Winter Solstice: A Time of Renewal

Today is the shortest, darkest day of the year. It’s when the sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, marking the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere. While the Winter Solstice is a time of celebration in many cultures, it’s also a time of rest, reflection, and renewal. This year, we invite you to join us as we pause, take a breather, and drink in the beauty around us—both indoors and out—knowing that starting with tomorrow’s sunrise, there’s more daylight on the way!

 

 


Holiday Cranberry Martini Recipe

Need a signature cocktail quick? Or just a break from your hectic holiday schedule?  Try our no-fail Holiday Cranberry Martini, shown here on our Emerald Snakeskin Tray (it’s made of embossed leather—and it’s gorgeous).

Holiday Cranberry Martini

Serves 2

  • 1 oz. vodka
  • ½ oz. orange liqueur
  • ½ oz. dry vermouth
  • ½ squeezed lime
  • 2 oz. cranberry juice
  • 1 cup of ice
  • fresh cranberries for garnish

Combine the vodka, orange liqueur, vermouth, lime juice, and cranberry juice in a cocktail shaker and add the ice. Shake vigorously to chill. Strain into martini glasses, garnish with cranberries, and serve.


Celebrate the season, farmhouse style

Think “farmhouse style” and a simple, country look comes to mind: A home filled with lovingly used and pleasingly mismatched pieces. It’s a look both humble and inviting, intentionally flawed, forgiving, and easy to love. Decorating farmhouse style is authentic, making it perfect for this, the most wonderful time of the year.

SET THE TABLE
An actual farmhouse table (like our beloved Miller, with its hand-distressed, plank-effect top) is the perfect foundation for country style in the dining room. Everything about this tablescape is unfussy yet elegant, from the scalloped white plates to the striped linen hand towels that double as napkins.

GO LIVE

Bring a holiday tree in from the great outdoors and use natural greenery whenever possible.  Make place cards pop by tying tags to a few winterberry branches.

SHOWCASE YOUR COLLECTIONS
Display similar things together, tucked in amongst greenery, holiday ribbon, and other decorative elements. No collection? Start one for next season! Take advantage of post-holiday markdowns on snow globes, angel figurines, and stylized trees.

THINK VINTAGE

The past is great inspiration for decorating farmhouse style, but you don’t have to go antiquing unless you want to. Our Kata bowls are true found objects, cleaned and retreated for you, perfect in their unique imperfection.

CELEBRATE THE DIFFERENCES
Farmhouse style resists the urge to make everything matchy-matchy. Our Windsor-style Gilbert chairs, finished in charcoal, look striking against the Miller table‘s rye finish.

DO SOME HOME COOKING
Embrace the farmhouse vibe and toss together this simple, delicious dessert. The scent of apples and cinnamon hot from the oven is almost reason enough to make it!

Apple Crisp

Ingredients

  • 6 to 8 medium baking apples
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 stick chilled butter, cubed

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Core the apples, then cut them into 3/4-inch pieces. Place the apples into a bowl and sprinkle them with the nutmeg, the cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Mix to coat the apple pieces, then spread the mixture into a baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining sugar, the flour, and the salt. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients until crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over your filling.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes or until the juices are thickened, the apples are tender, and the topping has turned light golden brown. Top with a scoop of your favorite ice cream and enjoy!

 

BE CRAFT-Y   

Humble kraft paper is a perfect canvas for creative farmhouse-style wrappings. Add a little raffia or string and a sprig of berries for supremely simple and stylish packages. Remember, you don’t have live anywhere near a farm to style your home with rustic charm. This holiday season, we send you and yours good tidings of country comfort—and joy.


How to Style a Mantel for the Holidays

If you have a fireplace—working or not—and it has a mantel, you’ve hit the holiday decorating jackpot. A mantel, or mantelpiece (or chimneypiece in England), is by definition a shelf—but it really is so much more. It’s prime real estate in any room: an instant focal point, an opportunity not to be missed.

Often, the architectural style of a mantel (and surrounding millwork) dictates how you decorate it—but not now. From candles and crystal to cherished collectibles, anything goes during the holidays.

Mantel decorating “rules” still apply:

  • Choose a center of attention.
  • Design with odd numbers.
  • Keep scale and balance in mind.
  • Add depth by layering.
  • Stick with your theme.

Following these principles, we styled our own holiday mantel to show you how it’s done. Let us take you through it, step by step.

  • Focus! Center a large mirror or work of art on the mantel and lean it close to the wall. For our spectacular statement piece, we chose our Aged Silver Provincial mirror; it always sets an elegant mood.
  • Go green. Place natural evergreen garland along the length of the mantel, dangling some over the sides for a lush look. Drape greenery on your mirror or artwork, too—for dramatic effect.

  • Add a little color. We chose sprigs of red winterberries.
  • Go glam with a few metal accents. Our lovely Pomegranates (available in gold, brass, or nickel finishes) and ever-popular Song Birds add some shimmer.
  • See the light. Amp up the ambience with candles in hurricanes wrapped in red ribbon. DIY tutorial: A RIBBON RUNS THROUGH IT 
  • Turn on the sparkle! We finished our mantelscape with mini battery-powered LED lights.

 

No mantel? No worries! Try this on any long-ish horizontal surface: a buffet, a console table, or the top of a bookcase or china cabinet.

 


Unique Home Décor and Gifts for Under $100

Great Gifts for Less Than $100

Looking for a stylish and cost-effective way to flatter your design-savvy friends and family this holiday season? We’ve got you covered. This curated gift list includes beautiful accents that run from pretty to plush and from chic to shimmery—and the best part is they’re all under $100.

ARTY FACT. Our brass Patina Painted vase has a rich, variegated finish that complements any décor. ($99)

PENGUIN CLASSICS. Nickel-finished Emperor Penguins are ready to waddle into a loved one’s heart. ($99)

ALL CHOKED UP. Start with an aged-finish Gold Artichoke to create a stunning still life on a holiday table. ($59)

WARM UP EXERCISE. Think soft, cozy, and comforting: That’s our Ivory Chunky Knit throw. ($69)

IT’S A WRAP. Our jewel-toned Serene throws are available in Goldenrod, Wine, and Teal. ($99)

ONE OF A KIND. Every Merryl vase is an original, mouth-blown by a master artisan in Portugal. ($79)

Ready, set, save! Make your list, check it twice, and go here for more fabulous, affordable gift ideas.


Crafty Ways to Decorate With Ribbon

When it comes to seasonal décor, ribbon is one of the most versatile materials there is. Everyone knows ribbon can transform a gift—even one wrapped in plain brown paper—with a simple twist, knot, or bow. Ribbon can give a tired wreath a festive twirl in seconds. It can dress your dining chairs for dinner. And it can stand in for garland, then top a tree with sparkling finesse. We love ribbon of every stripe, whether wide, wired, plaid, pinked, grosgrain, or velvet.

We unspooled some holiday classics (a pair of tartans and razzle-dazzle reds) to jazz up a couple of our favorite everyday accents. With a snip here, and a snip there, we used ribbon to create holiday statement pieces—and you can, too. Let’s get rolling!

Wrap candleholders with lovely tartan ribbon to give your tabletop or mantel a quick holiday update. We used our simple glass hurricanes, available in three sizes. Cut lengths of ribbon two inches longer than the circumference of the hurricanes. Wrap ribbon around each hurricane, folding over the extra. Secure with double-sided tape. Layer narrow ribbon over wide for added cheer!

Our Oval Link tray is fab as is—perfect for displaying decorative objects, candles, flowers, or for serving up your favorite cocktail. We used narrow, red satin ribbon to add a pretty punch of color. Just weave your ribbon through the links, leaving about two inches to neatly fold over and secure with double-sided tape.

 


Recipe: Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

Nothing beats the chilly autumn weather like relaxing fireside with a good book, a cozy blanket, and delicious apple cider. Just in time for Thanksgiving weekend, our social media team whipped up a mouthwatering Apple Cider Bourbon cocktail. It’s super simple – and you can easily leave out the bourbon for a delightful non-alcoholic beverage. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

Serves: One

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 3 oz. apple cider (local, if you can find some)
  • ½ oz. rosemary simple syrup
  • Cinnamon stick and fresh rosemary

1. Prepare the rosemary simple syrup:

Combine equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan, drop in 3 or 4 sprigs of rosemary, and set over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, then turn up the heat just a tick to bring the syrup to a simmer; simmer for 1 minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the mixture steep, about 20 minutes. Discard the rosemary and let the syrup cool. (1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar will be plenty for multiple drinks.)

2. In a shaker, combine the bourbon, cider and simple syrup with a few cubes of ice. Shake vigorously for a few seconds and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a fresh rosemary sprig.


Tips for a Stress Free Holiday

This Thanksgiving, say goodbye to entertaining stress! These simple Thanksgiving tips can help you plan a day that everyone can love.

Make a Plan

Nothing is impossible once you break it down into simple steps! So: Get your menu set and your shopping done a few days before; jot down a schedule (e.g., what’s being cooked in what order, who’s arriving when, how you’ll pace the hors d’oeuvres, dinner, and dessert) and build in some socializing time for yourself; and make sure there’s enough seating for all your guests.

 

Back to the Future

Nothing beats a recipe that’s been passed down for generations. Send happy Thanksgiving memories into the future by preparing a family favorite or two – you could even have copies of the recipes for guests to take home.

 

Get an Early Start

Check those recipes to see what you can make in advance. Stocks for gravy, sides, and dough are all good candidates for pre-prep.

 

Ready…Set…Set the Table!

Tablescaping game on. Check out our Harvest tabletop here.

 

Card Your Guests

Hosting a crowd? Assign seats with place cards, mixing friends and family to create a more social experience.

 

The Warmest Welcome

Greet your guests with a signature cocktail or a steamy mug of hot mulled cider (with or without the rum!).

 

Open with a Wow

Feel like stretching those creative culinary muscles? Start with one over-the-top appetizer to get your party started.

 

Child’s Play

Set up games, an easy craft, or a space where the little ones can put together a simple yummy dessert, and they won’t have time to ask, “Is it ready yet?”

 

Pass the Sanity, Please

If there are lots of people or lots of dishes, simplify your hosting duties: Set up a buffet near the table and let guests serve themselves.


How to Set a Thanksgiving Tablescape

Setting a deliciously chic table for Thanksgiving is surprisingly easy—if you have a plan. We think the holiday lends itself to a harvest-inspired, rustic farmhouse look, so we chose a subtle seasonal palette: Think fall leaves (taupe, gold, burnt orange) and blue sky. We used natural materials as well as Ethan Allen decorative accents, to complete our tablescape.

Step 1: Start with any table that will comfortably seat your guests—we used our classic, plank-top Miller table to set a “country” tone.

Step 2: Lay a foundation with a few basics—be creative! Instead of using a traditional tablecloth, we draped a plaid throw (a good friend routinely uses her favorite Tartan wool blanket) diagonally across the table to show off the beautiful wood. Brilliant idea, right? One caveat: be sure you don’t mind if your tablecloth stand-in gets a little messy. Next, create a “frame” for your centerpiece using natural fall foliage from your yard and add candlesticks for height (and later, ambience).

Step 3: Can you set a fall table without pumpkins and gourds? We think not! We placed them in and around our leafy branches, mixing colors, shapes, and sizes.

Step 4: Add volume and a little bling; a few of our faux Gold Artichokes did the trick.

Step 5: Fill in the “blanks” with some seasonal fruit; we scattered a few gorgeous pears. And remember: The more imperfect it looks, the better!

Step 6: Set the table with neutral white plates or use a combo of your favorite flea market finds. We added pops of color with a mix of cloth napkins, and gave each plate a final flourish with a sprig of bittersweet berries.

P.S. After the holiday, use your greenery to make small wreaths to hang around the house—because everyone knows that leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving!

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