December 19, 2013 | by cyd
I’m a full on fan of homemade Christmas gifts! Each year I make a point of including a number of homemade gifts among the treasures I wrap up to stow away under tree. Whether it’s as simple as a mason jar packed with yummy biscotti or DIY aftershave with fragrances picked to suit the gentleman receiving it, I just think little homemade touches make the holidays feel incredibly special. Today I’m sharing 25 homemade holiday gift ideas with you – ranging from sweet little trinkets to more sizeable projects that you’ll have a joy tackling.
Click through for 25 homemade Christmas gifts and be sure to follow along over at Pinterest! I’m constantly adding to my Homemade Holiday Gifts board, which is actually perfect for gift giving all year long, too. Happy gifting!
December 19, 2013 | by cyd
It’s really taking me by surprise that Christmas is next week. Next week! I know we’ve been talking about the food and the gifts and the parties for weeks now, but somehow it still found a way to sneak right up on me. I’m so excited that today Andrea, Samantha and Jade and Matthew are here with a couple of perfect holiday recipes for you! We’re talking the perfect boozy Christmas egg nog and linzer cookies. (Side note – I am obsessed with linzer cookies!) If you’re hosting friends this weekend, this combination is the perfect pairing for a casual Christmas gathering or it makes the sweetest little treat on Christmas Eve. Have you ever had real egg nog before? If not, give this recipe a try. It’s a winner!
by Matthew McCully
- 6 eggs separated
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup spiced rum (or bourbon if you prefer)
- 1/2 cup brandy
- Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Whisk egg yolks until light yellow and creamy. Add sugar, salt, vanilla and mix to combine. Add alcohol and milk. This mixture can be made up to 5 hours ahead, covered, and refrigerated. When its time to enjoy whip both heavy cream and egg whites separately until soft peaks form in each. Fold in egg whites and heavy cream to pre-made alcohol mixture. Less whipped cream and more milk can be used to make the mixture thinner. Sprinkle top with a little fresh grated nutmeg, cinnamon…or both!
by Samantha Sanford
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups slivered almonds
- 1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp dark rum
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup seedless jam (Raspberry is great!)
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Pulse flour, almonds, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (no larger than poppy seeds). Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg; beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Beat in rum and vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients. Beat dough just to blend; gently knead if necessary to form a ball. Divide dough in half. Place each half between sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Working with 1 piece at a time, flatten dough into a disk; roll dough, occasionally lifting paper on both sides for easier rolling, until 1/8 inches thick. Chill dough in paper until very firm, at least 2 hours. Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.
Arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 375°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Working with one dough disk at a time, remove top sheet of paper and, using 2-inch star cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer to baking sheets, placing 1/2 inch apart; chill. Repeat with remaining dough. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, chilling, and cutting until dough is used. Using 1/2-inch star cookie cutter, cut out a star from the center of half the cookies. Working in batches, bake cookies until light golden brown, dry, and just firm to the touch, 11-13 minutes. (Cookies will firm up as they cool.) Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.
Bring jam and 1 teaspoon water to a boil in a small saucepan; let cool slightly. Arrange whole cookies flat side up. Spoon 1 teaspoon cooled jam in the center of each, dabbing slightly to spread. Arrange cookies with cutouts flat side down on a wire rack; dust with powdered sugar. Set atop whole cookies, lining up star points and allowing jam to push up slightly through center.
Note: Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
[Styling by Andrea Harper of Gray Harper Event Maker | Photos by Jade + Matthew Take Pictures.]
December 18, 2013 | by cyd
by Caitlin, Marla and Manda of The Merrythought
I know it’s hard to believe, but 2014 is really just a couple weeks away! Time to think about a pretty new wall calendar for your home – or just a fun present to give next week!
- Calendar graphic (Download ours here)
- Iron-on fabric transfer
- Fabric paint
- Paint brush
- Wooden dowel 3/8″ x 36″
- Hot glue gun
Cut a 15″ x 21″ piece out of your linen and iron flat. If you don’t want raw edges in your fabric, use fray check along the edges or sew a thin hem along each side. I decided to leave mine with the frayed edges showing for a little more of a natural feel. Print out your calendar dates (download it here) on an iron-on fabric transfer. Lay out the design of your calendar, leaving room for months, year, and any design you want, and then iron the months in place. You can leave them in a bunch or cut each one out individually.
Now you can sketch out the months, year, and additional designs with a pencil and then use a paint brush and fabric paint to paint over the pencil. Let dry. Cut your wooden dowel into two 16.5″ pieces. Sand the ends smooth. Use the hot glue gun to glue a dowel to the top and bottom of the calendar. Tie a string to each side of the dowel on the top side of the calendar.
And that’s it! A beautiful calendar for hanging or gifting. Happy a safe, happy holiday, friends!
[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
December 18, 2013 | by cyd
This post was sponsored by Nespresso. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that so generously help
The Sweetest Occasion keep the jingle bells a-ringin’ all season long!
I’m probably not alone when I say that my favorite part of the holidays is spending time with family and friends. Whether it be fixing a feast for sixteen of our nearest and dearest (which is going down Christmas day at our house) or a flurry of little hands constructing gingerbread houses, it’s the people that are the cornerstone of celebrating the holidays. One thing we’re both passionate about, B and I love inviting over friends and family this time of year. We have so much fun planning the menu (a job we take quite seriously, I must admit) and taste testing recipes leading up to the big celebration. Our parties always revolve around the tastes of the season, with food and drink aplenty. On Christmas Day I’m planning a cocoa station for the kiddos and a full-out espresso bar and prosecco bar for the grown ups. And the food? The quantity of food is going to be record breaking.
Nespresso recently sent me one of their Pixie espresso machines to try out and I have to say – we’re in love! The tiny size makes it perfect for our teensy kitchen and I love being able to make espresso and lattes on the fly during the day while I’m working. Combined with the Aeroccino milk steamer/frother, this little guy had me feeling like a barista in no time. Want to see it in action? B and I tackled our first stop motion video about a month ago for another project I was working on and I couldn’t resist a video today to show off my love for this little powerhouse, which will no doubt be playing a starring role in our upcoming holiday celebrations. You just pop in one of Nespresso’s delicious coffee capsules, push a button and watch it do it’s thing.
Oh yeah, that’s right. Guess what? Nespresso is giving one away to one of you, too! One reader is going to win a prize package from Nespresso worth over $400. (Woot woot!) The winner will receive the same Nespresso Pixie and Aeroccino they sent me plus a whole bunch of their tasty coffees to test out. Pretty sweet, huh? Just trust me when I say, you’re going to have to forcefully remove yourself from the presence of this little guy from time to time because slurping down those delicious espressos one after another is way too easy.
PRIZE: (1) Nespresso Pixie + Aerocinno prize package (with a sampling of coffee, too!)
TO ENTER: We’re using Rafflecopter to organize this giveaway. See the form below for details on entering. There’s up to 15 chances to win!
GIVEAWAY ENDS: Wednesday, December 25th at 11:59pm EST
NOTE: I apologize but this giveaway is open to US readers only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
[Photos + video by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
This post was sponsored by Nespresso. Read more about our editorial policies.
December 17, 2013 | by cyd
I finished up a huge chunk of our remaining holiday shopping yesterday and it felt pretty awesome. As much as I love plotting out gifts, shopping, crafting and wrapping (I sincerely do), at a certain point it all starts to feel a touch stressful. We’re down to just a few last little gifts to pick up, one last shipment to make to family afar, and a final handful of stocking stuffers. I love stockings! Both B and I have moms who stuff some pretty amazing stockings, which is a love I definitely inherited from my own mother. My favorites are quirky little things you never knew you always wanted, pretty sparkly bits of jewelry and lovely bath and body goods that you might never think to buy for yourself. Below are a handful of picks for those lucky stocking recipients in your life, young and old.
If you’re still on the hunt for those perfect gifts for everyone on your list, just a heads up that many online retailers are still offering shipping in time for Christmas. In fact, a lot of them are offering shipping deals to sweeten the pot! All of the stocking stuffers above can still be received in time for the holidays and many are things you can pick up locally if you’re not feeling like another online order. Oh, and if you missed any of the gift guide action, be sure to check out my picks for hostess gifts, gifts for kids and teens, gifts for guys and gifts for her.
1: Rosewater hand creme, $14 | 2: Washi tape, $9 | 3: Rum Bay aftershave balm, $19.50 | 4: Tattly temporary tattoos, $5 | 5: Leather whiskey tags, $4.95 | 6: Brass comb, $27 | 7: Finishing sea salt, $12.95 | 8: Troll doll, $9.95 | 9: Knee-heart tights, $14.50 | 10: Scented colored pencils, $15.95 | 11: Baby Lips lip balm, $2.99 | 12: Instant Snow can, $4.95 | 13: Boys camp socks, $10 | 14: Leather and rhinestone bracelet, $10 | 15: Lollia mini perfume, $9 | 16: Mini notebook trio, $3.99 | 17: Dipped triad studs, $18 | 18: Slim Sonic toothbrush, $14.95