This is a DIY gift that I can nearly guarantee anyone would love to receive, homemade simple syrups. Sometimes I wonder, do they call it simple syrup because it’s so simple to make? I think they might!  I used this recipe, and added  apples for my own twist. Then I packaged it up in mini-mason jars and labeled the tops with brown craft paper, bakers twine, and recipe tags. Experiment with flavors and come up with your own mixture (I’ve used this recipe before too) — it’ll make your gift even more unique when you give it your own spin!

Cran-Apple Simple Syrup 1 Cran-Apple Simple Syrup2 Cran-Apple Simple Syrup3 Cran-Apple Simple Syrup4 Cran-Apple Simple Syrup5

Looking for more DIY present ideas? Check them out here.

Today’s handmade holiday idea is all about creating a simple hostess gift. I purchased a few different sizes of  wooden spoons, and taped off stripes at various intervals with painter’s tape, and then painted in the lines with black paint. After the paint thoroughly dried, I peeled back the tape to reveal the pretty stripes. Make sure you add a matte coat of clear finish over the top so that they’re safe to hand-wash.  And of course, presentation is everything — I wrapped the set up in a  shiny silk ribbon to make them gift-giving-ready!

DIY Spoon Set 1 DIY Spoon Set 2 DIY Spoon Set 3 DIY Spoon Set 4

Looking for more DIY present ideas? Check them out here.

Ready for another simple handmade holiday gift? This is another under-5-minutes DIY — glittery rhinestone filled ornaments. To make these, I purchased clear ornaments from my local craft store, and filled them up with rhinestones in various colors, shapes and sizes. Then I added a bright pink silk ribbon to the top for hanging. While I sort of want to keep these shiny little decorations for myself, I think they’d make a great gift for your girlfriends, customized in colors to match their style. Or tie a few onto a wrapped present as a special decoration that the recipient can add to their tree!

Rhinestone Ornament 1 Rhinestone Ornament 2 Processed with VSCOcam

Looking for more DIY present ideas? Check them out here.

I am slowly recovering from my long weekend of feasting and am ready to kick-off some holiday-talk this week! Last year I had so much fun sharing DIY gift ideas, so I thought I would share a few new ideas this season too. This mulling spice kit is a super simple idea that would be great for hostess or teachers gifts — and it’ll take you only about 5-minutes to put together.  I purchased some stacking organizers from the Container Store and in each layer added in a different spice — cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, anise, allspice, are all common mulling spices you could use here — pick the ones you like best! After all of the containers were filled, I stacked them back up and tied some whole cinnamon sticks to the container with a festive red ribbon. Consider pairing these with a bottle of red wine, some spice-bags, and a little handwritten note with your favorite mulled-wine recipe!

Mulling Spice Kit 1 Mulling Spice Kit 2 Mulling Spice Kit 3 Mulling Spice Kit 4

Looking for more DIY present ideas? Check them out here.

Next week I have a few fun DIY ideas for handmade holiday gifts — but in the meantime I thought I would share a few of my favorite DIY gifts from last year to get you in the crafting-mood! My favorite of these is the festive bottle stoppers, I gave them out as gifts last year and they were a hit — plus I still have a few hanging around that I plan on using for holiday entertaining! Do you have any plans for homemade gifts this year?

Festive Bottle Stoppers | Cookie Mix Jars | Glitter Hangers | Polka Dot Candle Holder | Monogrammed Coffee Mugs

DIY Holiday Gifts - Ornament Bottler Stopper

This year, instead of sharing a week of gift guides I decided to mix things up and think a little more local! I’m sharing interviews with local Boston business owners to get their tips for holiday gift giving, entertaining, and attire! Today we’re getting the dish on what to wear for the holidays from the stylish Jessika of Holiday Boutique:

photo 1K: The holiday season is upon us, and with party  invitations piling up, I want to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe so I have something to wear! Any advice for how bring in new pieces that can update things you might already have in your closet? 

HB: I suppose the most obvious answer is accessories!  But think beyond jewelry… I love wearing colored opaque tights this time of year.  Instead of basic black, try red or cream with a staple dress you already own.  Try a vintage fur collars or scarves; a skinny scarf looks super chic folded and pinned —  I like to wear one in place of a necklace with a cashmere sweater.  I’m also mad for shoe clips — they can transform a boring pump into magic.  Also something as simple as a fabulous manicure or professional blow-out can make you feel just as great (sometimes better) than buying a new dress.

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K: In the age of email and text invites, it can often be less than clear what the attire recommendation is at different holiday events. What is your fail-proof outfit advice for holiday party dressing?

HB: Holiday party dressing should be festive and celebratory.  I’d much rather show up to an event slightly over-dressed than under-dressed.  I avoid leggings or denim for evening events and take full advantage of dresses and skirts.  My go-to is generally black this time of year, but I also LOVE mixing in a statement color via a clutch, shoe or even a simple barrette.  Red always pops on black, as does gold and leopard.  Another go-to for me is cream —  I’m a fan of winter whites– especially in lace.  It’s classic and feminine.  If you’re the hostess you’ll have even more freedom to experiment.  Vintage pieces can make an incredible one-of-a-kind statement… try a vintage kimono and ballet flats! Soooo chic!

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K: New Years Eve is my absolute favorite holiday, but I’m a little bored with the glittery cocktail dress look — what kind of looks do you recommend for counting down to midnight?

HB: New Years Eve is a fabulous excuse to do something slightly unexpected or even a little gutsy!  Try a headpiece, hat or turban!  If you want a little sparkle, a sequin beret is a darling choice — especially if the rest of your look is simple.

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K: Any fun trends you’re excited about bringing into Holiday for, well, the holidays? 

HB:   My shop never gets too into “trend”– though this year we are embracing tartan and pom-poms!  A classic plaid cashmere scarf and a knit hat with a giant pom-pom on top is both cute and cozy.  We also love our re-worked vintage fur vests.  For accessories, we’re all about a big, bold vintage inspired pin that can instantly make almost anything feel and look special.  Our hand beaded monogram clutches are uber popular and a major (personal) statement piece.

Thanks to Jessika for all of her great advice! Don’t forget to #shoplocal on this holiday season! 

This year, instead of sharing a week of gift guides I decided to mix things up and think a little more local! All this week I’m sharing interviews with local Boston business owners to get their tips for holiday gift giving and entertaining. Today we’re talking with Sofi, the darling owner of Olives and Grace:  

Olives and Grace 1

K: The holidays mean lots and lots of parties — I’d love to know your advice on what to bring as hostess gift for parties big and small?

OG: I believe the greatest gifts are those that can be shared.  When heading to a party, I suggest bringing a gift box with an assortment of edible gifts that make great additions to a party. Some favorites are locally made Q’s nuts (try the Rosemary and Sea Salt.. perfect compliment to a cheese plate!), Morris Kitchen’s Ginger cocktail syrup (add a splash to a glass of Prosecco), and Lark Cookies of any flavor will be a hit. The Jam Stand has a delicious and unique Blackberry Jalapeño jam that I love, and we just got in a bacon popcorn which I can hardly keep on the shelves.  When you show up with a well-executed foodie-box, you’ll be a treasured guest!

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K: Any good gift ideas for the guys? I have a few tricky men on my list that are tough to buy for! 

OG:  Yes!  The Mason Shaker and Shake, their cocktail recipe book, have been a huge hit this year for men’s gifts.  Guys love a good drink, and now they can play around with muddling, shaking, and mixing up concoctions for at home cocktails.

Olives and Grace 4

K: You have lots of tasty treats in your store — which items to you recommend make it into our baskets for holiday entertaining? 

OG: I get really excited when people buy the Kinfolk Table cookbook, it has about 400 pages of farm to table recipes, shared stories, family traditions, interviews and more.  It is one of my favorite products I’ve ever had the pleasure of carrying in the store.  

Olives and Grace 2

K: What gifts in your shop are you most excited to share with customers this holiday season? Any hot sellers we should be adding to our Christmas shopping lists? 

OG: Tilly Doro jewelry — the designer uses various materials for her pieces, so in one bracelet you might have fabric, brass, and beads. I love all the textures and personalities in her work. Salt Cellars is a husband and wife run company that makes walnut serving boards, we love having them over for demos, and our customers have completely fallen for them. Neighborwoods coasters are another favorite of mine — they make map coasters that have the neighborhoods carved out in cedar.  We carry various cities, and those make incredible gifts.

Olives and Grace 3

Thanks to Sofi for all of her great advice! Don’t forget to #shoplocal on this holiday season! 

This year, instead of sharing a week of gift guides I decided to mix things up and think a little more local! All this week I’ll be sharing interviews with local Boston business owners to get their tips for holiday gift giving and entertaining. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to hit Main Street for small business Saturday this weekend and support local business! First up, the fabulous duo, TJ & Hadley, owners of the Urban Grape:

K: I love to bring a bottle of wine to a holiday party, but sometimes I’m nervous I might bring something that people don’t like … what do you look for in a wine to bring to a party? 
UG:  We tell people who are looking for a wine to bring to a party to look for something that’s fruit-forward — fruity, juicy wines — and something that has a bit of acidity helps too, the acidity makes you want to drink more. It also helps to pick a bottle that’s not a well-known brand, you can learn a little bit about the specific wine and the region or vineyard that comes from, and tell the story of the wine to give the hostess a little background — it’ll make the wine a little more memorable. One other tip: if the wine is supposed to  be served chilled, bring it at the appropriate temperature so if your host wants to open it that evening it’s already ready to go.

Urban Grape 1

K: What do you look for in a bottle that’s going to make a holiday gift? 
UG: If you’re looking to give a bottle of wine as a gift, and you’re not completely sure what the person drinks, we usually ask people: do they travel to certain places? Do they like certain types of cuisines? That can usually help narrow down a region of wines to start with. It’s also fun to pick a theme, you can put together a sampler back of a few different wines from the same region, or of the same grape varietal to give them a tasting of different types. Or put together a cocktail box that has all the ingredients for a special mixed-drink (and don’t forget fun accessories like a shaker!).
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K: As owners of a wine shop , I assume you’re quite popular and get invited to lots of holiday parties — any good entertaining tips you can share for the holiday season? 
UG:  Our motto is: keep it simple. Focus on quality elements, but keep everything pared down — your guests will feel more comfortable  if they’re not presented with tons of options. We usually stick to serving one signature cocktail, and 2-3 types of wines. People also spend all this time working on a perfect menu or hiring a great caterer, and then they let wine be the afterthought and just buy whatever is on sale — think about the wine just as you would planning the food menu. We tell people to bring in their menu to the shop and we’ll help pick things are going to not just go well with the food, but even elevate it.

Urban Grape 3

K: My favorite holiday is New Years Eve — what do you tell people who are intimated by picking out champagnes for a New Years Eve soiree? 
UG: Look for sparkling wines made in the champagne method — it’ll give you the taste of a champagne but at a lower price point. Smaller producers will also give you more bang for your buck, their attention to detail will give you a better quality, and they tend to spend much less on marketing than bigger brands and those cost savings get passed on to you. If you find a brand you like, at the beginning of the holiday season, buy a case of it and split it up to bring to various parties, give as gifts, and save some for yourself to enjoy too!
Urban Grape 4
Thanks to TJ & Hadley for all of their great advice! Don’t forget to #shoplocal this holiday season! 

I got a head start this weekend on holiday baking, who says pies are just for Thanksgiving day? I’m a big of fan of individual-sized desserts (as evidenced here and here), after a heavy meal and lots of snacking, I always still want dessert, but just need a little taste to tie me over. So I made the recipe for classic pumpkin pie (I use a top secret family recipe…the one printed on the Libby’s pumpkin puree can!) and used a mini-muffin tin to bake the ingredients off in bite-sized pies. Mini-pies just weren’t cute enough though, I had to up the adorable factor and  use my alphabet cookie cutters to spell out a little a seasonal message. I think I’m going to do the same thing for Thanksgiving later this week! What kind of recipes are you baking up for the holidays?

Pumpkin Pie Bites 1 Pumpkin Pie Bites 2 Pumpkin Pie Bites 3 Pumpkin Pie Bites 4 Pumpkin Pie Bites 5