ALL POSTS IN Holidays

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happy new year!
We’re bidding farewell to 2014 and welcoming a bright, hopeful 2015 with open arms. Happy to New Year to all of you, our Design Happens friends and family. Tell us what it is you’re hoping this brand new year will bring for your home or what you’re resolving to do in the comments!

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New Year’s Eve is the last of the winter holidays, so it may take the back burner to Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah. The holiday season may have sucked your wallet dry, but you can still throw a dazzling New Year’s Eve party. I have one word for you: upcycling. Save all your glittery Christmas decor to spruce up your NYE party with our easy tips below. It’s all in the details!

Wrapping Paper Tablecloth

Wrapping Paper Tablecloth

Skip the fancy tablecloth this year, and use leftover Christmas wrapping paper instead. If you don’t have any wrapping paper left, stores have big discounts on Christmas items this time of year.

Learn More Ways to Upcycle

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As you prep for New Year’s Eve festivities, don’t forget a fizzy signature cocktail for midnight toasting. Here are a few of our favorites that are more exciting than just wine or champagne but can still be made in minutes.

Pomegranate Sparkler

Pom Sparkler Cocktail

Photo + recipe courtesy of VOGA Italia Wine

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 3 ounces VOGA Prosecco
  • 1/2 ounce pomegranate juice

Scoop 1 teaspoon of fresh pomegranate seeds into a champagne glass. Pour in pomegranate juice, then top with VOGA Prosecco.

Grapefruit Mimosa

Sparking Grapefruit Cocktail

Get the recipe for this sparkling grapefruit cocktail >>

More Bubbly Recipes for New Year’s Eve

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hgtv hosts at the holidays

We all love watching these guys do their magic on TV, but do you ever wonder what they’re like in “real” life? I don’t know about you, but I love getting to know more about our hosts’ lives off-camera. (Stars! They’re just like us.) You’ve got to watch this adorable video where everyone from the Property Brothers to Hilary and David tell us about their favorite part of the holidays. And most importantly, where they fall on the hot chocolate vs. eggnog divide.

>>>>WATCH THE VIDEO NOW>>>>

See Who’s an Eggnog Lover

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blue room tree
Have you ever wished you could sneak behind the curtain at the White House and snoop around? Wish granted! Genevieve Gorder was given exclusive access to tour the White House while it is all dressed up for Christmas. We took tons of pictures to share with you, but don’t ask us to pick a favorite! It’s too hard. Pour a cup of hot cocoa, lean back and have a look at these stunning shots of the president and first family’s home.

michelle obama decorating cookies

First Lady Michelle Obama decorating cookies with special guests.

red room

The Red Room

state dining room

State Dining Room decor

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I admit — I haven’t even started holiday shopping yet. I’m so bad, I know. But that’s what overnight shipping is for, right? With less than a week until the big day, you probably need some quick yet thoughtful gifts to pack up for your Christmas road trips. Crafty or not, we’ve got you covered.

For Anyone: Personalized Gift Baskets

Holiday Gift Baskets

Gourmet gift basket ideas >>

For Her: Vintage Hair Comb

Vintage Hair Clip

Get this plus even more handmade gift ideas >>

For the Chef: Rustic Bread Board

Rustic Bread Board

Make a bread board in six steps >>

Gifts for Him, the Pet + More

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brown butter eggnog waffles

The big morning has almost arrived and between all of the shopping and wrapping of gifts, have you stopped to think about what you’ll be eating? A great way to begin the special day is with a tasty and filling breakfast (or brunch, depending on how early you awake) and serving Brown Butter and Eggnog Waffles will make it extra special. The golden brown squares have a crisp crust and moist fluffy interior with bits of brown butter streaked throughout. Also, the recipe helps put the last of the eggnog to good use. The batter is purposefully designed to be made the night before, saving you precious time. In the morning when you’re ready to make the waffles, simply heat and oil your waffle iron and cook until golden brown. Serve with a spoonful Strawberry and Orange Topping and a hefty dollop of whipped cream for extra decadence. Complete the meal by serving the waffles along side cooked thick cut bacon and plenty of orange juice. Happy Holidays!

Get the Irresistible Recipe

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Hanukkah starts tomorrow, and we have some pretty festive ideas to keep your celebrations rocking until the 24th.

Mood Board Monday: Hanukkah HuesPhotos: Dining Room, Place Card, Tree, Favor, Doughnuts, Cupcake, Centerpiece, Garland

Check back every Monday for an inspirational mood board. Miss one? See all the posts here.

More last-minute Hanukkah ideas:

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My sweet tooth is unstoppable, and there’s nothing I love more than creamy, chocolate-based holiday cocktails. Calories might as well be unicorns from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. I let myself indulge in foods I won’t see for another 12 months, like most of these lovely bevvies. So, get out all the garnishes and warm up with a decadent dessert cocktail this season.

Peppermint Mocha Toddy

Peppermocha Toddy Recipe

Photo + recipe courtesy of Old Forge Distillery

Ingredients

  • 3/4 ounce Old Forge Coffee Moonshine
  • 3/4 ounce Old Forge Chocolate Moonshine
  • 1/2 ounce white creme de menthe
  • hot coffee
  • whipped cream, for garnish
  • peppermint candy, crumbled, for garnish

 

Pour coffee moonshine, chocolate moonshine and creme de menthe into an Irish coffee mug. Top with hot coffee. Garnish with whipped cream and crumbled peppermint candy.

Uncle Billy’s Holiday Treat

Holiday Cocktail Recipe

Get the recipe for this creamy cocktail >>

3 More Recipes to Whip Up

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The holiday season is upon us whether you’re ready or not. If you’re hosting a holiday party this year — casual or formal — our easy tips will help you get party-ready in no time.

Cookie Exchange

Around-the-World Cookie Exchange

Take this traditional holiday party to the next level with an around-the-world theme. Ask guests to use international cookie recipes, serve hot chocolate to accompany the cookies and offer to-go boxes so guests can easily take their favorites home with them.

Easy Tips:

  • Keep the decor to a minimum, such as a pinecone garland and other natural elements.
  • Arrange guests’ cookies buffet style to keep hosting duties to a minimum.
  • Ask guests for their cookie recipes in advance, so you can set out recipe cards the day of your party for guests to take home.

Get Cookie Recipes + More Party Tips>>

Get More Holiday Party Tips

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Holiday decor is typically dominated by the classic seasonal colors: Think red, green, royal blue, silver and gold. (Cue the Burl Ives Christmas classic.) But for this year’s HGTV Holiday House, our designers wanted to create an unexpected color palette that was still evocative of the season. The colorful anchor in this season’s design? Cool, crisp lavender.

Christmas Tree

We loved it so much, we also chose lavender as our December Color of the Month. See how this color shines when paired with plum and silver on a white Christmas tree? It also brightens up a holiday door in this ADORABLE yarn-ball wreath. Since the tone-on-tone design uses non-traditional holiday color, you can leave it up until the first signs of spring!

Yarn Ball Wreath DIY on HGTV.com

Though lavender is typically thought of as a spring color, it has lots to offer year-round. The Holiday House designers chose a hue with a gray undertone to pair with weathered barn wood siding, a sleek stainless-steel mantel and gray furnishings.

Lavender Painting on Barn Wood Siding

Lavender also offers a fresh alternative to traditional holiday table and party decor. Whip up a batch of our dollar-store napkin rings, then bring them back out for your late-winter or spring bash.

Or, use up leftover holiday baking cups to create an unexpected, ombre wall installation:

HGTV.com DIy Baking Cups Art With Lavender

Do you try new holiday color schemes, or stick with traditional hues? Tell us in the comments below.

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Hollies are my favorite traditional holiday plants. Nothing feels like Christmas more than bright red holly berries and green leaves contrasted against a blanket of snow. And if you love the look of classic holiday decor, then holly branches are the perfect touch to a mantel or tablescape. (You can even embellish dining chairs with fresh holly sprigs.)

Mood Board Monday: Holly Jolly ChristmasTop: Bride With Holly, Boots, Place Settings | Middle: Dessert Table, Vintage Card | Bottom: Wreath, Gift Wrap

Check back every Monday for an inspirational mood board. Miss one? See all the posts here.

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Ah, the fireplace mantel — a homemaker’s canvas and a stylist’s playground. The mantel has always been an outlet for stylistic expression. New artwork, fanciful mirrors and decorative candles are always welcomed to my mantel. But during the holidays, this versatile shelf space can easily become a rest stop for less-than-spectacular holiday staples.

What do you say we step up our fireplace game this year with some new designs? Here are a few unexpected ways to wow your holiday guests starting with your mantelpiece.

Holiday House Mantel
Add Height: Here, watchful owls and glam trees add staggered height alongside more vertically-challenged holiday fare: ornaments and plush toys. Learn how to make a rustic mini tree here.

Joy Marquee

Light Bright: Sparkling lights of any kind are a quick way to freshen up your mantel, but a DIY marquee sign will really set your style ablaze. These simple instructions will show you how to design your very own, a feat that will turn any guest Grinch-green with envy.

White Wantel

Winter White: When in doubt, hone in light. Bright whites never look dull when paired with new neutrals. See how designer Brian Patrick Flynn decked out this crisp winter mantel. Bonus: Metallics and neutrals go together like Santa and cookies. Make your own gold-leafed log candle holders or mercury glass votives for an extra splash of holiday magic.

Chalk Mantel

Chalk in Spite: No fireplace? No problem! Design the holiday hearth of your dreams in just a few easy steps. Keep this warming accent up all season long for heaps of added cheer. You can even hang handmade stockings or a DIY pinecone garland for an extra kick of kitsch.

Don’t get caught in the same old same old. Fancy up your furnace with these simple steps and your holiday style will be ho-ho-hot!

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In lieu of today’s Mood Board Monday, I’m sharing some ideas to warm up those cold hands — DIY advent calendars. I’ll be honest, the only Advent calendar I’ve ever made has been a construction paper chain-link garland. I’m just too impatient to hold out for a treat each day. (Must. Have. All. Treats. Now.)

I know it’s December 1, but it’s not too late to craft a beautiful countdown to showcase in your home. Not sure where to start? Here are some easy-to-create ideas we love. Plus, they’re kid-friendly, too.

Takeout Boxes

Takeout Box Advent Calendar

Get the step-by-step instructions >>

Upcycled Shirts

Upcycled Advent Calendar

Get the step-by-step instructions >>

Cardboard Tubes

Cardboard Tube Advent Calendar

Get the step-by-step instructions >>

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Now that our fall table is complete and our Thanksgiving menu has been decided, we can finally jump head-first into the Christmas season. I already shared my list of must-do Christmas projects, but now my sights are set on the ornaments and trimmings that bring the holidays to life.

Christmas CollagePhoto credits: Stocking, Stocking Holders, Garland, Wreath, Pillow, Fabric Ornaments, Car Ornament, Cat Ornament, Sign, Tree Skirt

My Picks:

For 11 months out of the year, my decorating tastes lean toward contemporary, but in December I favor full-fledged eclectic and traditional holiday pieces that remind me of Christmases past. These needlepoint stockings are just another memento. My entire family got theirs personalized last year and I couldn’t love them more.

You can’t have stockings without stocking holders, and these twig reindeer holders are simple with rustic charm.

I can’t resist this sweet felt garland and Mimi Kirchner-designed ornaments; they’re so perfectly handmade.

Since bright red is such a classic holiday color, this felt reindeer pillow from Etsy was a definite must-have for me.

We all know what crazy Christmas family inspired this station wagon ornament. Any family (especially mine!) will appreciate a tasteful reminder of those Christmas catastrophes.

This “Merry Christmas” sign is just a classic way to welcome the holiday spirit, just like Hallmark’s annual mischievous kitten ornament. My family has purchased one every year since the series started in 1999 and they each remind us of something different.

Finally, Brian Patrick Flynn‘s handmade pennant tree skirt is a home-hitting holiday accent that adds hip, vintage flair and lots of individual style. The best part is this that it requires no sewing machine — whew!

So get on the holiday-decorating bandwagon with me and let me know what ornaments and tree trimmings you can’t wait to display this year.

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honey apple cocktail

While most folks will agree that a holiday meal isn’t complete without a serving or two of dessert, I believe a refreshing cocktail should be the finishing touch. Once delicious wedges of pie are all but a distant memory, proceed to your bar cart and shake up a tasty beverage to properly end your feast. This balanced drink is perfect for slow sipping and is not too overwhelming for a stuffed belly handle. Cheers to you!

Norm’s Notes: No Shrubs?

The Shrub (vinegar-syrup based cocktails) seems to be just as popular amongst today’s cocktail connoisseurs as they were before falling out of fashion in the later part of the 18th century. In case you’ve missed their resurgence, the sour-sweet tastes of shrubs provide mouth puckering flavors and a bit of earthiness to cocktails. In my opinion, traditional shrubs can be a bit too strong on the sour notes, but I do love the complexity vinegar gives to the taste of mixed drink. This cocktail channels my favorite parts of shrub trend and leans more towards the sweet side of “sour-sweet.” I favored the acidity from apple cider vinegar to liven up the drink in a very unexpected, yet pleasant way. If you aren’t feeling adventurous enough to add a splash of vinegar to your cocktail, omit it from the recipe and replace with 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice.

 

Honey-Apple Sipper:

Stir 3 Tbsp. bourbon, 1 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar, and 1/8 tsp. ground ginger together in a cocktail shaker until blended. Fill shaker with ice cubes, cover with lid and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled. Strain into a 12-oz. glass filled with ice cubes. Top with chilled sparkling apple cider. Garnish with fresh apple slices and rosemary sprig if desired. Makes 1 drink.

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