Monday, December 1, 2008


A few bright ideas can really brighten up your holiday. Give a gift that makes someone smile. Spice up your décor with a few extra touches. Add some pizzazz to your party and make it one for the ages. Here are some helpful ideas to get you started.

Get out the gift wrap.
For a fun addition to your holiday decorating, take down some of the pictures on your wall, wrap them like presents (complete with ribbons and bows), and hang them back up. If you're feeling really festive, wrap the whole front door.

Change up the décor.
If you have extra accessories that have more holiday spirit, now's the time to take them out. Change the throw pillows, put out a quilt to snuggle into, even snag a holiday-themed doormat to wipe your boots on.

Do some card tricks.
If you've been hording old holiday cards in a shoe box somewhere, now's the perfect time to haul them out. You can display them, let the kids make mobiles, or even frame your favorites to use as decorations.

Go natural.
Mother Nature is the best decorator of them all. Borrow some of her style by plucking pine cones off the ground and using them as ornaments, spray painting strands of ivy with gold or silver, or snipping off holly tree or evergreen branches to use as interior accents. If you have a tree outside your window, drape strings of popcorn over it and let the birds be lively ornaments!

It's all about the lighting.
If you use candles or string lights during the holidays, don't drown them out with overbearing light from other sources. If you don't have dimmers or three-way bulbs, invest in lower wattage bulbs. You'll certainly have better ambiance, and maybe even a lower electricity bill.

Ornaments can be almost anything.
Don't have a big ornament collection yet? Just looking to add some interest? Start shuffling through your drawers: try cookie cutters, pictures, doilies (look like snow flakes), toys, costume jewelry...the possibilities are endless.

Swap out the accessories.
If you already have knick-knacks strewn across your shelves, holiday decorations can make your home seem really cluttered. Place some of your year-round knick-knacks with new holiday versions. Then, when the season is over (and you finally get around to it), switch the decorations back. They'll feel brand new again!

Mirror, mirror, on the...table?
The holidays are all about bringing light to the darkest time of the year. Mirrors can be a great way to amplify the effect. Try placing little mirrors on the table covered with shimmering confetti. You can also place small candles around them.

Dream up a theme.
Feeling uninspired about decorating this year? Spice it up by thinking of a theme. You could go with snowmen, toyland, old fashioned, different cultures, family memories, Hollywood-you get the idea.

King & Queen Angel Ornaments

• 2 REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures (holiday foils)
• 2 metallic leaves for the wings
• Small bead for head
• Small ring for the halo
• Miscellaneous ribbon or craft wire for the hanger
• Small ribbon for the trim
• White craft glue or low temperature glue gun and glue sticks*
1. Glue two candies together as pictured.
2. Glue the halo on the bead, then glue the bead on the top of the candies.
3. Cut a piece of ribbon or craft wire for hanger and glue to the back of the candy piece.
4. Add the wings to cover the ribbon on the back.
5. Add a small ribbon across the front.
Use Angels to decorate holiday trees and wreaths, as party favors or place an Angel at each dinner table place setting.
Completed craft is for decorative purposes only and candy should not be

Angel Party Favors

• 1 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Chocolates Filled with Caramel
• 2 metallic leaves for the wings
• 1 Bead for the head
• Small ring for the halo
• Miscellaneous ribbon for the bow and hanger
• Glue (low heat gun, non-toxic craft glue, glue stick or confectioners glue)
1. Glue the halo on bead then glue on top of the chocolate.
2. Cut piece of ribbon for hanger and glue to the back of the chocolate.
3. Add the wings to cover the ribbon on the back.
4. Add a bow in the front.
Completed craft is for decorative purposes only and candy should not be eaten.
ENTERTAINING TIP: Make 1 Angel for each guest and place in a small basket or place 1 Angel at each dinner table setting.

Coconut Snowmen

• 4 cups flaked coconut, coarsely chopped
• 3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
• 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 1/4 cup butter, softened
• 1-1/2 cups vanilla or white chips
• 2 packages (11-1/2 ounces each) milk chocolate chips
• 1 package (10-1/2 ounces) large marshmallows
• Black, orange and red decorator icing
• Green leaf-shaped decorator candies
In a large bowl, combine the coconut, confectioners' sugar, milk and butter. Shape into 1-1/4-in. balls; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and chill for 1-1/4 hours or until firm.
In a microwave, melt white or vanilla chips at 70% power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth.
Dip balls in melted chips; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 15 minutes. Set aside remaining melted vanilla chips.
In a microwave, melt semisweet chips on high for about 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth.
For hats, dip each marshmallow in chocolate; place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet, allowing excess to drip down. Swirl the marshmallows in chocolate on waxed paper to create hat brims. Chill until firm, about 15 minutes.
Level the top of coated coconut balls. Attach marshmallows hats, using reserved melted vanilla chips. With black icing, add eyes and a mouth to each face; with orange icing, add a nose. Use red icing and leaf candies for holly on hats. Store in an airtight container. Recipe from Taste Of Home. Yield: 4 dozen.

Candy Cane Blossoms

• 48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Candy Cane Mint Candies
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 egg
• 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons milk
Red or green sugar crystals, granulated sugar or powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Remove wrappers from candies.

2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternately with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in red or green sugar, granulated sugar, powdered sugar or a combination of any of the sugars. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookie is set. Remove from oven; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Press a candy piece into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies

Minty Snowmen

• 1 tablespoon butter, softened
• 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup confectioners' sugar
• 1 drop blue food coloring
• 1 drop yellow food coloring
• 1 drop red food coloring
• Colored sprinkles and cake decorator candies
In a small bowl, combine the butter, corn syrup, extract and salt. Gradually stir in confectioners' sugar. Knead by hand for 1-2 minutes or until mixture becomes pliable.
To 1 tablespoon of dough, add blue food coloring; knead until blended. Add yellow food coloring to another tablespoon of dough and knead. Add red food coloring to another tablespoon of dough and knead. Leave remaining dough white.
Roll white dough into a log; remove one-fourth of the log and set aside. For the snowmen's bodies, divide the remaining log into 8 pieces and roll into balls. For the snowmen's heads, divide the reserved dough into 8 pieces and roll into balls. Stack 1 smaller ball on top of each larger ball. Use the colored dough to form hats, scarves and earmuffs as desired. Use colored sprinkles and candies to make eyes, nose and buttons. Taste of Home recipe.

Peanut Butter Stuffed Brownie

• 1 (19.5 oz.) package Pillsbury® Classic Traditional Fudge Brownie
• 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
• 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 1 large egg
• 1 cup powdered sugar
• 1 cup Jif® Creamy Peanut Butter
• 1/2 can Pillsbury® Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Beat brownie mix, melted butter, cream cheese and egg in medium bowl 50 strokes with spoon until well blended (dough will be sticky).
2. DROP dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets to make 24 cookies; smooth edge of each to form round cookie.
3. MIX powdered sugar and peanut butter in small bowl with spoon until mixture forms a ball. With hands, roll rounded teaspoonfuls peanut butter mixture into 24 balls. Lightly press 1 ball into center of each ball of dough.
4. BAKE 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are set. Cool on cookie sheets at least 30 minutes.
5. SPREAD thin layer of frosting over peanut butter portion of each cooled cookie


Yankee Ridge Primitives said...

This is a great post:)
Love the cocount snowmen, I made them last yr thanks to Taste Of Home, the kids and I had a ball decorating them and the choc covered marshmallows are SO good!!

Boggy Creek Stitches & Loops said...

I love visiting your blog Sue! And those recipes ALL look so yummy! My husband would go crazy for those peanut butter in the middle brownies.....

Debbies Doodle said...

wowo great ideas.. i am going to try the peanut butter blossoms..

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue, thanks for stopping by my blog! Your goodies will be in the mail tomorrow :)
all those cookies look so yummy! the candy cane kisses are to die for!