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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Incredible Invitations!

Incredible Invitations!

Forget about decking the halls (well, almost!). With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s on the near horizon, why not let the party start well beforehand with bedazzled homemade, personalized invitations you and your family create yourselves.

Though it might be easier to rely on store bought invitations, or download templates from the Internet, spending a creative night in front of the fire — cocoa in hand — while making your own missives can up the ante on family fun, and entice guests with what’s to come. Hobby stores, dollar stores, drug stores, even grocery stores are rife with everything you need to make no holds barred invitations that sparkle and shine, using beads, cloth, hard candies, cotton balls, sea glass, little flags, booties, mittens, photographs, licorice, cake icing, etc. Start with sturdy card stock (available at stationary stores or online) or maybe something unusual like a knitted mitten, and figure out a theme, and let your imagination take over!

To make preparing for their Halloween party extra fun and spooky this year, Ed and Sue Carlton of Detroit, Michigan, asked their sons, ages 5, 6 and 8, to choose their favorite masks (the hard plastic kind) at the dollar store. Using acrylic paint, the family painted each mask Halloween orange or black as a kind of canvas for the invitation, gluing on tiny spiders, ghosts, pumpkins, witches’ hats and more (also from the dollar store) to each mask. They affixed a tiny cloth scarecrow to a clean ice cream stick, carrying a message (date; time; place), inserting it into the mask. The previous year, with a new baby girl and aware they might not have time to prepare and deliver bulkier, hand wrought invitations, the family used grey card stock to cut out headstones on which they wrote the details of the party in scratchy red letters resembling blood, mailing them afterwards.

For the Wells family of Dunedin, Florida, average temperatures of 80 degrees make the thought of skiing, snowmen, outdoor ice skating, caroling in the snow and other visions of winter just that — visions. For their annual Christmas party, mom Sandy (a former Coloradoan) got the idea to create mini-mountains using pointed cardboard party hats they painted white, sprinkled with glitter, and on which they glued tiny plastic skiers purchased at the hobby store. Piped icing added “snow” ridges and helped secure the skiers when it dried, and the family came up with a brief, festive message (date; time; place) painted in red and green on one side, using acrylic paint, a skinny brush, and dad Josh’s steady hand.

“We spent an afternoon together delivering them to friends and family, which was a nice reason to spend a few minutes visiting ahead of the party,” Sandy said.

For Barbara Rose and daughter Kristin, 14, of Minneapolis, inviting friends to the family’s annual cookie swap started with invitations where each was a giant star-shaped sugar cookie. Red or green food coloring added to the dough (the Roses made a dozen of each color) provided a festive boost, and mom and daughter proceeded to outline each cookie with piped white icing and tiny edible silver balls, sometimes called dragees (silver-coated candies available at many bakeries, grocery stores, gourmet and specialty baking stores or online). A message was piped in bright cake gel.

Simple or elaborate, and geared to whatever time, effort or level of creativity your family wants to put into them, making your own holiday invitations can personalize the party long before it starts and provide an evening of family fun that everyone will remember.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.