Three Wise Hostess Gifts

Wine is always an appropriate token of appreciation when you’re invited to a friend’s home for dinner, but your vintage can easily get lost in a crowd of other bottles. Why not bring something a little more unique? Here are three ideas for hostess gifts that will stand out in a sea of vino.


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A Ceramic Pitcher

Flowers always brighten up someone’s day, and bringing a pretty bouquet arranged inside a beautiful pitcher makes it extra special. Your hostess will love using it later as a vase or to serve beverages.


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A Cutting Board

Cheese is an excellent appetizer, especially when served with wine. If you’re bringing a dish to pass, why not use a pretty cutting board that you can gift to the hostess? You’ll find some beautiful handcrafted wooden boards that would be very well received, or learn how to turn a standard board a keepsake with these instructions.


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A Fire Starter

Tis the season for fires in the fireplace. Why not bring a fire starter that includes a pretty birch log or two, some kindling and a box of long matches. Tie it up in a ribbon, and you’ve got a great house “warming” present. You can also make your own pinecone fire starter with these directions.

Holiday Wrapping Ideas

The Christmas season is almost a wrap, and if you’ve still got presents to get under the tree, how about some trendy gift-wrapping inspiration? We identified some trends for holiday decorating, and choosing paper and trim that coordinates with your holiday style will add that designer touch. Take a look:


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Rich and luxurious, Opulent Luxe holiday style features glitz and glitter. Give your packages a similar feel by dressing them up in white paper and adding silver and gold ribbons, trim and bows.


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If your holiday décor was inspired by the Wilderness landscape of Northern Michigan, bring the feeling into your giftwrap by using brown or black paper and embellishments such as twine or a spring of evergreen. Your gifts will exude natural beauty.


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Playful and Bright holiday style features a sense of whimsy with touches that are festive and fun. Wrap gifts in unexpected bright colors that catch the eye, such as hot pink and royal blue, then dress them up with touches of silver and gold.

Three More Tips To Find Calm During The Holiday Chaos

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year – if you plan to leave behind the stress. Here are three more tips from the Mayo Clinic for enjoying the season without feeling overwhelmed:

  •  Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Get plenty of sleep. Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  • Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Some options may include taking a walk at night and stargazing, listening to soothing music, getting a massage and reading a book.

Three Tips For Finding Calm In The Midst Of Holiday Chaos

Between the shopping, the baking, the parties and the decorating, the holidays are definitely the busiest season of the year. They’re also one of the most stressful. Minimize the anxiety by taking some preventative measures. Here are three tips from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
  • Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
  • Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

Holiday Tablescapes To Inspire You

The holidays put the spotlight on your tables, both in your kitchen and dining room. It’s where friends and family gather, and it’s where holiday meals are shared. This event calls for a special setting, and we found some easy-to-duplicate tables to inspire your holiday decorating.


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Silver and gold is a classic color combination, and this table shows what you can do when you add layers. Use candle holders to display a tree topper or oversized ornament, place an ornament on each setting, and fill in with flocked garland. The result is breathtaking.


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Create a fun and easy centerpiece by turning wine glasses into impromptu snow globes topped with a candle. This could be a fun project to do with your children, then display your work on a tray with faux fur and poinsettias.


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Centerpieces are important, but this table proves that other aspects of your room can make a statement, too. If you have upholstered chairs, try tying a red ribbon to the backs, and add a seasonal touch with a sprig of evergreen and a pinecone.


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Hanukkah tables are often adorned in blue, and this table shows you how easy it is to create a special setting. Classic blue and white dinnerware sets the tone, especially when paired with blue placemats. Star of David ornaments make great place cards when you use a paint pen to add names. Simply add candles, and your table will glow.


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Kwanza celebrations are a festival of colors, and bright table settings are the way to go. This table takes advantage of the colors of nature, with easy accents like fresh oranges and colorful fauna. Traditional napkins are replaced with brightly striped dishtowels, and even the food is festive, with clear glasses that show off red beverages.