Design to Dish: Peppermint Bark Thumbprints

christmas holiday cookie exchange swap recipe

One of my favorite things to do every holiday season is to make Christmas cookies; I can’t remember a single Christmas that didn’t involve lots and lots of flour, butter, and sugar. My family has a few all-time favorite cookie recipes that we make every year, but I’m always on the lookout for new, delicious Christmas treats to try out. A holiday cookie swap is the perfect place to discover dozens of amazing goodies in one fun-filled afternoon!

When I think of holiday flavor combinations, chocolate and peppermint jump out as a clear favorite. These Peppermint Bark Thumbprints start with sweet, buttery shortbread cookies, and are topped with two kinds of chocolate as well as a hefty sprinkle of crushed candy canes. They’re insanely delicious and pretty cute too, which makes them perfect cookie-swap material. Have you ever hosted a holiday cookie party? What show-stopping cookie would you bring this year?

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Recipe: Peanut Butter Fondue

The holidays are just around the corner and that means lots of great opportunities for entertaining. My trick is to have a few tasty treats prepared beforehand so that they’re ready to go, like this twist on traditional chocolate fondue. Peanut butter is always a crowd pleaser, and this sauce tastes like liquid peanut butter fudge. Best of all, the peanut butter fondue can be made up to two weeks ahead and stored in the fridge, so once your party guests arrive, all you need to do is heat and serve.

Keep reading for the full recipe…

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Deck the Office Business Holiday Challenge Special Prize Winners

In the Deck the Office Business Holiday Card Challenge, we asked the Minted community to design non-photo holiday cards that were modern and fresh (as always), but also universally appealing and clean enough for a professional business. That’s no easy feat! So the community got down to business to create a beautiful collection of business holiday cards that strike that balance between pretty and professional. Congratulations to the designers below, whose designs were the best in our specific categories!

 

Minimalist Award for the best simple, minimalist design

Swatch Wreath” by chica design “Swatch Wreath” really fits the bill for our Minimalist Award. Angela’s succinct copy, clean layout, and crisp white background make this one simple, sweet design. Her swatch wreath is modern and unconventional, while still being bright and festive. This is the perfect card for any creative group! Runner Ups: “Structured Greetings” by Jennifer Wick | “Happy-Go-Lucky” by Up Up Creative | “A Little Holiday Peace” by Kim Dietrich Elam

 

Cool Colors Award for the best design featuring blue or green colors

Joyful Reindeer” by Laura Bolter

We love how Laura embraced unique geometrics in “Joyful Reindeer.” Her background mosaic of blues and greys gives off a feeling of soft falling snow. The softness of those colors and lines allows her sharp, bold reindeer to pop right off the page. Runner Ups: “Simple Peace” by Sarah Brown | “Patchwork” by Ellis | “Mountain Pine” by Alex Elko Design

 

Making Spirits Bright Award for the best design that’s a lot of fun

The Gang’s All Here!” by Unless Someone Like You “The Gang’s All Here” made us all smile the second we saw it in submission – it’s sure to make anyone’s spirits bright! What a fun, friendly twist on a business holiday card. We love how each of Leslie’s illustrated carolers has his or her own distinct personality. The customizable speech bubbles allow you to send a message in a very whimsical way. Runner Ups: “Retro Cheer” by nocciola design | “Holiday Infographics” by Frooted Design | “Off the Charts” by Stacey Hill

 

Typography Award for the best typographical design

Good Cheer & Happy New Year” by Serenity Avenue Ashley lets her type do all the talking with this retro design. Her various typefaces blend together so perfectly—they were meant to be! The variety gives this card a lot of visual interest, while the textured champagne glass and marbled bubbles lend a bit of good-natured celebration. Runner Ups: “Glad Tidings” by Ann Gardner | “Happiness for All” by root beer float | “Dotted i” by kelli hall  

 

Flora Award for the best botanical design

Luminosity” by Griffinbell Studio Our Flora Award goes to Lynn’s “Luminosity” because of the unexpected twist on her botanical elements. It’s interesting how she achieves such a sense of greenery simply through the shape and placement of her otherwise very minimalist leaves. The snowflake-like star is a modern approach to holiday botanicals. Runner Ups (clockwise from top left): “Peace Love Happiness” by Melanie Severin | “Festive Banner” by trbdesign | “Burst” by Monica Schafer | “Rustic Season’s Greetings” by Gakemi Art+Design

 

Company Pride Award for the best design that displays a company name in a unique way

All the Trimmings” by Frooted Design

All of Tanya’s elements seem so thoughtful and intentionally placed to bring your company name to the forefront – her square format, large round seal, and symmetrical garnishes all draw your eye to the center of the card. At the same time, her curved type and delicate pine and mistletoe trimmings create an overall feeling of holiday cheer. Runner Ups: “A Venny Merry Christmas” by Bonjour Berry | “Typewriter” by VOSS  | “Greeting Tag” by Snow and Ivy

 

Text with a Twist Award for the best design that uses curvilinear text to create unique shapes or unusual layouts

Wreath and Ribbon” by Laura Condouris

Laura has a knack for the delicate and beautiful. In this design, she uses subtle curvilinear text to complement the soft curve of her lovely illustrated wreath and ribbon banner. We love how clearly you can see Laura’s strokes and outlines. The result is a very personal feeling in a business holiday card. Runner Ups: “Vintage Ornament” by Hooray Creative | “Pine Cones” by Snow and Ivy

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Joy to the World Special Prize Winners

We’re excited to continue our Joy to the World Holiday Card Challenge announcements with our special prize winners! Special prizes call attention to the best designs in specific categories. The winners below stand out among the more than 2,600 designs in a variety of categories. From humor to minimalism, specific design elements to overall vision, each winner speaks to a very different, unique theme. Congratulations, winners!

Vision Award for the most unique holiday card in the challenge that breaks new ground but still conveys the cheer and spirit of the holiday season

Merry Modern” by Sarah Curry

Sarah’s “Merry Modern” is a vision in neon! We love her very modern diagonal stripe and the unusual green overlay. The classic black text on a white background provides a perfect balance.

Runner Ups: “Red Abstract” by Moglea | “O Tannenbaum” by 2birdstone | “Trio” by Wondercloud Design | “Ombre Tidings” by Paper Dahlia

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The Top 10 Joy to the World Holiday Winners

This is the moment that we all look forward to every year. Today, as we reveal the top results of our 5th annual holiday card challenge, I can’t help but stop to think about just how talented and diverse our community is. I believe that the Minted community is the strongest community of designers and artists in the world. The 10 designs below have been curated as the best of over 2,600 designs by thousands of designers, customers, and fans from around the world.

These designs are the work of a range of Minties, from some who participated in their very first holiday challenge to seasoned designers. Their designs are not only beautiful, but also very different from each other—it’s a testament to the range of talents and tastes that makes our community the very best. With that, I give you the top 1-10 ranked designs. Congratulations, designers!

1st Place Winner: “Be Merry Berries” by Angela Marzuki

We could not have been more thrilled to see that “Be Merry Berries” was voted as the first place holiday card design. Angela takes the cake with our grand prize of $7,000, the largest we’ve ever awarded. This design is a true work of art. From her mod berries to her subtle shadows and textures, Angela’s design is absolutely beautiful. We shared the news with Angela this morning. See her reaction here:

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The Top 11-20th Joy to the World Holiday Winners

Today, I’m happy to announce the 11-20th ranked designs from our Joy to the World challenge. Every year, we see tremendous growth in the Minted community and this year in no exception! Looking through the designs below, it’s easy to see why they rated so highly among a staggering 2,700 submissions. It’s all in the details – the unusual layouts, exceptional illustrations, and unique ways to incorporate customer photos. My congratulations to the creative minds behind these beautiful designs!

11th Place: “Rustic Joy” by Hooray Creative

Kristy’s “Rustic Joy” is a perfect example of a card that achieves that tricky balance between beautifully constructed design elements and a large customer photo. We love her hand-drawn pine elements that are delicate enough to let your family photo stand out.

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Joy to the World Holiday Challenge: The Top 21-40th Place Winners

After a long summer of holiday submissions, voting, and file requests, I could not be more excited to kick off our Joy to the World winners’ announcements with our top 21-40 winners, as ranked by the community of customers, designers, fans, and friends. Last year, we were blown away by the 2,206 entries we received. This year, you outdid yourselves yet again with an incredible 2,658 submissions. The quality and strength of those nearly 2,700 designs is a true testament not only to the wonderful talent of the community as a whole, but also to the accomplishment of the top 21-40 designs below.

Thank you so much to everyone who put yourself out there by submitting a design and providing invaluable critique and feedback to your fellow community members. Thank you also to everyone who helped determine the winners by voting in not one, but two rounds, to make the process as fair and as accurate as possible. Your participation, support, and hard work are what makes Minted the source for the freshest, most unique designs on paper. Without further ado, I give you the top 21-40th place winners. Congratulations to our first batch of holiday winners!

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The Top 3 Business Holiday Card Winners

We’re so excited to kick off the 2012 holiday season with the top 3 winners of our first ever Deck the Office Business Holiday Card Challenge! Our design community went to work to create fresh, modern, stylish designs that were also simple and clean enough for the most professional businesses.

First Prize: City Flurry Business Holiday Cards by Wondercloud Design

City Flurry Holiday Business Cards

Olivia’s snowy skyline and cool colors create the perfect contemporary holiday card. We love the way her delicate lines over color-blocked buildings provide a unique twist on a cityscape while the minimalist background and clean text let the company name and cityscape really stand out.

Second Prize: Holiday Berries Business Holiday Cards by Jana Volfova

Holiday Berries Business Holiday Cards

Holiday Berries is whimsically beautiful! Jana’s textured background gives the design a bit of depth while her sparkling berries and bold, yet understated lettering strike the perfect balance between pretty and professional.

Third Prize: Greetings of the Season Buisness Holiday Cards by Jennifer Wick

Greetings of the Seasons Business Holiday Cards

We love Jen’s winter florals! Her warm, inviting colors capture the holiday spirit in a subtle way. As always, Jen makes beautiful hand-lettering look completely effortless.

Congratulations to all of our winners! The top 30-rated designs are all winners, so check them out here. And get excited for more holiday announcements!

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Out of the Box Gift Tag Challenge Special Prize Winners

At Minted, we’re all about the cherry-on-top mentality. Every detail counts and every part of your holidays should be exceptional, right down to the gift tag. That’s why we asked you, our design community, to design beautiful, personalizable gift tags to be the cherry on top of all our customer’s gifts this year. We love how creative all our designers were and can’t wait to see these gift tags around the office and under lots of trees this year! See our incredible special prize winners below. Congratulations to our wintry winners!

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Our Real Simple Ad Hits the Stands

Our November Real Simple Magazine ad hit the stands late last month and we’re thrilled to be able to share the final ad and a few behind the scenes photos. We shot on location in San Francisco at the beautiful home of Victoria Smith, the creative tour de force behind the ever inspiring design and lifestyle blog sfgirlbybay.

“All the Stops” by Campbell and Co. and “Noel Stardust” by j.bartyn design.

It was a great feat to decide on just two cards to shoot for the ad. This year’s holiday assortment provided us with so many incredible choices. In the end, we went with “All the Stops” by Campbell and Co. and “Noel Stardust” by j.bartyn design. We love the contrast between the two styles and the pop of red so nicely complemented by Victoria’s mostly black and white home.

Annie Clark and me having fun with holiday cards on location.

Suzanne Shade, Minted’s Creative Director, art directed this ad and our holiday ads from last year. She has the innate ability to pull ideas out of my head without my needing to say a thing. It’s really wonderful to be in absolute agreement when it comes to how we see the Minted brand. While last year’s ads captured the lightness of Minted, this year we wanted the feel to be elegant and sophisticated, like a chic dinner party.

Suzanne, hard at work in Victoria’s kitchen during the shoot.

Suzanne had this to say about the process, “My inspiration for the ad was my friend Victoria’s house and a shot she put up on her blog, sfgirlbybay. To me, the most fun was bringing that to life, and giving Minted the same relaxed elegance and wit that so many of her fans adore (including me!) We shot this with natural light and very little retouching. Our photographer, Annabelle Breakey, was joking during our scout: ‘This spot is so beautiful… all you need me to do is push the shutter.’ We had a ton of fun that day.”

Victoria’s Mantle. The backdrop for the Real Simple ad.

Victoria’s home is incredibly beautiful. We had a great time chatting with her about her decorating choices and eclectic style. What strikes you the most when you walk in her door is the contrast between her white furnishings and black chalkboard walls. Victoria said that she loved the dramatic difference between the two colors and the way the chalkboard walls look when you write and erase. The gorgeous mantle in Victoria’s home was the perfect backdrop for the ad. We were shocked to learn that the mantle was a recent addition to her home. She calls it her “DIY Fireplace” as she found it at Mega Salvage in Berkeley, brought it home and painted it herself. We’re so inspired.

Finding just the right accents for the cards was a lot of fun. Victoria picked up this sweet little reindeer at the Alameda Flea Market. The Alameda Flea Market is the destination for Bay Area antique enthusiasts.

We hope you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes. We thank the Minted Design Community so much for their amazing contributions to an already wonderful holiday season. Check out their beautiful Minted holiday cards here.

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