Festive Holiday Drinks

Festive Holiday Drinks

Special occasions call for more that a few bottles of wine hastily chosen & a tub of ice filled with beer. Time to move up to the grown up side of the bar! I agree that cocktails can be time consuming to mix when you are hosting a party. You might consider hiring someone to tend bar for you. This frees you up to mingle with guests & gives you the satisfaction of knowing the drinks are well made. A paid bartender should also be able to tell you what to purchase & how much you need to stock your bar for the event.

If hiring a bartender is not in your budget or your event is intimate enough not to warrant the expense, then consider creating just one of these fabulous concoctions from Coastal Living. A punchbowl filled with a special beverage, with more pitchers of the same chilling in the fridge, gets your party a special touch without  causing you emotional or financial stress. Enjoy!

Holiday Cocktails

The Simple Joy of Holiday Baking Part 4

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Christmas & baking go together like hands in gloves. There are so many delicious things you can bake for your family or friends that it can be hard to know where to begin. Of course, time can be so short during the busy holiday season that it might be difficult to find the time to do any baking at all. You could always buy your Holiday goodies but that can be very expensive. What’s a Mother to do?

Jean Ann & Simple Joy to the rescue. This week, Jean Ann offers you tips, ideas & recipes to help simplify your Holiday baking. Continue your Holiday baking tradition or begin a new tradition in your family when you make Holiday baking a Simple Joy!

Christmas Countdown C -17

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Entertaining

Christmas is a great time to entertain. Your home is decorated & it’s fun to connect & visit with family & friends. I know many women are intimidated  To help simplify entertaining for you, here are 10 tips from this month’s issue of Simple Joy e-zine:

10 Step Guide to a Low Stress Holiday Entertaining

  1. Attend Your Own Party:   Follow these steps in order to be a guest at your own event.
  2. Plan Your Guest List:  Remember…it’s about the people, not the event. Always begin with the guest list.
  3. Plan Your Event: Once you know how many are coming, you can determine what type of event works best: sit down dinner, buffet, cocktail party, open house, etc.
  4. Plan Your Menu: Now you need to decide what to serve. Your menu is determined by your guests and your event. The menu is the cart; your guest list is the horse. Do Not confuse the two.
  5. Determine What Needs to Be Done:  Take time to create a list of all the things to be done to prepare for your event. Include shopping lists as well.
  6. Decide What You Want to Do:  Select two or three things from the list that you WANT to do.
  7. Delegate the Rest:  Assign the remaining tasks to other people. When guests ask if they can do anything or bring anything, always say YES!
  8. Take a Nap:  Begin transformation from hostess to guest by taking a relaxing nap. If you can’t sleep, then just relax.
  9. Take a Bath:  Now is not the time for a quick shower. Take the time for a long luxurious bath. Engage all your senses as you bathe with candles, music, fragrant bath products, lotions and chocolate.
  10. Take a Deep Breath: When the door bell announces your first guests, take a deep breath and smile. The Queen is in the house and she is entertaining.

Christmas Countdown C -20

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Christmas Decorating

I know many of you have already decorated your home for Christmas however, these tips help you whether you have everything in place or everything still in boxes.

I always say “Work Smarter, Not Harder!” This means planning. Before you do any decorating, sit down & create a plan to determine what you want to do, where things are going to go & what you need to move to accomplish this. You want to have an idea where your tree is going to go & where you are going to put any furniture that the tree displaces, for example.

You should also go through your decorations to make certain nothing is damaged or needs replacing. Mr. D always tests his lights before he hangs a single strand. this ensures he doesn’t waste any time putting up a strand of lights that doesn’t work. While we are in rather balmy SoCal, many of you live in colder climates. You want to spend time INSIDE testing those lights & deciding where outdoor items are going to be placed before you head out into the cold.

You also want to check your decorations before you purchase anything new. I know how much fun it is to pick up bright & shiny new decorations each year but that expends a lot of money & can take up a lot of space, neither of which may be affordable to you & your family. Perhaps a few new items added to your existing decorations can help brighten up your Holiday home without spending too much.

Your home is more inviting & lovely this time of year. Take time to create a plan, inventory your decorations & test any electrical items & you will save time, money & patience in the long run. Ah, that’s a real simple joy!

Christmas Countdown C -21

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Baking

I LOVE to bake, especially at Christmas. At one time, I made myself a little crazy trying to get all my Christmas baking done. I baked dozens of cookies, giving them out to friends, whether they wanted them or not!

Now I am more relaxed about my baking. I still make dozens of cookies but most of them are for my family AND I have found easier ways to bake, like my fabulous cake mix cookies!

However, I do make some cookies from scratch & when I do, I make sure I keep my stress level low by following a few simple steps:

  1. Make a List: I make one list of the types of cookies I want to make. Then I make a list of the ingredients I need to create these cookies. Then I check the grocery ads to see who has the best prices on the things I need.
  2. Make a Check: Inventory your pantry to make sure you have the things you think you have! You might think you have plenty of sugar only to find out you already used that extra bag of sugar that was hidden in the back of the pantry;
  3. Make Certain: Be sure your seldom used ingredients are fresh. If you only use nutmeg for your Christmas baking, you may need to buy some fresh nutmeg. Same for things like baking soda & baking powder. Your baking may not turn out the way you hope if these two items are not fresh.
  4. Make a Trip: Head to the store to get what you need. Making one trip to get everything insures you have what you need when the baking mood strikes.

Holiday baking is a great family tradition. I learned to love baking when I would help my mom make cookies every year. And when I became a mom, I taught Katy my simple tips for great cookie making. A simple joy that is enjoyed generation to generation, year to year!

Speedy Christmas Decorating

Speedy Christmas Decorating

Not everyone has the time to deck ALL the halls during Christmas. Not everyone has the space to deck all those hall either. Time, space & money can all be factors when trying to decide how much is too much. You want everything to look festive but there are limits. Or perhaps you are having a Holiday party & want to add a few more simple touches to your event that can be easily removed, or simply moved, when the party is over. What to do?

BHG to the rescue with these quick & easy ways to decorate for Christmas. I LOVE the vintage ornaments on the candlesticks. You can find all the candlesticks you want at the $ Store along with tubes of ornaments that can be used. I used these ornaments all over the house. They come in different sizes & colors. They are also easy to paint & glitter should you need them in colors that are different than the ones offered.

Avoid Christmas stress with simple ideas like these & put the JOY back into Christmas!

Speedy Decorating

Creative Christmas Wreaths

Creative Christmas Wreaths

One of the best things about making wreaths for my gift shop is being able to hang them throughout our home this Christmas. I keep them on display so clients are able to see them as they might look in their own homes.

You can also hang wreaths throughout your home when you create your own using these ideas from BHG. I LOVE the wreath in the photo, using gift boxes in a variety of sizes to make a wreath. Such a colorful, cute & simple idea! Have fun! And craft on!

Christmas Wreaths