ALL POSTS IN Holidays

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People celebrate Valentine’s Day many different ways. You may be throwing a big bash, planning a romantic dinner for two or possibly even throwing an anti-Valentine’s Day party. Either way, these all have one thing in common: cocktails. No matter how you feel about this holiday, we can all agree that cocktails are inevitable this Saturday. We’ve listed our favorites that work for any Valentine’s Day celebration.

Sumac Me Smile

Boodles Gin Sumac Surprise

  • 2 ounces Boodles Gin
  • 3/4 ounce pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce sumac syrup*
  • dash grapefruit bitters
  • splash of club soda
  • lemon peel, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake vigorously. Pour over fresh ice in a rocks glass, and add a splash of club soda. Garnish with a long lemon peel.

*To make one quart sumac syrup, bring 16 ounces water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add six tablespoons ground sumac. Steep 10 minutes. Add 16 ounces white granulated sugar, and stir until dissolved. Let steep overnight, then strain through fine mesh.

4 More Cocktails You’ll Love

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I may be gaga over my guy but I’ll be quick to mention that I need QT with my ladies. Whether you’re single, married or otherwise taken, we can all agree that there’s nothing like a best friend or lots of best friends. So, set aside some time before February 14 to celebrate those special gals in your life who have been there through it all — break ups, make ups, moves, graduations and job promotions. Then, take a cue from our favorite TV bestie, Leslie Knope, with these Galentine’s Day party ideas and our own ways to cook up a yummy breakfast for your favorites.

Valentine's Day Gift Guide for Friends

1. ban.do 2. Kate Spade 3. ModCloth 4. Moorea Seal 5. Shopbop

1. Sweet Talk Pens. Your BFF has a high-stress job with stacked meetings every day. These pens offer an instant ego boost, all over good vibes and a rock-star mentality. (My fave: You’re better than unicorns.)

2. “Happy Hour” Flask. Is your friend the gal who likes to be ready to mix her favorite drink at a moment’s notice? This flask is perfect for her. Plus, it’s small enough to fit in a wristlet.

3. Cat Mugs. Keep one for yourself and gift the other to a friend. When side by side, they make the perfect set. (This is ideal for cat lovers, tea drinkers and coffee addicts.)

4. Floral iPhone Case. This isn’t your typical iPhone case, people. This is a gorgeous metallic cover with an arrangement of real, dried roses and daises, symbolizing innocent beauty and love. (Only your BFF would appreciate this!)

5. Best Friend Bracelet. Who didn’t have best friend jewelry? I thought so. If it wasn’t a broken heart necklace, it was handmade beaded bracelets. As adults, we can proudly showcase our friendship with these bangle bracelets. Love.

Feeling crafty? Test your DIY skills with these handmade Valentine’s Day gifts.

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In case you’ve somehow missed the near-constant barrage of jewelry, chocolate and flower commercials: Valentine’s Day is this Saturday! And, if you’re like me, any excuse to indulge my sweet tooth is a good one so I say Bring. It. On.

While store-bought treats are certainly delicious, nothing shows the depth of your affection quite like homemade goodies. Unleash your inner foodie and whip up one of these five decadent delights that are sure to make this Valentine’s Day your sweetest yet:

These artful cookies look time-consuming but decorating them couldn’t be easier. Get Marianne’s easy-to-follow video tips for icing like a pro plus her cookie recipe.

How to Make Beautiful Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

Mmmmm…..chocolate! Truly, is there any flavor more craveable, more decadent? Well, not to me at least. Topped with homemade vanilla and strawberry frosting, these Neapolitan Bonbon Cupcakes are *almost* too pretty to eat.

Neapolitan Bonbon Cupcakes Recipe

If a hot-from-the-oven pie is the surest way to your sweetie’s stomach, give the crust a creative treatment with one of these 8 pro pastry ideas:

9 One-of-a-Kind Pie Crust Ideas

And, although, I personally can’t relate: Some folks don’t like chocolate (I know, the horror!) so this sweet-meets-tart mouthful may be just the ticket.

Homemade Lemon Cupcakes

When whipping up homemade goodies, don’t forget your furry best friend! These crunchy biscuits topped with cream cheese frosting are sure to get tails waggin’!

Homemade Dog Treats Recipe

MORE VALENTINE’S DAY INSPIRATION:

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Buying the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the lady in your life comes with insurmountable pressure. You don’t want to settle for the usual flowers and chocolate (Although, I would never turn those down!), but you still want to give something from the heart. I’ve rounded up our top five creative yet practical gifts she’ll love and will be surprised to get.

 

HGTV Valentine's Day Gift Guide

 1. Society6 / 2. west elm / 3. / Silhouette Boutique / 4. minted. / 5. CitySlips

1. “I LIKE YOU.” Tote Bag. This is the perfect gift if your sweetheart is a dog lover. Bonus: She’ll always think of you anytime she carries it around.

2. Faceted Gold Terrarium. Put a little twist on the traditional bouquet of flowers with a terrarium filled with succulents that she will keep alive for much longer.

3. Cupcake Socks. Who wouldn’t love a pair of these? I may or may not have bought a pair for myself.

4. Custom Stationery. Help her keep in touch with her friends who live all over the world. Add a personal touch by customizing stationery with her name, favorite color and print.

5. Audio Earmuffs. She can plug these fuzzy headphones into her smart phone or MP3 player, so she can listen to her favorite tunes while staying warm.

What’s on your Valentine’s Day gift wish list? Tell us in the comments below.

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What are you flowers saying? Last year, my sweet, unassuming boyfriend came home with a vase of wilted alstroemeria and, although I still loved them as if they had been fresh garden roses, I later gave him a short lesson on what his flowers inadvertently told me: he had procrastinated.

In the Victorian Era, flowers had secret meanings that expressed sentiments of love, lust, adoration, and even rejection. This secret language still exists today, if somewhat subconsciously. So this Valentine’s Day, don’t let your flowers send the wrong message! Learn the past and present meanings of 8 of today’s most popular flowers below.

Behind the Bouquet

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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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