You might say our family is a little obsessed with Christmas. It's now continuing with our grandchildren too! We have quite a few traditions. Some of which are just non-negotiable. They happen every year without exception. Like making puppy chow (muddy buddies to some), jammies on Christmas Eve and heading down Christmas Tree lane just to name a few. However, our most treasured tradition by far is doing this 12 days of Christmas experience as a family. I say 'experience', because it truly is an amazing experience for both our family and the family on the receiving end!
For some this might not be anything new or different, but in case you haven't heard of this or are looking to implement a family tradition with your kids that will give memories that last a lifetime - then this is for you!
The premise is simple - pick a family that you'd like to brighten their Christmas. This could be simply a neighbor that is having a tough time, a family that a parent is serving in the military or just someone that you know would REALLY appreciate something like this.
HERE IT IS! You'll be purchasing a few items that correspond with each day of the traditional 12 days of Christmas song. We all should know that, right?! I've posted pictures of what our family has used before. Truthfully, it's changed up from year to year. We've added somethings to each day or taken away from some days depending if we wanted to be bit more budget friendly one year or were able to go all out another.
So basically this is a doorbell ditch thing. You'll need a driver and a runner. I have 5 children and they all would come just for the experience. There were also years where we were able to do more then one family and having more children to run was helpful. You'll start on December 13th. The evening time is best to do this. I'd suggest you switch up the times a bit, because the family might start to realize you're coming at a certain time each day if you don't. The driver will drive somewhere around the area of the house. The runner will jump out and start heading to the home and then put the item/items on the doorstep. I'd suggest you go through general ways of being sneaky with your family as to not get caught. If your family has small children, it may take another parent to go with them and that way they get the experience of doing this. Older children and certainly teenagers start to really get into this and learn exactly how to handle each situation. After dropping off the item, the runner will then quickly head back to the the designated spot that was determined ahead of time, where the car is. You'll continue to do this each day until Christmas Eve, at which time you'll go to the front door and ring the doorbell and reveal yourself to the family. You would then sing "We Wish you a Merry Christmas" to them. Afterwards, more often then not, they would invite us in for a bit. A lot of them even had a gift for us for making their Christmas extra special. I always wondered how they knew we would reveal ourselves at the end, but I think they have heard about it or just hoped that we would!!
Here's some things to consider:
Make sure the family is going to be home throughout all these days. Nothings worse then finding out they've left to go out of town! Also make sure they are going to be there around the time you'll be going as you'll be dropping of some perishable items. For the 5th day, we always liked to go in the morning, in most cases fairly early as to catch them before school or work. We liked to get fresh Kirspy Kreme donuts while they were hot!! We always found that THAT was the families highlight.
I realize that this is a HUGE commitment to undertake. Trust me, I know - and it is!! However, never once did we ever regret it. It has been and will always be the biggest, most talked about memory of Christmas in our family. If you come up with different ideas for the items of each day, then by all means switch it up! The pictures below are fairly self explanatory, but just in case I've noted what specifically they are below each picture. At the end of this post I've typed out the phrases for each day you can type out and print on some festive, Christmas paper. You leave this on the door step each night with the item/items.
A can of pears (for a partridge in a pear tree)
Either of box of turtle candies or a bag of something similar (shown here) + a bar of Dove soap
(3) cornish hens, for 3 french hens (you can find these at Costco during the holidays or usually any major grocery store)
(4) bags of sunflower seeds & plastic whistles (found at a dollar store or Target); for 4 calling birds
(5) glazed donuts (for 5 golden rings, these aren't Krispy Kreme because we don't have one here anymore; I liked to have them put (5) in one box and another dozen in another)
1/2 dozen eggs - for 6 geese a laying
(7) goldfish - this one of those that you want to make sure they're home; for 7 swans a swimming
(8) plastic gloves, blown up like a balloon - for 8 maids-a-milking; not pictured but a quart of milk would also be nice!
a frosted cake with 9 plastic dancing ladies; for 9 ladies dancing
a childs pair of tights stuffed with 4 oranges and 1 grapefruit on top, in each leg; suggesting "lords of leaping"; tie with a Christmas colored ribbon
11 party blowouts for 11 pipers piping
12 ding dongs with either pretzel sticks (for drumsticks, or mini candy candy shaped into a heart (2 on each ding dong)
On the first day of Christmas… a partridge in a pear tree.
On the second day of Christmas… We could find no turtle doves, so instead we’ve brought you something that everybody loves.
On the third day of Christmas… No French Hens we could find, so please don’t think we’re “corney”, we just brought another kind.
On the fourth day of Christmas… No birds could be found. Throw out a little bird seed and see if they come around.
On the fifth day of Christmas… We’re bringing just for you…. FIIIIVEEE GOOOLDEN RIIINGS!!!
On the sixth day of Christmas… Six Geese laid eggs.
On the seventh day of Christmas… 7 swans would fill your yard, So we “scaled” down a bit and brought them in a jar.
On the eighth day of Christmas… Eight maids a milking.
On the ninth day of Christmas… Nine ladies dancing.
On the tenth day of Christmas… The 10 leaping lords went on a strike… said they’re leotards were just too tight… they’re very sorry… they can’t perform for you tonight.
On the eleventh day of Christmas… Eleven Pipers piping.
ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS… We leave 12 drummer’s drums and a big, heartfelt thank you for allowing us to come. You are very special people and we wish you Christmas cheer – not only for this season, but also for all the coming year. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
When I was introduced to this recipe 30 years ago, I thought I was in heaven. It was like no other lemon pie I had ever tasted. If lemon is your thing and your looking for that one recipe that will WOW your crowd this holiday season, this may be just the thing! It literally melts in you mouth. No kidding! It takes a bit of patience to wisk up the lemon filling, but other then that it's super easy. Give it a try. I'm sure it'll become your new favorite!!
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
Mix egg whites, cream of tartar, salt & vanilla in deep mixing bowl using rotary beater. Add sugar gradually, beating all the time. When very stiff, heap in a well buttered 8-9" glass pie dish. Bake very, very slowly at 275• for 1 hour or so. The meringue should not brown at all, but should be a delicate cream color, dry and firm to the touch. Let cool throroughly before spreading with this lemon filling:
4 egg yolks
2 tsp. lemon zest
4 tbls. lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
Dash of salt
Combine ingredients and cook over double broiler, until thick and smooth. Be patient, it takes about 15 mins. or so. You're looking for a pretty think consistency. It will thicken after it cools too, so stop just shy of pretty thick. Cool. Spread over center of cold meringue. Then cover with a topping made by combining 3/4 cup whipping cream, 2 tbls. sugar, & 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
Put in refrigerator for 12-24 hrs. (A must in my opinion)
Serves 6 generously, 8 adequate
Spray Basting: There are severals methods to baste your quilt. 1) You can baste using the oldest method, which is to simply use a needle and thread making very large stitches throughout the quilt. The stitches would be removed as you quilt. 2) You can use safety pins placed apart be about a fist width. There are safety pins designed specifically for this purpose. They are curved, making it easier to insert into the quilt and remove as you quilt. 3) My personal favorite is Spray Basting. You use a temporary spray adhesive, here's my favorite, to adhere the back, batting and front of quilt together. Watching this video will help you understand the application better.
Binding Template: Binding can be a daunting part of quilter for some. Anything that makes binding easier is awesome in my book. This template makes cutting your binding strips very quick and simple. The marks on the template are easy to read, making it simple to cut the strips at a quick pace. Here's another video that explains this great template better then I can. I just LOVE it!
Iron: I'm asked what one step of quilting is the most important. That's hard to answer because I believe each step is equally important. However, if I had to pick just one it would be ironing. If you don't press nicely and correctly throughout each step of quilting, it can really throw off the entire quilt. In most cases, if an iron has adequate steam it should be just fine. Just make sure it doesn't leak or 'spit' so you don't effect you fabric. On the other hand, if you sew or quilt often I'd look for an iron that can keep up with your steaming needs. I've finally found the one the seems to work perfect for me. The steam if constant and I've never had a problem. You can find it here if you're in the market for a new iron.
Sewing Machine: I have quite a few machines because I'm in a business that requires it. So I have a pretty good idea of what's a good machine and what isn't. I won't go into sergers or your typical, everyday sewing machine is this blog; but I will at a later date. I'm going to suggest the best quilting sewing machine that I just can't live without. I have a Juki tl2010q. This machine is a workhorse. It doesn't have a zigzag. It's a straight stitch only, which is all you need for quilting. It isn't computerized, which is perfect. I find that the computerized ones just have way more then you need and can break down more then I think is ok. If you have a machine that does exactly what you need for quilting, and does it well, stick with it! All the bells and whistles aren't always needed.
Snippers: Here is a great pair of scissors that have a curved edge, perfect for snipping away those threads on your quilt that are stuck in the binding, or along a seam line. No need to spend a fortune on a pair of snippers. These are perfect, I've had them for years and never need to sharpen!
Binding Glue: I saved the best for last. I've probably changed the way I bind at least a dozen times. I've gone from a 2 1/2" width binding, to 3" & back to 2 1/2". Sewing on the front and wrapping to back to sewing on the back and wrapping to the front. You name it and I've tried it. In the end, having used just about every product to help my binding, I've landed on what is MY perfect binding method. I'll make a proper, full binding tutorial in a separate post someday because it would require that to go through the process entirely. Today I'm going to introduce you to THEE product that changed the outcome of my binding overnight. I was told about using glue to hold down your binding before you sew it down as the last step. I dismissed it because I thought it was lame. I've used wonder clips, those bendy hair clips, and of course hand binding. Hand binding is my ultimate, in a perfect world, method of sewing down your binding. I don't have that luxury in the business of selling quilts. It's just not cost effective because it takes a fair amount of time. So back to the glue! I was convinced that I should try this one glue (that I won't mention) to hold down my binding. I was loving the fact that your binding could be temporarily placed in just the perfect spot (1/8" over the sew line). You then can turn to other side of you quilt (weather you start on the front or back of you quilt), and sew in the ditch along your binding edge. This will catch the other side of your binding perfectly, tacking the binding down 1/8" away from the edge. If done right, this makes a sweet binding look. You don't have to use clips and remove them as you go, and you're pretty much guaranteed a uniform sewing line. Unfortunately this glue required you to iron down the binding as well. Not just the glue alone. This was just one too many steps that I didn't want. I then found THIS glue. No ironing. Just hold down with fingers for a couple seconds and you're off. MIND BLOWN. My binding as been pretty much perfect every since using this glue. Don't worry, it washes away in this first washing.
I would imagine some of this will be helpful to those that sew, some of it you may already know, while some might not make any sense what so ever. Whatever the case, I hope there was at least one thing that was informative and helpful!
I’d like to start the beginning of this journey of blogging by introducing myself and giving you an insight as to the content you’ll be reading here. Let’s get the formalities out of the way – my name is Clare Hansen, a wife, mother of 5 and grandmother of 2 (they are my favorite little humans EVER!!) I own my business ~ Second Stitch to the Right. I started this business when I had raised all my children and wanted to dip my toes back into the working world as I was a stay-at-home mom for 25 years. I knew I wanted to do something that I was passionate about and I knew I could do well. I was given the gift of craft ~ more specifically quilting and sewing by my beloved grandmother (this women had the patience of Job, I swear) When I made a quilt for my granddaughter, it ignited the passion of this art once again and I knew what I wanted to do.