Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Review: 2 Christmas Books

Christmas: Making the Perfect Celebration by Carolyn Bell

If you want a complete guide that gives you ideas for food, entertaining, decorations, gift giving and crafts for the holiday season - this is the book for you. The book begins with a countdown to Christmas, with helpful tips on what to buy when, and which preparations should be done first. It includes a week-by-week countdown to help you plan and organize your Christmas shopping and cooking, plus a timetable for preparing food on Christmas Day and suggested holiday menus. I found the recipes and projects to range from simple to complex. There are projects on how to create a festive table setting, how to decorate your home with projects to make wreaths, garland and candles, how to make homemade ornaments to decorate your Christmas tree and how to create your own holiday cards and gift-wrap. It has a whole section of crafts to make with kids too. Their are menus and recipes for holiday dinners, vegetarian meals, party foods and buffet dishes. The recipes include several different stuffing recipes, sauces and preserves, desserts and treats, drinks and cocktails and edible gifts. There were some recipes that sounded delicious to me and others that I didn't sound appetizing to me at all. I really enjoyed the vegetarian meal selections. The book also included techniques on how to test cakes to see if they are done, how to make almond past and royal icing, how to stuff and roast a turkey, how to make a glaze and so on.

As I said it is a complete guide to Christmas...with over 200 recipes, 50 projects and 1400 color photographs.

Although I think the book was very well done and has so much to offer I didn't make notes while I had this checked out and I didn't create any of the crafts. I am not sure if that though was because I checked it out in the summer and wasn't yet really in the holiday planning stage. I do think it would be worth another look. I remember really enjoying the edible gifts recipes and many of the crafts.

Christmas in Minutes: Festive Crafts in Less Than an Hour by Carol Cox

Product description:
Who isn't busy during the holidays? Clear, concise instructions teamed with brilliant yet simple ideas make this new book a must-have for holiday crafters with little free time on their hands. Taking only five to fifty-five minutes to complete, each project can be fitted into a busy schedule. The 30 projects are arranged in sections according to the time required to complete them. For example, gift tags decorated with bay leaves and rosemary sprigs can be made in under 15 minutes. It takes only 30 minutes to make a calla lily centerpiece. Forty-five minutes is plenty of time to make door wreaths, a glimmering silver twig tree, or an elegant eucalyptus garland. Designs use simple and available materials (natural or artificial) such as pinecones, fruits, ribbons, cinnamon sticks and grapevine wreaths to give your home that handcrafted feel without a lot of work.

If you are intimidated by flower arranging or using flowers in your decorating, this book might be a good start. It has some simple projects to do in 15 to 45 minutes that look elegant and just perfect for the holidays. I am not going to say it is great book. It does have some good arrangements but some of them are also a little busy - to me. But for a start - I think it would be a good to even just read to get ideas.

Some of the projects...
Cally Lily Tree (on the cover)
Dried Apple Ring
Berry Heart Chairback
Festive Pinecone
Clove studded and carved limes
Leaf Wrapped Candles

Also how-to instructions on how to make a triple bow, dry fruit, make lime roses, moss rope and so on.

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