Archive | December, 2015

Saturday Simple Celebrations: Candlelit Dinners

Well it’s been a busy week of visiting family, packing, and traveling, so posts have been kind of light this week.  Today I wanted to do another Saturday Simple Celebrations because it’s been way too long since I’ve done one.  Saturday Simple Celebrations is a series where I share quick, easy, entertaining ideas to make everyday celebrations a little extra special.  See other simple celebration posts here and here.

This week I want to talk about making regular weeknight dinners a little more romantic.  How about lighting some candles and dining by candlelight?  I’ve added some inspiration photos below, but you don’t even have to be that elaborate, just light whatever candles you have.  Although, I’d avoid the scented ones around food, you don’t want to eat balsam scented spaghetti, haha!

 

After gathering all of these photos I realized I had a theme to the inspiration.  I guess greenery and white candles were really speaking to me.  So, go light some candles and turn off the lights for a little dinner romance tonight.  Have a great weekend!

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How to Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange

Just like pumpkins are synonymous with the Fall, cookies are synonymous with Christmas, aren’t they?  A great way to sample a variety of cookies, without actually slaving over a hot oven, is to host a Christmas cookie exchange.  Who doesn’t love a bunch of cookies with little work?  The basic idea is to invite friends or family to bring a dozen or so cookies and the recipe, then eat them all up, and take home the leftovers.  Easy and delicious!

Last year, I hosted a Christmas cookie exchange and it was a great success, and by success, I mean that I ate a lot of cookies!  A few tips when hosting this kind of party is to ensure you provide plenty of platters, bowls, and trays to display all the different cookies that are brought.  See my idea of the basics when it comes to platters and trays here.  Also, it’s nice to supply some to go boxes for your guests to load up on cookies before they leave.

Christmas Cookie Exchange

Other things you could include in your cookie menu are hot chocolate, ice cold milk, or coffee.

Last year's cookie exchange

Last year’s cookie exchange

Christmas Cookie Exchange

One other thing that you’ll need when hosting a cookie exchange is a great cookie recipe.  You can always go with the classics like chocolate chip, gingerbread, or sugar cookies.  If you want something a little different try my Almond Bark cookie recipe below.  You’ll get bonus points because it looks like a snowball, which makes it perfect for this time of year.

Almond Bark Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb. bar of vanilla almond bark melted (I always find this in the baking aisle at Wal-Mart, but not other stores, weird.)

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 cups rice krispies (try and find the Christmas themed ones to be extra festive)

2 cups mini marshmallows

2 cups dry-roasted peanuts

Directions:

  1. Combine the first two ingredients together in one bowl
  2. Combine all other ingredients together in another really large bowl
  3. Slowly combine bowl number one into bowl number two
  4. Drop large spoonfuls onto wax paper until the cookies are set

See what they look like finished in the picture above from last year’s cookie exchange.  They are all piled up in the bowl and look like a bunch of snowballs ready to be thrown eaten!

Christmas Cookie ExchangeHow fun would it be to host a cookie exchange with a bunch of friends, then all pile up in your cars and go check out Christmas lights?  Or host this party with your family before or after going to church on Christmas Eve, then everyone would have a ton of cookies to munch on while opening presents the next morning.  Sounds like a fantastic festive idea this time of year!

Do you want to host a Christmas cookie exchange now so you can gobble up a bunch of different cookies?  What’s your favorite Christmas cookie?

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Holiday Home Tour

Well, by the skin of my teeth I got everything decorated, photographed, and am now posting the Holiday Home Tour.  Better late than never I guess.  Thank goodness for Baby Einstein videos to entertain my toddler while I post this.  I won’t bore you with a bunch of words, but there are A LOT of pictures in this post so be prepared, and hopefully it doesn’t take too long to load for you.

I don’t have a specific theme for decorating this year, but everything has turned out to be a mix of fairly traditional red and green colors.  Are you done decorating? I hope so, it’s so nice once it’s all done and you can enjoy it.  Merry Christmas and hopefully this post gets you in the spirit of the season.

christmas wreath

christmas wreat

Live wreath from Trader Joe’s for about $5.99!

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We finally have matching stockings for all of us, thanks to Pottery Barn.

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Pillows and blankets are from Home Goods, but I got them last year.  I’m sure they have others in stock this year.

Christmas tree

Christmas tree

For us die hard St. Louis Cardinals fans, it only makes sense to have cardinal birds on your Christmas tree.

Christmas table

garland

Christmas boxes

I love these nesting Christmas boxes!  My mother-in-law gave them to me and I love putting them out every year.

Christmas dining room

Christmas dining room

Christmas place setting

Christmas chalkboard and garland

Another live garland that I got from Home Depot for around $7, it was way cheaper than I thought it was going to be.  It’s 15 feet long, so you really get your money’s worth.  I made the O Holy Night “chalkboard” using this method.  Disregard my scrunched up letters there in the middle.  I definitely recommend centering your letters better than I did. #oops.

Christmas chalkboard

kitchen Christmas

The garland above our cabinets can be lighted but I was in need of an extension cord and didn’t take the time to find one.  The yarn wreaths are held up by twine that’s just taped to the inside of the cabinet.  Fingers crossed they stay in place all season long.

Christmas shelves

Christmas swag

The lighting isn’t the greatest but this is the Christmas decor in our half bathroom.  It’s a black hole as far as receiving any natural light.  I purchased the swag from Trader Joe’s for $10, and it smells amazing!

christmas swag

nativity

The reason for the season!

Well, that’s a wrap on our Holiday Home Tour, thanks for stopping by and taking a look.  Now, here’s hoping my toddler doesn’t decide she needs to check it all out by pulling it down onto her level.  Have a great weekend doing something festive and relaxing!

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2015 Hostess Gift Guide

Happy Wednesday friends!  This week is pretty busy over here, Christmas decorating continues, preparing for guests, grocery shopping (why is that always such a pain?), wrapping gifts, all kinds of things are happening.  Yesterday was #givingtuesday, which was the first time I’ve heard about it, but it’s a great idea.  If you’re looking to continue giving, try sponsoring a wreath for Wreaths Across America.  It’s a great organization that places wreaths at the graves of all of our fallen military personnel at the National Cemeteries.  They are short on wreaths this year, so for $15 you can sponsor a wreath and ensure every headstone is decorated for the Christmas season.  This is especially close to my heart as my brother is buried at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, so I sponsored a wreath in memory of him.  It’s so beautiful to see all of those green wreaths against the white headstones, and it’s a great way to honor our fallen.

If you want to give even more, today I’m going to give you five great gift ideas to give all the hostesses in you life.  If you know someone that likes to entertain or if you’re attending someone’s event, these all make perfect hostess or Christmas gifts.

 

This floral notepad is a great little gift, especially for anyone that likes to make lists and check them twice!  The watercolor florals are especially pretty.

Does your hostess like to serve up fun cocktails?  These polka dot tumblers are just too fun, very Kate Spade inspired.  The link above will take you to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but not directly to the glasses, so search for Fitz and Floyd Polka Dot Glasses and they should pop up.  Bonus of these being from BBB, is all of those 20% off coupons I know you have lying around.  They always accept them well past the expiration date, so be sure to hold on to those expired coupons and pick up these fun glasses.  There are also a few other designs if you’re not into polka dots.

I recently received this perfectly smelling candle for my birthday and it’s another great gift for anyone, not just a hostess.  It’s a light fragrance, but strong enough to know it’s being burned, perfect! The jar is also so cute, all you would need to do to wrap it is tie a little ribbon or put a bow on top.

Isn’t the default hostess gift always a bottle of wine?  It’s super easy to pick up on the way to the event and it still says I brought you a little something.  Well, how about dressing up your bottle of wine with a personalized label?  You could buy several at the beginning of the holiday season with simple messages like, “Thanks for hosting” or “Merry Christmas” and keep them on hand for every occasion throughout the holidays.  Just slap it on the bottle in the car on the way to the event and you’ll look so thoughtful, without anyone knowing you didn’t even break a sweat.

Another unique hostess gift are these stamped cake servers with the sayings, “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” and “You Take the Cake.”  Perfect for any hostess around the holidays because there is always pie, right?

All of these make great hostess gifts or Christmas gifts for the hostess in your life, and without much effort you’ll look like a rock star showing up with one of these.  Now it’s off to go make my grocery list, ugh, and get everything accomplished before the weekend!  Stay tuned this week for The Daily Hostess’ Holiday Home Tour on Friday!  If only garland would hang itself, haha!

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Celebrating everyday!