The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Event offered hassle-free holiday decorations and food ideas


December 12, 2018

Bree Swanson, Toran Cecrle, Anna Terry, Hannah Schoen and Bonnie Hellman were presenters at the recent Hassle-Free Christmas hosted by the Blaine County Library. The young presenters demonstrated ideas for handmade holiday decorations. Bonnie Hellman spoke about a project she's been doing for a couple of years making diapers from worn t-shirts for orphans in Haiti.

Last week the Blaine County Library in Chinook held its 27th Annual Hassle-Free Christmas program. The event offers simple to make holiday decorating tips, holiday music and a Christmas-time story. At the end of the event guests are invited to try a variety of treats prepared by the library staff and library trustees.

Library Director Valerie Frank has been involved with the program for 25 of the 27-year run for the pre-holiday event. She said, "this year's turnout seemed to be one of the largest." In 1992 two MSU-Extension agents from Hill County offered a one night adult ed program in Chinook. The idea was soon modified by the local library staff and morphed in to the quarter-century long event locals have come to enjoy.

Each Hassle-Free Christmas program includes presentations for holiday decorations and Christmas ornaments. This year there were four local students, some representing FFA or 4-H clubs, who presented holiday decorating ideas. The demonstrations included ways to use available tree ornaments to make a dining table decoration, using discarded wine bottle corks to make a reindeer ornament, an "edible" snowman ornament using mini-sugared donuts and how to turn an empty canning jar in to a festive "snow lantern."

Bonnie Hellman, a local retired elementary teacher, explained and showed examples of the work she does sewing used t-shirts in to diapers that are sent to orphanages in Haiti. She said, "The orphanages require about 800 diapers a day. They need to be easily washable and made of quick drying materials." Hellman has made nearly 700 diapers and encouraged audience members to share men's or women's cotton t-shirts that they might no longer need.

The program included two selections performed by the Ecumenical Echoes, the community handbell choir directed by Julie Finley. Kelsey Buhmann Brown, who recently joined the library staff as Assistant Librarian, read a holiday story called "A Wish to be a Christmas Tree." Illustrations from the children's book were projected on the wall as the story was read.

And the main thrust of the library's purpose was not overlooked. In a corner of the library meeting room "New Season Readings" were displayed. The books, all with a holiday theme, are available to be checked out by library patrons during the holiday season.

The holiday treats

and a time to visit

After the program of holiday decorating ideas, music and a story, guests were invited to move in to the senior center to enjoy samples of treats prepared by the library staff and library board of trustees. Dishes were identified on the serving table and the printed program had the recipe and preparation decorations for each dish. Guests could taste the various holiday treats and see how to make them.

Hassle-Free Christmas at the library also has a social dimension. It's a mostly female crowd and during the "tasting" a lot of friendly visiting and catching up takes place as guests gather around the tables decorated with a holiday theme and sample the treats specially made for the evening.

After a quarter century plus run, the Hassle-Free Christmas seems to have found a niche. A time to take a break from the busy holiday season to learn some new things and taste some new holiday fare. And it's a great time to catch up with what's happening with friends, family and neighbors. The "Journal" thanks the library staff and trustees for providing this opportunity for learning and fellowship during a busy time of the year.


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