A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Month: December 2022

New Year’s Eve Countdown Bags

Traditions are a big part of family events throughout the entire year.  New Year’s Eve is no exception.  Whether you are staying home and celebrating with your kiddos or if you are going out and have a sitter staying home with them, kids still like ringing in the new year like the rest of us.  These New Year’s Eve Countdown Bags are a perfect way for the littles to enjoy the celebration of a new year as well.

There are a nunber of fun options when creating the countdown bags.  I love creating just one bag per each child.  A clock with a movable hand will be affixed to the front and goodies will be hidden inside.  As each hour approaches, the child will move their clock hand to designate the appropriate hour.   The big reveal of course will be when the hand reaches 12!

Making the New Year’s Eve Countdown Bags ~

Supplies ~
  • Lunch sized bags (also known as party paper goody bags)
  • Glue stick
  • Paper fasteners/brads of choice
  • Clock and clock hand (free printout below)

We chose fun metallic party bags for this year’s celebration ~


Instructions ~

Print and cut out the clock face and clock hand provided in this post.  *Links for various clocks are at bottom of post!

Using the glue stick, affix the clock face to the front of the bag.  *Be sure to not paste it too close to the top as you will need space to fold the top of the bag down.

Make a small hole in the end of the clock face.  You can push the brad right through the paper, but if it looks as if it is going to rip, try punching a small hole first with a pointy object.   Put the paper fastener/brad through the hole and then through the middle of the clock.

Reach into the sack and bend the arms of the brad to help secure the clock hand.

Fill the bag with the goodies you have collected.

Fold top of bag over and secure with sticker or make a small hole and tie a pretty ribbon through to hold in place.

How the Bags Work ~

At the top of every hour, the children get to move the clock hand.  Explain to the children that when the hand FINALLY reaches the 12 they will get to open their New Year’s Eve countdown bag.  *If your children are younger and will not make it to midnight, choose another designated time for them to receive their goodies!

Playing games, having dance parties and of course eating lots of yummy food are all, of course, an integral part of the time spent between the moving of the clock hand toward midnight!  Heidi, from OneCreativeMommy.com has some great free printables for New Year’s Eve Bingo.  Click this link to go directly to One Creative Mommy and get the Bingo game boards to print!  Use fun candies for the Bingo markers…and of course, be sure to have extras on hand for those candies that the little ones “sneak” to eat while playing! 😉

Festive Ideas for the Bag Fillers ~

Fill these fun bags with everything from small toys, to little candies to, of course, NOISE MAKERS!!!!  Below are some of the items we have filled our bags with for this year.  *Notice we have chosen some toys to inspire a little quiet time play…sometimes you need just a little break to slow down for breaks ~


Also included are small snack size bags of cookies and teddy grahams.  Individually wrapped candies and Nutrigrain bites.  You might even want to consider adding a juice box or favorite drink pouch!

New Year’s Eve Food Ideas ~

Fun ideas for festive food are galore on Pinterest, in recipe books and probably even in your recipe box!  Munchies can range from simple to more difficult as far as preparations go.  Remember that when you are adding in all the fun of games and dance parties, whatever food you choose to serve will be loved.  Yes, I, Mimi, am saying that….shocking right?  The gal who loves everything theme oriented.

My point is….it’s been a very busy last couple of months.  With that being said, we are ready for a good mix of simple and festive!  We plan on mixing simple recipes with a few of our favorite more time consuming ones.  For example, popcorn is simple right?  Our family loves popcorn so that will be on the menu!  However, we definitely need one or two fun foods.  Below are a couple of links for you to check out that have great ideas…from sweet to savory.

Adventures in Familyhood has some great ideas for food ideas.  Check out these awesome food ideas from Adventuresinfamilyhood.com in this link!  As far as savory goes, I have to say one of my favorites are the Crescent Dippers by Pillsbury…rolled out in numbers so you can make dippers in the year you are celebrating.  Use this link for the instructions on making New Year’s Eve Crescent Dippers by Pillsbury!  Another website that has loads of fun finger foods is from Brightcolormom.com.  Click here to see all of the fun ideas Michelle from Brightcolormom.com has in store for your New Year’s Eve celebration!

Choose Your Clock Face ~

I created several clock faces for you.  If you choose the monster or penguin, you will have to be a bit more careful cutting out the clock hands.  In order for those clock faces to fit on the bags I had to make them and the clock hands a bit smaller.  However, they are super cute and worth a little extra work!  I have provided a small pic so you can see which green link you want to choose….or you can print them all!

New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock – Blue

New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock – Purple

New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock – Monster

New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock – Penguin

There you have it friends!  Have fun putting these adorable New Year’s Eve countdown bags together…Come back and let me know what fun ideas you fill yours with!

Happy New Year’s to you my friends ~



Classic Broccoli Salad

As you search through salad ideas, many “specialty” salads are more seasonal.  Then you get lucky and find that one “specialty” salad that just seems to be good for all seasons and all holidays.  THIS is that salad!  Have you tried classic broccoli salad?  If not, let me tell you that this is one of the MOST requested salads at our friends and family get togethers.

This salad can be made ahead….BONUS!  I remember going to end of season sports banquets and I always looked forward to this side.  Yes, I have loved it for a very long time!  It is a delicious mixture of only a few ingredients that is topped with a creamy dressing that completes it perfectly.  I just described to you an easy salad that is also yummy…it’s perfect!

With the holidays right around the corner, it is the perfect addition to your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day menu.  As mentioned earlier, it can be made ahead and these are the best recipes when there is so many other things going on as well that makes it hard to spend all day in the kitchen.

Ingredients ~

For Salad ~

2 large bunches broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup to 1 cup raisins (I go with the larger amount)

12-18 strips bacon, cooked crisp

1 small onion, diced

1 cup or more of sunflower seeds

For Dressing ~

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. vinegar

* I double the dressing recipe because we like it covered in dressing.

* You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar…both work fine!

Instructions ~

Break or cut broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces.  You can chop stems and add them in as well.

Fry bacon until crisp.  Crumble when cooled.  *You can buy the premade bacon and toss in microwave for 1 to 2 minutes for a quick prep on the bacon.

Mix broccoli, raisins and finely-chopped onion and toss.

In separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar together until well combined and sugar crystals have dissolved.  Pour over broccoli mixture and refrigerate.  It is best if it marinates at least 2 hours.

*** I add the bacon when serving.  This keeps the bacon from getting soft.  This is not a necessary step, it is just how we prefer it.

Occasions for Classic Broccoli Salad ~

As mentioned earlier, this is the perfect salad for Christmas.  The green color adds to the festive look on your table.  Also, since it can be made ahead, it makes meal prep that much easier for the busy Christmas season.

It’s a perfect salad for Valentine’s Day by switching up the raisins for dried cranberries.  I like to bring in the color of the holiday into foods that I serve for that extra fun touch.

Definitely a great dish for Easter…just because salads are always good with Easter ham and all the other yummy sides that go with your Easter meal.

For all of the summer holidays….again it is a big hit.  It is crowd approved and nice that you can make ahead, throw it in a cooler to keep it chilled and have it ready to serve!  Seriously, it is a PERFECT salad for any time of the year!  This Iced sald serving bowl is perfect for all of the occasions too!  The stainless steel serving bowl sits in a larger acrylic bowl that holds the ice and keeps your salad chilled for hours!


Do I Need to Blanch the Broccoli? ~

No!  Cut the broccoli pieces from fresh broccoli…no extra work needed here!  The broccoli will soften a bit on its own as it marinates in the dressing.  Of course, you can blanch it if you wish, but there is really no need.

Healthier Substitutions ~

You can substitute greek yogurt for mayonnaise to make the salad a bit healthier.  You can also use mayonnaise with olive oil in it to save a few calories without changing the creaminess of the dressing.

Using pre-cooked bacon has less fat and calories than pan-fried bacon.  As mentioned above, I use this a lot and it does not alter the tast.  DO NOT use the little bacon bits that you find in a jar….please!

As many salads go, this is one that is not necessarily high on the “healthy” list.  However, it is an easy way to get broccoli and raisins (or dried cranberries) in your diet for those more finicky!

Other Salad Recipes Using Same Dressing ~

This dressing is a common dressing for many of what I call the “old-time salad recipes.”  Another family favorite of ours is made by mixing bite-sized pieces of Longhorn Colby Cheese, bacon pieces, diced onion, broccoli florets, cauliflower pieces and diced green onion topped with this creamy dressing!  Give it a try too!

This Classic Pea Salad by Bellyfull.net is another delcious salad recipe that uses the same dressing.  As Amy from BellyFull states in her post linked here, it is another old fashioned recipe that receives great accolades every time she serves it!

Do you already make this salad and maybe have some variations?  I would love to hear about them!  If you haven’t made it, be sure to make it soon….your family will be thankful you did!

Year ‘Round Meals to Pair with Classic Broccoli Salad ~

Have you tried making the hamburger bowls yet?  If not, check out this fun way and unique way to serve hamburgers…Hamburger Bowls!

This salad would also complement these amazing Poor Man Smoked Burnt Ends!


Happy Cooking ~


Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies

If you are anything like me, you are always working with different cookie recipes….all year long….but incessantly during the holidays!   We always love our tried and true recipes over the holidays ~ iced Christmas cookies, lemon bars, skillet cookies, homemade fudge, snowball cookies, and nut cups are some of our favorites!  However, we also love to add new recipes into the mix.  The Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies are one of the additions this year….and they are amazing!

Don’t you just love the aroma that fills the whole house when you are doing holiday baking?  You can close your eyes and it takes you back in time….helps you to remember all the years of Christmas past.  I always loved when my kids were small how their little faces would light up with all the festive goodies.  Now we get to watch our precious grandchildren experiencing all the same “feels.”

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies Ingredients ~

For the Cookies ~

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups flour

6 tsp red food coloring

2 tsp cocoa powder

1/2 cup granulated sugar/sanding sugar/coarse sugar (your preference)

For the Filling ~

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions ~

Preheat oven to 300°.  Prepare baking sheet by lightly spraying with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.

Mix the butter, brown sugar, egg yok, salt and vanilla until thoroughly mixed and fluffy.  Add in the food coloring and blend until just mixed (don’t overmix).  Add flour and cocoa powder until soft dough is formed.

Roll tablespoon size dough balls (or use cookie scoop) and then roll in sugar before placing on baking sheet.  Use back of spoon or cookie scoop, gently make a small indentation in each ball of dough.

Bake for 8 minutes.

While first batch is baking, mix softened cream cheese, egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth.

Remove cookies from oven and make another indentation a bit deeper to form a good well in the cookie.  Pour cream cheese mixture into the well of each cookie.  Bake for an additional 12-15 minutes, until filling is set.

(This handy gadget above is one of my favorites from Pampered Chef!  Check out Rose’s website for this and more awesome kitchen gadgets!

Let cool before serving.

Tips ~

→Using sanding sugar or course sugar to roll cookies in gives a bit more of a “sparkly” finished texture.  These sugars don’t melt as much in heat.  For an extra festive touch, use colored sugars.


→Using a cookie scoop ensure same size dough balls which helps to ensure that the cooking time needed is the same for all cookies.

→Be careful when making indentations to not push too hard.  You do not want it to go completely through the cookie.  You need to have enough cookie dough underneath to hold the form of the cookie.

→Do not over bake these cookies.  Cook just long enough that the filling is set.

→Let cookies cool 10 minutes before moving to serving platter.

→Be sure to refrigerate leftovers!

Occasions for Serving ~

Of course, Christmas is a perfect time to serve these little cookies that not only look festive but taste absolutely delicious.  However, don’t store this recipe just under Chrismtas baking.  Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  These will make the perfect touch to any Valentine’s Day spread!

Do you throw an Oscars Red Carpet party?  Oh my goodness, how perfect will these be for that night?  Any red carpet night deserves some red velvet cheesecake cookies.  Don’t forget birthday parties and anniversaries.  These little gems are perfect for numerous occasions!

Are You a Red Velvet Fanatic? ~

While these cookies definitely need to be on your baking list, there are so many other delicious  red velvet recipes out there.  I am a huge Southern Living fan and this post on Southern LIving with 22 red velvet recipes definitely deserves to be looked at!  There are so many wonderfully decadent recipes in this link!

For now, there are still definitely enough days to make these delicious cookies for this year’s Christmas and/or New Year’s celebrations.  I know there will be more batches made in our household along with our traditional favorites!  What are some of your tried and true recipes?  Would love to hear about them!

Happy Baking My Friends ~




Secret Santa with Gizmo

We have all heard of Secret Santa.  There are so many different situations that Secret Santa is used…in the workplace, at church, family gatherings, clubs, schools…basically where there is a group of people there is potential for this fun activity!  However, as is the norm with Mimi (that’s me 😉), I like to change it up a bit!  Let me tell you a little more about Secret Santa with Gizmo!

Gizmo is the little blue snowflake I brought to life last year.  If you haven’t read about him, you can read all about cute little Gizmo right here!

Gizmo appears to spread holiday cheer.  He helps count down to Christmas!  You never know when he is going to show up…and that is part of the fun!  This is similar to Secret Santa….you never know when festive items will appear throughout the month of December. Gizmo donned his Santa hat and is ready to be Santa’s helper!

Secret Santa Ideas ~

The fun thing about these 2 pairing up is that they can visit adults and/or children!    Some of these ideas will be catered more toward adults and some more toward children….some can be enjoyed by anyone at any age!

DIY Hot Cocoa Gift Kit ~ 

These cute hot cocoa sets can be enjoyed by people of all ages!  Easy to put together, adorable to set out and tasty to enjoy….for the win!  Ziploc Hot Cocoa Snowman is a perfect gift idea!   ⬅️⬅️Use this link to get the specifics or the Pinterest link below⬇️.

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Christmas Cookie Exchange With Wine Pairing

It’s hard to think about the holidays and NOT think about all of the delicious seasonal cookies and treats.  When you scour Pinterest alone you see tons of Christmas cookie recipes….but who has time to bake all of them?  This is where a Christmas Cookie Exchange with a wine pairing (cookie and wine pairing…who knew?) came to life!

I have been to a couple of different cookie swaps, but it has been a VERY long time ago.  The decision was made to host my own holiday cookie exchange, but I wanted to make it a little different.  Holding the party at the beginning of December was important to me as I wanted to plan a casual night for my friends before heading into the hectic season.  This allowed for some great girl time and hopefully some ideas for each of them of cookies they may want to recreate throughout the month.

What is a Cookie Exchange/Swap? ~

Getting technical, cookie swaps date back to the 17th Century.  Alexandra Simon wrote an interesting article, The History of Christmas Cookie Swaps Explained for Grunge.com.  It’s a pretty short but fun read all about Cookie Swaps…even down to the “official date” being December 22, according to National Today.

Basically, you ask all of your guests to make a designated number of cookies to bring to the party.  Everyone then takes a certain number of each person’s cookies and creates their own variety of treats to take home and enjoy with their friends and family.  You can ask them to bring their own plate/platter to transport their cookies home or you can provide a “to go” box for them.  I found fun little tins with holiday themed lids.

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