Livening up your Small Gatherings this Holiday Season

This holiday season, good things really do come in small packages! Just because we are gathering in smaller groups, does not mean it can’t be special. Here are some fun tips to add to your celebrations this year. We all love a good cocktail, but let’s take it to another level by getting creative with the rims to our drinks.

First we have the Nutty Snowflake! I start out by dipping my glass in honey and then in some coconut flakes. This gives our drink a fun snowy look. Another way instead of using honey is by using boiled sugar water. It’s crucial that the water is boiling and the sugar is so melted, it’s become a syrup. This will make the rim sticky enough to pick up the coconut flakes.

For the drink itself, the Nutty Coconut is made from 2 shots of French blue vodka, a splash of Cointreau orange liquor and coconut water all put into a shaker filled with ice. I like to add coconut water as a healthier alternative!

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Instead of coconut flakes, you can also dip your rim into many other festive treats like sprinkles, crushed candy canes, or chocolate chips.

Another personal favorite is the Chocolate Peppermint Martini from Stateside. I highly recommend this local vodka brand out of Philadelphia, PA. For this drink, I dipped by glass into chocolate sauce and that was enough to elevate this fun drink! This cocktail may be one of my new favorites, it’s basically dessert. Try it out for yourself! Be sure to follow Stateside on Instagram and check out the recipe for this martini on their website.

Don’t forget about the kids! While the adults are having fun with the cocktails, the kids can still be enjoying a rimmed glass. I love to take the same chocolate sauce and dip my kid-friendly cup in it. Then I dip the cup in my kid’s favorite treat! For my kids, it’s always crushed candy canes. Then I top off their glass with some milk, chocolate milk, hot chocolate, or anything they want. This is such a fun way to engage your kids in the kitchen and bring them out to the fire pit for a fun night.

Finally, the perfect drink for any outdoor gathering: hot chocolate. I recommend setting up a Hot Chocolate Station that has all the goodies like marshmallows, candy canes, shaved chocolate and whipped cream. Be creative here and don’t be afraid to try new things! My number one recommendation is trying out the trendy Hot Cocoa Bombs! Check out my Instagram for a tutorial on how to make the bombs for yourself. Also check out NY Cake to buy pre-made Cocoa Bombs for you and your family!

It’s still important to be cautious, especially when socially-distanced gathering with friends and family. Something to keep you warm, while also keeping your distance is this modern, Danish-inspired personal sized coffee pots from Hay. These pots are so cute and aside from being the perfect size, they actually use great brewing technology to help enhance the flavors. This is the perfect gift for any coffee lover!

Now that we have our drinks settled, it’s time to think about desserts! One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is making Christmas cookies, and this year I think I have found the cutest. These are my Melting Snowman sugar cookies! They are so easy to make at home. Just make some sugar cookies and melt some vanilla frosting and pour on top of the cookies. Then take some marshmallows, chocolate, pretzels, anything you want to make your little snowmen. Place them on the icing on the cookie and you have yourself a fun holiday dessert! I also recommend trying out K.K. Sweets in Hamilton, NJ. She runs a small bakery and can make you any dessert you want!

Everyone knows charcuterie boards are all the rage right now. They can be fun to make at home as well for any sized gathering. Also check out Olsson’s Fine Foods here in Princeton, NJ for the best cheese in the area. I recommend getting your cheeses, meats, crackers and jams from them if you are wanting to try your hand at making a board for yourself, or be sure to buy a pre-made charcuterie board from Olsson’s for the holidays this year.

To top of any evening full of fun drinks and treats, you also need some fun family activities. This holiday season, I want to disconnect as much as possible and sit down with my family to play some fun board games. Here are some fun ones I’ve enjoyed with my family so far. The first is called Anchorman: The Game where the rules are simple, don’t laugh too hard! The next is Bill amp; Ted’s Excellent Historical Trivia Game. Just as it sounds, test you and your family’s knowledge on all aspects of history. Finally, I also love Hues and Clues, a fun and unique game that challenges your understanding of colors and their relations to words. These games have been such a fun family treat this winter.

My favorite activity so far though has been the Ornament Time Capsules. Take some time with your family and friends and write notes to yourself and each other. While the holidays can always feel like fun and games, it’s important to be reflective, especially after such a challenging year. Write a note that will then be placed into a clear ornament from Michael’s and kept hanging on your tree until you open it 10 years from now. These time capsules are the perfect way to cherish memories and bring the family together.

For everyone 2020 has been a tough year, but for some it has been even harder. It’s important this time of year to thank and give praise to our first responders and essential workers. Every year I like to give out little gifts to people, and this year I think we should all take part. Take a moment to put together a little bag of treats that you can share with your mailman, delivery people and other essential workers in your life. This year, I filled a bag with chocolates and have been sharing them as a token of my appreciation for everything they have done for me and my community this year.

xo, Barbara

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