Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Top 9 Holiday {Hostess} Gifts~

Photo by Magna Vita Photography

I love discovering wonderful new finds that make great hostess gifts. And of course I like to make a lot of hostess gifts too. Here are some of my favorite handmade and bought gifts for hosts and hostesses this holiday season. Some are local finds and others just great gifts, but all will surely delight the hostess of your next holiday get-together.

Wine is often appreciated and I like to include a little note card with "Just for You" written on it so that the hostess doesn't feel the need to share it at the party. Here are two of my current favorites and they are affordable~

Malbec - Escorihuela 1884 Reserva 

What goes perfectly with red wine you ask? Well, my Auntie John's Cheesy Shortbread do indeed! Yes, shameless plug. But they won't disappoint. I make a lot of these at Christmas for little gifts. They will please any host or hostess. (one dozen for $10 in my SHOP)

For the foodie host or hostess, consider Ina Garten's new book Foolproof Recipes you can really trust. Whether a beginner or seasoned cook, Ina's books are always filled with beautiful ideas, well-crafted recipes, and gorgeous photos.

If you are an overnight guest, I highly recommend bringing some gourmet breakfast foods from the new Foodies Pages. This artisan food box is filled with Canadian yummies for a holiday morning breakfast. Visit their site to shop, send gifts, or be inspired by the chef-curated collections. Kimberley's Kitchen is now a vendor too!

Breakfast is complete with a perfect cup of coffee. This coffee is very local for me, roasted in Smithers. The ultimate in small-batch roasters (they roast to order) Chicken Creek imports organic, Fair Trade beans and uses time-honored methods for perfectly roasted coffee. It is my new favorite and is now featured in two of my marshmallows. 

If your hostess is a friend or family member that you know well, a more personal gift is gracious. I love these Karma hoop earrings from Jen Ellis Designs. Based in Vancouver, Jen handcrafts unique and sophisticated jewelry from silver. Shop online or find her items in one of the many trendy boutiques in Vancouver. 

I love these prints from Amanda Catherine Designs. After finding her shop on Etsy (one of my latest obsessions) I bought one for Thanksgiving and I love it. I am thinking of buying this one for my sister, who I think will actually hang it in her closet full of shoes.

If your hostess has a sweet tooth then there is nothing more delightful than receiving a gift of handmade macarons. I have tried just about every macaron in Vancouver and these are hands-down the best. Queen Bee Patisserie is a talented baker and she ships her macarons across Canada so you can even send these treats to a far-away friend. What a perfect treat to end an evening with friends and family.

Happy Holidays and I hope that you enjoy giving.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The S'more The Merrier {Throw a S'mores Party!}

If the only s'mores you've ever had involve store-bought graham crackers and marshmallows, then you are missing out on one of life's true pleasures. Maybe I am a little biased (well, a lot!) but a gourmet s'more is pure heaven. 

While assembling this post, I simply had to sample. And I sat and enjoyed one s'more. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. So go ahead and treat your friends and family to this easy S'mores Party and be the hostess with the mostest!

Its a messy one so I covered my table in brown kraft paper. This paper is so versatile and I often wrap presents in it and embellish with twine and fresh sprigs from the garden. It also made a great backdrop for my rustic tablescape and I wrote on the paper with chalk to outline all the steps to making your s'mores.

I gathered all of my supplies: trays, napkins, marshmallows, skewers, Sterno (more on this below), chocolate and cookies. Details below~

Buffet style is perfect for this casual s'mores set-up. I put this out on our long coffee table- keeping it easy for guests to sit and have s'more. 

Start with your marshmallows (gourmet marshmallows from Kimberley's Kitchen of course!). I put out an assortment of holiday flavors- my classic Vanilla Bean, Espresso Crunch, and Rum & Eggnog (which contains rum and roasts so well). I also put out some smaller marshmallows (these are my Bites) for smaller guests.

Next you roast it! Did you know that you didn't need a campfire to have a s'more? These Sterno pots used for catering chaffing dishes are perfect for roasting marshmallows indoors. (please use caution and keep children away from the flame). Fresh marshmallows roast very quickly but you can see how perfect they look with a little toasting.

You can go the traditional route and slap a slab of really good chocolate in your s'more, or, you can opt for my chocolate-covered handmade grahams that make even better s'mores. I put out this dark chocolate from Trader Joe's that I am officially obsessed with. I love dark chocolate (and I would also put out milk chocolate for guests) and have probably tried every gourmet brand and variety. 

Then smush with cookies! I made my handmade graham crackers that I smother in dark chocolate to make s'mores easier and tastier. I also included some butter shortbread and mini grahams for little ones. You can put out an assortment of your favorite homemade or store-bought cookies. Something sturdy works best so that it doesn't crumble when you press your marshmallow inside. 

And there you have it! You have just made yourself a divine s'more. Now- time for s'more!

I hope that you will try hosting your own s'mores party. It is easy and lots of fun. 

But wait- there's s'more! I am hosting a GIVEAWAY for this s'mores party! Included in the giveaway:

S'mores party for 6~
Trays and skewers
Gourmet Marshmallows and Cookies
Gourmet Chocolate
(Sterno not included as I cannot ship it)

To enter the giveaway simply comment on this post telling me about your favorite s'more memory. Thanks so much! The winner will be randomly selected on December 15th, 2012.

Here are my sources for my rustic s'mores bar~

Gourmet Marshmallows and Cookies ~ Kimberley's Kitchen (me!)
Cardboard trays & wooden crates ~ Garnish
Napkins ~ Canadian Superstore
Skewers ~ most grocery stores, usually in the Asian food aisle
Soy waxed paper ~ Nature's Pantry, or your local health food store
Chocolate ~ Trader Joe's
Sterno ~ Bulkley Valley Wholesale, or a catering/kitchen supply store
black wire baskets ~ my own collection, purchased from La Petit Maison in Smithers
Kraft paper and chalk ~ Staples, or a craft store

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Treats~

There are some treats in store for all of you coming very soon! 

hint, hint