How to light your Christmas tree

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Cape May Pine Pre-lit Tree

So, you think you know how to light your Christmas tree, right?  You start at the top with the end of a light strand, and you go around and around, and you plug that strand into the next strand, and you go around and around again, and you plug that strand in, and you rinse and repeat.  Around January 2nd or 10th or maybe even February 7th or 17th, reverse the process.

Wrong.

I’m sorry, but you are wrong wrong wrong.  Now, hear me out!  I have testimonials galore from friends who have seen the light – get it – the light? – and now have more beautimous Christmas trees than ever before!  The last report was that their Christmas ornaments practically glow on the tree under the proper conditions of illumination created with this technique.

It does not necessarily involve purchasing a pre-lit Christmas tree, though that is certainly an acceptable and practical option in many cases, and we have a beautiful selection.

Here’s what you do:

  • First, run a power strip from your nearest outlet to the base of your Christmas tree.  Plugging lights strands into a power strip makes it easy to turn them on and off.
  • Start at the bottom of the tree, near the trunk.   Wrap your first strand of lights around a branch, moving out to the tip and back into the trunk.  Proceed to the next branch, wrapping it to the tip and back.  Space your lights evenly.  If you have an artificial Christmas tree with hinged branches, make it easy on yourself and tie up the upper branches as you work your way up the tree.
  • If you have an extra bit of light strand at the end, wrap it back around the trunk of the tree.
  • Remember not to link more than 3 light strands together – use that power strip and extension cords as necessary (you know they come in green so you can hide them in your tree).
  • Fluff your branch tips to give a nice overall shape to your tree – if you have an artificial tree.  I’m not sure how you fluff a real Christmas tree.  Maybe you need a rotating base, get some centrifugal force going on it??  Hee hee hee!
  • Done.  Now add all the other pretty, shiny bits, and the hand-made ornaments from down through the years, turn on the lights, grab a mug of hot cocoa, pop in a Christmas cd, sit back, and enjoy the view. 

Next up, tips on hanging garland around the house!  Think hooks, that’s my teaser.  There is more information about selecting and decorating your tree on our blog page conveniently titled Selecting and Decorating Your Tree.

Happy Christmas!  Life is good!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Last-minute Snacks

Surely it is party- and/or treat-time in your world about now, so here are a couple of delicious, sweet snacks that are easy to make and better to eat.

WARNING:  If you work with me, please stop reading now and navigate away to another post or site.  Otherwise you’ll just be spoiling your own surprise this year!

People Chow

6 C Crispex cereal
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 C peanut butter
1C confectioner’s sugar

Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a heavy pan; pour over Crispex cereal and stir.  Place in a seal-able plastic bag, add powdered sugar, and shake well.  Refrigerate.  Makes about 8 cups.

Snack Mix Squares

2-1/2 C pretzel sticks, halved
2 C Corn Chex cereal
1-1/2 C M&Ms candies
1/2 C butter or margarine
1/3 C creamy peanut butter
5 C miniature marshmallows

In a large bowl, combine pretzels, cereal, and M&Ms.  In a large saucepan, over low heat, melt butter and peanut butter.  Add marshmallows, cook and stir until completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Pour over pretzel mixture and stir to coat completely.  Press into a greased 13×9 inch pan.  Cool until firm.  Cut into squares.  Makes about 3 dozen.

And easiest of all, melt milk and white chocolates separately on the stove top and dip  mini pretzels into each, one half at a time, or drizzle the two chocolates over the pretzels ~ or go crazy and dip one half and drizzle the other half!  Add a dusting of crushed sprinkles or crushed peanuts, let them cool, and arrange festively on a plate or package for gifting.

I just realized I’ve totally neglected my responsibilities – I should have cooked up a batch of each recipe to photograph for this post, so you could see the final results.  WEll, I have a mission, now!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

10 DAYS!

What will you do with the next 10 days of your life?

As I type this, that’s all the time left before Christmas 2008!  You could shop, cook, deck the halls, wrap presents, relax in front of a crackling fire, take a tour of your neighborhood to look at lights, sing carols, throw snowballs, see a Christmas play, spend time with the ones you love – and I hope you will be able to do all of that, and more!  I still have shopping, cooking, and present-wrapping on my list, having been singing carols at the top of my lungs – only in the car – for several weeks already.

I hope you’ll also seek out an opportunity to make a difference in the life of someone who is perhaps less fortunate than you this holiday.  Many of us are so very blessed in this country, not only with a wealth of possessions,  but also with a tremendous spirit of generosity.  Visit our Giving Back page for suggestions.

And if you need help, I hope you ask for it ~ and that someone is there to offer you a hand.

Happy Christmas, everyone!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

 

Food for Friday

It’s cold and overcast today, with a dusting of snow visible on the tops of the mountains that we can see from here – there’s probably even more snow up beneath the clouds.  This is a great day to tuck into a hearty bowl of chili ~ maybe with a side of jalapeno cornbread.  Since jalapenos make me sneeze, I can’t help you with the cornbread, so I’ll share an easy and delicious recipe for chili made with chicken rather than beef.  According to the chef who created this dish, it really tastes best after it has been refrigerated overnight and reheated!

Chick Salad Rooster<br>Poultry In Motion

Chick Salad Rooster by Poultry In Motion

White Chicken Chili

1 large jar of Great Northern Beans, undrained
1 jar of salsa
1 block of Monterrey Jack cheese, cut into chunks
1 block of Pepper Jack cheese, cut into chunks
1 or 2 cans of white chicken breast meat
1 or 2 small cans of chicken broth

Combine all ingredients and heat thoroughly.  Then, for best taste, refrigerate overnight and serve hot on the second day.

This was the winner in our Souper Bowl Cook-off Contest a few Januaries back!  Have you seen an easier recipe lately (even though it doesn’t quite meet my mom’s test of no more than 5 ingredients)?? 

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Forum Registration Problem Solved

A quick note to several forum readers who have been unable to register at the forum – we have identified and resolved the problem.  We sent each of you a registration reminder e-mail, and the link should now work properly to activate your membership.  If you are still unable to complete your registration, please send an e-mail to santa@christmasplace.com, and put “forum registration problem” in the subject field.  We’ll take look at your account right away, and make sure you are activated.

Come on over to the forum and join the conversation about Christmas ~ we’re talking about everything from family Christmas traditions to funniest gifts and favorite Christmas movies, sharing great recipes, and answering your questions.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Christmas Book Gifts

Thank you, NPR, for once again feeding my book lust at the holidays!  They’ve released their independent booksellers’ title recommendations for 2008, and it is a long and varied list.  I just love buying books!  and reading them, too, that too!

One title that caught my attention, you won’t be surprised, is The Man Who Invented Christmas, by Les Standiford.  Mr. Standiford contends that it was Charles Dickens’s book, A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, that changed the way we celebrate Christmas even today.

Another that sounds fascinating is The Oxford Project, by Steven G. Bloom and Peter Feldstein.  Mr. Feldstein photographed most of the residents of Oxford, Iowa in 1984, and again 20 years later.  Who were you 20 years ago?  Who will you be 20 years from now?

At the store, we have a nice library of Christmas titles.  One of the cutest is An Irish Night Before Christmas, by Sarah Kirwan Blazek, an amusing Irish take on the classic Christmas poem.  Father Christmas arrives in a donkey cart, accompanied by a staff of elvish assistants, on the Emerald Isle.

Bliss – looking at book lists and typing the blog with Il Divo singing Christmas songs in my ears!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Forum Contest Winner!

My bad, I keep forgetting to announce our contest winners!

Bradmac, thanks for posting photos of your holiday fun in 2007 – we look forward to some great new pics this year!  You’ve been sent a $25 gift certificate to www.christmasplace.com, and you are entered into the drawing for our $100 grand prize.

We’ll announce a new contest next week – I think it is going to be Christmas poems, so start rhyming now!  We’ll only accept original content. 

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. Limericks are my personal fav, hint hint.  No, I am in no way saying that the judges will be influenced by limericks.  After all, national haiku day comes later this month, too.

Let it snow!

We got hit with some terrific rain storms this morning…the kind that wake you up at approximately 4:28:16 a.m. and keep you awake until the alarm goes off, and leave you fighting to keep your eyes open at 3:55:56 p.m.  The kind that cover the road in sheets of water so you’ve got to keep an iron grip on the steering wheel and all four wheels down on the tight curves.

Then, at work, coworkers start telling me “this was the weather we had the day before the great blizzard of ’93, when we were without power for 10 days and all the restaurants and hotels in town ran out of food!”  Which comments were all immediately followed with “bring on the snow!”  We have quite a few transplanted northerners in the county, and some of them really miss the snow.  Too, we have not a few former south-coasters who are contemplating any and all white stuff with varying degrees of fear and loathing – sort of like San Diegans waiting for rain, if you know what I mean.

Let’s meet in the middle, and settle for a good, but only just inconvenient, 5″ of white, what do you say?  Here’s a picture of my hopes for winter, from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park web site.

smokies-snow-scene

So, I was looking at the funny calendars as I like to do, but there’s not much going on.  It’s “Hi Neighbor” month, and I’ve done that already.  It’s “Underdog Day” a week from today, and I’ll try to avoid that.  National Tie Month (note that it is NOT ugly tie month).  Ooo – ooo – Cat Herders Day on the 15th.  Then there’s that whole Christmas brouhaha in a couple of weeks.  What’s that about??  Heh.  Heh.  Heh.

We’re always dreaming of a white Christmas around here!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Have you been watching the U-Name-It-28-Days-of-Deals specials over at the shopping site?  And you remember that we’re offering free freight on orders over $75 through Sunday, December 14th?  You’ve still got plenty of time to snag some bargains and pick up a bauble or two, so get going!

Two for Tuesday

Another trip around the sun, and once again we arrive at Christmas, the time we have chosen each year to celebrate one another, and to celebrate lives well lived.  Can you believe that Christmas is only 15 days away???  I hope you’re getting excited about Christmas trees and decorations, parties, giving and receiving gifts, and spending time with family and friends.

If you’re in need of an angel to grace the top of your Christmas tree, this gracious lady just captured my attention.  She is delicately lit with fiber optic lights that change colors, and she is animated, gently moving her head and arms.  I’m including both a lighted photo of her and two images that are darker but will hopefully give you an idea of her colors.

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img_4762          img_4763

This very grand Father Christmas, standing 24″ tall and dressed in brocade and simulated fur, will also be an impressive decoration in your home – an heirloom to bring out for display each Christmas.  He’s not pictured on our shopping site, but call and ask for item 436381, only $69.99.

436381-brocade-santa1

Have a blessed evening, and get out and enjoy the Christmas lights in your neighborhood tonight!  Life is good!

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Check us out at CNN.com!

We are very excited to be included at CNN.com/TRAVEL in a story about the top 5 Christmas stores in the country!

Of course, we’re the only one mentioned that also has a Christmas hotel and a Singing Santa – we’re always going to be different, and bring a little bit more to the celebration of Christmas.

The Incredible Christmas Place really is Christmas!

Life is good!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

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