Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life’s Changes

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Many of us grew up celebrating holiday traditions that were taught to us by our parents and families. You may remember some time honored traditions such as mailing out Christmas cards, decorating with natural elements, baking from scratch and even making homemade gifts. Even as we’ve grown up and left home many of us have continued to carry on those same holiday traditions we learned as children.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes. #holidays #tradition #holidaytradition #cookies #cookieexchange #cookierecipes #recipes #diy #hosting #entertaining #lifestyle #christmas #christmastradition #holidayideas #party #treat #crafts #family

However, some of these holiday traditions may have changed with time. Whether it was due to a death in the family or a move out of state, many traditions tend to adapt to the needs of our new families and life changes. But what makes these changes special as we shape our new traditions from old ones is the meaning and the stories we keep and carry on throughout the coming years.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Change

Growing up and into early adulthood, my friend Bambi always made sugar cookies with her grandmother to celebrate the season. These cookies in turn were given to friends and family as homemade gifts. Using family sugar cookie and buttercream icing recipes that have been passed down through the generations, Bambi’s new tradition is making and then decorating those same cookies with her closest friends now that her grandmother is gone.

This year was the second year I able to participate in decorating cookies with Bambi as part of her new holiday tradition. That I’m able to be a part of something so meaningful to her, in turn makes it more meaningful to me. And while there was no amount of prodding, poking, coaxing, bribing or begging to convince Bambi to dish and share her recipes (sorry!) I certainly can’t imagine not participating as the years move forward.

Along with this Bambi also gave me one of the best presents she could gift me with this year – a new holiday tradition. So whether you’re looking to start new holiday traditions with your own friends or a new family, decorating Christmas cookies and holiday cookie exchanges are a longstanding tradition that I can certainly get behind.

So just how to do you go about planning a cookie decorating party? Keep reading to learn how my friend, Bambi, organizes her cookie decorating parties and for some great links to tips for hosting a holiday cookie exchange as well as a few sugar cookie recipes to get you started. Plus learn more about new holiday traditions other people have started and how to deal with holiday celebration overload.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions with Cookies

Prior to hosting her guests, Bambi prepares for her holiday cookie decorating event a few days in advance. She spends about two days baking sugar cookies using her grandmother’s recipe. Then in between the time she makes them and then everyone gets together to decorate them, they are stored in plastic storage containers in the refrigerator.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes.

A few days later everyone shows up with a bottle of wine in hand. Typically Bambi also provides some simple appetizers like hummus, crackers and cheese. However, if we “accidentally” break a cookie, it’s like a bonus prize and gets eaten right then and there. But only after it’s been decorated, of course!

The buttercream icing isn’t made until the arrival of all her guests. New batches of icing are then made as we run out.

Annie! No sugar for you!

Posted by Rebecca D. Dillon on Saturday, December 2, 2017

Annie, Bambi’s rescue dog, always manages to walk under “mom” while she’s mixing more icing. Thus we have photos of her two years in a row covered in powdered sugar spots. (My own dog, Jasper, attended this year as well.)

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes.

Once the first batch of icing is ready to go, the icing, cookies and candy decorations are laid out on her dining room table within reach of everyone.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes.

Then we all decorate our cookies on paper plates to keep the colored sugars and candies from making a mad dash for the floor.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes.

The cookies are then laid out on the table on top of wax paper as each one is completed.

Once all of the cookies are decorated, they are packaged in reusable plastic containers. Bambi then gifts each of her guests a box of cookies and the rest get shipped to her friends and family back home in Wisconsin.

If you’d like to host your own holiday cookie decorating party, The Kitchn has a great article with ten essential tips to know before you begin baking. Additionally, Real Simple also has a great checklist for hosting a holiday cookie exchange that also works for hosting a cookie decorating party. Sugar & Charm as well as Handle the Heat also offer some great tips for hosting a cookie exchange.

Glazed Sugar Cookies Recipe with Buttercream Embroidery via My Name is Yeh Blog! Plus celebrating holiday traditions and how to host a Christmas cookie decorating party!

If you’re looking for Christmas cookie decorating ideas, I am head over heels for these glazed sugar cookies with buttercream “embroidery” from My Name is Yeh. You can find and print the recipe for these cookies here. I also really love the star Christmas cookies recipe from Tell Love and Party.

Printable Christmas Cookie Gift Tags via Cranberry Bush blog! Plus celebrating holiday traditions and how to host a Christmas cookie decorating party!

For gifting your homemade holiday cookies, Cranberry Bush has two super cute printable cookie gift tags. You can find more printable gift tags on my Printables Pinterest board. Or discover great gift wrapping ideas on my Pretty Packaging + Gift Wrap Ideas Pinterest board.

Starting New Holiday Traditions

I know when I went through my divorce from my first husband and my son inevitably ventured into adulthood, celebrating Christmas lost much of its luster for me. So much so that one of the best Christmases I had after getting separated was ice “skating” in my sneakers on the frozen parking lot of Market Square downtown with a friend. It wasn’t until I started making my own holiday traditions, that some of the magic of the holiday season started to come back for me.

If your old holiday traditions are no longer an option for you, then you may want to consider creating new ones. They don’t need to be religious or even fit into any particular winter holiday. They simply need to be something that brings you joy. Having something to that brings you and your loved ones together during what is typically the most depressing season of the year can definitely make cold days seem a bit warmer.

O’Boy! Organic, who moved away from his family in Michigan over twenty years ago, has a great article on the importance of holiday traditions and how they help to build unity and stability. He also shares his top five new holiday traditions. Number four is baking cookies with his kids.

There’s also a great post on HuffPost with ideas for 15 new traditions for families reclaiming the holidays after a divorce. Shared by their readers on their Facebook page, my favorites are creating a guest list for holiday get togethers to try new things, ditching the chaos of the Christmas tree tradition, taking a trip instead of giving gifts and of course, the best one yet, just finally being happy.

Does Celebrating Holiday Traditions Leave You Feeling overwhelmed?

In the midst of celebrating holiday traditions, both old and new, it’s also important to realize there is such a thing as too much tradition. Reluctant Entertainer touches on this in her post “Traditions: When Is It Time to Change?.” Women especially tend to put extra emphasis on holiday traditions which in turn can often lead to a lot of stress and guilt when they are unable to meet expectations. So this article offers some great insight into being able to say “enough is enough.”

Personally I know how it feels to be on this side of things, as I’m sure many of you do as well. And there were a few years that I especially struggled and therefore made the decision to opt out of holiday gatherings completely. And it is okay to do this. After all, your mental and emotional well being matter more than a dinner regardless of the time of year.

So if celebrating holiday traditions feel more like an obligation, it may be time to simply take time for yourself. After all, you’re not really celebrating holiday traditions if you’re spending much of that time trying to avoid a panic attack.

Additionally, if your head space isn’t where it needs to be to even attend holiday functions, much less embark on a new tradition, then you may be able to gain some insight from the article “Family Change: Don’t Cancel the Holidays!

Are you celebrating holiday traditions this year or starting new ones? I’d love to hear how you enjoy the holiday season in the comments below.

Also be sure to follow me via all of your favorite social media platforms including G+TumblrFacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram. Or subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

Delicious DIY Holiday Drink Recipes

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Whether you’re entertaining for the holidays or just want to enjoy the spirit of the holidays, here are a few of my favorite homemade holiday drink recipes. Also be sure to grab the book, 21 Best Winter Holiday Beverage Recipes from Amazon!

DIY Homemade Holiday Drink Recipes - Drink Recipes for Entertaining During the Holiday Season

1. Spiked White Hot Chocolate from Sweet Designs | 2. Rosemary Limoncello from My Recipes | 3. Cranberry Fizz from Sweet Paul Magazine | 4. Gin & Ginger Cocktail (Not Pictured) from Sweet Paul Magazine

Holiday Entertaining - Homemade Holiday Drink Recipes

5. Decadent Chai Latte from My Recipes | 6. Eggnog Martini from Martha Stewart | 7. Italian Hot Chocolate from Camo Meets Couture (Plus an Almond Crescent Cookie Recipe)

Delicious Homemade Holiday Cocktail Recipes

8. Brazilian Pumpkin Frappe Recipe from Pizzazzerie | 9. Hot Buttered Rum from The Plunge Project | 10. Pomegranate Champagne Punch from Epicurious | 11. Cooked Custard Eggnog (Not Pictured) from Martha Stewart | 12. Sgroppini (Not Pictured) from Party Bluprints Blog | 13. Cranberry Spice Champagne (Not Pictured) from Family Circle

DIY Homemade Fig and Melon Holiday Martini Drink Recipe

14. Fig & Melon Martini from Snippet & Ink | 15. Pumpkin Spice Marshmallow Cappuccino (Not Pictured) from Cake Vintage Blog | 16. Gingerbread Apple Cocktail (Not Pictured) from Marie Claire

Retro Themed Melamine Dinnerware for the Modern Home

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Melamine TV Trays from Target - Photo by Rebecca D. Dillon
I was in Target yesterday when I happened across some of the coolest TV trays ever. Since Scott and I don’t really have any sort of living room tray to use for our place, I bought one of each. I purchased the TV Melamine Tray for myself and the Record Player Melamine Tray for Scott. Both are available at Target stores for $9.99 each.
Retro TV Melamine Tray - Photo by Rebecca D. Dillon
These fun retro themed trays are not only functional, but they are fun to look at and are a great conversation piece at parties! And, because they’re made out of melamine – the popular plastic of the 50s for dishware – they are microwave and dishwasher safe. Plus they stand up to quite a bit of abuse making them less likely to break if dropped.
I also picked up two sets of plates from this collection. Two plates in a Chevron pattern and two plates in red. The bottoms are ridged for easy stacking and compact storage. The plates run just under $2 each. They were also perfect since my 50s vintage plates don’t fare well in the microwave. However, there’s no need to stop there! If you’re looking for even more fun to add to this collection, be sure to check out Target online.
Cool retro melamine dishware from Target
Target online offers Chevron Appetizer plates, Triangle Record Appetizer plates, Camera Appetizer plates, and a 3 Melamine Cassette Tape Bamboo Tray. There’s also a lot of cool glassware including a set of 8 Black and White Cassette Tape Tumblers. You can view all of the fun, retro themed pieces from this collection at Target online.
Which one is your favorite?

Homemade Strawberry Mint Wine Cooler Recipe

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Recently I found myself with some very ripe fruit on hand. So I decided to use it to make a refreshing and tasty summertime drink! What I came up with was my own strawberry mint wine coolers! Here’s how you can make your own!
1lb. ripe strawberry with stems and leaves removed, sliced in half or thirds
2-3 cutie tangerines or 1 small regular tangerine, peeled and any seeds removed
A handful of fresh peppermint, crushed or torn in half
1 bottle of sweet white table wine, I used Château Morrisett’s Sweet Mountain Laurel (from a local winery)

Combine the strawberries, tangerine slices, crushed mint and wine into a pitcher with a lid. Place in the fridge and chill until cold or overnight. Then serve over ice if you choose with one or several strawberries and a fresh mint leaf. (I also like to eat the fruit afterward.)

I also have some super ripe cherries I bought recently on our local Roanoke Farmer’s Market. For my next batch I want to try a bottle of sweet white wine with ripe cherries and some fresh chocolate mint I bought from Rolling Meadows Farms and planted in my garden. If I’m able to pick the mulberries on the tree in the backyard before they all fall onto the ground, I think they’d also make a fun addition.

I also want to try this recipe with just a little ice and blended all together in a blender. What are some of your favorite drink recipes you’ve tried to use up ingredients around your house?

Mango-Pineapple Black Bean Salsa Recipe

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Scott’s cooked up another tasty creation that I wanted to share with you. This time it’s a black bean salsa and there’s actually no cooking involved! Black beans are so tasty and good for you!
Homemade Mango-Pineapple Black Bean Salsa Recipe
3-15oz. cans of black beans, drain two of the cans
1 medium sized red onion, chopped 
6-8 small Roma tomatoes, diced 
1 mango, chopped
10oz. fresh pineapple, diced (You can substitute the mango or pineapple with papaya) 
2 medium sized jalapenos, free of seeds and finely diced 
7oz. organic cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight. Serve with tortilla chips. (We like to eat the organic blue corn tortilla chips.) It’s perfect for when you’re entertaining or simply want a movie night at home!
Like this recipe? Also be sure to try my Homemade Black Bean Dip Recipe. You can also make black beans into burgers with some cooked down barley and small chopped veggies as suggested by Angelique C. on my fan page. Or do what Sandra B. does and combine 1 can Black beans + 1 can corn + 1 can diced tomato w/chilies + lime juice and cilantro for another fantastic black bean dip!

What’s your favorite recipe for black beans?