Three Tips for the best Christmas ever!

Christmas is just days away and if you’re like me, you’re in serious planning/stressing/working mode and the internal tension is starting to build.

Will I be able to finish all the decorating in time for my party?

Will Uncle Joe start telling off color jokes again at Christmas dinner?

Will I have time to make my famous cookies that everyone loves?

Sooooo much going on right now, right?

Here are three tips to help you have the best Christmas ever:

Relationships: Let it go

The very best thing you can do to deal with family and relational issues is to not bring last years trash to this years festivities. Did someone offend you last year? Leave it in the past. Was someone rude, late, obnoxious, insulting, impatient or ungrateful? Leave it in the past. Don’t bring it (those hurt feelings and bad memories) to this years party. Is that easier said than done? Well, yeah, but it doesn’t make it any less effective. You have a choice here, don’t forget that. You can choose to hold on to resentment and bitterness or you can choose to forgive, wipe that slate clean and start fresh, to have a great holiday.

Perfectionism: Release it

We all have ideas in our heads on what would make the holidays PERFECT. If you’re like me you may struggle with wanting things to be a certain way and people to act a certain way, etc.. (Maybe you just want them to act like adults, that’s not too much to ask, is it?) This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I know its popular to rag on perfectionists but the fact is- we need people with high standards in our world, we need goal setters and achievers. The question becomes, what lengths are we willing to go to, to achieve this illusive “perfection” and how do we respond when it is not achieved? Total transparency- I have struggled many times with not responding well. I want to get it ALL done and I want it ALL to be perfect! And in years past I have made myself sick with trying to DO IT ALL. And I have gotten upset with those who have messed up my plans.

Somewhere around 2010 I said, enough is enough. No more striving, no more doing things I don’t want to do, just to please others and no more killing myself to achieve my crazy standard of perfection. It’s been a process (I’m still working on it) but I can tell you, this has made the BIGGEST positive impact on my Christmas season. I have more joy in my heart when I’m not pursuing something that in truth, can never be achieved. I would encourage you to consider dropping your high expectations of yourself,  your family and your home decor this Christmas and embracing the ‘imperfections of reality’ for a happier holiday.

Focus: What is important?Best Christmas Ever CatrinaAtHome.com

We read and hear this all the time, right? Remember the “reason for the season” etc.      We KNOW what’s MOST important is the birth of Christ and spending time with family during the holidays but something happens… somehow our focus gets… off. We start striving to be admired for our cooking, our decorating, our Christmas card photo, our outfits, our perfect house, our gifts, our instagram photos, our blah, blah, blah and the “reason for the season” gets pushed down to 4th or 5th place (if it’s even on the chart). So how do we get back on track? How do we make this right? Does something terrible have to happen to a family member for us to recalibrate and remember whats REALLY important? Dear God, I hope not. But that will definitely do the trick. Somehow, when we have a near fatal car accident or we lose track of a child in a store for 10 seconds that everything that’s important rises to the top and all the other stuff fades away with lightening speed. Remember, you are the pace setter in your home, you determine what is important and what is trivial. You can choose to focus on family time over all the distractions of the season. Also, remember the little ones are watching, be the person you want them to grow up to be. Focus on what you want THEM to focus on.

Remembering what’s important this season and letting go of bitterness and perfection will help you have the best Christmas ever. I promise!!

Blessings to you and yours,

Catrina

 

Quick & Easy Christmas Cobbler

Christmas Cobbler- CatrinaAtHome.comI’ll be honest.. this recipe is really called DumpCake. I’ve used it for nearly 25 years and it’s a family favorite. But there’s just something about that name that turns folks off.. so I exercised some creative license.. and changed the name. Lol

This dessert is so easy to make, you may feel a little guilty for all the compliments you’re going to get from your people, just for making it. It’s that good. And it’s dang easy.

Ingredients List

1 box of yellow cake mix

1 can of cherry pie filling (20oz)

1 can of crushed pineapple (20oz)

2 sticks of butter (1/2 pound)

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°

Dump the cans of cherry pie filling and crushed pineapple into an ungreased 9×13 pan, mix together well and spread fruit over entire bottom of pan.

Dump entire bag/box of yellow cake mix unto the cherry/pineapple mixture, spread it out evenly.

Cut the two sticks of butter into slices and place on top of cake mix.

(Optional) Chop 1 cup of nuts and spread evenly over the butter slices.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until top is golden brown. (The ideal time for me and my oven seems to be 55 minutes.)

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream (Or just by itself!)

-Store leftovers in fridge (You MAY need an accountability group if you have leftovers, because it will take the strength of Sampson to resist EATING IT ALL. Lol No lie. So… fair warning.)

Enjoy!

Catrina

 

 

 

 

3 Tips For a Brighter Christmas Tree

Have you ever noticed that some Christmas trees seem so much brighter than others? Well, if you’re wanting to know how to brighten your  tree, you’re in luck. I have three simple ways to brighten your Christmas tree.

1. Add more lights

This one may seem obvious, but have you tried it?

Even if you have a pre-lit tree, running a string of lights up the center of the tree will add dimension and back light your ornaments for a brighter tree. But unless you’re interested in removing all your ornaments and running another strings of lights on your tree, this tip would be best used as you’re setting your tree up. Have no fear, though, these next two tips can still save the day.

2. Remove light blockers

Too many solid ornaments, pinecones or thick ribbon on a tree will block the light and cause your tree to look dark. Either greatly minimize the solid ornaments etc. or play with the lights a little bit to intentionally bring light in front of these light blockers.      Take a look at your tree? If it’s too dark, is your tree heavy on the light blockers?

CatrinaAtHome Christmas tree3

3. Add reflectors

Adding reflectors is a great way to maximize the light you already have on your tree. I find my old fashioned tin reflectors at estate sales, garage sales and thrift stores. They fit right over the lights and instantly brighten the tree.  They can also be found on eBay.

A great cheat for this is to use plenty of light colored, shiny, reflective ornaments. If you’re not up for a potentially brassy look that can sometimes come with reflective ornaments, just intersperse them with your preferred ornaments, variety adds dimension and dimension creates interest. If you want solid, non-reflective ornaments on your tree, make sure to add in light colored solids to help keep the tree bright.

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Remember- Dark absorbs, light reflects.                                                                                   Dark objects absorb the light on your tree and light objects reflect the light. If your tree is too dark, add some more lights, remove the light blocking objects and add in reflectors or light ornaments.

Bonus tip: layer your ornaments one, two and three deep on your tree (depending on the size, of course). Put those inner branches to work for you. This is a great way to use up extra ornaments while giving your tree depth and dimension. 

CatrinaAtHome Christmas tree1

I hope these tips were helpful to you, let me know how your tree brightening efforts pan out!

Merry Christmas,

Catrina

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Gorgeous Folded Dinner Napkins

The cloth dinner napkin has become not only a necessity on a finely dressed table but a serious contender for top billing as the most eye catching feature. And with its rise in popularity comes the quest for the hostess to find an interesting folding technique.

Only problem is, most folds are overly complicated and more importantly, take up a ton of your precious time. Here are three quick and easy folds for your Christmas/holiday dinner taught in simple, easy-to-follow steps.

 

If you’re looking to add in a little more creativity to your place setting, here’s some inspiration for the “pocket square” fold.

CatrinaAtHome Pocket square fold picks

Create your own picks for the pocket square fold.

Pocket fold napkin by CatrinaAtHome

Ruscus branches for the pocket square fold.

CatrinaAtHome Pocket square fold

Ribbon background for the pocket square fold.

CatrinaAtHome Pocket square fold

Velvet and frosted berries for the pocket square fold.

CatrinaAtHome Pocket square fold

Simple eucalyptus leaves for the pocket square fold.

CatrinaAtHome Pocket square fold

Red velvet leaf and greenery for the pocket square fold.

CatrinaAtHome Pocket square fold

Gingham check and frosted berry pick for the pocket square fold.

Of course, these folded napkins can be made with any napkin you choose! Just coordinate your napkins with your dinner ware and have fun!

If you use one of these folded napkin designs, I would love it if you sent me a photo of your place setting.

Merry Christmas!

Catrina

 

Three Quick and Easy Napkin Folds. CatrinaAtHome.com

 

Intentional Christmas

in·ten·tion·al

inˈten(t)SH(ə)n(ə)l/
adjective
          done on purpose; deliberate. Conscious, premeditated, preplanned.

Christmas living room ©CatrinaAtHome

If you’re like me, the Christmas season is a time you look forward to all year long! I mean, what’s not to love? Most people are in a better mood, everything is made prettier with lights and greenery… and most importantly, cookies.  Priorities, people. We rightly want to squeeze every little moment out of December that we can.
If you’re also like me, some years you wake up on December 26th a little bummed out that “it’s” over and you didn’t do all that you wanted to and you know it’s going to be 11 months before you can start celebrating again. (sniff, sniff) Stuff happens and life just gets in the way, sometimes.
The idea of an Intentional Christmas is simply this:
Decide in advance what you want the Christmas season to look like for you (and your family). 
Do you want a relaxed/laid back Christmas season or one packed with fun and adventure?
What will work best for you and your family?
What are the top five things (in order of importance) that you want to do or experience during the Christmas season?
What new traditions do you want to start for your family?
Here are a few things you might want to add to your list of intentions:
1. Have a Christmas movies ‘n’ jammies night (once or as often as you want).
2. Go see Christmas lights together.
 Outdoor christmas lights 1
3. Read the Christmas Story in Luke, together.
4. Make cookies and/or treats together.
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5. Do an Advent calendar.
6. Have mandatory rest nights, 1-2 nights a week.
7. Decorate a gingerbread house together to eat Christmas morning.
8. Attend a Christmas Eve service at a nearby church.
9. Make simple Christmas cards and send them to family and close friends.
Christmas cards ©CatrinaAtHome
10. Have one night where you eat snacks and make paper snowflakes and paper chain decorations as a family.
11. Go ice skating!
12. Get all Christmas shopping done before December 20th.
13. Decorate the Christmas tree together.
14. Sleep in and watch cartoons on Saturday morning.
15. Make a homemade Nativity.
Christmas Nativity ©CatrinaAtHome
Most of us don’t have trouble thinking of new things to do in the Christmas season but saying NO can be a little difficult. Sometimes it’s those last minute invites that cause the most stress, am I right? They don’t mean to, of course, but figuring out what you’re going to wear, finding a babysitter, picking up a hostess gift etc. etc… can stress a girl out!  The good thing is, if you have written intentions for your season ahead of time, you can just say- thanks for the invite but our family has plans to relax/make dinner together/watch It’s a Wonderful Life that night. (whew!)
Four Tips:
  • Try working on your Christmas Season Intentions together as a family and post it on your refrigerator when you’re finished.
  • Pull out the school calendar and the family calendar and decide what you’re going to add in and what you’re going to skip this season.
  • Don’t forget to plan one or two rest nights a week to help everyone rest, recover and bond.
  • If you have the energy for it, add in a Surprise Night where you do something unexpected and fun with the family. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun.
Most of all, I encourage you to be gracious to yourself and your family during this season. Sometimes stuff happens that is beyond your control. The ability to roll with those punches will help lower your stress and have a more peaceful season.
So tell me, what are a few of your Christmas intentions for this season? I would love to read about them in the comments.
And please, have a very merry intentional Christmas season!
-Catrina
Setting intentions for an awesome Christmas. CatrinaAtHome.com