This Family Still Makes Christmas

Being resourceful was something Mandy (Maurer) Danner learned at an early age while growing up on her family’s farm in Royal, Iowa. Her parents, Lori and Jeff Maurer, enjoyed repurposing old farm equipment and household items to preserve memories and “decorate on a dime.” Family photos adorn the kitchen walls, framed in windows salvaged from an old hog barn. A bowl her great grandma used to make homemade bread hangs nearby. An old wooden ladder was turned into a unique, decorative shelf.

During the holiday season, finding new uses for old items was something the whole family took part in by literally “making Christmas.” Mandy, who is one of three Maurer kids, recalls everyone drawing names and then personally making a gift for that person. It became a special tradition that her dad and grandpa continue today, whether it be fireplace mantles or hand-crafted coffee tables for Mandy and her brothers, Kevin and Mitch. Their 82-year-old grandpa also makes each great grandchild a barn.

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One of Mandy’s most cherished “make it Christmas” gifts is a beautiful kitchen table, made from wood her parents saved from felled trees on one of the first farms they ever bought. That table reminds Mandy of the love and care her family always showed – and passed along – through meaningful gifts that will last a lifetime.

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A table full of memories.


Mandy’s grandpa created this gates for our operation. 

“Together my dad and grandpa have made many things, but my favorite and most treasured is the kitchen table,” says Mandy, who has two children with her husband, Cole Danner who is the regional sales manager for all C&B Operations’ Iowa stores.

The Danners also raise purebred Red Angus cattle. A love for showing cattle brought Cole and Mandy together when they were students at Iowa State University and members of the Block & Bridle Club. Their son will show his first heifer in 2024, and they couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming show season.

Now that she and her siblings have children, Mandy says it’s a bit harder to do the “make it” each year. She’s grateful that her dad and grandpa are continuing the tradition.

When they gather together, the Maurer and Danner families enjoy easy-but-hearty meals like their beef stew that are perfect on cold, winter’s nights.


Ground Beef Stew


• 1 pound hamburger, browned and drained
• ¼ teaspoon pepper
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon oregano leaves
• ¼ teaspoon basil leaves
• ¼ teaspoon seasoning salt (Lawry’s)
• 1 package of dry onion soup mix (1 envelope)
• 1 quart tomato juice
• 5 cups water
• 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 cup sliced celery
• 1 cup chopped carrots
• 1 Tablespoon sugar
• 1 cup macaroni
• 1 cup frozen peas (add last)


Cook all ingredients (except the peas) until celery and carrots are tender.
Then add 1 cup macaroni.
Cook until noodles are tender, and then add peas.