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  • Holiday Cocktails

    What makes a holiday party memorable? Great guests, good food and drinks, festive atmosphere, right? All of those characteristics could apply to a wide variety of holiday gatherings, however. Whether you're hosting a swank soiree, a "tacky Christmas sweater" party or a viewing of your favorite Christmas movies, you'll want to try some of these cocktail ideas...

    There are always the classic holiday cocktails, such as egg nog or hot buttered rum. If you're like me, though, you've never actually made these drinks! Mix That Drink is a good source for classic drink recipes.

    Serving just one or two unique cocktails is easier and less expensive that a full bar. This Cranberry-Amaretto Kiss from Deliciously Organic (shown at left) would be a perfect signature drink. Or perhaps a Candy Cane Martini?

    Guests with a sweet tooth will love dessert cocktails such as the Gingerbread Martini from Nutmeg Nanny. Carrie at Half-Baked presents a delicious collection of cookie-inspired cocktails such as Chocolate Peppermint Cookie - yum!.

    On a snowy night, a hot drink is a perfect way to fight off the chill. Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate (shown at right) or Spiked Chai were both created by sisters Katherine and Flannery at Fashionably Bombed. (Check out their 12 Days of Christmas Cocktails!)

    Or how about some Warm Vanilla Cider, also from Nutmeg Nanny - I think I want to start making that one as soon as the leaves are falling!

    I'll close with a different variation on the holiday cocktail theme, Shrimp Cocktail, Christmas-style. I'm not really sure what to say about this, but it could definitely be a conversation piece! Thank you to Mariners Menu for the idea.

    What are your favorite holiday cocktails?

  • Timeless Gifts to Help You Save

    One of the most often suggested tip for saving when buying Christmas gifts for your friends, family and loved ones is to buy way before the Christmas rush starts. Shopping for Christmas gifts in January is not too far out. The only way to do this is to hoard gifts that are considered timeless. MerryStockings.com offer these suggestions on what to get your many friends and relatives for Christmas 2011, as early as now!

    1. Get Creative! If you have the talent to paint or draw, you can probably create some masterpieces that you could give your loved ones. Paint their portraits, houses, favorite places, children. The ideas of what to paint are endless. It all depends on what you want him or her to remember or knowing what he or she cherishes the most. This is also true if you are interested in needlework, cross-stitching or other crafts. Starting now, it is very possible to be able to give each and every friend or relative a unique gift that came from your hands.

    2. Start a savings account for your kids. A great way for you and your kids to bond and teach them a little something about money. Instead of encouraging your kids to list down their most wanted list from Santa this year, tell them that they can buy anything that they save for come Christmas time. What's more, you can match their savings to make it more attractive for them. Say you can match it 1 to 1 or 50 cents for every dollar.

    For example, you can tell your kids that for every dollar they put into their savings account, you would also deposit a dollar. So if he or she deposits $10 now, he or she would have $20!

    3. Give them something very useful for them. If you know your loved ones very well, you have an inkling what they need the most. It could be an article of clothing, a tool or materials. For example, if your mother loves to bake, then you can certainly buy her baking materials or pans when your local retailer has a sale. You can buy umbrellas at half the price during summer. It's all a matter of timing!

  • More Ways to Have Fun with Old Christmas Cards

    MerryStockings.com offers you more ways to make use of old Christmas cards. Now you do not have to throw them out and still have fun with them! Talk about re-purposing!

    6. Create your own unique bookmark. Christmas cards are made of thin yet very sturdy cardboard, making it a great bookmark material. Cut out the graphics and punch a hole in it. Run a ribbon, twine or string through the hole and voila! you have a great looking bookmark!

    7. Reuse them as Christmas postcards. For those Christmas cards where the inside front are left without any writing, cut out the front of the card and use the card as a postcard. For added effect, draw a line down the center of the card. Then you can use the left portion for your message and the right portion for the recipient's address.

    You can also use these postcards as a thank you card for all those gifts you have recieved!

    8. Turn old cards into scrapbook material. If you keep a scrapbook, the graphics on these old Christmas cards can provide the best background for your Christmas page. You can create picture holders, stickers and frames using old cards.

    9. Old Christmas cards make the best Christmas ornaments! Simply find a figure or graphic that you can cut out from old Christmas cards. Have a card with a particularly cute Rudolph or an endearing Santa Claus up front? Then cut it out and tape a looped string behind it. These would make your Christmas tree a lot more interesting and bursting with variety.

    10. If you enjoyed turning your Christmas card into gift tags, you can probably use the larger designs as accents for your gift wrapping. Next Christmas do away with simple gift wrappers by gluing cut out graphics on them.

  • Don't throw those Christmas cards away!

    Now that Christmas is over, you are probably packing away the tree and storing away your Christmas decorations. You may have received a bunch of cards from last Christmas and are ready to throw them out. Don't. There are a lot of things that you can use these old Christmas cards for. MerryStockings.com offers you some suggestions.

    1. Use them to decorate your house next Christmas. Think about setting up a Christmas card wall that includes the Christmas cards you have received over the years. These could be those special cards from special people. Not only would this give you the chance to recollect on the messages and the people who sent them, the beautiful graphics of the card would provide a great Christmas display.

    2. Use them to decorate your own candy holder. The graphics on the front of the card could provide eye-catching designs for a Christmas candy holder. If you have old tin cans, you can paint these with green or red and then stick cut out card fronts all over.

    3. Create a Christmas ball. Cut out the front of several cards to make similarly sized pentagons. You can glue these together to make a hanging ball.

    4. Use them to show your love on Valentine's Day! There are a lot of Christmas cards that come in red. You don't even need the graphics for this one. Cut out the back of the red Christmas card to form the shape of a heart, or a cupid. There are a lot of stencils for you to use with this particular project. Send these to your spouse, children or significant others!

    5. Christmas gift tags. People usually leave the back of the card's front empty. You could cut out the graphics on the card and use the back to write your own messages to server as gift tags for next Christmas!

  • The Most Common New Year's Resolutions

    Everybody has their own resolutions. You may have missed making yours this year, but you would have made them the year before or the one before that. Just in case you want to draft your list of things you want to change in 2011, it is not too late. To give you a head start, MerryStockings.com gives you the most popular New Year's resolutions!

    1. Save more money. At the start of the year, a lot of people plan ahead. They envision new cars, new tech gadgets and new stuff. But they also resolve to save money that they can use later on or for retirement.

    2. Manage debt more effectively. An offshoot of saving more money is to manage debts effectively. Short of cutting up their credit cards, a lot resolve to cut down on interest rates, or to pay their loans on time.

    3. Get a better job. Among the many stressors in life is a bad boss, a bad job and a boring work routine. At the start of the New Year, a lot of people are setting their sights at new workplaces, new roles and a new environment.

    4. Study. It may be a surprise, but a lot of Americans are planning to pursue further education or even learning a new skill via seminars, short courses or trainings.

    5. Take a vacation. The start of the year is the best time to plan a vacation. Not only do you have a lot of time to save up for it, but it becomes a great motivating factor to saving more money and getting a better job.

    6. Exercising more. With the current obsession on health, more and more Americans are resolving to exercise more frequently and more regularly.

    7. Stop smoking. Whether it's a nagging spouse, or concern for the children, or even social pressures, a lot of people hope to kick their cigarette habits in the new year.

    8. Lose weight. Looking great and avoiding disease makes this very attractive to most of us. However, living in a country where fast food joints outnumber restaurants, a lot of Americans are overweight. This is perhaps the most common resolution.

  • Top Five Ways to Save with MerryStockings.com

    Christmas is over, and we are now just starting with the new year. The year 2011 promises to be a great year for all of us, but we just can't wait for it to be Christmas again.

    At MerryStockings.com, we always want you to save on your Christmas decorations, holiday cards and gifts. Who says that it is too early to play Santa? Over here, it's Christmas all year round with our top five ways to save when you shop with MerryStockings.com!

    1. Save on shipping costs. Plan to give your friends, co-workers, neighbors and everybody who live nearby our Christmas decorations, stockings, holiday cards and tree skirts and save on shipping costs on orders worth more than $75!

    2. Sign up for the Merry Stockings newsletter. Be updated when a new design or product comes in, or perhaps you would want to be the first to know about a discount or a sale that we are having. The best way to do this is to sign up for the Merry Stockings newsletter and get up to the minute news on new inventory, site changes and discounts! Not only that, our newsletter subscribers get a special offer when they sign up!

    3. Shop online and forget the inconvenience. Save some dough and save Mother Earth by shopping online. No more jostling for parking space, or using up gas. What's more, everything on the site is free. From email to an online order form, to a toll-free hotline, you won't spend a cent ordering with us!

    4. Avail of our discounts. Over time, we give out sizable discounts for our products. Right now is the best time to hoard MerryStockings.com merchandise as we offer you 25% off on all products except for stocking kits. Just use the code, "clearance", when you place an order.

    5. Hassle-free returns. At MerryStockings.com, we take utmost care in making sure that you are happy with our products. If for some reason you are not happy, simply return the merchandise at our expense!

  • Tips for Cleaning Your Brass Christmas Hangers

    Brass is a metal that will oxidize and turn black in the long run. This is the reason why the raw brass is coated with a thin layer of lacquer to prevent it from tarnishing. MerryStockings.com offers you some simple reminders to keep your brass Christmas hangers shining year after year.

    1. Brass is actually simple to maintain. First you would need to remove the tarnish with a good polish that contains detergents and other chemicals designed to clean the metal. Then coat it to inhibit tarnishing in the future. Most commercially available brass polish products have these chemical to clean and protect brass.

    2. Do not overdo it. A lot of people think that when polishing brass using more polish is good. This is actually a misconception. Using a lot of polish can cause the surface to discolor. You would also have a problem with fingerprints. When polishing brass, make sure that you use only a small amount of polish, enough to cover the metal with a thin film of polish.

    3. Spread out the polish with an absorbent cloth. Buff the metal using the thin film of polish and an absorbent cloth. This will make the polish harden on the metal, making it less prone to smudging.

    4. If you do not have brass polish on hand, use rubbing alcohol to clean your Christmas stocking hanger. Use a sponge to clean the brass. Then using a treated dust cloth, wipe down the brass. The minute amount of oil present in the treated cloth would help protect the metal.

  • How to Store Christmas Ornaments

    MerryStockings.com gives you some more tips to remember when storing Christmas ornaments.

    1. If you buy a new set of ornaments, keep the boxes that they come in with. Manufacturers know what would protect their merchandise best, so they line their boxes with bubble wrap, or they make it into certain shapes. This is especially true for online retailers who take extra precautions in their packaging to minimize the chance of damage while shipping. Hence this is also the best way to store your ornaments.

    2. Do not remove the hooks and the strings you used this year. Pack your Christmas tree ornaments with the hooks inserted. This would lessen the work you have to do the next time you hang these ornaments. Besides, taking out the hooks and strings and putting them together is one way to end up with a tangled mess next year.

    3. Buy a storage bin. You might want to buy a storage bin for your ornaments. Pick one that is bigger than what you need now to make room for ornaments you're going to buy or for those ornaments that people gift you with. Choose an airtight storage bin as this will protect your ornaments better.

    4. Throw away broken ornaments. This does not need further explanation, except that a lot of people hang on to broken ornaments for sentimental reasons.

    5. Hold on to ornaments that come in different colors, sizes and shapes. You may have bought a set of ornaments before and over the years some parts of this set has been lost, broken or thrown out. Do keep the good ones that are left. You can still use these for your wreaths during the next Christmas season. Or you could go with a more festive and varied ornament bowl. You can also use smaller orphan ornaments as a pretty addition to your gift wrapping.

  • How to Store Christmas Decorations, Part II

    MerryStockings.com continues to give you time-tested tricks on how to store Christmas decorations to make them last for years to come.

    Here are some more:

    4. Old socks for your Christmas candles. Wrap your Christmas candles using old stockings or socks, to avoid scratching them. If you store them in the attic, make sure not to place these candles under hot areas.

    5. Store your Christmas lights right. Using a piece of carton, wound your Christmas lights so that you do not have to contend with the tangles next year. Similar to Christmas ornaments, you can wind together similar lights and properly label them. Do not be a cheapskate and make sure you throw out lights that are not working properly or have been damaged. It is better to be safe than sorry.

    6. Label, label, label! With Christmas decorations and just about anything that you store, it makes good sense to label the boxes properly. Make sure that you put a list of contents outside each box so you do not have to open them all. Order the boxes in the way they should be unpacked. For example, those things that you need at the start of the Christmas season such as the advent calendars, Christmas cards and Christmas stockings are to be found in Box No. 1, while those that you need at the end like Christmas ornaments would be at Box No. 12.

    7. Take pictures! If you want a head-ache free assembly for Christmas decorations that needs to be reassembled, then take pictures so that you would remember how things look like and you would get an idea on how to reassemble it.

    8. Storing Christmas cards. Whether you have left-over Christmas cards, or you just want to keep Christmas cards you have received from friends and relatives, the best way to store Christmas cards is inside a tin can. Save those tin cans from chocolates and store your cards in it. For added protection, you can use a used Christmas gift wrapper to wrap you cards first before storing them.

  • How to Store Christmas Decorations, Part I

    If you still have your Christmas decorations up, it is about time to hide them away, or else people would think that you are a lazy slob.

    MerryStockings.com gives you tips on how to store your Christmas decorations so that you could use them again this year.

    1. Buy a Christmas tree bag. Your artificial tree represents a sizable investment, so you might as well aim to reuse it year after year. Do not use the box that it came with. For one, you would be faced with a difficult task of trying to make everything fit into it again. For another, if you have had your tree for years, the cardboard box would surely show some wear and tear, allowing dust and insects to get into your Christmas tree and damage it. Instead, buy a Christmas tree bag that would make it convenient for you to store your tree year after year.

    2. Egg cartons for Christmas ornaments. For small Christmas tree ornaments, it's best to store them using egg cartons. You're bound to save money this way. For larger pieces, use an appropriate sized box that is big enough to hold ornaments of the same color, shape or pattern. You can then label these: personalized Christmas tree ornaments, red, silver, blue. This way, you can easily pull out the ornaments you want for the next Christmas season and not have to open everything. For breakable and fragile ornaments, stick some cotton or tissue paper between the spaces to minimize movement and breakage.

    3. Buy a suitcase for your Christmas linens. While keeping them in plastic might do the trick in keeping them clean, the best way to store Christmas linens is to fold them inside a suitcase. This would keep moisture and molds away. If you have extra space in your closet, you can store your Christmas tree skirts, rugs, towels, blankets or table cloth in that extra shelf, just make sure to line it with lavender smelling dryer sheets, which would keep them sweet smelling while keeping the moths away.

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