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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Our Family's Annual Christmas Tree Decorating Party

Bottled Coca-Cola, now that's not frugal! Or is it?

About a dozen Decembers ago, I got a pretty spectacular deal on a 6-pack of individual glass bottles of Coca-Cola -- 65 cents for the whole carton, after sale and coupons. I don't usually buy soda, but I was shopping for treats for our annual Christmas tree decorating party. My family was tickled by the individual glass bottles, so much so that I saved the empties to reuse for the next year. Every year since, I've filled the bottles with store-brand cola (this year -- Sam's Choice, 67 cents/2-litre), and we all get a good laugh over the mileage from that one great deal a dozen years ago.

One of our family's holiday traditions is to gather for a snacky dinner followed by hanging Christmas ornaments on the tree. One way to make any dinner festive is to simply serve all finger food for a meal. For this party, we eat our dinner in the room with the tree (Christmas music jingling and jangling in the background). It's a fun and festive time that costs very little, as most of the treat foods are either homemade or not-terribly-expensive grocery foods.

This year's menu

carrot and celery sticks with dip
black olives
homemade cheese spread
sliced pepperoni
cocktail sausages in BBQ sauce
dried cranberries
mixed nuts
spanakopita (which has been tucked in the freezer since my daughter's graduation in 2018. It's commercial and unbaked, so it should still be good.)
homemade peppermint swirl bark squares
cola in the recycled Coca-Cola bottles

As I said above, our snacky foods fit within our modest grocery budget. 

For this year's peppermint bark, I gently swirled the 2 chocolates together instead of layering. As a result, the squares were less inclined to separate into white and dark when cutting. I like my peppermint bark to be minty, so I added about 2 drops of peppermint oil to both the semi-sweet chocolate chip portion and the white chocolate portion. I trimmed all 4 sides before cutting into squares -- DELICIOUS scraps! I can see that I'll need to exercise some restraint with these.

The cheese spread was simply some cream cheese blended with garlic powder, onion powder, and shredded cheddar. Very tasty!

(raising my cola bottle in the air) Here's to a healthy, safe, and blessed holiday season for all!


  1. Snacky food, cola in a bottle, and a tree decorating party sounds like fun. We used to do things like that, but quite frankly, no one was as interested in the tree as I was and when my kids lived at home, they were just humoring me. So, there are no events that correspond to our tree decorating which makes me a little sad. You know, I long for those Norman Rockwell or Lili moments sometimes. I wonder if girls, in general, are more into things than that than boys.

    But with all of that being said, I love our tree even if I do most of the decorating in an unceremoniously way and the other family members appreciate it, too.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      You know, I do think that daughters/women are more inclined to enjoy this sort of thing. As for your sons humoring you, their participating in an activity that you particularly enjoyed when they lived at home sounds like acts of love on their part. And I think that's really sweet and special.

  2. L&L, I'm sorry you haven't had the fun Christmas tree decorating experience. You may be right about girls enjoying it more than boys, although my son has always liked it. My husband, not so much.

    Lili, oh wow, all I could see at first was all that beautiful chocolate! My son dislikes mint so I can't try that particular recipe, but boy does it look tasty. I love your story about refilling the Coke bottles. What a fun thing to do!

    1. Hi Kris,
      It looks like way more chocolate in the photo than it really was, or else we just all enjoyed it rather speedily! It was a fun evening.

  3. I love finger foods and snacky meals. My husband is more of a hearty meal person. I love your idea of refilling the COKE bottles and making the tree decorating an event even with older children. And I love that they still want to do it. My children have all moved out and so it is left to me and my husband, of which I do the majority. He is usually involved in a house project - something always needs fixed somewhere. Have a great weekend!

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      well, you know, with this COVID thing, I have a pretty captive set of "volunteers" right now! Who knows what things will be like for me in my future. So I'll just enjoy what I have in the present.
      I'm glad I don't sound too cheap with refilling the Coke bottles!
      Have a great weekend, Ruthie!


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