Secret Santas, Pollyannas, and Gift Swaps for the Holidays

The Christmas season is here with us. This is a great time to show love to your friends, family, and coworkers though gift swaps for the holidays. Make sure that this year’s holiday gift swap is the best ever. Holiday gift swaps and anonymous holiday gift exchanges are popular holiday traditions that work well for large groups when each person cannot buy for everyone in the group.

The name of your holiday gift swap is not really that important. Call it Secret Santa, Kris Kringle, White Elephant, or simply holiday gift exchange. This year, aim at bringing back the magic of the holiday season with a Pollyanna, Secret Santa, Secret Snowflake, or Kris Kringle gift exchange. You can also try anonymous gift swaps for the holidays among your group members if you like. No need to spend a fortune, simply because you have a large family and many friends.

Different people use different names for their holiday gift swap. For example one type of holiday gift exchange is known as Secret Santa in the U.S.A and Britain while the same thing is known as Kris Kindles and Kris Kringle in Australia and New Zealand. Secret Santas can be used to refer to both the game or to the people participating. You should start you Secret Santa gifts swap early enough to allow the participants enough time to get thoughtful gifts. Let your group to get excited when the gifts are being opened.  Let them know that the idea of the Secret Santa gift swap is to give exciting Secret Santas gifts regardless of the cost – your gift swap can be as cheap as you like, even $5 per person. Inspire creativity and also make sure that your participants can afford their Secret Santa. Secret Santa gifts can be exchanged anonymously or can be kept secret for a long time with the recipient learning of the gift giver at the last minute.

White Elephant is also a well-liked variation of the same game. The White Elephant is a gift exchange game that is very similar in style to the Yankee Swap gift exchange, although the emphasis in the White Elephant is to “steal” gifts from other participants rather than swap them. White Elephant is also known as Thieving Secret Santa. The participants wrap the holiday gift exchange in a manner that the recipient is not able to know what is inside. Once a person selects and opens a gift, the next person to choose a gift can select a new gift from the pile or may steal a gift from any of those who previously selected gifts.

There is also the Kris Kringle gift exchange where all the participants buy one another holiday gifts. You will only reveal your identity when the recipient has opened the gift.

There is also the Pollyanna gift exchange. In this type of holiday gift swap you limit the holiday gift exchange to making certain that every person in the group gives a Pollyanna. In the Pollyanna gift exchange, a price is set for what all the members should spend on their Pollyannas. The Pollyannas should be well wrapped so that the recipients will not know what is inside. The participants in the Pollyanna gift exchange game draw lots to decide who gets what Pollyanna. Alternatively the participants can draw lots to know who buys a Pollyannas for whom. Make it more exciting by asking each participant to guess the member who brought them the Pollyannas.

Another gift swap for the holidays is the Yankee Swap. In this holiday gift exchange game all the participants will each bring a gift. They will draw numbers from a bowl to determine what gift they will pick. They will then pick the gifts in order from number one onwards. Each participant can keep their Yankee gift or they can swap it with another member. This Yankee Swap holiday gift exchange game is funny because no one knows what they will pick.

Another holiday gift swap game is Lucky Bags. Here the members are given a name each of another member in the group, normally a month before the big day. You will then buy five presents each for a set price that is affordable to all. People buy gourmet foods, fragrant soaps and lotions, or others that may please almost everyone. Participants then set a day that everybody can attend.  Make sure that they know that this is an anonymous holiday gift exchange in your invite to keep an air of mystery.

Finally, a quick and easy holiday gift exchange is a gift card exchange. There may not be as much fun exchanging gift cards because they don’t require as much thought, effort, or time in selection. However, any gifts at the holidays are a sign of love and appreciation.

Wishing you the best in your holiday gift exchange!

Wine Lovers Gift Guide for Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas, and Hostess Gifts

Wine often makes the perfect gift for a loved one, family member, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance. No matter if your gift recipient prefers red wine or white wine you should still be able to find a very suitable and classy wine related gift. Consider this wine lovers’ gift guide to help you choose a great wine themed gift for a birthday, Valentine’s Day, your anniversary, Christmas, or even as a hostess gift.

Depending on the interests of your gift recipient, you can choose from wine themed books to wine gadgets to actual bottles of wine and everything in between. You can search for great wine themed gifts like fancy wine stoppers, wine aerators, corkscrews and specialty wine openers, and of course, new labels of wine to taste and enjoy.

Wine gifts can be a perfect fit for your parents or in-laws, friends, siblings, party hosts and hostesses, coworkers, neighbors, and just about anyone of drinking age who enjoys a little vino. Consider the following wine gifts to help you offer a lovely present to that special someone, no matter whom he or she may be.

Wine Lovers Gift Guide – Wine Gadgets and Accessories

Wine lovers and winos will really appreciate thoughtful gifts they can enjoy with a fine glass of wine. For the wine aficionado, consider corkscrews, wine aerators, wine charms, and more. You can find wine totes, wine buckets and wine chillers, and so much more. Consider these wine gadgets and accessories for your next wine themed gift:

Corkscrews – A good corkscrew gives you the peace of mind to know you won’t ever have to struggle opening a bottle of wine! Some popular and well-rated corkscrews are Screwpull by Le Creuset Table Model Corkscrew, Pulltap Double hinged Waiter Style Corkscrew, and Screwpull by Le Creuset Pocket Model Corkscrew. You might also consider something like the Oster FPSTBW8207-S Electric Wine-Bottle Opener for convenience and an even easier time opening the wine.

Wine Aerators – Wine aerators create a better bouquet, improve the flavors of your wine, and ensure a smoother finish. Aerators expose the wine to air, which in turn enhances the taste and also smoothes the acidity of younger wines. Using a wine aerator like the wildly popular Vinturi Deluxe 6-Piece Wine Aerator Set (or Vintori Essential Wine Aerator) allows you to send oxygen to the wine in only seconds. Wine aerators are one of the unsung wine accessories that may be a great fit for your wine fan friends and family members.

Wine Charms – Wine charms are a great way for guests to tell their glasses apart, and they also make a nice gift around the holidays, especially for a hostess gift. You can find countless shapes, styles, and themes of wine charms for a friend, loved one, or hostess. Consider those made with Swarovski crystal, blown glass, or pewter, for starters. You can find cool wine and cheese themed wine charms, gourmet food collection, nautical charms, holiday wine charms, animal wine charms, and countless others, such as wine charms in a variety of colors with no other theme. A wine charms set can be a nice touch for your holiday party, too!

Wine Varietals to Try…


Top Five Hottest Electronics Gift Ideas for Christmas

Top Electronics Gadget Gifts for ChristmasSometimes the best gifts are easier to find than we might expect. Electronics continue to be popular choices for holiday gifting. From MP3 players to digital cameras, video cameras, and more, consider these cool electronics gifts for the top people on your Christmas list!

Apple iPod Touch 32GB (4th Generation) Newest Model – $274.99
Apple’s iPod has got to be the most popular MP3 player around. The iPod Touch gives great ease of use and versatile options for any age. The gift of music can be a special treat for your loved one, whether husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, parent, son, or daughter. Consider this popular MP3 player for its tremendous storage capacity (up to 8,000 songs, 40,000 photos, or 40 hours of video!), up to 40 hours of audio playback or 7 hours of video playback, 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen multi-touch display, and one-year limited warranty. Order now to receive a $15 Amazon gift certificate for every Apple iPod Touch 32GB device that you buy! Free Super Saver Shipping! For a special touch on this electronics gift idea, consider preloading the iPod with a special playlist of songs for the gift recipient.

Flip Video Camera – $99.99 – $199.00
The Flip Video camera is the perfect low-budget camcorder for someone who wants an easy-to-use, affordable, and versatile video recording device. The Flip Video devices allow customers to take video of everything from wedding ceremonies and best man speeches to your dog’s latest antics or your baby’s first real steps. Flip Video devices have very few buttons and features to learn, making them a great gadget for all ages. The USB arm flips out to connect to your computer for charging or downloading your video footage. Meanwhile the FlipShare software makes it super easy to edit videos and then upload your favorite ones to YouTube or other sharing sites. Flip Video cameras are highly compact and portable, giving you flexibility without burden. You can shoot HD video easily with no previous experience using the Flip MinoHD or Flip UltraHD video cameras. Currently on Amazon, save 25% on a Lowepro case for your Flip. You can also check out their offer to join Audible for $14.95 per month to save $100 on the cost of your Flip Video camera. Free shipping available!

Amazon Kindle Wireless Reading Device – $139
The #1 Most-Gifted Product on Amazon, the Kindle Wireless Reading Device, is on sale for only $139 this holiday season. This cool electronic device makes it easy and convenient to read eBooks just about anywhere. The Kindle is a great travel buddy for your flights and passing time in the airport. The new Kindle is smaller, lighter, and faster, offering 50% better contrast and built-in Wi-Fi. The Kindle reading device is also the most-wished-for product on Amazon and also has the most 5-star reviews out of any product on Amazon.

The Kindle allows easy reading in bright sunlight without a glare, up to one month of battery life, double the storage space (up to 3,500 books!), and 20% faster page turns, to name just a few features and benefits. This wireless reading device for eBooks also offers an enhanced PDF reader, WebKit-Based Browser, and wonderful text-to-speech technology so the Kindle can even read to you! Free Super Saver Shipping with this purchase!

LG BD530 1080p Network Blu-ray Disc Player – $69.28
The Blu-ray player is another popular gift idea for movie fanatics and electronics fans. The LG BD530 1080p Network Blu-ray Disc Player features Blu-ray, DVD, and CD playback and full HD 1080p output, great for your HD TV. You can even access Internet services on your Blu-ray player, such as YouTube, Picasa, and Accuweather without the need for a computer. The LG BD530 also features Standard DVD Up-Scaling to ensure your DVDs still look great on this newer technology. The player also allows you to set one remote control to handle all connected LG devices. Enjoy free shipping on Amazon.com.

Canon PowerShot SD 1300IS 12 MP Digital Camera – $129
The Canon Elph PowerShot SD 1300IS digital camera is an affordable and convenient way to capture memories all around you. This handy digital camera is the perfect size for your pocket or purse, and it travels well for fishing, hikes, sightseeing, and just about anything else you might like to do. Features include a 2.7-inch LCD, 28mm wide-angle lens, and 4x wide angle optical image stabilized zoom. For a fun burst of color, consider getting the Canon Elph in pink, blue, silver, green, or brown. The smart AUTO mode allows you to choose from 18 predefined settings and 15 shooting modes. Good things do come in small packages – you can use this compact camera for all your photo needs, even capturing photos and portraits for professional printing. Free shipping on Amazon!

Some other popular electronics gifts to consider include GPS units, televisions, video game consoles, and Webcams, to name a few. Check out these fun and most-wished-for Christmas gifts, or share your own ideas in our comments below!

 

Fall Martini Recipes (Great for Thanksgiving!)

When it comes to some martinis and others shaken or strained, enjoy your drinks in your family setting or social circles for the holidays. You will need a mixing tin and strainer as well as martini glasses or other glassware for your martini cocktails. For some festive fall varieties of martinis, consider the Pomegranate Martini, Rubytini, Pumpkin Pie Martini, and others shown below.

RUBYTINI
Enjoy a perfectly crafted martini such as the Rubytini. This drink is well fit for the fall season.

Ingredients:

6 ounces Ocean Spray® Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice Drink
3 ounces lemon Flavored Vodka
Grapefruit wedge, garnish

Instructions:

1. Combine ingredients, except garnish, in a cocktail shaker with ice.

2. Strain into a sugar-rimmed martini glass.

3. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit dipped in sugar.

Makes 1 serving.

– Recipe courtesy of the experts Canned Food Alliance / Mealtime.org

Pomegranate Martini
You can make a delicious Pomegranate Martini by following these simple steps….

Ingredients:

2 ounces    Three Olives Pomegranate Vodka
5 ounces    Pomegranate juice

Instructions:

1. Shake in martini shaker.

2. Serve chilled in sugar-rimmed martini glass.

– Recipe courtesy of Sassi, 10455 E. Pinnacle Peak Parkway, Scottsdale, Ariz. 85255, www.sassi.biz, 480-502-9095

Pumpkin Pie Martini
A delicious martini cocktail to enjoy after dinner or with an appetizer. The Pumpkin Pie Martini is the perfect way to channel fall in your autumn menu.

Ingredients:

3 ½ oz Blue Ice Vodka
1 oz DaVinci Pumpkin Pie Syrup
Cinnamon sugar

Instructions:

1. Add Blue Ice and syrup to a cocktail shaker.

2. Shake well and strain.

3. Garnish with an orange slice and pour into a cocktail glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar.

– Recipe courtesy of Blue Ice Vodka

Saffron Peach Martini
Try this cocktail recipe for a refreshing fall sipper.

Ingredients:

2 oz Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin
½ oz. natural peach syrup
½ oz. agave nectar
Juice of ½ large lemon

Instructions:

1. Shake all ingredients with ice.

2. Serve in a 7 oz. martini glass.

3. Garnish with a fresh peach slice.

– Recipe courtesy of Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin

il Casale: The Zucca-tini
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than a cocktail party? Hosting a cocktail party with fun fall themed martinis like this one.  You can also buy this fall drink for only $9 at il Casale, Belmont, MA.

Ingredients:

House vanilla vodka
Pumpkin
Spice
Graham cracker rim

Instructions:

1. Combine ingredients.

2. Rim with graham crackers.

-Recipe courtesy of il Casale, 50 Leonard Street, Belmont, MA, 617.209.4942,  www.ilcasalebelmont.com

Keep Reading: Pumpkin Pie Martini (Take Two) and More…

Even More Thanksgiving Cocktails and Fall Drink Recipes

HUGEcocktailIn case you’ve been following our recent fall cocktail recipes and Thanksgiving drink ideas series, you might also enjoy these other festive beverages that are perfect for Thanksgiving. Experimenting with different cocktails and ingredients can be fun since you know what flavors would work best for your punch, martinis, or other specialty drinks for fall. Consider these fall cocktail ideas or make up your own!

Jefferson Hall 15th Anniversary Drink
Are you looking for the perfect after dinner cocktails for the feast? For a cocktail drink that is deliciously fun, try the Jefferson Hall 15th Anniversary Drink. This cocktail can be served hot or cold.

Ingredients:

2 parts Dos Lunas Reposado Tequila
1 part Agave Nectar
1 part Apple Cider

Instructions:

Combine ingredients.

–    Recipe courtesy of Jefferson Hall

Blue Ice Autumn Breeze
This simple sparkling drink is refreshing for the feast.

Ingredients:

1 ½ oz Blue Ice Vodka
3 oz Orange Juice
1 oz POM Pomegranate Juice

Instructions:

1. Build over cubed ice in a Collins style glass.

2. Garnish with an orange slice.

– Recipe courtesy of Blue Ice Vodka

Maple Paloma
One of the  flavors that comes to mind in Thanksgiving is maple syrup. A Maple Paloma cocktail can be a nice complement to your ham dinner.

Ingredients:

2 oz Camarena Reposado Tequila
1 tsp maple syrup
4 oz grapefruit soda
1/2 oz fresh lime juice

Instructions:

Serve tall, over ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

– Recipe courtesy of Camarena Reposado Tequila

L’s Peppermint Paddy
Pour an ounce of Phillips Peppermint Schnapps and a splash of Bourbon into a mug, fill with hot cocoa, top with fresh whipped cream, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Apple Cider Toddy
Pour an ounce of Prairie Organic Vodka into a mug, fill with natural hot apple cider, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Red Devil
If you like a fruity drink, Red Devil might be the right cocktail for you.  The Red Devil is one strong cocktail so get ready to get wild.

Ingredients:

1-1/2 oz. freshly squeezed pomegranate juice* or POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
1-1/2 oz. grapefruit vodka
1 oz. fresh orange juice
1 oz. cinnamon syrup**
Garnish:
cinnamon-brown sugar powder (for rim of glass)
orange zest

Instructions:

1. Prepare a cocktail glass by wetting the rim with an orange and then frosting it with cinnamon-brown sugar powder.

2. Assemble the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker glass and shake well.

3. Strain into the prepared glass and drop an orange zest into the drink.

– Recipe courtesy of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice

The Lola
A flavorful cocktail style, the Lola cocktail also features pomegranate. Keep this in your cocktail list.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 oz. freshly squeezed pomegranate juice* or POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
1 oz. vodka
1 tsp. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
2 oz. champagne

Instructions:

1. Stir all the ingredients over ice to chilled, and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.

2. Garnish with a food-grade rose petal or other edible flower if roses are not available.

– Recipe courtesy of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice

Harvest Cocktail
The Harvest Cocktail features a variety of fresh flavors to enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 ½ parts CC Reserve 10 year
½ parts Harvey’s Bristol Cream
1 parts Lemon Sour
1 parts apple juice
1 ½” slice of fresh or canned pear
4-6 leaves of Lemon Verbena or Lemon Balm
½ parts Egg whites

Instructions:

1. Muddle leaves and pear slice in a mixing glass.

2. Add all remaining ingredients and shake with ice, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

3. Garnish with a dash of ground cinnamon.

– Recipe courtesy of Canadian Club

Russian Standard Moscow MuleThe Russian Standard Moscow Mule
You can enjoy a classic Moscow Mule at home with the following steps.

Ingredients:

2 oz. Russian Standard Vodka
5 oz. premium ginger beer
Wedge of lime

Instructions:

1. Pour two ounces of Russian Standard Vodka over ice in a chilled Russian Standard copper mug or Collins glass.

2. Add 5 ounces of ginger beer and stir gently.

3. Garnish with a squeezed wedge of lime.

– Recipe courtesy of Russian Standard Vodka

 

More Thanksgiving Cocktails…


 

Pumpkin Flavored Drinks or Thanksgiving Cocktails

When trying to find the perfect cocktail for your fall feast, try these different pumpkin flavored cocktails. the rich flavors of the fall season will play upon your taste buds and you will be thankful to find these different festive drinks as a suitable match for your Thanksgiving meal. As you plan your menu for Thanksgiving or any fall event, don’t forget about the drinks that you will serve your guests. Consider these tasty pumpkin themed drinks, cocktails, and punch recipes!

Pumpkin Punch
Try this pumpkin punch drink this fall, featuring Herradura Silver tequila shaken with freshly squeezed orange juice gently sweetened with maple syrup and homemade pumpkin puree. Serve it tall and dusted with cinnamon.

Ingredients:

2 oz Herradura Silver
1 ½ oz Pumpkin Puree (see recipe below)
2 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 oz maple syrup

Instructions:

1.    Combine all ingredients into a Boston shaker.

2.    Shake and strain into a highball glass filled with cubed ice.

3.    Garnish with an orange slice lightly dusted with cinnamon powder.

–    Recipe courtesy of Herradura Silver

Pumpkin Puree
This is pumpkin that has been blended down very smooth, like a food for babies. When you buy canned pumpkin, that is pumpkin puree.

Ingredients:

1 pound pumpkin pie peeled and cubed
1/2 cup of water
1/2 to 1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth if needed.

– Recipe courtesy of Herradura Silver tequila

Chilled Pumpkin Latte
A perfect coffee recipe for Thanksgiving holiday! This recipe can be altered to suit your tastes and definitely can be the highlight of your turkey day party.

Ingredients:

1 oz Blue Ice Vodka
¾ oz coffee liqueur
¾ oz DaVinci Pumpkin Pie Syrup

Instructions:

Build over cubed ice in a Collins-style glass.

– Recipe courtesy of Blue Ice Vodka

Chocolate Pumpkin Grahams
This chocolate pumpkin Grahams recipe is fantastic for those with a sweet tooth. Mixed with heavy cream and grahams, what more can you ask for? A perfect cocktail to conclude the feast…

Ingredients:

4 oz. pumpkin-infused vodka
1 oz. creme de cacao
1 oz. heavy cream

Instructions:

1. Pour vodka, creme de cacao and cream into cocktail shaker with ice.

2. Use a little of the mixture to moisten rim of cocktail glass, dip glass in chocolate cracker crumbs.

3. Strain martini into glass and grate a little hazelnut on top.

–    Recipe courtesy of Los Angeles and New York-based event designer, author (Party Like a Rockstar) and party planner extraordinaire, Jes Gordon

Pumpkin Juice
Pumpkin juice is a great choice because of its healthy alternative to sugary, carbonated drinks.

Ingredients:

2 butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves

Instructions:

1. Pass the squash through a juice extractor. This will yield about 4-6 cups of fresh juice.

2. Pour the juice into a saucepan and add the sugar and spices.

3. Cook over medium heat until the juice reduces by about half, 10 minutes or so.

5. Strain the juice and set aside for use.

–    Recipe courtesy of 62 Restaurant & Wine Bar

Apple Cider Soda & Pumpkin Float
This Apple Cider Soda & Pumpkin Float recipe is made extra special for its ingredients that perfectly suit your Thanksgiving feast.  This fall cocktail recipe can make up to four servings.

Ingredients:

4 cups apple cider, reduced to ¼ cup syrup and cooled (4 hours)
1 cinnamon stick, added to reducing cider then removed at cooling
1 cup Calvados
1-2 cup pumpkin ice cream
Club soda
Cinnamon

Instructions:

1. Fill a highball glass with ice, pour in ¼ of the apple-cider syrup and 2 oz. Calvados, then stir.

2. Top off with club soda and scoop of pumpkin ice cream.

3. Garnish with a straw and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

–    Recipe courtesy of Heirloom Restaurant

Nutty Pumpkin Martini
The Nutty Pumpkin Martini is a perfect treat for the Thanksgiving holiday party or fall festivities.

Ingredients:

1/2 oz. Stoli Vanilla
1 oz. pumpkin spice liqueur
1/2 oz. Frangelico
1 oz. half & half

Instructions:

Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice and pour into chilled martini glass garnished with a cinnamon stick.

– Recipe courtesy of Salt Creek Grille

Don’t forget to check out our other fall and Thanksgiving drink recipes, like apple flavored cocktails, fall martinis, and fall punch recipes! Which one of these fun fall cocktails is your favorite?

Thanksgiving Cocktails: Apple Flavored Drinks, and Alcoholic Beverages

Thanksgiving cocktails give you a great reason to get together with everyone you know and love for a social gathering before or after the Thanksgiving feast. Apple flavored alcoholic beverages for Thanksgiving, fall, or anytime give us opportunity to sip delicious mixed drinks while sharing casual conversation. Fall cocktails can be great fun at the bar, but why not mix up some apple themed Thanksgiving drinks at home?

If you want to have a very memorable and special day on Thanksgiving with family and friends, try some different Thanksgiving cocktail recipes with flavors of apple, pumpkin, pear, or cranberry. This feature focuses on apple flavored Thanksgiving or fall cocktail recipes.

Apple Flavored Cocktails

Apple themed drinks like apple cider and desserts like apple pie can be popular treats for the fall season. Check out these yummy apple themed cocktail recipes for your Thanksgiving cocktail party.

Spiced Caramel Apple Martini
You can order a Spiced Caramel Apple Martini at the Meritage Steakhouse at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in north Phoenix, or you can try to make this Thanksgiving drink for yourself at home.

Ingredients:

1/2 ounce    Crown Royal
1/2 ounce    Skyy vodka
1/2 ounce    Concentrated apple juice
Pinch    Ground cinnamon
Splash    Apple Pucker schnapps
Splash    Cranberry juice
1 slice    Caramel-coated apple

Instructions:

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a martini glass.

Garnish with a sugared rim and the caramel-coated apple.

– Recipe courtesy from From Meritage Steakhouse, JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, www.jwdesertridgeresort.com, 480-293-5000

Bohemia Apple Lime Cider
Bohemia Apple Lime Cider Bohemia beer, lime juice, and apple cider mixed to perfection….  Served with a lime wedge. This recipe can make two drinks.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon each: coarse salt, sugar
1 cup fresh, unfiltered apple cider
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 bottle (12 ounces) Bohemia
Fresh lime wedges

Instructions:

1. Mix salt and sugar on a small plate.

2. Use a lime wedge to moisten the rim of two beer glass.

3. Dip the rims into the salt mixture.

4. Mix cider and lime juice in small pitcher.

5. Divide among two beer glasses.

6. Top with Bohemia.

7. Serve with a lime wedge.

– Recipe courtesy of Bohemia Apple Lime Cider Bohemia beer

All-American Chilled Apple Pie
All-American Chilled Apple Pie tastes best when it is shaken well. Served it chilled and enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 ½ oz Blue Ice Vodka
¾ oz Tuaca Liqueur
½ oz Sweet & Sour

Instructions:

1. Combine ingredients to create Chilled Apple Cider.

2. Pour over ice in a 12 oz glass, garnish with a lemon slice, a long cinnamon stick, and a straw.

– recipe courtesy of Blue Ice Vodka

Hot Apple Pie and More Apple Themed Cocktails…


Fall and Thanksgiving Punch Recipes

Punch is a very popular beverage to serve at any holiday parties or special events like bridal showers and baby showers. Fall and Thanksgiving themed punch drinks are a great way to spruce up your festive occasions. You can make alcoholic punch recipes (or “spiked punch”) for your Thanksgiving dinner or other holiday party, or you can even make non-alcoholic punch for the kids to enjoy! Consider these recipe suggestions for fun fall punch recipes and Thanksgiving punch ideas.

Try these fall punch ideas for Thanksgiving or anytime:

 

Flor de Copia Punch
Looking for different punch to serve at Thanksgiving? You can try a Flor de Copia punch that is very refreshing, offering fruity bliss with all its natural ingredients freshly squeezed from fruits.

Ingredients:

2 oz. Flor De Caña 7-year Grand Reserve
4 sugar cubes
3 oz. club soda
2 whole cloves
1 pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
1 oz. lemon juice
2 oz. Fuji apple juice
2 dashes of Peychaud bitters

Instructions:

1.  Dissolve the sugar cubes in 1 oz. of club soda (this generally involves muddling to help the process).

2.  Muddle the cloves with the sugar cubes.

3.  After the sugar cubes and cloves are muddled/dissolved, add the rest of the ingredients one at a time and stir as added.

4.  Add ice once all of the ingredients have been added and stirred.

5.  Stir the punch until it is chilled.

6.  Strain the punch into a glass or punch bowl, depending on the size of the portion, top with 2oz. club soda and garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks.

– Recipe courtesy of Flor De Caña rum

Cinnamon Toast Pumpkin Punch
This is a unique fall punch drink featuring real pumpkin. You will love the cloves and cinnamon that gives a great flavor to this fall drink.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 can pumpkin
14 oz. ginger beer, chilled
Splash of cinnamon schnapps

Instructions:

1. Blend the sugar, cinnamon, milk, eggs, and pumpkin and let it chill.

2. Before serving add in the ginger beer and cinnamon schnapps.

3. Serve them up in copper colored cups with crushed ice and pumpkin seed brittle for garnish.

–    Recipe courtesy of Los Angeles and New York-based event designer, author (Party Like a Rockstar) and party planner extraordinaire, Jes Gordon

The Fall Punch
A very beautiful orange color punch surely adds sparks to your Thanksgiving party or other fall event.

Ingredients:

2 oz. Highland Park 12 year
2 oz. Apple Cider
1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz. Simple Syrup
1 oz. Part Cinnamon Syrup (Boil water, sugar and cinnamon sticks till you get a really nice and strong tasting syrup – similar to a simple syrup)

Instructions:

Mix ingredients together in a large container and pour over a full glass of ice.

–    Recipe courtesy of Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky

 

Non-alcoholic Punch Recipe

For a delicious punch recipe even the kids can enjoy (great for any time of year), consider making sherbet punch. This punch recipe involves Hawaiian punch, sprite, and rainbow sherbet. Combine juice and sode and mix to taste. Add in scoops of rainbow sherbet as often as you like. Enjoy!

Christmas Cookie Kitchen Tools and Accessories

Baking Christmas cookies or holiday cookies is a tradition in many households and just as many circles of friends. A holiday baking party is a great way to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, sharing traditions and sipping wine as you make your favorite kinds of Christmas cookies. To have even more fun making holiday cookies this year, consider adding some new Christmas cookie gear and accessories to your kitchen’s baking arsenal.

A variety of cookie tools and accessories can make baking more fun for the whole family and especially in groups of friends. Consider these cool cookie gadgets and other baking items to make your holiday baking even more enjoyable this year.

Cookie Press / Cookie Gun
The cookie press, also known as cookie gun, is a timeless cookie baking accessory to add to your kitchen and cherish forever. You can make dozens and dozens of uniformly shaped and sized cookies for the holidays or anytime at all with a cookie gun. Press cookies are a fun Christmas cookie to make with the kids, as they are usually amazed with the mechanics of the cookie press gun and the large volume of cookies it produces.

Depending on your preferences, you can find anything from cheap cookie presses with plastic construction to luxury cookie guns made entirely of stainless steel. A cookie gun also makes a great gift for the woman who loves to bake cookies. A few examples of highly rated cookie guns include: Kuhn Rikon Clear Cookie Press, Norpro 3301 Cookie Press, Norpro 3301 Deluxe Cookie Press, and Kaiser Bakeware Patisserie Stainless Steel Cookie Press Set.

You can have a lot of fun making press cookies with a cookie gun this holiday season. You can try a few tips like dying the cookie dough festive colors for the holiday or sprinkling your favorite Christmas sprinkles and jimmies on top. Cookie guns are a great way to make tons of Christmas cookies to give out to your friends and family for the holidays!

Cookie Molds
Cookie molds are a creative alternative to your standard cookie cutters. You can create three dimensional cookies with great detail using holiday cookie molds like the Gingerbread Boy cookie mold, the holiday cookie mold set (with stocking, Christmas tree, and boy), and especially the Gingerbread House cookie mold. Baking with cookie molds is decidedly difficult if you speak to experienced bakers and amateurs alike, but like many great skills, with practice, better results become possible. Cookie molds may be a bit new to you. If so, you can think of them like candy molds, much like the Wilton Jolly Fun Cookie Candy Mold, which can be used for making candy and cookies.

For old-fashioned molded cookies, you might consider the sturdy Chicago Metallic 12 Days of Christmas Cookie, Candy, Shortbread, and Springerle Mold. Made of cast aluminum, this non-stick decorative mold tray features 12 squares with an image relating to the 12 Days of Christmas. Reviewers have stated that this particular mold pan works best as a chocolate mold or for artistic home décor.

If you are new to making cookies using cookie molds, consider checking out the paperback Baking with Cookie Molds: Secrets and Recipes for Making Amazing Handcrafted Cookies for Your Christmas, Holiday, Wedding, Party, Swap, Exchange, or Everyday Treat by Anne L. Watson. This book received five stars on Amazon and explores various techniques in using cookie molds as well as many recipes for both old-fashioned and more modern cookie recipes, like speculaas, springerle, and shortbread, for use with cookie molds.

Cookie Scoops
If you want to give out gorgeous Christmas cookies that are consistent in shape and size every time, you will benefit from using a cookie scoop. Cookie scoops can look like old-time ice cream scoopers with a mechanical handle or like a very rounded spoon with a flexible silicone center. Cookie scoopers work well when baking holiday treats is a family affair with little hands ready for cookie making. You can find different sizes of cookie scoops to suit your needs.

Folks who have used cookie scoops like the Oxo Good Grips Cookie Scoop (available in small, medium, and large) report that the uniform shape and size of the cookies results in better baking overall, with fewer burnt or underdone cookies in the end. Users of the cookie scoops also note that they save time and create delicious cookies. This is one cookie baking tool that can be used for multiple purposes as well, such as scooping ice cream, making scones, dishing out guacamole, and scooping waffle batter, among other uses.

Rolling Pin & Spatula
Cookie baking wouldn’t be complete without a rolling pin and a set of trusty spatulas! You can choose from marble rolling pinswooden rolling pins, French rolling pins, and even non-stick / silicone rolling pins. You might need to try a few different rolling pin styles to find the one that works best for you, or you may find that certain recipes work better with different rolling pins. Anytime you want to make cutout Christmas cookies, a good rolling pin is essential!

Spatulas allow you to mix ingredients and scrape the sides of your mixing bowl to gather as much cookie dough as possible. A good spatula set should last you a long time and give you great experiences in baking cookies by leaving little dough to waste. The Wilton 570-1121 Easy Flex 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set is a pretty ice blue and crystal colored set of baking spatulas that received a four star rating on Amazon. Reviewers appreciated the quality and the price as well as their heat resistance and flexibility.

Cookie Shovel / Large Cookie Spatula / Cake & Cookie Lifter
Sometimes a regular flipper or cookie turner doesn’t seem to lift as many cookies off the baking sheets as we would like. A large cookie spatula or cookie shovel may be the answer to this ongoing baking dilemma. With a larger cookie turner, the cookie making process can become even quicker yet. Consider products like the 15-inch stainless steel Fox Run Large Cookie Spatula,  the heavy-duty Wilton Cake and Cookie Lifter (11.6 x 9.4 x 1.4 inches), or the 6.5 x 6.5-inch stainless steel Norpro Jumbo Cookie Shovel, all rated very favorably on Amazon.

These larger sized flippers, turners, and scrapers can easily move several cookies at a time from the cookie sheet to the cooling rack. You can get done your baking quicker by using helpful cookie baking accessories throughout your baking party. Best of all, these cookie shovels and spatulas can be used for other foods like cakes, pancakes, eggs, and so much more.

Cookie Containers & Cookie Cutters


Football Shaped Food

Football shaped food is a fun way to jazz up your football gatherings, no matter where you are. Football season is in full swing and football parties are happening every week. Tailgating never goes out of style, so you can really have a great time showing off your cooking and baking skills with football shaped food. Even if you aren’t an especially experienced cook, you can still have a pretty good time making foot shaped like footballs.

From appetizers to main courses and even desserts, you can create a nice spread of football shaped food. Consider these ideas to create your own football food!

Football Shaped Food: Appetizers and Entrees
When you have a football party or even if your family just loves the sport of American football, it’s a nice touch to carry the football theme through your menu, especially on Sundays. Consider these football shaped food ideas to impress your family and your guests:

•    Football shaped burgers
•    Football shaped cheese ball
•    Football shaped meatloaf
•    Football shaped pancakes (great for Sunday breakfast or brunch with your kids!)
•    Football shaped French toast
•    Football shaped sandwich
•    Football shaped pizza

Football Shaped Food: Desserts
No meal is complete without dessert! Consider these football shaped dessert ideas for your family or any football loving guests.

•    Football cake
•    Football cookies
•    Football rice krispie treats
•    Football Jello Jigglers
•    Football shaped Carvel ice cream cake

 

If you had some other kind of food in mind for your football party or gathering, you can still bake or cook whatever you originally planned. Simply look for fun and festive football platters, football bowls, and other football themed serving ware. You can dress up any tailgate or football party with football shaped containers and serving trays. Now all that’s left is decorating with your favorite team’s colors!

 

Candy Themed Centerpieces

Try a unicorn pop and Whirly Swirl Lollipop centerpiece for a real eye-catching display!Candy themed centerpieces can be fun for just about any occasion. You can create your own fun candy themed centerpiece for weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, Halloween parties, birthday parties, and even anniversary parties. Choose your favorite candy or a color coordinated candy to go with the rest of your party décor. Check out these ideas for centerpieces made of candy.

Your candy centerpieces can be for display only, for snacking, or for your guests to take home with them. As you plan your centerpiece decorations, think about all the different kinds of candy you like and consider which ones would look best as part of a candy themed centerpiece. Here are a few suggestions for cute and fun candy centerpieces.

RefletCandy Themed Centerpieces for Holidays
The holiday season is a special time for parties and special events, family gatherings, and corporate celebrations. To create a stylish candy centerpiece for your holiday party, consider these ideas for Christmas candy centerpieces and other holiday party candy themed centerpieces.

•    Glass or crystal bowls or vases filled with Peppermint Starlight Mints or holiday hard candy
•    Glass or crystal bowls or vases filled with red and green candy
•    Decorative glass bowl or vase overflowing with blue and silver wrapped chocolates
•    Candy gift boxes like those offered by Oo La La Candy
•    Glass or crystal tiers featuring decadent fudge or other confections

Sweet Stuff Gift Boxes from Oo La La Candy are a nice way to send each of your guests home with a favor at your next holiday event. You can set up a creative and fun candy centerpiece by placing decorative candy gift boxes inside a basket or other attractive container. Oo La La Candy then recommends tying some balloons around the boxes and placing them in the center of the table. You might also consider Nuts, Gifts, Sweets & More from NutsOnline.

Candy Centerpieces for Showers
Baby showers and bridal showers are two great parties where edible centerpieces are especially handy. You can have individual cakes or cupcake tiers on each table at the shower, but you might also consider baby shower or bridal shower candy centerpieces. Here are a few ideas for fun candy themed centerpieces for showers.

Baby Shower Candy Centerpieces

Baby Shapes Candy Ideas for Baby ShowersHere are a few ideas for baby shower candy themed centerpieces:

•    Baby Bottle Candies – Fill plastic clear glass or plastic baby bottles with tiny candies like the adorable baby themed candies  Sugar Layon-Deluxe Baby Assorted: 144 Count. You can probably find baby themed candy or use jelly beans for added color in your baby shower centerpiece.

•    Color Coordinated Candy – Whether the mom-to-be is having a boy, a girl, or a surprise, you can color coordinate your candy for the occasion. Simply fill a bowl or vase with colored candy like  Jordan Almonds (Pastel) or M&Ms for a fun and colorful candy centerpiece. Personalized Chocolates On Sale

Bridal Shower Candy Centerpieces
For a fun bridal shower candy centerpiece, consider these suggestions:

•    Candy Cupcakes – Talk about elegant! Candy Cupcakes, like those you can get from Oo La La Candy, are a fun and festive must-have for cool candy centerpieces. Make sure you get enough candy cupcakes so each guest can take one home. Then set them up nicely on a tiered table tray or cupcake stand for the perfect bridal shower candy themed centerpiece. Oo La La Candy recommends adding a single flower vase if you would like an added dimension to this particular candy centerpiece style. While they are a great option for showers, you can consider candy cupcakes for other centerpiece needs as well.

•    Decorative Vase of Dinner Mints – The pale pastel colors of  After Dinner Butter Mints can blend nicely with a wedding theme or bridal shower theme. Consider different shapes and sizes of glass or crystal vases for decoration.

You can also find lots of adorable, edible wedding themed treats like chocolate covered apples, bridal themed fortune cookies, brownie favors and more at MyWeddingFavors.com. For a special discount – Enter coupon code TAKE25 to receive $25 off orders over $200.

Candy Themed Centerpieces for Any Party or Event…

 


Great Gift Ideas for a 30th Birthday for Husband, Wife, Boyfriend, Girlfriend, Son, Daughter, or Friend

Turning 30 is a big milestone that many of us dread until it finally gets here. Then it’s time to live it up and celebrate like we’re 21 again! Whether it’s your husband or wife, or boyfriend or girlfriend, son or daughter, or even your best friend turning 30, be sure you have a fun day and a special present in store for the birthday girl or birthday boy. To help you find the perfect present for your friends entering their thirties, consider these gift ideas for a thirtieth birthday.

Turning 30 is one final great birthday to celebrate before we may not really want to share our age as much. It is the last in a series of great birthdays – sweet 16, turning 18, and of course, the famed 21st birthday. Be sure to celebrate the big 3-0 in style with fun 30th birthday party ideas and creative presents for the person turning 30.

Great Gifts for a Husband or Boyfriend Turning 30
When the man you love is about to celebrate his 30th birthday, a special gift is surely in order. Depending on the guy and his interests (and your budget), you can find a wide variety of cool 30th birthday gift ideas to suit your sweetheart. Consider these suggestions for your husband’s or boyfriend’s 30th birthday present:

•    An amazing vacation
•    Cigars, cigar case, humidor, or other cigar accessories
•    Electronics – new iPod, phone, laptop, tablet pc, etc.
•    Jewelry – chain, bracelet, pinky ring, cuff links
•    Season tickets (or a game plan) to his favorite sports team
•    Something for a hobby of his – musical instrument, hiking or camping gear, etc.
•    Sports jersey – all the better if it is top of the line or signed
•    Watch – consider a major label if you want a luxury item

These are just a few suggestions of gifts you can get your husband or boyfriend for his thirtieth. See what else you can come up with, and please share in our comments!

30th Birthday Gifts for Wife or Girlfriend
If your wife or girlfriend is about to turn 30, be sure you have selected a very special present to mark the occasion. The 30th birthday is a huge milestone and a special time to celebrate with the woman you love. Consider these ideas for a great 30th birthday gift for your wife or girlfriend:

•    An amazing vacation
•    Big ticket hobby item
•    Day trip to a fun or exciting destination
•    Designer purse or accessories
•    Electronics – a new camera, laptop, or cool cell phone or data device
•    Jewelry – necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings
•    Scrapbook of memories together
•    Shopping excursion
•    Wine or wine excursion

The type of gift you choose for your wife’s or girlfriend’s 30th birthday really should depend on her personality, likes, and interests. See if she gives you any clues to what she wants or needs and select her 30th birthday gift accordingly.

Creative 30th Birthday Presents for Son, Daughter, or Friend…