A Homemade Christmas & Book Giveaway

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Wendy. Congratulations, Wendy, you have won an autographed copy of Melissa’s book, A Homemade Christmas!

Today’s post is by Melissa K. Norris, author of Pioneering Today: Faith and Home the Old-Fashioned Way and Pioneering Today: A Homemade Christmas. Melissa is sharing a wonderful homemade project to decorate your door this Christmas season. After her post, she is giving away a copy of A Homemade Christmas!

I always enjoy the posts Melissa shares with us, and I’m sure you do too. As a visual-oriented person, I have a special appreciate for the images she provides that go along with her homey DIY projects. Many Amish these days are comfortable creating evergreen decorations for the inside of their homes, placing them on various surfaces throughout the house, so this swag decoration for the front door is charming, thrifty, and a great way to bring a little Amish feel right into your Christmas.

A Homemade Christmas

 by Melissa K. Norris

One of the things I admire most about the Amish is their lack of commercialism. They don’t run to the newest and greatest fad or try to keep up with Kardashians. Their homes are filled with homemade items that are both meaningful and useful.

They don’t have Christmas trees or stockings gracing their hearths. (To read more about their holiday traditions, visit the Q & A Cindy wrote last year, or her blog post from last week.) They do decorate with candles and wreaths.

This is an excerpt from my latest book, Pioneering Today-A Homemade Christmas:

I used to spend hours trying to stretch my budget to include a thoughtful and well appreciated gift for family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. It seemed no matter how early I started, or what bargains I found, I was a stressed out mess by Christmas Day and my pocketbook took months to recover from the hit.

When my son was a few years old, I decided that something had to change. We couldn’t keep up with the pace. I called my mother-in-law and asked her how they felt about our current Christmas gift status. She revealed they were just as stretched with the gift giving frenzy as we were.

That year we made some major changes to the way we celebrated Christmas. First off, we decided not to buy gifts except for immediate family. Only children below eighteen and still in school would receive store bought gifts.

We quit trying to make all of the parties we were invited to. Instead of running from family event to family event on Christmas Day, we decided to stay home. We met with my husband’s family on Christmas Eve for a potluck style supper, meaning the entire meal wasn’t on one person’s shoulders. Late Christmas morning we had my parents down for brunch.

The rest of the day is spent lounging in pajamas, or sledding (if there’s snow), playing with gifts, and relaxing.

These changes made me enjoy the Christmas season again. In the pages of this book, I’ll share my recipes, decorating, and gift ideas of the homemade variety. These are the gifts I give to neighbors or adults whom we no longer buy store bought gifts for, and sometimes they accompany some of the store bought gifts as well.

I hope they inspire you to start some new traditions, decrease your holiday spending, cut the running around, and help you focus on the real meaning of Christmas—celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

And to help you decorate in Amish fashion, I’m going to share my tutorial from my new book on how to make an evergreen swag.

Evergreen Swag

Like warm cookies and a smile greet guests inside your home, I like to add an evergreen swag to the front door to welcome them pulling in the drive.

We have an abundance of trees on our acreage, but if you don’t, it only takes about four small branches, so I’m sure if you asked a neighbor, they wouldn’t mind a bit. I actually trimmed one branch that was beginning to stick too far out in the driveway.

I recommend choosing cedar or pine. Hemlock looks lacy and intricate, but it drops its needles fast. Cedar drapes so prettily and smells like Christmas, so that was my choice, but if you wanted different textures you could combine pine and some sprigs of holly.

Gather your branches. I cut part of branches, varying in lengths. Then lay them out.


Lay your largest branch down first then layer the others on top until it looks good to you. Next, using twine or wire, (I had twine on hand from tying up the raspberries), tie the tops of the branches together, making sure to leave a loop for hanging your swag.


Tie your branches together

Now, attach a bow to the top, hiding your twine or wire. You can hot glue pine cones or ornaments to your swag for added glitz. I used a few red berries picks and just twisted the end of the pick onto the branch. Put your wreath hangar on your door and hang up your masterpiece.


The boughs will last for at least a month or two outside in the cooler temps.

Are you tired of the commercialism surrounding Christmas?

Do you struggle with finding gifts for everyone at an affordable price?

Do you want to simplify your Christmas season this year?


In Pioneering Today-A Homemade Christmas, author Melissa K. Norris, shares how to get back to the true meaning of Christmas, tips for homemade baked goods when you’re stretched for time, homemade affordable gifts people will use and like, and how to give the gift of yourself to your loved ones with special planned activities. With over 36 recipes, homemade gift ideas and decor, you’ll experience a simple Christmas with the joy the season was intended.

To purchase this book, visit Melissa’s site: http://melissaknorris.com/books/

Or to buy the Kindle version from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pioneering-Today-A-Homemade-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00G0JS7SW/ref=la_B009I6T2NS_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382997580&sr=1-3

Melissa K. Norris

 Book Giveaway:

For today’s giveaway, Melissa is giving away a signed copy of her latest book, Pioneering Today: A Homemade Christmas! To enter to win, simply comment at the end of this post.

If you are reading about this giveaway anywhere other than my website, such as on Facebook, in an email, or on Goodreads, please hop on over to my website by clicking here: https://www.cindywoodsmall.com/2013/10/29/homemade_christmas and then leave a comment at the bottom of the post under the words “Leave a Reply.”

Only comments left on my website will be entered into the giveaway.

The deadline for this contest is Tuesday, November 5, at noon Eastern Time. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and will be contacted privately, as well as announced on next week’s post.

As always, please remember that all of my giveaways are limited to US residents only. For a complete explanation of the terms and conditions of this giveaway, please go to https://www.cindywoodsmall.com/giveaway-rules/

Helpful info for first time commenters:

  • For your protection against web crawlers gathering your e-mail address for purposes of spamming, please do not put your e-mail address into the body of your comment. Only write it in the field provided. That way only I can see it. Your e-mail address will ONLY be used to contact you if you win.
  • When you leave a comment, you may see a note that says your comment has gone to “moderation.” That means it is in a holding place until either my daughter-in-law or I can approve it. That keeps spammers from being able to post a comment. If you comment while we’re away from our computers, we may not get to it until the next day.
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  • If you’ve been notified that you’ve won and you’re unsure about giving your postal address by replying to an e-mail, I welcome you to send the name of the item you won and your postal address through the Contact Cindy page of this website: https://www.cindywoodsmall.com/about-cindy/contact/ We keep good records, so we’ll be able to verify your information and get the item in the mail as soon as possible.
  • Please be aware that I aim to get the items sent as quickly as possible, but at really busy times it can take up to six weeks. (I don’t have a staff. But I do have two daughters-in-law who help when they can. But they each have a life and professions not connected to my writing and giveaways. What?! <big grin>


The winner of the blog post titled “Christmas Novella Q&A and Giveaway” is Jan Metivier. Congratulations, Jan, you have won an autographed copy of each of the Christmas novellas: The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, and The Dawn of Christmas!

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