Satisfy even the most discerning epicureans on your list with one of these fashionable foodie-approved finds.
We all have that person in our life who can prepare an intricate meal without so much as glancing at a recipe. That person who dabbles in all things culinary related on a daily basis and has a kitchen pantry that rivals that of celebrity chef Mark McEwan (or it at least comes close). Not sure what to treat them to this holiday season? Browse through our list of food-related gift ideas for inspiration.
A heart-smart treat for the health food aficionado in your life, this carefully curated six-pack of cold-pressed juices contains almost two pounds of fruit and veg in every bottle! Cold-pressed Juices, Dose Juice, $42 per 6-piece pack.
This elegant Art Deco-style coffee dripper is for your friend who has one foot planted firmly at home and the other off in some distant Parisian patisserie. Hario stainless copper Coffee Dripper, Indigo, $100.
If the Bat Cave had a coffee maker, this would be it. Nespresso’s latest boasts a matte black finish befitting anyone in need of a caffeine jolt before saving Gotham City. VertuoLine Coffee Machine in Matte Black, Nespresso, $249.
This high-ranking mustard deserves your salute. Flavoured with decadent wine and truffles – and only available for a limited time – it’s a covetable condiment fit for any top official. Black Truffle and Chablis Mustard, Maille, $43 US.
These striking mugs echo exotic corners of the earth that yield top-notch coffee, from Sumatra to Costa Rica. Pair a mug with beans from the same region for a gift guaranteed to please any java junkie. Stamp Art Mugs, Starbucks, $19 each.
These pretty, precious and feminine flasks are almost too stylish to sully with alcohol – but everyone has a friend who would! Stainless steel Odeme Flasks, 90 ml, West Elm, $29 US each.
This vintage-look colander is a timeless classic that takes an everyday kitchen tool from dull to display-worthy. Copper-plated steel Colander in Gold, Anthropologie, $34 US.
This Scandi-chic French press in pale pink (with a pretty copper detail) is not only a beautiful vessel for your morning brew, but also an ideal addition to any open shelf. Ceramic French Press in Sand, Yield Design Co., $120 US.
Treat fans of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation to “the gift that keeps on giving.” Translation: their very own Jelly of the Month Club gift set! (Reference lost on you? See here.) Griswold Jelly of the Month Club Gift Set, Retro Festive, $40.
It may resemble salami, but this treat is made entirely out of chocolate. Containing hazelnuts, almonds, cherries and even rum, the confection is a certified crowd-pleaser – especially when presented on a cutting board. Chocolate salami, SOMA Chocolatemaker, $23.
Count on Alessi to make a conventional utensil undeniably sleek. Crafted from stainless steel and boasting a unique shape, the modern citrus squeezer also doubles as a pestle. Valerio Citrus Squeezer, Alessi, $71.
Building a beautiful cheese platter is something of an art form, but it helps to have stylish spreaders to complement the nibbles. This gorgeous set with rose quartz handles will make any table sparkle. Rose Quartz Spreaders, HomeSense, $15 4-piece set.
5 ways to stick to your holiday budget
The Smart Cookies teach you how to create (and stick to!) a holiday budget.
The Smart Cookies are five young women that are savvy about spending - they know when to save and when to splurge. And when it comes to the holidays, these ladies know how to save without being Scrooge. So we asked The Cookies to cook up some ideas for how to ensure that this year the 12 days of Christmas don't turn into a $1200 debt, and here's what they shared.
1 Swear to a spending plan (and stay on track)
The Smart Cookies always build a monthly budget - and stick to it! So, when it comes to the holidays, they're duly diligent. "There's so much prep work involved with getting ready for the holidays, it's easy to get carried away," warn The Cookies. "Don't get lost in all the mayhem!" The best way to monitor the mayhem? The Cookies advise to set-up spending alerts, such as payment-due reminders and account-balance updates.
They also say to consider everything - from travel to gifts, to décor to ribbons and wrap, right down to the stamps on greeting and thank you cards. "We love the site moneystrands.com because it is a free online budgeting tool that allows you to create a budget within minutes that will automatically link with your various accounts and cards. It even updates your budget categories automatically as you spend!"
2 DIY with Love
Do-it-yourself gifts are no longer limited to arts and crafts given from children to parents. With craft havens and scrapbook superstores everywhere, you can create a gorgeous gift that's unique, thoughtful and personal, not to mention easy on the budget!
Here are a few ideas for the holidays that get a Smart Cookie stamp of approval:
3 Shop on the web
"Shopping online is a great way to save time, money and your sanity this season," say The Cookies. In addition to being able to easily shop for promotions and sales, many shops offer shipping discounts - futureshop.com, for example, offers free shipping for orders over $39. Indigo also offers free shipping over $25, and books are 30% less online than in stores. Go to freeshippingcanada.com for an exhaustive list of similar promotions.
Also, use social media for more than just holiday wishes - use it for holiday shopping, too. Follow your favourite stores on Facebook and Twitter, The Cookies recommend. "Many offer coupons and discount codes exclusively through their social media campaigns." It's the best way to stay on top of the sales - and save, save, save!
4 Know the smartest way to pay
"When you're shopping, timing is everything," say the Cookies. Know the anticipated spending trends and time accordingly. "This year, due to the economy, experts are suggesting consumers wait as long as possible to make their purchases. Stores will be less likely to move inventory. "Sellers will start to panic and, as a result, prices will drop," they add.
Many stores, like Sears and Future Shop, have price protection policies, meaning that if the price of an item drops, you can recoup the difference. The Cookies recommend watching the price of a gift for up to fourteen days post-purchase.
Instead of paying with cash or debit, The Smart Cookies pay with credit cards - especially ones that let you earn rewards on your spending. Pay off the balance early and build your credit as a gift to yourself.
5 Save on the wrapping
When we budget for gifts, we don't often account for the price of wrapping paper, the ribbons and bows, accent pieces and cards - it can all easily add another $10 to your gift. And though we agree, presentation is important, The Smart Cookies say that you can wrap wonderfully without making your wallet suffer. Use packing paper instead of wrapping paper, say The Cookies. Large rolls cost as little at $2 and you can bedazzle them yourself with raffia and a sprig of holly or stencils and craft paint. Save on card costs by reusing the front of old Christmas cards - simply cut out the design and glue it to a blank card from a craft store - just make sure the card you're reusing doesn't say something like "best wishes in 2002!"
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.
These tasty cocktails are perfect for your next party. Image by: Janis Nicolay
Learn to make these tasty signature cocktails for your next holiday party.
You may not be a mixologist, but these signature drinks will have guests convinced you’ve been taking secret bartending lessons. Word to the wise: Leave the fancy bottle spins to the professionals.
1 The Welder
Pour the whisky, Aperol, lemon juice and chili syrup into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled lowball glass and top with the chili pepper.
2 Brandy Crusta
Prepare a rock glass by moistening the rim with a touch of the lemon juice and dipping it in the sugar. Combine the cognac, curaçao, more lemon juice and the bitters in a shaker. Shake and strain into the glass. Add 1 ice cube and the lemon peel garnish.
3 Jamaican Honey Soother
Directions: Pour the rum, honey and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well, strain into a coupette cocktail glass.
4 Dark & Stormy
Directions: Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Add the spiced rum and then top it off with the ginger beer. Stir, and garnish with the lime wedge.