Metro-East News

Christmas giving, running, cooking and ... Christmas itself

Remember last weekend, when the weather compelled some of us to stay home and referee the, er, delightful antics of small children and grown adults stuck inside? Surely this weekend will be easier. ... Here are some ideas of how to spend it before, during and after presents.

Give before you get

The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle campaign ends at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. This year the campaign has taken some hits and donations are down. If it’s too chilly and overcast for you to venture out, you can donate online — such donations don’t have an end date — at There, click on “Online Red Kettle” under “Ways you can help,” and choose the cause — making Christmas possible, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless or meeting the greatest need — that most appeals to you.

Something about the Salvation Army doesn’t ring your bell? According to Charity Navigator, the last five days of the year are a huge chunk of annual online donations across the board. Use to find anything from animals to public policy for your dollars to support.

12 Days and Ks

Technically, the 12 days of Christmas starts on Sunday, but the “12K’s of Christmas” starts at 8 a.m. Saturday. Runners are encouraged to wear a Christmas hat and bring holiday cheer; a brunch afterward will be at a downtown Edwardsville restaurant. Meet at RunWell, 142 N. Main Street, in Edwardsville.

See a flick, twinkling lights

The presents have been opened and the dinner complete. Now you’re looking for things to do. Remember that most area movie theaters will be open Christmas afternoon and evening, as well as on Monday, Dec. 26, which this year is the observed holiday for most area businesses.

In addition, the Way of Lights display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows will be open into January, although it is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

See the cookies

Have you seen the entries for the 27th Annual Gingerbread Contest in Belleville? Take a stroll up and down Belleville’s Main Street both east and west of the Public Square, now all dolled up for Christmas. The Gingerbread houses — and castles and creatures — are all mostly of edible material and aren’t necessarily Christmas-themed. The Best of Show winner is by Susan Rogers, with “The Ghouls Next Door.”

Make the cookies

Once inspired, go to for recipes on making the dough and instructions on creating the homes. Before you start, you may want to review the recent posts, which include “Help, my logs are falling off” and “Why did my dough turn out so flaky?”

If that seems a little, er, much for the weekend, try regular cookies for Saturday night.

For years, I was under the impression that Santa’s favorite cookie is Chocolate Chip. I’ve recently been told it is Peanut Butter with a Hershey’s Kiss on top. But now I’m really confused, because Ali Elf at the has a recipe for “Santa’s Favorite Cookies”, which contain chocolate chips, a grated Hershey’s bar, and nuts in an oatmeal-sugar-flour dough. Santa probably likes it because there are steps in the procedure that look child-friendly.