Page 1

Holiday Decorating & Entertaining

Diy Wreath-Making

for every level of craftiness Page 7

Make It Sparkle

Holiday Decorating On A Budget PAGE 3


Make-Ahead Appetizer: Mouthwatering Mini Crab Cakes Page 15

Inside: Make It Sparkle Holiday Decorating On A Budget...................................... 3 Have Yourself A Homespun Holiday..............................................................4 Diy Wreath-Making For Every Level Of Craftiness........................................7 Light It Up Professional Holiday Decorators Give Their Tips On How To Make The Season Bright, Indoors And Out..............................................8 Plan Ahead for a Stress-Free Meal.............................................................. 11 Make-Ahead Appetizer: Mouthwatering Mini Crab Cakes......................... 15

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Make It Sparkle Holiday decorating on a budget By Erica Rodefer Winters, CTW Features Whether or not you host a holiday party, to really capture the magic of the season, you’ll want to spend some time making your home warm and cozy and get your guests into the holiday spirit. Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune, or even that much time, with these tactics:

1. Re-purpose what you already have to make holiday decor.

Don’t toss your pumpkins after Halloween. Save them and use them as part of your autumn display. Uncarved pumpkins can stay looking good for months, and you can even spray paint them a different color if orange doesn’t go with your holiday color scheme.

2. Bring nature inside.

You won’t have to go far to find adorable, seasonal decorations¬ – just head outside. Gather twigs, leaves, pine cones and other natural beauties to dress up accent tables and mantles. You can also use items from nature for a rustic centerpiece, or add a loop of string to make ornaments for the Christmas tree. They can be easily spray painted a metallic color or left unpainted to add some more seasonal, natureinspired interest.

3. Get the kids involved.

Starting a collection of your children’s home-made ornaments, but haven’t quite found the best place to display their creative genius? Try giving your kids their own area to decorate any way they please with crafts they made, or inexpensive decorations you let them pick out at a store. This could be a small Christmas tree in the corner of a room, or even just a bookshelf you clear off. That way, your little ones will get to be creative and enjoy the decorating process as much as you do, but you won’t have to worry about them breaking your special keepsakes.

4. Don’t Discount the Allure of Sweets

Food as décor? In today’s Pinterest world, food as décor is an appealing trend, especially when you create adorable snowmen, stars, bears, turkeys and more. Make the sweet treats of your choice, decorate them ornately, put them on sticks and create bouquets in decorative jars or vases. It’s a fun family activity that makes your home smell and look like a million bucks. Plus, you can eat them, too. © CTW Features




Have Yourself a Homespun Holiday By Lauren Johnson, CTW Features For this year’s decorations, are you ready to make it? You will be with these DIY decorating tips for every level of crafty The last forkful of Thanksgiving turkey has been gobbled up, the cranberry sauce has been cleared and the green flag now drops to signal the start of the holiday decorating flurry. While interiors dripping with festive frills may warm the heart to see, installing all that frippery can leave one feeling icy. So, we’re here with a reminder that the Christmas season need not be about over-the-top ornamentation, mounds of bright baubles or complicated lighting schemes twinkling in time to the tunes of Mannheim Steamroller. Leave the plethora of blinking bulbs to the Holiday Festival of Lights and the cornucopia of lavish trimmings to the Charleston Place Hotel. In the following pages, you’ll find a bounty of simple do-it-yourself decorating ideas that’ll have you cheerily trilling “Fa la la” all season long. Trim the Tree For many, the Christmas tree stands at the center of home holiday decorating, festooned in tinsel, lights, beads and balls and then swaddled in a pretty skirt. Whether your Tannebaum stretches four feet or 14, creating a festive fir shouldn’t be stressful, it should be fun. Our recommendation: Take your cues from Charlie Brown and don’t get hung up on perfection. When it’s time to gussy up the tree, tune into Bing Crosby, pour mugs of hot chocolate and let the little ones loose to adorn your festive fir. Sure, most of the ornaments will be concentrated on the lower half of the tree, but it’s hard to top the sight of children proudly embellishing its branches. Not to mention that these easy and fun craft projects




are a great way to involve the kids. Want to spruce up your tree trimmings this year? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Go Natural

Make keepsake Christmas balls with the kiddos using clear glass or plastic craft ornaments. Bring the outdoors in by using natural finds such as acorns, berries, ferns and dried flowers.

Make It Sea-Worthy

With their poinsettia-shaped centers and preexisting holes, sand dollars are ideal for simple ornaments. Or glue together a flat stack of five or more starfish, arranged from largest to smallest with the legs turned this way and that to mimic a Christmas tree. And a bit of gold paint elegantly highlights the beauty of bivalves, as demonstrated by local jeweler White Cotton Crafts with their stunning oyster shell nativity scenes ($25-$50, whitecottoncrafts. We just ask that you please gather only lifeless sea creatures, and be sure to clean them with a bleach or alcohol soak before crafting.

Pin It on a Pinecone

Pinecones are also a prize material for DIY decorators. Ask the kids to gather as many as they can from the yard, then dip the ends in gold paint for a color-blocked look or spray-paint white to mimic snow.

Design Your Tablescape

Most of our time during the holidays is spent around the table, so taking time to adorn the table can be just as joyous as the tree. These tips can help.

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Magnificent Magnolias

Whether it’s a fistful of magnolia leaves, snips of fragrant rosemary, clippings from your tree or holly bundles, backyard greenery makes gold-star holiday décor. Secure loose sprigs or branches into a garland with a rubber band and then cover the band with ribbon, burlap or twine. Smaller bunches make festive additions to candlesticks and inside napkin rings.

Festive Fruits

The partridges had the right idea — pears offer scrumptious style for your nest. Pomegranates, apples, cranberries and limes (really, any red or green fruit) also make for delicious décor. And oranges shouldn’t be overlooked, either. Invite your children to decorate the citrus balls with whole cloves to create classic pomanders, and then pile them high in a pretty bowl for an easy side table addition that warms the room with a sweet and spicy scent.

Organize Condiments

A shiny muffin tin paired with cocktail spoons works nicely as a serving station for condiments or toppings.



Dress for Success

Folded, a plaid wool blanket becomes an instant winter table runner.

Make a Magical Blizzard

Arm the kids with white coffee filters and scissors to cut flurries of paper snowflakes. Hang them with dental floss from the dining room chandelier to construct your very own winter wonderland.

Make Your Mantle Merry

Spread the holiday cheer by the warmth of the fire. Hosting Hanukkah revelers? Organize nine candlesticks into a neat shortest-to-tallest-to-shortest row to symbolize a Menorah. No fireplace? Do some channel surfing and find a televised yule log (channels will vary based on your provider). The broadcast showcases a traditional wood-burning fire — the perfect backdrop for tree trimming and cookie decorating.

Make It Twinkle

Sprinkle Epsom salt into mason jars and tuck in tea lights to form a snowy luminary centerpiece. Holly, rosemary, sage or bay leaves nestled around the edges add a special touch. © CTW Features


DIY Wreath-Making for Every Level of Craftiness

3. “Pretty sure I know where the craft store is.”

A tubular foam form makes a lightweight foundation for a basic wrapped wreath. Start by using a straight pin to secure the end of a long strip of burlap, craft ribbon or a fuzzy garland to the backside of your wreath and then wrap the material round and round until you’ve covered the entire form. Pin or hot glue the other end on the backside. Glue buttons, pom-poms, holly or other festive embellishments around the front to finish. For a miniature version, similarly wrap Mason jar lid rings with twine, ribbon, rick-rack or lace.

4. “I pack a glue gun in my purse.”

A flat wooden form provides a sturdier base for more creative wreath construction. Consider crafting with bleached oyster shells, colorful ball ornaments, cookie cutters, petite pretend presents, driftwood or wine corks. Before beginning, determine how you will hang your completed wreath — hammer a small nail, saw-tooth picture hanger or ring hooks onto the upper backside of the form. You might also want to paint the wood in a shade similar to your materials to help it blend into the background. Then, using a glue gun, carefully attach layers of your accouterments until the form can no longer be seen.

1. “We have scissors around here somewhere.”

5. “Martha Stewart and I are BFFs.”

This simple project is easy enough even for the kids, who will be overjoyed to hang their own creations from their bedroom doors. Cut a ring from a paper plate and then decorate as you choose.

2. “Greenery”

can be crafted from strips of colored construction paper (roll them around a pencil before gluing to get them to curl up), painted pasta, yarn or scrunched tissue paper. Add pom-pom or button “berries,” gold-star stickers or bows to dress up your disc.

Wreaths devised of living materials require special care. For a fresh spin in the Fraser fir tradition, turn to magnolia leaves. Begin by soaking a florist’s foam ring in water overnight. Clip an abundance of individual magnolia leaves from your tree and then insert the stems into the form, overlapping the leaves in unidirectional concentric circles until the foam has been covered. For a monotone effect, use all of the leaves face up; for added interest, turn some of the leaves over so that their brown undersides show. Leave the stress of perfection to the professionals. These DIY decorating ideas are a great opportunity to bring the kids together and celebrate your craftier side. © CTW Features

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Light It Up Professional holiday decorators give their tips on how to make the season bright, indoors and out By Serena Dai, CTW Features Every year, holiday lighting manufacturers introduce more varieties of bulbs, strands, colors and accessories. Luckily for the seasonal lighting industry (and those who love cruising the neighborhood, looking at lit-up houses), nobody seems to be willing to forego Christmas lights altogether, no matter their financial woes. Professional decorators say that there’s a trend towards nostalgic, natural-looking decorations rather than the energy-guzzling displays of the past. That means that LEDs are getting more popular and the Las Vegas marquee-style house is going extinct. The variety of products available leaves people at a loss when choosing the right lights for the job, so a few lighting professionals have given their tips on lighting each area of the house.

lighting guru, Beverly Hills, Calif. “We don’t want to have to go around the tree and tangle it and make it look like the tree is choked,” he says. Divide the tree into sections and then work from the top to the bottom, Robertson says. “That’ll create a nice, full tree,” he says. For a different look, Stephens recommends wrapping mini-LED lights up the trunk and then using larger C9 or C7 bulbs in the canopy.

Front Yard Trees

Lit trees in a front yard draw the most attention to a house, says Brandon Stephens, vice president of marketing at The Décor Group Inc. in Lubbock, Texas. Lights on a door or across the roof lining act as a backdrop. If you light a tree, that’s the thing that stops traffic, Stephens says. Using a lot of lights sets a property apart. Since a large tree requires plenty of light, use mini-LED strands. LED lights save energy and thus electricity costs, so they work well for massive outdoor undertakings. To make the tree look full, string the lights through the branches rather than around the outside, says Ric Robertson, Christmas



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Outdoor Shrubbery

The key to making lit shrubbery look nice is making it seem organic, Robertson says. He advises against using light nets, which tend to look too perfect. “As far as bushes go, we lay lights in by hand,” he says. Use mini-LED lights rather than larger bulbs to make shrubbery look full. Clear lights remain the most popular choice in outdoor holiday decorating for roof and window lines, but shrubbery is the place to use color, Stephens says. Setting up a pattern of clear and colored lights works well, with every few sections changing to green or red. “It’s a popular place for people to work color back into their display,” he says.

Indoor Spaces

Take a look at where the electrical outlets are, says Bob Pranga, owner of holiday design company Dr. Christmas in Los Angeles. Wandering cords will diminish the look and present a potential hazard. Then determine the focal point of the room, he says. Any lighting should complement it. For example, a foyer with a fantastic chandelier should keep the chandelier as the focus, Pranga says. Lighting should be set up symmetrically around it. “Do something even and outline the existing architecture,” he says. “That makes it feel warm.”

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continued from page 9 Indoor lighting acts more as an accessory to other holiday decorations than as the primary attraction, Pranga says. He suggests combining some sort of greenery with the lights, such as garlands or wreaths, to hide the cords. “Just stringing up lights in your house, unless you really want that frat house look, doesn’t give it much charm,” he says. “You end up scotch taping them to the walls.” While LED lights save power for complex outdoor displays, they tend to look too harsh for indoors, Pranga says. “They make your room look like a black light palace.” Use incandescent lights instead for a warm and cozy ambiance.

Christmas Tree

Similar to decorating an outdoor tree, wrap lights through branches rather than around the Christmas tree to add a nice depth. Use the same tactic of dividing the tree into three triangle sections and working from the top down. The method not only makes the tree look full, it helps with damage control, she says. It’s really easy to control blowouts that way. To prevent fuse blow-outs all together, don’t use more than three or four strands, and run an extension cord along the trunk, she says. Use a remote-powered or stepon-step-off power strip at the bottom to simplify turning the tree lights on and off. The experts recommend using strands with 100 lights per foot. “It just adds a really nice ambiance,” Pranga says. But don’t be afraid to accent the tree with a unique light size or color, using mini-lights further into the tree. Traditional trees with lots of sentimental ornaments that range in color will pop with a mix of clear and colored lights. “You can definitely mix up the lights,” Robertson says. “It sounds weird. But it looks nice.” © CTW Features




Knowing what to cook ahead and when to cook it can make your food taste great – and your holiday meal prep a calm affair. Here’s a guide to what to make ahead, when to make it, how to store it, and how to reheat it. By Dawn Klingensmith, CTW Features

Plan Ahead for a Stress-Free Meal




Getting Thanksgiving dinner – or any holiday feast – on the table can seem like a math word problem gone awry: Question: If it takes 4 hours to cook a 15-pound turkey, and three of the side dishes need something done to them “just before serving,” how many times will the cook wish there were an easier way without resorting to boxed or “instant” imposters of traditional favorites? Answer: Probably countless times, and each of them unnecessary because many continued on page 12

continued from page 11 side dishes can be prepared or partially prepared a day or more in advance. And certain freezer-friendly recipes can be made weeks or months in advance and still taste fresh come mealtime. “When it comes to a traditional Thanksgiving meal, everything but a green salad and the turkey can be made ahead, frozen and reheated on the holiday,” says Michele Borboa Stafford, a personal chef from Bozeman, Mont., and author of “Make-ahead Meals Made Healthy” (Fair Winds Press, 2011). “Bread-based stuffings are especially easy to fix and freeze, but you can also freeze mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and rice dishes, so all you have to do is thaw or reheat and serve.” It’s simply math: An earlier start plus Borboa’s step-by-step instructions equals more time for friends and family over the holidays.

2 Months in Advance

Bread-based and rice stuffings can be fully assembled, baked cooled and frozen. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven. Or, start two days ahead to save time without freezing. Cube and bake bread until lightly toasted, cool, and store at room temperature in an airtight container. For rice stuffings, steam the rice, let it cool



completely, and store in the refrigerator. Chop onions, celery, carrots and other vegetables your recipe calls for. Store them in the refrigerator to sauté on the holiday, or sauté them in advance, cool and refrigerate until you assemble the stuffing. If your recipe calls for nuts, toast and store them in an airtight container. “On Thanksgiving Day, all you have to do is assemble the prepped ingredients along with broth and any other ingredients” such as herbs and spices, and then follow instructions for cooking, Borboa says. Cranberry sauce can be made up to two months in advance, cooled completely and frozen.

1 Month in Advance

“Raw potatoes don’t freeze well,” Borboa warns, “but mashed potatoes can be made up to one month in advance. Make your favorite mashed potatoes, spread them in a greased casserole dish and cool completely. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly over the potatoes, and wrap the casserole dish tightly with heavy-duty foil.” To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and place in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. “You may have to adjust the butter, milk and seasonings but the hard work is done well in


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advance,” Borboa says. Also an advocate of doing as much as possible ahead of time, Chicago event planner Debi Lilly believes quality suffers for certain dishes. “Mashed potatoes absolutely cannot be made in advance. To me, the best texture is when they’re fresh off the stovetop,” says Lilly, president of A Perfect Event. “They come out warm and creamy, and they just don’t carry that same consistency when reheated. They get a little lumpier and dry out, and the texture changes.” The gravy that goes on top of them also requires same-day preparation, according to Lilly: “It’s very fatty and tends to separate,” she says. If you’d rather not freeze mashed potatoes, you can save time with this fix-ahead tip: Wash and scrub potatoes, cut them into chunks, and place in a large pot. Fill with enough cold water to cover the potatoes and add a generous pinch of salt and the juice of one

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continued from page 13 lemon to keep potatoes from browning. Potatoes can stay covered in water, refrigerated, for up to two days, Borboa says. When ready to cook, drain the water and boil in fresh water.

2 Weeks in Advance

“I prefer fresh-baked breads and rolls since freezing them can take away from their taste and texture, but if frozen properly, they can be made two to three weeks in advance and reheated on Thanksgiving Day,” Borboa says. Allow fresh-baked rolls to cool completely, and then place them on a baking sheet. Place in the freezer until just solid. Place rolls in heavy-duty freezer bags, squeeze the air out, seal and freeze. You can simply let them thaw at room temperature overnight and serve them or warm them in the oven.

2 Days in Advance

“You can’t cook an entire turkey and reheat it without ruining quality and increasing your chances of food poisoning,” Borboa warns, “but you can prep a few ingredients to save time.” A day or two ahead, cut oranges, onions, celery, carrots, herbs and other ingredients you plan to use to flavor the turkey. “I don’t like soggy stuffing so I bake stuffing in the oven and fill the cavity of the turkey with aromatics and shove herbs, spices, citrus, onions and garlic beneath the skin of the turkey,” Borboa says. “I prep the ingredients ahead of time so all I have to do on Thanksgiving Day is put them in place in the turkey before putting it in the oven.”

1 Day in Advance

“When it comes to salads, I say fresh is best, but you can certainly chop vegetables and other salad ingredients a day in advance and then assemble them on Thanksgiving Day and allow them to chill before serving,” Borboa says. “Always put the dressing on right before serving since vinegar and other acidic ingredients will wilt salad greens.”

The Big Day

“It’s best to prep fruit salads the day you serve them because the fruit tends to turn brown,” Borboa says. “Even when you have citrus juice mixed with them, they don’t have the vibrancy of being just sliced or diced. I’d wait until right before serving to add bananas since they tend to get soggy when mixed with juicy fruit.” © CTW Features

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Make-Ahead Appetizer: Mouthwatering Mini Crab Cakes Ingredients: 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 small onion, minced 1 clove garlic, minced 1 pound lump crab, picked over, finely chopped 2/3 cup light mayonnaise made with olive oil 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 5 cups whole wheat bread crumbs, divided 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 4 eggs, beaten 1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 2. Add onion and carrot and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. 3. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. 4. Transfer to a large bowl. 5. Add crab, mayonnaise, herbs, Old Bay, mustard and 1 cup bread crumbs, stirring well to combine. 6. Form mixture into 32 crab cakes. 7. Place flour, eggs and remaining bread crumbs in three separate shallow bowls. 8. Dip crab cakes in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in eggs,


allowing excess to drip off. Dip in bread crumbs to coat. 9. Set crab cakes on a greased baking sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour. 10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 11. Spray crab cakes with olive oil. 12. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. 13. Let cool completely on a wire rack. 14. To freeze, place crab cakes in a single layer on a baking sheet until firm. 15. Transfer crab cakes to a large freezer bag or freezer container. 16. To reheat, place frozen crab cakes on a greased baking sheet in a 375° over and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm. Make up to one month ahead and freeze until ready to reheat.

Yield: 32 crab cakes Source: Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy by Michele Borboa



Homestyle Winter 2018  

Holiday Decorating and Entertaining

Homestyle Winter 2018  

Holiday Decorating and Entertaining