Photography by Luis Llerena/Stock Snap
We’ve all been there, you know, scrambling at the 11th hour to get an extra-special present for someone important on your list. These last-minute gifts are so thoughtful, they’ll never know you just picked it up.
If you’ve exhausted your options for a gift for that special guy in your life—because he’s either too picky or has almost everything—consider a portable Bose speaker. This one is water-resistant (great for camping and hiking), has full-range sound and is durable and simple to use.
Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth® Speaker II, $181.
Most ornaments go on sale in early December, so this is the kind of gift that’s perfect to pick up last minute because it will actually save you money. Sweeten the deal and give an ornament hanging from a bottle of wine.
Glitterville Antler Ornament, $7.50.
Still missing a gift for your Mother-in-law or your dear aunt that always bakes you fruit cake? Head to Shoppers Drug Mart and give her the gift of Amazing Grace. This best selling fragrance from beauty brand Philosophy smells clean and beautifully feminine with a powdery floral air of sophistication and polish. This collection includes Eau de Toilette, shampoo, bath and shower gel and whipped body crème.
Amazing Grace Holiday Set, $60.
What do you get someone with sophisticated taste and a thirst for the finer things in life. Easy; Champagne.
Veuve Cliquot Yellow Mailbox, $70.
Need a gift ASAP, but don’t have time to leave the house? Simple, order online and give the gift that keeps on giving with a new pair of socks every month, for a year! These vibrant and graphic socks are available for both men and women.
One pair every six months, $78. One pair for a year, $146.
Need a little something special for your child’s teacher or your next door neighbour? Pick up a tin Voluspa candle. The packaging is beautiful and the two wicks give off a rich glow. This scent smells of sweet apricots muddled withs superfine sugar and crisp Prosecco.
Voluspa Prosecco Bellini Two Wick Tin, $16.
There are few places that are open on Christmas day, but Starbucks is one of them. If you’re on your way to your holiday dinner and realized you forgot something for that caffeine loving cousin of yours, make a pitstop at your local Starbucks and grab one of their festive drinkware cups. We love the ceramic sweater cup with a swivel lid.
Sweater double wall traveler, $27.
Headed to one of your besties for your annual friends holiday dinner and need something clever to bring? Gift something useful and beautiful with a little bit of whimsy, like this marble cheese board. Crafted from creamy white marble, the cool surface is ideal for serving cheese and charcuterie.
Expressions marble and copper cheese board, $37.
Nothing’s better than a fresh pair of jammies on Christmas morning.
Men’s plaid sleep set, $20.
Need something for your teenage niece, but have absolutely no idea what she’s into? Whether she’s artistic, sporty, goth or one of the "popular girls" at her high school she’ll be into something from NYX Cosmetics. We especially love these palettes, choose from one of seven that houses eight shades of shadow and one liquid matte lipstick.
NYX Cosmetics Wanderlust Lip & Eye Collection, $25.
We spoke (and ate) with one of Canada’s favourite celebrity chefs, cookbook authors and restaurateurs about eggs and one of this season’s biggest trends in holiday entertaining.
Turns out, even top notch celebrity chef (and new mom!) Lynn Crawford is looking for new ways to celebrate with friends and pull out the entertaining stops and still find time to cook her signature dishes—all without going crazy. The solution? Brunch. This beloved morning meal might just be the new cocktail party for entertaining this holiday season.
“Making brunch doesn’t have to be complicated,” says Crawford. Given the trend of simplifying and streamlining, it makes sense that some of our cooking and entertaining styles shift from night to day. Hosting or going to brunch “doesn’t eat into your day,” says Crawford, and it still gives both parties those extra pre-party hours everyone covets. If you’re cooking brunch at home, Lynn advises to pick dishes that can easily be made ahead of time or whipped up quickly, like her Spicy Chorizo and Tomato Frittata with Pepper Jack Cheese, which she had breezily mixed together moments before we arrived for this interview.
Since we’re all looking to trim budgets, brunch is an affordable option that doesn’t skimp on flavour or fun—since it’s a shorter window of time, you tend to eat and drink way less. But, that doesn’t mean the menu will be boring, and don’t worry, there’s plenty of room for cocktails, too! Brunch is a moveable feast and can be as intimate or jam-packed as you want. Lynn recommends starting sometime after 11:00 A.M. but cautions that brunch isn’t something you should ever have to set an alarm for.
Try Lynn’s make-ahead frittata:
Preparing this delicious frittata during the holidays has become a Crawford Christmas tradition. It is a perfect dish for brunch, lunch, dinner or even a late night snack on cold snowy nights. Frittatas can easily be made ahead of time, saving you from spending the whole night in the kitchen. Plus, they’re great to make for a potluck dinner—this recipe will feed a crowd and the dish is easily transportable.
SPICY CHORIZO & TOMATO FRITTATA WITH PEPPER JACK CHEESE
8 large eggs
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, finely diced
2 chorizo sausage, casings removed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ cup pepper Jack cheese, grated
¼ cup parsley and cilantro leaves
Preheat oven to 375*F. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and cream together and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic, onion, peppers and chorizo. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the onion and peppers are soft and the chorizo is completely cooked thru. Add the eggs and tomatoes and stir together. Sprinkle the cheese on top and place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until egg has set and cheese has melted. Top with cilantro and parsley leaves.
Cherry Chocolate Chunk Brownies<br>Photography by Jeff Coulson Image by: Cherry Chocolate Chunk Brownies<br>Photography by Jeff Coulson
Bars and squares make a fun addition to any cookie exchange.
A thick layer of creamy mint icing is sandwiched between a crumbly chocolate cookie base and smooth dark chocolate ganache in these irresistible squares.
Get the recipe: Mint Chocolate Squares
The decadent flavour of butter tarts in the form of easy-to-make squares.
Get the recipe: Butter Tart Squares
The pride of Nanaimo, B.C., these bars have a crumb base layered with a creamy custard filling and a chocolaty topping. Best served at room temperature, the bars keep well refrigerated or frozen.
Get the recipe: Classic Nanaimo Bars
Enjoy these Australian squares just as they are, or dip them in a mug of hot cocoa for the ultimate treat. While they're traditionally made with sponge cake, our version uses easy-to-make chocolate pound cake instead, making them a sinfully indulgent dessert for chocolate lovers. To retain their moistness, store the squares in the fridge.
Get the recipe: Double Chocolate Lamington Squares
Sweet-tart cranberries are cooked with a hint of orange to make an easy jam-like filling, then sandwiched between layers of crisp almond pastry. Freshly ground almonds are crunchier than the storebought ground variety, so whirl whole nuts in a food processor for the ultimate nutty crust.
Get the recipe: Cranberry Almond Squares
The inside-out version of this classic square offers a classy white chocolate top with a rich dark chocolate centre. Use a vegetable peeler to make the chocolate shavings.
Get the recipe: Reverse Nanaimo Bars
These layered bars are like three desserts in one! Using a candy thermometer ensures you have the right consistency of caramel (not too soft and not too hard).
Get the recipe: Gooey Peanut Butter Squares
If simplicity is your style, look no further than these six-ingredient squares, made with ingredients you'll likely already have on hand. If you prefer, use seedless raspberry jam instead of strawberry.
Get the recipe: Crumble-Topped Jam Squares
A smooth and silky no-bake filling comes together in a matter of minutes for this easy crowd-pleasing treat. Be sure to top the squares with peanuts quickly, before the chocolate sets.
Get the recipe: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Squares
Each layer of these bars is a delicious treat on its own; together, they become the star of any goodie tray. To make them gluten-free, be sure to use oat flour that's labelled as such. If you choose not to use pasteurized egg whites, whisk a fresh egg white until frothy and measure out one tablespoon.
Get the recipe: Sugared Pecan Fudge Squares
Vanilla wafer cookies, raspberry filling and white chocolate lighten up the traditional colour – and flavour – of the classic Nanaimo bar.
Get the recipe: Pink Berry Nanaimo Bars
Classic pecan pie gets a bite-size makeover with these crunchy pecan-packed squares. Toothsome shortbread is the perfect base, adding a delightful contrast. Chill the squares before cutting for a smooth, easy slice.
Get the recipe: Honey Pecan Pie Squares
Trust us, these easy-to-make squares will be the hit of your holiday parties and family gatherings. Wrap them in cute little boxes and hand them out as hostess gifts at all of your festive get-togethers.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Toffee Hello Dollies
Sweet glac? cherries and vivid pink icing give these sumptuous brownies a nostalgic retro look. Make them a couple of days ahead, then spread on the fruity icing just before serving.
Get the recipe: Cherry Chocolate Chunk Brownies
Sweet butterscotch squares hide a layer of crystallized ginger and velvety milk chocolate. These are pretty when packaged as gifts and are the perfect holiday treat to add to a bake sale.
Get the recipe: Ginger Butterscotch Squares
Here's how to make your own shower bomb with essential oils for a whole new level of relaxation.
If you enjoy a hot shower or bath to help you relax at the end of a stress-filled day, you'll love these quick DIY shower bombs that allow you to add a soothing essential oil blend to your shower's steam. Essential oils have long been used to aid everything from sleep to energy.
Now Solutions created this recipe to help you get the benefits of essential oils through inhaling the scented steam of your shower—it's like your own home spa treatment. When these scents are diffused through steam, they reach the nerves in the olfactory cavity, which go right to the brain, so you're likely to feel the calming effects right away.
How to make your own shower bomb
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a mini-muffin tin with foil liners. Mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup of water to form a thick paste. Pour by tablespoon into the mini-muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Top with several drops of essential oils.
For a shower bomb that will help you relax and unwind, Now recommends a blend of one drop of chamomile oil, two drops of lavender oil and two drops of sandalwood blend oil. But you can make your own blend, too. Clove essential oil is also soothing and comforting, as is ylang ylang. Or, if you're looking for a pick-me-up to start your day with, basil essential oil is known to be energizing, and bergamot and lemon are both uplifting scents.
When your shower bomb is ready, place it on your shower floor and enjoy the relaxing vapours.
Want more ways to destress? Check out these eight stress-busting habits.