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Holiday Decor & Entertaining

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Make The Perfect Santa Cookie Plate

CookiesforSantaThis year, give Santa some new treats to try during his busy travels. Upgrade your plate for Santa with these classic and delicious cookies and make your house the best stop on his list.

We would not want to forget the reindeer now, would we? Well there is a fun treat for them as well that is perfect to put together with the little ones as they eagerly await Santa's arrival!


Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Be sure to have chopped the semisweet chocolate into small chunks.
  3. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter for about 4 minutes, or until fluffy. Then add the brown sugar and mix thoroughly. Do the same with the molasses.
  4. Dissolve baking soda into 1 1/2 teaspoons of boiling water and set aside.
  5. On a low-medium speed, beat about half of your flour mixture into the butter mixture. Once that is combined. add in baking soda mixture and then the rest of the flour mixture. Add in chocolate bits for a quick mix and refrigerate the dough for two hours for the ingredients to set up.
  6. Roll the dough into balls and roll them into granulated sugar for an extra touch. Place the rolled dough 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes (the surface of the cookies should crack slightly). Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy. Yields about 2 dozen.


Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line nonstick cookie sheets with parchment paper for easy removal and cleanup.
  3. In one bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and honey for about 4 minutes on a medium high setting or until light and fluffy. Combine eggs and vanilla into the mixture, while not beating too long. Then, on a low speed slowly incorporate the flour mixture until everything is blended well.
  5. Stir in oats and cherries gently.
  6. Spoon dough onto cookie sheets 2 inches apart and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. When taken out of the oven, let sit for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Makes about 2 dozen.

Recipe Credit: www.marthastewart.com


Classic Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Raspberry, strawberry, or your preferred jam

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy, about four minutes.
  3. Add in egg and vanilla. Then, immediately follow by adding in the flour mixture slowly and in three parts so that the dough is blended thoroughly.
  4. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place at least 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each cookie (about 1/2 inch deep) and fill the indentation with your desired flavor of jam.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden.


Reindeer Donuts

*Perfect for the kids, and even better for the reindeer*

Ingredients

  • Pretzels (mini twists)
  • Red chocolate candies
  • Mini chocolate donuts

Directions

  1. Break apart the pretzels into jagged bits to look like antlers. Do not worry about making them match because every reindeer is unique!
  2. Place a red chocolate candy into the center of the donut for the nose! Then stick your pretzel antlers in the sides and you will start to see the resemblance.
  3. For the final touch, use white icing to add some eyes to Santa's trusted reindeer! 

Planning Friendsgivings & Holiday Bashes

planning-friendsgivings-and-holiday-bashesGroups of friends sometimes look at Thanksgiving as a family holiday... so they skip right over to plan Christmas and December get-togethers. 

With so many people getting off from work or school, getting ready to meet up with good friends at home, planning a fun friend get-together can be fun but also... demanding. 

Whether you’re trying to make it a couples get-together, fancy get-together or inexpensive shindig, we have options for everyone!

For the Budgeters...

For some, another holiday get-together means another punch to the paycheck and a dent in the bank account. One of the best ways to guarantee a low cost is to have people pre-pay.

There’s always at least one person who is in charge of organizing the event. Have that person collect $15-$20 per person, and have them do all the food shopping with that money. Guests can all decide on a pre-planned menu, and then the planner can shop according to the food options.

The downside of this is that every person needs to be cooperative in order for this to work, and everyone will need to plan ahead. If people want to spend extra money to bring something else, then they can do that if they want.

For the Diners...

Sometimes it’s just much easier for friends to get-together at a restaurant. Most restaurants have a special holiday menu, which makes it easy for getting in the holiday spirit. The only downside of meeting at restaurants is that it will be really hard to keep the cost down. However, everyone will be guaranteed a delicious meal!

For the Cookers...

One of the most fun ways to celebrate a true Friendsgiving is to turn it into a potluck event. People should be assigned a main dish, a side dish, a vegetable, or a dessert, and are responsible for bringing enough to feed “X” amount of people.

If you want to keep the costs even for everyone, you can assign a cost per dish. This eliminates people who have to bring a vegetable to spend $5, versus the person who needs to bring a main dish to spend $20.

By telling each person their dish needs to be between $15-$25, everyone will spend about the same amount of money.

For the Couples

Friendsgiving for couples combines an element of almost every option. Since you’re probably going to have a big group, one of the best options is to get catered food. You can charge $40 per couple, times five or six couples, and you’ll have around $240.

Whoever hosts the party will be responsible for picking up the food and setting everything up. However, it’s only fair if everyone agrees on the place to cater from.

Having a Friendsgiving is the perfect way to create get-togethers that turn into yearly traditions. Put on your party pants and start planning!

 

How To Throw a Holiday Party That EVERYONE Will Remember

holiday-party-tips-from-a-beautiful-messCan’t count how many ugly sweater parties you’ve been to? Some go-to holiday party themes have been done and done again so many times that it’s become almost possible to reinvent them. This winter season, it’s time to try something different for a party that will stand out from all the rest!

We got a few pointers from party planning experts Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman from the popular blog A Beautiful Mess. Elsie and Emma shared their tips with WomensForum on how to change things up and host a memorable holiday fete this year!

Elsie and Emma’s Tips on Throwing A Memorable Holiday Party

It’s good to have a theme for your party to coordinate decorations and refreshments, but try something that hasn’t been done to death. One of the duo’s ideas that we love is a holiday masquerade party. The outfit and makeup possibilities are endless, plus making masks is a fun and interactive icebreaker for the party! 

Their second idea is to try a black-and-white themed party.

"It’s fun because it keeps the color scheme simple, but you can use it for everything that night. All the snacks can be black and white, you can encourage your guests to dress black tie black and white, or more casual in black and white colors if that’s the vibe of you and your family," Emma said.

Of course, one of the main reasons for having themed parties is the amazing food and drink possibilities!

For the black-and-white themed party, Elsie recommends a white Russian cocktail, a delicious refresher which also fits the look. For a spin on the old classic, Elsie recommends replacing the Kahlua with Kahlua Peppermint Mocha and Kahlua Pumpkin Spice to make it more festive.

For more adventurous hosts, there’s also the possibility of creating your own cocktails. Emma suggests one drink that the duo recently created that they’re calling Cinnamon Girl - the drink has Kahlua, rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and cinnamon. Yum!

"It’s exciting because when you serve it to guests, you can see if they love it, if they hate it, or if they have thoughts on it because this is a drink they’ve never had before," Emma said.

So what are the party mavens’ fave party themes?

Elsie said, "I like the retro-themed ones. The decade parties are my favorite because I like shopping for them and having a beehive and stuff."

Speaking of beehives, Mad Men parties are not only a great excuse to try some winged liner and bombshell hair. They are also great for cocktails because all the classic recipes are crowd-pleasers. Now, if only we had Don Draper on our arm!

The Most Snuggly and Soft Gift to Give

WinterbasketheaderDo you just toss your blankets over your couch or are they folded away in a closet? Keep them better organized in a creative way! Create this cutesy DIY winter blanket basket; it’s a creative way to put out your blankets this winter season! It also looks great in your guest bedrooms. You’ll probably be hosting plenty of family members this holiday season. All you need are some cozy blankets and a basket! 

Read more...

Hosting an Ornament Exchange Party

hosting-an-ornament-exchange-partyAre you known for your holiday parties but want to do something extra special this year? Or do you want to start a holiday tradition and throw the best and most festive holiday party every year?

Throw an ornament exchange party that gives you a chance to enjoy the holidays with friends and family and gives every guest a new ornament for their tree at home! Here are some steps for throwing the perfect ornament exchange party...

Invitations: Send out invitations and request an RSVP so you can get an idea of a head count. Specify on the invitation that each attending guest needs to bring one ornament. You can also indicate a spending cap. 

Décor: A good time to plan your party is in the beginning of December. That way, more people will be able to attend. Make sure to have your tree up and decorated and have some fun with the prime party rooms such as the kitchen, living room and dining area. Get into the spirit with some DIY décor! 

Food: Host your party in the evening and instead of cooking a large meal, just put out a bunch of appetizers, finger foods and desserts. Put out some spinach balls, veggies and dip, and mini desserts like petit fours, homemade mint cake or tiramisu! 

Games: When ladies get together, there’s always chatting and drinking but you can also plan some fun games for the holidays to get everyone in the spirit like holiday bingo or karaoke! 

Drinks: Make some holiday drinks or take requests from guests for some festive beverages. Always offer some nonalcoholic beverages. How about a cinnamon martini, gingerbread lattes or eggnog? 

Ornament exchange fun: You have a few options for this. You can tell guests to buy an ornament, wrap it and then add stickers when they arrive to the wrapped packages with a number. Then, give the guests a number (not the same as their ornament’s number) and then they can grab their corresponding wrapped ornament.

Or, put out a mini tree and have guests place their unwrapped ornament on the tree. Put slips of paper in a bowl with numbers and have each guest draw a number. In order, each guest goes to the tree and selects an ornament.