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Dec 19, 2014

It may be a recent addition to your home or it may have been a fixture for a few weeks, but whatever the case, it’s likely that you’ve got your Christmas tree up by now. This festive decor is one of the best parts of the season, and not just because you’ll find presents under it come December 25th. The smell, the lights, the ornaments, it’s such a magical symbol of the holidays - from the massive one outside Rockefeller Center to the one inside your living room.

Of the choices below, which Christmas tree is more like the one you’ve got at home? Is yours color-coordinated with evenly spaced ornaments like Option A? Or is it more reminiscent of Option B with its mismatched, clearly homemade decorations? Which tree do you prefer?

Option A

Image via Shanty 2 Chic

Option B

Image via Arborhouse Lane


Our Choice:



We can absolutely appreciate Option A’s splendour. This beautiful burlap creation feels very rustic chic and romantic. However, we have to choose Option B. Option A is lovely, but Option B is a lot more like the tree we have at home. Some of the most cherished ornaments on our tree are the imperfect ones, the ones that aren’t part of any theme, the ones that are actually kind of ugly because they were made by a five-year-old. Tell us about your tree below or share a picture with us on
Twitter – it could be featured on our Pinterest holiday board

Dec 17, 2014

Give your classic shortbread a little English-inspired spruce with our Digital Marketing Director's Creme De Cassis De Dijon Liquor Shortbread recipe. We know that change is hard, but trust us, you're going to want to try this.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Pound (1 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Cup dried currants
  • 1/4 Cup Lejay-Cassis: Creme de Cassis de Dijon Liquor
  • 1/4 Cup icing sugar (optional)
Directions:

Chop up dried currants. Add the liquor to the currants and let it sit to absorb.


Cream butter and sugar together - this works best if the butter is room temperature. Beat in an egg yolk.

In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, salt). Slowly add dry ingredients to wet. Do not over beat; it should be a bit crumbly. Fold the liquor soaked currants into the crumbly dough. It will turn a nice pink color.

Divide it into two equal parts. Lay two 12 inch sheets of cling wrap and place half of the mixture onto each sheet. Bring both ends of the cling wrap together and form two six inch rolls about two inches in diameter.

Put it in the fridge and set to chill for at least two hours. Set oven to 250 degrees. Score chilled rolls before cutting. Each roll makes 24 cookies. Take the cling wrap off to cut. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes. The cookies should not be brown; they should be golden underneath. Once baked, carefully place on a cooling rack and let fully cool. They'll crumble when warm.


To help celebrate the holiday season and get everyone feeling a little bit more festive we asked our Marketplace Events team members to send us their best seasonal desserts. See the whole list on our Facebook page and share your favorites with friends and family.

Did you know that connecting with us on Facebook has great benefits beyond our Treat Guide? Like us to be in the know about home show ticket deals, celebrity tips and trends, exclusive contests, and more!

Dec 16, 2014

With the growing excitement of the holiday season it's easy to spend a little more, eat a little more, and do a little more than you had originally planned. Getting into the festivities is great, it's called the most wonderful time of the year for a reason, but it's also important not to lose your head where it matters: you and your family's safety. We've outlined below some simple things to keep in mind this season to help protect yourself and your loved ones.

1. Don't leave candles unattended - This tip might seem incredibly obvious, but the holidays are a time filled with distractions. Between the last minute guests, irritating requests from in-laws, tons of cooking, and more, it's easy to leave your candles alight when you leave the room.

Image via Buzzfeed

2. Travel smart - If you're going out of town for a few days to visit with friends and family or to escape this horrible cold weather there are some precautions you should take to secure your home. Consider:
  • Putting your lights (indoor and holiday) on timers to make your home appear occupied.
  • Recruiting a friend or neighbor to collect your mail and newspapers; nothing says "no one's home" like a collection of papers and unopened letters.
  • Being careful about sharing #TMI. Predators can access your social channels and take advantage of the information you post. So please refrain from tweeting "On the way to #Hawaii! Not back til Dec 30 @ 2pm! #EmptyHouse #KeyUnderMat"

3. Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors - When was the last time you tested and changed the batteries on your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors? If you can't remember the last time you did it, do it now! They should be tested about two or three times a year, with the batteries changed as needed.


Expert tip: Did you know that smoke alarms have an expiration date? They last approximately 8 - 10 years, after which point they become far less sensitive to smoke.

4. Shovel the right way - Shoveling your driveway and walkway can be really hard on your body. It's a high intensity workout, done in harsh conditions, at a heightened pace. A frequent cause of cardiac arrests and cardiac episodes in the winter is shoveling. Don't hurt your heart or your body: warm up before you shovel, take breaks as you need them, and shovel frequently as opposed to lifting mountains of snow.



We hope the simple advice above helps to keep you and your family a little safer this season. Are there any other safety tips you think readers should know to help them prepare for the holidays? Let us know below!

Dec 12, 2014

There's a few weeks until Christmas, which means it's likely that your social calendar is fairly full of holiday parties. For the next little while every time you turn around you'll be mingling, dancing, and wishing everyone well. It's a lovely time, but it can get exhausting - especially when you have to come up with an assortment of hostess gifts, or if you're trying to organize your owns seasonal soiree amid the chaos. Lucky for you we've got what you need for either situation: a fun list of festive beverages you can serve or bring. These creative cocktails are just the thing to wow an entire party. From thrower to goer, you'll be the bringer of holiday cheers.

1. Cranberry Margarita - This seasonally colorful beverage is so simple to make, five ingredients is all it takes!

Image via Gimme Some Oven

2. White Christmas - This one is pretty simple too, just three ingredients. Plus we love the candy cane garnish.

Image via Freutcake

3. Partridge In A Pear Tree - Sweet but not too sweet, and such a cute name!

Image via Fab Housewife

4. Santa's Lil Helper - Sorbet and champagne, what could be better? These guys are sure to be a hit!

Image via The Londoner

5. Mulled Wine - For your Dickensian Christmases. There's nothing quite as traditional as mulled wine, goose, and ghosts.


6. Kahlua Hot Chocolate - Nothing warms you up quite like a hot chocolate. Make it a little boozy and we're sure you'll be feeling pretty cozy.

Image via Damn Delicious

7. Two Turtle Doves - Grated white chocolate and coconut cream, this decadent cocktail isn't one to be overlooked.


8. Peppermint Mocha-Tini - Since it's peppermint and chocolate (a winning combination) this beverage is perfect before or after dinner!


Since it's holiday party season we've got to ask: do you have a lot of parties on your plate? Will you be hosting one of your own? Let us know and make sure to tell us which cocktail is your favorite  - we're crazy about the Partridge In A Pear Tree!

Dec 10, 2014

Christmas ornaments and balls are usually reserved for the Christmas tree and garland, but do they have to be? If you've got extra ornaments this year and don't know what do to with them, Stephanie Holoien Parks from Addison Grace Design has you covered. Expand your Christmas decorating horizon and explore three great ways to decorate with Christmas ornaments.

1. A new meaning to hanging your ornaments - Group your ornaments and hang them from the ceiling or chandelier for an extra festive glow. Grouping different sizes, shapes, and colours gives your Christmas cluster texture and definition. Once you have formed your cluster of Christmas ornaments you can hang them in a variety of place to accent different areas in your home. Windows, coffered ceilings, and dining room lights are great ways to accent your home for Christmas. Looking for something a little simpler? Attach a ribbon to a single ornament for a graceful accent to your holiday space.


Image via Cuckoo 4 Design

2. Showcasing ornaments in decorative accessories - Placing Christmas ornaments in larger glass urns and other decorative platters and bowls is a great way to showcase the Christmas spirit in any room of your home. Don't be afraid to mix up the ornaments with other accessories such as greeneries, berries, pine cones, feathers, candles, etc. This is a great and versatile way to amp up your Christmas!


Image via Midwest Living

3. Ornament tree or topiary - Grab your glue gun and a Styrofoam circle or cone and adhere your classic Christmas ball ornaments to create a fantastic, festive little number. Size, shape, and colour combinations are endless. Embrace the glitz and glam of your ornaments; let your creative side loose! Want to step it up a notch? Make a set of three or five ornament trees in varying sizes to create a focal point.


We hope the ideas above help you to get creative with your decorations and deck your halls in unique and wonderful ways this year.

Dec 9, 2014

Just because you're in a small space doesn't mean you can't go all out for the holidays. Whether you want to spruce up your office, dorm room, or small apartment, we've got decorating ideas to help you make the most of your space and keep it full of holiday cheer. Check them out below and feel the Christmas spirit wherever you are - school, work, or in the comfort of your home.

1. Don't Forget Your Side Tables - For most of the year you probably leave these surfaces fairly free to make room for beverages and snacks, and because clutter is the enemy of small spaces. However, during the holiday season side or end tables are a prime spot for adding decorative touches.


Image via Finding Home

2. Deck Your Doorways - Hanging garland and lights around your doorway is a great way to decorate without losing any space. We think this is an especially creative and clever way to display holiday cards; think about how much space those take up!


3. Hang Ornaments From Your Ceiling - We're not talking about your entire ceiling or encouraging you to hang a thousand decorations, but in places where space comes at a premium you've got to use what you can. Stringing some pretty ornaments from above can add a bit of Christmas whimsy to any space.

Image via HouseBeautiful

4. Dish It Out - Festive cups and other dishes are a simple yet great way to bring the holiday spirit into a room. They are especially handy if you're trying to decorate your office, where you might have some serious restrictions, both in terms of space and not being able to hang decorations on walls. Drink your morning coffee or afternoon tea from a reindeer mug, it'll perk you right up. And if you're like us and leave your mug on your desk all day it'll double as a decoration.


Image via Just A Girl

5. Use Hooks And Racks - Believe it or not your coat hooks and racks are the perfect spot to add a bit of holiday cheer to your space. You already use them to hang your jackets and scarves, why not try putting up a wreath, a few ornaments, or some garland?


Image via House To Home

6. Opt For A Little Tree - Do you remember that giant tree Chevy Chase got in Christmas Vacation? Don't get one of those. Be economic with your space and get a little tree instead. Now you might think to yourself, that looks more like a plant than a Christmas tree, but these guys are actually pretty cute and with the right decorations you won't miss the extra height. Put it on a tabletop or an old sleigh.


Image via At Home In Love

Do you decorate for the holidays in every space you can, like your office and your car? Or is it just something you do at home? Let us know how you deck the halls below.

Dec 8, 2014

Do you know what pfeffernusse is? We hadn't even heard the word before we received this recipe from one of our Marketing Managers. But this German spice cookie is one tasty treat. Try baking it this year and make this old tradition a new one in your home.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1/2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 Tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 Tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 Tsp allspice
  • 1/4 Tsp ginger
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/3 Cup butter
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
Directions

Mix sugar, butter, and egg. Then in a separate bowl add all dry ingredients.


Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer.


Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.


Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy.


To help celebrate the start of the holidays and get everyone feeling a little more festive we asked our Marketplace Events team members to send us their best seasonal desserts. Visit our Facebook page to see the complete list of goodies in our Treat Guide and share your favorites with friends and family.

Did you know that connecting with us on Facebook has sweet treats beyond our Sweets & Treats? Like us and stay in the know about ticket deals, Home Show news, celebrity style, home decor trends, and more.

Dec 5, 2014

Feeling a little underwhelmed by your usual outdoor holiday decor? We've got just what you need: five DIY decorations to light up your home this season. Check out these unique creations and get ready for your house to be the talk of the neighborhood.

1. Bird Seed Decorations - These little guys will add some pizzazz to your trees, and the birds they attract will help decorate your yard with their bright colors and sweet songs.


Image via Saltwater-Kids

2. Giant Ornaments - These novelty bulbs are a fun and festive way to supersize your outdoor look.

Image via Hallmark Channel

3. Light Up Snowmen - This project is sure to delight your little ones! They can completely customize their snowpeople, and the finished product is a great way to light up your walkway.

Image via Design Dazzle

4. Through The Roof Christmas Tree - What an adorable idea! The Griswolds would be jealous.

Image via My Life And Kids

5. Joy Door Decor Wreath - Spread the joy this season with this neat alternative to the standard holiday wreath.


With Christmas coming up fast, we've got to ask: are your holiday decorations up? There's usually at least one house on the block that goes all out - is it yours? Or are you more subtle? Let us know below.

Dec 1, 2014

Looking for a fun way to get everyone in the holiday spirit? With the busyness and stress associated with this time of year it’s common to encounter a Grinch or two. Help family and friends find that festive feeling with these fun, seasonal DIYs. We’ve compiled a list of 12 holiday projects for you and your brood to enjoy. Turn on some wintry carols, gather your supplies, and get crafting. Everyone will be holly and jolly in no time.

1. Winter Silhouette Candle Holder - Set the scene with this mason jar candle holder. Create a cozy winter wonderland.


2. Magazine Christmas Trees - Don't throw away that old catalog. Turn it into a sweet little Christmas Tree instead. 


3. JOY Bottles - Spread some joy with this message on a bottle!


4. Retro Snow Globe - Get nostalgic for a simpler time and holidays of old.


5. Ribbon Tree Ornaments - We've found a use for the scraps of ribbon left over from last year's gifts. These cute little ornaments are simple to make and look great!


6. Burlap Holiday Lights - Jazz up your holiday lights with this rustic twist.

Please only try this craft with modern lights. This is a fire hazard when done with older holiday lights.

7. Pine Cone Christmas Tree - This is a great project for little crafters and allows for lots of creativity!


8. Santa Logs - How nice would these guys look on your front porch?

Image via Smart Girls DIY

9. Button Snowman Ornament - Is your sewing kit full of old, mismatched buttons, saved from shirts you no longer own? You're in luck! Use them to make this adorable little Frosty.


10. Cinnamon Spice Ornaments - Fill your home with the smells of the season!

Image via Simply Notable

11. Embroidery Ornaments - This creative project is a great way to put leftover crafting supplies to use.


12. Felt Christmas Tree - Speaking of leftover crafting supplies, do you have felt swatches going to waste? Use them to create this fun and festive tree. 


We hope these fun crafts help get you and your loved ones in the holiday spirit. Since it’s still early December we’ve got to ask: when do you start decorating for the holidays? Is your tree up as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is put away or do you have a different tradition? Let us know.