In Season December 2012

Warm and creative ways to celebrate the month's holidays.

Jesse Berberich

Human Rights Day

Before you exchange gifts and rejoice this holiday season, take a day to reflect on those who aren’t fortunate enough to have fundamental rights that many people take for granted. Human Rights Day is on December 10, giving your family a reason to educate yourselves on the matter. Spend time with the kids looking for ways to bring awareness to the worldly issue.

Heroes Save the Holidays

The Night Santa Got Lost: How Norad Saved Christmas (Regnery Publishing) honors the U.S. military and incorporates the annual NORAD Santa tracking tradition. The cleverly written and vibrantly illustrated book offers important lessons about armed forces and the true spirit of Christmas. Heartwarming and patriotic, the tome is destined to become a holiday classic. Find it in bookstores everywhere.

Jingle Bell Rock

From award-winning children’s recording artist Laurie Berkner comes her debut Christmas album, A Laurie Berkner Christmas. The compilation features traditional and seasonal songs, including three original tracks. The tunes lend extra enjoyment to the merry month.

Simple and Savory

Full of delicious recipes that are easy on your time and wallet is Kim McCosker’s 4 Ingredients: Christmas: The Easiest Christmas Cookbook You Will Ever Own (Simon & Schuster Ltd). The culinary resource is perfect for a season full of festivities. Home cooks appreciate recipes that contain few ingredients and straightforward directions. Order the title at www.amazon.com.

Sincerely, Santa

For those who celebrate Christmas, bring Santa Claus to life. Sealed by Santa offers personalized letters to kids that include each child’s name, accomplishments over the past year and wish list. Every letter is signed by Santa and postmarked from the North Pole. For the write stuff to bring smiles to celebrants, visit www.sealedbysanta.com.

Sweet Treats

Celebrate Bake Cookies Day on December 18 by making Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Find details on the recipe at www.delish.com.

Ingredients: •½ c. creamy peanut butter •4 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature •1 c. packed light brown sugar •2 large eggs •1 tsp. pure vanilla extract •1½ c. all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled) •1 tsp. baking powder •¼ tsp. salt •Granulated sugar for rolling dough •36 mini peanut butter cups, chilled and unwrapped

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Using an electric mixer, cream peanut butter and butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla. Then beat until incorporated. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Use a mixer on low speed to gradually beat in flour mixture in two batches. Scoop dough with a tablespoon and roll into balls. Place granulated sugar on a plate. Roll balls in sugar. Place each rounded treat 2 inches apart on a nonstick insulated baking sheet. Bake until cookies begin to puff up slightly, about 7 minutes. After removing from oven, press one mini peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie. Return the baked goods to the oven and cook until golden brown. Let cool and enjoy.

Let’s Wrestle

From The New York Times bestselling author and wrestling legend Mick Foley comes a new holiday children’s book A Most Mizerable Christmas (BRADY GAMES). Featuring popular WWE superstars, including John Cena, CM Punk, Sheamus and The Miz, the book appeals to wrestling fans of all ages. Get the book at Barnes & Noble.

Happy Hanukkah

Teach kids about the festival of lights when you make a Modern Wooden Block Menorah, courtesy of www.marthastewart.com.

Materials: •White and yellow gouache •2 makeup sponges •19 wooden cubes •Wood glue •Masking tape •9 small screws •9 cake-decorating piping tips •Screwdriver

Instructions: Mix white gouache with a few drops of water. Using 1 sponge, paint 10 cubes. Repeat with yellow gouache, painting 9 cubes. Let dry for 20 minutes. Glue each yellow cube to a white cube. For ninth candle, glue 2 white cubes to a yellow one. Wrap with tape to stabilize. Let dry for 30 minutes. Use 1 screw to prick a hole in center of 1 top cube. Place piping tip over hole. Thread screw through tip into cube. Repeat.

This column appeared in the December 2012 issue.