After every Christmas, I am faced with the same dilemma: a few half-used rolls of wrapping paper I must store for 12 months, and which, inevitably, will be pre-empted by newer, more colourful prints and patterns the following year.
This year I’m attempting to avoid all that excess by choosing neutral bags, boxes, paper and tags that will work for occasions throughout the year. Kraft paper, shipping tags and office labels provide the perfect canvas for colourful ribbon, sparkling buttons and other festive embellishments – yet they can also be dressed up for other celebrations that warrant a gorgeously wrapped gift.
While researching materials, I discovered Olive Manna Textiles & Paper Goods – an online shop filled with basic yet charming packaging options. From glassine bags to baker’s twine and sweet stamps, I’m stocking up now for all of the gifts I’ll give in the year ahead.
+ Olive Manna Textiles & Paper Goods
Edible tree ornaments are on old tradition. I found some that do not require any decorations to look great. Bunuelos is a sweet Mexican treat made with fried masa sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Chef Marcela found a shortcut that makes it easy to prepare. Marcela suggests to use uncooked flour tortillas instead.
Her Bunuelo Christmas Tree Ornaments are super easy to make. You only need 4 ingredients: 10 uncooked flour tortillas, vegetable oil for frying them in the oven, 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Get the entire recipe on Chef Marcela’s Web site.
If you are looking for more delicious and simple to make Mexican recipe, read what I had to say about Chef Marcela’s book titled Fresh in Mexico.
+ Easy Bunuelo Christmas Tree Ornaments by Chef Marcela
+ For Americans: Fresh Mexico by Marcela Valladolid $14.24 USD
+ For Canadians: Fresh Mexico by Marcela Valladolid $16.29 CAD
With the Holiday so close, we are all looking for easy and delicious recipes to cook for dinner. I found three recipes on the February 2011 issue of Style at Home.
Lemony fish cakes by Donna Hay can be make with flaked salmon or trout. Serve them fish cakes with mayonnaise or a lightly sweet tartare sauce. Prepare a peppery green salad, serve a soup first and you are all set for a meal that all the family will enjoy.
The garlic and chili chicken couscous is the type of meal I often serve at home. I like the taste and the convenience of grilled chicken breasts and couscous. This reminds me that her lemon grilled chicken with almond couscous was the first Donna Hay’s recipe I ever made). The only fresh ingredients that won’t be in your pantry are the chicken breasts, 2 zucchinis and fresh parsley.
I plan to make the caper and crisp pancetta served with baby spinach. It is almost a mix between a pasta dish and salad.
+ Recipes: Style at Home – February 2011 issue
+ Lemony fish cakes photo: William Meppem
+ Other photos: Con Poulos
You can’t really go wrong with an edible gift, especially if it’s homemade and thoughtfully packaged. Never unappreciated, food gifts are a great option for the “extra” people on your list – like the mailman, your child’s teacher or a kind neighbour – who tend to be overlooked until the last minute.
If you’re pressed for time or just can’t bare to bake another batch of cookies, opt for one of these foodie gifts that don’t require much time in the kitchen for you or the recipient. Each can be layered and presented inside a jar – just dress it up with the cooking instructions, a pretty ribbon and a holiday note to the recipient.
Panettone is an Italian sweet bread flavoured with dried fruit. It’s typically enjoyed during the holidays, but with ready-to mix-ingredients your gift recipient can enjoy it anytime of year.
Sunset magazine offers up four flavour variations on everyone’s favourite winter beverage, including classic, spicy, mocha and peppermint. Create single-size servings of each in small jars and package them as a set.
Curried Lentil Soup
Your gift recipients will be grateful for this just-add-water homemade soup on the next snowy day.
Gluten-Free Cookie Mix
For a gluten-free gift, consider this cookie recipe made with almond flour, dark chocolate chips and agave nectar.
Jamaican Jerk Rub
Gifts in a jar don’t have to be sweet. Give guys this spicy Jamaican Jerk Rub from Better Homes and Gardens paired with a guide to grilling or barbecue tools.
+ Holiday Panettone from Food Network
+ 4 hot chocolate in a jar flavors from Sunset Magazine
+ Curried Lentil Soup from Good Housekeeping
+ Gluten-Free Cookie Mix in a Jar from Elana’s Pantry
+ Jamaican Jerk Rub from Better Homes and Gardens
If you’re planning to send a holiday sweet treat to a loved one, this idea seems so obvious and so clever. Cookies are the perfect shape to slide inside a standard mailing tube. If your baked goods are particularly delicate, consider bundling them inside a sleeve of parchment paper first.
I spotted the idea via Better Homes & Gardens, but also found variations at Martha Stewart and on Idea Chic. Decorate the tube with wrapping paper, colorful tape or decorative shipping labels. If you’ll be hand-delivering them, you may even want to add a ribbon handle.
Look for cardboard mailing tubes at your local office supply and shipping stores. Be sure to use the type with plastic end caps to keep sweets safe during transport.
+ Holiday Cookie Tube Gift from Idea Chic
+ Delightful Christmas Cookie Gifts from Better Homes & Gardens
+ DIY Holiday Cookie Mailing Tubes from Martha Stewart
Two weeks ago, I passed a few hours with Lorena Rossi making her store front window of her nice gift store. This was the first time I designed a store front window. It was fun to display products in an unusual way to create something that, hopefully will catch the eye of pedestrians. For example, I used body spray boxes, bracelets, bows and gift tags as Christmas ornaments.
The color palette emerged from the first product I selected: the beautiful Holiday cup and saucer set. It’s a funny thing that I created a red and green scheme since I am not a fan of the traditional Christmas palette. So, we can never say never since I pleased of the results. I feel that the lighter green gives it a modern twist.
It was a lot a fun to work with Lorena Rossi. She is an inspiring woman. I needed her help with my growing belly. In fact, I took this opportunity to share pictures where you see me pregnant.
If you live in Montreal, I encourage you to stop by Lorena Rossi boutique in Little Italy. She carries a nice selection of gifts for kids and adults. Plus if you host a kid birthday or a baby shower, know that she sells the cute and so practical Meri Meri cupcake decorating kits.
+ Lorena Rossi gift store
+ Photos by Julia C Vona
Colored pencils is a timeless gift to anyone who likes to draw. I like the chic look of the Japanese colored pencils designed by IDEA Idea in collaboration with old school German art supply firm to create Düller. The square shape of the pencils mean that they won’t roll over the table. You can buy the pencil set alone or a kit with a sketchbook.
For kids and adults, I found at MoMA a set of fluorescent colored pencils. I also like that MUJI puts their colored pencils in a tube instead of a box.
+ 36-Colors Pencil Set+Sketchbook $92 USD at A+R Store, pencil set at $66
+ Fluorescent Colored Pencil Set $24 USD at MoMA store
+ MUJI’s 60 Colored Pencils in a Tube $27.95 USD At MUJI USA
DIY photo booths are a popular, budget-savvy solution for weddings and parties. They provide both an ice-breaker and entertainment for guests, while capturing the special and hilarious moments from the event.
Many families use the holidays as an opportunity to update families photos, so why not consider staging a DIY photo booth as a smart alternative for the overdone, and often embarrassing, traditional portrait.
The printable holiday photobooth accessories from Paper & Cake include Santa’s hat and beard, Mrs. Claus’ glasses, reindeer antlers, Rudolph’s red nose and other backdrop decorations. They’re sure to guarantee smiles for the photo and for the photo’s recipient.
+ Printable Holiday Photo Booth Accessories by Paper & Cake $9.95 USD on Etsy
+ via Hostess with the Mostess
Move over cookie swap. There’s a new holiday baking party idea that’s sweetening up the neighborhood! Decorating a gingerbread house is a holiday tradition that will resonate with nostalgic adults and excited children. Both groups will love this delightful idea for a holiday get together from Sara and Brittany of One Charming Party.
If gingerbread seems too labour-intensive, consider pre-assembling graham cracker houses so guests can skip straight to the fun part: decorating! The miniature size is perfect for little hands and is easily transported at the end of the party.
Be sure to use the adorable invite to create excitement with guests. And check out One Charming Party for more hosting and gingerbread house decorating tips.
+ photos by Sara Westbrook
There are so many amazing FREE printables available for Christmas. So many, in fact, that we had to split our round-up into four parts! The final installment in our holiday printable round-up is all about pretty packaging. Pair up these freebies with the cards and tags from part 3 for a unique look.
If good things come in small packages, then great things come wrapped in these printable gift wrap papers from Australian designers Mae. Polka dots and lace give their patterns a feminine quality making the papers perfect wrapping for petite jewellery boxes or other tiny trinkets.
Giving sweet treats? This adorable “pillow box” from Melissa Esplin at I Still Love You would work wonders for homemade candy or stuffed in a stocking. And this cute Christmas Tree favor box? Perfect for a party, perhaps with a handmade chocolate truffle tucked inside. (Don’t miss all the coordinating party printables from Sweet Little Parties – including paper chains, hanging decorations, placecards, gift tags, thank you notes, and more!)
Every piece of holiday packaging could use a bit of festive flair. Print these envelope and package wraps from The Bella Bella Co. on adhesive paper to dress up your Christmas cards or gifts you intend to ship.
That “wraps up” our holiday printable round-up for this year! We hope these free designs inspire you in your holiday decorating and wrapping. In case you missed them earlier this week, check out parts 1 (holiday planning), 2 (holiday decorations) and 3 (cards and tags)!
+ A4 Size Printable Wrapping Paper from Mae
+ Christmas Tree Favour Boxes from Sweet Little Parties
+ Christmas Candy Box from IS•LY|I Still Love You!
+ Envelope and Package Wraps from Creature Comforts – designed by MISS B. of The Bella Bella Co.
If a friend or a loved one on your list loves tea, make sure to check these 4 tea essentials for anyone who he serious about drinking tea.
First, you eliminate the guess work with a tea timer. The most practical infusion times are 3, 4 and 5 minutes. You will find the one on the left at Arthur Quentin. I prefer this design because it takes less space. Danesco makes a 3 In 1 Sand Timer that look more manly.
The Breville Variable Temperature Kettle is wonderful. I received it for Christmas last year and absolutely love it. The kettle is useful for tea drinkers and French press coffee fans. You can read the review I did about my Breville variable temperature kettle.
The last essential is a good infuser for your loose teas. The fine mesh Comfort Touch Tea Strainer includes a lid that serves as a saucer to hold the strainer when you finish.
+ 3/4/5 minute sand timer $19.50 CAD at Kusmi Tea (for the store locator)
+ 3 In 1 Sand Timer by Danesco $15 USD at Amazon.com [affiliate link]
+ Breville Variable Temperature Kettle $108.40 CAD at Amazon.ca [affiliate link]
+ Comfort Touch Tea Strainer $16.95 USD at Teavana