The holiday season is here and with it comes one of the most popular of all tasty treat – cookies. Holiday cookie baking won’t be difficult if you choose the right tools to help you. Professional bakers know that starting with high quality ingredients will help create the most delicious end products. There are two main types of cookies including drop cookies and rolled cookies. You can make drop cookies uniform with a cookie gun. It comes with various inserts that allow you to create a variety of shapes using soft cookie dough. Simply insert dough and pull the trigger to place them onto a prepared cookie sheet.
Rolled cookies can be made into shapes by using cookie cutters. Holiday shaped cookie cutters help you make cookies in festive shapes. Once the cookies are baked you can decorate them with frosting. Use a deluxe icing set to decorate cookies. The set has a selection of tips and bags so you can create professional looking cookies with ease. When making rolled cookies it is helpful to place the cookie dough in the refrigerator for a while before rolling it to prevent sticking and to make the shapes form properly. Bake cookies on an extendable baking sheet.
Holiday cooking can be a fun family project if you’re well organized. When baking with young children measure the ingredients and have everything ready before you begin. Allow the children to participate by giving them safe and easy tasks and keep them away from a hot oven. Let them assist in decorating cookies with as assortment of candies, sprinkles, and frosting they can use to make unique creations. Place cookies in bags or airtight containers to keep them fresh for up to a week. If the cookies are for a bake sale, place several cookies into each plastic package and tie with a colorful ribbon so they can be sold in small quantities.
The holidays are here and it’s time to start thinking about gift giving. Of course your family and friends are on your gift list, but what about giving gifts to other people? You’ll need to consider giving gifts to people who provide regular service to you throughout the year including your children’s teachers, and your boss and work associates. Tipping is appropriate for some gifts such as your hairdresser or nail technician. Holiday tips should be about double a regular tip.
Parents need to purchase gifts for their children’s teachers but not all gifts are appropriate. Stay away from wine or related gifts and avoid gifts that are too personal. Opt instead for useful gifts that are unique. A cute print insulated lunch tote makes an ideal teacher gift and won’t break the bank. A metro cooler basket is another fun choice. When shopping for the boss, be sure to keep the gift professional. Consider a personalized gift but be sure to order in advance so you’ll have it in time for the holiday office party.
If you have a large office, consider conducting a secret Santa. Each person picks a name and buys a gift for that person. This allows you to buy only one gift rather than many. While it may be tempting to buy a funny gift, it’s better to choose a nice gift that the person can actually use. There is usually a set price limit (sometimes about $25) so you’ll have to get creative. For men, shop for sports related gifts or for hunters, consider gifts for the hunter. Other good choices are gardening, cooking, and pet related gifts so choose an option based on the person’s interests. When giving gifts, a good rule of thumb to follow is to give a gift that is something you’d love to receive. Keep your choices simple and have fun finding the right gift for everyone on your list.
With Christmas on the way, thoughts turn to holiday decorating. A fun project to try this year is to create a holiday tree for your deck or porch. Decorating an outdoor tree is the perfect way to spend some family time outdoors. Prepare for the project by selecting an artificial Christmas tree to fit the deck area. Take measurements so you are sure to purchase the right size tree. It’s best to choose an area that is located under an overhang if possible, to keep it sheltered from the weather. Place it next to your front door to create a warm and inviting festive look.
Use natural décor to trim the tree. Collect some pine cones, sticks, and leaves from the yard and use them as they are or paint them gold, silver, or white. Use natural burlap as garland. If tree doesn’t have lights, add some solar powered outdoor lights. They charge during the day and provide up to 8 hours of light. Choose from white or colored lights, depending on your own personal preference. Purchase some inexpensive plastic ornaments that can withstand the elements or tie plastic bows to the boughs. Get some artificial poinsettia picks and simply pop them in between the limbs.
Take the kids inside and make some home crafted ornaments out of natural materials for tree décor. Natural ornaments look great on an outdoor tree and the kids will be proud of the tree they adorned. Use twine to tie ornaments onto the branches. Decorate underneath the tree with some sisal gift boxes with clear lights. They come in three sizes and look exactly like wrapped gifts but are made for outdoor use. Once you create your outdoor tree you can easily use it over and over again, each year gathering new decorations from nature to make the deck tree a new holiday family tradition.
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The holidays are just around the corner so it’s time to start thinking about family food get-togethers. According to the National Turkey Federation, Americans eat 46 million turkeys at Thanksgiving. This equates to about 736 million total pounds of turkey making turkey the most popular meat item for the Thanksgiving holiday. Proper organization ahead of time will make holiday cooking a breeze. Using the correct roasting pan will ensure a bird that is cooked to perfection. Choose an oval roaster set with a rack so the turkey won’t rest directly on the bottom of the pan. This will provide the best heat distribution.
Roast the turkey without the lid for the first hour so the skin will get brown. Then, place the lid on the roaster or cover the turkey with foil to keep it from drying out or getting too crisp. Roast the turkey with the breast facing up in a 325° F. oven. The length of time needed to cook the turkey depends on the size of the bird as well as whether the turkey is stuffed. For example, a stuffed turkey that weighs 9 to 18 pounds will need to roast for 3 ¾ to 4 ½ hours. Use a fast read food digital thermometer to determine when the turkey is done. The temperature should be 165° F. in the breast or stuffing and 180° F. in the thigh.
Before carving the turkey, allow it to rest for about 30 minutes after taking it out of the oven. In the meantime, use the pan drippings to make delicious gravy. Remove the rack from the pan. Add some turkey or chicken stock to loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Heat the gravy on the stove, adding flour and butter mixture to thicken it before serving.
With Christmas on the way you’ll want to get ready as early as possible for the festivities. One of the most important parts of every holiday home is the Christmas trees. Real trees can be expensive, are difficult to transport, and lose needles all over your house. Instead, many people now prefer to put up an artificial tree. Artificial Christmas trees have come a long way in recent years and many of them now look just as nice as a real tree – without all the problems. There are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for artificial Christmas trees.
Choosing the right size tree is essential so begin by measuring the location where you want to place the tree. Check height as well as width to ensure the tree will fit. Keep in mind that if you’re going to be putting the tree up alone you may prefer a slightly shorter tree because these are easier for one person to manage. The most common sized trees range from 3 feet to about 9 feet in height with the average size about 7feet. Spruce, pine, and fir are popular types of Christmas trees.
Another consideration is whether to choose a prelit tree. Prelit Christmas trees feature miniature lights that are already applied to the tree so there is virtually no work for you to do. Full size trees should have a minimum of 400 lights to look good. If you live in an apartment you can choose from a variety of slim Christmas trees that will fit in almost any area. Artificial trees fit together easily and come with an integrated stand so there is nothing to do but pull the tree out of the box and put it together. Properly storing your tree after the holidays will ensure that it will last for many years to come.
One of the best ways to create a festive home interior is with decorative holiday lights. You don’t need a lot of lights to make a cheerful room but choosing the right style and placement is important in making a wonderful look. Lights can transform your room into a winter wonderland. String some star garland around the perimeter to instantly give the room a warm glow. For some soft color, add a string of lighted sisal balls or bells in gold or white. They add a natural look to your display. Cordless lights are best because you can place them wherever you like and they don’t have to be near an electrical outlet.
Adorn your tables and staircases with small battery operated lights. Take a strand of lights and place them in a small pile for an instant bright centerpiece. Place small lights along the top of your fireplace mantle. Cordless flicker candles make the perfect finishing touch. Place them on every windowsill and on your side tables to make a beautiful display that looks good from both the inside and outside. Set luminary walkway lights around the inside of your home to add a blush of light that will radiate from the floor.
For the holidays, remove some of your regular wall décor and hang holiday themed lighted canvas signs. Choose brightly colored designs to brighten your walls and make sure they have cordless lights so they can be placed anywhere. Complete your indoor lighting décor by adding some wreaths. A cordless lighted wreath adds warm appeal to your door and also looks great when placed on the inside of a large window or sliding glass door. Use suction hangers to place them on any glass window or door you like. Place a cordless wreath above your fireplace to make a pretty focal point for the room.
The holidays are approaching and what better way to celebrate with friends and family than with a refreshing cocktail? Get ready for the season by stocking your bar with all the essentials you need to serve your guests the best drinks ever. To prepare for guests, use a table as your bar area and decorate it with a holiday tablecloth. You can keep the table ready for use throughout the entire season. Stock your bar area with some glasses, an ice bucket, and a blender or cocktail shaker.
Create a signature cocktail before your party. This allows you to focus on just one mixed drink. Add wine and beer to give everyone some additional options. When making a signature drink think about the taste and color. Some drinks can be made in large batches ahead of time and placed in pitchers so there will be no need to spend time making them during the party. A lighted party fountain offers a unique way to serve your cocktail. It looks spectacular yet it’s simple to set up and operate. If you’re making the drinks ahead of time simply store them in a cold refrigerator until you’re ready to serve them.
Condiments add something special to cocktails so be sure to have some items ready to use. Think about olives, cherries, cut limes, or peppermint sticks, depending on the taste you’re trying to achieve. Be sure to have plenty of clean glasses on hand and fill your freezer with bags of ice, something you certainly don’t want to run out of. Add several bowls of snack items such as nuts or crackers so guests can have a small bite to eat. Decorate the table to suit the holiday season by placing some ornaments in the middle and use some candles to provide some soft lighting.
The holidays are here and that means plenty of festive parties and gatherings. Hostess gifts are an expected part of every event, yet bringing a bottle of wine every time gets boring for you and the hostess. This year, be prepared for all your holiday celebrations by choosing some useful and fun hostess gifts that your friends will really love. When you’re purchasing hostess gifts consider items in a price range of about $30 to $60 dollars. Never re-gift a hostess gift – if you didn’t like it, chances are nobody else will either.
Food items are nice, but they are becoming commonplace. Instead of baking a batch of brownies, choose a colorful baking dish and include the ingredients and recipe so the hostess can use the gift in her leisure. If you want to bring a bowl of delicious fruit, think about placing it in a stainless steel colander to make a gorgeous presentation along with a useful item the recipient can use over and over again. If the hostess enjoys baking, bring her a cookie making set or measuring set so she can make her own bakery to enjoy time and again.
Chances are many of the other guests will be bringing a bottle of wine. Rather than wine, consider a wine box set that comes with an opener and all the tools necessary to enjoy a good bottle of wine, all in a handsome storage case. If you really want to bring wine, place it in an insulated wine tote cooler so the wine can become a fun take-along picnic. Remember to think outside the box, and consider some ideas of gifts that you would enjoy receiving. Then, order a few different items to keep them on hand so you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice whenever a holiday party happens.
The holidays are a festive time to have get-togethers with friends and family. One of the easiest gatherings to design is a wine and cheese party. This fun party only requires a little bit of planning to create an enjoyable evening for everyone. Use a large table to set up the wine and cheese bar. Start with a holiday tablecloth and use a roll of craft paper as a base for the wine and cheese. This allows you to write the names of the wines and cheese directly on the paper so people can easily identify pairings.
Gather a few items that you’ll need including some wood cheese cutting boards. Choose a cheese board set with a cheese slicer, fork-tipped knife, and cheese spreader to easily manage serving the various cheese options. You’ll need some wine glasses, small plates and napkins, which you can place on the table where guests can serve themselves buffet style. Slice the cheese ahead of time or provide the tools to let guests get their own. Purchase wine or ask guests to bring a bottle for sharing.
Plan on about a bottle of wine per guest and provide cheese pairings for each one. You can also use other items for pairing such as freshly cut apples. You’ll also want to serve some crusty bread, which you can slice and place into small baskets on the table. The bread helps to cleanse the palette. Be sure to have a set of wine tools available for easy use. Provide wine glass id tags so guests can easily keep track of their own glasses. Add some music from your favorite playlist and the party is ready to go. Keep some wine and cheese on hand throughout the holidays so you can easily whip up an impromptu party whenever guests drop by.