DIY: Holiday Luminarias (with printable template!)

This holiday season, in addition to our regular Julep contributors, we’re also sharing stories from our Minted artists and designers about how they celebrate this most wonderful time of the year.

Name: Laura Hankins
Where you’re based: Edmond, Oklahoma
How long you’ve been with Minted: Since 2008
Favorite thing about the holidays: the family time, the foods, the decorations, the classic movies and music… I love it all!
On my wish list this year: A new phone. I routinely overload mine with photos—time to upgrade!
This never fails to get me in the holiday spirit: Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas” album
Favorite holiday tradition: One tradition we started while vacationing on our honeymoon is to pick out an ornament as our souvenir from each trip. It’s so fun to unpack them every year and remember all of the great places we’ve visited together.

One of my favorite memories growing up was the drive home from Christmas Eve mass—my dad would drive around a bit so we could look at the different light displays in our neighborhood. My favorite was a street of old homes that lined its’ long sidewalks with luminarias each year. There was nothing prettier than all of those little paper bags glowing up and down the street. Recreate the look at your own home with my easy DIY luminaria tutorial.  —Laura

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

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DIY: Printable Family-Trivia Game

This holiday season, in addition to our regular Julep contributors, we’re also sharing stories from our Minted artists and designers about how they celebrate this most wonderful time of the year.

Name: Kim Dietrich Elam
Where you’re based: Cincinnati, OH
How long you’ve been with Minted: Since 2011
Favorite thing about the holidays: Spending time with family

My dad’s side of our family is rather large—he’s one of ten children!—which means the stories shared at family gatherings are both too numerous to count and too entertaining not to recount. There’s an endless supply of trivia, and since there are so many family members, it’s pretty much guaranteed that no one knows all the answers. Some fun family facts I’ve recently learned: In 1971, my Uncle Jay defeated my dad and his seven brothers at ping pong. My grandmother, Anna Louise, always displayed her nativity set in the fireplace every Christmas. My Uncle Bobby caught the sailfish that hung in my grandparents’ basement.

One year, to preserve all of our family’s wonderful stories, I made little tins for everyone that contained cards printed with family-trivia questions, with the answers on the back. They were a big hit and made such a wonderful family keepsake, and I thought they might make a lovely little tradition in your family, too.  —Kim

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

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DIY: Snowman Place Cards

This holiday season, in addition to our regular Julep contributors, we’re also sharing stories from our Minted artists and designers about how they celebrate this most wonderful time of the year.

Name: Bob Daly
Where you’re based: Reston, VA
How long you’ve been with Minted: Since August 2012
Favorite thing about the holidays: Sugar cookies
On my holiday wish list this year: Things for my toolbox
This never fails to get me in the holiday spirit: Cheesy 80s holiday rock songs
Favorite holiday tradition: Decorating cookies with the kids

For a festive (and fast!) way to dress up your dinner table for the holidays, Bob shared this adorable and easy-to-make snowman place-card tutorial.

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

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Top 10 Holiday Cookie Recipes

This holiday season, in addition to our regular Julep contributors, we’re also sharing stories from our Minted artists and designers about how they celebrate this most wonderful time of the year.

This is the time of year to break out the cookie cutters and load up on sprinkles, and I wanted to share my favorite holiday-cookie recipes with my friends and readers. For me, the best thing about baking holiday cookies is getting to spend time in the kitchen with my two daughters, who are one and three years old. My oldest daughter, especially, loves using the cookie cutters and is very meticulous with her sprinkles! And my youngest enjoys the dance parties we have in our kitchen while the cookies are baking in the oven. Its a win-win for everyone in my house. I hope you enjoy the cookie recipes!  —Kimberly

Click through for Kimberly’s 10 favorite holiday cookie recipes

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Holiday Cookie Recipe: Kris Crinkles

This holiday season, in addition to our regular Julep contributors, we’re also sharing stories from our Minted artists and designers about how they celebrate this most wonderful time of the year.

Name: Ann Gardner
Where you’re based: Irving, TX
How long you’ve been with Minted: Since February 2010
Favorite thing about the holidays: People seem to be in a better mood, generally nicer, and more giving this time of the year.
On my holiday wish list this year: The past couple of years have been rough for me and my husband, so I’m going to be a bit selfish this year and wish for good health for me and our families… and world peace, of course.
This never fails to get me in the holiday spirit: Ever since I can remember, the “official” start of the holiday season was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade—my family would wait for Santa to arrive at the end of the parade and I looked forward to it every year. It was just one of those small, simple things our family shared together during the holiday season.

I’ve loved baking for as long as I can remember (check out the photo of me and my brother (below) decorating cookies when we were kids!) In fact, I went to culinary school and studied baking and pastry arts. Although I ultimately choose a career in design, I still like to bake. And nothing compares to the smell of something baking in the oven, especially around the holidays. My recipe for Kris Crinkle Cookies is one of my favorites—it fills the house with the warm scent of spices and gingerbread. It’s an easy recipe that’s perfect for cold, wintry days (and I promise they taste as good as they look!).  —Ann

Click through for the recipe and to download the recipe-card printable… 

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Gift Guide: For Your Adventurous and Outdoorsy Sister

This holiday season, in addition to our regular Julep contributors, we’re also sharing stories from our Minted artists and designers about how they celebrate this most wonderful time of the year.

Name: Katie Keyworth of Katie Craig Art
Where you’re based: Dallas, TX
How long you’ve been with Minted: One year
Favorite thing about the holidays: I really enjoy the hunt for the perfect gift, whether big or small. I love the person to know I put thought and love into it!
On my holiday wish list this year: Jersey lounge pants, a garment steamer (ha!), and a Baggu monogrammed backpack (as shown above) for myself, too.
Favorite holiday tradition: Christmas Eve, hands down. Growing up, my family would have a nice, quiet dinner with my grandparents that consisted of ham, scalloped potatoes, and steamed fresh green beans with butter. The mood on Christmas Eve is so heavy with anticipation yet wonderfully peaceful, it has always stuck with me.

You know that girl who jumps out of planes (and still manages to look cute!), dyes her hair blue (and it actually looks good!), and rides her long board (with her hair knotted oh-so-stylishly in a bun!)? Yah, that’s my sister! I have yet to figure out where she gets the guts for all her adventures (as I’m quite the opposite)—she is a traveler, full of sass, and always on the forefront of utilitarian-chic style. I’ve compiled a grouping of gifts I know she’ll love; hopefully something also fits the bill for someone on your holiday gift list, too. (Note to my sister: You’re not getting all of them, xoxo!)  —Katie

Click through for all the product details from Katie’s gift guide

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My Thanksgiving Table: Lynn Knipe

This holiday season, in addition to our regular Julep contributors, we’re also sharing stories from our Minted artists and designers about how they celebrate this most wonderful time of the year.

Name: Lynn Knipe of Griffinbell Paper Co.
Where you’re based: Encinitas, CA
How long you’ve been with Minted: 4 years
My favorite thing about the holidays is… the festive get-togethers with friends and family.
This year, I’m thankful for… my family—my husband, our two kids, four cats, and one dog.
Stuffing—love it or loathe it? Stuffing is my favorite Thanksgiving dish—I even have it for breakfast the following morning!
Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving unless… I make one healthy, low-fat side dish that no one eats!

Here’s a little glimpse into my Southern California home and kitchen (a.k.a. Thanksgiving central!) and what I’ve got cooked up for the holiday this year.  —Lynn

Click through for all the details…

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What I’m Thankful For: Jackie Mangiolino

This holiday season, in addition to our regular Julep contributors, we’re also sharing stories from our Minted artists and designers about how they celebrate this most wonderful time of the year.

Name: Jackie Mangiolino of Sincerely, Jackie
Where you’re based: Bellmore, New York
How long you’ve been with Minted: Since November 2009 (5 years!)
My favorite thing about the holidays is… the smells! Cookies baking, fresh pine trees, Christmas ham, and cinnamon in the fireplace. The smells bring me back to childhood.
Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving unless… there’s a mini-crisis. One year my mother-in-law had a knife accident and almost lost a toe; another year my dad’s boat almost sank; and another year, there *shudder* wasn’t enough turkey. There’s always something totally unexpected that happens and makes for great future stories.
Stuffing—love it or loathe it? I love it. What’s not to love?!

Thanksgiving, to me, has always been a holiday representing gratitude and coming together. Growing up, my grandparents would host a feast for the entire family, which was no small feat with all four of their children and 12 of their grandchildren. My grandfather started the meal by saying a few words of thanks, and he would always get choked up when he thanked our troops and service men and women. It was a simple but powerful sentiment that reminded us all of just how free and fortunate we really were.

My grandparents no longer host Thanksgiving dinner, but my husband and I deeply cherish the tradition and meaning behind the holiday. For years my husband and I would dream of having a home where we could host Thanksgiving and bring our families together. Well, that year has come and this week my husband and I will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 30 people in our new home! Our hearts are filled with immense gratitude, and we cannot wait to begin our own tradition of giving thanks.  —Jackie

Click through for more from Jackie…

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My Thanksgiving Table: Renee Pulve (+ DIY Leaf Place Cards)

This holiday season, in addition to our regular Julep contributors, we’re also sharing stories from our Minted artists and designers about how they celebrate this most wonderful time of the year.

Name: Renee Pulve of Smudge Design
Where you’re based: Westlake Village, CA
How long you’ve been with Minted: 4.5 years
My favorite thing about the holidays is… Christmas music.
Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving unless… there are leftovers!
Stuffing—love it or loathe it? Love it—and it better be Stove Top!

This Thanksgiving, I’ll be hosting a small and intimate gathering at home. Here’s a sneak peek into what I’ve got planned. —Renee

Click through for all the details, plus Renee’s DIY maple-leaf place cards tutorial…

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Recipe: Classic Cranberry Sauce (With Printable Gift Label!)

This holiday season, in addition to our regular Julep contributors, we’re also sharing stories from our Minted artists and designers about how they celebrate this most wonderful time of the year.

Name: Susan Brown
Where you’re based: Menomonie, WI
How long you’ve been with Minted: Since 2011
My favorite thing about the holidays is… having our son and his fiancé home for a few days.
This year, I’m thankful for… good friends, good books, and gold foil!
Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving unless… my family fights over the dark meat.
Stuffing—love it or loathe it? Love it (especially mine!).

There is little that signals the approaching holidays better than the bright red cranberry bogs along Wisconsin’s highways. Since Wisconsin is the biggest producer of this versatile berry, it seemed only natural to share this simple Thanksgiving recipe for fresh cranberry sauce with you. And if you’ve never made this tasty, tart sauce before, I hope it will become a tradition in your family, too.I like to make an extra-large batch of cranberry sauce and spoon it into small canning jars to give as a parting gift. That way, when I’m passing out Thanksgiving leftovers for guests to take home, I include a jar so everyone can enjoy turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce the next day.  —Susan

Keep reading for Susan’s easy-to-make cranberry sauce recipe…

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