Mix It Up: Cranberry Cocktails

Mix It Up: Cranberry Cocktails

I love cranberry in just about everything this time of year. Cranberry desserts? Sign me right up for that one. But cranberries are especially perfect in cocktails! There’s something about the sweet tartness that just feels so right during the holidays. Traditionally I’ve always paired it with a good vodka or gin, but this year I’m loving some of the other cranberry cocktail creations popping up. How amazing do cranberry Jell-O shots sound for a get together with friends? Or paired with pomegranate and champagne for New Year’s Eve? Delicious! Here are my picks for three ways to mix it up with cranberry cocktails this holiday season. Enjoy!

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[Cranberry cocktails | 1: Cranberry ginger vanilla margaritas from How Sweet It Is | 2: Pomegranate-Cranberry Sparklers from Freutcake | 3: Cranberry Jell-O shots from A Beautiful Mess.]

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10 Best DIY Faux Christmas Trees

10 Best DIY Faux Christmas Trees

It’s no real secret that I’m a Christmas tree junkie. Finding that perfect tree and decking it out in the corner of the living room is such a joy for me. But let’s face it – not everyone has the space for a full-sized tree in their home. Also, let’s be real for a minute. Christmas trees aren’t cheap, friends! Which is where today’s round-up of DIY faux Christmas trees come into play! Whether made from washi tape, twigs or tissue paper, these trees are a lovely way to bring the Christmas spirit into your home while being perfect for small spaces and small budgets. (Or maybe you just want to surprise the kids with a tree of their very own in their room? These are perfect for that, too!)

Ready to kick up the holiday cheer a few notches? Click through for 10 of the best DIY faux Christmas trees and soon you’ll be decking the halls in style!

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DIY Wooden Gift Tags

by Caitlin, Marla and Manda of The Merrythought

DIY Wooden Gift Tags

DIY Wooden Gift Tags DIY Wooden Gift Tags

Only a couple more weeks until Christmas, which means it’s time to start thinking about wrapping up those presents that are hoarded away in our closets! It’s always tempting to just grab a marker and scribble a name across those just-wrapped packages but these quick and easy gift tags will add the perfect touch to any present.

DIY Wooden Gift Tags

  • Birch plywood or basswood (I found mine at Michael’s)
  • Pencil
  • Sharp scissors or utility knife
  • Drill
  • String or twine
  • Wood grain contact paper (optional)

DIY Wooden Gift Tags

Using your pencil, begin by sketching out the design you want on the back of the wood. Keep in the mind, the simpler your design the easier it will be to cut out later.

DIY Wooden Gift Tags

With scissors or a sharp utility craft knife, carefully cut along the lines. When selecting your materials, consider that birch plywood is better for smaller or more detailed designs.

DIY Wooden Gift Tags

At the top of your cut-out shape, drill a small hole. Thread with string or twin, pull through, and tie the ends together. For an extra touch, you can also add wood grain contact paper to your gift tags or try painting them!

DIY Wooden Gift Tags

DIY Wooden Gift Tags DIY Wooden Gift Tags

DIY Wooden Gift Tags

[Photos by The Merrythought for The Sweetest Occasion.]

The fine print: Please link with love! As with all of our posts, DIY projects featured on The Sweetest Occasion may not be copied, distributed or reproduced without express written permission. Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share this post, please link to this post directly for the DIY tutorial and do not include the instructions in your own post. Thanks so much! xoxo

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Color Palette: Balsam + Holly

Sooo, it’s probably not even a little bit of a surprise that I’m still loving me a pretty holiday color palette. Only this one, while still infused with classic Christmas season colors, is a little different than the last one. This week has been darker and moodier outside. We’re expecting another snow storm over the next few days and the clouds show every indication of that. It’s the kind of wintery darkness that by February will feel tiring, but still feels fresh and exciting here in the first weeks of December. I think I should don a wreath of holly berries and go frolic through the woods. Anyone want to come along for an adventure?

Color Palette: Balsam + Holly

[Photos, from top: The Merrythought | Bethany Marie Photography | My Name is Yeh.]

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DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

This post was sponsored by Air Wick. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that so
generously help The Sweetest Occasion keep on keepin’ on!

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

The first time I tasted roasted chestnuts I was walking through Manhattan on a cold winter evening with a friend. Having just finished a bit of holiday shopping, we passed by a street vendor with a cart literally wafting the aroma of warm, roasted chestnuts down the block. Turns out, we couldn’t resist picking up a little paper sack of our own to try. Can I tell you a secret? Roasted chestnuts are some kind of amazing! Ever since then I’ve been hooked. My latest collaboration with Air Wick (designed to bring you six holiday DIY ideas) was inspired by Air Wick’s Cinnamon Roasted Chestnuts fragrance, which for me brings back that moment. Standing on a corner in New York, delighting in the taste and smell of those delicious roasted chestnuts. In that spirit, today we’re talking about creating a gorgeous holiday mantel, one filled with the smells and sights of Christmas – lined with golden nutcrackers and accented with chestnuts and pine cones!

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

  • Unfinished wood nutcrackers in various sizes
  • Metallic gold spray paint
  • Fresh chestnuts
  • Assorted holiday decorations (think ornaments, garlands, etc.)

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

Easy is as easy does and today we’re keeping it simple! To start you’ll need a handful of unfinished wood nutcrackers. I opted to go with five nutcrackers for my mantel, three large and two small. (Mine are approximately 10″ and 7″ tall respectively.) Give each of your nutcrackers a gilded finish with a few light coats of metallic gold spray paint. (My favorite is Rust-Oleum Specialty Metallic in Metallic Gold.) Rotate them as you go to ensure even coverage on all sides and in all the nooks and crannies, then allow them to dry completely.

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

Once your nutcrackers are painted and dry, it’s time to start decorating your mantel! (If you don’t have a mantel in your home, this will look great along a sideboard or credenza, too.) To add a bit of texture I first ran a length of burlap fabric from the floral section of Michaels along the mantel, allowing it to fall several feet down either side of the fireplace. Next up, I played with the arrangement of the nutcrackers, opting to keep them toward the middle so they’d be the star of the show. A couple of gold glitter garlands swagged along the front of the mantel gave it just the right bit of shimmer and glam.

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

An easy styling tip for a holiday mantel is to frame everything out with a bit of height on either end. I selected two small pine tree topiaries for either side, topping each of them with a little gold glitter bow that I scored at a local dollar store. Then I nestled the gold leaf pine cone garland that I made last holiday season along the mantel to add an extra touch of texture and fun. Thinking about those roasted chestnuts I love so much, I scattered a handful of chestnuts along the length of the mantel alongside the pine cones. I thought it was the perfect extra touch, giving the look an essence of the warm, wintery scent of roasted chestnuts that was the very inspiration for the mantel decor.

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

As you’re working along, don’t forget you’ll need something hanging above your mantel to bring everything together. I went with a pretty wreath studded with pinecones and holly berries, but you could also use a large mirror, especially if you already have one hanging above your mantel. A pretty glass bowl filled with an assortment of shimmery gold and red ornaments was the crowning touch – just that little extra hint of color and shine that ties all the other elements together. For my mantel, I really wanted to keep the look limited to a combination of metallic gold and rustic elements, an ode to the things that most make me think of Christmas and that night in New York, nibbling on roasted chestnuts with the chill of winter biting at our cheeks. Switch up the colors and elements as you see fit and you really can’t go wrong!

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

DIY Golden Nutcracker + Chestnut Holiday Mantel

And there you have it, friends! A super festive holiday mantel perfect sure to bring the spirit of the holiday season to your home. This is so easy to do – just gather a bunch of pretty holiday decorations to pair with your nutcrackers and chestnuts, and spend an hour or so arranging and tweaking things until you have a look that you love.

[Design + styling by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion. | Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]

Sources -

Nutcrackers from Hobby Lobby
Mini Christmas trees from Target
Ornaments from Pottery Barn (some are vintage)
Burlap material from Michaels
Gold leaf pine cone garland – DIY tutorial
Confetti garland from Glitter & Grain
Cinnamon Roasted Chestnut fragrance by Air Wick

This post is a collaboration with Air Wick. For more homemade holiday ideas, follow along on Facebook! Read more about our editorial policies.

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