In December, we look at the calendar with a certain incredulity -- the year is practically over! And marking that end with the proverbial bang is a bunch of winter holidays. Washingtonians secretly pride themselves on having too much to do, between family and work obligations, a daily workout and a long commute. The idea of additional holiday activities -- decorating, hosting parties, cooking expansive family dinners -- brings on inward sighs and private eye rolls.

As a remedy to this season of "too much going on," here's a guide to five holiday crafts to make and share. Some don't involve a great deal of time in their execution, such as stringing a beaded necklace or forcing paperwhites, but do require foresight. Others need a more immediate investment of time and effort, such as making marbled stationery, rolling chocolate truffles or compiling a CD of festive music. All are decidedly simple so that you can retreat from the holiday buzz and enjoy being in the moment making a gift -- either by yourself or with a friend or youngster.

Sometimes a holiday craft doesn't quite have the splendor of a store-bought gift. The truffles look a little lumpy, or the paperwhites tilt ever so slightly to the left. But the point of these projects is to have fun and share with others. Isn't that what the season is all about?