Christmas Party Time!

Christmas is our favorite time of year, and when we’re not traveling, we love welcoming family and friends to our home. Today we’re sharing some of our decor and entertaining tips and tricks as well as a few of our favorite party food recipes. Come on in and stay awhile!

Christmas tree full of memories. Not all of the ornaments are from our travels, but we stopped counting them somewhere around 2,000.

Let’s Party

Decide what type of entertaining you want to do, pick a date, and send out the invitations! We enjoy having our friends and neighbors in for come and go open house type parties which avoid meals but include heavy hors d’oeuvres along with drinks and sweets. Our timeframe is usually from 7:00 – 10:00 in the evening, but with open houses anything goes. Think: brunch, cookies and cocoa, s’mores in the back yard, desserts only, or let your imagination run wild. In the following sections, we will show you how we do it at our house.

Photo by Nubia Navarro

The Bar

We put a table in an out of the way area of our living room away from the food and non-alcoholic drink tables. This is to keep traffic flowing and keeps the hard stuff away from the kid-friendly areas. Keep extra ice in a cooler hidden away in the garage, or outside. Tucking a box containing extra mixers under the bar makes them easy to replenish and keeps the bar top from being cluttered with too many bottles and cans.

This folding table bar works well for us, but a bar can be set up anywhere. Think: kitchen counter, entryway, patio or back porch, laundry room, or use a card table or bar cart.

Our bar includes one bottle each of scotch, blended whiskey, bourbon, tequila, gin, vodka. Mixers include still water, tonic and mineral water, ginger ale, and mini cans of Coke, and Sprite. Add cups, a bucket of ice, straws and/or swizzle sticks, napkins, a bar mat, and lemon and lime wedges for a great self-service bar.

Ranch Water: In a highball glass pour 1 shot of tequila, add ice and mineral water (Topo Chico is the brand we use), then finish with a squeeze or two of lime juice, stir and enjoy.

Photo by Timur Saglambilek – Pexels

We serve chilled wines in the kitchen, along with reusable acrylic wine glasses, napkins, and a corkscrew. Finally, we fill a galvanized tub with ice and beer and keep it in the kitchen too, along with an attached-to-the-tub bottle opener, a towel to wipe down the bottles, and plenty of napkins.

Party tip: Don’t chill bottled water. We have found that it cuts down on wasted bottles when guests have to pour it over ice in a cup.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks Bar

Hot cocoa bar along with iced tea, and cookies.

One of our newest holiday traditions is a hot cocoa bar, and now we’re including it in our parties. Try this delicious hot chocolate recipe. (Thank you, Diane!) Keep cocoa hot in a crock pot on low or warm but stir occasionally, then transfer to an airpot for serving. Accompaniments include Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips (it’s possible that you will never drink hot chocolate without them again!), peppermint stick stirrers, and mini marshmallows. Serve unsweet iced tea (or hot tea, cider, or coffee) and add a tray with sugar, artificial sweetener, and spoons for stirring. Provide guests with a dish in which to place used spoons.

Party tip: Bar mats under your drink dispensers will keep messy drips off of the table.

Bring On the Food

In this section, we’re sharing some of our favorite dishes to serve on a Christmas open house buffet along with their recipes. Nothing we serve requires silverware.

Christmas party buffet
Hand Helds
  • Mini shrimp cocktails served in shot glasses. Pipe about a tablespoon of cocktail sauce in the bottom of the shot glass, add two chilled shrimp per shooter, and serve on a tray of ice.
Mini shrimp cocktails
  • Make ahead mini cheese balls with pretzel stick handles. Buy ready-made cheese balls, then use a spoon to scoop out enough to make a 1″ ball. Roll into ball with your hands. Insert pretzel sticks just before serving. Two medium store-bought cheese balls should make about 2.5 dozen.
Caprese Skewers
  • Make ahead caprese skewers. Alternate grape tomatoes and mozzarella balls on bamboo skewers. Just before serving, drizzle with store bought balsamic glaze (not vinegar) and sprinkle with fresh chopped or dried basil.
  • Cocktail Meat Balls: 16 oz jar of grape jelly, 16 oz bottle of Heinz chili sauce, 32 oz package of frozen meatballs. Mix jelly and chili sauce together in slow cooker, add frozen meatballs and stir until coated. Cook on low 3-4 hours. Provide toothpicks for serving.
  • Smoky bacon wraps: 1 lb sliced pre-cooked bacon, 16 oz package of little smoky type sausages, 1/3 cup brown sugar. Cut each bacon slice into thirds and stretch to wrap one piece around each sausage. Secure by poking a toothpick through the sausage to hold bacon in place. Place bacon wrapped sausages in a large foil lined baking pan or cookie sheet and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bacon is crisp and sausage is heated through. Note: we use the pre-cooked bacon because it crisps better and faster than uncooked, but uncooked bacon may be used with a longer cooking time. (Consider doubling the recipe because these will be gone in a flash.)

Party tip: Place a large, labeled tray near your kitchen sink where guests can set reusable items such as the shot glasses and wine glasses.

Grab a Plate
  • Meat and cheese tray. Serve along with mustard, mayonnaise, and slider buns for make-it-yourself sandwiches.

Party tip: If guests will be making their own sandwiches, leave a space on the buffet table for them to set their plate down.

Veggie tray with ranch dip
  • Veggie Tray with store bought ranch dip. We slice the vegetables and arrange them ourselves. Try carrot and celery sticks, three different colors of bell peppers sliced into sticks, mini cucumbers, radishes, sugar snap peas (blanch then refrigerate sugar snaps before adding to the tray).
  • Seven-layer Taco Dip. Layer: one large can of refried beans, one large tub of guacamole dip, one large container of sour cream mixed with 1 package of mild taco seasoning, 2 cups of shredded cheese of choice, chopped tomatoes – blotted dry with paper towels, large can of sliced black olives – drained, sliced green onions including tops. Serve with tortilla chips. (Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated but wait until just before serving to add the tomatoes, olives, and green onions.)
Chunky Cranberry Salsa
  • Chunky Cranberry Salsa: 12 oz package of fresh cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 6 green onions – chopped, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves – chopped, 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped, 8 oz package of cream cheese – softened. Pulse cranberries and sugar in food processor until coarsely chopped. Stir in onions, cilantro and jalapeno. Refrigerate at least two hours but better if refrigerated overnight. Place cream cheese block on serving plate, drain salsa then spoon about half of it over the cream cheese. (The remainder will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but don’t expect it to last long because this stuff is addicting!) Serve with crackers and/or tortilla chips.

Party tip: Place a lined trash can near each drink and food area so guests can easily dispose of their trash.

Other Buffet Table Ideas
  • Mixed nuts and/or mints
  • Chips and salsa
  • Dips, spreads and assorted crackers
  • Pickle/relish tray
Desserts – Photo by Laura James
Oh, How Sweet

Desserts don’t have to be fancy, so we keep ours hand-held and simple. Here are some of our favorite store or bakery bought desserts.

  • Assorted chocolates arranged on a tiered serving tray
  • Brownie bites or fudge – place in pretty Christmas themed paper baking cups and arrange on a tray
  • One bite petit fours or mini cupcakes on a cake stand or tiered tray
  • Christmas cookie assortment

We are fortunate to have a little countertop in our dining room that works perfectly for a small dessert buffet. Dessert buffets can be set up anywhere though. Think: kitchen countertop, coffee table, entry table, desktop, bookcase etc.

Thank you so much for allowing us to share our Christmas entertaining tips and recipes. Whether you celebrate Christmas or other holidays, we hope we’ve given you some ideas that can be used for any party or family get together.

Five of the reasons our Christmases are merry and bright!

We hope each and every one of you are blessed with a joyful and safe holiday season.

Mike and Kellye


As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!)















We Are Thankful

We originally made this post in 2019. Nothing has changed with us since then as we are still very thankful – perhaps even more so. For those of you who are not celebrating Thanksgiving this week, we hope that you find time in your busy schedules to reflect on what you are thankful for.


We are thankful for our freedom, and grateful to those who have served and sacrificed to keep our country free. We are proud to be Americans. We fly the flag proudly, and we pray for the wisdom, judgment, and vision of our leaders so that we and future generations can continue to live happily and peacefully in this land of the free and the home of the brave.


We are thankful for the freedom to roam. Free to travel with a sense of security. To see for ourselves the beautiful and historic lands that our forefathers preserved for us to admire and explore. Why leave this country when we have such magnificence in our own back yard?

Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon on a crisp September morning

We are thankful for our home. We are blessed with the good fortune to have a place to land after a trip. A place where we feel at peace after a long day’s work. A place for family to gather.


We are thankful for you. One for the Money Two for the Road blog would not be worth the time and effort if it weren’t for our friends and followers. Words can’t express how appreciative we are for your support of our site and our posts.


We are thankful for each other. After forty-six years together, neither of us can imagine being without the other on this crazy journey we call life.


We are thankful for our friends and family. Our lives are so very blessed with our children, our grandchildren, Kellye’s mother, our siblings, our in-laws, our nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as all of our other wonderful extended family, including good friends who we consider part of the clan.

We give thanks and praise to God. We would have nothing to be thankful for if not for His undeniable grace. May each and every one of you be blessed with a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Mike and Kellye














Halloween at Our House

Happy Halloween everyone! I’m Kellye, and today I’m sharing Halloween at our house. Since Mike’s job really gears up during the fall months, we can’t do much traveling. So, I thought I would invite you into our home to see some of our Halloween decorations. Also in this post, I’m going to tell you about our house. Our spooky house, that is, but my tales aren’t very scary, just strange. Come on in and visit for a spell…

Not-so-spooky dining room tablescape

One of my favorite things to do is decorate for holidays, and I decorate for almost all of them. When we’re not on the road, writing blog posts, or planning trips, I also enjoy creating tablescapes and crafting.

Is there a better Halloween centerpiece than a big bowl full of eyeballs?

The eyeballs came from Grandin Road last year. I bought the pumpkin salt and pepper shakers at Pier One years ago to use at Thanksgiving, but I would love to have these for Halloween.

Our breakfast room table

This tablescape had to be simple and easily movable because our lives practically revolve around that table. The ceramic pumpkins and striped plates are from Hobby Lobby. The Halloween confetti trees were purchased from The Holiday Barn several years ago. I bought the harlequin print table runner and matching napkins last year.

Close up of the place setting.

Our house

We built our house in a brand-new subdivision in 1988 and have lived in it for 34 years. When we moved in our son was six and our daughter was two. I won’t tell you how old we were back then, but we were practically babies ourselves! Soon after we moved in strange things started happening…

A 10-minute vignette

This Halloween decoration started with a cloche planter that I retrieved from the back yard. Then I added a plastic skull. A couple of crows and some reindeer moss finish the look. The two white pumpkins came from the grocery store. I simply sat them on top of the candlesticks to complete the vignette.

Footsteps on the carpet

Not long after we moved into our house, we began hearing what we thought were footsteps. If you’ve ever had plush carpet, you know that you can actually hear when someone is walking on it. Anyway, this only happened late at night, and they weren’t heavy, thudding footsteps. The sound was more of a soft swish, but it woke us up. Naturally, we figured one of the kids was up, but after checking, they were always sound asleep in their beds. This went on for a few years, and we convinced ourselves that we were just imagining things. Until Mike went out of town and the dog started acting like he was seeing someone in our bedroom…

Big brick fireplaces were the style in 1988. And this one is still in style at our house because we’re not too keen on tearing it down. It’s fun to decorate it for Halloween and Christmas though.

On the mantel we have spooky candles, bottles of poisons and potions, and creepy covered books. I made the book covers and the spooky candles using my computer and printer. Look for a link on how to make the candles farther down the page. I also made the bottles, and the how-to is at the end of the post. Stick-on bats fly out of the fireplace and other Halloween decor rounds out that part of our living room. Incidentally, we’ve never had a real bat fly out of our fireplace, but we have had a dove get trapped in there. Luckily, Mike was able to catch it and put it outside. I’m sure the poor thing was traumatized – the dove, not Mike.

Coffee table decorations

Scary books along with a vase full of black roses and sparkly spiders sit on a tray with black tealights. I also made the books and the vase. See the tutorial on how to make them here.

The man in the doorway

One night while Mike was out of town on a business trip, I woke up in the middle of the night to find our then 11-year-old son standing next to my bed. When I asked him what he was doing, he very calmly said that he had seen a man standing in the doorway of his room. I told him that he was just dreaming and followed him to his room where I tucked him back into bed. After climbing back into my own bed, I never thought another thing about it. Well, let’s just say I didn’t think about it until the dog kept acting weird and we had a thunderstorm. Then I started putting two and two together…

Big brick fireplace detail. The wreath is just a garland that I wired to a separate grapevine wreath, and then I propped the 31 October sign on it. The 31 October sign and the plaid stuffed pumpkins came from Etsy a couple of years ago.

“On the Street Where You Live”

When we have heavy thunderstorms and lightning strikes near our house, our intercom plays a very eerie, minor-key version of the song “On the Street Where You Live” from the movie “My Fair Lady”. No, I’m not crazy, and yes, we have an intercom. (We’re talking about a 1988 house, y’all!) Anyway, for a long time I was the only one who heard this weird music, and of course everyone, including our sweet little daughter, made fun of me. That is until our son’s baseball coach brought him home during a thunderstorm and they heard it too. We have no idea why this happens, but it still happens occasionally. Maybe if we ever get around to getting rid of the big brick fireplace, we will get rid of the intercom too. If that isn’t creepy enough, just wait, there’s more…

Antique look potion bottles sitting on top of a couple of Stephen King novels along with a pumpkin and black candelabra make this a fun little Halloween display in our library/study/office.

Get the tutorial for the spooky candles here.

The basement door

Our basement door is in our living room right next to the big brick fireplace. When the kids were younger, the basement was their playroom, and the door was always open. So, one night we were sitting around in the living room discussing where we were going to eat. (I never have cooked much, and that’s probably why two of our son’s first words were burger and king – no lie!) Anyway, all of a sudden, the basement door just closed by itself. Really! It was if someone had pushed it all the way closed to keep someone or something from entering or exiting the room. The door didn’t slam, and we all saw it happen. Miraculously nobody freaked out – probably because we were too hungry to worry about it. That never happened again, but we don’t leave the door open anymore either.

Our entry hall table

We have an entry hall because we’re not fancy enough to call it a foyer. A demilune table and mirror are the only things in the entry hall, but I like to dress them up for the different seasons and holidays. My favorite thing to decorate with is a tiered tray – I have a thing for them. This one has a gnarly Halloween tree with three crows perched in it, a few figurines, and some ceramic pumpkins. The Ouija board is a relic from my childhood (surely that makes it a bona fide antique), and the wooden figurines are Primitives by Kathy that I’ve collected over the last few years. A trick or treat sign, black candles in little star candle holders, and a bowl of candy fill the rest of the space.

Detail of the tiered tray with some vintage-looking mini trick or treat bags and tiny skulls hanging from the tree.

Creepy things at our house today

We haven’t had any strange occurrences in our house for years, except for the occasional eerie song from the intercom. Whoever or whatever was trying to spook us is long gone. Now days the creepiest things around our house are the fence eating squirrels and the geckos that move in during the summer months. Recently I found a gecko living in my car – it was on the odometer, believe it or not – but he ran off (probably because I screamed) and I haven’t seen him again. Just hope he doesn’t run up my leg while I’m driving because I will have a wreck. There’s also a tailless one living under our refrigerator. I accidentally cut its tail off when I tried to catch it and he ran under the refrigerator. Haven’t seen him since either, but I hope the little guy is living his best tailless life under there.

How to make spooky potion bottles


  • Clear glass bottle or jar with labels removed
  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Metallic black acrylic paint
  • Metallic silver acrylic paint – optional if you want to add highlights but water it down before using as a highlight color
  • Medium artist’s paintbrush
  • Label – make your own design or click here for free printable copies
  • Glue – I like tape runners
  • Natural jute twine or string
  • Brown kraft paper or grocery sack

How to:

  • Use the sandpaper to sand the glass in all directions to give it a beat up, vintage look. You will probably want to do this outside.
  • Once you achieve your desired effect, take it inside and paint it lightly with the metallic black paint, evenly stroking from top to bottom. This makes the bottle look similar to mercury glass. You don’t want a completely black bottle. If the paint goes on too thickly, add a little water to thin it down. If desired, highlight using the metallic silver paint. Drying should take less than an hour.
  • When the paint is dry, glue on your label. I tore and burned some of the edges of my labels to make them look old and peeling before I glued them to the bottles.
  • For the top of the bottle, tear off a piece of the grocery sack or kraft paper and crumple it in your hands for several minutes until it starts to soften and feel like leather. Place it over the top of the bottle and secure it to the bottle by wrapping the twine around it several times until you get the look you want. Tie or glue the ends of the twine at the back of the bottle so it doesn’t unwind.
  • I embellished some of my bottles by adding chains and Halloween charms, but those are optional, and the bottles look great without them.

That’s all I’ve got for today, but I hope you enjoyed hanging with me on this first venture outside of my road tripping comfort zone. I plan to do another decor post or two for Christmas. In the meantime, look for more travel posts because Mike and I have some great destinations to share with you. Thanks so much for stopping by!


Feature photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) Our opinions are our own.











Virtual Road Tripping Ideas

Wyoming Capitol Building

Bored? Stuck at home? Rather be on the road or camping? We are right there with you. To fill the void at our house, we’ve been using our spare time to take different kinds of virtual road trips. In this post, we’ve put together a list of ideas to help end the boredom. We hope some of these resources will “get you out of the house” and help you start planning your next big adventure.

Bridge at Acadia National Park


Some of our favorite folks to virtually travel with are full-time RVers. These folks travel all over the country giving tips on where to go and what to do and see. They also give reviews on great camping spots, and we promise that you’re going to see some amazing scenery and points of interest along the way, too. In random order, our top six picks:

  • Changing Lanes – best for higher end camping and motorcycle rides.
  • Embracing Detours – best for free camping spots and traveling with pets.
  • Grand Adventure – best for boondocking in very scenic places.
  • Traveling Robert – best all around for travel, RV camping, hiking, and scenery.
  • Less Junk, More Journey – best for traveling the country with small kids.
  • Long Long Honeymoon – best for tips and tricks along with great destinations.



We love for others to see what adventures await in our great home state of Texas. Some of our favorites:

  • The Daytripper – Chet Garner and crew travel to a new Texas city or town every week – PBS – check listings for times.
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife – travel to state parks and recreation areas and view our state’s amazing wildlife – PBS – check listings for times.
  • Texas Country Reporter – ride along with Bob Phillips for amazing places in Texas – various channels – check their website for more information. Here’s a link: Texas Country Reporter
  • The Texas Bucket List – learn about the people, places, food, and fun that Texas has to offer with host Shane McAuliffe – various channels and times – check their website for more information. Here’s a link: Texas Bucket List
IMG_7299 (1)
Good Ol’ Buoys


We thoroughly enjoyed the two shows listed below. The only problem: they weren’t long enough!

  • Expedition Happiness – join Salima and Felix as they travel North America in a school bus turned RV – movie – 1.5 hours.
  • National Parks Adventure – documentary narrated by Robert Redford – 42 minutes.
Water Diamonds

Prime Video

While some Prime Video selections have to be rented, the following are included with an Amazon Prime membership.

  • The National Parks – America’s Best Idea – 12 part documentary by Ken Burns
  • America’s 58 National Parks – documentary series with 57 episodes
  • America’s National Parks – 8 part documentary series
  • Best Parks Ever – America’s National Parks – 10 part documentary series
  • America’s Treasures – 8 part documentary series
  • RV – hilarious 2006 movie starring Robin Williams – 1.5 hours
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation – 1983 movie starring Chevy Chase – the ultimate guide for what you don’t want a road trip to be – definitely worth another watch
West Texas Sunrise


There’s nothing like a good book. Pick up the hard copies or download a couple of our favorites are listed below.

  • Dear Bob and Sue – three book series covering Matt and Karen Smith’s adventures while visiting all of the national parks. These are a great read for any national park or travel enthusiast – couldn’t put them down! They have written a couple of other travel-related books, too, so check those out as well.
  • 50 States 5000 Ideas – National Geographic publication which also includes the 10 Canadian Provinces – where to go, what to see, what to do. This is a fun book!
  • On the Road – classic Jack Kerouac novel published in 1959. If you have never read it, now is a great time.
  • Any road atlas – yep, we mean that old fashioned paper map book. Atlas trips are a favorite pastime of ours. Pick a state and see what all it has to offer by “traveling” its highways and backroads via map.
Fat Prairie Dog

Around the Web

The possibilities are endless for navigating travel related sites on the web. Here are some of our favorite stops:

  • RoadsideAmerica.com – pick any city and state to see what quirky attractions await.
  • AtlasObscura.com – enter a destination in their search box to see what interesting sights can be found there.
  • Explore.org – a collection of live webcams and webcam videos from around the world. Kids will love this!
  • OnlyinYourState.com – enter a state in the search box to find out about people, places, and things in the state of your choosing.
  • TripAdvisor.com we like to search “things to do” in a particular city and state to see what Trip Advisor comes up with.
  • DearBobandSue.com – check out their website for podcasts, photos of their adventures, and more.
  • One for the Money Two for the Road Blog – you’re already here, so look through our archives and revisit some great road trip ideas, itineraries, and photos!


Reflections of Boston

We hope our ideas will help you escape for a few minutes or a few hours. Remember to count your blessings, wash your hands, and turn off the news. Stay safe and well, and we will see you when we can get back on the road.

Mike and Kellye



As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.