It begins. The baking and the gift-wrapping, two of my favorite things about December. I love wrapping and making gift tags -- that is how Laini's Ladies first came to be -- and I love brown sugar and molasses and white chocolate and jam and crushed candy canes and toasted coconut and all the other scumptiousness that goes into Christmas cookies.
Some things about gift wrapping:
-- Nice fabric ribbon -- not the spooly plastic stuff -- makes a huge difference. Even yarn looks better than the plastic stuff.
-- Paper with simple patterns (or solids) and a limited palette are more elegant than wacky Santa patterns. This year I'm using all red and white, in a variety of simple stripes, polka dots, swirls, and solids.
-- Tie something cute to the top of the package. An ornament, or a little doll, or a simple felt bird, or even just a candy cane. This year I am making those little paper flowers above (well, "making" them: I bought a jar of flowers, and I am stitching them together on a beaded loop that can go through the ribbon). A few years ago I decoupaged cardboard star ornaments from the craft store:
-- Make your own gift tags, something unique. I haven't done mine yet, but they're simple and elegant this year, on pretty scallop-edged white tags. It's fun to put the recipient's name on with transfer letters or stickers, or alphabet stamps in metallic ink, or even letters cut from magazines, ransom-note style. It just looks better than most handwriting. Last year I found old playing cards and tarot cards for my tags and used transfer letters on top of them for recipients' names:
(You might also laminate your tags and put a book mark tassel on, so it can function as a bookmark after the unwrapping is all done. That long-legged kitty cat above is a bookmark tag, and the stack of tea cups with the bird, which I cut out of a magazine.)
Also, don't forget: Laini's Ladies gift tags are very adorable:
I'll put up more pics once I really get going with the wrapping.
On the baking front, yesterday I made cranberry white chocolate cookie bars, and I must say, they are deeee-licious. Little nutmeg, little orange zest, lotta white chocolate. . . And bars are so easy, you just pour the batter in a pan instead of all the time-intensive dolloping onto cookie sheets. (Though I will be doing plenty of that too.)
(This picture swiped from the blog where I found the recipe, as I forgot to photograph the finished product. Too busy tasting?)
Do you want to hear something sinful? How about these Oreo truffles? Basically: crushed oreos mixed with cream cheese, shaped into balls, then dunked in molten milk chocolate. Oh my. I've only gotten as far as crushing the Oreos so far. I'll let you know how they turn out :-)