Host the most unforgettable holiday party with help from our savvy hostess guide Source: Tracey Ayton
We asked the experts, consulted the pros and tapped into the minds of the most talented to create the ultimate handbook for the holiday hostess.
THROW THE PERFECT PARTY
The dos and don'ts of throwing the perfect party: Find out the ultimate dos and don'ts for throwing a fabulous holiday party from the expert.
SERVE THE PERFECT DINNER
Mark McEwan's 5 tips to serving the perfect dinner: Celebrity chef Mark McEwan is no stranger to dinner parties - both hosting and attending them. Here, he shares his secrets to serving in style.
SET THE PERFECT TABLE
Holiday table setting 101: Easy tips to go from boring to breathtaking
CREATE THE PERFECT COCKTAILS
4 must-try classic cocktail recipes: You may not be a mixologist, but these signature drinks will have guests convinced you've been taking secret bartending lessons.
Drink recipe: Grapefruit rose mimosa: This refreshing grapefruit mimosa makes the perfect holiday brunch beverage.
Drink recipe: Ginger pear Bellini: Serve your classic Bellini with a twist by adding sugar pear and ginger liqueur.
Drink recipe: Satsuma sparkle: Freshly squeezed satsuma gives this champagne cocktail its signature fruity flavour.
Drink recipe: Blackberry lime fizz: Serve this fresh and flavourful champagne cocktail at your upcoming holiday party.
DECORATE THE PERFECT GUEST ROOM
How to decorate the perfect guest room for the holidays: The experts dish their tips on preparing for overnight guests this holiday season.
GIVE THE PERFECT HOSTESS GIFT
14 great gift ideas for the holiday hostess: Get holiday party ready with these gift ideas for your holiday host.
Surprise your favourite caffeine-loving friend or family member with one of these great gift ideas.
Whether they enjoy a morning coffee or an afternoon tea, the caffeine lover on your holiday list is sure to appreciate any of these great gifts. With a wide range of items to help them brew the perfect cuppa, they’ll be happily sipping all holiday season.
This beautiful matte black French press will not only brew delicious coffee, but will also look great displayed on a kitchen counter. Ceramic French Press, CB2, $36.95.
Celebrate the holiday season with a collection of festive tea flavours. This limited edition collection includes tasty teas like Chocolate Covered Almond, Apple Cider and Coffee Cake. Warm & Cozy Gift Box, DavidsTea, $28.
This beautiful stoneware canister will ensure your favourite coffee stay fresh to the last scoop. Also available in styles for storing tea, they'll look great in any kitchen. Utility Kitchen Canister, West Elm, $19 - $39.
Designed exclusively for CB2 by SAIC student Hyunsong Melody Lee, this stackable porcelain teapot and cup will make every stylish sip feel special. SAIC tea for one, CB2, $29.95.
With the ability to brew 18 drink varieties directly from your smart device, the GranBaristo Avanti will ensure everyone in your home is sipping happy this holiday season. SAECO GRANBaristo Avanti, Hudson's Bay, $2,999.
Brew your tea to perfection with the Breville One-Touch tea maker. Not only can it brew tea at five different temperature settings, it also allows you to adjust brew strength between mild, medium and strong. Breville One-Touch tea maker, Williams-Sonoma, $369.
Coffee isn't jusst for drinking. Enjoy a spa-like experience with this luxurious scrub. The scrub's fair trade coffee will improve elasticity while polishing and exfoliating dry, tired skin. Palermo Body Scrub, Anthropologie, $44 USD.
Looking for something festive to add to a tea-themed gift? You can't go wrong with this adorable tea infuser. Gingerbread Man Tea Infuser, Crate & Barrel, $7.95.
You can never have too many mugs, especially when they're as fun as Indigo's Canadian-themed collection. Available for each province, they'll make a great gift for anyone on your list. Canada mug, Indigo, $12.
With flavours like White Chocolate Peppermint and Gingerbread this set of deliciously decadent loose-leaf teas is the perfect treat. Season's Treatings Dessert Tea Sampler, TEAVANA, $40.
Turn your budding barista into a latte artist with the Creatista Plus. Combining Nespresso coffee quality with Breville's stunning design and steam wand technology this machine allows users to create their own latte art at home. NESPRESSO Breville Creatista Plus Coffee Machine, Hudson's Bay, $799.
Enjoy some rest and relaxation over the holidays with Tub Tea. Simply steep this soothing blend of chamomile, mint and Epsom salts in hot water and then add it into a warm bath. Unwind Tub Tea, BRIKA, $16.
Try at your own risk! Said to be the world's strongest coffee, it'll give your caffeine crazed friend or family member a buzz like no other and revolutionize their coffee-drinking experience. Death Wish Coffee, Death Wish Coffee Co., $19.99.
With a wide variety of sayings, these hand-stamped vintage spoons will be the perfect addition to afternoon tea. Hand stamped tea spoon, Milk & Honey Luxuries on Etsy, $24.98.
Anyone who loves iced coffee (even in the winter) will love Hario’s Fretta V60 ice coffee maker. Remove the ice holder and it can also be used to make hot brew at home. Hario Ice Coffee Maker, Indigo, $35.
When brewing loose leaf tea it's important to have the proper tools. Williams-Sonoma makes brewing tea at home easy with the Ultimate Tea Maker's Set. No matter the mug size, you'll enjoy a properly infused tea each time. Ultimate Tea Maker's Set, Williams-Sonoma, $66.43.
What better way to display your love of coffee than with a gorgeous print! Simple and chic, it's perfect for hanging anywhere in the home. But First, Coffee Print, Swell Made Co., $28.
Any tea fanatic knows a good cup of tea starts with a great kettle. Not only is this Le Creuset kettle eye-catching, it also has an innovative heating base compatible with all cooking surfaces, even induction. Classic Whistling Kettle, Le Creuset, $80.
These delectable milk and dark chocolate treats are filled with a coffee-flavoured centre, making them the perfect treat for any coffee lover. Mocha Melties, Purdys Chocolatier, $14.50.
We can't forget about matcha! This kit has everything you need to make perfect matcha every time. The Matcha Essentials, DavidsTea, $35.
Any owner of the Chemex Coffee Maker will adore its matching cream and sugar set. Making it the perfect present for someone who's already got his or her go-to brewer. Chemex Cream and Sugar Set, Crate & Barrel, $54.95.
Enjoying your beverage on-the-go just got a stylish update with the Nespresso limited edition Festive Les Collection Touch Travel Mug by Lorenzo Petrantoni. Festive Les Collection Touch Travel Mug, Nespresso, $32.
Hosting a holiday high tea? Then you'll want to serve these tea-infused treats. They're great for enjoying with friends, or wrapping up as a holiday gift. Find the recipe here.
Not only is this elephant-shaped mug adorable, it also features a tiny compartment to place your tea bag after you're done brewing. Plum & Bow Elephant Tea Mug, Urban Outfitters, $16.
Winter weather means stocking up on hand cream. Why not gift your tea lover with this all-vegan hand cream infused with one of DavidsTea's most popular tea. Forever Nuts Tea-Infused Hand Cream, DavidsTea, $6.
lead image: Crate & Barrel
A bright and welcoming sunroom is spruced up for the holidays.
With the holiday season is upon us, make the most of this month by tackling these tasks.
As the song says, it's the most wonderful time of the year – and it only lasts a few weeks. Avoid seasonal stress by staying organized and having realistic expectations of what you can achieve. To help you make the most of the holiday season, here are 10 things to do this December.
1 Clean out the freezer
It's all too easy to let food accumulate in the freezer – and before long, not only is it too crowded to make room for more, but there are items in the back that should probably be thrown away. Set aside some time to organize your freezer – you may be amazed at what you'll find in there.
2 Make a wreath
Not only is a wreath on the front door inviting, but it really makes a house look like a home. If you've got the time, add a personal touch to your outdoor decor by making your own instead of buying one. And if you're really feeling inspired, make two and give the second to a friend as an early Christmas gift.
3 Get organized for gift wrapping
To save time during the hectic Christmas shopping season, set up a gift-wrapping station in an out-of-the-way spot in your home -- it will make it easy to wrap gifts as you buy them, and you won't be hunting around the house for the scissors, silver ribbon or gift tags. If you haven't got the space for a separate gift-wrapping table, put all your supplies in a couple of wicker baskets in the closet or under the bed for easy access.
4 Decorate the kitchen
Don't limit your holiday accents to the living room and entryway -- think about ways you can bring the spirit of the season into every room, including the kitchen. Try decorating the windowsill with candles and cedar boughs, putting a miniature Christmas tree on a shelf or draping doorways with garlands. For a finishing touch, simmer spices in water on the back of the stove to infuse your home with the comforting scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
5 Cook up some appetizers
Get ready for guests – whether expected or impromptu – by preparing a selection of appetizers ahead of time. Just pick recipes that can be made in advance and frozen, and you could have a season's worth of hors d'oeuvres ready in an afternoon.
6 Host a cookie exchange
Rather than devoting hours of free time to baking each of your favourite holiday treats, arrange an exchange with friends and family. Organize it so that each person bakes a different type of cookie, enough to share around with everyone in the group. Don't forget to make a few extras to serve while everyone's exchanging the goods!
7 Hang some mistletoe
The custom of kissing under the mistletoe is said to come from an ancient Scandinavian tradition that when enemies met in the forest under mistletoe, they were to lay down their arms and observe a truce for the following day. Continue the tradition by hanging mistletoe in your home during the holiday season – and spread peace and goodwill among your guests.
8 Donate to the food bank
During this season of feasting, remember those who are less fortunate by bringing non-perishable food items or a monetary donation to your local food bank. Consider offering your time, as well, to help sort donations or perform other necessary tasks.
9 Let in the fresh air
It may be getting chilly outside, but that's no reason to keep the windows locked tight. Shutting up the house lets indoor pollutants accumulate, especially if it's fairly new and therefore airtight. Let in the cool, crisp air of early winter by opening the windows for a few minutes daily – longer if the weather is cooperating – and enjoy the fresh scent of a well-aired home.
10 Make homemade eggnog
Eggnog is so rich and sinfully delicious, it's probably a good thing we don't drink it all year round. So don't settle for nog in a carton – it's easy to make your own, and the results are well worth the time spent.
Take your bathroom from drab to fab with these easy decorating ideas!
Bathroom and kitchen renovations are known to give homeowners the biggest returns on their investment when they sell. But whether you’re doing a big renovation or just looking for ways to update your current bathroom and whether you intend to sell or not, these ideas for beautifying your bathroom will pay big returns in your overall satisfaction with your home. And you don’t have to have a $50,000 budget to do it. These affordable upgrades will add some serious style to your home without breaking the bank!
Renewal Divinity Small Mirror
What a difference something as simple as a mirror can make. The right one can transform the look of your bathroom and give it an updated, more stylish feel in an instant. The frame is made from hammered aluminum combined with beveled glass and can be hung vertically or horizontally, depending on your preference and the shape of the space you’re working in. Renewal Divinity Small Mirror, Wayfair, $380.46.
Flush Mount Bathroom Lighting Fixture
When renovating, it’s important to consider your lighting options for the type of space you have. So before you head to the lighting store, figure out whether it’d be best to go with flush mount, track lighting or sconces. No matter what you choose, illuminate your bathroom with a stunning light fixture that ties your bathroom’s whole look together and adds an appealing amount of sparkle and shine! Boasting a shiny chrome finish and a laser-cut inspired design on the lamp shade, this flush mounted lighting fixture will bring effortless elegance to your bathroom and is a simple way to take the look of the entire space from drab to fab! Flush Mount Bathroom Lighting Fixture, Multi Luminaire, $349.
Aroura Tile White and Gold Wallpaper
If you’ve always loved the look of wallpaper but have shied away from using it in the bathroom, it’s time to reconsider. Wallpaper has come a long way and today, there are lots of options on the market, many of which are suitable for moisture-rich environments. This gorgeous wallpaper has a mosaic pattern that mimics the look of tile and has a washable finish for easy clean-up. Aroura Tile White and Gold Wallpaper, Graham & Brown, $50/roll.
Metro Basket Weave White and Cobalt Porcelain Mosaic Tile
Flip through the pages of your favourite design magazine and you’re sure to see plenty of bathrooms boasting this contrasting basket weave tile to dramatic effect. Get the look for yourself with these tiles – but may we suggest opting for the white and cobalt colour combo as a subtle alternative to black and white? The rich cobalt will add a decidedly chic and unexpected look to your bathroom. Metro Basket Weave White and Cobalt Porcelain Mosaic Tile, Home Depot, $7.98 each.
Gleaming Brass Bath Collection
Upping the style quotient in your bathroom doesn’t get any easier than this! Swap out your existing vanity vessels for these truly chic options. The full set includes a soap dispenser, tumbler and tray, all in a beautiful brass finish. Gleaming Brass Bath Collection, Anthropologie, $22-$36.
Dot Medallion Shower Curtain
Looking for a quick and easy bathroom update that won’t break the bank? How about a new shower curtain? This 100% cotton curtain is made in India and features a modern medallion motif in a soothing colour palette of watercolour inspired shades of blue and grey. With this one simple addition to your bathroom, you’ll add an air of tranquility that will turn your bathroom into the oasis you always dreamed of. Dot Medallion Shower Curtain, West Elm, $29.99.