Use two to three varieties of cheese to build your Christmas tree cheese board or platter. I used Cheddar and Cheddar Jack and red and green seedless grapes.
Cut your cheese into cubes and arrange your cubes and grapes in rows on a platter or cutting board in a Christmas tree shape.
I tucked in some sprigs of thyme and rosemary along the edges and added a star-shaped cracker for a tree topper and more crackers to serve. My sister brought me a couple of boxes of Valley Lahvosh Star Crackers thinking I could have a little holiday food fun with them! Use some festive party picks or regular toothpicks to serve.
This festive edible holiday tree appetizer isn’t limited to cheese and grapes, you could assemble an antipasto Christmas tree using olives, tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, peppers, marinated mozzarella and cured meats~ especially easy if your grocery store has an olive/antipasto bar!
This year, skip the big box stores and deck your doors and windows with fresh evergreen clippings sourced right from your own backyard. This simple, farmhouse-inspired swag makes quick work of holiday decorating while infusing your front door with a major dose of country Christmas charm.
Build a Greenery Base
Lay a one to two-foot (depending on how long you want your swag to be) piece of fluffy greenery vertically on your work surface. Cut a piece half that size and lay it on top, toward the bottom, to add fullness (Image 1). Wire the pieces together with green floral wire (Image 2). Pro tip: You can buy evergreen stems from your local florist or grab cuttings from your backyard, like we did.
Fill It Out
Cut four shorter stems and place them on either side of the center clippings, toward the top, creating an upside-down triangle shape (Image 1). Wire them to the center clippings. Continue to cut and layer greenery until you achieve the desired shape and fullness. Finish with another long, fluffy clipping on top to hide your work (Image 2).
Tie Bells Together
Thread jute rope through the top of the biggest bell and secure with a slip knot. Learn how to tie a slip knot here. Top the knot with a wood bead, then attach a second, smaller bell about three inches up the rope using another slip knot. Top that knot with another wood bead, then leave a generous amount of excess rope (or don’t cut it from the spool yet) and set aside.
Combine Bells & Greenery
Center the bells on the swag (Image 1), then thread the rope through the greenery at the top (Image 2). Finish with an upside-down slip knot, leaving a large loop for hanging. Trim excess rope. Use floral wire to secure the rope beneath the knot to the greenery stems.
Add Some Color
Add a dab of high-temp hot glue to the ends of faux berry picks and disperse throughout the arrangement (Image 1). Tie two simple shoestring bows using your favorite ribbon (we chose gray velvet and simple white), then glue them just under the top knot, hiding any exposed greenery stems or floral wire (Images 2, 3 & 4).
Maintain & Enjoy
Spritz greenery lightly with water about once a week, during the day when temps are above freezing, being careful not to soak the bell or ribbon. If some of your greenery starts to brown or fade, simply clip it out and replace with a fresh piece. With regular maintenance, your swag should last a month or more in cooler climates.
Depiction of Our Lady of Guadalupe adorns a wall in Los Angeles, California. Raul Reyes
If you see a colorful procession in your city or town on Thursday, it may have to do with a venerated “lady” whose presence is ubiquitous in many Latino communities across the U.S.
The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, is celebrated on December 12. For Mexicans and Mexican-Americans as well as other Latinos, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a powerful symbol of devotion, identity, and patriotism. Her image inspires artists, activists, feminists and the faithful.
Yet while Our Lady of Guadalupe is revered, recognized, and commercialized throughout Latin America, many Americans are likely unaware of the origins and impact of her iconic status.
But that may be changing.
Last Saturday morning in New York City, a group of volunteers from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church at St. Bernard’s were undeterred as snow drifted down and the temperature dropped to 33 degrees. They arranged flowers, flags, and banners, and lined up behind vehicles bearing large images of Mexico’s patron saint, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
After a cry of “Listos?” (Ready?) the procession wound its way through Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, the marchers reciting novenas, or prayers, singing songs, and drawing a mixture of curious and confused looks.
“I think it’s some kind of mariachi thing,” one onlooker murmured to his companion.
The procession was in fact a prelude to the Dec. 12th celebration, which will see Latino communities, from big cities like Los Angeles and Houston to smaller ones like Mason City, Iowa, honoring her legacy.
“In Christianity, for us, Our Lady signifies a lot,” said Father Juan Antonio Gutierrez of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in El Paso, Texas. “She is the one who supports us, helps us, and protects us.” At his church, there will be special masses, a serenata (serenade), matachines (dancers), a procession, and the singing of the traditional song Las Mañanitas, in celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. “She has been part of Mexican life for almost 500 years, and that’s why both believers and non-believers respect her image,” said Gutierrez. “Our ancestors are represented through her; she represents us.”
Here are five things to know about Our Lady of Guadalupe – and why she matters to millions of Latinos today.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is an inextricable part of Mexican and Mexican American culture. Octavio Paz, the winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for literature, once opined that “After two centuries of experiment and failure, the Mexican people only believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the national lottery.”
Even among Mexican and Mexican-American lapsed Catholics, it seems there is often a bond with Our Lady of Guadalupe as a cultural talisman. Her image is seen on murals and in museums, and on trucks and tattoos. Earlier this year, a contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” brought a candle bearing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe along with him into the competition for good luck – while in Mexico, an artist turned his cute renderings of Guadalupe into “Virgincita Plis,” a cartoon and merchandising craze akin to Hello Kitty. “Our Lady of Guadalupe has flowed over into the popular culture, in ways that once might have been considered disrespectful but today are not. She is on calendars, and used by gang members and prisoners who tattoo her image across their backs,” said writer Ana Castillo. “For many of us, growing up, God was an invisible, strict figure. He is remote, while Our Lady of Guadalupe is someone you can see, she is a palpable image – and she is the mother figure, forgiving and all-loving.”
We see Our Lady of Guadalupe’s name and image invoked on behalf of immigrants, or against police brutality, or anytime people seek solace or protection.” While Our Lady of Guadalupe’s presence in popular culture has grown along with the growth of the U.S. Latino population, she retains the sense of being an accessible source of hope for poor, oppressed, or marginalized people.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most famous apparitions in the world. According to lore, in 1531 the mother of God appeared to a peasant named Juan Diego on a hill near present-day Mexico City and asked that he build her a shrine. Twice Juan Diego reported her appearance to his local bishop, who did not believe him. The second time, the bishop asked for proof. On the morning of December 12, the vision appeared again to Juan Diego and directed him to gather flowers at the top of the hill. This was unusual because it was winter and flowers were not in season. Nonetheless, he followed her instructions and discovered an array of Castilian roses. The “lady” helped Juan Diego arrange them in his tilma, or cloak, and he went back to his bishop. When Juan Diego showed the bishop his cloak, the roses tumbled out and on the inside of the cloak was an image of the Virgin Mary. Since then, this image has been known as Our Lady of Guadalupe.
What sets this purported appearance apart from others such as the visions in Lourdes or Fatima is that the “proof” that Our Lady of Guadalupe gave Juan Diego can still be seen today, on display at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe outside Mexico City. The tilma’s colors have not faded despite the passage of hundreds of years, and the cloak has reportedly defied some scientific explanation. The Basilica itself is one of the top tourist attractions in the country, drawing millions of visitors a year, including Pope Francis in 2016. The Basilica is a sacred place to devout Roman Catholics, as they believe it marks the only place in the Americas visited by the Virgin Mary.
The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a driving factor in the conversion of Mexico’s indigenous people to Catholicism. The apparition appeared to Juan Diego just ten years after Spain’s conquest of central Mexico. “The fact that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared as a brown-skinned woman speaking Nahuatl to an indigenous peasant is an important part of the narrative,” said Laura G. Gutierrez of the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies. “The story was used by the Spaniards as a way to bring the native people to Catholicism. She appeared on a hill where indigenous people had previously worshiped the goddess Tonantzin, so in a sense people could feel that they were continuing this kind of veneration.” After the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, millions of indigenous people converted to Catholicism.
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has played a role in historical events. When Father Miguel Hidalgo launched Mexico’s war of independence from Spain in 1810, his rallying cry was “Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!” During the Mexican revolution, Emiliano Zapata and other fighters carried her image into battle. “In the 19th century, she became more of the symbol of the nation, and patriotism,” notes Gutierrez. “Our Lady of Guadalupe is present, in some form, during historical events and becomes a core part of Mexican identity.” Images of Our Lady of Guadalupe were used by Cesar Chavez during the Mexican-American civil rights movement, and by immigrants’ rights advocates in the 1990s and 2000s. This year, U.S. Bishops are encouraging people to celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe in solidarity with immigrants.
Depictions of Our Lady of Guadalupe have remained consistent for centuries – and she brings joy to the faithful on December 12. Our Lady of Guadalupe is usually shown looking downward in a pose of humility, with stars on her cloak and surrounded by golden rays. A sash around her waist indicates that she is expecting a child, which is a rare depiction of the Virgin Mary as pregnant.
“She endures so strongly in society because she represents motherhood and life-giving,” said Father Johann Roten, director of research, art, and special projects at the University of Dayton. “You don’t have to be Catholic to respond to the affirmation, affection, and security that she offers. These are central values that go all the way back to the first appearance of the apparition.”
Roten emphasizes that the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe represents the fusion of the Spanish and mestizo, or indigenous, cultures, which is, in a sense, a proxy for Mexico itself. “The story is also unique because it has concrete, relatable elements; the disbelieving bishop, the lowly peasant, and the evidence of the tilma (cloak) that was left behind.”
Perhaps writer Ana Castillo best sums up the ubiquity and importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe. “Anywhere you have more than one Mexican, whether in Toledo, Ohio or Toluca, Mexico, you will probably have a Virgin of Guadalupe sighting – because of the need and desire for her presence.”
Nearly 36 million households will purchase a Christmas tree this year, according to the American Christmas Tree Association. Although there’s debate about whether real or fake Christmas trees are better, those who opt for the authentic kind can shell out a collective total of $984 million to deck their halls. But nothing puts a damper on holiday cheer quite like a dry, brittle tree that has lost its fragrance. Thankfully, there’s a simple way to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
First and foremost, you’ll need to place your tree in water as soon as possible. Keeping the base of your tree wet maintains the freshness of the needles for a month or longer, a study found.
As a general rule of thumb, the typical tree will absorb a quart of water for each inch of its diameter, according to Mark Derowitsch, a spokesperson for the Arbor Day Foundation. He recommends placing your tree in a bucket of water and refilling it every day. Find out more secrets your Christmas tree wishes you knew.
Some people also use commercial Christmas tree preservatives, which can be stirred into the water in your tree’s stand. Others mix aspirin or a tablespoon of corn syrup or sugar in the water as an additional food source for the tree, Tchukki Andersen, a staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association, told Popular Mechanics.
But before you run out to the grocery store, take this advice with a grain of salt. Some experts say that adding any type of substance won’t do the tree any good. “Clean water still works the best,” says tree scientist Les Werner.
Remembering Pearl Harbor– December 7, 1941 “A day that will live in infamy”
Doris “Dorie” Miller, an African American sailor, was one of the most unsung American heroes of World War II. His actions during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor helped save many lives and served as an inspiration to countless others.
Miller was born on October 12, 1919, in Waco, Texas. He worked on the family farm with his three brothers until September 16, 1939, when Miller enlisted in the Navy to earn extra money for his family. Miller completed training at the Naval Training Station in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was promoted to Mess Attendant Third Class. This was one of the only positions available to African-Americans at the time, due to Navy segregation.
Following his promotion, Miller was assigned to the USS Pyro, where he served as a mess attendant before being transferred in 1940 to the USS West Virginia. It was there that Miller became the ship’s heavy-weight boxing champion, earning the respect of his compatriots.
On December 7, 1941, Miller woke up early to begin his workday. As he began collecting the ship’s laundry, an alarm from General Quarters sounded. Miller raced for his battle station, the anti-aircraft battery magazine amidships. But when he got to his position, he found it destroyed by torpedo. Miller returned to deck, and because of his physical prowess, was assigned to help carry his fellow wounded sailors to safety. He carried several men to safe quarters, then retrieved the ship’s injured captain, Mervyn Bennion.
Then, without rest, and before being ordered to abandon ship, Miller fired an unmanned .50-caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until it ran out of ammunition. When asked how he managed to fire with such prowess, Miller said, “It wasn’t hard. I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about fifteen minutes. I think I got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us.”
The USS West Virginia sank to the bottom of the harbor. Of the ship’s 1,541 men, 130 were killed and 52 wounded. For his actions, Miller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on April 1, 1942. On May 27, 1942, he was awarded the Navy Cross by the Pacific Fleet’s Commander in Chief, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
On November 24, 1943, a Japanese torpedo struck the USS Liscome Bay off the coast of Buritaritari Island. Two-thirds of the crew died or went missing—including Miller.
Doris Miller’s legacy paved the way for other African-American service members to serve in combat roles. And his likeness was used in Navy recruitment drives, including an iconic World War II enlistment poster featuring the words, “Above and beyond the call of duty.”
In addition to the Navy Cross, Doris Miller received the Purple Heart, the American Defense Service Medal – Fleet Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. In 1973, the Knox-class frigate USS Miller was named in his honor.
Decorating your home for Christmas is all about creating memories with the ones you love. But for a design enthusiast, the holiday also presents the opportunity to show off your decorating style.
Out of all the Christmas decorations that are widely available, including string lights, eye-catching ornaments, and garland, tinsel tends to be a popular choice for many Christmas tree looks. It never fails to add a dose of glam to a tree, and it has a special way of getting you into the holiday spirit. However, if you’re stumped on how to amp up your holiday decor this year, consider mixing things up with more creative Christmas tinsel ideas rather than the traditional streamers that are draped on trees.
Lucky for you, we’ve searched a slew of online retailers to bring you the most stylish tinsel decorations for a holiday to remember. From colorful tinsel ornaments to glam wreaths, these Christmas decor suggestions are just too good to pass up.
1Silver Tinsel Star Ornament
You can’t go wrong with this sparkly silver star ornament with an eye-catching wire design.
2Tinsel Wrapped Pre-lit Christmas Tree
National Tree Companyhayneedle.com
Lean in to a bold look this year, courtesy of this blue pre-lit tree that’s perfect for a small space.
3Collapsible Tinsel Snowman
This tinsel snowman, which is collapsible for easy storage, is sure to be a hit with the kids in your family.
4Red Tinsel Stocking
Dress up your mantel with this festive red tinsel stocking.
5Metallic Tinsel Platinum Ribbon
The decorating possibilities for this metallic tinsel ribbon are endless. Use it to enhance a centerpiece, mantel, or even your banister.
6Sparkling Champagne Gold Tinsel Wreath
The Holiday Aislewayfair.com
Bring a sophisticated flair to your entry with this gold tinsel wreath.
7Red Tinsel Placemat
There’s no doubt that your Christmas table will look more glam with this red tinsel placemat in the mix.
8Fabric Tinsel Shoe with Gifts
National Tree Company Seasonal Decoroverstock.com
This tinsel shoe filled with gifts is a sweet reminder of the joy that comes along with the holiday season.
9Gold Metallic Foil Fringe Chandelier
Test the fringe trend with this tiered tinsel chandelier that will boost the style factor of your space in an instant.
10Holiday Tinsel Candy Cane Tree
This candy cane tree is the perfect way to embrace a classic red and white Christmas palette.
11Gold Christmas Tinsel Wreath
If you love nothing more than making a statement with your decor, this gold tinsel wreath is for you.
12Gold Tinsel Snowflake Christmas Tree Topper
Trade traditional tinsel streamers for this colorful snowflake tree topper.
13Two-Piece Bottle Brush Tree Set
Bethany Lowe Designsperigold.com
Incorporate a dose of symmetry into your holiday scheme with this pair of gold tinsel trees.
14Platinum Tinsel Christmas Balls
Feeling crafty? These silver tinsel balls are your cue to start a DIY holiday project.
15Outdoor Patio Umbrellas
This colorful candy cane ornament embodies the spirit of Christmas.
16Rainbow-Colored Christmas Tinsel Garland
$16.49 (18% off)
Whether you choose to decorate a mantel, door, or a staircase, your space is guaranteed to look more stylish.
You might be looking at the calendar skeptically, thinking, How could this possibly be right? The holidays aren’t that soon, are they? Then come the inevitable thoughts about gifts—who you need to buy for and, more importantly, what you’re going to get them. But you needn’t scramble at the last minute and swipe a random item off a department store shelf; we’ve got you covered with classic gift suggestions for everyone on your list, from your spouse to the coworker whose name you drew at your office Secret Santa.
While the holidays are typically a time of indulgence, how can one celebrate when the phrase of the year is “climate strike”? And with the festivities in full swing, it easy to resort to old habits rather than thinking of eco-friendly ways to have a green Christmas.
“Although [the holidays] are full of merriment, they can also be a time of unnecessary excess. This time of year should be about family, friends, food, and fun—not stuff,” says Lindsay Coulter, senior public engagement specialist of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green.
According to Coulter, between Thanksgiving in the U.S. and early January, household waste increases by more than 25 percent, due to extra food waste (up to 40 percent of festive food is wasted) in addition to packaging and older items being trashed for newer gifts. As a result of this material merriment, there are more than one million more tons per week in landfills across North America, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
No wonder many of us might have misgivings when celebrating a season of excess that puts a strain on the environment. Thankfully, with some effort and creativity, there are ways to ring in this special time with little impact on the planet. Below, we provided six ways you can have a greener Christmas, according to environmental experts. Because if there’s any time we should consider our environmental habits, it’s now.
When it comes to choosing your Christmas tree, opt for a real one instead of purchasing an artificial tree. “While [artificial trees] can be reused, studies show you would have to use one for 20 years before it [becomes more sustainable] than a real tree,” says Coulter.
Shyla Raghav, vice president of climate change of Conservation International, recommends buying a real tree from a local farm. Not only do real trees help to create a habitat for wildlife and provide clean air while they’re growing “getting your trees locally will also minimize the carbon footprint that comes from transporting the trees, and it can be used for mulch after the season is over,” she says.
Research from the Center for Global Development found that decorative seasonal lights accounted for 6.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity consumption every year in the United States, which is the equivalent of running 14 million refrigerators—and more than the national electricity consumption of such developing countries like El Salvador and Tanzania. The solution? Raghav recommends using modern tech. “For your [holiday] lights, try using LEDs over traditional. LEDs use up 80% less energy and last 25% longer,” she says.
When you’re purchasing gifts, Raghav suggests scouring antique and vintage shops for “those unique finds that don’t carry the huge burden of emissions from seasonal production and shipping. [For instance,] last year, I found a really cool shawl for my mom at a local vintage clothing store in DC.”
Another important thing to consider when purchasing gifts is to buy experiences, not gifts for people. Think museum memberships, workout subscriptions, tickets to see a show, spa days, etc, says Raghav. However, if you do choose to buy from online retailers, Raghav says to choose standard shipping and try to consolidate all of your purchases into one order so that you can reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible: “Make one list and order all [your gifts] at once,” she adds.
Of course, what’s gift-giving without wrapping paper? However, single-use wrapping paper is super wasteful, which is why Coulter suggests unleashing your creativity when it comes to decorating your gifts. “Check out furoshiki cloth wrapping techniques. [You can] sew your own reusable cloth bags; wrap with newspapers, maps or posters; [or] decorate with markers,” she says. And try not to use plastic ribbons, bows, glitter, and extra tape to avoid creating additional waste.
No holiday gathering is complete without food. “Bringing all of your friends and family together can greatly reduce your footprint,” says Raghav. “When making your menu, [opt for] vegetarian and vegan [dishes]. I really love dressing up a vegan celebration roast with sides like stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.” But if you can’t ditch the meat entirely, Coulter recommends eating less and buying meat that’s been organically and ethically raised.
When it comes to leftovers, don’t let your food go to waste and repurpose them for another meal. “My favorite second day Thanksgiving meal is a Thanksgiving sandwich, complete with all the fixings,” says Raghav. “And if you don’t end up using all of the leftovers, be sure to compost.” Another eco-friendly tip: Ditch the plastic and disposables dinnerware, and invite guests to bring their own dishes if you’re in need of extra tableware.
For many of us, the holidays mean major travel time to see our loved ones. If your family is spread far apart from each other, you might want to agree upon a destination where everyone can meet in the middle, says Coulter. However, if that’s not the case, Raghav says you can help neutralize the carbon footprint of your travel and meals with Conservation International’s Holiday Carbon Calculator. “It will calculate the carbon footprint of your event or travel and allow you to invest directly in keeping a carbon-rich forest standing,” she says. “You’ll also discover easy lifestyle changes you can make in 2020 to live lighter all year long.”
Making simple environmentally conscious changes to our long-held traditions can help out our planet in the long run. As the list above illustrates, we don’t have to sacrifice on the specialness of the holiday season to not only make it memorable, but also help ensure we can continue making those memories for years to come.