Christmas in July

No, we’re not trying to push the start of the Christmas season even earlier than it already is (Halloween is plenty early) We’re just reminding all crafters out there that if you’re going to make any presents this year, the best time to start making them is now. Handmade gifts are probably the nicest, most thoughtful gifts you can give, but they take time. Here are some great resources for ideas and inspiration.

Closely knitHandmade home

Closely Knit: Handmade Gifts for the Ones You Love by Hannah Fettig

Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures by Amanda Soule

Crafty chicaMartha Stewart craftsCrafty Chica’s Guide to Artful Sewing by Kathy Cano-Murillo

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts by Martha Stewart

pillowcasebag bazaar

Bag Bazaar: 25 Stylish Bags to Make in an Afternoon by Megan Avery

Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Pillowcase by Suzanne Tourtillot

Holiday Movies

Love Christmas movies but can’t seem to find the right ones on television? Try one of these classic titles, old and new, from the library. Fix a cup of hot chocolate, sit back and relax.

Christmas Carolvarious versions

Classic Dickens story about a bitter old man who’s given a chance for redemption when three ghosts come to visit him on Christmas Eve.

A Christmas StoryPeter Billingsley, Darren McGavin

Ralphie Parker, a 1940s nine-year-old, pulls out all the stops to obtain the ultimate Christmas present- a Red Rider BB gun- in this delightfully funny holiday movie.

Elf Will Farrell, Bob Newhart

A young orphan child mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag and is transported back to the North Pole to be raised as an elf. Years later, Buddy learns he is not really an elf and goes on a journey to New York to find his true identity.

Fred ClausVince Vaughn, Elizabeth Banks

Fred Claus has lived in his little brother’s shadow for most of his life. Fred is in jail and Nicholas has to bail him out on the condition he come to the North Pole and repay his debt.

Miracle on 34th StreetNatalie Wood, Maureen O’Hara

The real Santa is hired by Macy’s to play Santa in the Thanksgiving Day parade, but he has to prove in court that he is who he says he is.

Holiday InnFred Astaire, Bing Crosby

Two song and dance men join together and start a hotel that’s open only on holidays.

It’s a Wonderful LifeJimmy Stewart, Donna Reed

George is saved from a suicide attempt by an angel and is then shown how important he is to the people who love him. A Christmas classic.

White ChristmasBing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney

The classic musical about two guys that become a popular song-and-dance team and play at a resort for charity.

Merry and Bright by Country Living

Just paging through Merry and Bright will put you in the holiday spirit. Full of ideas on how to brighten your holiday, there’s something for everyone from crafts to recipes to decking the halls.

As you would expect from Country Living, the emphasis here is on the simple and homey. Most of the projects can be accomplished with things you have on hand already – buttons, ribbons, paper – and encourages you to dip into your collection of ornaments and holiday decorations and use them in new ways.

Beautifully photographed, most of the ideas are quick to finish and yield big results. Antiques, collectibles, nature and tradition mix with the new ideas for an old-fashioned Christmas with a fresh, bright look.

The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook

It’s just exactly what you’d expect from Martha and company – traditional recipes presented in fresh ways, exquisite photographs, impeccable directions. The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook has something for every taste, from simple to extravagant. Recipes cover the gamut of holiday food from breakfast to supper, drinks and hors d’oeuvres to desserts and cookies. A series of themed menus (Italian, Vegetarian, Swedish, Southern Open-House) simplify party planning and tips and techniques are scattered throughout. You’ll find plenty of ideas for the holiday season and beyond.

Sounds of the Season

What would the holidays be without music? Pop one of these CDs in while you’re baking cookies or wrapping gifts – you’ll be humming along in no time.


What a Night: a Christmas Album by Harry Connick Jr

A Swingin’ Christmas by Tony Bennett

Christmasville by Mannheim Steamroller

Let it Snow by Michael Buble

Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan

Cool Yule by Bette Midler

Christmas by Brad Paisley

Good Reading for the Holidays

Once all the presents are bought and candies and cookies have been made, it’ll be time to relax with a good holiday book to keep you in the spirit.

The Christmas Train – David Baldacci

Tom Langdon is a former war reporter who now writes feature articles for various magazines. Banned from flying on airplanes, Langdon is forced to take a cross-country train from Washington, D.C., to L.A., where his girlfriend is waiting to spend Christmas with him. To Tom’s shock, the former love of his life, Eleanor, is also aboard the train. Sparks fly between them, bringing up old feelings along with the unresolved issues from their relationship. Tom realizes this might be his second chance with Eleanor, but a series of unexpected events may derail his plans.

A Christmas Memory – Truman Capote

A Christmas Memory is the classic memoir of Truman Capote’s childhood in rural Alabama. Until he was ten years old, Capote lived with distant relatives. This book is an autobiographical story of those years and his frank and fond memories of one of his cousins, Miss Sook Faulk.

A Redbird Christmas – Fannie Flagg

Lured by a brochure his doctor gives him after informing him that his emphysema has left him with scarcely a year to live, 52-year-old Oswald T. Campbell abandons wintry Chicago for Lost River, Ala., where he believes he’ll be spending his last Christmas. Befriended by Frances Cleverdon, this quirky story takes a heartwarming turn when Frances and Oswald become involved in the life of Patsy Casey, an abandoned young girl with a crippled leg. As Christmas approaches, the townspeople and neighboring communities rally round shy, sweet Patsy. Flagg is a gifted storyteller who knows how to tug at readers’ heartstrings, winding up her satisfying holiday tale with the requisite Christmas miracle.

Christmas at Fontaine’s – William Kotzwinkle

Tis the night before Christmas and all through Fontaine’s department store something mysterious and magical is happening. For into the lives of the department store Santa, the harried employees and the worried owner has come a mysterious presence, a silver streak, hiding in the darkened stockrooms and empty stairwells, appearing for an instant – now in the Toy Department, now in an unfinished window display – turning the chaos of a department store on Christmas Eve into a wonderland of miracles.

Tidings – William Wharton

This intimate family novel by takes place during a few days around Christmas. At an old mill in rural France, philosophy teacher Will, wife Lor, and four nearly grown children reunite for the holidays. The scene and the season are so lovingly detailed that the novel’s atmosphere is almost palpable, yet each family member brings to the festivities some personal trouble that he or she will try to resolve. As they struggle to make this a Christmas to remember, the people and their celebration come alive in an unusual, entertaining, heartwarming evocation of the magic, warmth, and underlying strains of family Christmas.

The Great Santa Search – Jeff Guinn

When TV producer Bobbo Butler tries to save his ailing TV station, FUN-TV, with an American Idol-inspired talent contest intended to find the real Santa, the man himself throws his hat into the ring. Guinn’s clever premise draws on the historical roots of the commercialization of Christmas, and his Santa, who narrates, is sanguine when faced with the prospect of facing off against street corner Santas.