Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Jennifer Beckstrand's newest novel, Andrew, will be available for purchase on June 25, 2019. I've been a huge fan of Ms. Beckstrand for quite a long time. Her novels perfectly combine Amish life, romance, humor, and the word of God. Her Huckleberry series and the Bee Sisters series were so good, I read them more than once. And now I'm happy to tell you that this new series about a family of brothers continues that same history of excellence.
The magic of Ms. Beckstrand's writing is in her ability to add real-life circumstances with outstanding and unexpected humor. In Andrew, we have a former unbaptized Amish woman, Mary, who left her community to enjoy more freedoms and to live with an Englischer. She winds up pregnant and decides to return to her Amish community to find that her parents want nothing to do with her. Mary takes a chance and walks to Aunt Bitsy's home where eccentric Aunt Bitsy, of the Bee Sisters series, is more than happy to take Mary in.
Meanwhile, Andrew Petersheim's young twin brothers are plotting and planning to marry Andrew off. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will stop those twins from getting Andrew married to Mary. The only problem is Andrew considers Mary an unrepentant sinner since she is unmarried and pregnant.
In Andrew, Ms. Beckstrand pokes and prods us to consider forgiveness and judgment from all angles. Do we say we forgive but really hold on to that wrong and continue to judge the sinner?
I fell in love all over again with Jennifer Beckstrand's writing reading Andrew. And I think you will too. This is a five-star novel, one that you will enjoy having in your library to read over and over again.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
If you are like me, once the cool, crisp days of Fall arrive, my mind turns to the indoor activity of reading, all curled up and cozy next to a fire, with a cup of tea or hot cocoa at my side. And the type of book I’m most likely to be reading is a Christmas Amish novel. Today’s review is A Simple Christmas by Charlotte Hubbard, part of the Simple Gifts series. I find reading Christmas Amish novels so relaxing at this busy, rushed time of year. It takes me to a simpler yet spiritually rich place and time.
The Simple Gifts series of Amish novels are filled with heartwarming characters in small-town Willow Ridge, Missouri. A Simple Christmas opens with Rosalyn Riehl happily working at Simple Gifts, a shop owned by Nora Hooley. Rosalyn is a young, single Amish woman, modest, hardworking, and cheerful when she is not under the thumb of her cantankerous father. Into the store walks Marcus Hooley, cousin to Nora’s husband. He is a young man with a no-good past. Marcus was formerly Amish but has gone over to the English and now reluctantly is trying to find employment in small town, Willow Ridge.
Marcus trains horses and is good at his craft, however, he seems to make mistake after mistake in his private life. He’s tired of losing jobs and relationships and hopes that his horse training job with Wyatt McKenzie in Willow Ridge will stick and he can finally settle down. Despite his wild ways, Marcus is attracted to sweet, innocent Rosalyn. He embarrasses himself by telling her in front of her sisters, “Horses and women. I can have them eating out of my hand at the drop of a hat.”
What follows are snowy sleigh rides and sweet romance between Marcus and Rosalyn. A Simple Christmas has other storylines intertwined with the story of Marcus and Rosalyn and catches us up on the other townspeople of Willow Ridge. This is the third novel in the Simple Gifts series. I heartily recommend that you read the entire series for the most enjoyment. Make sure to have a few gingerbread cookies next to your cup of tea or hot cocoa when you curl up fireside to start reading A Simple Christmas. It’s the best way to relax and enjoy this lovely book.
Monday, October 15, 2018
An interview with Darla Weaver
Author of Gathering of Sisters
Once a week Darla Weaver hitches up her spirited mare, bundles her children into the buggy, and drives six miles to the farm where she grew up. There she gathers with her four sisters and their children for a day with their mother. In Gathering of Sisters: A Year with My Old Order Mennonite Family (Herald Press), Weaver writes about her horse-and-buggy Mennonite family and the weekly women’s gatherings that keep them connected. On warm days, the children play and fish and build houses of hay in the barn. In the winter, everyone stays close to the woodstove, with puzzles and games and crocheting. No matter the weather, the Tuesday get-togethers of this Old Order Mennonite family keep them grounded and centered in their love for God and for each other, even when raising an occasional loving but knowing eyebrow at each other.
The rest of the week is full of laundry, and errands, and work that never ends. But Tuesday is about being sisters, daughters, and mothers.
Q: Gathering of Sisters tells about getting together weekly with your mother and sisters. Tell us a little bit about your family.
There were five of us sisters, growing up together with our four little brothers in the white farmhouse our parents built. The nine of us kept this five-bedroom house brimming with life, and crowded with both happiness and some inevitable sadness. We did a lot of living and a lot of learning in that house.
And then we all grew up.
I was the first to leave. On a warm and sunshiny day in September 2000, after the leaves on the lofty silver maples had faded from summer-green and before they wore brightly flaming autumn shades, I was married to Laverne Weaver. It was the first wedding in that mellowing white house we all called home. Four more were to follow in the next several years. Except for my youngest brother, we’ve all left home. Most of us live close, but one brother lives in Alaska.
Q: Why did you decide to make an effort to get together once a week?
Our Tuesdays happened more by accident than by conscious planning. We never sat down and planned for Tuesdays. But after I moved six miles away to my own home, I gradually acquired the habit of going back to the old home place and spending a day each week with my family. On Monday I always had laundry to do, and scores of other jobs to tackle after the weekend. And before we had children, I worked part time in a bakery at the end of the week.
That left Tuesdays. Tuesday really was the perfect in-between sort of day to spend with Mom and my sisters. On Tuesday the five us sisters still come home. We pack up the children—all eighteen of them during summer vacation—and head to the farm.
We go early. I drive my spirited little mare, Charlotte, and she trots briskly along the six miles of winding country roads. Regina and Ida Mae live much closer. They married brothers, and their homes are directly across the fields from Dad and Mom’s farm. They usually bike, with children’s noses pressed against the bright mesh of the carts they tow behind their bicycles. Or they walk, pushing strollers over the back fields and up the lane. And Emily and Amanda, who also married brothers and live in neighboring houses about five miles away, come together with everyone crammed into one carriage.
Q: Do all the kids enjoy Tuesdays as well?
The children love Tuesdays. On warm days they play on the slide and the swings in the cool shade of the silver maples, jump on the trampoline, run through their grandpa’s three greenhouses, ride along on the wagon going to the fields where produce by the bushels and bins is hauled to the packing shed. They build hay houses in the barn and explore the creek. The boys take poles and hooks and bait and spend hours fishing and playing in the small creek that flows beneath the lane and through the thickets beside the pasture fence. They catch dozens of tiny blue gills and northern creek chubbs, most of which they release back into the water hole, a deep pool that yawns at the mouth of a large culvert, to be caught again next week. They work too, at mowing lawn, raking, lugging flower pots around, or anything else that Grandma needs them to do, but most often Tuesdays on Grandpa’s farm are play days.
Q: What do you do when you are all gathered together?
We don’t exactly play, yet Tuesdays for us are also about relaxing. Of course, there is always work to do—just making dinner for such a group is a big job—but the day is more about relaxing, reconnecting, visiting, and sharing. We talk a lot, we laugh a lot, sometimes we cry. Tuesdays is about being sisters, daughters, moms. It’s about learning what is happening in each other’s lives.
Every day is different, yet every Tuesday follows a predictable pattern that varies with the seasons. Winter finds us inside, close to the warmth humming from the woodstove, absorbed in wintertime pursuits which include card-making, crocheting, sewing, puzzles—jigsaw, crossword, sudoku—and reading books and magazines. But as soon as spring colors the buds of the maples with a reddish tinge, we spend more time outside. The greenhouses are loaded with plants, the flowerbeds full of unfurling perennials, and the grass is greening in the yard again.
In summer, while the garden and fields burst with produce, the breezy shade of the front porch calls. It wraps around two sides of the house and is full of Mom’s potted plants and porch furniture. We sit there to shell peas, husk corn, or just sip a cold drink and cool off after a warm stroll through the flowers.
Then autumn echoes through the country, the leaves flame and fall, and we rake them up—millions of leaves. Where we rake one Tuesday is covered again by the next, until at last the towering maples stand disrobed of leaves, their amazing seventy-foot branches a wavering fretwork against a sky that is sullen with winter once more.
Q: How did your sisters react to the news about you writing this book?
The initial reactions varied.
“I suppose you would change all our names,” Mom said after a while.
That was a new thought for me, and one I didn’t want to consider. “Oh, no, that would be much too hard. We would just use every one’s real name.” Merely the thought of renaming eighteen children exhausted me.
“Maybe you’ll have to Sunday-us-up a bit,” Emily suggested with a laugh. “Make sure we all use our best manners when you write about us.”
“Oh, yes, I won’t write anything you wouldn’t like,” I promised.
“She will still have to claim us as sisters,” Regina points out, as usual finding a positive angle to the topic. “She won’t make us sound too odd or ornery or anything.”
I promised not to.
Regina’s oldest daughter, Jerelyn, who at fourteen has graduated from eighth grade and is again spending Tuesdays with us, considered staying home for the entire next year to keep her name out of the book. But on a whole, no one really objected. Like Laverne and our children, Mom and my sisters are almost used to my compulsive scribbling. Almost.
Now onto some frequently asked questions about life in Mennonite communities.
Q: What does daily life look like for a Mennonite?
In some ways being a Mennonite is not so different from being anyone else. We have one life to live, we work to make a living, take care of our families, make time for the things we enjoy, eat, sleep, pay our bills and taxes. Some days are better than others as for anyone else.
In other ways it’s vastly different from the culture around us. Partly in the conservative way we live; perhaps even more in the way we look at life.
The most important goals for most of us are: Faith in God and in his Son who died on the cross for sinners; growing into a closer walk with him; learning to love, serve, and obey his commandments. These beliefs help shape our lives as we grow older.
Old Order Mennonite life is family-oriented. It centers around our church, our families, our schools and neighborhoods. It has been said, “Destroy the home and you destroy the nation,” which has been proved true in various eras of history. God’s plan for one husband and one wife, working together to care for their children, is a most important foundation for our lifestyle.
But, of course, we are far from perfect. Although the majority of us strive to live lives that demonstrate a faith and love and steadfastness rooted deep in God and his word—the Bible—we make plenty of mistakes too. Stumbling and falling and getting up to try again, praying that God will help us do better tomorrow, is a part of life, too.
Q: Do Old Order Mennonites believe in the new birth?
Of course. We believe the Bible truth: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
It is when one believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God that God’s Spirit comes into one’s heart. It is by repenting of and turning away from our sins that they can be forgiven. It is by faith in God’s power, and asking in prayer, help us break away from sin’s strongholds. And it is because of that new birth that we desire to live a life that God can bless and sanctify.
But those who grow up in Christian homes may not always be able to pinpoint a certain day or year when their new birth occurred. To say, “When were you born again?” is a little like asking, “When did you grow up?” Sometimes there is a specific date to remember. Just as often there isn’t, because we grew so gradually into the awareness of our need for a personal Savior.
Was there ever a time I didn’t know and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to die for my sins? If so, I can’t remember it. I did have to come to the place where I was willing to accept that for myself, acknowledge all the sin in my life, and turn to God for help and forgiveness. That day came, gradually. When I asked Christ into my heart to be Ruler there, it led to more years of growing up, and into what it means to be one of his disciples.
When I was born physically I still had much to learn. When I was born again spiritually I had just as much to learn about living a Christ-centered life. I’m still learning about it. I imagine I’ll be learning more for as long as I live.
Q: What could a visitor expect at one of your church services?
Church services last around 2 to 2 ½ hours and are in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, although the Bible reading is done in German. They begin with everyone singing together. One of the ministers then has a short sermon, which is followed by silent prayer. Then a second minister explains a chapter from the New Testament, or part of a chapter that he had selected and studied previously. Services are closed with an audible prayer, more singing, and the benediction.
It’s a special time of singing, praying, and worshiping God together with our congregation, and is full of encouragement and inspiration.
Q: Throughout most of the country, we would find most businesses open at least part of the day on Sunday. Would we find any businesses in your community open on Sunday?
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt though labour and do all thy work” (Exodus 20:8-9).
When Sunday comes around, those of us who own businesses do close them, and most of our work is put aside. Sunday is kept as a day to go to church to worship God, then spend it socializing with family and friends. It is a day to get together for meals, visit families who have a new baby, or just relax at home.
Sometimes when it’s warm we go fishing or hiking at nearby state parks or in our own woods. Sometimes we go on picnics or visit the neighbors. In the evening, the youth group gathers at one of their homes to play volleyball, sing and eat.
Sunday is set aside for worship, rest, and family time. It’s refreshing, both spiritually and physically, to have one day each week reserved for that. Work almost always waits. Worshiping God is first priority, then being with family.
Q: What kind of activities are your youth groups involved in?
Most of the young people are part of a structured youth group that gathers each Sunday evening in one of their homes. If it’s warm they play volleyball before singing hymns. A snack is served, unless everyone is invited for supper, then an entire meal is served. This can be quite an undertaking for the hostess, depending on the size of the group.
While Sunday evening gatherings are a regular thing, there are sometimes “work bees” during the week, when they get together to help someone who needs it. They might go to sing at a nursing home, go skating in winter, fishing in summer, or other upbuilding activities.
The majority of the young people are a part of this group and are dedicated to serving God. However, the upper teen years can be hard whether you’re Mennonite or not, and there are always some who drift away and choose not to live as part of our culture.
Q: Can you tell us about your private schools?
Parochial schools are a vital part of our neighborhoods. Three men serve as the school board for each one, and they are in charge of hiring teachers, handling the financial part of running a school, upkeep of the building, and any other need that comes up. They serve in three-year terms and are up for one re-election at the regular yearly community meeting where all directors and trustees for various things are selected.
Most schoolhouses have two classrooms and two teachers. The number of children attending each one varies greatly. Parents pay a yearly tuition which covers the teachers’ pay, books and supplies, and building repairs.
Most children start first grade in September after their sixth birthday. They graduate after completing eighth grade.
Each school day starts with a Bible story, reciting the Lord’s prayer together and singing. Lessons include, but are not limited to, reading, writing, math, spelling, English, vocabulary, history, geography, some science and nature study. Curriculum varies a little from school to school and from one area to the next, but these are the basics.
Religion is not taught as a subject. Rather, faith in God, and Christian living as based on the Bible, is woven into almost every textbook and lesson. It’s a way of life for us and can’t be separated into a single subject.
About the Author
Darla Weaver is a homemaker, gardener, writer and Old Order Mennonite living in the hills of southern Ohio. She is the author of Water My Soul, Many Lighted Windows and Gathering of Sisters. Weaver has written for Family Life, Ladies Journal, Young Companion, and other magazines for Amish and Old Order Mennonite groups. Before her three children were born she also taught school. Her hobbies are gardening and writing.
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
I’m concerned that I will not be able to find the words to adequately describe the brilliance of Leslie Gould’s writing. Readers will pick up A Simple Singing, Book Two in The Sisters of Lancaster County series, and think they are purchasing a nice, simple Amish novel. Oh no, readers, you are getting much more. Leslie Gould has given her readers a beautifully written, thought provoking, nuanced current day and historical romantic novel. The characters are not your cookie cutter Amish.
The main character is Marie. Her two suitors, Elijah and Gordon are forcing Marie into a decision. Does she live the life she assumed she should want or does she leave her comfort zone and reach out for something more? Intertwined is a fascinating story of Marie’s ancestor Annie who grew and stretched herself during the Civil War by nursing the soldiers at the Gettysburg battle.
The story is rich in detail and full of God’s love for his children. After reading A Simple Singing, I felt enriched, both spiritually and intellectually. This book left my imagination singing. A Simple Singing was published July 31, 2018.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Charlotte Hubbard celebrates Motherhood with a timely Amish novel entitled A Mother’s Gift (Kensington Inspirational Romance). I heartily recommend this book for Mothers, Grandmothers, Moms-to-Be, Step-Mothers, or anyone who has a Mother! There are lessons to be learned for all within its pages, plus a healthy dose of romance.
The novel begins with 28-year-old Leah and her mother Lenore talking the night before Leah’s wedding to Jude, a widower with three children, twin 16-year-old daughters and a 5-year-old son. Lenore is concerned that Leah has no idea how difficult it will be to handle this new household. Leah, although Amish, is not your typical Amish young lady. She has spent much of her time working with livestock and not learning the fine arts of cooking, cleaning, sewing, and child raising.
Indeed, Leah does find that she has bit off more than she can handle. Leah is three months into a marriage and miserable. Being a step-mom is her worst nightmare plus the women in the new Amish district don’t seem to like her. The only bright spot in Leah’s life is her husband, Jude, who is one romantic man.
You will need to read this novel to discover how the situation resolves but let me assure you, it is quite an interesting story, filled with twists and turns. A Mother’s Gift will be available March 27, 2018. Thank you Charlotte for another beautifully written novel.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of A Simple Wish (Zebra) by Charlotte Hubbard. This is book two in the Simple Gifts series. Many of Charlotte’s favorite characters are included in this novel. It’s fun to see these characters continue and grow book after book. They become like old family friends.
A Simple Wish is the story of Loretta, her two sisters and their joyless, cantankerous, widower dad who is hiding several secrets from his daughters and the Amish community. Loretta takes up with somewhat of a scoundrel who is trying to rehabilitate himself. I guess even sweet Amish girls love bad boys.
Charlotte has packed plenty of romance between the pages of this novel. Besides Loretta and her bad boy, Drew, there is also an Englisher couple heating things up as well.
The book is full of delicious descriptions of events, crafts, romance, food, dress, and characters which will make you feel as if you too are a part of the story. What a gift Charlotte Hubbard has! This story has it all!
I would highly recommend that you read the first book in the series, A Simple Vow prior to reading A Simple Wish. It will greatly increase your enjoyment knowing the back story of these characters. A Simple Wish was published September 26, 2017.
Charlotte Hubbard is allowing me to include an excerpt from A Simple Wish to show you the exciting nature of this book:
Grinning, Drew dropped down from the buggy. As he clasped Loretta’s hand and escorted her to the other side of his open vehicle, she wondered if he was leading her down a path riskier than Will’s and far more dangerous. A path more daring . . . and passionate. When Drew placed his hands on either side of her waist, he paused before lifting her up.
Loretta’s heart went wild. Drew’s sapphire eyes held secrets and intentions she couldn’t decipher, and he brought to mind a fox in the henhouse cornering his tasty prey. Effortlessly he lifted her into his buggy and then hopped in on the other side. “Hope I wasn’t interrupting anything important,” he said as he took up the lines. “If I’m not mistaken, Gingerich looked like a man come courting.”
Feeling downright wicked—yet too flummoxed to look over at Will on the porch—Loretta let out the breath she’d been holding. “You saved me from a really embarrassing scene,” she murmured as the buggy lurched into motion. “Once upon a time I loved Will with all my heart, but after Dat broke us up and he latched onto Molly so fast—well, I had second thoughts about his . . . sincerity. His true feelings for me. And now, well—”
Loretta faltered. The man beside her had lied to Molly about who he was when he’d gotten her in the family way, before poor deluded Will had married her. Everyone in town had officially forgiven Drew for deceiving Molly, and also for drugging his brother Asa with sleeping pills before he’d tried to marry Edith, but Drew was still a mysterious newcomer who played his cards close to his vest.
If Dat saw whom you were riding off with, he’d be even more upset than when he made you break up with Will.
It was true, yet Loretta didn’t regret what she was doing. For the first in a long time, she felt breathlessly alive.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Charlotte Hubbard is the acclaimed author of Amish romance and fiction that evokes simpler times and draws upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi. Faith and family, farming, and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle—and the foundation of all her novels. A deacon, dedicated church musician and choir member, she loves to travel, read, try new recipes, and crochet. A longtime Missourian, Charlotte now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband and their border collie, Vera. Please visit Charlotte online at www.CharlotteHubbard.com.
Monday, September 18, 2017
If you are looking for a sweet and sassy fun read in the Amish genre I have a great one for you to read, Love by the Numbers (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) written by Laura V. Hilton. What a wonderful romantic story Laura has crafted! She literally had me hooked from the first sentence, “He was gorgeous.”
In Love by the Numbers, Lydia and Caleb, two imperfect Amish twenty something year old’s, meet and each has a secret shameful past. Laura V. Hilton writing is realistic as she still remembers being young and infatuated with someone special. And that is what makes this novel so extraordinary and entertaining.
I love the skill Laura uses to seamlessly blend bible verses into her stories. One of the main themes in this book comes from 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” We need to believe that everything will be okay. Fortunately, our heavenly Father freely offers us grace and forgiveness.
Laura V. Hilton also writes with humor. I can’t count the number of times I laughed out loud while reading. This charming romance will be available February 6, 2018.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
|Large Heart Basket $32.95|
Can you believe it? Right after I post about www.AmishBaskets.com they decide to have a Spring clearance sale!
|Jelly Basket with Partition $14.95|
If you are looking to buy a beautiful, useful, handmade genuine Amish basket, here is your chance. And shipping is free.
|Silverware & Utensil Organization Basket $19.95|
Click on this link Spring Sale Baskets so you can see for yourself the incredible pricing and quality of these baskets.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Oh, my goodness! I have discovered a genuine Amish basket weaving company that produces some of the most beautiful works of art, yet honestly useful pieces. Three Old Order Amish families are lovingly creating these handwoven baskets and selling them through a website, www.AmishBaskets.com. The basket I have is a Double Pie Basket crafted by the Troyer family, specifically, Eli and Caroline Troyer plus Ada, age 18. I know this because they have signed the bottom of my Double Pie Basket.
This basket is beautifully designed, weaved, stained, and finished. It includes a wooden pie stand to separate two pies securely and has a lovely maroon fabric liner. Additionally, it has dark maroon leather straps to carry it comfortable as well as a sturdy wooden lid with leather handle to easily remove the lid. This is a first class, scrupulously woven basket that will hold up for many, many years to come. I could envision handing this down to my daughter, and her handing it down to a future child. A real heirloom for generations to come.
Now here's the unbelievable part - free shipping and incredible pricing. For a basket of this quality, I would have expected to pay over $100. This large handmade basket without the fabric lining, but including the lid and pie stand is only $49.95.
The three Amish families of www.AmishBaskets.com weave dozens of distinct types of baskets in varied color combinations. Look over their website at all the many kinds of baskets they have. I saw a small egg collector basket for $14.95 - and shipping is FREE!
The pictures on their internet site do not do the baskets justice. Please read their online reviews from previous customers. Fine handmade Amish quality at a truly decent price is rare these days but www.AmishBaskets.com can fill all your basket and gift needs. I am proud to recommend them to all AmishReader fans.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
|Four generations of creative women!|
This past weekend, I hosted my female in-laws for our annual Christmas Craft Party. I thought it would be fun to share with you my preparations, menu, and craft ideas in case you would like to start a tradition like this as well.
The beauty behind this craft party idea is that it really doesn’t matter how crafty or creative you are. With Pinterest, there are craft ideas for any level of ability, time, or money. What is really fun is seeing all the different crafts being made. At my party, each person brought their own crafting supplies but I did have a couple of extra glue guns, scissors, glitter, ribbon, etc. available if needed.
Here is how I organized our get together:
1. Invite: Using Messenger on my computer I sent out a note to my sisters-in-law, nieces, and great nieces with the invitation to come craft at my house and a couple of dates that would work about 6 weeks before the party. We were able to decide on Sunday, November 6th.
2. Pick a Craft: Several of us posted on Messenger pictures of what we planned on making from Pinterest. This gets everyone’s creative juices flowing and time to get to the craft store to purchase supplies.
|Two pans of delicious lasagna|
3. Set Your Menu: I enjoy cooking for company so at this time I began to think about our lunch menu. At last year’s craft party, I made a creamy chicken soup. This year after some consideration to serving a brunch themed menu, I decided on lasagna, salad, and garlic bread. I have a simple lasagna recipe that I have shared before, but I wanted a new recipe, something more substantial. So I tried out the new recipe from The Pioneer Woman on my husband first. When he loved it, I knew I had a good lasagna recipe to use.
|Desserts provided by our thoughtful guests|
4. Ask For Help: All the ladies wanted to help out with our lunch menu, so some brought desserts, one appetizer, two brought salads, so the workload on me was really reduced! I’m so lucky to have thoughtful relatives!
5. Clean & Organize: Beginning the week before the party, I give myself a cleaning job each day so I’m not spending a whole day cleaning the whole house. Just remember when you are planning out your cleaning chores to do them in the proper order. Cleaning the floors (mopping or vacuuming) is always done last.
|The dining room table covered in brown craft paper makes for an easy cleanup.|
6. Set Up: The day before the party, my husband and I set up our great room/dining room to accommodate our guests. As you can see from the pictures I posted, our dining room table was covered in heavy, brown craft paper so that paint, glue, glitter, etc. does not ruin the wood table. It makes clean up so easy, just roll up the craft paper and throw it away after we are finished. We needed two tables to accommodate all our crafters. Leftover brown craft paper can be used to wrap Christmas gifts.
|Second table had a plastic top, so no need to cover with craft paper.|
7. Prep Ahead: I always make as much of my menu ahead as I can. I like to be “present” when my guests arrive. Like many families, these ladies all live very active lives, so it is a real treat to spend time with them. I don’t want to hide in the kitchen, if I can help it. So the night before the party, I made my lasagna so all I had to do the day of the party is heat up the pans of lasagna and warm up the garlic bread.
An Idea for Next Year: Although it was too late to do at this year’s party, I had a thought for next year. This would be the perfect timing for all of us to work on our Christmas cards. Like so many families are doing now, instead of traditional Christmas cards, many are sending out photographic cards, which I just LOVE! In January, I throw out the regular Christmas cards we receive but I have kept every single photographic Christmas card I have ever received. I love going back and looking at them, seeing how the kids have grown and families have enlarged over the years. How fun it would be to look over each other’s photos and help each other select the perfect picture/pictures for the annual Christmas card. It is so easy to upload and personalize.
I hope I have given you some simple ideas to host your own fun and easy Christmas Craft Party for friends or family.