Friends and family will adore these handy handmade Christmas gifts -- including dishware, vases, and other home accessories -- that are just as fun (and easy!) to make as they are to give. Start one of these simple Christmas crafts today so you can check everyone off your holiday gift list.View Slideshow
Be creative by decorating your Christmas tree with a favorite theme that suits your decorating style or your family's personality. We were inspired by a local festival of trees and have included tips for bringing the looks inside your own Christmas home. Bonus: We've included lighting tips to make your tree shine.View Slideshow
Christmas wreaths don't have to be made from traditional evergreens -- in fact, we encourage you to mix it up with eucalyptus leaves, boxwood, lotus pods, and even items that don't come from nature, such as peppermint candies and pom-poms. These fun-to-make creative designs show you how to make Christmas wreaths with unexpected shapes, dazzling colors, and out-of-the-ordinary materials.View Slideshow
Get ready for the Christmas season with our clever tricks to simplify the holidays. Including crafty Christmas wrapping ideas, must-try ideas for hosting guests, and why-didn't-I-think-of-that Christmas shortcuts, our tips for the holiday season are guaranteed to make your life easier.View Slideshow
Sample and share Christmas cookies of all kinds as you mingle with friends at your festive cookie exchange party. Start planning with these helpful tips on party food, drinks, music, cookie decorating, and more!
Stir up your favorite Santa-worthy recipes and invite friends, coworkers, and family members to do the same. All finished cookies deserve a cute container. Be sure to have festive boxes, tins, and ribbons on hand so guests can package up their cookies in style. From simple glassware and muffin trays to festive boxes and foil tins, there's something for everyone. Use simple ribbon, tissue paper, bows, and tags to glitz them up.
Send invitations three to four weeks in advance, before everyone's schedules fill up. On the invitations, be sure to include how many cookies to bring (ask for homemade), specifics on packaging the cookies, and any other special features you plan for the cookie exchange.
Ask each attendee to bring at least three dozen cookies to make sure everyone has enough cookies to tote home. If you plan to serve some at the party, ask guests to bring an extra dozen or two for a special sampling buffet.
Editor's Tip: If the cookies they bake require decoration, notify your guests to bring them plain and unfrosted. You can save some of the decorating fun for the party!
Create a playlist so cheery, you and your party crowd will be jingle bell rockin' before you know it. A mix of jazzy classics from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin pair festively with current pop artists like Mariah Carey and Michael Buble. Have guests send any favorite holiday song requests along with their RSVPs.
'Tis the season for toasting! Pop open a bubbly bottle of wine to share with guests before the cookie swapping begins. Offer variations of red, white, and champagne.
Editor's Tip: Add Christmas cheer to each bottle (preparty), by decorating them with wrapping paper, ribbons, and seasonal tags. If you have any leftover bottles, you can send them home with guests as a thank-you for attending.
Cozy on up with a steamy cup of cocoa. Choose from four of our favorite and delicious variations to serve. From candy cane and caramel-splattered toppings to raspberry liqueur and dark chocolate stir-ins, there's a recipe for every hot cocoa-lover.
Editor's Tip: If you're serving more than one kind of cocoa and don't have enough portable coffeepots, ask to borrow one from a friend.
Another fun cookie exchange tradition is to bake some of the cookies right at the party. If you don't have enough cookie cutters for everyone, precut stencils are easily traceable. If you prefer, prepare one big, showstopping tree cookie and let guests put on the finishing touches. Be sure to set out frostings, candies, and other ingredients they can use to decorate.
If you're making your cookies ahead of time, use your cookie exchange party to let everyone help decorate. To begin, whip up a batch of creamy frosting, then divide into bowls to create three or more shades of one hue. Here, we used red. Use resealable plastic bags and spoon in the frosting, snip a small corner of each baggie, then get creative with an elegant ombre design that slowly transitions from the darkest shade of red to pale pink and white.
Items Needed: unfrosted cookies, frosting, food coloring, resealable plastic bags, scissors
Take unfrosted holiday cookies from plain to pretty in a few easy steps. To achieve this swirled look, first frost the cookie with white icing. Before it dries, use a spoon or knife to drizzle the green icing on top. Swirl a clean toothpick through the white and green icing to create a swirled frosting effect.
Items Needed: unfrosted cookies, frosting, food coloring, spoon, toothpicks
These late bloomers start with cookie dough rolled into balls. Use the cookie recipe below for best results. Next, simply snip and fold to form lovely flowers (see the next slide for how-to details). Colored sugar and a candy center add pizzazz.
Roll a dough ball in colored sugar. Snip it in half with scissors, then snip each half into three petals. Gently spread the petals apart and lay flat.
Add glitz and glam to your holiday cookies by dusting them in silver and gold glitter. We especially like it with our holiday blossom cookies. Look for the edible accent at your local crafts store or in the baking section of your grocery store.
After attendees sample each cookie, let them vote for their favorites. Dress up a simple bulletin board with festive fabric and pinned-on envelopes for an easy voting station.
Wrap peppermint sticks in ribbons and bows, then send them along with guests for a sweet way to say thanks. Look for candy canes in the candy aisle of your local grocery store.
For an oh-so-sweet holiday hostess gift, layer the ingredients of your favorite Christmas cookie in a quart jar and fasten the lid, using a festive ribbon for decoration. Include the recipe and simple baking instructions on a card, and tie on with thread.