100 thoughtful ways to light up the season
Sound Consumer | December 2001by Rita Overton, Guest Editor
Light is a symbol of hope. As we huddle together in the darkness of winter, decorative and symbolic lighting is a reminder of brighter things to come.
This holiday season may be the most somber that many of us can remember, in light of world events and economic unease. People are living more deliberately and carefully, embracing the fellowship of mankind in a more pressing manner, giving more freely, enjoying their friends and family. Celebrate the season with camaraderie, hope and light. Here are our 100 ways to light up the season:
1. Light a candle for peace.
2. Turn off the lights on December 21. Commemorate the Winter Solstice — the shortest day of the year. Fill your home with the glow and mystique of many lighted candles. For a neat effect, place a small lighted taper candle in a goblet filled with fresh cranberries.
3. Give beautiful light with citrus luminaries. Cut off the top of an orange and hollow it out. Carve decorative shapes in the sides and place a votive candle inside. Light and enjoy the wonderful aroma!
4. Glue cinnamon sticks (from bulk spices) to pillar candles of every height.
|#10 Have an appetizer Party
^ You'll find everything at PCC — all you need to do is place it on serving plates. Pick up some wines, holiday ales and assorted non-alcoholic beverages — and you're good to go!
5. Check out the lights. Walk around your own neighborhood, or if you're feeling adventurous, the Zoolights in Tacoma or Garden d'Lights in Bellevue are worth the trip.
Zoolights are at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium through December 31, 5 to 9 p.m. (Closed Monday through Wednesday until December 13, then open daily. Closed December 24 and 25. Pay $4 at the gate. 253-591-5337 for information.)
Garden d'Lights is open through December 30, until 9 p.m., and is free of charge. (The Bellevue Botanical Garden, 12001 Main St., Bellevue. For information 425-452-2750.)
6. Take a bike ride. Cascade Bicycle Club plans evening Holiday Lights rides Thursdays in December. For information, call 206-306-1169 or 425-338-2871.
7. The annual Green Lake Luminaria lighting, December 8, is a joyous walk around the lake. Gather some friends, stroll, then stop at Greenlake PCC for free Chai Nog and cookies. Greenlake store events
8. Make beautiful frosted glass votives. Paint a thin layer of white glue around the sides of a simple clear votive holder or recycled jar and sprinkle salt on the tacky finish. Regular table salt looks great mixed with chunky coarse sea salt.
9. Have a potluck Soup Sampler party. Invite a few friends to bring a pot of their favorite soup, pick up some delicious Essential Bread from PCC, toss a salad and you've got a party!
10. Who says holiday gatherings have to be a lot of work? The PCC deli is a great place to put together an appetizer party with a minimum of work — just get out the platters and away you go! PCC All-Natural Catering, featuring party platters.
11. Invite 10 friends for dessert. If your schedule's crammed but you'd still like to host some friends, try dessert! The PCC bakeries feature some wonderful treats, from juice-sweetened pies to decadent chocolate cakes. PCC All-Natural Catering, with many wonderful sweets and desserts!
12. Get to know your neighbors better by organizing a progressive neighborhood dinner. Start at the top of the street with appetizers (see #10), meet mid-way for soup (see #9) and wind up for dessert at the end of the block (see #11).
13. Call a few friends and sample some really great wines and cheese. PCC's wine selection is varied and inspired, with some great picks from around the world. Try these Spanish cheeses with Spanish red wines: Roncal, Cabrales, Manchego and Iberico.
14. Host a fondue party. Warm, melted cheese with chunks of bread and fresh vegetables is a cozy way to pass a wintry evening. The PCC delis offer an authentic fondue in a pouch to make your fondue-making easier! Imported from Switzerland, Swiss Fondue Pouch combines traditional Appenzeller and Gruyere cheeses. You just rub a heavy pot with a garlic clove, heat up the cheese and start dipping. Make sure you don't boil the cheese; keep over low heat to prevent clumping.
15. Have a holiday breakfast. Start at PCC to pick up some organic eggs, PCC-made sausages and delicious fruit juices. You'll have the rest of the day to relax!
16. Host a holiday beer party. Many regional breweries feature seasonal beers that are worth a taste.
17. At a holiday gathering, add some fun to the mix. On slips of paper, write instructions for your guests: "Find someone with the same initials as you," "Find the person whose birthday is the closest to June 5," "Who's wearing the coolest socks?" Put the slips in a bowl and have guests draw one on their way in.
18. Make a gingerbread village — complete with people. No time to make your own gingerbread? Use graham crackers, cookies, crackers or cardboard, and decorate using candies, nuts, spices and grains from the bulk bins.
19. Learn about other cultural traditions. December is a month filled with rich cultural history. For a taste, meet our FoodWorks Instructors: Class Highlights, a regular FoodWorks Feature article.
- Islam's Ramadan continues December 1 through mid-month
- Bodhi Day, a Buddhist holiday, is December 8
- Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, December 9
- Christmas, the traditional Christian holiday, is December 25
- Kwanzaa, an African-American tradition, starts December 26.
If there are kids in your life, check out Marc Brown's book "Arthur's Perfect Christmas," where Arthur learns about his friends' various holiday traditions.
20. Make pretzels with a kid. East Coast Pizza Dough, available in the deli department, makes wonderfully easy pretzels that are scrumptious hot out of the oven. Bring the dough to room temperature, divide into eight pieces, roll into a 24" log, and twist into shape. Sprinkle with water and salt or cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes.
21. Stay in and play games! Get out the cards, mancala or cribbage board.
22. Rekindle a friendship. Pick up that phone and call!
23. Schedule one-on-one time with friends or family instead of giving gifts.
24. Have a cookie swap.
25. Go foraging with a friend for interesting pods, nuts and skeletonized leaves. Local parks, out of the way places, even your neighborhood can reveal a wonderful array of natural curiosities. Go home, pour some tea. Fill a lovely bowl with your found treasures, or make cards or collages.
26. Give hope to a family in another part of the world. Heifer International is a non-profit group that allows individuals to help families achieve sustainability. For $20 you can buy a flock of chicks, which will provide eggs for the family's protein and for income; $30 supplies bees to pollinate crops as well as produce honey and beeswax for market.
For $150 you can buy a llama, a useful form of transport and a wonderful source of wool for clothing. For more information, www.heifer.org, or 1-800-422-0474.
27. Make a foster kid's holiday. Adopt a foster child and fulfill his or her wishes for the season. Contact Casey Family Program, 206-282-7300, or Friends of Youth, 425-869-6490.
28. Help a neighbor with chores.
29. Write a letter. A wonderful gift to a friend or family member is an expression of your love. If you're feeling adventurous, try your hand at poetry!
| Aromatherapy gifts to make
The power of scent can't be denied. Here are a few recipes for oils, sprays and salts to create a custom bath basket for you or a friend. Aura Cacia essential oils are available at all PCC stores.
Spritz a bit when you need a quick pick-me-up.
Your body deserves to be pampered for the hard work it does. Try some of these body oils during massage or after the shower. For carrier oils, choose sweet almond, jojoba or your favorite vegetable oil.
These are great to give to your co-workers and friends. Wrap in a canister or cellophane bag and tie with a sprig of pine.
30. Be generous without breaking the bank. PCC's own Goldie Caughlan has ideas for gifts from the bulk section, Ask Goldie!, from her monthly Sound Consumer article.
31. Be good to the earth. For holiday gifts, consider goods that are eco-friendly. For example: Maggie's organic cotton goods, Cagoule hats (made from recycled soda pop bottles), Barbara Sansoni's colorful handmade stuffed creatures and Chinook Book.
32. For the gardening buff on your list, give the hope of spring with gardening books, magazines, calendars and journals.
33. Make a date to help package bulk foods for local food banks. Work parties for PCC-partner food banks, upcoming dates and locations.
34. Give time. The ultimate gift from the heart is your time. Give IOUs for services: to do the grocery shopping, babysit, move furniture, shop for an elderly neighbor, cook a meal, mow the lawn or weed the garden for a busy friend, treat someone to a trial piano or tea ceremony lesson.
35. Visit a nursing home.
36. Purge your closet and take your unwanted warm winter clothes to a local shelter.
37. Honor the people who touch your life each day in mundane ways. Leave a note of thanks for your postal carrier, garbage collector, your PCC cashier.
38. Flavored vinegars and oils make lovely, useful gifts. Begin with a good quality organic olive oil and infuse with herbs such as rosemary and sage.
39. Make a soap basket, complete with loofah. PCC carries a variety of beautifully crafted soaps from around the world.
40. Mineral bath baskets. Make your own good-smelling bath treats (Aromatherapy gifts to make) or choose from Aura Cacia's wide selection.
41. For the cook on your list, fill spice bottles with fresh spices from the bulk department.
42. Everyone eats, right? For the food lover on your gift list, make up a basket with spaghetti, organic sauces, great bread sticks and Parmesan cheese.
43. The beer connoisseur is sure to love a selection of Northwest lagers and ales, or how about a trip around the world in a stein?
44. What do you add to a couple of bottles of wine for your wine lover? Check out the PCC mercantile department for lovely wine glasses and VacuVin tools, then add some La Panzanella Croccantini and some sesame crackers as an hors d'oeuvres starter.
45. Have fun with stocking stuffers for your pet. PCC features dog and cat treats in bulk in the pet departments.
46. Help feed your community by giving to PCC's Cash for the Hungry program. The Best gift for the Hungry: food.
47. Mix your own special tea blend. Each PCC store carries a variety of teas in bulk that you can mix and match as your taste and scent dictate. Add lavender, raspberry leaf, allspice, cloves, orange peel or rosehips.
48. Use recycled materials for wrapping gifts, whether it's a pretty recycled wrapping paper from PCC, old maps or the Sunday funnies.
49. Use reusable materials for wrapping gifts: a canvas PCC bag, a dishtowel, a scarf or bandana.
50. Give cozy items — socks, a book, a mug and tea — in a pillow case tied with a pretty ribbon.
51. Here's a unique way to send a part of yourself to loved ones far away: Make a mask of your face. Using plaster strips (available at craft and art supply stores), make a mold of your face, let it dry and paint it. This is a meaningful way to capture kids' development for Grandma and Grandpa, too.
52. Pack paper lunch bags with small collections of wholesome, practical PCC items and give them to the homeless people soliciting money at street corners.
|#65 Make Salt Dough Ornaments
Classic Salt Dough
Mix flour and salt. Add in half the water, then gradually add the remaining water, a bit at a time.
Knead until the dough is smooth, this can take up to 10 minutes.
Shape dough into desired shapes. For cutouts, roll dough on baking parchment. For freehand shapes, use your imagination! If you'd like to hang your creations, don't forget to use a straw to make a hole.
Bake at 325°F until dry. This can take 1 1/2 hours or longer, depending on the thickness of the dough. Decorate with acrylic paints, or glue on buttons, glitter, nuts, etc.
53. Feed the birds. In winter it seems like only the birds are out. Their sweet songs are a hopeful reminder of spring! Invite them to stay nearby. Suet holders (available in the mercantile department) are an inexpensive way to go. For something more decorative, Yankee Bird Feeders are a quality favorite with PCC shoppers, and last for many years.
54. String popcorn and cranberries together for a nice garland. Hang it inside, or outside for a birdie treat.
55. Save the peels of your organic oranges, lemons and grapefruit and make a treat! Cut peels into strips and place in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil, letting water boil for a few minutes. Drain; repeat twice more. Make a simple syrup with one cup of water and one cup sugar by boiling the mixture for about 10 minutes. Let blanched peels soak up the syrup.
56. Make clove apples. Press whole cloves into an apple in decorative shapes and let it dry for a long-lasting good scent. We've heard of one family who makes one each year, tags it with the date and wraps it up in tissue to be brought out each successive year.
57. Get out the paper and scissors and make snowflakes to tape to your windows — just like in kindergarten!
58. Make snowglobes. Collect some jars — and glue buttons, toys, shells or pine cones to the inside of the lid bottom. Fill the jar with water, an ounce or two of glycerin (available at drug stores) and glitter. Screw on the top and you have your own custom snow globe!
59. Think spring and force paperwhites or amaryllis. Pick up bulb starts at any PCC.
60. Buy yourself fresh flowers.
61. Bring the outdoors in. Even if it's chilly outside, the beauty of winter is remarkable. Take cuttings from outdoor plants, collect pine cones and decorate your home.
62. Dry citrus. Dried citrus slices are easy to make and can be used to hang in a window, decorate a package or grace a wreath of greens. To dry the fruit, cut it in 1/4-inch slices. Pierce slices with a paperclip and hang in a dark, dry place for two or three days.
63. Make nut decorations. Whole almonds, Brazil nuts and filberts have wonderful textures and colors. Hot glue ends together to make stars.
64. Fill a bowl with stunning spheres. Cover a Styrofoam form with white glue and amass with gorgeous legumes. Some particularly pretty picks from the bulk section: kidneys, black-eyed peas, coffee beans, adzukis.
65. Make salt dough ornaments. Hearken back to your youth with this activity! Salt dough shapes easily to make great Stars of David, people, baskets, and vegetables. Use your imagination!
66. Make a garland with your own hands — literally. This is a great activity to keep little hands busy. Get everyone in your group to trace the shape of their hand on a piece of paper. Cut the handshapes out and glue or staple them together in a strand.
67. Treat yourself. Make some custom bath oils to soothe your body during this busy month. Aromatherapy gifts to make.
68. Create a new tradition for yourself.
69. Do nothing.
70. Stick to your budget.
71. Enjoy hot cider. Mmmm ... the smell of cinnamon and apples on a cold day. Nothing like it! R.W. Knudsen's Cider and Spice is a wonderful treat.
72. Visit the reindeer at the Cougar Mountain Zoo.
73. Try a new recipe.
74. Treat yourself to a delightful pair of socks. PCC is famous for its selection of cozy and beautiful socks.
75. Simmer spices on the stove. Whole cinnamon, cloves, allspice and anise, all available in bulk, are traditional winter scents.
76. Slow down and read a book. PCC's book section has some good choices, from great local cookbooks and hiking guides, to the latest health information.
77. Sing like no one is listening. Or, find a community choir and join.
78. Take a walk.
79. Eat well. PCC is a natural place to find what you need for a feast for your body. 80. Be thankful.
81. Help keep farmland intact. PCC Farmland Fund
82. Love like you've never been hurt.
83. Take a hike. Pack up some healthy snacks and head for the hills. Twin Falls near North Bend has some great winter sight-seeing.
84. Listen to a great piece of music — alone.
85. Be kind.
|Make your gift Special
An artful presentation can make even the smallest gift a great token of your esteem. Start at PCC — you'll find jars, bottles and beautiful baskets. If you need something just a little more unique, here are some local sources to help you:
Great items for unusual gift presentation: Chinese takeout containers, tins, clean paint cans, glassine envelopes in many sizes and translucent plastic boxes. In addition, you'll find ribbons, tissue, twine and a remarkable variety of tags.
These stores are great inspirations if you're looking for seasonal fabrics and ribbons. Most also carry an assortment of foam forms, small figures (great for snowglobes), and unusual buttons.
Michael's Arts and Crafts
All the craft basics and more: pipe cleaners, foam forms, paints, decoupage boxes in many shapes and sizes.
Display and Costume
It's easy to get lost in this land of wondrous and weird things. For gift packaging, you'll find great gift-toppers, small toys, cardboard letters for gift tags, cellophane bags, ribbon and decoupage boxes in many shapes and sizes.
87. Go sledding at Snoqualmie Pass. On your way back, stop at Issaquah PCC for after-cold treats. The deli has chickens cooking on the rotisserie, and the bakery has hot Chai just waiting for you.
88. Go to the library at reading hour, even if you're not a kid.
89. Go to a museum.
90. Chop some wood.
91. Soak your feet after a day of shopping. Aura Cacia Foot Salts are a wonderful treat for tired tootsies.
92. Let the sun shine with yoga sun salutations. Check out PCC's book department for a good selection of yoga books and videos. Yoga mats and athletic wear are available, too.
93. Drink water. The heat of indoors dries out your precious skin. Stay hydrated by drinking your eight glasses a day. Brita makes a selection of filters to turn your tap water into something more pure. Pick up the gallon pitcher, or the bottle filter for on-the-go.
94. Get a massage.
95. Too bushed to cook? Take a night off. PCC's deli is a fount of inspiration and nutrition. Have dinner to go!
96. Reinstate the Sunday dinner. Sure, it's old-fashioned, but there's something about roasting an organic chicken early Sunday evening that helps you ease into the week ahead. Roast some organic yams, toss a salad of greens, dried cranberries and toasted pecans, and you've got a tradition worth repeating.
97. Warm up some tomato juice with a sprinkling of herbs for a comforting evening beverage that's non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated, and non-sweet — a nice change.
98. Take time at the beginning of each day to reflect quietly.
99. Pick up a book you wouldn't ordinarily choose.
100. Compost your holiday tree. Seattle residents can drop off trees cut into six-foot sections, at the North or South Recycling and Disposal Station from December 26 to January 13.