Donna's Favorite Things - Holiday 2014 Edition

Monday, December 8, 2014

As I sit here in my cozy socks and Nick and Nora pajamas, I see the irony of Harris Sister Deanna penning her Favorite Things List FIRST and then challenging us other Harris Sisters to write our own lists.

Well played, Deanna, well played. ;-)


Let's see if I can come up with a full list of 10 things, shall we?




I know I've started this list off with an expensive "favorite," but Ryan bought this for me as a gift and I can't say enough good things about it. He bought it so that I could have a way to play Mama's old records because we'd long since upgraded our music technology and had lost that ability along the way.

This is the perfect way to keep that nostalgia alive! If you have a music lover on your list, he or she would love to find this under the tree (I know I did). Ours is currently playing all of the old Christmas records I remember from when we grew up, including one of my favorites the Elvis Christmas Album.



I'm sure you've had Moravian cookies before. But, were those cookies you purchased handmade? The good folks as Mrs. Hanes' Cookies start their day at 6:30 AM and start rolling out cookie dough. And they still cut their cookies by hand with cookie cutters. These cookies just melt in your mouth. They're available in ginger, sugar, chocolate, butterscotch, lemon, and black walnut flavors.

We've tried several of the flavors and I couldn't tell you which one is the best. If you get the chance to stop by their bakery, they'll give you a quick tour and let you sample the flavors. Otherwise, you can order from their website before December 15, they'll get the order to you before Christmas. Can't beat that!


The idea behind these glasses is that you put them on and look at Christmas lights. The lights are then "transformed" into the image shown on the pair of glasses you're wearing. This YouTube video shows them in action. They sell them in bulk on their website, but they make great stocking stuffers or party favors, so buying 25 won't seem so bad. Hint: go for the mixed bundle so that you can try lots of different themes. The kids (old and young) really love these! We put these out every year!




Pepperidge Farm regular swirl breads are pretty awesome, but during the holidays they usually release limited edition swirl breads. According to their Facebook page (linked above), Gingerbread Swirl was released to stores in early November. And, Caramel Apple and Pumpkin Spice (their Fall flavors) were still on shelves as late as last week. (I picked up two then.)

In years past, they have also offered Cranberry Swirl around Christmas, so be on the lookout for that too. Hints: All of these make excellent bread choices for Baked French Toast Casserole and they're really tasty when slathered with homemade Apple Butter. Remember, if you buy more than one at a time, pop the extra in the freezer until you need it, thaw, and then toast away as per usual.




This "favorite" is definitely one that I look forward to every year. In the very beginning, we would wait in line for hours on end to visit with Santa. One year, we noticed that a select number of VIPs were being ushered in to see Santa right away. So while the boys were sitting on Santa's lap, I chatted up one of the elves and found out about Santa's Fast Pass and we haven't waited in line since!

You go online and pay for your photos in advance, schedule your photos for a certain day, and show up any time that day. You go to the Fast Pass line entrance and give the elves your receipt and they make sure you're the next in line to take photos. It really is that simple. AND because the folks at Fast Pass are affiliated with Shutterfly, most photo packages come with a $10 or $20 Shutterfly gift card gifted back to you. 

Hints: Remember to bring your photo ID with your receipt - they'll want to see that. Also, as tempting as it may sound, if you go to see Santa theverysecond that he shows up for the day, you're just going to land yourself in a "Fast Pass" line (consisting of everyone else who had this same fantastic idea), which kind of defeats the purpose.





Vintage Bee is a local North Carolina shop that has garnered a pretty widespread distribution for their fantastic product. They offer 12 different flavors of creamed honey that come in adorable honeycomb shaped jars. Because of its thick and smooth consistency, it’s perfect on toast; in oatmeal; on pancakes or waffles; as a healthy sweetener for coffee, tea, or hot chocolate; or heated as a dessert topping. It's quite tasty! With 12 flavors to choose from, I'm sure you can find a flavor that tickles your fancy. These also make great gifts (if you can bear parting with them).

7. Holiday Shenanigans Courtesy of Face in Hole.com



Visit this website and upload your own photos into one of their many templates to make funny photos. The two above are Christmas Vacation themed, but they have many holiday themed templates including Santa Claus, It's a Wonderful Life, Elf, and A Christmas Story, among others. These are PERFECT for embarrassing your loved ones over the holidays. Enjoy!



When the dreaded cold sneaks up on you, THESE will keep you warm. Even more so than regular tights. I wore a black pair to a Christmas party the other night and I was nice and toasty even though the event was held in a drafty old castle. So, if you're cold natured like me, this might be the find of the season!



I cannot recommend this book enough. Or, more specifically, any book by Laurie Notaro. This happens to be her Christmas themed book, where she recants 13 true (& hilarious) stories of her Christmases past. Standout stories include Deck the Mall (where she takes Nana Christmas shopping) and Have Yourself a Kmart Little Christmas (where she rather unfortunately finds herself in Kmart on Christmas Eve).



Deanna has written about this service twice before on the blog, and you know it wouldn't be too long before one of us other Harris Sisters jumped on board. Read her two accounts here and here. After scouring several stores for a cocktail dress for Ryan's Christmas party, I came up with nothing. (Note, ugly Christmas sweaters are easy to come by nowadays if THAT's what you're looking for instead. The stores were lousy with them.) Anyhoot, after renting this $295, green Halston number for $40, I'm a convert!

Hints: Make sure to read any fit info they provide so that you can size up or down appropriately for your free second size. Also, take note of how tall the model shown wearing the dress is (that info is listed). I might have zipped right by this dress had I not noticed that it was being shown on an Amazon and that on my 5'6" frame, the dress would hit me right above the knee (which is exactly the level of appropriateness I was looking for with a work function).

Hope I've given you some good ideas for the holidays!

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