Pleun’s New Look at Christmas

Do you know that feeling that the holiday season is lurking around the corner and you have no idea what to do this year? In the end you end up with family and friends around the dinner table eating the same menu for the oompfth time, looking at an impersonal Christmas tree and sending cards that are not quite what you had envisioned?

Not that there is anything wrong with that, but why not make it a little more special this year? Change things around and maybe find yourself pleasantly surprised at the end of it.

So where do you start? Well instead of just having a Christmas tree with factory ornaments why not make some yourself? I know we are all busy and have full lives but maybe it will be fun?! Have the kids involved and with this so called horror winter coming up stay inside and be creative. And who better to guide you then Martha Stewart, the woman who made crafts her business in life?! In her new book Handmade Holiday Crafts you can find so much inspiration. From stylish Christmas stockings to special ornaments –  it’s in here! And don’t be intimidated by how she does it. She is a magician and even if your projects turn out looking half as nice it is still going to be a big success! I especially liked her chapter on gift wrapping where she uses a lot of natural products to embellish the presents to make them extra special.

If you are a fan of retro then maybe The Farm Chicks Christmas is more up your ally. A 1940’s – 1950’s inspired book that gives you that special feel of yesteryear. Not only tips on how to decorate your house in a fun, playful way, but also some mouthwatering recipes like chocolate-covered peanut butter balls. You can also find some very cute stickers in the book to liven up some personal gifts. Another great book in this line is Have Yourself a Very Vintage Christmas. It has a lot of fun background information on how they celebrated Christmas in the last century. Also some very nice ideas for greeting cards that are not corny at all!

Betty Crocker has been an American institution for years now. And the Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook is also a bit of a classic. Of course there are some lovely main courses in here, but let’s be honest: it is the cakes and bakes thatshe is most famous for. I must honestly say not all the treats in here give me the Christmas vibe but they are nice and – I am sure – tasty enough to try out. I really liked their recipe for peppermint bark and especially the different twist they give it. What I also like about this book is that it is not only about food but that there is also a beverage chapter. I mean, Hot Cappuccino Eggnog?! I say yummy!

This year it is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay who has his own Christmas cookbook out. Somehow, when I think of Christmas, Gordon “Loudmouth” Ramsay does not pop in mind, but fair is fair, this book has some great recipes. I love his chapter on party food where Pumkin Tartlets with Sage and Thyme are definitely going to be baked in my oven. There are also some great set menus so you don’t have to think what will fit and compliment each other. He even made a list with every menu what you have to do in advance, the day before, etc.. This makes it so much less stressful and easier to plan. All in all a great book with a lot of inspiration.

Every year on the first floor at The American Book Center in Amsterdam we change things around so that we have one bookcase full of holiday books for the festive season. You can find them near the cash desk.  At ABC The Hague you can find the holiday books by the stairs.

By Pleun.