Deck the Halls: 5 Simple Ways To Kit Out Your Home This Holiday

The holiday season is well and truly upon us and with it comes a whole load of ways in which to dress up your home. The only trouble is, kitting out your apartment space is at a minimum can be a great deal more difficult than you had envisaged. After wrestling with a Christmas tree, knotting your twinkly lights and getting yourself entwined in tinsel, you might be all but ready to throw in the towel. It might simply be time to change things up a little. Approaching this year’s decorations with an innovative eye can help you out enormously, making it even simpler to give your home a festive touch.

Festive Textiles

It’s not just about the Christmas tree when it comes to kitting out your home. Bringing in the right kinds of colors and tones can make all the difference to the space, grounding the area in a festive glow. Swapping in your regular accessories for a few Christmas themed items might seem like a cheesy way in which to get in the spirit but done right, the flourishing can seriously pay off. Adding a few festive textiles to your furnishing collection can make it easier for you to decorate your home in the coming years, giving you a ready made arsenal to dip into. Don’t feel like you have to go overboard to make it count; a festive cushion and a few cozy throws can be all that it takes to prepare for the holiday without going overboard.

Hanging Stockings

Don’t have a fireplace? It doesn’t matter! Practically any surface can be used in order to suspend a festive stocking or two, bringing a touch of the season to any room in the house. If you’re not sure how to suspend yours without making a permanent change to the hardware, try investing in a pair of festive ornaments. The items can work to keep your stockings in place while giving the room an extra festive kick. In terms of stockings, the sky really is the limit. Going for a coolor tone to match your living space can bring a more minimalist tone to the space while opting for a classic choice can make things feel all the more festive. Hang your stocking for the world to see and let the rest works its magic.

Greenery and Lights

Even if you’re not opting for a tree this year, there are a number of ways that you can add a festive feel into your home and use the traditional color tones. Turning to greenery and lights can be a great way of cheating your Christmas design, bringing in the design of a festive tree without actually having to go out and get one. If you’re short on space, arranging a vase of greens and red berries can warm up the color tone of the space and create a festive corner in the room. Adding lights to frames and furnishings will add in an extra glow, giving you the illumination of a Christmas tree while saving space.

Christmas Crockery

If the holiday is more of a subtle affair in your household, you can let your existing furnishings do all of the talking for you. Swapping in your normal plates, mugs and cutlery for seasonally themed alternatives will help to base your home in the holidays without going overboard on the design. Using the mugs and plates for a few weeks during the year will make them feel a whole lot more special, bringing in a sense of excitement before the season has come to a head. Don’t be afraid to arrange your plates and mugs for the world to see; you want to show off your design!

Seasonal Treats

A sure fire way to get your guests into the festive spirit? Leave out a few snacks and treats in festive bowls! There’s something undeniably cozy about surrounding yourself with a few seasonal treats and by leaving them out for your guests, you can create an air of comfort into your home. If you whip up your own, it’s all the better; you can design the look of each snack and present it for all of your visitors to enjoy:

The Cosy Holiday Dessert Menu

Cooking for friends and family this holiday season is one of the best ways in which to show them your appreciation and when it comes to winter, the cosier the menu you can whip up, the better. While starting the feasting off with a hearty main and warming sides is a great way in which to get things going, everyone knows that it doesn’t count for anything if your dessert isn’t on point. Although catering to the needs of all of your guests might seem like a challenge, you can guarantee that, with the right kind of sweet course, everyone will be on board. And the best way to start the Christmas season? Surrounded by pastries, buttery puddings and spiced fruit dishes, of course!

Topsy Turvy Apple Pie

While you might think that you’ve tasted every kind of apple pie there is to be had, you’ve probably not ever sampled anything like this before. Topped with brown sugar and roasted pecans, the crust of this pie is what it’s all about and it might just leave you coming back for more. Served upside down, think of this pudding like a winter warming tarte tatin, with all the buttery apples you could ever want.

Blackberry and Peach Crostata

Of course, cold weather doesn’t just call for apples and there is a warming winter dessert out there for any kind of fruit combination. Roughly covered in rustic pastry, the blackberries and peaches in this crostata are left to bubble and caramelize in the oven. Cooked until golden brown, the crostata makes the perfect accompaniment to any winter feast and is perfect topped with melting mascarpone or double cream.

Warm Chocolate Puddings

If you’re catering to the masses, then you can’t go wrong with a little bit of melted chocolate. Complete with butter, vanilla, rich yolks and a whole ton of good chocolate, these puddings are designed to be served fresh from the oven. Make sure you catch them while they’re still hot though; the trick is to serve the pudding while it’s still melted in the middle.

St. Clement’s Posset

While it might not exactly roll off the tongue, the St. Clement’s Posset is a dessert recipe that you will come back to time and time again. Flavored with oranges, lemons and just a touch of mint, the dessert takes a fresh stance on winter food, adding a much needed injection of freshness into the stodgy mix. Topped off with miniature star shortbreads, the desserts are a great way to impress all of your guests over the holiday season, and the perfect recipe to store for future holidays to come.

Apple Galette

Traditionally eaten over Epiphany, the humble galette is one of the best ways to indulge your sweet tooth this holiday season. Glazed with salted caramel and baked slowly in the oven, this apple galette is just a touch above the rest and is guaranteed to warm you up on any cold winter’s night. With the apples peeking through the top, there is a real rustic feel to this dish that is guaranteed to fill even the most hungry of eaters up.

Cherry Pastry Pies

Sometimes in order to get it right, you just need to keep it simple. Easy to prepare and even simpler to eat, these cherry pastry pies are a great accompaniment to any winter meal or snack time. Stuffed with a rich pastry jam, these little hand pies will give you all the sweetness of summer, and all the rich butter goodness of a winter dessert. Just think of them as the holiday gift that keeps on giving.

Chocolate and Chestnut Yule Log

Let’s face it, you can’t pass the Christmas season without eating a yule log of some kind and this one might just be the very best out there. Coated in thick chocolate and studded with chestnuts, the dessert gets the flavour combinations right on point, tasting neither too rich nor too nutty. Dusted with a festive coat of icing sugar, the log makes the perfect finishing centerpiece to any festive table and is bound to impress your guests in more ways that one.

This winter season, it’s all about the dessert and whether you’re into pastry, cream or chocolate, there’s something out there to please you. The time for dessert is now and as soon as you taste one of these, you might not look at another main again!

 

How To Eat Your Way Through The Holidays, The Healthy Way

If the holidays are about one thing and one thing only, then surely it’s food. As soon as December leaps into action, we are inundated with invites for festive drinks, winter feasts and after-work snacks. Eating has become such a huge part of the winter season that it’s very easy to enter into the new year a whole lot bigger than you ended the previous one.

When it comes to festive food, it seems that we’re either all in or all out and very rarely do we manage to find a healthy middle ground. While one year we might binge eat our way through Christmas and the holidays, another year we might restrict ourself entirely, forbidding ourselves for indulging in fear of not being able to stop. There is another way, however. Enjoying food during the holiday season is one of the greatest ways in which to truly appreciate everything the winter has to offer and even if we eat a little more than normal, there’s no reason why we should beat ourselves up about it. The holidays are all about relaxing and celebrating life. The trick is knowing how to go about it without losing control.

Start Cooking Yourself

The more that you’re able to cook yourself, the healthier that your relationship with food will become. While you don’t have to become a gourmet chef over the month of December, understanding the types of foods that you like to eat can really make you relax about how much you’re eating, and what you’re cooking. View your meals as a celebration and a way to relax; food should make you feel better about yourself, not worse. The more active a role you have in the cooking process, the more consistent your eating habits will become. It shouldn’t be about all or nothing.

Make A Christmas Menu

When it comes to the festive season, we all have our own preferences when it comes down to the menu. If you’re in charge of the festive cooking this year, it’s your opportunity to load up your plate with your favorite kind of dishes and while you might want to whip up an indulgent feast, it can also be worth investigating a few healthier options, too. Having control over what you are eating over the Christmas season is a much better way to not let your eating habits spiral out of control and if you can feature a healthy dish or two, it’s all the better. The difference between how you feel after a healthy and a stodgy meal can be incredible and might just change your perspective on Christmas eating altogether.

Don’t Restrict Yourself

While indulging in a food free-for-all is not exactly advisable over the Christmas period, neither is making a list of foods that you’re not allowed to eat. As soon as you restrict yourself from certain types of meals, your cravings for these dishes is going to skyrocket and if you do cave in and eat them, you could just feel worse about yourself in the long run. Faddy and restrictive diets will leave you feeling grumpy, isolated and seriously unfestive. Be freer with your eating; you might be surprised at how much self control you actually have!

Plan Your Shopping List

In the same way that planning a Christmas menu is a great way to keep your eating habits within the realms of normality over the holiday season, so too is writing about a shopping list and sticking to it. At this time of the year, supermarkets are awash with tempting treats and holiday offers and even if you enter them with one thing in mind, it’s easy to come away with arms full of naughty treats. Planning out your cooking and meals beforehand is a simple way to make sure your shopping habits remain under check and you don’t buy all of those indulgent extras that you will probably regret in January. There’s nothing more satisfying than checking off a list.

Try To Relax

Let’s face it, we all eat a little more than we should over the Christmas period. There’s no reason to panic if you enter the new year a little more full than you would like to be and worrying about it is will not achieve anything at all. The more stressed that you feel, the harder it might be to get back on track with your eating habits when the new year rolls around, so allow yourself a little breathing room.

The holiday season is all about kicking back and relaxing and allowing yourself a little bit extra on your plate is nothing to beat yourself up about. While you can take control of what you eat, you should ultimately do whatever feels right to you this holiday. Eat, drink and be merry!

10 Etsy Shops You Need This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to do some shopping and that means coming face to face with a thousand of conflicting ways to show your loved ones just what they mean to you. With any number of different retail giants pulling at your purse strings, finding a truly unique gift for the people you care about can be a real challenge. Go to any of the same old spots and you might be left with more of the same, wishing that you had stumbled across something one of a kind.

Luckily, however, there is another way. The world of Etsy is brimming with artisanal gifts, one of a kind pieces and handmade items. You can practically feel the love just by taking a glance at any page of any independent shop. When it comes to the website, however, there are a number of clear stars and perusing their unique offerings might just be the best way to show your loved ones how much they mean to you this holiday season. Are you prepped and ready? We’re about to do some serious shopping damage.

inSidegift

For the leather lover, you can’t do much better than inSidegift. Selling a bespoke range of leather goods, the Etsy store has nailed the world of unique, luxurious accessories. The man in your life will appreciate nothing more than the range of clean minimalist wallet designs, while soft leather passport holders make a great gift for any member of the family. If you like your leather goods buttery-smooth, then this is the shop for you.

Firebird

Winter is the perfect time in which to raid your beauty cabinet, take stock of your perfumes and load up on a whole new collection of new scents. If you’re on the hunt for a range of bespoke perfumed goods, then nothing will serve you better that Firebird. Stocked up with lip balms, soaps, body lotions and pure perfume oils, the store is the perfect place to peruse a scent or two and in the process, you might just end up picking yourself something, too!

ENDEsign

For the person in your life who has it all, you need ENDEsign. Selling a range of whimsical and unique ceramics, the Etsy shop is well stocked on one a kind cups and homeware. Lifestyle lovers should pay serious attention to the sets of porcelain head cups; in the gift scheme of things, they’re real head turners.

Shili Confetti

You can’t have the winter season without a few knitwear accessories and out all of the independent designers, Shili Confetti is one of the best out there. Presenting a series of brightly colored knits, pillows, throws and everything in between, the Etsy shop provides you with plenty of opportunity to stay warm this holiday season. Throw in a funky pattern or two and you might just be sold on the entire collection.

The Coffee Registry

If your holiday season is all about what you’re drinking, then you need to pay attention to The Coffee Registry. Selling a collection of bespoke filter coffee makers, the Etsy store is noted for its attention to detail and effortless design. There’s no better way to spend the holiday season then steeped in hot drinks and with The Coffee Registry you and your loved ones can do it in style.

Rue des Louves

If the French know about anything at all, then it’s chic style. Luckily, you can grab yourself a full Gallic look, all without having to hop across the pond. Rue des Louves is an Etsy shop with a difference; selling a collection of homeware, it specializes in French vintage, giving any room that finishing effortless style that everyone covets.

Mullein and Sparrow

Know someone that’s really into beauty? You need to take a look at Mullein and Sparrow. Manufacturing all of their products in Brooklyn, the Etsy shop specializes in all things hair, skin and body, selling some products that will change the way you approach beauty entirely. Finished in pretty vintage packaging, Mullein and Sparrow products will never disappoint.

Glory Boon

If you want to get a little more ethical with your seasonal shopping, however, you should turn your attention to Glory Boon. Selling a collection of makeup and beauty products, the Etsy store follows a natural, cruelty-free production process, ensuring that none of their cosmetics harmed any animals when being made. Apart from being all round lovely in their approach to manufacturing, Glory Boon also create some pretty covetable products, which are sure to delight any makeup nut in your life.

jungwha

It’s 2015, and if you’re not into minimalist jewelry, then you’ve seriously been missing out on a trick. Producing some of the prettiest and simplest pieces on Etsy, jungwha follow the “less is more” approach in their line of jewelry, pushing out some of the best everyday pieces around. While their pendant necklaces and sweet bracelets are all worth looking at, it’s their collections of rings where their message really shines through. Stamp your gift with your loved one’s initial and be in their good graces for years to come.

Yao Cheng

One of the most talented illustrators out there, Yao Cheng sure can design some bespoke homeware. Selling a number of individual prints, cushion covers and towels through her popular Etsy site, the designer is at the top of her game, renowned for her attention to botanical detail. Home lovers can’t get enough of the delicate watercolor prints, so snaffle yours up before it’s too late!

How To De-Stress During The Holidays

The holidays are a time to get together with family, be thankful for everything you have and celebrate. With so much seasonal goodwill and joy being pumped through every media outlet out there, though, it can feel like being happy is the only acceptable way in which to pass December and while the holiday season is certainly one to celebrate, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel a little blue. As you’re hit by party after party and feast after feast, you might feel like you’re struggling to balance your regular responsibilities, job, family life and social calendar alongside it all and if that’s the case, then you’re probably not alone.  

This time of year is one of the most joyous and celebratory but also, it can be one of the most stressful. When you’re thinking about everything and everyone apart from yourself, it can be easy to neglect your basic needs and end up wallowing in a whole lot of holiday stress. Take a breath. De-stressing this holiday season is one of the best ways that you can ensure you give all of your loved ones your all; sometimes you have to be a little bit selfish in order to really give back.

But what are the best ways in which to destress and come out of the holiday season shining? After doing these things, you might just be the most relaxed person in the world.

Let It All Out

While screaming at your nearest and dearest might be the very thing that you’re trying to avoid, venting your frustrations can actually be one of the healthiest ways in which you can destress. If you’re feeling the pressures from all sides, letting someone know about it might make you feel a whole lot better. While you don’t have to erupt in a volcanic-like rage, you can grab a cup of coffee with a close friend and have a non-seasonal “discussion”. Simply putting all of your holiday-related anguish on the table will make you feel much better and able to keep going through the season. Sometimes, you need to be a bit of a Scrooge in order to carry on the festivities.

Smell The Roses

Our favorite scents can often be the most calming and comforting and simply being surrounded by them can dramatically reduce our stress levels. Taking time out to light a candle, or make yourself a mug of seasonal glogg can be like getting a warm, fuzzy hug, without actually having to talk to anyone at all. Spritz a pashmina or squashy scarf with your signature scent and drape it around yourself when you feel your blood pressure rising. One whiff of your favorite perfume will set the world right again.

Take It Slowly

The holiday season is all about multitasking and balancing chores but when you’re trying to juggle 50 things at once and you’ve run out of limbs with which to do it, the whole thing can be a little overwhelming. Focusing on one task at a time is the best way to not only reduce stress levels but also, ensure that the job gets done right, the first time. The holiday season is not about being a worker bee; take your time, linger in the moment and enjoy the time while it lasts.

Focus On Yourself

While you’re busy looking after everyone else’s needs and cooking daily feasts, who’s caring for you? Taking a little “me” time during the festive season is essential should you want to get anything done; sometimes, being selfish benefits everyone. Try doing one thing for yourself everyday, no matter how small it might be. Buy yourself a festive coffee, or linger in the bath a little longer during the evening. Allowing yourself small indulgences will remind you just how delightful the holiday season can really be. If everyone else is indulging, why can’t you too?

Find The Light

As the nights creep in and the days peter out, it can be easy to get really depressed about the holiday season. The sheer lack of natural light is enough to make even the most positive person feel a little less than their best selves and as a result, it is easy to let the little things build up. Your body clock can be negatively affected by the sheer lack of natural light during the winter months, so finding an alternative source is a great way of keeping your head above the water. Luckily, there are many light therapy solutions out there to keep your brain flooded with a sort of natural light, and your mood buoyant.

The holiday season is a time to be thankful for everything that you have and to celebrate with loved ones. Rather than letting the little things take over, try focusing a little more on your own needs and spreading a little festive joy where you need it the most. After all, what are the holidays for?