It's no wonder a holiday starring a man who can circle the globe in one night sneaks up on us every year. Between cookies to bake and gifts to wrap, the season can fly by before we've decked a single hall. Don't throw up your hands and say "grinch" -- you still have time to steal Christmas (no, not like that).
Stack gumdrops, dot them with sprinkles and other candies in creative ways, and watch the colorful confections come to life as snowmen, Santas, and other icons of the season. Wrap the candy pops in cellophane bags, and then attach them to gifts or slip them into stockings. Or create a holiday display: Partially fill a large glass jar with sanding sugar, and stand the figurines on flower frogs in the sparkling "snow."
Slide gumdrops onto candy sticks to create body of each pop. (Use leaf-shaped gumdrops for holly pop.)
Use top half of 1 small gumdrop for hat. Trim 2 oblong candies for arms. Use candy-coated seeds for buttons and pom-pom. Poke candy where facial features will go with a skewer; use sticky tip to pick up and place nonpareils for eyes and nose.
Use 1 flattened gumdrop for base of tree. Use 1 small gumdrop for trunk. Cut sides from 1 gumdrop; press sides around top of stick, for treetop. Flatten 1 gumdrop; using an aspic cutter, cut out star. Insert sprinkles for lights.
Trim top of head; top with 1 candy wafer and half of 1 small gumdrop for hat. Using a skewer (see "For Santa"), place nonpareils for eyes, mouth, and buttons. Insert sprinkle for nose.
Use halves of small gumdrops for berries.
Use 1 small gumdrop for stem. Use sequin sprinkles for dots.
Holiday Card Gift Bags
Make a festive gift bag by gluing greeting card cutouts onto a colorful paper bag. Cut the top of the bag with scallop-edged scissors. Then punch one or two holes and tie on a ribbon.
Good Wish Tree
Fill the house with holiday cheer by hanging holiday card cutouts from branches in a vase.
Cut recycled holiday cards into small rectangles and punch a hole in one end. For the blank side, invite guests and family to write notes of thanks and hope. Hang on fallen branches displayed in a vase.
Santa Claus Crackers
Assemble jolly hors d'oeuvres for a holiday party with kids among the guests. Your kids can be little helpers: Use kitchen scissors to cut a pepperoni hat; attach to cracker with a dab of ricotta. Spread on a ricotta beard. Add celery slices for mustache and capers for eyes and nose. Cover bottom of hat with more ricotta for fluffy trim.
Cranberry Flower Frog
Cranberries are a staple of the holiday table, but few of us know them other than as a relish or jelly. Keep these native fruits in view by using them as a flower frog instead of pebbles or marbles; they will hold stems in place for about a week. Use hard cranberries; wash them well before submerging in water.
At bake-sale fund-raisers and office baby showers, brownies are always a fast, delicious fallback offering. And just because you brought them to the PTA open house doesn't mean they're not festive enough for a holiday hostess gift. Personalize -- and pretty up -- your crowd-pleaser by stenciling a big bow on top with powdered sugar.
Print our template onto card stock, and cut out. Bake an 8-by-8-inch pan of brownies, let cool, and turn out upside down onto a platter. Place stencil on top; using a sifter or small strainer, dust with confectioners' sugar; carefully remove stencil.
Cedar Wreath "Chandelier"
This wreath chandelier looks grand and difficult to make, but it couldn't be simpler or more stunning. Just take two wreaths and beautiful satin ribbon, tie bows, and hang.
16-inch-diameter cedar wreath
22-inch-diameter cedar wreath
17 yards of 2-inch-wide red satin ribbon
1. With the small wreath's wire frame facing up, slip 1 end of a 5-foot ribbon length through frame's rim, and knot firmly. Repeat with 2 additional 5-foot ribbons, knotting at evenly spaced intervals around wreath.
2. Gather ribbons together, and knot at a point 15 inches above center of wreath. Leave these hanger ribbons in center of wreath while working on large wreath.
3. Attach three 4-foot ribbon lengths to large wreath frame.
4. Place large wreath on top of small wreath, aligning hanger ribbons. Gather hanger ribbons of both wreaths together, and knot 20 inches above center of large wreath. Trim ends of hanger ribbons above top knot to create a finished look.
5. Screw hook into ceiling. Hang wreaths from top hanger-ribbon knot.
6. Tie a 4-foot ribbon length at base of each hanger ribbon, and fashion into a classic bow. Trim bow tails to 12 inches.
More from Martha Stewart Living:
15 Kitchen Shortcuts That Will Change the Way You Cook
19 Tips for Perfect Laundry Every Time
47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen
20 Super-Efficient, Super-Effective Ways to Clean All the Things
Even better: Turn someone else's greeting into your own holiday magic.