and Charmin® Freshmates®.

Towel under tree stand

What tips do you have to make holiday decorating less stressful?

Easier Than You’d Think Tomatillo Salsa

Easier Than You'd Think Homemade Tomatillo Salsa by Dispatches from the CastleEvery year for Christmas, J and I invite our families to a Christmas Eve Mexican inspired feast. The tradition sprung out of our time in San Antonio where tamales are often given as gifts. Our favorite salsa is the wonderful green Tomatillo Salsa and we finally found a recipe that rivals the homemade ones we had in Texas. Now if only we could master the tamales in time for the holiday…

2 pound tomatillos husked (most of the ones we found in our local grocer were mostly husked already. Be ware: they are sticky!)
2 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered
8 Garlic cloves
4  jalapenos
4  teaspoons Ground cumin
2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced

On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky. Transfer all but 1 cup of your tomatillo salsa to a serving dish or bowl for later, leaving that last 1 cup in the food processor.

My opinion:
If I’m not careful when we make this, I end up eating half of it with tortilla chips before I can add it to any dish. So good!