Blackberry jam thumbprints have been a popular tradition for us. For further information on Menu for Hope 4, a worldwide list of prizes and full bidding details, please see yesterday's post.

I am a person who gets completely caught up in anticipation. I love the planning, the preparation and underlying sense of excitement that comes with any special occasion or event. There is a specific feeling to that time, a buoyancy of spirit that carries us through our days.

As one would assume then, this is the time of year that I hit my stride. November kicks off with a spate of family and friend birthdays, then leads into Diwali; December begins with more birthdays, rushes into the holidays and we are brought, breathless, to the New Year. Did I mention that we have five more birthdays to celebrate in January?

It is a blur of celebrations and smiles; a time when somewhere in between all the tinsel and merriment we take time to reflect on the greater gifts, the intangible ones, we have received throughout the year. I think it is this realization of how truly lucky I have been that gives me an extra push as we move through the season.

The lists are made, I am actually looking forward to wrapping, and the menu for our holiday meal is shaping up quite nicely. The last thing to do is probably my most treasured, and that is my holiday baking. After the five birthday cakes I have done in the last month, the switch to cookies marks a change of pace and a turn towards tradition. My offerings, for the most part, remain the same from year to year; half as a nod to the past and half in response to the requests of the recipients.

Today I am thrilled to add another name to my holiday list - yours. In support of this year's Menu for Hope campaign, I am offering a box of homemade goodies to the winning bidder. I will provide you with a list of treats, both savoury and sweet, and the choice is yours. And if you are extra nice, I may throw in an extra surprise or two. Shipping will be included, unless restricted by law.

Bidding may only give you a chance at winning, but it guarantees a little bit of joy to someone in need this holiday season. What is more worthy of celebration than that?

To bid, go to Firstgiving; the code for this prize is CA02.

As foodies/food bloggers/food lovers, we frequently talk about the soul-satisfying moments and memories we associate with meals. And it is at this time of year that we put aside those thoughts to instead turn our attention to feeding the body and the souls of those less fortunate.

Today marks the start of Menu for Hope IV the annual fundraising campaign created by Pim of the ever-charming Chez Pim. This year's event is in support of the UN's World Food Programme, specifically fthe school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa. There is a wealth of information available at Pim's site, as well as a truly beautiful, haunting photo essay from participants in the programme.Here is the full list of instructions, come back tomorrow for further details on my specific donation, though I've included a teaser at the bottom of this post:

To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle

Here's what you need to do:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope above

2. Go to the donation page at First Giving to make a contribution.

3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code.

Each US$10 donation will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. E.G: A US$50 donation may be two tickets for UW99 and three tickets for CA02.*.

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Check back on Chez Pim on Wednesday, January 9 for the results of the raffle.

Thanks for your participation, and good luck in the raffle!

* N.B: Canadian tax laws prohibit charitable donation receipts to be issued by registered Canadian charities for raffle or lottery tickets. The UNWFP is a U.S.-based charity; should any donation receipts issued, you will need to seek professional advice regarding applying them to your Canadian income tax return.

I have donated a rather delicious prize (hint: code CA02) prize, but more on that tomorrow. To whet your appetites so to speak, here are the roundup lists of all the prizes available:

• The main Menu for Hope IV campaign page on Chez Pim to browse the global prize list
• The Canadian Menu for Hope IV page on The Domestic Goddess

Buy now, buy later, buy often. Give the sentiment of the season, give joy, give health. Give.

As promised, here is a taste of what I'll be offering for this year's campaign:

More details, and entreaties, tomorrow!