December 24, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
This morning we woke up, made coffee and while B made breakfast for us, I finished up a bit of last minute wrapping. We have some things we want to tackle around the house before we have family over tomorrow in the evening for cocktails, cocoa and hors d’oeuvres, but mostly we are trying to take today to settle into the Christmas spirit. We’re meeting my father and sister out for one of those famed Tom and Jerrys we love so much in a couple of hours and then from there it’s off to my mother’s where she and my stepfather always pull out all the stops on Christmas Eve. I’ll be taking the next few days off, but I’ll be back on Monday when we’ll talk about really fun things like what you got for Christmas (if you celebrate) and how we’re all going to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Sound cool? I thought so, too. From my family to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas! I hope you are surrounded with love, give and receive lots of good hugs, and spend at least part of the day in cozy pajama pants. xoxo
[Photo from John Lewis.]
December 23, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
Things are starting to wind down around here as we head into Christmas in a couple days, but today I’m excited to share with you this super cute printable Christmas art print! Designed by Carolynn of Two Brunettes to accompany the printables from our gift wrapping party, this art print makes the perfect last minute gift idea. Just print it and stick it in a simple frame and you’re done! It’s also a fun way to add a little extra holiday cheer to your decor before Santa comes to visit. Don’t forget you can find the coordinating printable gift wrap and gift tags right here!
Click here to download! The printable is a PDF, which you can open and print using Adobe Acrobat. Then just print onto paper or card stock (I find that card stock works particularly well for framing), trim and tuck into a frame.
[Photos by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion | Printable design by Two Brunettes.]
The fine print: As with all of our printables, these designs are provided for personal non-commercial use only and may not be distributed or sold in any fashion. Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share them, please link to this post directly and do not host the file yourself. Thanks so much! xoxo
December 22, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Kendall-Jackson. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that so
generously help The Sweetest Occasion keep on keepin’ on!
Last week I hosted an impromptu gift wrapping party and invited a couple of my best friends to spend an afternoon with me wrapping gifts, sipping wine and stuffing ourselves with Christmas cookies. It was, in a word, amazing. I swear there is nothing like hanging out with some of your favorite people in the universe while wrapping Christmas presents to make you feel full up with all the merry and happy feelings. Today I’m sharing our gift wrapping party to inspire you to host a fun little impromptu gathering of your own! Yes, Christmas is only a few days away. Yes, you know you still have loads of wrapping to do. Yes, these things are always more festive when done in the company of others. Shoot your best buds a text, grab a couple of bottles of wine on the way home from work and do this!
To get started, I put together a collection of fun gift wraps, tags, bows, greenery, ribbon and twine so we had everything we needed to wrap up our packages real pretty-like. Alternately, you can host this as a BYOW party. (That’s bring your own wrap if you didn’t catch what I did there.) Just be sure to have lots of tape and a few pairs of scissors! Then I hit up Wegmans, the epicenter of all things delicious, and raided the bakery for a big box of their amazing Christmas cookies. Add in a few bottles of K-J AVANT wine and we were all set for a really great afternoon. All three varieties are spot on (I’m partial to the chardonnay) and make the perfect addition to those spur of the moment get togethers. Last thing – don’t forget the Christmas music! That’s absolutely not optional.
To make our packages feel even more festive, Carolynn of Two Brunettes (who is also one of my favorite people in the universe) and I worked together to put together some amazing free holiday printables for you! We’re talking gift wrap in two sizes and cool, oversized gift tags that are my latest obsession. You can visit the Kendall-Jackson blog to snag those goodies for free and then all you have to do is download, print, cut and start wrapping! We were also joined for the afternoon by my best friend, Lewis, who rocks a pretty incredible beard. If you don’t have a friend with a killer beard, it’s totally ok. Your party will stop be awesome, I promise.
In all sincerity, this afternoon was one of my favorite days in recent history. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day, especially during the holidays, and forget to get together with the friends who add so much joy to our lives. Spending a day with Lewis and Carolynn was everything I needed to make my heart feel really really good. I’m personally resolving to make these kinds of fun, impromptu gatherings with friends a much more regular occurrence in the coming year, even when I think I don’t have time. Because there is always, always time for friends, laughter, wine and cookies. (Which is basically a list of all my favorite things in life, just saying.)
Don’t forget to visit the Kendall-Jackson blog where you can download the printables you see here in this post. If you use them this holiday season, be sure to tag me (@thesweetestoccasion) and Kendall-Jackson (@kjwines) on Instagram so we can take a look! You’d probably be embarrassed for me if you knew how happy it makes me to see what you guys are making, sipping, and eating. Now go give a friend a hug.
[Photos, design + styling by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion | Printables by Two Brunettes.]
This post was sponsored by Kendall-Jackson. Read more about our editorial policies.
December 18, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Georges Duboeuf. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that so
generously help The Sweetest Occasion keep on keepin’ on!
Some of you may remember that last year we hosted nearly thirty people for Christmas dinner. While we’re not going all out in quite that fashion this year, we are hosting family and friends at our home on Christmas evening. Which is why today I’m sharing a few delicious and easy holiday dinner appetizers with you! Whether you’re just inviting a small handful of friends over for wine and snacks at some point this holiday season or hosting the whole extended family, these yummy little bites will keep the hunger at bay without dramatically increasing your workload in the kitchen. We love that! Plus, if you’re preparing a big dinner, having wine and snacks for nibbling on at the ready takes the pressure off a bit as you’re finishing up the meal. Win-win!
Here I paired my favorite spinach balls (which are basically super delicious vegetarian-friendly bite-sized balls of awesome) with a very simple cheeseboard and fresh roasted chestnuts. Open up a bottle of Georges Duboeuf Beajoulais Nouveau, and you’re ready for guests in a flash. The spinach balls are deceptively delicious and they’re perfect for preparing in advance. You can mix them up and prep everything several days beforehand and then freeze them. From the freezer, just pop them right onto a baking sheet (no need to thaw), bake them and you’re in business! When I made this batch to share with you, more than half of them went right into the freezer so I can pull them out on Christmas. That’s my kind of entertaining, just saying. I like to the serve them with sriracha aioli on the side. You can use your favorite pre-made aioli and just add a dash of sriarcha, more or less to suit your taste, and it makes the easiest, quickest dipping sauce ever.
Makes approximately 60
- (2) 10 oz. packages of frozen, chopped spinach
- 1 medium white onion finely diced
- 3 cloves of fresh minced garlic
- 6 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 3 cups seasoned stuffing bread
- ¾ cup melted butter
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt + pepper to taste
Begin by preparing the spinach according to the package directions in salted water. Drain, cool, and squeeze out all of the liquid. Melt the butter over low heat, then transfer to a mixing bowl and combine with all ingredients except the eggs. Once combined, add the eggs and mix well. Let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.
Form into balls roughly 1/2″ in size. Bake at 350° for 20 – 25 minutes on a lightly greased baking sheet until slightly golden brown on top. Alternately, prepare in advance to bake later! To do so, place the balls on a very lightly greased baking sheet in the freezer for approximately 1 hour. Then transfer to a freezer bag or container and place back in the freezer until you’re ready to bake. To bake from frozen, remove from the freezer and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 325° for approximately 1 hour or until slightly golden on top.
Preheat oven to 350°. Then, begin by using a sharp knife to make a cut around the width of each chestnut. You want to just go through the shell and cut most of the way around the shell, without cutting it all the way around. Place chestnuts in a single layer in a cast iron skillet or shallow baking dish. You can lightly drizzle the chestnuts with a bit of good olive oil and a pinch of coarse sea salt if you’d like, but it’s not necessary. Roast at 350° for 30 – 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. While still warm, remove the shells and enjoy!
- Crackers and/or crostini bread
- 1 – 2 dried fruits (cranberries, figs, apricots, etc.)
- 1 – 2 hard cheeses
- 1 – 2 soft cheeses
- Nuts (almonds are always my go-to)
Select a pretty platter, cheese or cutting board. Arrange cheeses, crackers, dried fruit and nuts in a fashion that pleases you. Serve! I told you this was easy.
If you’re not familiar with Beajoulais Nouveau, it’s a special wine with a pretty awesome holiday tradition. Under French law, each year at 12:01 on the third Thursday in November, Beaujolais Nouveau wine is uncorked and big, glamorous celebrations ensue. It marks the start of the holiday season with a bang! I’m a huge fan, because it’s a rich, red wine that’s fruity and light enough to appeal to a wide range of wine drinkers. It’s best served slightly chilled and it pairs beautifully with cheese, of course, and these spinach balls I love so much. Plus, it just tastes festive. And, yes, you know wine can taste festive. With a bottle of the good stuff and these quick and delicious appetizers in your party-hosting arsenal you can’t go wrong.
[Photos, recipes + styling by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
This post was sponsored by Georges Duboeuf. Read more about our editorial policies.
December 17, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
I can’t believe it, but today we’re wrapping up The Gift Guide for this year, and we’re talking about stocking stuffers! Currently these retailers all still have shipping options available to get you your goodies in time for Christmas. That said, most of these are also available locally if you want to snag them in person. Stocking stuffers are my favorite gifts to give and receive. They’re just those awesome little extra gifts that are so fun to open. Stockings are the perfect place to stash the gifts that are bit more quirky, unique or humorous. They’re also perfect for hiding away tiny little luxuries that you know your family will love. There are picks here for the ladies, the gents, kids and teens. Of course, don’t forget the orange in the toe! In our house we honor that classic Christmas tradition and the kiddos know to expect it each year. So, spill the beans. What are your favorite stocking stuffers to give or receive?
p.s. If you missed them, be sure to check out my picks for hostess gifts, fabulous gifts for inlaws, awesome gifts for guys, pretty gifts for girls, fun gifts for boys and lovely gifts for her!
[Stocking Stuffers | 1: Henri Bendel earbuds | 2: Kate Spade iPhone case | 3: Too Faced Melted lipstick | 4: Naked 2 Basics palette | 5: Kiehl’s Men’s Starter Kit | 6: Coal gum | 7: Sriracha 2Go | 8: Steakhouse rub | 9: Sephora mini eye brush capsule | 10: Star earrings | 11: Mobile charger | 12: Eos lip balm | 13: Geometric Band-Aids | 14: Yeti socks | 15: Bamboozler puzzle | 16: Elastic hair bands | 17: Mixology dice | 18: Burt’s Bees lip balm | 19: Travel tumbler | 20: Tattly floral temporary tattoo set.]
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