Christmas gifts

Christmas Gifts And Toys


Christmas is the time for family and holiday tradition. Giving Christmas gifts and toys has come to be a vital part of the Christmas tradition. Take a warm look back at Christmas gifts and toys of Christmas past and celebrate Christmas tradition.
Christmas toys
A Countdown To Christmas

As the festive season approaches it's time to start preparing for Christmas day. This guide to Christmas preparation was written by my late husband back when we ran an online newspaper. He was British and so this is written from the perspective of a British person preparing for Christmas. However, the basic concepts can be followed for Christmas planning around the world.

by Marc Anderson (1996)

Year Round Tip: Having made your card list, you can use it year after year, and see at a glance whom you need to send cards to, whom you can cross off because they didn't send you one last year, who has passed on or is no longer on speaking terms with you, and no doubt each year your list will be extended to include new-found friends and colleagues who will need a card.

Keep the list safely with your Christmas cards and it will be to hand whenever you want it.

In November: You should have bought any wrapping-paper, ribbons, gift-tags and sellotape that you will need before they are unobtainable in a few weeks' time! Also consider buying them right after Christmas when they are reduced in price and save them up for the next year.

Buy calendars for the coming new year, too, before all the best have gone. Many people don't consider buying a new one until the New Year is fast approaching, and by then it is too late.

December 1st: Order your fresh Christmas turkey, goose or capons.

To ensure that you have a leg of beef or pork for Boxing Day and for New Year, do your Christmas ordering early in the month to ensure that you have good-quality meat.

2nd: Check the final date by which you need to send cards to friends and relatives overseas.

Also remember there are different dates for surface and air mail letter and parcels. Prices vary too, so check by picking up the leaflet at your local post office.

3rd: Write your Christmas cards.

This can be a long, laborious task writing out cards and envelopes, but get it done early in the month and they'll be ready to post later in the month and will be certain to arrive on time.

4th: Write any letters necessary to accompany the cards.

Christmas is often the only occasion on which you keep in contact with certain people, the time when you catch up on the news over the past year.

If you find that you need to write hundreds, then write one long general newsletter explaining all the major events and then photocopy it.

It may not be as personal, but if you apologise for your newsletter and say that it simply was not possible to write to everyone, people will understand.

If you sign it and write a couple of individual lines at the bottom, such as 'Hope we will be able to get to see each other in the New Year', it will be quite acceptable, and people will get to look forward to receiving your annual newsletter.

5th: Prepare any food that can be made in advance and frozen.

If you have parties planned, it is a good idea to make fruit flans, quiches, lasagne, dips, pies, sausage rolls, anything that can be frozen for the future. This will save a lot of time nearer Christmas.

You can even make your forcemeat and stuffings for Christmas Day and freeze them.

6th: Post any Christmas presents and packages to people whom you will not be seeing before Christmas.

These can be sent by second-class mail and will arrive in plenty of time for Christmas.

Include your Christmas card and newsletter in the parcel too.

7th: Buy those little extras that are always needed over Christmas but are often difficult to get when you remember them at the last minute.

Icing sugar for your Christmas cake, cranberry sauce to accompany the turkey, paper serviettes if necessary for your parties, candles to light the table, and so on.

8th: Make sure that you have extra provisions to cover the Christmas period.

An extra jar of coffee, more butter, some tinned fruit for emergency gate-crashing guests, anything that will keep until Christmas and beyond, that will not spoil if it isn't used but will give you confidence to have it in stock.

9th: Post your Christmas cards.

As the Christmas rush begins, post your cards by second-class mail (look for special offers from the Post Office on books of Christmas stamps) to ensure that they will arrive over the coming week.

This will jog anyone's memory if they have accidentally missed you off their list!

Put the marzipan or almond paste on your Christmas cake.

10th: Ice your Christmas cake.

This will give the icing plenty of time to set before you cut the cake on Christmas Day.

With any excess icing, make little sweets by adding chocolate powder or peppermint essence. It's often worth making just a little extra so that you can actually make some - they are always popular.

Any additional marzipan can be pushed inside dates to produce stuffed dates. A little box of sweets and stuffed dates can be quite an acceptable gift for a neighbour, the newspaper boy, the old man who helps you with the garden, especially if presented attractively in a box.

llth: Wrap your Christmas presents.

This can be a tiresome task if you are not particularly artistic, but fun if you set aside an evening with a glass of sherry, a mince pie and carols on the hi-fi to get you in the mood.

Make the job easier by writing out a label for each person you have bought a present for.

Lay out the presents with a label for each. It is then simply a case of wrapping the present and sticking on the labels as you go.

12th: Begin gathering together your Christmas decorations.

If you live in the country, look out for holly and mistletoe, and visit the local farmer with a Christmas box if it happens to be growing on his land.

It may be the season of peace and goodwill, but trespassers are not likely to be forgiven.

Dust off your old baubles and dig out the tinsel.

13th: Having made your decorations, you can now transform your home into a fantasy of festoons and bunting to put your household into a Christmas spirit.

Don't forget the exterior of your house, though.

Give it a little colour with a Christmas wreath on the door.

14th: Your final, and possibly one of the most important, decorations must be your Christmas tree.

There are many excellent artificial trees available that look so realistic they are often difficult to distinguish from the real thing, but you might wish to have a real one.

Useful though artificial trees may be, nothing can replace that wonderful pine aroma that a real tree gives off although in today;'s centrally-heated homes, real trees do tend to shed their needles very quickly and if you have pets or young children in the house, those needles can hurt!.

When you buy your tree, make sure that it has roots. Not only will you be able to plant the tree later, but you will have less trouble with falling pine needles too.

Buy a small tree and put it in a large tub of earth. Place a few stones in the bottom first to give good drainage, and make certain that the tree is watered whilst in the house over Christmas.

On Twelfth Night, after you have removed the tree decorations, stand the tub outside.

The tree should grow quite happily and can be brought back into the house next Christmas.

If you give the tree 'plant food' during the spring and keep the soil moist during hot summer months, it should survive.

15th: Make your first batch of mince pies.

If possible make a large enough number to see you through the Christmas period, and freeze.

You can take out as few or as many pies as you wish over the coming weeks, and if warmed for ten minutes in the oven, they taste like freshly baked pies.

16th: Place an order with your milkman for extra milk, cream and eggs over the Christmas period.

There will be no deliveries for several days, especially if Christmas happens to fall at a weekend, so be sure of a good supply of dairy products.

Most milkmen supply soft drinks at this time of year, which will relieve you of one more task.

17th: Carol singing begins!

Choose a charity that you would like to donate money to, and it: you approach them first, they will be quite happy to give you a collecting tin.

Form yourself into as large a group as possible, with friends and especially children.

There are a few golden rules about the art of carol singing that should be adhered to:

Make sure you all know the words and the tunes of the carols you intend to sing. Practice beforehand.

A small, well-rehearsed repertoire is better than attempting to sing every carol ever written. Give value for money and allow each house to hear at least one carol all the way through.

However, don't labour the point by giving a complete concert! Ring each doorbell only once. Even if you know that the occupants are hiding behind the curtain, don't knock the door down. Always appear grateful for the money put in your collecting tin, even if it is only 3p. Don't stop mid-carol or take the money and run!

Avoid the temptation to go into people's homes, even if invited. The offer of a warm mince pie and a hot toddy may sound tempting, but it's not the object of the exercise.

Wrap up warm and enjoy yourself.

If you collect money for charity, do see that the money reaches its intended destination. This is, after all, the season of goodwill ..

18th: Buy any extra wines and spirits that might be needed for your Christmas parties.

Don't forget those extras, like cocktail cherries and sticks, lemons (which will keep for weeks in the fridge wrapped in tinfoil), tonic waters and so on.

19th: Make Christmas crackers and table decorations for your Christmas dinner table.

A simple but attractive centrepiece can be created using a piece of florist's 'oasis', into which you can push some candles, the long thin variety, some sprigs of holly complete with berries, and some small twigs sprayed with gold paint or dipped in glitter.

During the meal the candles can be lit.

20th: Time for very last-minute Christmas shopping for your nearest and dearest, whose present you don't want to be discovered!

By now you should, of course, have got all your presents safely wrapped, but for any small item that you've forgotten, this is the day to get it.

21st: Make the brandy butter for your Christmas pudding.

You will need:

1/2 Ib of unsalted butter
6 oz of soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons of grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of brandy Cream together the butter and sugar.
It helps if the butter has been left in a warm room for a couple of hours before you do this.

Mix in the lemon rind and lemon juice. Some people prefer the taste of orange rind and orange juice, especially if you are using Grand Marnier.

Finally, add the brandy a little at a time, beating the mixture all the time.

Put the butter in a dish and cover with tinfoil and store in the refrigerator until Christmas Day.

22nd: Visit your market and buy the fresh fruits, nuts etc. that are nice to have around.

Oranges, tangerines and apples are in plentiful supply, so treat yourself!

Do any last minute food shopping.

23rd: If you've ordered a turkey from a local farm or supplier, make sure you collect it or have it delivered by today.

If you have frozen a large turkey, get it out of the deep freeze this evening to give it plenty of time to defrost.

24th: Make your forcemeat if you haven't already done so.

If you have the kind of oven that can be set by a timer, stuff your turkey and place it in the oven ready to come on early in the morning.

This is necessary if it is a very large bird and is going to need many hours' cooking.

If you are feeling particularly energetic, you can prepare your vegetables and leave them in saucepans covered with cold salted water.

If you lay the table ready for Christmas dinner before you go to bed, you can have a nice relaxing Christmas morning opening your presents whilst the dinner cooks itself.

Take any mince pies etc. out of the deep freeze, ready for tomorrow.

Hang up the stockings and sleep tight ready for the big day!