Since we elves enjoy making things at work and in our spare time, we love creative projects from other folks as well—be it yummy food, lovely music, or cute crafts. So, it’s time once again this year to highlight some fabulous festive projects that are currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, a website whose mission is “to help bring creative projects to life.”
Wear your love for Christmas on your lapel with one of these ugly Christmas sweater pins. Made from soft enamel, choose between Santa’s reindeer, Frosty the snowman, Christmas tree, party lights, candy cane, North Pole penguin, North Pole bunny, or Gingerbread. [Although, as a North Pole resident, I have to point out that that should be South Pole penguin!]
Back this campaign here and receive one or more pins. Campaign ends on Tuesday, 5 December.
A fun, wintery tale, Snow Day! A Story Told in 24 Poem Forms features 24 different, classic forms of poetry along with custom, hand drawn illustrations. Children will enjoy the amusing story, while parents and teachers will appreciate the variety of poetry. The book even includes an index of all the poem forms, should kiddos want to try their hand at writing a poem.
Back Snow Day! on Kickstarter here. Campaign ends this Friday, 1 December.
Cacao Review creates ethical, micro-batch chocolate treats, and by backing their campaign, you can try their limited edition craft chocolate. They offer a variety of rewards, such as hazelnut butter cups, s’mores bars, drinking chocolate, and vanilla raspberry bars, as well as some goodies for true chocoholics, like a cacao pod pin and chocolate tasting book.
If you love chocolate as much as we elves do, back this campaign today! Campaign ends this Friday, 1 December.
Add to your holiday music collection with Hark! A Walking Roots Band Christmas, a new album from the folk band. This album features some classic songs, along with some original tunes.
Back this campaign to get your hands on a digital download, physical CD, or box set. Campaign ends this Friday, 1 December.
Based in Brooklyn, Woodward Extract Co. produces and bottles small-batch flavour extracts, and for the holiday season, they are offering a Winter Cocktail Kit that contains four festive flavours: cardamom, clove, star anise, and sage. With these tinctures, you will be able to mix interesting cocktails using the included recipe cards—or come up with recipes all your own.
Up your mixology game by backing this campaign. Rewards include the Winter Cocktail Kit, Cardamom Mulling Kit, cocktail class for two, and more. Campaign ends on Thursday, 14 December.
Not surprisingly, all of us up here at the North Pole adore the film Elf, so of course I love these Elf-inspired enamel pins. All four pins have the Christmas spirit, and three include some fun details: Mr. Narwal’s tusk and “Son of a nutcracker” are glittery and the World’s Best Cup of Coffee sign glows in the dark.
If you want these pins, back this campaign today, as it ends this Thursday, 30 November.
From whisky to art supplies to random acts of kindness, there seems to be an advent calendar filled with just about everything these days. So if you are looking to count down to Christmas with something other than chocolate, check out these somewhat unusual advent calendars.
Share the joy of the holiday season with your favourite furry friend by gifting him this advent calendar for dogs from Lily’s Kitchen. Filled with naturally wholesome, tasty treats, this calendar will surely get two paws up.
Keep your beard looking and smelling great all during December with this beard oil advent calendar from The Bearded Man Company. Each day you will discover a new scent of this artisan, small batch, organic beard oil. Hmm, maybe I should buy one of these calendars for Santa…
If you love to sample new craft beers, then this is definitely the advent calendar for you! Featuring 24 unique beers, HonestBrew’s craft beer advent calendar is chock full of 19 styles, such as pales, IPAs, stouts, porters, and sours. As a bonus, you will also receive a £10 beer voucher for your next purchase.
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With December a little more than a week away, I’ve got advent calendars on my mind. And what better way to count down the days until Christmas than with a lip-smacking, edible advent calendar? Below I rounded up a few for you and your loved ones to enjoy. Naturally, I had to include a several chocolate calendars, but I also found some savory ones. After deciding which calendar to get, the hardest part may be only eating one treat per day!
This bright and colorful chocolate advent calendar from Dylan’s Candy Bar is great for the young ones in your family.
Filled with 24 protein bars, this advent calendar is perfect for those who are health conscious and want guilt-free treats during the holiday season.
Suitable for vegetarians and anyone who loves cheese, this So Wrong It’s Nom advent calendar is filled with individually wrapped cheeses! This £8 calendar is only available at ASDA, so find a local store near you.
This Godiva advent calendar contains 24 pieces of luxurious Belgian chocolate. As you open a festive square each day, you’ll be delighted by a piece of milk, dark, or white chocolate.
This tree shaped advent calendar is comprised of 24 slide-out boxes. What will you find inside each box? Treats include chocolate covered pretzels, artisan caramels, and more!
Inside this holiday advent tin you’ll find 24 beautifully decorated biscuits. Enjoy each cookie with a warm cup of hot cocoa as you count down the days until Christmas.
For an exceptionally indulgent advent calendar, try this Neuhaus calendar. Located in Belgium, Neuhaus makes gourmet chocolate and is an elf-favorite here at the North Pole. We’re sure you’ll love it, too!
The meat lovers in your family will be pleased when they eat their way to Christmas Day with this jerky advent calendar. It’s filled with an assortment of jerky and sweets.
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Between now and the end of the year, I’m sure many of you will be going to Christmas parties with friends and family—or perhaps hosting a holiday gathering yourself. A couple of days ago, I gave you some tips on how to put together a fabulous cheese board for your fête, and today I bring to you six seasonal drinks for a flavorful Christmas party. What’s your preferred holiday beverage? Let us know in the comments!
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When planning my holiday party each year, I have some standard party dishes that are my go-to recipes, such as a variety of quinoa salads, edamame dip or hummus, stuffed mushrooms, crostini topped with veggies or fruit, and of course some type of dessert. Since folks are nibbling on food for several hours at my parties, I like to balance these lighter, mostly veggie-centric dishes with a lovely and hearty cheese board.
Not only is the cheese board always popular with my friends, but I just adore cheese! I enjoy trying new fromage, and a cheese board is a fun way for you and your guests to sample new cheeses without having to purchase a whole big piece or wheel for only yourself. Plus—and maybe I’m just a cheese nerd—it’s fun to experience and discuss new cheeses with loved ones.
To select the cheeses for my board, I usually stick to 3 or 4 farmstead or artisan cheeses, and I try to have a variety of flavours and textures. If you’re serving a few options, it’s a general rule of thumb to have one soft, one semi-hard, and one aged cheese. If your crowd enjoys the veined stuff, you can also include a blue cheese. When picking your fromage, you can also have diversity by selecting cheeses made from different milks [cow, goat, sheep]. And if making the cheese selection yourself seems overwhelming, talk to your local cheesemonger! They are very knowledgeable and would be more than happy to help you choose some delicious and interesting cheeses.
Here are a few cheeses I’ve been savouring recently to give you some ideas to get started:
Photo: Whole Foods
If you aren’t used to purchasing farmstead or artisan cheeses, you might have a little bit of sticker shock at first since nicer cheeses are pricier than your regular ol’ supermarket brand cheese. But trust me, they’re worth the higher price! If you’re wanting to venture into the world of artisan cheese, head to Whole Foods between now and 24 December, as they are currently celebrating 12 Days of Cheese. [That’s my kind of holiday!] During this event, a different artisan cheese will be half-off each day. Today’s fromage is Pheasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese Company, about which Whole Foods says: “The only three-time winner of the American Cheese Society Best of Show, this cheese has a sweet, broth-like flavor with notes of butterscotch and fruit.” Yum! Tomorrow’s cheese is Le Gruyère, and Monday’s is Cypress Grove Chevre’s Truffle Tremor, so Whole Foods is highlighting quite a range of delicious cheeses. To see the full list, read descriptions of the different cheeses, and find beer/wine pairing notes, see here.
There are loads of different options for the actual board itself, from a marble slab to a wooden ampersand to even a slice of acacia. However, my favourite platter for serving cheese is my slate board from Brooklyn Slate. A unique serving dish, the slab of slate is as striking as it is beautiful. Plus, you can write the cheese names or festive messages on the board with the included soapstone pencil.
Cheese Board Arrangement & Styling
Once you’ve selected your yummy cheeses, you’ll need to lay out your actual board. For some tips on how to arrange and style a beautiful cheese board, check out this great video from Bon Appétit:
The video above gives some good ideas for accompaniments to include on your cheese board, and here are a few of my favourites:
Dried fruit, such as apricots or figs
Fresh fruit, such as sliced apples, sliced pears, or grapes
Membrillo [quince paste]
Honeycomb [Try a small piece with spicy cheese and a slice of green apple—divine!]
Mixed olives, such as Kalamata, Castelvetrano, and Cerignola
Assorted crackers, crostini, or sliced baguette
You’ll want to base your accompaniments on what cheeses you’re featuring, so perhaps membrillo and Marcona almonds with manchego or cornichons and slices of baguette with Gruyère. And don’t get upset if a guest uses the “wrong” accompaniment with a cheese—they’re just experimenting and could come up with a delicious new flavour combination!
This wonderful cheese knife guide from Castello is an easy reference for which type of knife you should use with which cheese. For even more information, see here.
Cheese knife guide from Castello
The Wrap Up
It’s rare, but if you have any cheese left over after your party, I recommended wrapping each cheese separately in cheese storage paper or placing each cheese in a cheese storage bag from Formaticum. The paper used for these items is specifically designed for storing fromage, and they allow cheese to breathe while at the same time retaining humidity to keep the cheese from drying out.
What is your favourite cheese? If you have a recommendation, please let me know in the comments, as I’m always looking for new cheeses to try!
Here’s to a very merry, cheese-filled Christmas 😀