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Fun with the Family with Julie Lavender: Christmas and cocoa and crosswords
Julie Lavender web
Julie Lavender

    Stockings and lights and cedars and reindeer are appearing, which can only mean one thing: Another year is almost over, and December has arrived. Is your house decorated? Have you marked everything off your Christmas list? Are the cookies baked?
    There is so much to do to prepare for the festivities, but don’t forget what’s really important this season. Make time for family, sharing God’s love with all those around you. Sing Christmas carols, take a long drive in the evening to gaze at Christmas lights, watch holiday classics, try a new Christmas-y recipe, go for an afternoon hike, sit on the porch and bird-watch and find lots of ways to bless others. Make the most of every minute this month with family traditions and celebrations, and try a few of the holidays below.
    National Cocoa Day — The month of December is a perfect time to celebrate all things chocolate, no matter the exact holiday moniker, right? Try this recipe as a breakfast treat or warm after-school snack.
    Separate the dough from an 8-ounce can of refrigerated crescent rolls into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle in half. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of miniature chocolate chips on the large end of the triangle. Begin to roll the dough into a ball, wrapping and pinching so that the chips stay tucked inside and all edges are closed and sealed. Dip the top of the dough-ball into melted butter, then place buttered-side-up in a slightly greased miniature muffin tin. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 11 minutes or until tops are browned. Remove from pan and cool just slightly. While the chocolate-chip crescent puffs are cooling, stir together 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons cocoa and 3 teaspoons milk for the glaze. Drizzle the glaze on the warm puffs and enjoy!
    Tell Someone They’re Doing a Good Job Week — With the busy-ness of the season, accolades may tend to get overlooked. Take time this month for lots of “good job,” “congratulations,” “way-to-go” messages. See how many different ways you can tell a loved one what a great job they are doing this month with school, work, chores or just being a family member.
    Crossword Puzzle Birthday — Find time to work a crossword puzzle together as a family. Several sites online will let you create and print out themed puzzles. Christmas-themed puzzles abound that can be completed online or printed. If you have older children, print out several copies of the same puzzle and have a race to see who can complete the puzzle first.
    Christmas — Make a fingerprint Christmas tree for a fun family craft. Play Christmas carols, sip some hot cocoa for another cocoa celebration and get painting. Give each person a sheet of white construction paper. Use green and brown paint to form the tree, dipping differently sized fingers into the paint to make the “leaves.” Leave spaces between the prints to add colored prints for lights later. Use yellow paint for a star on the top. Form the star with fingerprints in an X pattern and then add a horizontal line of prints through the middle of the X. When the green paint dries, add different colored prints throughout the spaces for lights on the tree. While the light-paint prints are still damp, sprinkle on clear glitter and then gently shake off excess for sparkling lights on the tree.
    New Year’s Eve — Play this fun game while you’re waiting for the clock to strike midnight. You’ll need to gather supplies prior to the game. Save 12 empty plastic water bottles. With a permanent marker, write the months of the year on the bottles, one per bottle. Also save an empty tube from Christmas wrapping paper (or use one with paper still on it). Line up the 12 bottles on the floor similarly to the design of bowling pins, with one bottle in the front, two bottles on the second row, four bottles on the third row and five bottles on the back row. Use a bouncy ball that fits inside the empty tube for the game. Aim the empty tube towards the “pins” and roll the ball through the tube to see how many water bottle “pins” you can knock down. For extra fun, look at the bottles left standing and try to name something eventful that happened on each month of the bottles left standing. Can you remember fun times from the past year for each month? Talk about fun family times of the past year and plans and hopes for family fun in the upcoming year.
    Merry Christmas. May God bless you bountifully this month and may you return those blessings to others. Until next year…

    Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.

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