Each year when I host my cookie exchange I always try and come up with a fun and festive drink to welcome all the guests.  A few weeks before the party a girlfriend and I had gone for dinner and drinks and ordered a couple French Gimlets with vodka instead of gin and joked about how I should make French Gimlets for the party. Two days before the party I decided to do a Christmas French Gimlet. It’s the perfect holiday drink with a little bit of sweet, a lot of Christmas color, and just the right kick to get you into the holiday spirit. That evening I served Christmas French Gimlets along with Champagne and my favorite drink accessory of all time, sugared cranberries which are so incredibly simple to make yet make any cocktail festive. Enjoy and I’d love to know your favorite holiday cocktails.

Cranberry Juice

Fresh Sugared Cranberries

Champagne

Vodka

St. Germain

I wish I could tell you specific measurements but honestly, who measures. I just pour each into a glass based off the persons preference and garnish with cranberries, oranges, and Rosemary. However, be careful how much St. Germain you add or it can be a little too flowery tasting, don’t add more than 2 ounces.

Happy Christmas Cocktailing.

SHOP THE POST:

We are big book lovers in our house from coffee table books to cook books to kid books. Each of us has a section(some more than others) on our bookshelf full of our favorite picture books, series, and in betweens. Sadly, I don’t read a lot of books like I used to, mostly due to not enough time in the day. However, you can always find me looking at coffee table books for inspiration or cookbooks for a new recipe to make. London loves books and is constantly wanting to read and is very into spelling out words in books these days. Nathan is a bookworm and is always reading, and I envy how much time he has to read a book. He reads every night before bed and is always searching for something new to read. He actually requested a little book nook in the living room where we put a Leather Wingback Chair, floor lamp, and the bar table is within close proximity. He loves to come home, pour a cocktail, and sit in his book nook. Some nights I find him and London curled up there together reading and it is the cutest sight. This time of year especially, books are one of those gifts I feel everyone loves to receive, and I am always looking for new places to pick one up. I buy most of them from Anthropologie, the local art museum, local toy stores, antique stores, and Amazon. I’ve rounded up a few favorites and a few which are on the wish list. I’d love to know about any books on your list.

 

 

There’s no secret that I love a fabulous cheese platter and with all the holiday gatherings this time of year the cheese platter is the easiest accessory to have on hand. I often joke with friends that if I could be a professional cheese platter maker that I would. I wanted to share some tips and tricks I’ve learned when putting these together to help out with your next gathering.

1.Grab any tray or platter you have, I actually used a large wood tray here and put down parchment paper so the cheese and apricots wouldn’t stick to the bottom. I used another cheese board for a larger piece of brie which I also served. I’ve picked up several boards from Target, Home Goods, and Pottery Barn. I like to have different sizes on hand for the number of people I am entertaining.

2. When it comes to cheese selection this can vary depending on each person’s preference. Cheese can get quite expensive but you don’t have to go overboard to please everyone. I normally buy all my cheese from Trader Joe’s as they have a wide selection at reasonable prices. I’ve also bought cheese from Costco when I have a larger crowd. One secret for Whole Foods is to check the bin in the cheese section with leftover cheese that isn’t cut correctly, it’s usually less than $4 or $5 for a small block.

3. The recommendation is usually to have a soft, creamy one such as Brie or Camembert; a firmer cheese such as Cheddar, Gouda, or Gruyère; and a hard grate style such as Parmigiano. Sometimes, I also have a Boursin which is usually a crowd favorite. Take the cheese out about 30-45 minutes before your party so it’s at room temperature and easier to slice. On this cheese platter I also cute out a few pieces in a star shape to make it more festive.

4. For garnishes you can use whatever appeals to you. I usually choose apricots, marcona almonds(I buy these from Trader Joe’s), olives, apples, Proscuitto, grapes, and olives.

5. As a side cracker I will have water crackers and these fig and olive crisps from Trader Joe’s which accompany any platter nicely. Sometimes I’ll slice up a baguette as well especially with brie.

6. Lastly, to make this platter more festive, I threw on a few Rosemary garnishes on the side.

P.S. I am calling this Festive Friday and hope to have a few more recipes for you all during the next coming Friday’s. Why not, it’s the holidays after all.

PHOTOS BY: SHANLEY COX

Every year when Christmas comes along, I find myself wanting to incorporate different colors into our decor. Last year, I was mostly gold and cream but this year I kept gravitating back toward Red. It’s not a color I would normally decorate with, but it seemed so appropriate for this time of year.  I found little ways to incorporate the color with items I already had around the house with the exception of a few things. I pulled several books from the bookshelves like A Kitchen In France, Ralph Lauren, and French Essence and spread them out on the coffee table, on the bar, and in the kitchen. I also pulled out some old coffee mugs I bought a few years ago, and picked up some Santa ones from the Target dollar bin this year. I’ve picked up several inexpensive bouquets from Trader Joe’s which included red blooms and spread them throughout the different rooms. I added some inexpensive red cocktail napkins to the bar and also put out my Paris Cocktail Book for a little French festivity. Red is also showing up in my wardrobe as well with a few recent purchases of this plaid shirt, pajama bottoms, and earrings. I’ve included everything in the post plus a few other red items I am loving this Christmas. Next week, I hope to have a holiday tour of our house, a new festive cocktail recipe, and a holiday play list.  Happy Thursday.

How can it already be December and the last month of the year? This year has seriously flown by and I am not sure where the time has gone but the holidays are upon us and we are in full swing. I have to say that I am very much in the spirit this year. Last year we were still in construction mode on the house, so I didn’t really feel like decorating much but I am definitely making up for it this year. I plan on doing a home holiday tour later this week so stay tuned. One of my favorite things about Christmas are all the traditions we’ve formed over the past couple of years as a family. Christmas to me is really more about being with friends and family than shopping and giving presents(although I do love this as well). I wanted to share a few of our favorite family traditions with you and I’d love to hear your favorite ones as well.

We always start the first weekend right after Thanksgiving(no early decorating in this house), London writes her letter to Santa of all the items she’s wishing for and we start making Gingerbread houses that day as well. This was actually the first year she could write the whole letter by herself and did an amazing job. There’s nothing better than pajamas, coffee, and Christmas music all weekend.

I grew up going with my family to a local tree farm and cutting it down and we’ve carried on that tradition with London. She gets so excited to pick out the tree she wants and it’s so special being able to take her back to this same farm that I shared so many memories with my family.

My mom bought this elf for London last year and hence the Elf on The Shelf tradition started. Thankfully Nathan is in charge of this every night because I would forget to move her and she’d be in the same place every morning. Our ideas are pretty basic but Pinterest is an Elf lovers dream if you need some ideas. I don’t have the energy or time for all of that.

Our favorite popcorn store has Christmas tins every year filled with cheese, caramel, and cinnamon, so we go down every year and pick out a new tin to snack on over the month. This is a Kansas City tradition I know for lots of families.

For the past six years I have hosted a cookie exchange to kick off the Season(with the exception of last year). It’s always such a fun way to get everyone in the spirit. There’s nothing better than a ladies night with wine, great appetizers, and lots of cookies.