You had me at "welcome." Such a good, kind, comforting word. And a great way to make loved ones forget overpriced airline tickets or a long drive to see you through traffic and tolls. Not everyone has a welcome wedding reception sign, of course. Those toddlers in tuxedos will be just as charming and the silver fountain dripping with twenty five pounds of Belgian milk chocolate just as impressive. But for those who do have one, your warm and generous greeting makes me feel like including you in birthdays, barbeques and every important celebration in my life that's festive and fun.
I love easy and elegant Christmas desserts. Especially those made with the help of tiny hands. Budget plays a part too - I can't afford a beautiful silver fountain dripping with 25 pounds of Belgian Milk Chocolate and supply my loved ones with booze and craft beer too. Here are my favorites - fun holiday food that is affordable and a joy to behold.
Holiday Tree Brownies - A kid-friendly dessert made super easy with the help of boxed brownie mix and Betty Crocker rich and creamy vanilla icing.
Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites - Only five ingredients to make this quick and easy dessert, flavored with International Delight Gingerbread Latte Creamer.
Christmas Pretzel M&Ms - Looking to please a small army at your annual Christmas brunch? Or something sinfully delicious to tuck in those gift boxes for co workers and casual friends? Think 70. Seventy square pretzels, 70 Hershey's Hugs chocolates (love the stripes they make when they melt) and 70 red and green milk chocolate M&Ms. Only 4 to 5 minutes in a preheated 200 degree oven, add candy and you're done!
Christmas Cake Batter Truffles - Chances are you already have everything you need in your pantry to make these easy cake truffles. Except for the Christmas sprinkles and white chocolate chips. You will have to refrigerate the cake balls for about 30 minutes before dipping in the melted white chocolate for best results.
No Bake Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecakes - "No bake" and "cheesecake." Rhyming words that make my heart sing. This easy recipe is created from all or most of my guilty pleasures: Oreo cookies, cream cheese, white baking chocolate, peppermint extract and crushed candy canes.
Christmas Popcorn Crunch - Another tasty recipe using only five ingredients that makes a large batch. This sweet and salty mix is made even more perfect drizzled with microwaveable Wilton vanilla candy melts.
Jingle Bell Holiday Bites - Miniature Christmas shortbread cookies dressed up in red and green nonpareils. Beautiful for gift giving or Christmas cookie exchange!
Bicycle lovers behold - your dream wedding cake topper has arrived. A whimsical bride and groom enjoying a sweet (but politically incorrect) ride that is both modern and full of 1950s vintage charm. This retro cake topper is made of sturdy acrylic, available in over two dozen colors for a price of $50. For an extra fee, this lovely couple can be customized to look just like you!
I love beautiful jewelry that I can afford to give and receive. Like this gold laurel leaf ring that is priced at less than $11. Or this lovely gold necklace with a branch of smooth golden leaves suspended from a dainty and delicate 18 inch gold chain. Yours for only $12.50 plus shipping (gift box included). The tiny stud earrings - 10 mm by 5 mm - would make a sweet surprise, stocking stuffer or Secret Santa gift.
Hot chocolate in a packet from Nestle or Swiss Miss? Not if your lips touch a creamy rich cup of hot chocolate made right in your own slow cooker with 1 cup whipping cream, 1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, 8 cups of milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and two cups of white, dark or milk chocolate chips. Two hours on low and you have enough heavenly hot chocolate to satisfy a small, but very happy crowd.
Mr. and Mrs. is timeless and traditional but Big Spoon, Little Spoon is just more playful, physical and fun. These spooning pillow covers are printed by hand in a UK based studio and will be sent to you courtesy of Royal Mail (makes them seem even more special) for less than $40 a set plus a little over five dollars shipping. A set of standard, machine washable personalized pillow cases that would make a whimsical and well-loved wedding, engagement or anniversary gift.
Make it warm, make it inviting...a day full of fun they won't want to miss. The promise that a little bit of traffic and some uncomfortable new shoes will yield them a day of music, laughter and love. Not to mention several helpings of Virginia Baked Ham, Potato Parmesan Pave, and a delicious Lemon Drop Martini or two.
When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life
with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. --Nora Ephron
Winter wedding bouquets - many featured here with radiant garden roses, green and purple succulents, fragrant sprigs of juniper and pine, anemones, seeded eucalyptus, faux red berries, silver brunia (looks like a ball but is actually a flower), and light and lovely dusty miller.
For less than $50 you can give or receive a custom made return address stamp to grace the envelopes of all your wedding stationery - save the date, invitations and beautifully written thank you cards. Your address will be a combination of handwritten calligraphy (first names or last) and paired with clean looking typography (address and zip code). The result is a sturdy rubber stamp with wood handle, approximately 2.5 by one inch, that will last and be loved forever.
My preference is this Rebel Stout Style with oversized zip code.
Here are eight of my favorite - and for the most part very affordable - Christmas themed wedding ideas. The pinecone fire starters are lovely but a labor intensive job. Too bad, because a thousand or so have taken up residence on my yard, my deck, my wrought iron patio tables and chairs.
From Kent County, Delaware all the way down the east coast and over to
the lovely state of Louisiana, you should find abundant American holly
with its ripe red berries - free for the picking.
Pinecones, spruce, small gold Christmas ornaments and faux red hypericum berries
tucked around a large, smooth branch with hollowed out candle holders.