Christmas Don’ts

So many people have holiday traditions, things they do each and every year, and while we definitely have more than our fair share of Dos, today I’d like to talk about a few of my Don’ts.

I don’t:

Use tinsel. Not one sparkly strand. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-tinsel – as a matter of fact, growing up, we always had tinsel (or what we called “icicles”) on our tree. We’d grab the glittery stuff and toss it willy nilly all over that beautiful evergreen. It was so ingrained in me that during the first few years of marriage, my husband and kids and I repeated the tradition. Until I actually had to clean up all that shiny stuff – from the floors, the furniture, our clothes…so, yeah. No tinsel. Not even the garland kind. I’m now used to a less sparkly tree. *g* (I’ve also outlawed any and all Easter grass during Easter but that’s a whole ‘nother post) The tree pictured here is my mom’s, hence the sparkle.

Make or drink eggnog. I know it’s traditional and all and I love eggs as part of a meal but the idea of drinking them just gives me the heebie jeebies *shudder*. So…no eggnog even though Big Sis (older daughter) loves it. This year I’m making apple brandy. Hey, that can be traditional, right?

Watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas or The Year Without a Santa Claus. They (and a few others) freak out my children (who, I might add, are 21, 18 and 15 but still…) It’s the artwork for some reason *shrug* It’s such a deep-seated fear that the other night when I found The Year Without a Santa Claus on TV, Big Sis wouldn’t come into the living room until I’d turned the channel. I tried to talk her into watching the part where Heat Miser sings but she’d have none of it.

Send Christmas cards early. Ever. I always plan on having them done weeks ahead of time but it never happens. Some years I’ve barely made it On Time. Oh, and I always save my kids’ school pictures to include in the cards but I don’t always remember to actually put them in the envelopes.

Put ribbons or bows on wrapped presents. I used to. I used to spend hours wrapping presents, curling ribbons and making perfect bows (I even got a wooden bow-maker one year – you wrapped the ribbon around it somehow…wonder if I still have that?) and being creative with my wrapping. Now I’m lucky if I don’t run out of wrapping paper, tape and/or gift tags. Seriously. I’ve been known to use the Sunday comics for wrapping paper, stickers (yes, stickers) in place of tape and folded pieces of scrap paper for tags. It’s not pretty.

Let my kids step one foot into the living room on Christmas morning until my husband and I have coffee in hand, Bing playing on the CD player and the camera ready to snap a picture of their reactions at seeing all the presents Santa left. As I mentioned, two of them are now legally adults and yes, we still do this. And yes, Santa still leaves presents AFTER they’ve gone to bed Christmas Eve.

Hey, I can’t spend all that time wrapping presents. I have goodies to make! Here’s a super easy one that also happens to be my husband’s favorite:

Peanut Clusters

2 – 12 oz packages of white chips

1 – 12 oz package of milk chocolate chips

1 – 12 oz package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

5 cups Spanish peanuts.

Combine chips in a large bowl. Melt. (Can melt over low heat of a double boiler – I use a glass or metal bowl over a saucepan of an inch or so of simmering water) or in the microwave (med heat for 2 minutes, stir, then microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth).

Add Spanish peanuts, stir until coated. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto wax paper lined cookie sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes. (We love a salty/sweet treat so I sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top of half of these *g*)

What are some of your Christmas Don’ts? I’ll draw one name to win a set of The Diamond Dust trilogy which kicked off with A MARINE FOR CHRISTMAS!

And you DON’T want to miss out on the 12 Bandita Days of Christmas! From now until December 25th we’re celebrating the holidays with daily recipes and PRIZES! It’s all leading up to a HUGE Prize bundle of books and goodies on Christmas Day! Tomorrow’s guest, Jeannie Watt, is giving away THREE copies of her latest release for SuperRomance, CROSSING NEVADA!

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  • Jane says:

    Hi Beth,
    I love icicles, but stopped using them because it was so hard to remove them from the tree. Not sure if I have any Christmas Don’ts. Can’t think of anything I have to avoid except for cooking. I always make sure to get out of the way and only help out with the cooking when asked.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Hi, Jane! Congrats on nabbing the rooster. He’ll keep you company while you finish up your holiday preparations *g*

      I don’t always like help when I’m cooking but lately I’ve been putting my kids to work more in the kitchen. Especially if it’s something tedious like filling pasta shells with ricotta cheese!

  • AmyConley says:

    This is my first year without a lot of things; no tree, no cards, no decorations. But it’s also my Christmas in 52 (almost 53) years with a package/card/phone call/visit with, my grandmother. It is also the first year of no kids or grandkids. Can’t see the point in any of the “good stuff” of Christmas with the important things, my family.

  • Fedora says:

    LOL! Great list, Beth! We never manage to get our cards out early either, although they’ve been sitting on the counter for several weeks now 🙂

    We don’t decorate the outside of the house, and there are times I don’t even wrap, much less adorn gifts with bows! 🙂

    Treats to be made AND eaten! 😉

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Fedora, we almost didn’t decorate outside this year but gave in and put up a single string of lights on the porch *g*

      Of course all those treats must be eaten! Tomorrow I’m making cinnamon rolls for my son to take in to work with him and I’ll definitely be keeping a few for myself 🙂

  • AmyConley says:

    And again it should say without the important things….

    Don’t mean to be a downer, just a tough Christmas in the Conley household this year.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Amy, I’m so sorry to hear you will be sans family this year. That is so hard, especially when being with them is what gives you joy. Hugs to you this season, dearest. At least you know we will be here partying hard on Christmas Day, so come chat with us. It’s not at all the same, but at least we can help some time pass! 🙂

    • Amy, some holidays are just rough, and you have my sympathy. I hope your 2013 will be brighter.

      • Amy Conley says:

        Thanks for understanding everyone and your words of encouragement. The hardest part is just knowing I will NEVER get another Christmas card from my grandmother. She always took her time picking just the right card for everyone, and they were all beautiful. I did think I’d just put out old cards from her this year, but it’s still too soon. I would never stop crying and I think hubby would end up hiding them from me. And of course, then I’d never find them again! Not going to happen.

  • Mariska says:

    Well, i don’t celebrate Christmas but still love to watch and see homes or malls with beautiful Christmas trees 😀

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Hey, Mariska! The lights during the season are lovely, aren’t they? I’m a fan of the “less is more” view when it comes to outdoor decorations but I still enjoy seeing how some people go all out!

  • Mary Preston says:

    I don’t wrap my children’s Christmas presents. They are both adults, but I still don’t wrap their presents & put them under the tree. They get their gifts in a sack/pillowcase. They love it. It feels right.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Mary, that is a very cool tradition! When my kids were young, I’d leave a small present or their stockings on the bottom of their beds for them to have something to open/go through while my husband and I got ready in the living room *g*

  • Helen says:


    I don’t think I have any don’ts for Christmas we have our traditions and they include putting the presents out after everyone is in bed still LOL but we are more than willing to give new things a go. I will have all the kids and grandkids arriving around 6-30 am to open presents and start partying Christmas morning and am really looking forward to ti YAY

    Have Fun

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Helen, I just know you’re going to have a fabulous Christmas! How could you not with all those babies around? 🙂

      When my kids were little, my parents, in-laws and sister and her husband would come over Christmas morning to watch the kids unwrap their gifts. Now that my sister has little kids, we go up to her house. We love it!

  • Lianne says:

    We dont put up or decorate a tree at home. Santa still leaves presents

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Lianne, we had to take down a tree one year (the last year we had a real tree) because my son and I were so sick from our allergies and yes, Santa still came *g*

      Then there was the year my son was 3, my older daughter 3 months and I didn’t make any Christmas cookies. My mom was shocked *g* But Christmas came anyway and we all survived – and ate cookies other people made!

  • Maureen says:

    I don’t put up any decorations or the tree up early. Both our kids are in college so I have had no one nagging me for years and we have two cats who enjoy tearing things apart so I have just started putting everything up this week.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Maureen, I actually prefer to wait a bit to put up our tree but the girls wanted to get it done so I hauled up the boxes and they decorated *g* But I wouldn’t let them do it before Dec 1 *g*

  • Mozette says:

    I have a few don’ts… and here they are.

    I don’t go to church for the Mass or morning prayers. I’m not a Christian, and so I don’t go.

    I don’t have any expectations of what anyone has gotten me for Christmas… yep, I’ve nicknamed it ‘The Orgy of Greed’ (my whole family has) and so we find it a season of being together, loving each other and getting things for each other. And my family loves getting gifts from me as I’m known as an awesome gift-giver (I’ve been told) 😀

    I don’t leave my Christmas Shopping until the very last minute… I’m so uber-organised that I send out my cards in mid-November, begin my Christmas shopping around August and finish it just just when everyone else is beginning it. However, this year, I lost my dear sweet budgie, and it put me out of kilter… darn. But I got it all finished.

    No matter how screwy the day gets, on the big day, I try no to snap at people … if I think I’m going to, I stop and walk away. It’s not worth a big fight over something that might not be worth a fight.

    These are my don’ts….

    I can’t say I don’t overeat on the day… mainly because I stupidly do. 😛

  • Caren Crane says:

    Beth, I have to say that most of my Christmas Don’ts are actually Christmas Meant Tos. 😉 As in, I meant to send cards early (or at all), but it didn’t quite happen. I meant to get my shopping done before today, but that didn’t happen, either. I meant to have stocking stuffers on my mind every freaking time I was out, but clearly did not. *sigh*

    And, as Mozette said, I did not mean to eat so many cookies, but that didn’t stop me. Yikes!

  • May says:

    After my daughter is born, we don’t use any decorations that is breakable. She broke a few of them already so we bought a new set of unbreakable ones!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      That was a good idea, May! My son almost knocked over my pencil tree that has the ornaments handed down from my husband’s grandmother – maybe I should invest in some unbreakable ornaments as well! Guess kids don’t always outgrow that ‘breaking things’ stage *g*

  • GovernessInRed says:

    We don’t do Christmas cards anymore. The convenience of email, Facebook & Twitter makes it much easier to share and post pictures of the kids & wish Merry Christmas without costing postage.

    Thanks for the recipe! 😉 I’m loving how you gals are listing yummy recipes everyday.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      We ran out of cards so I’ve sent a few e-cards this year, too *g* Very convenient!

      Glad you’re enjoying the recipes – so am I! My holiday recipe collection is growing by leaps and bounds 🙂 (And I’m growing by leaps and pounds, but that’s another story)

  • Minna says:

    There are all those casseroles we no longer do ourselves.

  • Connie Fischer says:

    I’m glad someone else doesn’t care for the “traditional” Christmas movies. Good grief! How many times can you watch the same thing over and over?

    I try to start on Christmas cards (of which I have severely cut back) by the first of December. I don’t mail them out until after the first week of December. However, I don’t like to wait until too late because it puts a lot of pressure on the mail people and then we run the risk of them getting “lost.”

    I used to put up a tree but since we retired to Florida, I cut way back on decorations and I like it better that way. We have a lighted pink flamingo that we put up for giggles.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      We have a lighted pink flamingo that we put up for giggles.

      LOL, Connie! That sounds fabulous! The most fun tree I remember was my grandmother’s – it was about five feet tall, silver and spun around. It was great 🙂

  • Joan Kayse says:

    LOL, great post Beth!

    I miss tinsel GARLAND…if draped with a certain panache, can really brighten up a Christmas tree. However, kitty experts world over point out kitties can swallow and be harmed.

    So, I don’t

    I did put up my tree but as of this busy work week moment, not gonna worry about ornaments…the lights and skirt are pretty enough. Plus….the kitties would bat the ornaments, knock them ornaments?

    I WON’T

    But Christmas hats on cats? I’m considering it….REALLY want to for some unfathomable reason. Opinions?

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Aww, Joan, I think Christmas hats on cats would be adorable! Although the cats might disagree with me *g* Cats always seemed way too dignified for playing dress up but maybe that’s just the ones I knew 🙂

  • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    I don’t decorate or put up a tree
    I don’t wrap but I love bags!
    I don’t bake but I do cook, a lot.

  • CateS says:

    No tinsel…no real tree…no eggnog…
    Gift bags only because we’re always on the road for Christmas & it’s just easier!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Cate, we’re lucky in that both of our families live close by so no traveling during the holidays. I just load up the gifts into large garbage bags and take them the two miles to my mom’s 🙂

  • Beth, we don’t use tinsel, mainly because it makes the undecorating more of a hassle. We do have a real tree (finally up and decorated, with packages–none bought by me yet–under it.) and so don’t go artificial for that. The dh and I enjoy spiked eggnog with our homemade fruitcake.

    We don’t use gift bags much, preferring to wrap things ourselves. Even when the store offers wrapping, we generally just get the boxes from them.

    We don’t eat ham, a traditional part of holiday dinners in the South. The guys don’t care for it, and I try to avoid pork after reading about how intelligent pigs are.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Nancy, I’ve been thinking about making homemade fruit cake! Not sure why as I’ve never had it but it just sounds good *g*

      We’ll have ham because it’s my husband’s favorite (son and younger daughter like it, too) but I’m not a huge fan. I was hoping to do Italian but I’ll just save that for another night 🙂

      • Beth, our fruitcake is more like spice cake with candied fruit in it rather than a compressed log of same.

        I meant to say earlier, whoever wins A Marine for Christmas will be very lucky! It’s a wonderful book, and so are its trilogy companions.

        I recently finished The Truth About the Sullivans, trilogy another great Beth Andrews offering!

        • Beth Andrews says:

          Beth, our fruitcake is more like spice cake with candied fruit in it rather than a compressed log of same.

          I love spice cake, Nancy! Sounds right up my alley*g* I never had any desire to try fruitcake until I saw a special on Food Network about some company that makes them and they looked really good. I’ll have to see if I can find a recipe somewhere. My mom likes fruitcake so if it’s a flop here, I can always leave it at her house 🙂

          Thanks so much for the kind words about the books! Glad you enjoyed them *g*

  • Karen H in NC says:

    I like your list of Don’ts. The one about not stepping foot in the living room until Mon & Dad have coffee reminds me of what I used to tell my son when he was still a believer. I told him he couldn’t come out of his room until the clock chimed 7AM. I told him if he came out too soon, everything from Santa would disappear. Then he could open the door to see what Santa brought but he had to come get me first before he could touch anything..I was usually awake already..waiting for him to knock on my door. That worked for several years. He’s 35 now….but still my baby! But he wraps gifts with brown paper bags and kidlet stickers!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      But he wraps gifts with brown paper bags and kidlet stickers!

      LOL, Karen! That’s my kind of wrapper *g*

      We were lucky in that our kids love sleeping in so we never had any super early Christmas mornings 🙂 Now that they’re older, we have to wake them up so we can fit in all of our trips and activities!

  • Louisa says:

    I had to laugh at the Cartoony Christmas Phobia, Beth! Too funny!

    My Mom still has presents under the tree for the three of us from Santa Claus and my youngest brother is 49! Of course the grandchildren get gifts from Nana and they just THINK she’s Santa Claus.

    I do not cook for Christmas. Ever. Not the first thing. My Mom does all of my cooking. I work in a Walmart Bakery so the last thing I want to do for Christmas is cook!

    I don’t do eggnog. Ever. Yuck!

    I do decorate the inside of the house, but as I live in the middle of nowhere decorating outside seems silly. However, I do string blue and white lights all over the cypress tree in the back yard in memory of my Great Dane – Glory. She used to love to lie in front of the fire and watch the Christmas tree lights. She is laid to rest under the Cypress tree so I make it her personal Christmas tree every year.

    And I never get my Christmas cards out early! I’m working on some this morning!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      I had to laugh at the Cartoony Christmas Phobia, Beth!

      Louisa, they have their quirks, that’s for sure *g*

      Your cypress tree sounds lovely and what a lovely way to remember Glory! My husband’s younger sister has a Great Dane and he’s just gorgeous – has one blue eye and one brown one, just like MY sister’s Dalmation 🙂

  • catslady says:

    I don’t do tinsel ever since we woke up one Christmas and found it all gone at the bottom of the tree – our dog! And now I have cats lol. I don’t do fake trees – still have to be live. I get scotch pines because they are very sharp and the cats leave my tree alone except for a few safe ones that I let dangle at the bottom. I don’t take my tree down for a month and since it’s not going up until the 23rd it will be the end of January (if it survives). I don’t bake any more – but I still buy lots of goodies lol. I don’t get up early anymore since my children are out of my house and one works Christmas so my other daughter visits her boyfriend’s family in the day and we have them all for the evening.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Catslady, I miss having a real tree but it’s not worth the sniffly nose *g*

      My mom hosts Christmas morning brunch so we can all go our separate ways Christmas Eve and during the day, then most of us gather again Christmas evening at my brother’s house. Such fun traditions!

  • sandyg265 says:

    I don’t buy any messy craft kits or paints for kids without asking their parents first.

    Also I don’t give anyone a battery operated gift without including batteries.

  • deelynn says:

    OMG Beth….I laughed and shuttered so hard! Sounds like my life. Thanks for doing my bio lol.

    …and dang it all! Another recipe to try…I will never finish in the kitchen. I swear this is the last one I’m trying this year. Any more recipes coming from the Bandits will have to wait until next year…which of course is only a few days away *g*!!!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      LOL, deelyn! I’m glad to have a twin and am very happy I’m not the only one with a few don’ts *g*

      My list of To Be Made Treats is growing every day. There’ s no way I’ll be able to make them all – but I’m going to try!

  • Anna Sugden says:

    Great post, Beth. We don’t use tinsel – we call them angel’s tears – here either. Too much temptation for a certain cat who loves catching worms/rubber bands/twigs/bits of string!

    We also don’t do bows and ribbons anymore – unless it’s a really big present and then it’s used in lieu of paper!

    We don’t travel over Christmas – except to the footie game on Boxing Day. It comes from our years in business and too much travel during the year. Anyone is welcome at ours for Christmas through to new year, but we stay put!

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      Heehee. I’m with you Anna, I pretty much don’t travel at Christmas. We do the Gathering of the Clan in NC at Thanksgiving, and stay put for Santa. :>

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Anna, I’m not sure that was an open invitation but my family would love to hang out with you during the holidays – or any day 🙂

      Love that you call tinsel angel’s tears. Will have to use that instead of icicles *g*

  • Pat Cochran says:

    Not a lot of don’ts for me, maybe should
    include more like don’t spend so much or
    eat so much during the holidays. I don’t
    use “glittered” cards or gift bags, don’t
    use ribbons on packages, and to your
    last “don’t” add entering the room in
    line, youngest to oldest !

    Pat C.

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    Hey Beth! I’m laughing at your “don’ts” for the holidays. haha! I’m with you on the tinsel. I gave it up when I used to have a cat that liked to eat it. Never went back to it. :>

    Those peanut clusters sound divine!!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      My husband is obsessed with those peanut clusters, Jeanne. It’s so funny because he’s not really sweets kind of guy, but he can’t stop eating them. It’s the salty peanuts and chocolate that hooked him 😉

  • Heathercm2001 says:

    Tinsel is a big NO on my list too. I don’t use garland either. The tinsel is too difficult to clean up, and I like my tree with just lights and ornaments. The garland trends to hide it all for me. We used to use it all when I was younger, but I think I am partial to the simpler tree.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Heather, I like a simple tree, too. We load ours with ornaments and colored lights and that’s it and it *g* One year I strung popcorn but that was way too much effort 🙂

  • Pissenlit says:

    *GASP* No tinsel?!??! But…it’s sparkly! I’m okay with the no Easter grass. It’s not sparkly. 🙂

    I don’t:
    – Write Christmas cards because all I really want to say is Merry Christmas but the cards already have that printed on the inside or outside and it seems lame just to sign my name.

    – Make or drink eggnog which I had to surreptitiously hold my breath and gulp down just to be polite at a Christmas party, the one and only time I’ve ever tried it. *SHUDDER* It was SO vile!!

    – Watch those movies that your kids get freaked out by because they totally freak me out too!!! They’re so creepy!

    – Go near malls on Christmas Eve because of the scary last minute shopper frenzy.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      LOL, I like sparkle – I just don’t like cleaning up tinsel *g*

      I try to avoid shopping late in the season, too. And am hoping to get a few “last minute things” tomorrow if we don’t get hit with too much snow!

  • Beth, what a lovely post. And good for you banning tinsel. I remember it was a gift that basically gave all year round. I was still finding it under cushions and things in October! Love the peanut recipe!

  • Hi Beth! OMG – we’re so much alike! No tinsel here either. At first it was because of the cleaning up after, but now it’s more because I don’t think I could fit another thing on that tree.

    I don’t watch cartoon Christmas movies anymore, just a few classics like It’s a Wonderful Life or The Christmas story or Scrooge.

    I’m still sending out cards. I love receiving them, but signing them all – not so much.

    ix-nay on the ribbons as well. Actually, the presents are lucky to get wrapped. I’m discovering the beauty of reuseable holiday felt gift bags. You toss the present it, tie the ribbons and voila! Great for big or awkward to wrap gifts.

    Likewise the protocol of coming downstairs on Christmas morning. Not a coffee drinker, but I like to have a glass of holiday EGGNOG by my chair (sorry – that is the one difference). I think the tradition of the kids having to wait while the parents got ready was ingrained when I was little. My father had a movie camera that required these bright bar lights to work. Most of the movies of us as little kids coming down the steps have us squinting and holding our hands up to block the blinding light LOL.

    Hope you and your beautiful family have a wonderful holiday!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Most of the movies of us as little kids coming down the steps have us squinting and holding our hands up to block the blinding light LOL.

      LOL, Donna! Don’t you love remembering that, though? The excitement and then, when you were older, you all probably thought it was so funny to be blinded like that *g*

      My husband’s family would have to line up on the stairs for a picture as they came down, in order – four sisters, a brother, hubby and then his younger sister. Those are some of my favorite pictures 🙂

  • Deb says:

    When I was single, I made a huge variety of candies and cookies for the neighbors. Now, I just make one or two things. This year it will be Danish Puff; the last several years it has been Scottish Shortbread. I used to have Christmas cards mailed by December 1st. This year, well, I was really late and planned on mailing them today, but we were hit with a snowstorm. So, put them back in the sack and save them for next year?
    I do drink egg nog. LURVE that stuff.

    • Beth Andrews says:

      Deb, I was only going to make a few things this year – white trash (which my son has been asking for every day since he got home from college last week) and chocolate truffles and cranberry bars but I keep adding more and more goodies to the list!

      We’re to get heavy snow tomorrow but hopefully not until after school and work let out.

  • Kim says:

    I don’t put up tiny artificial table top trees or use those miniscule Christmas lights. I also don’t drink eggnog. I do like tinsel, however.

  • Kaelee says:

    I don’t worry about the calories at Christmas . At Christmas if I want a second helping of something I’m going for it.

  • Shadow says:

    I really, really hate tinsel. Drives me crazy and i hate stars on top of the tree. lol And my family absolutely hates eggnog. Gross!

    • Beth Andrews says:

      LOL, Shadow! I like a sparkly star on top of the tree or an angel but not a bow *g* But I do love seeing other people’s trees and how they decorate, even if it’s not something I would do!

  • Amy Conley says:

    I must admit, I HATE eggnog, and my father-in-law worked in a DAIRY,of all places. He introduced my kids to it at a very early age (non-ahcoholic of course) and the all LOVE it! I can’t get past the smell. I’m weird like that though. It’s also one of the reasons I can’t drink whiskey, hate the smell, so as far as eggnog goes, it is never in this house at Christmas. But I can promise you, even though my fil has been retired for a good 10 years, there is and always will be at least a quart of eggnog in his freezer (yes, it can be frozen) at all times.