Friday, December 31, 2010

Fab Find: Minted New Year Cards on Sale

I came across this week's Fab Find while visiting a friend and fellow blogger's site, A Wedding Story. When I saw Beth's post about the 20% off sale that Minted is having right now on all of their beautiful holiday and New Year cards I knew that I had to share {thanks Beth!}. Yep, for those of you that didn't get around to sending out holiday cards this year, there is still time for you to make your mark!

Minted offers some fabulous photo card options. Check these out:

Stop by Minted now through January 10th to and recieve 20% off all of their New Year cards. No more excuses!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Champagne Cocktails

Here are 9 ways to "mix up" New Year's classic celebratory drink as you ring in the New Year, courtesy of Food Network.

* Always pour the mixers in first, then top off with Champagne to avoid fizzy overflow. *

This one's a brunch classic. Increase the flavor by using a 1:5 ratio of freshly-squeezed orange juice to Champagne. Then add a splash of triple sec.

Kir Royale
The fancy cousin to the made-with-white-wine Kir, the Kir Royale consists of a dash of creme de cassis (currant syrup), topped off with Champagne.

Invented at Harry's Bar in Venice, the Bellini is best when made with ripe peaches. If peaches aren't in season, try creme de peche (peach syrup). Use a 1:4 ratio of syrup to prosecco.

Black Velvet
This is an easy and strangely delicious drink with a 4:1 ratio of Champagne to black Irish stout.

Death in the Afternoon
Traditionally made from absinthe, a spirit now illegal in the United States, in a 0.5:5 ratio to Champagne, you can probably substitute pastis or another anise-flavored liqueur.

For a holiday brunch, make Poinsettias: a 1:4 ratio of triple sec to Champagne, with a splash of cranberry juice added for color.

Nelson's Blood
Named for the British Admiral George Nelson, this makes a great, if slightly morbidly-named, party drink. The recipe calls for a 5:1 ratio of Champagne to tawny Port.

Moving on to the slightly more complicated ones...

Classic Champagne Cocktail
Soak a sugar cube in bitters, drop it into a flute, fill the flute with Champagne and garnish with a twist of lemon. This classic drink dates back to at least the mid-19th century.

French 75
There are a number of French 75 recipes floating around; the only thing people agree on is that it's a serious drink with serious ramifications. Here's the classic: a splash of simple syrup, a bigger splash of lemon juice, an even bigger splash (about an ounce) of gin, topped off with a glassful of Champagne.

New Year's Eve: A Family Event

New Year's Eve is an exciting time for everyone to celebrate the year past and welcome the new year ahead. When I was a child New Year's Eve was always spent with my family. My mom would fix a fabulous "fancy" dinner for all of us to enjoy together and my brother and I would sip our sparkling cider while mom and dad enjoyed the bubbly stuff. We would spend the night together and most of us would make it to see the ball drop at midnight. Looking back, I am so appreciative that my parents included us in their plans on New Year's Eve. It left me with wonderful memories! Since my husband and I had our first child 7 years ago, our New Year's Eve celebrations have always included our children as well. This year we will be celebrating with some wonderful friends and neighbors AND all of the children. I can't wait and neither can the kids! Here are some ideas to help make your New Year's celebration as kid-friendly (and FUN) as possible!

What better way to get the party started than with a great Party Hat! Provide the kids with craft paper, sequence, stickers, markers, string, and any other fun supplies that could be used to create their own hat for the party. For directions on how to make this party hat and others, click here.

photo from Martha Stewart

Provide party guests with confetti and noisemakers to help celebrate when midnight arrives. Fill small glassine bags with confetti and use double-sided tape to attach a noisemaker to each bag and seal shut.

photo from Martha Stewart

While you're toasting the New Year with champagne, let kids celebrate with a Spanish custom: eating 12 grapes at midnight for good luck all year long. Fill a champagne flute for every child older than 3 with a dozen grapes; they can eat one for every chime as the clock strikes midnight.

photo from Martha Stewart

Keep the memories alive from your New Year's celebration by creating a photo booth for your guests. By hanging a festive backdrop and purchasing wooden numbers from the craft store (or even cut some out of card stock) to use as a prop, you can create a fun and simple way for your guests to look back and remember what a good time they had celebrating the New Year with their friends and family for years to come.

photo from Family Fun

Happy Celebrating!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

{Celebrations at Home} Holiday-Glam Table

Want some great New Year's inspiraiton that can be reused throughout the year? One of my favorite party gals, Chris of Celebrations at Home, recently designed a beautifully versatile Holiday-Glam table for The Party Dress' Holiday Table Challange. Chris wanted her holiday design to be glamorous and neutral enough to translate into other celebrations throughout the year (anniversary, special birthday, small wedding). Isn't it great! I think that this table would be fabulous for a New Year's Eve party as well as many other special events throughout the year. I especially love the silver, black, and white color scheme that Chris used. So SHEEK!

Thanks for the inspiration Chirs. It is beautiful! You can see more of Chris' work at Celebrations at Home.

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year's Wine Wraps and Labels

Better Homes and Gardens has some really cute {and FREE} printables for New Year's wine wraps and labels. Whether you are hosting a party or bringing some bubbly as a guest, these will help dress up your bottles for a New Year's celebration.

Countdown Wine Label

Midnight Clock Wine Label

Happy New Year! Wine Label

Visit Better Homes and Gardens here to download these printables and several others as well.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Our presents are wrapped, our stockings are hung. There's only one thing left 'til our work will be done....Baking Santa's cookies!

I love Christmas Eve. The kids are super excited, my Christmas "work" is complete, and we are able to relax and really enjoy this special holiday as a family. We traditionally bake Santa's cookies on Christmas Eve. Do you have any special traditions?

Picture from Martha Stewart

I hope that you and your family have a wonderful holiday and that Santa is good to everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Healthy Holiday Snacks

As much as I love to bake and make yummy treats for my family and friends during the holiday season, it is always so refreshing to attend a holiday celebration where sugar isn't the main attraction. Here are some festive holiday snacks that will appeal to you AND the kids and won't leave everyone feeling all "sugared- up".

Photos taken from Family Fun

1. The Wrap 'n' Stack Sandwich Tree is made from mini sandwiches and trimmed with colorful vegetables, a healthy alternative to the usual array of holiday sweets.
Tree-Trim Trail Mix, inspired by the traditional holiday garland, turns a medley of good-for-you ingredients into a delicious cinnamon-scented treat. Boasting fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids, it's wholesome enough to please parents and tasty enough to distract kids from all those candy canes!
3. Forget the front door. These bite-size Mini Bagel Wreaths--whimsical enough to appeal to the smallest (and finickiest) guests--are meant to deck your plate. To make them, spread mini bagel halves with cream cheese (plain or tinted green with herbs or food coloring), then sprinkle on red, yellow, and green bell-pepper confetti.
4. Dress up your cheese and crackers this holiday season with a
Christams Package Cheese Snack.
5. A
Pine-Tree (made from a pineapple) laden with colorful fruit kabob branches would make a great edible centerpiece.
6. Holiday Cucumber Cups are the perfect accessory for your holiday spreads and dips. Using a vegetable peeler, create decorative stripes on the sides of cucumber and then slice cucumbers into 3/4 inch thick rounds. Scoop out cucumber seeds, fill with desired spread, dip, or hummus, and serve.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy, Jolly Snowmen!

What better way to celebrate the winter season than with happy, jolly snowmen! Here are some fun and super easy ideas to help you celebrate Frosty-style, courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.

Frosty Milk: A glass of milk takes on new deliciousness with doughnut-hole snowmen heads. Outfit powdered doughnut holes with eyes and a nose made of edible food clay. Pierce a hole through the center of the doughnut using a skewer and fit in a straw. Make a miniature scarf for the glass.

Frosty Beverage Bowl: Creamy eggnog- the adult or child-friendly version-takes center stage in this Frosty vessel made from a large rose bowl. For a temporary design, paint the inside of the glass with melted orange and black chocolate coating. Or, to use the bowl and glasses, next year, use glass paint from the crafts store to add the faces to the outside of the glass.

White Frosty Cupcakes: Fill a large cake plate with white-frosted cupcakes and then fill in details of a snowman face with more orange and black frosting. Sprinkle the cupcakes with white cake sparkles for a snow-crystal finish.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A {Real Simple} Gift-Wrapping Party

Who says wrapping presents has to be a late-night, solo mission? Real Simple has a plan to turn your holiday wrapping into a jolly group activity: Host a Gift-Wrapping Party!

The Party at a Glance:

How it works: You provide wrapping supplies and food. Ask each guest to bring some presents to wrap and one roll of paper so you have a variety.

Whom to invite: Three to five friends. It’s the perfect time to catch up―and escape nosy family members.

Invitation or e-mail? E-mail. Or, even better, Evite.

What to serve: Real Simple suggest Red Pepper Frittata Squares and Oven Fries With Garlic Aioli, which are satisfying and need little hands-on time. You can pull them together the night of the party.

Sounds like a lot more fun than hiding out in your closet, wrapping an endless mound of gifts into the wee hours on Christmas Eve night. Just saying...!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

{Revamped} Holiday Decorations

Do you have old holiday decorations sitting in boxes, begging to come out and play? Real Simple has some great ideas on how to use your OLD holiday decorations to create a NEW look. I especially love their ideas for your unused ornaments. This lovely holiday Chandelier is made using old ornaments, ribbon, and a little time. Isn't it pretty. I think that my little girl would love it in HER room, holidays or not!

For more creative ideas, visit Real Simple, here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

{DIY} Magnetic Holiday Advent Calendar

This project is going to be at the top of my list for the holidays next year. Twig & Thistle came up with this glorious DIY Magnetic Holiday Advent Calendar.

Using just a few basic supplies, you can transform metal storage tins into a fun (and super creative) version of the traditional advent calendar.

Magnets can be arranged on the fridge or any other magnetic surface. Place in rectangular numerical order, in the shape of a tree, or arrange them randomly for added hunting fun!

Stop by Twig & Thistle for the complete DIY instructions.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Polar Express Birthday Party

I love discovering new {to me} talent in the party/blog world. It always opens another door to fresh ideas and inspiration. Shalonda of Chubby Cheeks Photography certainly has talent. Whether working behind a camera {she is a photographer} or playing party stylist, Shalonda's work offers a refreshing bit of inspiration. Her most recent work involved planning her daughter's Polar Express Birthday Party.

Amazing, right? I love ALL of the details, colors, and originality. What a lucky little girl! For more pictures and all of the details about this party, visit Chubby Cheeks Photography, here. Shalonda, I can't wait to see what you come up with next!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A New Look!

Welcome to Sheek Shindigs' newly designed blog! I am really excited about the new look and design (thanks to Marina of Penny Lane Designs) and I hope that you like it as well! Thank you to all of my readers for following me over the past year. It has been so much fun getting to know some of you and I look forward to hearing from more of you in the future. Stay tuned... there will be more exciting changes after the first of the year!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fab Find: Holiday Cake Pans

This week's Fab Find comes from Williams-Sonoma. Have you seen their holiday cake pans? If you want to WOW your holiday guests without too much effort, check them out (Okay, it does require some effort and creativity to decorate the cakes once the come out of the pan but even a simple dusting of powdered sugar will result in an impressive finished product).

The Railway Cake Pan

The Gingerbread Man Cakelet Pan

The Gingerbread House Bundt Cake Pan

Have your picked your favorite yet? Visit Williams-Sonoma to find the featured cake pans as well as others.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Candy Cane Christmas Tree Cupcakes

Oh my CUPCAKE! Are these not the cutest little creations ever! I was browsing one of my absolute favorite sites for inspiration, Bakerella, when I came across this creation. These Candy Cane Christmas Tree Cupcakes would be perfect for a preschool or playgroup Christmas party. I just love them!

You can find the step-by-step instructions on how to make these Bakerella cupcakes here.
And while you are there, check out all of Bakerella's other fabulous ideas. There's lots of them!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wrap it Up!

Don't wait until the last minute to wrap your present's this year. Here's a little creative Holiday Wrapping Inspiration to get you going.

Cupcake-Paper Carnations instructions here

Use left-over yarn and ribbon to decorate your gifts this year (photo from Martha Stewart)

Make a good "impression" with your gift-wrapping by using stamped paper to cover your gifts. Find instructions and tips here (Martha Stewart).

This Eco-Friendly Paper Gift Wrap inspirations come from Martha Stewart. Easy to find and work with, vintage and repurposed papers add pop to presents. Layer several colors and textures, or add vintage beads for a finished look.
Clockwise from top left: Vintage wallpaper; Chinese newspaper topped with colored paper; recycled map; grocery bag with Japanese beads.

Happy Wrapping!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Add More Ho,Ho, Ho to Your Holidays!

Want to add a little more Ho, Ho, Ho to your holidays this year? Santa and his crew always make the holidays more fun at our house! Whether you need Jolly party snacks, playgroup crafts, or favors for a holiday celebration, there are some great ways to incorporate St. Nick and his flying companions into your festivities this year.

Row 1: Santa Swizzle Sticks, Gingerbread Reindeer, Handprint Santa

Row 2: Red-Nosed Lollipops, Popcorn Santa, Candy Cane Reindeer

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A {red-nosed} Reindeer Wreath

This Red-Nosed Reindeer Wreath (now that's a mouthful!) makes me down right Jolly. Isn't it adorable! Stop by Family Fun for instructions on how to make one for your door.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Warm and Cozy, With a Twist

Everyone loves to cozy up to a warm beverage of choice during the holiday season. Whether you are serving hot chocolate, coffee, or cider, there are some easy ways to add sparkle to your traditional cold weather drinks this year.

When I think of Christmas, peppermint follows closely behind. Why not bring this nostalgic treat to your beverage cup with some Peppermint Hot Chocolate.

By skewering Mini Doughnuts onto coffee spoons, you can turn a cup of joe into a delicious and satisfying dessert (AND they look AdOrAbLe!).

This Apple-Pie Cider is sure to be a crowd-pleaser on a cold winter day. Seasoned with the same spices you would use in a pie -- cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg -- this cider will taste almost as good as a slice of the real thing. Add a cinnamon stick to each mug for stirring and if you'd like, pour in brandy for the adults.