Christmas Potpourri

Today I am writing about holiday potpourri or ”this and that” – not about the dried fragrant plant materials placed in bowls to evoke memories of Christmas or summer time.

Gifts – Years ago when the daddies were little, we made gifts for them to give to their grandmother for Christmas.  One year I decided that pomander balls would be a fantastic idea.  I gathered  two large oranges, a jar of whole cloves, some net fabric, and a poultry skewer.  The idea was that the boys and I would sit around the dining room table listening to Christmas carols and work on Grandma’s gift.  I planned that we would poke holes in the oranges with the skewer and then insert the cloves into the orange, covering the orange with the cloves.  Had I ever done it before?  No.  Did I ever do it again?  NO

The problems that arose – the boys poked themselves from time to time with the skewer and  juice (luckily no blood) was running all over their hands and arms and shirts.  The cloves sometimes broke when they were inserting them.  And finally the surface of an orange will accommodate more cloves than two small boys have the interest or attention span to insert.

When I saw that we had reached the point of dimishing returns, I told them they could go play.  I finished the pomanders and wrapped them in net and put them to age in a box for a couple of weeks.  At Christmas with big smiles they happily presented to their grandma the pomander balls THEY had made for her.  She was delighted.  (We grandmothers are pushovers, of course.)

The next year I decided the gift for Grandma would be something that took less time so it truly could be done by the boys.  I bought some sheets of thin cork.  On one side of the cork we glued a square of green felt the same size as the cork square.  When that dried, around the edge of the cork square the boys glued unpopped pop corn kernels and split peas.  After they had finished and the glue was dry, I brushed a sealant over the corn and peas.  Voila.  Coasters for Grandma.  She loved them, and they were on the coffee table at her home for several years.

Last year I decided to help my grandchildren who live 3 hours away make some coasters.  Unfortunately I could not find sheets of thin cork.  I had to buy a roll of cork.  What a pain.  I cut the squares of cork before I went to visit.  Since they came from a roll, they curled up.  For a week I had them weighted down with the dictionary, the atlas, a copy of Plutarch’s Lives, and The Oxford Latin Dictionary – any heavy book I could find.  That flattened them out.  Lately now that I don’t need it I have again seen sheets of cork in craft stores.  My advice if you want to make these – use the sheets.

Happily now one can purchase sheets of felt with adhesive backing.  These were easily cut and attached to the cork by my grandchildren.  For decoration they used stick-on jewels around the edges.  They looked really nice and were received with smiles and hugs.

One other gift that my grandchildren and I put together were refrigerator magnets.  I bought a roll of  adhesive magnetic sheeting.  We cut out photos of the children that were taken during the year and put them on the adhesive.  Presto, personalized refrigerator magnets.

Planting paperwhites – For the past four years my grandchildren who live 20 minutes away and I have planted paperwhites – usually about the second week in December – in a holiday bowl.  Then we place the bowl in a light, bright plant stand and the children watch the sprouts emerge and grow and bloom.  Typically the flowers open early in January.  This is a happy surprise to look forward to after the Christmas tree and decorations have been taken down.

Christmas Music – My grandchildren have a holiday CD that they love – especially the boys.  It is Christmas Rocks by The Brian Setzer Orchestra.  When they visit my house, they want to have it on while they play; when we drive somewhere, they ask me to put it in the CD player in the car.  The boys always request track 17  – Santa Drives a Hot Rod. It is a lively and funny tune.  They also know that Grandma’s favorite track is 2 – Gettin’ In the Mood (for Christmas).  This is an upbeat version of the big band tune In the Mood.  When they play that track, I dance in the living room, and everyone laughs at the dancing Grandma.

Christmas DVD – A fantastic DVD came out this year – Merry Madagascar.  Remember those animals that left Central Park and ended up in Madagascar with no way to return to NYC?  Their story was in the movies Madagascar, Madagascar 2, and in the summer of 2012 Madagascar 3. In this Christmas DVD Santa Claus crashes in Madagascar and has amnesia.  The animals with a sleigh pulled by penguins deliver the toys for Santa while he is recovering.  As the video draws to an end, the sleigh only has enough fuel to (a) take toys to the last group of children or (b) take the animals back to Central Park in NYC.  Decisions, decisions.  Yes, they made the right one.

I watched this video 3 times last weekend with my grandchildren and if I hadn’t returned it to the library, I would probably watch it again at home.  It is really funny and really enjoyable.

Christmas Fun and Games Newsletter – Check out this website:

This newsletter offers games, board games, word puzzles, mazes, coloring sheets, and more to entertain children. There are free games plus on-line books you can purchase.  I often print out some of the games or mazes and stick them in my purse.  Then when I go to a restaurant with my grandchildren, I pull them out and we play with these until meals are served.

Next week I’ll show  you some ornaments on my Christmas tree and share with you some holiday recipes.

Thank you for spending a few minutes at Grandma in the Mailbox.  I hope that you stop by again.




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