Wednesday, December 10, 2008

chic holiday ideas to add a bit of spice

Pretty packaging
Presentation is everything. Make sure the neighbors reach for your sweets first. These cookie boxes are from Martha Stewart, about $15 for sets of six at Michaels and

Star bright
Pair craft-paper stars and shiny red lanterns for vintage-style holiday-centerpiece flair.

Treat board
Let your guests take their treats to go. Post this treat board by the front door and send everyone home with a smile. To make, wrap a piece of cardboard or foam-core poster board with paper or fabric. Fill cellophane treat bags from Cost Plus World Market with goodies, visit for store locations. Cut strips of pretty paper to fit over the tops of the bags, secure with a staple and add a knot of ribbon on top. Use straight pins to secure the bags to the board.
Ho Ho Ho!
Make your own favor boxes inspired by Santa's hat. Start with white pyramid paper boxes from Paper Source, $4 for five. Use them as a template and cut boxes out of red paper or break out some red spray paint, like we did. Fill with the treat of your choice. For the fur trim, cut a marabou feather boa from Michaels, $1.99, into short pieces and secure to the box with a straight pin. For the white ball on top, use a white-berry craft pick from Michaels, and cut off individual berries, leaving a short wire stem, and insert into the box.

Delish delivery
Pack up your homemade cookies in style. These Martha Stewart gingerbread-house boxes are $9.99 for six at Michaels and

Topiaried treats
We love the look of these homemade meringue topiaries, as if Hansel and Gretel were coming for dinner. They're deceptively easy to construct. Buy plastic-foam topiary forms from Michaels, $3.99 to $7.99, and mix up a batch of royal icing. Use the frosting like glue to paste store-bought meringue cookies onto the form in rows, going around the base of the topiary form and moving up. Here's a tip: The topiaries will have one unsightly side — a “back” where there are empty spaces the cookies can't fill. So think mantelpiece, not centerpiece. Find meringue cookies at Trader Joe's, $2.99 per container. These required three containers.

Frozen dessert
That's right, this gorgeous pastry is from the freezer section at Trader Joe's. It's called a cannele, is a symbol of French chic and requires only that you defrost, garnish and serve, $4.99 for six. We tucked snowflake-shaped paper coasters beneath the plates for a bit of Christmas fun, $5 for 10 at Paper Source.

Dessert under a dome
Wouldn't you love to present each guest a dessert dressed like this? We found this small glass domed pedestal at Pottery Barn, $14, and again raided the frozen treats at Trader Joe's. This dessert is creamy Italian panna cotta, $2.99 for two, topped with fresh raspberries and pomegranate seeds. For Pottery Barn store locations, visit

Set the table
Dreaming up the perfect place setting is practically our holiday obsession. We topped a striped linen cloth with a red damask plate. A tiny, preserved-boxwood wreath dressed up with ribbon and a place card adds Christmas panache. The red napkin is $2.95 at Crate and Barrel, visit for store locations.

Sips of bliss
Mini peppermint milkshakes? Yes, please. Mix peppermint ice cream and milk in your blender, throw in a few candy canes and serve in tiny cordial glasses.
  • 5 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1.5 cup milk
  • 5 large peppermint patties
  • Peppermint sticks
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with peppermint sticks. Then, call me!

Napkin niceties
Tuck a sprig of rosemary into guests' napkins. It's a scent of the season, piney and warm, and will set mouths watering.

5-minute floral
For an arrangement that's instantly chic, cut tulips so that the base of the flower is even with the lip of your vase, and fill it with flowers.

Ideas and pictures compliments of

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Chrissy said...

Oh, how nice! Thanks for the ideas. All simple but elegant. And mini peppermint milkshakes sound delicious...

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

wOW--you wrote and styled this whole post yourself? Where do you find the time?

Lylah said...

Oh gosh's from the azcentral. But thanks anyway. Suppose i should make that clearer. :-)

Merry Christmas to you!

Melissa said...

I do have to say that was beautiful. I dream of doing stuff like this for my family in that manner, but I still do this in a way that I can right here and now. Its hard for me to look at these wonderful posts of yours and not feel like I missing something, but then I think of what they've inspired me to do or live right here and now and feel so blessed. Thanks for helping me restore some dignity in my homelife Lylah!!! This is a blessing. :o)

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

What a beautiful post, filled with great ideas. I'm really excited about that peppermint milkshake. I love peppermint and I love ice cream, so this looks like a winner to me! Thanks! -Julia :-)