Tips for Decorating, Cooking, Wrapping and Preparing for the Holidays

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As we’re winding down to celebrate Christmas, the Pinellis are busy with all the pre-holiday prep. It always gets a little crazy at my house because I like to make everything perfect for everyone. Whether it’s hanging lights, decorating the tree, cleaning the “Man Cave” or cooking, Andrew and Joe (A&J) always pitch in to help out. Here are a few last minute tips for your holiday prep.

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Keeping the little ones busy

My favorite part of any holiday is the food. I love to cook. I got my sons involved in the kitchen when they were little so they could appreciate our family traditions (and learn how to cook).

To keep them busy when trying to prepare a meal, I let them decorate the kids’ dessert. I have an easy-to-clean, vinyl holiday tablecloth, an assortment of small candies, jimmies (aka sprinkles), and frosting (that I pre-colored) and an assortment of large cut-out cookies, cupcakes or even a single layer cake cut into a tree shape (I have a 'tree shaped baking pan that makes it even easier).

Gingerbread houses are always fun, as well. I recommend getting the pre-assembled kind at a craft store so you can start decorating right away. The kids had a blast decorating and were very proud to show off their creations at the dessert table.

It's a wrap

If you have the room, set up a wrapping station so you can wrap as you buy. After all, who doesn’t love a beautifully wrapped gift?

I set up all the wrapping supplies on the ping pong table in the basement so it’s out of the way. All the tissue paper, boxes, ribbon, tape and scissors are all in one place. As an added tip, - gift bags and electric scissors are fabulous time savers!

Quick and easy appetizers

I have a few quick, go-to recipes for entertaining. Pizza Dip is always a crowd-pleaser and it couldn’t be simpler to make.

Pizza Dip Recipe & Directions:

Take an eight oz block of cream cheese, a cup of mayo, a can of diced tomatoes (drained) and 10-12 oz of shredded mozzarella.

Add in anything you’d put on a pizza: chopped mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc. I usually take some hot Italian sausage out of the casing, sauté and drain it and add to cheese mixture. Chopped pepperoni and salami are also good additions.

Mix together and bake at 350°F until golden brown and bubbly. I usually get a nice loaf of French bread and slice and toast it, but this is also good with Tostitos’ Scoops tortilla chips. (There are never any leftovers.)

Last minute table top

Want a festive table but don’t have the budget for flowers? Look to nature! A bowl of nuts can be transformed with a little gold paint!

I’ll be making this pine cone-candle centerpiece this year. Check out some of the great ideas from Midwest Living.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our design blog posts this year! Next up - my take on the colors of the year and learning how you can incorporate them into your decor.

Warmest holiday wishes!

~ Debi ~ (and of course, A&J!!)

Debi