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How To Host An Easy And Beautiful Christmas Tea

How To Host An Easy And Beautiful Christmas Tea


There's really nothing better than a beautiful tea party! It's such a fun occasion to put on a cute dress and serve all the tiny bite-sized things! And champagne, of course! Oh and tea.

I've seen ideas for Christmas teas for years, and always thought it would be so fun! So this year I decided to begin an annual Christmas tea tradition, and I won't lie - I already have next year's all planned out! Today I'm so excited to share pictures and details from this year's Christmas tea party.

Read on, or scroll to the bottom for my quick tips on hosting your own easy and beautiful tea party!


I had so much fun putting the table together for our Christmas tea. My inspiration started with the beautiful Teleflora floral arrangement. I love how traditional it is with the winter greenery, red roses and even a few pine cones! I always have such a fun time perusing the Teleflora website, knowing that I'll get exactly what I order.

I also picked up some super fun decorated sugar cookies, and no tea party would be complete without macarons, am I right?? I got an assortment, and we had so much fun trying the different flavors and sharing what our favorites were (for those curious, the winner was the peppermint candy cane)!


I put a small bottle of La Marca champagne at each place setting, for mimosas of course, and tied each of them with a little red ribbon. I loved that guests could pour their own drinks, as much or little as they wanted, or even take them home for later!

For favors, I opted for small boxes of Frans Chocolates salted caramels. If you haven't tried Fran's salted caramels, do yourself a favor (ha, get it?) and order them right. now. They are by far the best salted caramels ever, and I loved gifting each of my friends such a fun and delicious favor!




Since I hosted this party around lunch time, I knew we wouldn't survive off of cookies and champagne alone. So I put together some quick and easy tea sandwiches for us. I made them all open faced, and served them on my favorite tiered stand I've had for years. I did traditional egg salad sandwiches topped with sprouts, cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwiches garnished with fresh dill, and little cheese sandwiches that were a slice of parmesan cheese and a small dollop of my favorite peach jalapeno jelly! All really simple, all really easy, and all really delicious! 

 

Tips For An Easy and Beautiful Christmas Tea

1. Decide on the color scheme/inspiration. I got my inspiration from the beautiful Teleflora floral arrangement I found online, and fashioned all the other decor around that. 

2. Keep it simple silly! Don't try to do everything at once - you'll drive yourself insane. I opted to order the sugar cookies and macarons instead of make them myself, because I wanted to focus on setting the table instead. Especially now that I have a toddler running around I definitely know I can't do it all, and that's totally ok! 

3. Use what you have! I didn't buy a single new dish. My tiered serving dish was perfect for sandwiches, I used my favorite cake stand for the macarons, and the cute polka dot Kate Spade dishes I received as a bridal shower gift. 

4. Use favors to help decorate the table! I love how adorable the little Fran's chocolate boxes are, especially wrapped in their beautiful red ribbon. Everyone was so excited to sit down to a little gift at their place. They have so many box and ribbon options on their website, so whatever your color scheme is, you'll find a favor to match! 

5. Serve drinks at the table. The cute mini champagne bottles were a perfect addition to the table decor (see tip #4!), but they also made my job as hostess a lot easier! Instead of getting up to refill everyone's glasses, I could pour drinks while enjoying the event and my friends' company, and they were happy to mix their own drinks at the table as well! 

6. Have fun! We joked at the tea about the etiquette of tea cup holding and all practiced holding out our pinkies haha! But just remember that you invited your friends over to have a good time, and nobody expects your event to be absolutely perfect. They came for you!





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Kirsten Bell
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The Best Fresh Cranberry Banana Bread

The Best Fresh Cranberry Banana Bread


This simple banana bread recipe is quick, easy and oh-so delicious! I'm always on a mission to create a moist banana bread recipe, and have found one easy trick is to add fresh berries (you may remember my blueberry banana bread recipe - same concept!). Since we're in the middle of fresh cranberry season I decided to use cranberries in this bread, and I love how they add a pop of bright flavor to every bite!


Quick breads are one of my favorite things to make, because they're...well, quick! It's always nice to have recipes that are super easy to throw together when you have company in town or just get a sudden hankering for something sweet with your coffee. If you're new to baking, this is a great recipe to learn how to make banana bread. It's such an easy banana bread recipe, and pretty dang foolproof.


Ingredients:

Bread

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
2 large bananas
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries (frozen can be used too)

Streusel

3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350, and grease a loaf pan.

Whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through cinnamon, in a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy - about three minutes. Add the milk, egg, banana and vanilla to the sugar and butter, mixing until combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches on low speed, mixing until the batter is just combined. Overmixing is what makes breads dry and tough. Gently fold in the nuts and cranberries, and pour into the greased loaf pan.

Rub the streusel ingredients together with your fingers until it comes together in crumbs. Sprinkle streusel on top of the banana bread batter, and bake for about 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting in, and then enjoy!





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Kirsten Bell
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25 Festive Dresses You Will Love For The Holidays

25 Festive Dresses You Will Love For The Holidays


You all probably know by now how much I love dresses. They're so pretty and feminine, and my big secret? Super easy to throw on and look semi-put together because it's just one piece haha!

I especially love a new dress or two for the holidays when we have so many parties, dinners and get togethers! So today I'm sharing 25 perfectly festive holiday dresses with you. I organized them by price, so you can find the dress of your Christmas dreams!


Ok so actually there are 26 dresses in here, if you count the one I'm wearing. Consider it a freebie ;) My navy dress falls into the $100 and under category, FYI!

You might remember this dress from our trip to Paris this past summer, and one of the things I love about all the dresses listed is that they are totally not specific to the holidays. You can easily wear them for date nights, weddings, drinks with friends, a few of these would even work for the office!


Want to save this list for later? You can easily pin it for later using the graphic at the bottom of the post!

 $100 And Under





 $150 And Under




$200 And Under



$250 And Under






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Kirsten Bell
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Festive and Fancy (But Easy) Peppermint Chocolate Mousse

Festive and Fancy (But Easy) Peppermint Chocolate Mousse


This delicious peppermint mousse is festive, delicious and (my favorite), it's actually a really easy chocolate mousse recipe! It was actually inspired by the homemade peppermint bark recipe I'm working on! I just love the flavor combination of peppermint and chocolate, and this is such a delicious and elevated way to serve it.

I've changed the recipe slightly to add the peppermint flavor, but the root chocolate mousse recipe is one from my middle school French class days.


I can still remember that feeling. The pit of dread in my stomach. I had finished all my homework, studied for upcoming tests, and finally climbed into bed around 10 at night. Then as I lay there, cozying up and willing sleep, my eyes flew open as I suddenly remembered. Tomorrow in French class was our French party, and I had signed up to make chocolate mousse for 35 people. Oh, merde.

Suffice it to say, everyone in my family knows this recipe like the back of their hand after countless late nights of making it. And we all still like it, so that has to count for something!

This is a great dessert for holiday parties, and just substitute vanilla for the peppermint extract and you can serve it all year round. This recipe doubles (and triples and quadruples) easily, so whether you're serving 6 people or 35, it will be a success. 




Ingredients:

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons water
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
2 teaspoons peppermint extract (or vanilla)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream


Directions:

Combine chocolate chips, water and salt in the top of a double boiler until melted. Meanwhile beat the egg whites until stiff. 

Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture. Add the vanilla extract. Fold (don't mix) the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

Beat the whipped cream until fluffy, and stir into mixture.

Spoon into dessert cups and chill a minimum of 1 hour - we usually chill it for a few hours so it's really set.

Serve topped with whipped cream and crushed candy canes, or garnished with fresh peppermint.


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Kirsten Bell
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More Magic For Less Money: Beautiful Bargain Holiday Decor

More Magic For Less Money: Beautiful Bargain Holiday Decor


I love decorating for the holidays! As a kid the Christmas season seemed to start on the day we got our Christmas tree. My dad would turn on the Christmas music for the first time in 11 months, my mom would put out some homemade cookies and snacks, and we would all help to hang ornaments on the tree. It was so much fun, and now I see decorating the house for Christmas as a way to kick off the season.



That being said, holiday decor can also get pretty pricey, pretty fast! So today I'm sharing with you some fun and festive Christmas decor that won't break the bank. I also included, at the end, some of my favorite investment pieces. These are items with a bit of a higher price point, but things that I've owned for years and I know stand the test of time.










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Kirsten Bell
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