Baking with Love for the Holidays

Hot Chocolate & Cookies for Santa
Santa Claus isn’t the only one hoping for some holiday goodies. We all love dessert. If you get a head start on your baking, you’ll have plenty to share with your family and friends throughout the long holiday season. Baked goods make great gifts too.

Assorted Butter Cookies
Butter Cookies
Butter cookies are finger licking good. For variety, dip some in chocolate, fill with fruit, or place a colorful layer of fondant on top and pipe on a few decorative flourishes. If you are pressed for time, many bakeries offer ready-made cookie platters.

Fruit Filled Cookies
Fruit Filled Cookies
All you need to make these festive red and white cookies is two round cookie cutters – one small and one large. Layer two cookies on top of each other, with strawberry, cherry or raspberry filling, to make this sandwich cookie. The bottom cookie is solid, while the top cookie has a small cut out in the center. Shake powdered sugar on top for a beautiful bakery finish.

Fudge Brownies & Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Brownies & Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Brownies are a favorite any time of year, and instead making chocolate chip cookies, try using cinnamon chips and cut the cookies into heart shapes.

Almond Crescent Cookies
Almond Crescent Cookies
This classic butter cookie will surprise you with its unexpected almond flavor and they’re great for dipping in your coffee or tea.

Vanilla Cupcake with Cream Cheese Icing
Christmas Cupcake
The simplicity of a vanilla cupcake contrasts nicely with the rich, sweet taste of cream cheese icing. Safety Tip: Holly and its berries are poisonous. Use an artificial holly garnish.

Coconut Rum Balls
Coconut Rum Balls
These sweet, crunchy delights should be refrigerated overnight for maximum flavor.

Petits Fours & Eggnog
Eggnog & Petits Fours
Petits Fours are the perfect marriage of cake and candy. Fondant icing is actually candy used to cover bite size cubes of yellow, sponge or pound cake. While the fondant is still wet, decorations can be applied using piped icing, or a sprinkling of either candy or nuts. As an added burst of flavor, jelly or butter cream can be spread over the cake prior to applying the fondant.

Gingerbread Stars & Hearts Cookies
Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
These gingerbread cookies are decorated with a thin coat of light green frosting, patterned with white icing and sprinkled with sugar for a frosty appeal.

Traditional Gingerbread Cookies
Traditional Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbread cookies are very popular treats this time of year. Decorating is easy with the icing tubes, sprinkles and candy pieces available at most grocery store.

Gingerbread House
Gingerbread House
For a more challenging project, gingerbread kits come in a number of varieties, such as cookies, houses, and villages, and include all the necessary candies, icing, and yes the baked gingerbread too. The whole family will enjoy building and eating their creations.

Hanukkah Donuts
Jelly Donuts
Deep-fried jelly donuts sprinkled with granulated sugar are a delicious part of every Hanukkah celebration.

Cherry Cheese Tarts
Cherry Cheese Tarts
Most people love cheesecake. These tarts have the delicious flavor and they’re finger foods as well. You could purchase ready-made mini piecrusts and make your own filling. They can also be made in a cupcake pan. Line the pan with paper cupcake wrappers. Drop a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cupcake. Pour in your filling and bake. After they cool, top with cherries or strawberries and enjoy!

Christmas Pudding
Christmas Pudding
Also known as Plum Pudding, this traditional Christmas dessert takes 5 to 10 hours to steam. The aromas of the fruits and spices wafts through your home while it cooks.

Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie
With a filling made from eggs, butter and brown sugar, pecan pie is an addictively sweet dessert, which will leave you begging for more. For a rich caramel flavor, use dark brown sugar.

Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake
In case you didn’t know, red velvet cake is actually a moist rich chocolate cake with lots of food coloring to create that ultra rich shade of red. For those of you who avoid artificial coloring, there is a cocoa available with a natural reddish brown color. The icing and filling is cream cheese.

Yule Log
Yule Log
A spiral design is the hallmark of this impressive dessert, but it’s easy to make, and will melt in your mouth. Bake the cake in a jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper. After baking, lay the cake face down on a towel. If necessary, trim any ragged edges. Starting with a long side, roll the cake in the towel and cool completely on a wire rack. Unroll and remove the towel, and lay cake flat. Spread the filling over the top within 1/2” of the edges. Suggested fillings include whipped cream, pie filling, and pudding. Carefully roll the cake and place it with the seam side down on a platter. Coat the exterior with chocolate frosting and use a fork to create the bark patterns along the length of the log.

There are so many recipes to sample. Don’t worry about gaining that holiday five pounds. There will be plenty of time to work that off shivering and shoveling snow during the cold winter months to come.

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

DIY Christmas Ornaments

Kermit the Frog
In search of the perfect Christmas ornament? Found it!

DIY Ornaments
If you haven’t found what you were hoping for, create it yourself! These clear Christmas balls don’t look like much in the box, but let your imagination soar and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Assorted Christmas Balls
Metallic trim, fabric paint, glitter, and self-stick rhinestones are just a few of the possibilities to transform those plain plastic or glass balls into treasured ornaments for the tree.

Ornaments
At its most basic, color is usually the first decision. Plastic balls usually only come in clear but glass ones come in clear as well as assorted solid colors. To add color to a clear ball you have two options: 1) Apply paint to the exterior using a roller; 2) Pour paint inside the ball, drain the excess and allow it to dry upside down overnight. Applying paint on the inside preserves the reflective sheen on the exterior.

Striped & Plaid Ornaments
Ribbon and glitter provide sparkle and attractive patterns on these red ornaments.

Gold Spirals Ornament
Create a geometric pattern of your choice using glue and then roll the ball in glitter. After it dries, lightly brush off the excess and it’s ready to hang upon the tree.

Gold Star
This star got its sparkle by applying a layer of glue over the entire surface of the ornament and then rolling it in gold glitter.

Christmas Balls
You can fill clear ornaments with anything small enough to fit through the top, including beads, leaves. confetti, ribbon, seashells, sand, and flower buds.

White Textured Ornament
Create texture using fabric paint. After the paint dries, spray the entire ball white and follow it with a spray of textured spray paint for a snow-covered effect.

Snowman Ornament
This snowman was hand painted onto a red ball. If painting is not your strong suit, purchase self-adhesive decals from the paper crafting section to achieve the same look.

Sequined Ornament
Maybe you prefer a little glitz and glam. If so, sequins are your best bet.

Rhinestone & Glitter Ornaments
Silver & gold are a very popular color combination. Paint a metallic silver base layer. For the stars, apply glitter while the paint is still wet. Self-stick gold rhinestones were applied to the ball after the paint dried. As an alternative, you could use rhinestone studded trim to wrap the Christmas ball.

Bows & Flowers Ornaments
Ribbons and flowers make beautiful tree ornaments. If you like the look of snow, you can add crystals to the edges of flower petals as shown above. The Christmas ball is adorned with tiny bows.

Tim Burton Ornaments
If you love Tim Burton’s movie, Nightmare before Christmas, these two familiar characters will bring a sense of mischievous humor to your tree. Use metallic paint for the base coat applied with a roller to avoid brush marks. Use a black Sharpie pen for the details.

Red & Gold Ornament
Glitter, patience, craft glue and a very steady hand are all required for this challenging delicate pattern. To simplify the process, use fabric glitter paint, which provides color, glitter and three-dimensional patterns in one easy step.

Icy Ornament
A few quick sprays of snow in a can will create this icy looking Christmas ball.

Sequined Flower Ornament
Overlap large no hole sequins, also known as paillettes, to create this flower-shaped ornament.

Silver & Gold Ornament
Spice up a plain gold ornament with silver glitter vertical stripes.

Midnight Forest Ornament
Use gold glitter fabric paint to create this forest of evergreen trees and stars in the sky. For extra texture, apply additional glitter to the trees while the paint is still wet.

Red & Gold Ornament
This ornate pattern could be created a couple different ways. The simplified version could be achieved using a metallic gold sharpie pen. Another option is using gold ribbon for the thick horizontal lines, followed by thin glue and glitter. Green rhinestones are glued at the intersections as shown.

Rainbow Sequin Ornament
This rainbow ornament was made using a styrofoam ball, sequins and lots of pins.

Beaded Ornaments
Red beads in several sizes provide rich juicy looking color. The white ball has a combination of fabric paint, powdered “snow” and some scattered tiny silver sequins.

Ombre Ornament
An ombré paint technique followed by the application of clear snow crystals gives this ornament the look of a frosted peach.

Blooming Rose Ornament
Silk flowers inserted inside the clear glass ball appear to bloom. To keep the flower in place, you may need to apply a small drop of clear glue using an extra long cotton swab or skinny craft stick.

Mosaic Ornament
Mosaic ornaments are quite beautiful. You could also use seashells or pompoms to create a similar look without the need for cutting any pieces to fit.

Trim & Glitter Ornament
Rows of tiny sequins and braided white trim form the pattern on this striped ball.

Holly Ornaments
These three-dimensional holly designs were created using fabric glitter paint, followed by loose glitter while the paint is still wet. It may require two coats to build up the thickness on the outer edges of the leaves. The inner sections of the leaves have green glitter. Glue red or green rhinestones on as berries.

The holidays are an excellent opportunity to exercise your creative muscles. By designing your own ornaments, you’re guaranteed to have a uniquely stylish Christmas tree featuring some of your best work. As your collection grows, they’ll become heirlooms with a lifetime of memories. Enjoy the creative process. You’ve got this!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

Holiday Table & Decor

Indoor Decorating
Decorating the interior of your home for the holidays can be an overwhelming task. With entertaining, overnight guests, and gift buying, it’s a very hectic time of year. If you do a little at a time, and enlist the help of your family, you can create the festive atmosphere you’ve always wanted. Let’s get started with a few decorating ideas.

Christmas Poinsettia Wreath
Poinsettia Wreath & Garland
The first thing your guests will notice starts with the front door. A simple evergreen wreath comes to life with the addition of a few silk poinsettias. Real or artificial evergreen sprays can be hung on either side with coordinating red ribbon.

Fruit & Pinecone Wreath
Fruit Wreath
This unusual wreath consists of pomegranates, oranges, pinecones and flowers layered over an evergreen wreath base.

Jingles Bells Wreath
Wreath Jingle Bells
Bring the festive sounds of jingle bells into your home with this unique wreath. Every time someone opens the door it will sound like Santa has arrived.

Wine Connoisseur’s Wreath
Wreath Wine Corks
If you collect wine corks, this is the wreath for you. The layered pattern forms a beautifully textured wreath, but remains lightweight. The liquor bottle in the center is optional.

Hanging Evergreen Wreath
Hanging Wreath
A hanging arrangement is a beautiful and unexpected pleasure. If you are lucky enough to have evergreens and pine trees on your property, you’ll have most of the supplies you’ll need. Simply layer the greens on a wire wreath frame, insert battery-operated candles, and scatter about several apples and berries. A few cinnamon sticks will provide a sweet & spicy scent. Ornate ribbon will conceal metal hanging rods, or you can purchase decorative chains at home improvement stores.

Candle & Holly Centerpiece
Candles Centerpiece
Holly naturally brings in the festive colors of Christmas. A few candles and some pinecones complete this lovely centerpiece.

Glass Ball Candle Wreath
Glass Ornament Wreath
To make this colorful display, you could purchase a ready-made glass ball wreath, or buy a bunch of ornaments and use hot glue to assemble it.

A Study in Red & Green
Red Candle
Red is such an attention getting color. Red berries, green leaves and evergreen surround a bold pillar candle. The candlelight and white string lights lend a romantic atmosphere.

Fancy Metal Tray Centerpiece
Candle Tray
Using something you already own, such as a tray, is an inexpensive way to create something new. To complete the project, simply add colorful ornaments and a candle. You can easily use this centerpiece all year long by changing the contents to suit the season or whatever makes you happy.

Festive Table Settings
Christmas Table
Creating an attractive Christmas table doesn’t have to cost a lot. Alternating layers of green and red is the key to this festive setting. Fabric squares and colorful paper napkins provide contrast and texture. A red Christmas ball on top becomes a keepsake for each guest in remembrance of the occasion. In fact, you could write each person’s name with a metallic Sharpie marker and use the ornaments as place cards.

Neutral Palette
Neutral Palette Table
Textured white dishes are offset by gold flatware, gold chargers, and gold bell ornaments. Elegant white roses are an element of softness, while the crystal goblets provide the sparkle.

Sophisticated Contemporary
Contemporary Centerpiece
Sleek lines, reflective metallic ornaments, and indirect lighting are keys to creating this ultra contemporary holiday setting. The red pops of color draw the eye and the reindeer figurine adds a bit of whimsy.

Christmas Crackers
Christmas Crackers
Crackers are part of Christmas celebrations in several countries around the world. The red and white theme of this table setting is created with the tissue paper fans, white tablecloth and plates, and the metallic red foil crackers.

Ornamental Table Runner
Garland Table Runner
Table runners can be quite expensive, and may be difficult to find for longer table lengths. Make you own by using a real or artificial evergreen garland and some brightly colored ornaments,

Gift Box Centerpiece
Gift Box Centerpiece
Craft stores often sell sets of decorative gift boxes such as the ones shown above. Some include light woven inside for extra sparkle. After the holidays, the boxes nest within each other for easy storage.

Gift Tags as Place Cards
Gift Tag Place Cards
Place cards don’t have to be drab white. Purchase gift tags or make your own. The ribbon bow is a nice finishing touch.

Flower Power – Poinsettias
Poinsettias
Red, white or pink poinsettias are multi-purpose decorations. Whether you choose live or artificial plants, poinsettias make colorful additions to any room. To create a back to nature themed Christmas tree, silk blooms, pinecones and red berries can be used as ornaments.

Festive Red & Gold Fireplace
Fireplace
The fireplace is the perfect spot for relaxing by a cozy fire, and reminiscing about holidays past. Floral garland, red and gold candles, a Santa Claus statue and a pretty poinsettia provide a welcoming atmosphere, accented by stockings hung by the fire with care.

Display Collectibles
Nutcracker
At some point, most people acquire collections that never see the light of day. Collectibles, such as nutcrackers, snow globes, and carousel horses, can be artfully arranged on mantels or shelves to create unique holiday displays you’re sure to love.

Decorating for the holidays can be fun as well as entertaining. Each new item you create will become a treasured keepsake next year. Over time you will have an eclectic collection to be enjoyed for years to come. Let your holiday spirit guide your creativity.

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!