Christmas cocktails are arguably the best cocktails. Alas, mixology is not my strong suit. So I asked an expert for his advice! Yusef Austin, AKA The Cocktail Architect, is a Brooklyn-based beverage genius. His emphasis on seasonal ingredients, quality, creativity, and taste generates sophisticated cocktails with a multi-sensory experience. Craft three of his staple Christmas cocktails at home by following the recipes below.
Merry and Bright
Cheerful with a zing.
Ingredients: 2 oz. Local Gin, Hibiscus Tea Mixer (Dried Hibiscus, Cinnamon Stick, Orange Zest, Crushed Cardamom, Cloves) and 3/4 oz. Meyer Lemon Juice
Garnish: Dehydrated Lemon Wheel
Shake and strain into a martini or coupe glass.
Christmas spice classic.
Ingredients: 2 oz. Local Whiskey, 1 oz. Chili Infused Honey, 1 oz. Orange + Lemon Juice Mix
Garnish: Orange Flamed Twist & Sphere Ice Cube
Shake and strain into a double rocks glass.
The perfect dessertcocktail.
Ingredients: 2 oz. Vodka, 1/2 oz. Tonka Bean + Vanilla Bean Mixer/Syrup, 1 oz. Chilled Espresso
Garnish: Whipped Cream, Grated Cinnamon
Shake and strain into a vintage cocktail glass.
A massive thank you to Yusef Austin for sharing these Christmas Cocktail Recipes! To learn more about The Cocktail Architect, click here or click here to learn about his virtual mixology classes.
Pure bliss for the rustic-meets-modern farmhouse enthusiast. Magnolias asymmetric fresh cut garlands carry that quintessential evergreen scent of the season, and make for gorgeous backdrops (how stunning would this be behind a bar cart!?).
If you’re still in need of a tree, Balsam Hill trees are the way to go. A few years back, I purchased this artificial Cathedral Fir Tree, which came completely pre-lit with simple instructions for assembly. While their trees may be a bit pricier than artificial trees from Target or Home Goods, the quality is definitely worth it.
The holiday decor from Balsam Hill is also top notch. They carry a wide variety of products with classic Christmas designs, ranging from garlands, to stockings, life size figures, accent pieces and much more.
Holiday season festivities, but make it COVID friendly.
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Christmas Tree Tailgate
Gather up a group of your core friends (you know, those folks that you’ve been spending all of quarantine with) and head to a Christmas tree farm with an open parking lot. Some farms are super tailgate friendly, while others will not embrace this idea, so make sure to scout for a solid location before packing up the car. If you’re living on the East Coast, Maple Row Farm in Easton, Connecticut is a great option. Just be sure to arrive no later than 10:30am, because the lot will fill up well before noon on weekends.
Then, delegate your traditional tailgate essentials amongst friends. Here are a few ideas for folks to bring along:
Cornhole – The more festive, the better. This Christmas Tree Cornhole Set is a little pricey, but one of those investments you probably won’t have to make again and can enjoy for years to come.
2. Cooler – Full of holiday bevi essentials. I like this Sagebrush Green Yeti Cooler, especially for its wine friendly packaging. Pack a bottle of bubbly to make some mimosas with; the perfect pairing for your morning Christmas tree tailgate.
3. Snacks – Individually packaged options are the best way to stay COVID friendly. Keep it super simple by purchasing a bulk variety snack pack, like this 50-count Ultimate Snacks Care Package from Amazon.
One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is watch the staple movies of the season. Every year on Thanksgiving night, my family kicks off the countdown to Christmas by watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We also watch the classics like A Christmas Story and Christmas with the Kranks.
Virtual movie marathons are a great way to safely enjoy the company of friends and family, and create a virtual spin on holiday traditions. If you have a streaming service that offers multi-viewer options like Netflix, Hulu, Disney + or HBO, you can easily plan a holiday movie marathon from multiple locations using Teleparty. I’m still surprised that not everyone knows about this!
Download this extension, and follow these steps to set up the application. Then ask everyone to sign into their own individual Netflix accounts. Select a movie, then look for the Teleparty icon. This will sync movie playback across all accounts, and create a group chat feature.
Virtual wine tastings have been all-the-rage since the start of the pandemic, but they’re especially convenient for this time of year. They offer a chance to gather with a group of friends, couples or neighbors, and celebrate the joy of the season without risking an in-person get together.
Exclusivity: If the tasting is limited to your private group of friends, or open to anyone who signs up.
Inclusions: If the tasting includes a bottle of wine, two bottles of wine, or none at all. Some wineries will ship the wine directly to your doorstep, right on time for the tasting, while others will ask that you go out and purchase them on your own.
Vineyard: If the tasting is hosted by a top-end winery, their classes will tend to be more expensive.
If you choose a virtual tasting from a winery that doesn’t include any bottles of bubbly, try sourcing wine from Drizly. Order liquor, beer, wine and hard seltzers from the website, or download the application to your phone, and have the drinks delivered directly to you.
Pro-Tip: To easily elevate the experience, research which cheeses pair well with the variety of wine on the menu, and curate a cheeseboard to enjoy during the tasting.
Prop your laptop up at the dining table, bring along the wine and cheeseboard, and raise a glass to this special tasting experience!
Ah, holiday card season – AKA – just about the only time of year when my mailbox consists of more than just bills, magazines and spam. I love the timeless tradition of sending holiday cards, and in 2020, I figured the more holiday cheer I could send, the better. So, I multiplied my mailing list about fifteen times over, and created a template to build my first official holiday card list from scratch.
After graduating college, I decided to start sending holiday cards to old roommates and friends that I couldn’t see in person as often as I would’ve liked to. I’ve always loved handwritten notes, so I picked up some blank holiday cards from Papyrus and wrote out each note myself.
There were only about twenty households on my list, but it still took at least three or four hours to write, stuff/stamp/seal and mail those cards.
I took pictures of each envelope before mailing them, so that I could find my makeshift list of recipients and addresses the following year. I’m not too proud of this methodology, but hey, we all have our own systems that we try to make work, right?
This year, I decided to do things a bit differently.
After working with so many clients to generate mailing lists for wedding and event invitations, I drafted a template in Google Sheets that I knew would be accepted by most stationers, with little to no adjustments needed.
This template is super easy to use. It creates one central location to keep your mailing list organized, but it serves other functions as well.
The manual entry may seem daunting, but once you grab a cup of coffee and starting building your list, it becomes super turnkey. Here’s why:
“Title” column can be used for professional titles, degrees or salutations like Mrs. or Mr.
Separate cells for the first and last name allows you to easily locate people on your list and make updates.
The “List” column is your own personal safety net to make sure you haven’t forgotten anyone! Assign a category to each entry, like Family, Friends, Work, Neighbors, etc. This way, you can always use Google Sheet’s “sort by” function to identify anyone that’s missing from one of your groups!
The “Email” column simplifies your life for next year. All you’ll need to do is copy & paste the column into an email, or an address app like Postable, to keep your list fully up to date.
“Status” gives you a location to write whether an entry is complete, or missing information (like a new address for a friend that’s about to move).
Once you’ve found a stationer to work with, ask for their mailing list template, and do a quick compare & contrast. I always remove the “List,” “Email,” and “Status” columns, which are used for my own organizational purposes, not to be printed on the envelope.
Before signing off on the final product, ask to see a digital proof of the addresses, so that you can run through the formatting with a fine tooth comb, and ensure all of the information is correct.
The Post Office
Once you’ve received your holiday cards (YIPEE!) take one card and envelope to the post office to have it weighed before purchasing stamps, to make sure you buy the correct postage value.
Then you can assemble those holiday cards, and head back to the post office with all of your holiday cheer in tow.
For domestic mailing in the United States, request that your cards are mailed as “flats” using the First Class Mail Flat rate, not as “letters.” Also request that the cards are hand canceled, instead machine handling, which can damage the envelopes.