Any day at home is a day well-spent, especially if it includes warm beverages, candles and even a bit of music. For this holiday-inspired post, I’m sharing a couple of easy recipes for two of my fave beverages for this time of year along with quick ideas on what to listen to or watch, or both. But first, nibbles.
Cookies are a mainstay this time of year and I found an easy recipe from Martha Stewart that doesn’t require exotic or hard to find ingredients. The preparation is straightforward, with the most time-consuming part being the refrigeration period which happens twice in the recipe.
Embellished Wreath Cookies Despite the title, I didn’t make my cookies into wreaths. Instead, I cut them out using the rim of a champagne flute and skipped the topping suggested. After glazing the cookies, I simply dusted on some sprinkles and that was enough.
Hot Spiked Apple Cider This is my own recipe that I adjust depending on what I’m craving. Otherwise, preparation is easy and you can tailor to suit.
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons white rum (optional)
2 tablespoons honey
1 dash bitters
An orange wedge and cinnamon stick to garnish
Pour apple cider into a small saucepan, keeping your stove on a very low heat.
Once steam begins to rise, add in white rum and stir in honey.
Keep cider on the stove for about five more minutes, then pour into a glass or a mug.
Splash in the bitters and garnish with the orange wedge and cinnamon stick.
1 packet of hot cocoa mix or 4 tablespoons of powdered drinking chocolate
Sugar to taste (optional)
1/2 cup hot milk (optional)
A pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Mini Marshmellows (optional)
Heat the milk in a small saucepan on very low heat if using. Stay and monitor the milk as it heats up because milk burns easily.
If you’re using water instead, heat the water in a kettle until it boils.
Once the milk or water is ready, place cocoa powder into a mug, add a pinch of salt along with nutmeg and sugar if you’re using it.
Pour hot water or hot milk into the cup with cocoa, salt and nutmeg, stir.
Top with mini marshmallows and sprinkles and enjoy.
A few things to note about the hot chocolate, I don’t care for milk so I use hot water. Plus, I skip sugar especially if the mix I’m using already has sugar added. The pinch of salt may seem odd but it’s a nice counterpoint to the chocolate giving it a twist. Adding nutmeg perks up the chocolate and infuses a touch of spice, plus it creates a pleasant aroma as you’re drinking it.
Lastly, if you’re not keen on traditional marshmallows that uses gelatin from cows, there are versions that use gelatin from fish, plus there are also vegan marshmallows.
Once you’re ready to sit down and get cosy, there is a lifetime worth of films to match the season. We watched A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas by accident and it was as ridiculous yet as hilarious as can be expected. Alternatively, you may prefer music to set the mood this time of year. Truthfully, I prefer festive music more than all of the holiday films, but I’d never say no to a Jason Bourne film any time of year.
As an example, Mariah Carey’s Christmas songs are a nice contemporary choice but my heart will always be with the ‘masters’ from Nat King Cole to Bing Crosby. Their Christmas carol renditions take me right back to the Christmases of my childhood, conjuring treasured memories. I also adore chamber music and my ultimate favourite choir to listen to this time of year is The Choir of Kings College. Their renditions always make me feel calm and content and this year, it’s much needed.
I recognise that the festive season is not observed by everyone. While for others, it may be an extremely difficult time of year for a number of reasons. Just know that wherever you stand in relation to this time of year, the important thing is to make a bit of time to look after yourself and remember above all else, ‘Charity begins at home’.