9 Christmas party essentials that make hosting a breeze
First things first: Invitations. Sure, you can send out a text or email to let friends and family know the details of your gathering, but we think that paper invitations that arrive in the mail the traditional way are much more charming. Minted offers a large selection of gorgeously designed invitations that are guaranteed to set the mood for your holiday party. Gilded Botanicals Holiday Party Invitations, Minted, prices vary.
We admit, we’re not fans of the sickly sweet fragrances emitted by many a scented candle, but choose carefully and you can infuse your home with an aroma that truly enhances the atmosphere of your party. This candle is not only a beautiful display item but it also gives off the subtle but authentic smell of a fresh Frasier fir. If you aren’t putting up a real tree in your home, just fake it! Thymes Frasier Fir Poured Candle with Pine Needle Motif, Indigo, $32.
If most of your holiday music is digitally stored on your phone, then you’ll need a speaker to fill your home with the joyful carols of the season. This moderately-priced option is sleek and lightweight and produces high-quality sound. It has a seven-hour rechargeable battery and easily pairs to any Bluetooth-enabled iOS device. Beats by Dr. Dre Pill Speaker, Apple Store, $219.95.
While you want your guests to eat, drink and be merry, you don’t want to find impossible-to-remove water rings or red wine stains on your travertine coffee table the next morning! Help your guests help you keep your home stain-free by making sure everyone has a coaster upon which to place their drink. These leather reindeer coasters are just the thing to add a festive touch to your soiree. Forest Merriment Coasters, Anthropologie, $32 (set of 4).
Your guests will need a napkin or two over the course of the evening, especially if you’re serving finger foods. Skip the boring white napkins and instead, opt for ones that are Christmas-themed. These 12 Days of Christmas paper napkins are perfect for a casual gathering and will add a touch of whimsy to a more formal one. 12 Days of Christmas Napkins, Amazon, $4.19 (package of 20.
Take a more modern approach to champagne this holiday season. Instead of traditional stemmed flutes, serve your bubbly in these stemless glasses, gilded with gold. Each is inscribed with the word ‘Cheers’, making them suitable for year-round use, but they’re particularly perfect for the holiday season. Stemless Champagne Glasses, Indigo, $39.50 (set of 4).
You don’t have to be Tom Cruise to mix a cocktail like a boss. This eight-piece set will turn you into a pro in no time. Complete with all the essentials you’ll need, you may be ready to start moonlighting before the night is out. This set includes a one-quart Mason jar, stainless steel strainer, double jigger, hardwood muddler, ice tongs, a stir spoon and two pour spouts. MakersKit Classic Cocktail Kit, West Elm, $28.
Sometimes it’s the smallest details that are the most impactful and memorable. Dress up your holiday table with these beautiful napkin rings, which are made with gold beads and sequins. Flurry Beaded Napkin Rings, Crate & Barrel, $4.76.
A selection of fine cheeses and gourmet crackers are always a hit at a party. And since cheese stays cooler on marble than most other surfaces, this is a great option. Plus, it also comes with a wire slicer that can easily cut through most soft and hard cheeses. Marble Cheese Board and Slicer, Sur La Table, $11.96.
Give your garlic bread an update with this festive snowflake design.
We're taking traditional garlic bread to new heights this holiday season.
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1 Divide the dough in half; shape one half into a ball, folding the ends underneath and pinching at the bottom. Roll the ball on a work surface in a circular motion until seamless. Repeat with the remaining dough.
2 Cover the dough with a clean tea towel and let rise for 15 minutes.
3 In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup of the butter, the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the thyme and the pepper; set aside.
4 On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough ball into a 12" circle. Place one circle on a rimless parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread the butter mixture on top, leaving a 1/2" border.
5 Sprinkle with all but 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan; press gently to adhere. Brush the edge of the circle with a bit of the egg; top with the remaining dough circle, pinching the ends to seal.
6 Preheat the oven to 375°F.
7 Make 20 cuts from the outside toward the centre of the circle, leaving 1" in the centre intact. Take one piece of dough and twist it four or five times; twist the next piece of dough in the opposite direction. Brush the ends of both pieces of dough with the egg and pinch them together to seal. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
8 Sprinkle with the remaining thyme and Parmesan. Bake until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped, about 25 minutes.
9 Brush with remaining butter; let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Prep & cook time: 1 hour
Makes: One 20-piece loaf
Host the most unforgettable holiday party with help from our savvy hostess guide Source: Tracey Ayton
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You'll love these lavender shortbread cookies.
These sophisticated shortbread cookies are a wonderful pairing of citrus and herbs.
You're likely familiar with the wonderful results that come from pairing citrus and herbs, but our guess is that you tend to reach for rosemary or mint when preparing a lemony summer treat. Up the ante this month and try a combination that's a little more unexpected, but just as powerful. Delicate lavender imbues desserts with a distinct floral note and flecks of pale purple, and when combined with lemon, the flavour is even stronger. These elegant shortbread cookies are a satisfying snack and the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea in the garden -- complete with big hats and sundresses, of course.
1 Cream the butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in the flour, sugar and salt; beat on low speed for 1 minute. Add the lavender, beating until just incorporated.
2 Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and roll to a 1⁄4" thickness. Cut out the cookies using a round cookie cutter and place 1" apart on a greased baking sheet.
3 Bake on the centre rack of a 300°F oven for 20 minutes; let cool.
4 Make the glaze by whisking the icing sugar and lemon juice together. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the glaze over each cookie, spreading to cover the whole surface. Let set for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.
Makes: 36 cookies