Brace yourself, Christmas is here. Yes, that means quality time with loved ones, but it also means a heck of a lot of work between wrapping gifts galore to entertaining on the fly. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a crack team of experts to help with the eggnog, home decor, Christmas cookies, gift wrapping, what to wear Christmas morning and even how to stay healthy during the holidays.
Have a favorite Christmas recipe? Share with us in the comments!
Brace yourself, Christmas is here. Yes that means quality time with loved ones, but it also means a heck of a lot of work from wrapping presents to entertaining a house full of guests. Luckily for you we've compiled a team of experts to help you pass the big day with flying colors.
COOKIE BAKING: Nothing says Christmas quite like plates and plates of Christmas cookies. We consulted with Melissa Coleman (aka The Faux Martha) for her cookie baking tips. "When making sugar cookies to be iced, add a little almond extract for added flavor," Coleman shares. "Also, keep plenty of flour on hand if the dough gets too sticky. Place the cookies in the freezer for about five minutes before baking. This helps to hold their shape and control spreading. Remove cookies that have a crispier texture a minute early. They continue cooking on the pan."
COOKIE BAKING: Another piece of baking advice from Coleman, "Allow cookies, and all baked goods for that matter, to rest before serving. They always taste better after a good rest." Last, but certainly not least, Coleman shares, "Relax and have fun. If the cookies don't turn out quite as you planned, call them rustic."
GIFT WRAPPING: When seeking out an expert to share tips for how to wrap a present there was no better source than Alton DuLaney, recent winner of Scotch Brand's Most Gifted Wrapper contest and all around gift wrapping star. Seriously, DuLaney is so gifted at gift wrapping he has corporate clients fly him to wrap presents. For the do-it-yourselfers he hosts an online class on gift wrapping on Craftsy.
GIFT WRAPPING: DuLaney's first piece of advice when looking to wrap a gift is to take the recipient's personal style into consideration. "I have a friend of the family who really likes animal prints so I created a stack of gifts in leopard, tiger, and zebra," DuLaney shared.
DuLaney also incorporates fashion trends into his work. "A big trend in fashion has been sparkles," he says. "To work in giltz I shopped the fabric store for rhinestone trim, and used it to really dress up my packages."
GIFT WRAPPING: As far as gift wrapping pet peeves go DuLaney says, "This is basic but remember to take the price tag off. Also, never tape the paper to the actual gift. The paper should just fall away when the gift is wrapped."
EGGNOG: Eggnog is a time honored Christmas tradition (the best part of the holiday if you ask us). Dale DeGroff author of The Essential Cocktail adapted his go-to eggnog recipe from the 1862 classic guide How to Mix Drinks. “This eggnog is based on apple cider instead of cream," says DeGroff. "It is lighter and easier to prepare than standard eggnog."
EGGNOG: The recipe for DeGroff's classic eggnog is as follows.
1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 fresh egg
4 ounces fresh cider
1 1/2 ounces bourbon.
Assemble the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake very well with ice to completely emulsify the egg. Strain over into a large goblet.
DECOR: Decorating your home for the holidays is a time honored tradition of the season. Home blogger Jennifer Rizzo is an expert on festive decor that doesn't look cheesy. Rizzo achieves this look mixing a range of elements from greenery, to vintage finds, to metallic accents.
DECOR: “I think greenery goes a really long way," Rizzo says. "Even faux greenery. A touch of green, a touch of sparkle,a scented candle and it all seems festive once you put Bing Crosby on.”
DECOR: Other elements that Rizzo places in her home during the holidays includes vintage mirrors, mini bottle brush trees, pop-pom runners, and silver chafing dishes. Rizzo's favorite part is decorating with the family. “We always try to decorate the house together as a family with some holiday music playing while we enjoy hot cocoa," she says. "Then the kids put the candy canes on the tree (their favorite part). In the end I always give in and let them have one to kick off the season.”
CHRISTMAS MORNING STYLE: Yes, most people stumble out of bed and directly to the Christmas tree Christmas morning, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on style completely. We consulted with Cecilia de Sola (pictured), co-founder of cult loungewear line Piamita (along with W magazine's Karla Martinez) for her tips on Christmas morning style. De Sola says, "Christmas morning is the perfect time to wear fun, festive colors like red and cream."
CHRISTMAS MORNING STYLE: De Sola's advice for dressing up loungewear includes donning "costume jewelry and a statement lip." Her pick from her collection for Christmas morning is the Geometric Cat Isabella pajama shirt and Nan pajama pant ($560 for the set, barneys.com).
HOLIDAY FITNESS: Let's be honest, Christmas isn't a time that we normally devote a lot time to working out and eating properly. At the same time, it isn't a time to just let yourself go carte blanche. We consulted with Damien Vella, group fitness manager at Equinox in Chelsea for his tips. Vella shares of staying on track during the holidays, "I suggest purchasing a heavy set of weights and something a little lighter, a body bar, medicine ball and a mat. With these few pieces of equipment you can focus on multi joint and multi muscular exercises that are sure to burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. Focus on higher impact exercises that are sure to raise the heart rates and burn fat and calories at the same time. Keep your workouts short and intense to save and maximize time spent working out."
HOLIDAY FITNESS: Vella says, "If your body is used to exercising a few times a week and you stop your program for whatever reason you need to stick to a strict diet full of healthy energy producing foods to keep that metabolism working and able to burn the calories you are consuming. Drinking a lot of fluids, especially water, can help immensely with the breakdown of foods and cleansing the body. During the holidays we want to eat all the good home cooked food we can, but we need to ask ourselves is this really worth all my hard work sweating it out at the gym. Here is where you rationalize—instead of having extra stuffing, go for the extra Turkey or protein."
HOLIDAY FITNESS: As far as getting back on track after the holidays are over, Vella says, "I recommend a cleanse after the holidays. With so many great products on the market you can research and definitely find one that works for you. Stop sitting and get motivated to move...Grab a close friend or family member that may be able to help motivate you and keep you inspired."