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Tri-County News Supplement • Thursday, November 17, 2016

4 ways to make holiday portraits shine Take a look at your family. How many changes have crept in since last year? And one year from now, when it is time to send out holiday cards again, think about how much more they will have changed. Sending a family photograph as your holiday card is one way to share with your friends and loved ones the joy and pride your family makes you feel. But more importantly, as the years pass, the holiday memories within these pictures will become more and more precious. It certainly is easy enough to have a friend snap some pictures on a smartphone and print off a stack of copies with a pre-designed template. But if you take the idea a couple of steps further, booking a session with a professional photographer will result in stunning cards that people will love to display and keep. In addition to that, you will have framed gifts to wrap up for your loved ones. The advantage to using a professional photographer is that they have the skills and artistic ability to make beautiful images that you will cherish forever. In addition to that, they can partner with you to create a style and effect that matches your family’s unique personality. To get you started, here are four different styles that just might capture your family’s personality and the magic of the holiday spirit. Classic Simple yet timeless, this background is often neutral with the family sitting in formal poses. The photographer is less likely to use editing effects to alter the finished product. To prepare for this, choose a color and style that is clean, uniform and classic—something that would be set off by a holiday-themed border when you are designing your card layout. In the end, the goal is to draw the eye to the face, which is what the classic style emphasizes more than anything. Modern This style ditches the formal posing and creates a relaxed, candid feel. You come as you are, perhaps using a setting that is familiar and comfortable to your family, such as building a snowman in your backyard or taking a hike through

Family holiday photos can be simple or—with the help of a professional photographer—can be keepsake portraits.

the winter woods. Whatever you bring to the shoot, the idea is to showcase your family relaxed and happy together.

for a photographer with the savvy and technique to pull off these specific effects and dramatic images.

Eclectic This style takes the modern approach to a highly specialized, highly individualized level and uses special effects and editing to convey humor or a sense of drama. For example, perhaps your holiday portrait could feature your family members forming a human ladder to place a star on the top of the tree. Look

Vintage What is old is once again new. What better way to call back to the family roots that tie your loved ones together? You can express this by pulling from your family heritage. For example, you could dress your daughter in your childhood velvet dress. Or include your grandfather’s vintage toy train set as a prop.

Some photographers specialize in black and white photography, as well as sepia effects. Of course, if you really want to try an authentic and timeless look, some photographers are experimenting with glass plate photography. Which style of photography is right for you and your family? Take a “Family Photography Style quiz” and, once you are ready for your new photo session, check out to find the right photographer for you and in your city.

Safe food techniques every home could should know Good hosts want positive experiences around the dishes they prepare for the holidays—great conversation and good memories. What’s a sure way to mar the feast? Not being consistent in following safe food handling techniques that every home cook should know. Each year, one in six people experiences food poisoning, affecting some 48 million people, according to the Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention (CDC). “Sometimes, the causes of food poisoning are beyond our control, in spite of regulations and best practices by farmers and food companies. While ready-to-eat foods and restaurants are often highlighted in the fight against food poisoning, we often overlook that home cooks are important partners in reducing the risk of foodborne illness,” said Mike Robach, vice president of food safety at Cargill.

“The most common foodborne pathogens, like salmonella and campylobacter, can cause serious illness, particularly in young children, the elderly, pregnant women and other immune-compromised people,” said Shelley Feist, executive director of the Partnership for Food Safety Education. “Consistently practicing good hand hygiene and safe food handling at home is important to protect your family from these microorganisms and the

serious illness they can cause.” Each year, foodborne illnesses lead to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the CDC, as they can lead to serious conditions such as sepsis and kidney failure. Like any skilled chef, you are best prepared to create a memorable feast when you keep these safe food handling Turn to safe/page 5


Tri-County news • Holiday Gift Guide • Thursday, November 17, 2016

Stress-free parties Opting for potluck, other tips help ease holidays A holiday party is a wonderful way to celebrate the season with friends and family. On the other hand, no matter how big or small the guest list, hosting the event can turn stressful fast. Before you know it, your holiday gathering has become more frustrating than festive, and you are suddenly feeling like a Scrooge. With a few tips and tricks, you can easily host an impressive holiday party without the fuss. From easy appetizers to elegant ambiance, try these five stress-free ideas for creating a memorable event: Opt for potluck: The holidays are all about coming together and helping others, so this year instead of tackling a multi-course meal, set up the buffet table and invite guests over for a potluck. You provide the appetizer and main course and allow guests to bring over their favorite holiday recipes to share. Amazing appetizers: Set out appetizers that are easy on the host but do not compromise taste, such as cheese spreads with a crudite plate and a variety of chips or flat breads. Try the new Alouette Sharp Cheddar spread on a crostini topped with thinly sliced prosciutto. If you want to be a little more adventurous, swap in either the Chipotle or Ranch variety for an extra kick.

Simplify the color scheme: To give your home a professionally decorated touch without the extra effort, focus on simplifying holiday hues. For a timesaving, chic look, use just two or three colors. For example, gold and red or silver and purple are timeless pairings that will transform your party into an elegant affair. Add a magical twinkle: Strings of lights are one of the easiest ways to transform any space into a winter wonderland. Try incorporating strands of mini lights into topiaries and tablescapes for instant holiday allure. Just remember to test lights before using so you do not end up with burnt-out bulbs or broken strings. Create a premade signature cocktail: By making a big batch of a signature drink ahead of time, you will have more free moments for mingling. For example, fill a punch bowl with eggnog or set out pitchers of sangria so guests can grab a tasty libation and toast to a happy new year. The right strategies will help you create a holiday party that will be the talk of the town long after the new year has arrived. What is more, these tips do not require excess time, stressful steps or unneeded expenses. And that is a holiday surprise to welcome with open arms.

Setting out appetizers that are easy on the host but do not compromise taste— such as cheese spreads with a variety of chips or flat breads—is just one tip to make holiday party hosting easier.





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Tri-County news • Holiday Gift Guide • Thursday, November 17, 2016

Holidays can forge deeper family bonds There is no arguing grandparents have special relationships with their grandchildren. Whether they are a couple hours’ drive away or a flight across the country, distance does not dissolve this bond. National Grandparents Day happens every September, but grandparents and families should not have to limit the celebration to just one day of the year. Here are five fun ideas for staying in touch with family, no matter how near or far they live.

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Read a book together The written word has a way of bringing people together. Pull up video calling for the whole family to read a goodnight story together. Older kids can select a series of interest with their grandparents and read at the same time, meeting each week via a video or phone for a discussion. Perhaps Grandpa or Grandma can start by suggesting their childhood favorite, and family members can take turns selecting books from there.

Play games online together Technology can be a wonderful way for different generations to connect long distance. Beyond phone and video calls, schedule time for grandkids and grandparents to play virtually. There are numerous programs that let players in different locations challenge each other to cards, checkers, chess and more. Interactive sketching apps make drawing or playing tic-tac-toe a breeze from two locations. A little play can make everyone’s day.

Pen pal exchanges In a digital world, it is rare to receive letters; however, kids love to get mail, so why not start a pen pal exchange? Small kids can color pictures while big kids can practice penmanship and writing skills. Grandparents and grandkids alike will love receiving fun surprises in the mail from each other. Strive to send items once a week so everyone has something to which they can look forward.

Schedule weekly phone calls Video performances Making a weekly phone date ensures If you cannot connect in-person but everyone stays in touch. Long-distance phone calls are easy and budget friendly when you use an affordable cellphone provider like TracFone. With a new 30-day smartphone-only plan with talk, text and data for just $15 a month on the largest 4G LTE networks, you will have enough money left to spoil the grandkids. And, with no activation or cancellation fees, you $ 179 can change your no-conFOR UP TO tract plan as often as your SAVE! $80 needs change, without

The holidays can be a great time to strengthen the bond between grandparents and grandchildren, but it does not have to be the only time during the year.

the kids and grandkids want to show off their talents, try a video performance. Whether it is demonstrating the year’s dance recital choreography, practicing a new tune on the piano, or acting out a

fun play, kids will enjoy showing off and grandparents will feel extra loved. Hit the record feature and send grandparents the file afterward so they can revisit any time they are missing the grandkids.


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Tri-County news • Holiday Gift Guide • Thursday, November 17, 2016

Charitable giving picks up during holidays While many people may be thinking of pumpkins, apple picking and football in the fall, this time of year also marks the beginning of the holiday giving season. Savvy donors understand the practical benefit of giving before the end of the calendar year - to ensure credit is received on their next tax return. In fact, about 34 percent of all charitable giving is done in the last three months of the year, according to Blackbaud Inc., a leading supplier of software and data intelligence services for nonprofit organizations. If you are planning to support a charitable organization this holiday season, consider these tips for smart giving. Do your research. More than 1 million charities are registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Compare organizations and study how they function by visiting sites such as the Better Business Bureau. The best charitable organizations ensure that the majority of their revenue goes to the causes they support, not operating expenses. Only give to registered charities. In order to accept donations, most charitable organizations - depending on the state - must be registered with the Department of Justice (DOJ). Before you donate, check your state’s DOJ database to confirm the organization is registered. Make sure your gift is tax-deductible. The government recognizes the value of charitable organizations, so many

contributions to approved charities are tax-deductible. The key to receiving a tax deduction is making sure the charitable organization you choose is qualified by the IRS. To be sure, visit the IRS website. You must also keep accurate records, so get a written acknowledgment or receipt for your financial contribution. For those who can’t afford to contribute financially to a cause, there are other ways to make a positive local impact throughout the year. Do business with companies that also give back. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, corporate giving in 2015 increased to $18.46 billion - a 3.9 percent increase from $17.77 billion in 2014. Companies - large and small - are finding new ways to enhance their own corporate giving. For instance, Ply Gem Industries, a leading U.S. manufacturer of home building products including windows, siding, roofing and more, recently launched the Home for Good project to build affordable housing across America. The company made a multi-year commitment to donate more than $1 million in products and funds to Habitat for Humanity - helping build nearly 300 homes in 2016 alone - with company associates and industry professionals also volunteering their time to support the project. “Corporations today have an obligation to the communities they serve,” says Gary E. Robinette, chairman and CEO, Ply Gem Industries. “In fact, multiple

Shopko providing for families With more than 43.1 million Americans living in poverty, the upcoming months can prove to be a stressful time. In an effort to support families in crisis this holiday season, Shopko is partnering with Feeding America and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to provide families with the items they need to celebrate the holidays. To help combat hunger around the holidays, Shopko will donate $100,000 to Feeding America to support their network of local member foodbanks in all Shopko markets across the country. Additionally, through Nov. 20 all Shopko locations will collect critical items, including nonperishables and hygiene supplies. All donations can be dropped off at marked donation boxes inside Shopko and will be distributed to a local food pantry in time for Thanksgiving. “Shopko takes pride in the communities we serve and is therefore com-

mitted to providing critical support to local families in crisis by partnering with respected nonprofit organizations such as Feeding America and Toys for Tots,” said Peter McMahon, Shopko CEO. “Simple acts of kindness, such as donating to those in need, is vital to the well-being of the communities we are privileged to serve.” In addition to supporting Feeding America, Shopko is once again partnering with Toys for Tots to help make the holiday season more enjoyable for less fortunate children across the country. In its 25th year as a program partner, Shopko is collecting toys donated by customers this holiday season to provide to local children in need. Customers may donate new, unwrapped toys at any Shopko store through Friday, Dec. 9. Follow Shopko at Shopko. Shopko is owned by an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, Inc.

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Tri-County news • Holiday Gift Guide • Thursday, November 17, 2016


practices top-of-mind. They are just as necessary to a great meal as sharp knives, high-quality cookware, fresh ingredients and the right appliances.

Clean hands, surfaces Before you begin cooking, start by making sure your work area and tools are clean. Wash all preparation surfaces, including cutting boards, with hot, soapy water. If any tools or containers you will need are dirty, either run the dishwasher cycle or hand-wash the items in a sink of hot, soapy water. Finally, wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Rinse fruits, vegetables Depending on what you are using, some foods will require rinsing. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating or using. Firm-skinned produce like cucumbers and apples should be rubbed under running tap water by hand or with a clean brush. You should also rinse any produce that will be peeled, because microorganisms on the surface can be easily transferred to the flesh with a peeler or knife blade. Blot fresh fruits and vegetables dry with paper towels. There is no need to rinse raw meat or poultry, at least not in the name of food safety. All that will accomplish is potentially spreading bacteria in your sink and beyond. Raw meat and poultry must be cooked to a safe internal temperature.

Safely handle meat The best home cooks know it is important to safely handle raw meat and poultry. To start with, do not thaw frozen meat and poultry at room temperature—to do so gives harmful bacteria an ideal environment to multiply and spread. There are three safe ways to defrost food— in the refrigerator, submerged in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods, and use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat and poultry. And it is worth a reminder—never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw or undercooked meat or poultry. Safe temperatures Here is a compelling reason to cook food to a safe temperature: Even a professional chef cannot say with precision if a food item is cooked to a safe internal temperature. Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause illness. Get a food thermometer and use it consistently. For a list of safe internal temperatures, visit the Partnership for Food Safety Education Web site at Safe leftovers Proper storing of leftovers in a refrigerator at

continued from page 1 40 F or below helps reduce the risk of food poisoning. Keep leftovers in shallow containers so they cool off more quickly. When reheating leftovers, make sure they reach a safe temperature of 165 F as measured with a food thermometer. Consume or freeze refrigerated leftovers within three to four days. For more tips to build your skills and expertise in food safety, visit Check out an animated video, as well as fun items such as kid-friendly placemats to download, and a collection of side dish recipes that incorporate home food safety tips.



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There are many things that can be stressful about hitting the road for the holidays; however, traveling with pets does not have to be one of them. If you will be flying, there are circumstances under which you may have to leave your pet at home, even if he is healthy and adaptable. According to USDA regulations, your pet has to be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned for at least five days in order to travel by air. In addition, pets with flat, “snub noses�—like Persian cats, pugs and bulldogs—are more susceptible to breathing problems, and flying can put their health at risk. Some airlines will not even allow these types of pets on commercial flights. Pack ample food and water. This may sound obvious, but it is easy to underestimate how much food and water your pet will need. Bring enough food for the whole trip; your pet’s specific brand or type of food may not be readily available everywhere, and it is not a good idea to introduce your pet to a new brand of food while traveling. Bring travel food and water bowls. The collapsible kind are recommended—they are highly portable and do not take up a lot of space. If possible, bring bedding he uses at home. The familiar smell and feel will make him more comfortable. Pets find as many (or more) ways to get dirty on the road as at home so bring grooming tools as well.


Tri-County news • Holiday Gift Guide • Thursday, November 17, 2016

‘Tis season for dazzling holiday tables Laughter, joy, happiness—‘tis the season for family and friends to come together around the table, celebrating all the warmth of the holidays. Really want to wow your guests at your next gathering? It is as easy as mixing Christmas past with Christmas present. “The holidays are the best time to use the patterns you love, whether that is your everyday pattern, a family heirloom, a Christmas favorite or all of the above,” said Keith Winkler, product marketing manager for dinnerware retailer Replacements, Ltd. “Take time to pull out the platter you inherited from your grandmother, or look for a way to blend in Aunt Rose’s vintage teapot. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re planning a casual dinner or a glitzy party, using heirloom patterns is more than a great conversation starter with your guests— these pieces bring tradition and family to your table.”

Festive art of mixing and matching Perhaps you have read the buzz about the hot tabletop trend designers refer to as “mixing and matching.” Turns out it goes beyond trendy. It is pretty much an art. “Mixing and matching is a way to bring all your favorites together to create a gorgeous table,” designer Julie Robbins said. “If you’re going to create a beautiful, festive look, be brave and bold; step away from using all the same colors and patterns and dare to blend all types of designs to create sparkle and magic. One of the easiest ways to start is by taking one of your favorite patterns and giving it holiday flair.” We asked Robbins to share her inspiration in creating one of Replacements’ main displays for the holiday season. “I really wanted to capture the spirit of the season by building on an everyday pattern I really love, so I started with Constance by Bernardaud,” Robbins said. “It’s a beautiful green, yet it’s also a cool, neutral pattern that refreshes everything you mix with it. I paired it with Grenadiers, a holiday favorite also by Bernardaud, which is a crisp, clean Christmas pattern but at the same time very festive and whimsical with toy soldiers around the edge. And to tie it all together, I mixed in a gold-trimmed ruby charger as the base to anchor the setting in traditional seasonal colors.” If you are still uncertain how to create the look you want for holidays, Robbins suggests starting with a neutral colored dinner plate, then layering a Christmas-

Gorgeous table settings certainly are not mandatory for hosting a holiday party, but many people still enjoy making a “perfect” setting part of the experience.

themed salad plate in a floral, plaid or graphic motif. You can even serve a different course with each pattern. And do not feel like you have to stick with traditional holiday colors—pairing cool blues with silver creates a lovely icy effect you can use throughout winter. Add a dash of sparkle While mixing and matching patterns captures seasonal spirit, sparkle adds a burst of magic and elegance. Robbins suggests incorporating metallic finishes, whether that means using platinum or gold trimmed crystal, or perhaps ornate flatware and serving pieces. “Using both silver and gold pieces on your table not only evokes the traditional spirit of holidays, these metals reflect light, creating a glamorous twist,” Robbins said. “Vintage silver is very popular this year, but rather than polishing it shiny bright, leave some patina to keep the heirloom quality of the pattern.” Another way to create sparkle—consider an eclectic mix of candles on your table. By combining crystal and silver votives, candlesticks or an odd candelabra, you can create a centerpiece that looks beautiful during the day and adds a warm glow to a winter night. Sneak a peek at Replacements’ favorite holiday patterns on the company’s Web site,


Bring a first aid kit, as well as any medicines your pet may be taking, and your vet’s contact information. If traveling by car, choose the right pet vehicle safety device wisely, and familiarize your pet with it. You take great care to secure your human family members in the car; you should do the same for your pets. A simple pet safety device, such as a vehicle pet barrier, a pet seat belt, pet car seat, or a travel crate can keep you both safe, and give you peace of

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mind. You should choose a device that is right for your car, your trip, and the size and temperament of your pet. It is essential to ensure that your pet is comfortable with the safety device. The best way to do this is to acclimate him to it slowly over time. In addition to your pet’s regular ID tag (and microchip), it is strongly recommended that you get a temporary tag for your pet before you travel. Include relevant contact information.


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Vern’s Cheese…


continued from page 5

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Tri-County news • Holiday Gift Guide • Thursday, November 17, 2016


How small businesses can capitalize on holidays

For entrepreneurs and small businesses owners, the holiday season offers an incredible opportunity to boost sales and increase the bottom line. Just like how the early bird gets the worm, starting holiday promotions early will position your business for optimum growth. Polishing your online identity, optimizing marketing opportunities and engaging in positive customer relations are key strategies for boosting profits. It may be the season of red and green, but businesses that take advantage of these expert tips will be better positioned to see a lot of numbers in the black. E-mail marketing tips The most essential step in creating effective holiday marketing e-mails is to start early. In fact, 2015 e-mail data from GoDaddy shows that it is best for companies to get a head start on their email marketing campaigns as early as November. The days with the highest open rates before Christmas were during the first week of November, specifically Nov. 2. Even if those dates have passed, starting ASAP can help boost traffic and sales. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday might seem like the perfect days to send promotional e-mails, but small businesses should proceed with caution,” said Eric Gilbert, director of GoDaddy Email Marketing. “With higher sending volume comes lower e-mail open rates. Our advice to our customers is twofold. First, get a head start on your holiday campaigns by sending before the peak shopping days arrive. And second, be sure to write crisp, compelling subject lines to help stand out in the inbox.” In creating an effective e-mail, consider providing valuable information and useful tips rather than straightforward sales copy. Shab Sadeghi, founder of Shabbella, a lifestyle brand for women, uses GoDaddy Email Marketing to stay in touch with her customers throughout the holiday season. “I like to share style tips on how my customers can wear Shabbella products multiple ways throughout the season,” Sadeghi said. “In the past, I’ve provided beautiful gift boxes with orders during the holidays. I love to give back to my customers, plus everyone loves gifts.” Another way to increase e-mail marketing efforts is to send personalized emails. Personalized e-mails improve click-through rates by 14 percent and conversion rates by 10 percent, according to Aberdeen Group. Social media tips Keeping active on popular social media platforms helps brands engage with their customers and influence purchasing decisions. What is more, 51 percent of people will use social media to get gift ideas, according to a statistical survey. In addition to staying active, give your social efforts a

Small Business Saturday—the day after Black Friday during the Thanksgiving weekend—has helped sales at small businesses, but those businesses also can help themselves right now with an improved Web/e-mail presence.

holiday makeover with a few new strategies. For example, music is a huge part of how people interact during the holidays. Share popular holiday songs and encourage your audience to do the same. Next, go for the emotional response. Heartwarming stories of generosity, charity and creativity abound during this time of year and tend to get a lot of play on social media. In addition, focus on the entertainment value over the sale. The holidays, while joyful, are often filled with stress. Giving your users a break from the madness with a funny holiday-themed image or video will help them associate your brand with more than just your product. Finally, make social interactive. Respond in a timely manner to user questions and comments. It will help build

your brand reputation and leave a positive impression on your audience. Storefront and Web site tips Whether customers are visiting in person or virtually via a Web site, you want to give them an easy-to-navigate experience and plenty of purchasing options that meet their holiday shopping needs. First, categorize items as gifts on your Web site; for example, “gifts for your husband” or “gifts for kids.” Reflect this messaging in product copy and consider writing blogs that support gift ideas for specific audiences. Additionally, promote the upsell by offering packages of products and/or services in bundles. Second, hire a web developer and graphic designer to spruce up your Web site to reflect the essence of the holi-

days. Alternatively, use a DIY Web site builder that is affordable and easy to use like GoDaddy. For physical stores, tasteful holiday decor can enhance the ambience and get shoppers in a festive state of mind. Finally, for brick-and-mortar purchases, consider offering complimentary gift wrapping. For online purchases, provide free shipping when a certain amount is purchased. With each day there is another opportunity to upgrade your holiday marketing strategies, but you must start now. With these tips, you will have an edge on the competition. To learn more about how small businesses can get a head start on their holiday marketing efforts, visit headstartday. com.


Tri-County news • Holiday Gift Guide • Thursday, November 17, 2016

Entertaining tips to help impress guests The holiday season is packed with social events big and small. What makes some more memorable than others? The extra thought and special touches from the host or hostess. Cookbook author and entertaining expert Gaby Dalkin recently teamed up with the Paper & Packaging—How Life Unfolds campaign to share how you can make a big statement this season with surprisingly little effort. These five entertaining tips are guaranteed to help you create a one-of-kind party, leaving guests impressed and full of holiday spirit.

Conquer stress with to-do lists To reduce stress, stay organized and ensure you maintain a merry attitude, use printed templates to create handwritten holiday party to-do lists. “I start my to-do lists weeks before the celebration and break them down by day,” Dalkin said. “A few days before the big event, I stock up on beverages. Two days before I buy all the shelf-stable ingredients. The day before, all the produce goes into the fridge, and I make any sauces or appetizers that can rest in the fridge overnight without being affected. And then, the day of the party is broken down by the hour. If you’re making a roast, start it in the morning. A salad can be prepped ahead of time and dressed before serving.”

A Champagne bar can add a lot of pizazz to any holiday gathering.

flower to give it an extra pop.”

Elevate gifting Nearly half of Americans feel that gift presentation enhances the gift they give or receive, according to a Paper and Packaging Board survey. That means if you want to impress, do not skimp on gift presentation. “I grab a few rolls of brown kraft paper and make it special,” Dalkin said. “If I’m sending a present to someone who loves food, I’ll grab some stamps with fun food on them and stamp the paper so it’s customized for that individual. If it’s my younger niece, I’ll stamp it with some hearts. These small gestures make a big impact.”

Add pizazz with a Champagne bar The survey also found that for approximately half of Americans, a cocktail bar stands out as a key component for an unforgettable holiday party. Add an easy yet elegant touch to any holiday gathering by setting up a Champagne bar. Simply chill a few bottles, place on a bar cart and add bowls of fresh berries and carafes of fresh squeezed juices. Include handwritten cardstock labels near each ingredient so your guests can mix and match to their hearts’ content. This no-fuss station encourages guests to make their own cocktails at their leisure, giving the host extra time to catch up. Plus, Dalkin said, “I’ve found that Champagne bars are often one of the most photographed elements of the night.”

Use a creative approach to seating Assigned seating is particularly helpful when entertaining large groups. It takes the guesswork out of sitting down to dinner and keeps the evening flowing smoothly. It is also an easy way to add festive style to the tabletop. “If I’m entertaining for more than 10, I’ll make little fold-over name tags out of cute cardstock,” Dalkin said. “I’ll punch a hole in the paper name tag and weave in a bit of rosemary, paper ribbon or a fresh

Give guests something homemade Frozen cookie dough is one of the trendiest homemade gifts of the year. Just whip up your favorite batch of dough, tightly wrap it in parchment paper and

Sends guests home with a homemade gift such as cookie dough and a recipe.

freeze. Then add some holiday ribbons, a personalized paper label and handwritten baking instructions. “Recipients can slice and bake at their leisure and file the recipe card for years

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to come,” Dalkin said. “You can make the same thing for everyone, or perhaps a few different batches to suit any sweet tooth. I think of it as a gift that keeps giving.”

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Tri-County news • Holiday Gift Guide • Thursday, November 17, 2016


Getting ready

Tips offered for preparing home for holiday celebrations

‘Tis the season for big meals, festive gatherings and making memories that will last a lifetime. But hosting friends and family can be a daunting responsibility. In fact, nearly 40 percent of consumers say that entertaining guests is the most stressful part of their holiday season, according to a recent holiday survey. The good news is that there is still time to give your home a refreshed look. Need some inspiration? Check out these stress-free tips which will leave your guests impressed. Purge the closets—Heading into the holiday season is the perfect time to clean the clutter from your closets. Not only will you make room for any house guests you may have to put their things, but you will also free up space for any new clothing you receive as gifts. Plus, you can give back to others by donating any lightly used items to a local charity. Get ready to repair broken decorations and household items—The fact is that things get damaged during the excitement of the holidays. Use DAP RapidFuse All Purpose Adhesive to fix broken ornaments, tighten loose or creaky chair legs, and repair other broken items around the house before guests arrive. RapidFuse sets in just 30 seconds, is two times more durable than super glues and bonds virtually everything to anything—including wood, metal, glass,

plastic, ceramic, and more. It is also the ultimate stocking stuffer for everyone on your list. Refresh common surfaces—Give your home a fresh look and feel by washing walls, cleaning carpets and rugs, scrubbing tiles, and polishing woodwork. And if you have time, painting a room is an easy and inexpensive way to dramatically change the look and feel of your home with color. Stock the essentials—Your overnight guests will not expect four-star hotel treatment, but having basic items in place will make your visitors more comfortable. Essentials include a working light, fresh sheets and pillows, extra blankets, bath towels and a power strip to charge devices overnight. Go the extra mile to impress your guests by leaving out magazines, snacks, hangers and mini toiletries such as mouthwash, shampoo and aspirin. Replace old, unsightly caulk— Throughout the year, your kitchen and bathrooms are exposed to high levels of water and moisture. This can lead to mold and mildew growth, and buildup of dirt and stains on the caulk. Make these areas look new again by removing the old caulk, thoroughly cleaning the area to remove any dirt or residue, and then re-caulking with DAP Kwik Seal Ultra Sealant. Not only does Kwik Seal Ultra

Some fresh caulk can brighten kitchens and bathrooms before guests arrive.

repel water, liquids, soap scum, stains and dirt, but is also backed by a lifetime mold and mildew resistance guarantee so the sealant stays looking clean, fresh and new. Relax and enjoy the celebration—

Planning a holiday celebration takes time and energy, but do not forget to step back and take in all the good times. Learn more about how DAP products can get your home guest-ready for the holiday season at online COMMUNITY! contribute•share•inform•link•learn•enjoy•participate

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10 Tri-County news • Holiday Gift Guide • Thursday, November 17, 2016



ant to spend more time with loved ones this Thanksgiving? Ditch the perfectly timed oven schedule and put your slow cooker to work. It’ll deliver the familiar flavors of your favorite holiday stuffing, sauces and desserts in a new, more convenient way. “Take advantage of the hassle-free slow cooker for sides and desserts and leave the oven free for your turkey,” said McCormick Kitchens Executive Chef Kevan Vetter. “Top a mixture of apples, brown sugar and cinnamon with seasoned oat crumbles for a warm Oatmeal Apple Cobbler – an ooey gooey dessert that will fill your kitchen with an irresistible, sweet and spicy aroma while it slow cooks.” For more time-saving tips and recipes for your Thanksgiving feast, check out and visit McCormick Spice on Facebook and Pinterest.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Sauce

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 3 hours, 35 minutes Servings: 16 Pumpkin Cake: 1 package (2-layer size) yellow cake mix 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted 1/4 cup milk 2 eggs 2 teaspoons McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice 1 cup chocolate chips Caramel Sauce: 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter 1 teaspoon McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice Spray inside of 6-quart slow cooker with no stick cooking spray. For the Cake, mix all ingredients in large bowl. Pour into greased slow cooker. Place towel over slow cooker and cover with lid. Cook 3 1/2 hours on low or until cake is almost set. Meanwhile, for the Caramel Sauce, cook and stir all ingredients in small saucepan on medium-high heat 5 minutes or until sauce is smooth. Carefully remove slow cooker insert and place on wire rack. Pour 1/2 of the Caramel Sauce over the cake. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes to cool slightly. Serve cake with remaining sauce and ice cream or whipped cream, if desired. Substitution: Use 1 cup chopped candy bars in place of the chocolate chips.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 3 hours, 45 minutes Servings: 8 1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries 2/3 cup sugar 1 seedless orange, peeled and sectioned 2 McCormick Bay leaves 1 McCormick Cinnamon Stick Place all ingredients in 4-quart slow cooker. Cover. Cook 3 hours on high, stirring every hour. Uncover. Stir well. Cook, uncovered, 30 to 45 minutes longer on high or until slightly thickened.

Slow Cooker Sausage Stuffing Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 1 hour, 25 minutes Servings: 12 (2/3-cup servings) 1/4 2 1 1/2

cup (1/2 stick) butter cups chopped celery cup chopped onion pound mild (sweet) Italian sausage, casing removed 1 cup Kitchen Basics Original Chicken Stock 2 teaspoons McCormick Rubbed Sage

Slow Cooker Oatmeal Apple Cobbler

Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 3 hours Servings: 10 Apple Filling: 5 medium Gala apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/4 cup all-purpose baking mix, such as Bisquick 1 teaspoon McCormick Ground Cinnamon Oatmeal Cobbler Topping: 1 cup all-purpose baking mix, such as Bisquick

1 teaspoon McCormick Crushed Rosemary 10 cups cubed French bread (1-inch pieces) Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. Add celery and onion; cook and stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Add sausage; cook and stir until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Spray inside of slow cooker with no stick cooking spray. Add stock and herbs; stir to blend. Stir in bread cubes and sausage-vegetable mixture. Cover. Cook 45 minutes on high. Uncover and stir. Cook, uncovered, 30 minutes longer.

1/2 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/2

cup quick-cooking oats cup firmly packed brown sugar cup granulated sugar teaspoon salt teaspoon McCormick Ground Cinnamon 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces Spray inside of slow cooker with no stick cooking spray. For the Apple Filling, toss apple slices, brown sugar, baking mix and cinnamon in large bowl. Place in slow cooker. For the Cobbler Topping, mix all ingredients, except butter, in medium bowl. Cut in butter with fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over Apple Filling. Cover. Cook 3 hours on high.

Tri-County news • Holiday Gift Guide • Thursday, November 17, 2016


Turn Thursdays into together time this season Holiday busyness can occupy your weekends, making it difficult to find time to prepare and share a special meal. Instead, why not commit to making Thursday evenings special throughout the season? Instead of trying to do one more thing on the weekend, organically fit together-time into Thursdays, and fill the evening with your closest friends, TV shows, board games or other favorite entertainment—and don’t forget your favorite foods. The wholesome holiday fare professionals at Simply Organic offer four simple ideas for turning Thursday night into your favorite time of the week this holiday season: n Make it a movie night. Whether you choose a timeless holiday classic or the hottest new release, an evening of movie watching can break the stress and monotony of the week. You can opt for something kid-friendly and let the kids stay up a little bit later, or put them to bed on time and settle in with more sophisticated viewing fare. Pair the movie with your favorite takeout (instead of popcorn) and a warmth-inspiring seasonal beverage. n Serve a wholesome, organic meal. Invite friends to each bring a dish for an evening potluck. Eating together is a favorite way to share the spirit of the season, and serving organic fare communicates your values and caring. You can find plenty of seasonal recipes that incorporate organic ingredients at www. n Stage a baking party. You probably planned to do some holiday baking this season, so why not turn it into a fun event? Invite one or two good friends

over, and ask them to bring their favorite holiday treat recipe to make. Pool your efforts—and results—to expand your holiday baked goods menu this year. Be sure to get an ingredients list from everyone ahead of time. n Host a holiday appetizer and cocktail dinner. Indstead of serving a big meal of foods that everyone is going to overindulge in this holiday season, an appetizer gathering can be a fun, creative alternative. Whip up holiday appetizers and seasonal cocktails (liquor optional) to capture the spirit of the season. Try these two festive recipes from Simply Organic: Vanilla Clove French 75 Cocktail This French 75 cocktail takes a wellspiced twist with organic vanilla beans, cloves and cinnamon sticks. This recipe makes enough simple syrup for 32 cocktails. Ingredients: 4 Simply Organic Cloves Whole 1 Simply Organic Madagascar Vanilla Beans 3 Simply Organic Cinnamon Sticks 2 cups water 2 cups sugar Rind of 1 orange 6 fluid ounces prosecco, chilled 2 fluid ounces apple brandy Juice of 1 lemon 2 orange or lemon rind twists Directions: To make the syrup, fill a small pot with water. Bring to medium and slowly add sugar, cloves, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks and orange rind. Once sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes, until it is a golden orange color.


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Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove cloves and orange rind. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. To make cocktails, divide prosecco into 2 champagne flutes. Split apple brandy and lemon juice between flutes, then add 1/2 fluid ounce simple syrup into each flute. Stir with a long spoon, then serve with orange or lemon rind twist. Butternut Squash Soup Shooters Butternut squash soup turns shooter in this recipe featuring organic squash and curry powder. Ingredients: 2 teaspoons Simply Organic Curry Powder Simply Organic Crushed Red Pepper 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup) 4 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup) 3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped 1 3-pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 5 cups) 1 teaspoon salt 5 cups vegetable broth (or a water and

broth combo, if desired) 1 cup canned coconut milk fresh cilantro, for garnish cooked chickpeas, for garnish Directions: In a large stock pot, over medium heat, melt the butter or heat the oil. Add the onion and celery. Cook for four to five minutes, until the onions are translucent and the vegetables “sweat.” Stirring frequently, add the garlic and cook for one minute, until fragrant. Add the butternut squash, salt and curry powder. Stir. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until the butternut cubes are soft when pierced with a fork. Into the soup, stir coconut milk, then remove the soup from the heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth and creamy. Serve in shot glasses with a garnish of cilantro, chickpeas and red pepper flakes. For more “Thursday Moments” and seasonal recipe ideas, visit

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12 Tri-County news • Holiday Gift Guide • Thursday, November 17, 2016

f f o k Kic We’ve got wonderful ways to dress up your home for the upcoming family and friends entertainment season. Whether it’s new furniture for the living room, family room, or even the dining room, now is the perfect time to transform your home in a way that is sure to impress!!

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Good only at Chilton Furniture. Offer expires Dec. 10, 2016. Only one coupon per household please. Can not be applied to prior purchases. Can not be used on clearance merchandise and select special purchase items. Cannot be used in conjunction with other in store promotional coupons.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2016  

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