Fab FUN Giveaway – An Espresso and Cappuccino Maker!

I’m so excited announce the winner of our last incredible giveaway, which was a $75 Visa Gift card.  The winner is…… ALISON B.

Alison, you’ll be getting an email from us this morning!

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And now, on to this week’s giveaway… we have a FUN prize for this time around!  We’re giving away an Espresso and Cappuccino Maker!

One lucky (US) winner will win this fab machine on December 28th.

We’ve tried to make it as simple as possible to enter… AND we are giving you multiple chances to win!

1. Sign up for our once-a-week blog recap email list HERE and then leave us a comment below letting us know.  (If you are already a follower, just leave a comment saying, “I already receive your weekly recap email”)

2. Write a Facebook post about our giveaway, and then leave us a comment below letting us know.  You can also SHARE this post on Facebook if you like!

3.  Click “LIKE” on our Diva Entertains Face Book page – HERE, and then leave us a comment below letting us know.  (If you have already liked us on Facebook, just leave a comment saying, “I am already a fan on Facebook”)

4. Post on twitter about our giveaway, and then leave us a comment below letting us know.

5. And finally… post about it on YOUR blog, and then leave a comment below letting us know.

SO, to recap… you can enter our blog giveaway up to FIVE times.  Do any or all of the above five things, and leave a comment EACH TIME on this giveaway post.

We will choose a winner on December 27th at midnight, and announce the winner on December 28th.  Winner must have a US shipping address.

And, just in case you aren’t sure about entering, just check out our most recent winner Stacie, with her Kindle Fire!!  The next photo could be you!

GUEST POST – Marvelous Neighborhood Christmas Party Ideas

Nowadays, most people are too busy to have an actual human interaction with the people living in their neighborhood. Instead of spending time responding to texts, or glued to the television or computer screen, why don’t you gather everyone together and spend your day or evening getting to know your neighbors over laughter, banter, and food. You might want to try a couple of ideas to awaken some neighborhood camaraderie.

Decorate the Neighborhood Christmas Tree

If there is already a strong sense of community in your neighborhood, you can organize a day for decorating the streets or get everyone excited about getting or assigning a neighborhood Christmas tree. In one day, invite everyone to come out with their extra ornaments and decorate the streets with the appropriate holiday cheer. Just be sure to have refreshments ready so everyone can share some snacks as they take a break from making the streets beautiful. Close the community decoration day with a community dinner on one of the lawns so that everyone can wrap themselves in the community Christmas atmosphere.

Community Christmas Dessert Feast

Have a neighborhood sugar rush with a Christmas desserts feast. Invite everyone to share their favorite Christmas treat and throw a party where everyone can sample all the Christmas treats they would like. A batch of simple Christmas pastry or Eggnog whipped up using a special recipe for everyone to sample. Since almost everybody loves dessert, you’ll be sure to encounter neighbors who will be enthusiastic over the idea.

Community bonding activities don’t need to be extensive festive galas. More often than not, it is the shared conversation and laughter that tightens the bonds of friendship. You just have to keep finding a common interest with everyone else and celebrate togetherness.

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Jessica Phan is a designer for www.balsamhill.com, a leading provider of high-end artificial Christmas trees. Cost conscious consumers and families that like to buy next year’s Christmas supplies after this year’s Christmas can explore artificial Christmas Trees on sale in their clearance section. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is perfect for Jessica because she has a wide range of interests, including Art & Design, Fashion, Photography, Painting and Thrift Store Shopping.

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Looking for some fun recipes for your holiday parties?  Check out the links below:

Oreo Brownie Cupcakes

And a few ideas for DIY Christmas projects (and some of these can be used for a “crowd” at a party!)

DIY Glam Christmas Ornament

 

 

More DIY Christmas Gifts

I honestly don’t think we could write too many DIY Christmas gifts posts.  There are just so, so, SO many fabulous ideas out there, and I could write a post every day of the year.  I will refrain from being that excessive, but here I am with a few more great ideas for your holiday gift giving.

Do you know someone who LOVES candles?  And glitter?  How about making them a Glitter Candle (or three?)  From Home Heart Craft, a great how to make glitter candle tutorial for you:

 

From BHG, another (maybe easier) version of glitter candles, using glitter scrapbook paper: Make sure you scroll through all the candle crafts ideas in the post – there are over 20!

 

Now, do you need a Hostess gift for one of the parties you’ll be attending?  Check out this adorable idea from Midwest Living – you can stuff the mittens (or use oven mitts!) with anything you can think up!  And this post includes over 20 edible Christmas gifts to make!

 

Or how about DIY wine bags for that special hostess, or the wine lovers in your life?  Click here for the fun DIY tutorial from Diary of a Mad Crafter:

Want to make a baked goodie as a gift?  Then you need to check out this Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake, from averie cooks.  It looks divine, and I think it would make a lovely hostess (or otherwise) gift!

Need some lovely gift tags to go with your gifts?  Check out these printable tags from Pioneer Woman, found in this post:

And finally… something unique for the women… sisters, aunts, moms, and grandmas… how about learning how to make a Sugar Scrub?  The Idea Room has a FAB tutorial for making a Peppermint Candy Sugar Scrub.  Doesn’t it look scrumptious and lovely? It’s way easier than you’d think!

 

What will YOU be making to give away this year?  Please share with us!  We’d love to hear!

DIY – How to Tie a Ribbon for Christmas Gifts (and more!)

Lots and lots and LOTS of present wrapping is in my near future, and I can’t wait to try how my new about tying bows with  ribbons skills.  I’ve been helped tremendously by videos from BHG (there are 11 different ribbon and bows tutorials!).  Here are a few videos to check out:

Classic Bow:

Layered Bow:

Pom-Pom Bow:

And you know… bows aren’t JUST for packages!

Here is a very quick, VERY easy you tube video on how to tie a bow on a chair!

Cherry Menlove shares a great tutorial on how MAKE chair bows.

And if creating your own is out of your league, we have both Chair Covers and Chair Sashes in the Diva Entertains shop:

 

How will YOU be using ribbon this holiday season?  We’d love to hear about it!

Best Christmas Cookies!

York Peppermint Patty Cookies

Forgive me for reposting this recipe, which we featured last year, but they are my #1 requested holiday cookies.  One look and taste you’ll know why:

These beautiful chocolate peppermint cookies are my new ‘annual’ Christmas cookies.   I tend to give homemade cookies and cakes to everyone – neighbors, the mailman, my doctor offices, my UPS and FedEx deliverymen, etc.  They are going to be delighted with this year’s choice!

I saw these cookies in the December 2011 issue of the Rachael Ray magazine and I only tweaked them a tad by adding a top layer of chocolate ganache because, well…what’s not better with more chocolate:)?  However, if you would like to save yourself this step they are still scrumptious without it (the cookie on the far left doesn’t have the added chocolate topping).

Chocolate York Peppermint Patty Cookies, 24 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz.) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 egg
  • 24 miniature (about 1 1/2-inch) peppermint patties, such as York, unwrapped and chilled
  • chocolate ganache frosting* (optional)
  • 6 oz. white chocolate (not chips), chopped
  • Peppermint candy canes or candies, crushed or finely chopped
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars, salt and baking soda on low speed. Beat in the butter, then the egg. Turn out the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk; seal. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment. Working with 1 tbsp. of dough at a time, use your fingers to evenly encase each peppermint patty with dough. Place on the prepared pans and smooth the dough with your fingers. Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until just firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and let cool slightly. Transfer the cookies on the parchment to a rack to cool completely.
  3. If using ganache (see recipe below):  using a spoon or frosting spatula, put enough ganache on each cookie so that when spread, the cookie is mostly covered.  Then proceed with step 4.
  4. Meanwhile, in a double boiler or small, heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, melt half of the white chocolate, stirring until melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining white chocolate until smooth. Using a large spoon, drizzle the white chocolate over the cookies. Sprinkle immediately with the crushed peppermint candies. Let set completely before serving or storing.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz. chocolate (chocolate chips, etc.)

Pour whipping cream in a small sauce pan, bring to a simmer.  Turn off heat and add chocolate.  Shake pan to cover chocolate.  Let sit 5 minutes and then whisk until completely blended.  Proceed with step 3.

Diva Christmas Tags

Today’s freebies are so sparkle-icious.  I made them with “digital” glitter – in red and green for the holidays!  You can use these tags in all sorts of ways for your holiday gift giving!

These free printable tags are 2 inches round, and come 10 each on one sheet.  The download is in a PDF format file.  Just download, print, and then cut.  (We recommend a circle punch, like THIS ONE, but scissors work too!  Punches are low cost and once you have one you’ll find zillions of reasons to use it).

You can punch a hole and add tags to your a gift or favors with string or ribbon.  If you decide to print them on STICKER paper, these will make great seals for jar lids or even as seals baked goodies.  They are also perfect for cupcake toppers too!

You can DOWNLOAD the file HERE

Theme Thursday – Thinking about 2013 Weddings!

I don’t have a specific theme for today, but rather some general info for getting started with your wedding and reception plans for 2013!  Some of these topics we will discuss in more detail in the coming weeks (like the colors listed below), but for now, here’s a “quick start” to 2013 wedding planning!

Wedding Colors:

According to a couple of wedding trends websites I’ve visited recently, some of the most popular wedding colors for 2013 will be aqua, tangerine, lilac, mustard, antique blue, deep red, latte, lavender, charcoal, and sage.  What do you think?

Wedding Themes:

Traditional church weddings still exist of course, but more and more it seems that couples are choosing “theme” weddings.  Destinations like Hawaii and Mexico seem to be HUGELY popular… outdoor, folksy weddings… vintage and shabby chic (also usually outdoors)…. Las Vegas (of course).  Check out this video from Martha Stewart – she and her Darcy Miller share some lovely trends and ideas. (you’ll have to bear through a 30 second advertisement first).  She also is offering a destination wedding sweepstakes!

Wedding DIY:

Here at Diva Entertains we talk A LOT about DIY (or do-it-yourself).  All of our posts are chock-full of DIY ideas for parties and entertainment.  Over the last few months, the best place to go to find wedding DIY is Pinterest.  We have set up Pinterest boards with links to recipes, DIY ideas, themes, and just plain fun stuff.  If you aren’t on Pinterest, you should be!  You can follow Diva Entertains by clicking HERE…. and click on over to see the latest “pins” under “wedding, diy”:

Wedding Favors:

We love wedding favors – designing them, making them, selling them, sharing them.  It is a wonderful feeling to be a part of a bride’s special day, and we have some AMAZING favors in our Diva Entertains shop.  We try not to be blatant with “selling” our own goods here on the DE blog, but if you are looking for niche favors, theme favors, specific color favors – well, we have them!

Click on over and see what you can find!

Hanukkah Party DIY

If you are having a Hanukkah party this week, we have some last minute DIY Ideas for you…

From Parents.com… Marshmallow Dreidels.  Seriously, how cute are these!  The kids will love them, and they can even help make them!

From Catch My Party, some GREAT inspiration – a full album of favors and decor; make sure you scroll through all the pics!

From Martha Stewart, a count down for the eight-day Festival of Lights… love the envelope idea!  Actually – there are more than 10 Hanukkah crafts, including dreidel crafts, in this post so make sure you scroll to see them all!

How pretty are these star “wax catchers” on the candle holders?  From BHG, quick instructions: (once again – many crafts to choose from if you scroll through the post).

And from Love From The Oven, some adorable Hanukkah cake pops:

DIY Fabulous Christmas Wreaths!

It’s that time of year… time for some DIY Christmas wreaths!  I’m not sure why, but I just LOVE looking at Christmas wreaths and all the fun ways a person could make their decor just that much more special.  I’ve got some great posts to share with you today, so YOU can DIY your way to a fab Xmas wreath!

From Vintage Style Files, a DIY Ornament Wreath… I know we have some vintage ornaments in our Christmas “stash”, but I’m not sure I could get away with turning them into a wreath.  But wow.. I kinda want to!

From Canadian Family, a surprisingly easy way to make a GOLD wreath; so very clever *and* inexpensive!

 

From the Kurtz Corner, how to make a TULLE  wreath.  This could be done in lots of lovely colors – wouldn’t have to stick with traditional reds and greens at all!

 

And from Watch Me Daddy comes a very unique and lovely twist – a candy cone wreath made from mesh.  You know you want to make on of these, and now you can:

Have you made (or will you be making) a wreath this year?  We’d love to hear about it!

 

Best Cinnamon Coffee Cake

cinnamon coffee cake

If not the all-time best coffee cake – it’s definitely a runner up says my family and friends!  They loved it!

This recipe and beautiful photography comes from Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman Blog; make sure you click through if you are a visual person. Her photography of each step in the cooking process is amazing!

This is a very easy coffee cake to make – the only ‘extra’ effort is whipping the egg whites.  But it gives the cake its unique texture and great taste.

pioneer woman coffee cake