We’ve all heard the expression “You eat with your eyes first.” And while that typically refers to food presentation, the same could be said for the first impression that your holiday table makes upon guests. Before the turkey has been carved and the pie de-voured, friends and family will have already taken in your table design. But creating a beautiful table doesn’t have to mean pricey floral arrangements or im-possible craft projects. Instead, I love to create centerpieces using grocery store mate-rials that can easily be tacked onto the end of my shopping list. Today I’m sharing easy, affordable and exciting ideas for creating a striking centerpiece that’ll have guests talking until next year’s holiday season. Read more
By Camille Styles, photography by Molly Winters
When gifting presents to friends, family and coworkers, the act of wrapping each individual package can be tedious, to say the least. But for me, gift-wrapping is the highlight of the season. And because no two presents are wrapped the same, each wrapping job is an opportunity to break out the crafts and challenge myself to put as much thoughtfulness into the packaging as I do the gift inside. Looking for a relaxing holiday activity to escape the madness? There’s nothing like turning on the holiday tunes and sitting down with a cup of cider to lovingly wrap each holiday gift.
For those of you hosting guests and dinner parties during the holidays, here are a few centerpiece ideas to spice up the room without breaking the bank.
This holiday season, get in the spirit with a party concept that’ll satisfy each guest’s sweet tooth and spread wintry cheer. Inviting friends over for a midday cookie swap is a super-simple way to gather loved ones and mix and mingle over treats, and when guests get to contribute their own recipes and baked goods to the spread, hostess duties are a breeze. Simply set a neutral foundation with tableware that you likely already have, then add some sparkly handmade details to turn up the holiday factor in a flash.
When it comes to the holidays, everyone tends to let loose a bit and go for the extra cupcake, so why not make them as memorable as you can? These simple cupcake toppers can be made in less than 10 minutes and are perfect for turning a homemade or store-bought cupcake into a dessert centerpiece. Read more
Although it’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already fast approaching, I feel more excited than ever to celebrate the flavors of autumn with friends and family. There’s no better time to gather ’round loved ones, and for growing families like mine, Thanksgiving is made extra special when we’re able to share its traditions with young children.
On a day that is all about turkey, you can still find yourself quite stuffed from a meal made entirely vegetarian-friendly or, if you’re hosting vegetarian friends, serve an option beyond green bean casserole. Here are five flavor-packed recipes that can stand up to the big bird competition.
1. Dinner Spanakopitas (pictured above) Spanakopitas are a classic Greek recipe that features crispy phyllo dough wrapped around spinach and feta cheese. You’d need a huge pot of fresh spinach to make this recipe, so use frozen instead. Ina Garten’s dish is versatile enough to add or subtract ingredients according to your taste.
by Cindy Augustine
One of the busiest pizza nights of the year is — wait for it — the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. It makes perfect sense: With most Americans prepping turkeys, chopping veggies and baking pies, who has time to make dinner? Fortunately, a hot and tasty meal is only a phone call, and sometimes just a delivery, away. Here are some of the best independent pizza spots across the country — no reservations required. Check out the full gallery to find the best pies near your Thanksgiving destination. Read more
By Michelle Park
The last couple months of the year are packed with excuses to consume ridiculous amounts of sweets. Why not take full advantage of the season’s sugary spirit and make your own? Homemade candy is a great party trick, and it’s surprisingly straightforward. If you have reservations about thermometers and molten sugar, fear not — the well-versed duos behind this month’s picks will have you caramelizing with confidence.
1. The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook by Liz Gutman and Jen King
Gutman and King, co-founders of the Brooklyn-based candy company Liddabit Sweets, have a love affair with candy. It’s no small task to demystify the art of candy making for the average home cook, but their optimism is contagious. Their playful, extremely thorough cookbook starts with a three-page chart titled Speed Date the Candies, a swift tour of the 75 recipes ahead, so you can quickly find one to fit your needs, whether that’s vegan, fun to make with the kids, or “melt-in-your-mouth-y” (sic) — or all of the above (Chocolate Mint Meltaways). Candy 101 then explains everything you need to know about sugar, chocolate, cleaning, safety and essential equipment. (The equipment section is split into “musts” and “coulds,” and you might find that your kitchen is already equipped to bust out some Pecan Turtle Caramel Corn.) Because Gutman and King want you to remember that “MAKING CANDY IS FUN” from start to finish, these chapters read less like a chemistry textbook and more like a friend discussing softball sugar with you over coffee. As far as the recipes go, no secret is withheld, and they range in difficulty from easy (Buckeyes) to ambitious (Gutman and King’s signature peanut-butter-banana candy bar, aptly named The King) to ambitious and patient (Beer Pretzel Caramels). You can rest easy regardless of what you choose first; “Liz Says” and “Jen Says” bubbles pop up on every other page with additional encouragement, suggestions and troubleshooting tips, should you make any missteps.
Entertaining a group of kids can be tricky, to say the least. Between the menu, the decor and the activities, things can get out of hand (and expensive) in the blink of an eye. This party concept simplifies the process by limiting all decor to projects that can be made using inexpensive materials, and by basing the party around a cookie-decorating activity, so kids will be well-fed and entertained throughout.