10 things to do before the season gets away from you

“The Nutcracker” ballet is must-see holiday fare.

Go see the big guy this season.

Josh Groban’s “Noel” album is great holiday music.

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a Christmas classic.

The holidays are a sentimental time, the perfect season for traditions old and new.

To help you make the most of this fleeting season, here are 10 must-do’s for December.


Give a little. Give a lot. Give money. Donate food or time. The Salvation Army’s bell-ringers are out in full force. Drop some change or a few dollar bills into their buckets. Buy several cans of soup and a bag of crackers and take it to Food Bank of The Rockies, 734 Scarlet Drive, west of Mesa Mall.


Sure, some homes and Christmas trees are decorated with new ornaments purchased at stores or gifted from relatives. However, some of the best ornaments (and longest lasting) are handmade with Popsicle sticks, glitter and a school picture. Get creative and make homemade holiday ornaments for the tree or the house. Need inspiration? Visit a local craft store or check out http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/holiday-ideas/homemade-christmas-ornaments.


Throwing a holiday party could be as simple as having a slumber party with girlfriends, pajamas and popcorn, or as formal as a wine and cheese party. Point is, get together with friends and family during the holidays because parties are meant to be fun. Those concerned with throwing a party on a budget could divvy up the decoration, food and beverage expenses. After all, the more the merrier.


Maybe the baking and the party could mesh together into one big baking party, which would be fun and filling. Although baking can be rewarding any time of year, having children or friends get creative and decorate Christmas cookies or gingerbread houses is a special treat. Put a family in charge of coloring the icing. Put one family in charge of sugar sprinkles. Put one family in charge of dough. Have fun and enjoy the smell of baked goods throughout the home.


Although Santa Claus is busy preparing for Christmas, he has been known to take time out of his schedule to visit western Colorado early. Take advantage and go see the big guy. Santa is at Mesa Mall. He is having breakfast at Dinosaur Journey Museum, 550 Jurassic Court in Fruita, at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 11. He will be eating breakfast at Bookcliff Activity Center, 540 1/2 29 1/4 Road, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18. He will be at other places in the weeks ahead. Go find him and take a picture. It could become an ornament.


Arguably the most holiday-ish show around, “The Nutcracker,” a two-act ballet with a score by Peter Tchaikovsky, features iconic characters Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy and toy soldiers. Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker is 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, at Avalon Theatre, 645 Main St., or The Boloshi Ballet’s presentation of “The Nutcracker” will be shown at 9 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 19, at Carmike 7, 590 14 1/2 Road, with an encore performance at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22.


Holiday music includes some of the most recognizable songs around from “Jingle Bells” to “O Holy Night.” There is a good chance your favorite musician has put out a holiday-themed album at some point in his or her career. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas,” Whitney Houston’s rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear,” Josh Groban’s entire “Noel” album, “The Christmas Song” sung by Nat King Cole and “Jingle Bells” by Frank Sinatra are examples of classic songs for all ages.


When the weather outside is frightful, which it can be in western Colorado during the winter, sometimes it’s necessary to just stay inside. Once inside, watch a holiday movie. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is available in both animated and non-animated forms. The family-friendly movie explores Whoville’s obsession with glitz at Christmas and one little girl’s inkling that Christmas just might not be about presents.


Credit to the people who spend time decorating the exterior of their homes for the holidays. And credit to them for paying the subsequent electric bills. If people are going to put in the effort to decorate their homes, the public should enjoy it. Get some snacks, get in the car or bus, or lace up the boots and look at holiday lights displays. They are all around the Grand Valley. Need help finding where to go? Check out the http://www.GJSentinel.com and the holiday lights photo gallery for ideas.


Some bristle under tradition while others get uncomfortable when time-held holiday traditions are broken. Tradition isn’t a bad thing, but it also doesn’t have to have started in 1911. Start a tradition now. Maybe a holiday party will always be at your house. Maybe your children and your children’s children will make ornaments. Maybe you’ll find a holiday song special to your family.

Happy holidays!


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