Valentine’s Day Tablescape Essentials

Cupid’s making his debut in just a few days, but it’s not too late to plan the perfect romantic dinner for your Valentine!

If you’re like me and you missed the reservation window for all your favorite restaurants in town, or if you just prefer to skip the crowds and enjoy a quiet night at home with your sweetheart, we’ve got everything you need to put together a trendy, stylish, and romantic night at home! Cheers and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Valentine’s Day Baking Essentials

Growing up my mom always put together a grand display at the breakfast table on Valentine’s Day morning. My siblings and I always loved waking up to a decorated table of sweet treats, little gifts and cards, and all the heart shaped breakfast items possible. Still to this day my mom sends me a Valentine’s Day package with some of these same goodies – lots of times including heart shaped cookie cutters and molds like these so I can make the same items in my house!

So to help with your special Valentine’s Day meal prep this year, we’ve done a round up of all our favorite Valentine’s Day baking essentials! Whether you’re celebrating with your kiddos or your honey, these are sure to bring an extra festive flare to your meal!

Ps – If you’re making waffles with this heart shaped waffle maker, be sure to check out these red velvet waffles to go with it!

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Hot Chocolate Party Inspiration

Hot Chocolate Bars are the perfect addition to any winter party. Whether you’re inviting some friends over for a low key hang out or looking for a reason to celebrate and want to throw a winter soiree before Valentine’s Day, a hot chocolate bar is the perfect set up to include!

We recently shared all our Hot Chocolate Party Entertaining Essentials but if you’re looking for a little extra inspo, we’ve got you covered here too! Check out some of our favorite Hot Chocolate Bars from our fellow styling friends to help getting those juices flowing!

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Hot Chocolate Bar – Entertaining Essentials

January is the hostess’s purgatory. Santa is on sabbatical and Cupid hasn’t yet strung his bow, plus we’re all still focusing on our New Year’s resolutions.

But we’ve got just the party for you that’ll warm you up and doesn’t have to count as a full “cheat day” — a hot chocolate party! It’s chilly all over the U-S of A, and who doesn’t love snuggling up with a blanket and a mug of hot cocoa?!

To help inspire you and pull your gathering together, we’ve rounded up a few of our entertaining essentials for hosting a kick a** hot chocolate bar party! Enjoy!

 

The Essentials:

 PS! If you really want to mix up your party and make it more interactive, consider making these hot chocolate mason jar gifts with your guests! Or check out this post for some Hot Chocolate Party Inspiration!

Also – Pro tip: Add Bailey’s. Always add Bailey’s (21 and up, of course!)

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Top Winter Apparel You Need in Your Wardrobe This Winter

Dallas weather has been all over the map this winter. From 70 degrees one day to 20 degrees the next – we have to be prepared for anything! Unfortunately, the one thing we are missing this winter (despite our trip to Lake Tahoe over Christmas) is snow!

Thankfully, this will hopefully change for us during our trip to Vail this weekend, so I am on the major hunt for some cute and trendy (I’m obsessing over all these cute fur pom pom hats this year!), yet warm apparel to bundle up in!

So! We’ve done a roundup of all our favorite winter gear that are must-haves this winter! Bundle up!

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2017 Highlights -The Everyday Hostess

Y’all. I have been MIA and for that I am sorry! 2018 has been filled with blog planning and rebranding (yay! Stay tuned for some fun changes!) plus Landon and I are deep in the house buying process, and my goodness is that a feat! We have some exciting changes for The Everyday Hostess this year, but we’ve needed some time to just take a breath and focus all our planning efforts.

During this exciting time, we have been very reflective of 2017. What an incredible year and one that will be hard to ever beat! Landon and I got married in June, both started new roles at work, started our new little Etsy shop and continued to grow The Everyday Hostess.

We are so grateful for each and every one of you following our journey and, of course, our favorite parties, so here’s a little recap of all the greatness 2017 had to offer!

Wedding Wednesdays

As we prepared for our wedding, we launched a new series called Wedding Wednesdays where we shared all our wedding planning tips and tricks we learned along the way. We covered a host of categories including:

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NYE Hostess Gift – Le Grand Courtage Bedazzled Brut

The Christmas countdown is on! All of our focus is on the final details of pulling together the perfect Christmas celebration – wrapping those final gifts, touching up the Christmas tree, and setting the table for your Christmas feast.

But don’t forget! New Year’s Eve is just around the corner as well, and we need to find the perfect gift for the hostess of your upcoming NYE party!

You’re in luck and we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you and found the absolute PERFECT hostess gift – Le Grand Courtage Blanc de Blancs Brut Bedazzled Bottle Keep Reading!

Christmas Mocktails

Let’s be real. Whether it’s for general levity or to get you through that awkward politics discussion with your uncle, there are plenty of reasons to have a drink around Christmas time.

But, if your family is like mine, that family time often includes little kiddos running around. Couple that with the fact that we here at The Everyday Hostess run a family-friendly operation, there can’t always be Bailey’s in the hot cocoa or rum in the eggnog.

So we’ve channeled our inner bartender and thought up some drink recipes that can be easily adult-ified (I’ll have one, please and thank you) or toned down for the munchkins.

“Reindeer bubbles”

Raise your hand if you like champagne! Whether it’s Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s, or a random Tuesday evening on the couch — oops, did I just say that out loud? — it’s never a bad time for some bubbly. Keep Reading!

Cranberry Orange French Toast Bake

Special thanks to Pyrex for sponsoring this post!

Few things are more magical than Christmas morning. Staying in your pajamas, stockings on the mantle and the excitement of gifts to and from family and friends will warm the heart. And for us, this Christmas is even more special as my husband and I celebrate our first married Christmas together and start our own family traditions. 

If you’re doing Christmas right, the merriment is only made better by the food! Aromas of baked goods or the preparing of the family feast drift through the house to help create the perfect holiday ambiance. But, let’s be real — as relaxing as we want the morning to be, there’s a certain bustle to it that can make one short on time for a tasty breakfast.

My husband and I are determined to make Christmas breakfast and important tradition in our family, and that’s where this Christmas Cranberry Orange French Toast Bake comes in! It’s going to take the stress out of our holiday breakfast decision and give us plenty of time for everything else that makes Christmas the best day of the year. It’s the perfect combination of wintry flavors — cranberries, cinnamon and nutmeg — creating a magnificent mix of sweet and savory that your family is sure to enjoy as well!

And even better, it’s an easy treat that can be prepped primarily on Christmas Eve!

To make this festive little number, prepare your french toast the night before in a 13×9 inch Pyrex baking dish (you can also use two of the Pyrex 1.3 quart oval baking dishes if you want to save one for later). Everything can be prepared, stored overnight, and then baked in this Pyrex dish first thing in the morning, so breakfast is ready to go as soon as your earliest risers are ready!

Start by spraying the Pyrex baking dish with cooking spray. Cut a loaf of french toast in 1-inch cubes and spread evenly in a single layer at the base of the dish. Top with a granulated sugar, orange zest, and cranberry mixture. Be sure to cover evenly so every bite gets some of that sugary goodness!

In a separate large Pyrex mixing bowl, add eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg (all my favorite Christmas flavors!). Whisk until fully combined and pour the mixture evenly over the top of the bread in the Pyrex baking dish.

Now for the fun (and most delicious part). In a separate medium bowl, make the cinnamon streusel topping with flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Use a pastry blender to fully blend into small crumbles. If you don’t have a pastry blender, a fork will work just fine but may take an extra couple minutes. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of your french toast bake and cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Now you’ve done a bulk of the leg work and can enjoy a festive Christmas Eve cocktail (here’s my favorite!). On Christmas morning, all you have to do is preheat the oven, replace the plastic wrap with an aluminum foil and bake away! After 60 minutes of your house filling with sweet and festive aromas, your french toast bake is ready to go!

Remove your Pyrex from the oven and bring directly over to the table to enjoy! Preparation, storage, baking, and serving all in one dish! That’s a win in my book!

Oh, and make extras… The leftovers are arguably even better, and can be stored or shared with the other containers in the Pyrex family! This scrumptious Christmas breakfast is sure to become one of your favorite traditions.

Enjoy!

Cranberry Orange French Toast Bake
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
For the french toast
  1. 1 loaf french bread, cut into cubes
  2. 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  3. zest of 1 large orange
  4. 1 cup fresh cranberries, halved
  5. 6 large eggs
  6. 2 ½ cups milk
  7. ¾ cup pure maple syrup
  8. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  10. ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the streusel
  1. ⅓ cup flour
  2. 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  3. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  4. 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Night Before
  1. Spray a 9x13 rectangular Pyrex baking dish with cooking spray. Fill the base of the dish in a single layer with the bread cubes. Set aside.
  2. Add granulated sugar and orange zest to a medium bowl. Using the back of a spoon or your hands, mix the sugar and zest together. They should be fully blended and fragrant. Add the cranberries and stir.
  3. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the bread, making sure to cover evenly.
  4. In a separate large bowl, add the eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk until fully combined and Pour the mixture evenly over the top of the bread in the Pyrex baking dish. Set aside and make the streusel.
  5. To make the streusel, add flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter to a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour until mixture is fully combined. This should be in small clumps. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the casserole.
  6. Cover the french toast dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Morning Of
  1. In the morning when you are ready to bake, preheat the oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Remove the plastic wrap from the french toast and cover with aluminum foil.
  3. Bake, covered for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes or until lightly golden on top and french toast is fully set.
  4. Enjoy!
The Everyday Hostess http://www.theeverydayhostess.com/

How to Decorate a Festive Wintry Rustic Christmas Tree

Styling our Christmas tree is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the season. I love turning on the Christmas music, baking up some holiday treats, and decorating our tree in new and festive themes. Over the past few years, we have enjoyed a luxe glamour metallic theme followed by our red and white winter wonderland, and this year, we are creating a wintry-rustic Christmas tree!

With Thanksgiving so early this year, we can enjoy the Christmas spirit and our beautifully decorated and festive homes even longer! So let’s not waste any time and get to decorating! First step – the Christmas tree!

No matter what your style is, we’ve tackled some of your tree trimming questions and created a step-by-step tutorial to decorate the perfect Christmas tree.

Step One: Select Your Tree

The Christmas tree will be the centerpiece of your holiday décor, so selecting the right tree is key! I grew up cutting down our own trees in Colorado; however, over the years I have grown to prefer artificial trees because they are easy to decorate and style by bending branches to secure ornaments and ribbon.

If you decide to go down the artificial route, you’ve got a whole host of options. Classic evergreen, frosted tree, or flocked trees. Flocked trees really gained in popularity last year and are still one of the most popular options this year. They are perfect if you are going for a winter wonderland vibe and want to enjoy the heavy artificial snow in which the tree is adorned.  

If you decide to buy a real tree and want your family to experience cutting down the tree on their own, check out Flower Mound Christmas Trees. Holiday Warehouse in Plano is a great bet if you’re looking for a beautiful variety of artificial trees and a warehouse full of festive displays that will give you plenty of decorating inspiration!

To bring out my winter rustic chic theme, I chose a flocked tree this year.  The white snow complements the red and green plaid color scheme perfectly to give my tree a wintery and festive look.

Whichever way you decide to go, make sure that you measure your ceiling height and the space where you will be placing your tree, so you know the proper measurements for your tree.

Step Two: Decide on a Theme

Decide on a theme and color palette that embodies your style or represents you and your family. Select a variety of basic ornaments to create a sense of unity, then incorporate more ornate pieces or sentimental favorites to show off your personality. Lay out and organize all of your ornaments in advance so you can plan accordingly. You’ll want to make sure that you have a variety of sizes. This is the best way to add intrigue and volume to your tree.

To help portray my wintry-rustic look for my tree, I selected a red and green plaid ribbon and based the rest of my décor, ornaments, and picks off of the style of the ribbon. This helped create a consistent look where all details complemented each other.

Step Three: Hang Christmas Tree Lights

If you bought an artificial tree, chances are the lights are already strung; however, if your tree does not include them, this is the first step you will want to take in decorating your tree!

When planning, allow about 100 lights for every vertical foot of tree. Christmas tree lights come in a variety of different colors and lengths. Lights usually come on white or green strands. Be sure to choose the color that matches your tree, so the strands are not visible through the branches.

In order to hang the Christmas tree lights, start at the bottom bough and move upwards. String the lights starting at the trunk and moving towards the tip of the branch and then back. Continue until you reach the top of the tree. Make sure that the lights are plugged in while you are wrapping the tree, so you can easily see if you missed any sections.

Step Four: Add the Ribbon or Garland

This is the step where you can really bring in some personality and style.

Choose a ribbon or garland that correlates with the theme of your tree. Ribbons add a beautiful pop of color and texture that gives some added appeal to your tree. They can be quite pricey, but I highly recommend a good quality ribbon that you can use throughout the years – think of it as an investment! This is the most important aspect to convey your theme and add some depth to your tree.

If you really want to spoof up your tree, consider layering two ribbons. I selected a 4-inch wide red and green plaid ribbon and layered the top of it with a 1-inch green ribbon. I love that the solid layer helped bring out the deeper greens in some of my ornaments.

To assemble, start at the top of the tree and softly wrap your ribbon slowly around the tree, increasing the width as you move down. If you want to mix up the classic ribbon look, consider draping the ribbon in a vertical manner by starting at the top of the tree and creating bustles of about 1.5 feet in length moving towards the base of the tree. (This is my personal favorite way to decorate!)

Step Five: Add the Christmas Tree Picks and Stems

Christmas tree picks and stems are a great way to add a little volume to your tree and add some extra depth. You can buy these florals already made or have your local holiday store make you one that matches the theme of you tree. Holiday Warehouse here in Dallas is one of my favorite local holiday shops and they have a beautiful floral department that will design and customize a pick for your tree. They also have aisles and aisles of options where you can create your own.

I wanted to create a pick that married my wintery-rustic theme with the playful natural red tones, so I used a red berry pick with snow covered pine cones. I also added some frosted birch branches to give the tree a very natural look!

You always want to decorate with odd numbers, so make sure that you have an odd number of picks for your tree. For my 7.5 foot tree, I used 7 picks. If your tree is a bit smaller, you may want to use just 5, but if it’s bigger, you may want 9-11 or even 13 picks.

Step Six: Hang the Christmas Tree Ornaments

Now this is the fun part of the decorating process! Start by hanging the larger balls evenly throughout the tree, ensuring that you hang some closer to the trunk to create depth and dimension. Use a wire to secure them to the tree and place heavier balls towards the top of the tree and closer to the trunk so they are not knocked off by pets or passersby. Once you have hung the larger balls and ornaments, fill in around them with medium to small sized ornaments.

Finally, add your accent pieces! Your decorative ornaments is where your tree can really shine and you can show off your personality. For my winter-rustic look, I continued to pull in more natural elements such as pinecones, berry balls and birch balls.

Make sure you step back and evaluate your work while you are decorating to ensure you aren’t missing any sections and that your favorite pieces are properly showcased!

Step Seven: Add the Tree Topper

Finally, add your tree topper. There are such a beautiful variety of tree toppers including angels, stars, and bows. Include whatever matches your theme best. This year, I strayed away from my favorite bows, and went with a more natural look, showcasing the berry picks and snow-frosted pinecones. I just love the whimsical nature of it!

Step Eight: Decorate Around the Tree

Just because the tree is complete, your work isn’t over! The setting around the tree is almost as important as the tree itself.

Place your presents at the base of the tree on top of your tree skirt with the larger gifts in the back and the smaller ones in the front. I recommend wrapping your presents in 3 to 4 different wrapping papers that match the color scheme of your tree. I also incorporated the same ribbon from my tree into the presents to maintain consistency.

Finally I added some cozy pillows (who doesn’t want to curl up next to the glistening tree at night?), as well as an adorable blanket ladder from my friend at Middle Made Designs. I draped it in neutral blankets and placed two large birch branches that match the ones I put in the tree to pull it all together!

The perfect, wintry-rustic tree!

Now sit back, dim the lights, and enjoy the beautiful glow of your Christmas tree with your loved ones! Merry Christmas to all!