Looking for some fresh holiday-themed ideas, from decor to baking? These projects will add to the merriment of the season.
Do-it-yourself decor: Home, sweet home
Santa’s got a brand-new ... alpine ski chalet! This well-appointed A-frame flips the script on traditional gingerbread houses, with a rustic-chic exterior (courtesy of a faux-bois roof and pretzel-log walls) and a cozy interior complete with a “stone” fireplace.
To build this mountain retreat (inspired by classic A-frame cabins, some of the simplest yet sturdiest structures out there), start by baking the cookie-slab roofing, pentagon-shaped back wall, low side walls and floor. Then assemble with royal-icing “mortar,” and stack pretzel logs on the sides. For the full recipes, templates and all the sweet details, visit marthastewart.com/cookie-cabin.
1. Raise the roof. Create this freshly hewn siding by firmly pressing a faux-bois tool into rolled-out dough. Cut out, chill, bake and cool the cookies, then stain them with melted chocolate.
Sources: Martha Stewart pattern roller, in Faux Bois, $20; and pattern-roller handle, $27, michaels.com.
2. Warm the hearth. The back wall features a fanciful fireplace made of candy-coated chocolate pebbles (try Koppers brand; $8 per pound, economycandy.com), secured to the gingerbread with royal icing.
3. Deck the halls. A green-buttercream Christmas tree (cleverly piped onto a sugar cone), almond-and-pretzel taxidermy and a red rug made of licorice ropes (or Twizzlers Pull ‘n’ Peel) complete the scene.
The finer points (From top to bottom)
1. Cotton-ball smoke for chimney.
2. Almond and pretzel buck head.
3. Peppermint-stick logs with candy-coated sunflower-seed flames.
4. Licorice-rope rug.
5. (On each side) Pretzel-log walls with royal icing.
Celebrate: A surprise inside
Whether you’re lighting up eight nights or counting down 24 days, half the fun of the holidays is the anticipation. Extend the excitement with a twinkling treeline full of hidden presents. Cover paper cones in spray adhesive and metallic glitter, slip a treat under each and attach a paper tag with a number sticker to create a free-form calendar. A word to wise men (and women): Wrap your miniature gifts, in case someone sneaks a peek.
Sources: Save-on-Crafts papier-mache cones, 10 1/2 inches, $12 for 12, save-on-crafts.com. Martha Stewart vintage leaf glitter, $16 for 12, 14-ounce jars, amazon.com. Meyer Imports German glass glitter, from $6 for a 1-ounce jar, meyer-imports.com.
Make & share: Snow angles
Introducing a new cookie-making secret weapon: store-bought wonton wrappers. Let other bakers wrestle with hot irons to create traditional Swedish rosettes. You can just grab a pair of kitchen shears — or hand kids’ scissors to a household elf who has a knack for making paper snowflakes. Fold the squares into triangles and snip diamonds, semicircles and notches into the edges. Then unfold them, fry and dust with confectioners’ sugar. The most magical part? Just as in nature, no two are alike.
1. Join two corners of a wonton wrapper to make a triangle, then fold in half again.
2. Snip shapes into corners and sides of triangle.
3. Unfold and fry for 2 minutes in a hot, neutral oil, like safflower. Let dry on paper towels, then dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve the same day.
THE PALETTE: ALL THAT GLITTERS:
Take a cue from Mother Nature’s winter wardrobe for this gem of a tabletop tree, all dressed up in shades of icy blue, pale pink and citrine. If you can string a bead, you can achieve this look with these jewelry-esque ornaments made from geodes, quartz and shiny glass spheres.
Sources: Cost Plus World Market Gold and Marble Leilani tulip table, $450, worldmarket.com.
1. Chic icicles: Make shimmery, dangling strands by grouping clear and light-pink quartz points on jewelry wire, adding a loop to each end, and attaching metallic cord.
Sources: Fire Mountain Gems crystal quartz beads, from $1.50 for two; and Zebra Wire copper wire, in Silver, from $3.50 for 15 yards, firemountaingems.com. Jaylagems rose-quartz strands, $19 each, jaylagems.etsy.com.
2. Earthy geodes: Snip off an agate pendant’s jump ring and thread gold cord through the remaining loop for an instant ornament (or an extra-special gift tag).
Sources: Bead Landing peach druzy agate pendant, $10; and Color Shop blue druzy agate charm, $6, michaels.com. M&J Trimming imported fine metallic twist cord, 1 millimeter, from $1 per yard, mjtrim.com.
3. Swirled stones: For the marbled ornaments, remove the top, add a teaspoon each of two paint colors mixed with marbling medium, swirl and dry. For the flashy one, brush glue on the bottom and roll in glitter.
Sources (from left): Darice clear glass disc, 8 centimeters, $7.50 for six; clear glass ball, 100 millimeters, $7.50 for two; and iridescent glass ball, 35 millimeters, $8 for 20, amazon.com. Martha Stewart multisurface satin acrylic craft paint, in Slate Grey, Wild Blueberry, Rose Pink and Poodle Skirt, $2.50 for 2 ounces; multisurface marbling medium, $13; and Creatology GlitterPack, in Neon, $4, michaels.com.
4. Delicate garland: To mimic icy branches, use a saw to cut clear acrylic tubing into 3-inch pieces, then string them on gray cord with crystalline chalcedony beads.
Sources: ePlastics clear extruded Plexiglas acrylic tube, 1/4 inches, $2 for 6 feet, eplastics.com. Fire Mountain Gems blue chalcedony bead strand, 36 inches, $9; and leather cord, 0.5–0.8 millimeter, in Grey, from $14 for 25 yards, firemountaingems.com.