The Ultimate Christmas Cookie Roundup

Baking Christmas cookies is one of those home traditions that fills up a kitchen with fun, brings a feeling of nostalgia to the soul and leaves your tummy feel full of love. Here is a roundup of cookies you may find helpful whether you are baking for Santa or for a holiday cookie exchange. Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies

I am pretty sure Sugar Cookies are the official holiday cookie. From sprinkles to frosting, there are countless ways to give these little sugary bites a fun and unique holiday look.

via Delish.com

Salty Caramel Butter Cookies

Rumor on the internet is that this salty sweet recipe is the secret to cookie nirvana.

via Traceys Culinary Adventure

Melted Snowmen Cookies

This recipe may or may not have been the impetus for the writers at Buzzfeed starting Pinterest Fail listicles. If you can nail this recipe the outcome is simply adorable.

Here’s what is SHOULD look like…

via homeiswheretheboatis.com

Here is what the typical Pinterest fail looks like…

Cream Cheese Cookies

These are my ALL TIME favorite cookies. This was my grandma’s specialty and when I take a bite I am brought back to my childhood. Fun Fact: it is impossible to eat just one.

 

via eggmeon

No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Oatmeal Cookies

Any recipe that doesn’t require turning a stove on is worth a try!

 via Food Network

Cherry Sugar Cookie Macaroons

You can feel good about eating these because they have fruit in them. It’s basically like eating diet cookies ;)

via Pillsbury

Peppermint Christmas Cookies

Colorful + Minty Fresh = YUM!

via Pamela (Food.com)

PB&J Linzer Stars

Since my nickname is Linz, I couldn’t resist leaving out this sweet treat.

Bonus: I’ve heard Santa’s reindeer LOVE peanut butter!

via Parents.com

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, this cookie staple is always a crowd pleaser.

via VeryBestBaking.com

Confetti Cake Batter Cookies

What do you get when you mix confetti sprinkles and cookies? A Christmas party in your mouth!

 

via Sally’s Baking Addiction

Wishing you a sweet Christmas! Have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe to share? Leave it in the comment section below.

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Kicking Off Hanukkah 2014

To most Hanukkah represents one thing and one thing only.  Adam Sandler singing his infamous Saturday Night Live Hannukah song.  But clearly there is much more to the holiday than what he classically called “Eight crazy nights.”

Hanukkah is actually a minor Jewish holiday that honors the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews fought back against the Syrian-Greeks.  After emperor Antiochus outlawed Judaism in 167 B.C.E., the Jews retreated before re-engaging in battle.  They overtook the Syrian-Greeks and wanted to “cleanse” the Temple by burning oil in the menorah for eight days.  But they only had enough oil for one day, which by a miracle, lasted the eight full days.

The holiday has only “recently” become a major one largely due the commercialism of Christmas as Jews have an opportunity to celebrate the holidays with gifts too.

Beginning tonight, Jewish families around the world will begin the celebration in their homes at sundown (because Judaism uses a lunar-based calendar).  Here are a few of the traditions you would see at a Hanukkah celebration:

The lighting of the Menorah – the Shamas (usually the one in the middle) candle is the lead and after being lit is used to light one candle for each of the nights of Hanukkah.  Start with one candle on night one and move on to the appropriate number for each night.

 Kids spinning the Dreidel – It’s a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side that form an acronym meaning “a great miracle happened here.” Each side represents “take all,” “take half,” “put in” or “do nothing” as the children play for Hanukkah “gelt,” usually chocolate coins.

 Fried foods – To represent the oil, you will likely find mountains of potato pancakes called latkes.  Dip in apple sauce and you have pure goodness!

 Gifts – At a Jewish home you are likely to find tons of presents.  At least eight for each person piled somewhere near the menorah.  But believe me, not every gift is an Xbox One.

So as you drive home tonight, think about how lucky the Jewish kids are this year because they are getting their presents starting 10 days before Christmas.  But on the flip side, think of those same kids as you unwrap your gifts on the 25th while we look on in envy!

Happy Hanukkah!

 

Cover image via lovefromtheoven.com

 

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Top 4 Things To Do In Dallas TX This December

When it comes to festive fun for the holidays, there’s no shortage of things to do in Dallas, TX. The city comes alive with enchanting events for families and couples. If you live in the Dallas area, make the most of the upcoming holiday season by checking out these can’t-miss events.

1. See Missile Toes at Galleria Dallas | Through December 20

Only in Dallas can you watch Missile Toes, the ice-skating, back-flipping, pyrotechnic Santa Claus. He takes to the ice beneath a dazzling 95-foot-tall Christmas tree — the tallest indoor Christmas tree in the United States, boasting almost 250,000 lights and over 10,000 ornaments. It’s the perfect spectacle as you take a break from all your holiday shopping.

2. Visit the trains at NorthPark | Through January 4

The holiday season isn’t complete without seeing a locomotive chugging down the track. With 1,600 feet of track depicting such familiar Texas destinations as downtown Dallas and the State Fair of Texas, plus iconic American landmarks as the Grand Canyon, Route 66, and San Franciscio’s Golden Gate Bridge (and even the North Pole!), the trains at NorthPark can’t be missed. It’s the most elaborate toy train exhibit in Texas, and it draws more than 50,000 people each holiday season. Tickets are $7 for adults, $3 for kids 2-12 and senior citizens (kids under 2 are free).

3. Sip afternoon tea at The Adolphus | Through December 31

Get ready to raise those pinky fingers — O Christmas Tea at The Adolphus is one of the most fun things to do in Dallas TX during the holidays. You’ll feel like royalty sipping a variety of flavorful, spiced teas and nibbling scones, pastries, chocolate truffles, and more. The hotel is gloriously bedecked in holiday decorations, complete with a classical pianist playing holiday tunes on the hotel’s 1893 Steinway piano, which once formerly belonged to the Guggenheim family of New York. Reservations required; Tuesday–Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4:45 pm; $40.

4. Take a carriage ride through Highland Park | Through December 31

There’s no better way to take in the stunning lights and homes of Highland Park than in a horse-drawn carriage. When you climb aboard, you get to cozy up with a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa, and enjoy the twinkling lights and beautiful homes on a one-hour tour. Christmas music drifting through the air adds the perfect festive touch. Reservations required; daily from 6 p.m.–9:45 p.m.; $180–$250.

Image Source: Flickr/Keerthivasan Rajamani

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5 Activities in NYC This Holiday Season You Won’t Want To Miss

Holiday season is a busy time, but here are five activities in NYC you’ll want to carve out some time for (plus a couple more, for extra holiday cheer). Hey, they don’t call it the most wonderful time of the year for nothing. And if you call New York City home, it’s easy to see why.

The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet | Through January 3

A magical evening that brings toys to life and leaves visions of sugarplum fairies dancing in your head? It’s hard to think of a holiday performance more iconic than George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. The elaborate staging and Tschaikovsky’s beloved score transport viewers to the Land of Sweets. This New York City Ballet production runs through January 3. Tickets range from $35 to $260.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular | Through December 31

The only thing that might be more iconic than the Nutcracker — at least in New York — is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which premiered in 1933. Expect the Rockettes and their internationally known high-kicks, along with a living nativity, a dazzling snow scene, as well as the charming ragdolls who make up Santa’s workshop. Tickets range from $45-$299.

Rockefeller Center Tree | Through January 7

While you’re at the Radio City Music Hall, don’t forget to check out the Rockefeller Center tree. This massive tree (this year’s is 85 feet tall) arrives from Pennsylvania in November. In early December, tens of thousands of fans flock to Rockefeller Plaza for the tree lighting ceremony. The tree’s 45,000 LED lights are powered by 300 solar panels installed on the roof of 45 Rockefeller Plaza. The tree will remain lit and can be viewed until January 7.

Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall | December 22

On Monday, December 22, New York’s Oratorio Society will perform one of the most Christmassy activities in NYC. The iconic presentation (the one with the “Hallelujah” chorus) is one of the composer’s most well-known pieces. Tickets range from $45-$162.

Wait, wait, there’s more!

Holiday Markets

When you need a break from the big box stores, visit one (or all) of the open-air gift markets, which feel like a little bit of Europe in the middle of Manhattan. Check out these three:

  • The Union Square Holiday Market (through December 24), which specializes in handmade items, like jewelry, bags and leather goods.
  • The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park (through January 4), located right next to the skating rink, which includes more than 125 boutiquey shops offering everything from clothes to jewelry, home goods, local foods, and more.
  • The Columbus Circle Holiday Market (through December 24) also includes unique gifts from artisans, with things like handmade chocolates and toys.

Holiday Windows

One of the most popular activities in NYC during the cold wintertime is actually outdoors: Gawking at the holiday windows. The city’s iconic department stores — Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, and Henri Bendel among them — pull out all stops in imaginative window displays that draw tourists and New York natives alike.

Image Source: Flickr/Bob Jagendorf

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6 Tips For Hosting A New Year’s Eve Party In Your Home

If you’ve decided crowded restaurants or bars aren’t the way you want to spend the last day of 2014, having your family and friends over to your house to ring in the new year may be a better option. Check out these party planning tips in order to plan a fun and memorable occasion with minimal stress.

Set a limit for the amount of people you invite, and stick to it

It can be tempting to invite your friends, neighbors, gym buddies, and everyone else you see on a regular basis, but keeping the party on the smaller side will not only make your event more intimate, but it will also be less stressful!

Make a “to-do” list

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Image via Flickr user john.schultz

To avoid feeling overwhelmed with party-planning tasks, make a list of everything that needs to get done. Prioritize and enlist the help of a significant other, family member, or close friend so you don’t feel like all responsibilities fall on your shoulders.

Ask everyone to bring a food or drink item

Via flickr.com

Image via Flickr user Stephane Mignon

Providing all of food and drinks for your guests can get pricey and time consuming. Ask your guests (in advance!) to come with an appetizer, dessert, or drink. This will minimize your personal party budget and possibly eliminate a few errands, leaving you more time to relax before the big night!

Plan ahead

Image via Flickr user Dafne Cholet

Image via Flickr user Dafne Cholet

Tasks like bringing folding chairs up from the basement, washing out those champagne glasses that have collected dust in the cabinet, or cleaning up your kids’ toys from the foyer may not seem too daunting, but don’t wait until the morning of the party to get it all done. You will find yourself rushing around and feeling stressed — which is the last thing you need before welcoming guests into your home!

Keep the bar well-stocked

Via flickr.com

Image via Flickr user Wicker Paradise

You want to be able to mingle with your guests throughout the night – not feel like you’re working the whole time. Set up a “bar” area with various drink options, cups or glasses, ice, and napkins and let guests help themselves. Keep an eye out so you know when it’s time to re-stock!

Have fun

new-years-eve-party-fun

Image via SheKnows.com

Remember, the whole reason you’re hosting a party in the first place is to enjoy time with your guests. Don’t get so caught up in the planning process that you forget to enjoy yourself! A party in your home is a great way to make a lasting memory, so relax and soak up every minute!

What are you doing for New Year’s Eve this year? Leave us a comment below or tweet @coldwellbanker and let us know your plans!

 

Header image via Flickr user Jenn Smitherman

The post 6 Tips For Hosting A New Year’s Eve Party In Your Home appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Expert Advice on Selling a Home During the Holidays

Selling a home during the holidays can feel like a challenge. From winter weather to deciding whether to decorate or not, there are certainly some obstacles. Here is excellent advice from the experts from our global network of Coldwell Banker agents, brokers and offices. Keep it Classic “Should I decorate for the holidays?” This is an extremely common questions for home sellers. It may be family tradition to “deck the halls” across every square inch of your house, but, if you are trying to sell your home, it may be better to scale back. When selling a home, it’s important to present it in a way that others can see themselves living in.

“We encourage sellers to still decorate (if that’s their thing), but not Griswold style decorating…. keep it simple and classy. Mostly keep the walks clear and maybe add a spot for shoe removal just inside.” -Coldwell Banker Terre Haute

Use the holidays to create warmth in your home. “I think lights and color can warm anyone’s heart,” says Heather Ostrom, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Sun Ridge Real Estate in Roseville, CA. With the right touch, holiday decorations can create an emotional attraction for a buyer to your home. A cold, undecorated home can’t compete with one that has the fireplace roaring, the smell of fresh baked cookies, and elegant, yet festive décor. Less is More The holidays can be hectic which means time you normally spend cleaning may be spent at the mall and holiday gatherings. It is important to stay on top of keeping you house clean and tidy, especially if you decide to decorate.  Andrea Geller, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago, says she loves holiday decorations, but to a point. “However you decorate, don’t distract prospective buyers from the space,” she advises, explaining that holiday decorations can cause clutter, which could potentially make a room or space look smaller.

“Be sure to hide wires from holiday lights. Stick with decorations that aren’t covered in glitter and decorate with intention” -Andrea Geller

If your home is located in areas that get snow, be sure to keep up with snow removal on your driveway and sidewalks. Also, it is a good idea to ask visitors to remove their shoes so you don’t have salt stains on floors and carpets. Stay in Season One area where you likely won’t want to display holiday decorations: your listing photos. Jessica Edwards, an agent with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Wilmington, N.C., says holiday decorations can unintentionally date a photo, especially if the house is still on the market after New Year’s passes.

“Keep it very classic and neutral and if you put a tree where a chair or table typically goes and then jam the table or chair elsewhere in your house for a few weeks you should ask a neighbor or friend to stick it in their house so you don’t have extra furniture cluttering spaces or taking up more space” -Jessica Edwards

While experts advise against decor in listing pictures, open houses are a totally different game…

“[Listing] photos should NOT have decor because that could date them. Open houses MUST have holiday decor!” Brenna Lee Roth-Miller

Want to read more advice on selling your home? Visit the new coldwellbanker.com!

Christmas Tree image via frommyfrontporchtoyours.com  

Header image courtesy of Flickr user Jim Larrison

The post Expert Advice on Selling a Home During the Holidays appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Hostess Gift Ideas For Every Stop On Your Holiday Party Tour

If your social calendar looks anything like mine, this month is jam packed with holiday parties galore and get-togethers with friends and family. Since showing up for a party empty-handed is sure to land you on Santa’s naughty list, I’ve come up with some tried-and-true hostess gift ideas that are sure to be appreciated, whether you’re attending your neighbor’s ugly sweater party or a fancy cocktail soiree.

Fatty Sundays Chocolate Covered Pretzels

sprinkle-bell-white-chocolate-pretzel_1024x1024

Via FattySundays.com

What better way to say “thank you for having me” than a delicious box of chocolate covered pretzels? These white chocolate pretzels covered in red, green, and white sprinkles are perfectly festive — not to mention delicious! Buy them here for $7.95!

Decorative Coaster Set

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Via Anthropologie.com

These coasters are so pretty, your party host just may insist on using them immediately! Buy them here for $32!

Whimsical Salt & Pepper Shakers

Mr.+and+Mrs.+Muse+Salt+and+Pepper+Mills

Via JonathanAdler.com

These adorable salt and pepper shakers are not only functional, they double as kitchen decor! Buy them here for $48!

Scented Candle

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Via Nordstrom.com

Give the gift of soft ambiance with an elegant scented candle. The jar is pretty enough to re-use as a pen or makeup brush holder, too! Buy it here for $30 (2.4 oz) or $60 (6.5 oz).

Olive Oil Gift Set

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Via Williams-Sonoma.com

An essential in any kitchen, olive oil can be used for cooking or mixed with herbs for dipping bread. Your host/hostess is guaranteed to get a ton of use out of this gift! Buy this set here for $23.96.

Slate Serving Platter

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Via BrooklynSlate.com


Help kick off your hosts’ next party with this slate platter, perfect for serving cheese or other small bites. Buy it here for $28!

 

Let us know what types of gifts you’re bringing to your holiday parties this year by tweeting @coldwellbanker!

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Home Tip of the Day: Last Minute Holiday Entertaining

The Holidays are a great time to catch up with friends and family, which means there’s always a chance a small get together can turn into a full scale holiday party at your home. Here are some simple ways to stay prepared for last minute holiday entertaining at home.

For other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location to view the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

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4 Staging Tips When Selling Your Home Over the Holidays

Now that the holiday season has officially arrived, there’s no need to consider taking your home off the market. In fact, housing inventory is typically low this time of  year which means less competition and more serious buyers.

Adding just the right amount of seasonal cheer to your home décor could actually be the magic touch to attract buyers.  The rule is keep it simple.

Here are some ways to create extra warmth that will enhance your space without detracting from your home’s key features.

william-sonoma

Photo: William Sonoma

 1. Lighting
It’s important to keep lighting décor modest and simple for just the right amount of warmth. For example, rather than hanging lights across every window and doorway, stringing bright white lights across the fireplace mantel or in lanterns and vases on an entryway side table can be very inviting.

Photo: Pottery Barn Blog

Photo: Pottery Barn Blog

2. Minimal Color
Accessories such as garlands, ribbons, candles, table runners, baskets, wreaths, pointsetta plants, should all stay as neutral as possible to coordinate with existing décor. Different shades of whites mixed with pops of color such as silver, gold, red or green will add a festive elegance to any room.

Photo: Southern Living

Photo: Southern Living

 3. Simple Adornments
 Combine natural elements such as evergreens mixed with pinecones for centerpieces that enhance a room and blend well with any wall color or decor style for just the right amount of festive ambiance. Fill a decorative bowl with gold, silver or white balls to add a bit of sparkle.

Home decorated for the holidays by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Home decorated for the holidays by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

4. One Christmas Tree
A single, moderately sized tree in a kitchen or living room corner nook adorned with simple ornaments is all that is needed to demonstrate the holiday spirit. A tree that is too large will distract from the room’s features and make the room appear smaller or the ceilings seem lower.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com

 

Patti Stern

Patti Stern

About the Author: Patti Stern is the principal of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, and an interior decorator and accredited home stager. She has appeared in Connecticut Magazine, NBC CT and FOX Television and a variety of daily newspapers. She and her team offer decorating and home staging services for individuals, real estate professionals, builders, and others in the industry. She can be reached at 203-640-3762.

 

 

 

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