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Maybe elegant evening gowns. Lots of shiny, sparkly decorations. Music. Dancing. Party horns. Big crowds of people. Fancy food.
When I think of the words New Year's Eve, only one of those things comes to mind and even that is only vaguely similar. Food. Food without the fancy. I also think of pajamas and a fire in the woodburning stove. I think of movies, blankets, and cocoa. On New Year's Eve, we are homebodies. However, my husband and I don't want our kids to grow up with memories of New Year's Eve being just another night at home. It is a time of celebration, the end of another year of memories made and the anticipation of a new year of growth. And while being at home together in a laid back atmosphere wearing pjs is how we most enjoy celebrating, we still make it fun and memorable for our kids.
If your family celebrates the way mine does, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on all extras that those who spend the evening out get to enjoy. You may not need an elegant evening gown but you can buy or make new pajamas for everyone. You can still decorate and listen to music and dance. While there might not be a big crowd of people in your living room celebrating with you, you can still fix a variety of party foods.
Our home and our lifestyle in general are what most people describe as rustic and this carries over into our New Year's Eve celebration. Since we like to snuggle up under blankets and watch movies, I decided to make a few new blankets this year. I used a variety of muslin and flannel materials to create a patchwork design for the front. To keep it as simple as possible, I skipped the batting and quilting and, instead, lined them with fleece. I wanted to keep things simple but still wanted the blankets to have a fun flair to them so I added a monogram applique to the center block. You can whip one of these up in a couple of hours using the instructions below.
1. Using the Fiskars 45 mm Comfort Grip Rotary Cutter, the 3.5 Inch x 18 Inch Acrylic Ruler, and the18 Inch x 24 inch Cutting Mat, cut five 15 inch squares from 2 different muslin fabrics, four 15 inch squares from cream-colored flannel, and one 15 inch square from a patterned fabric.
2. Print off a monogram letter or shape of choice and trace it onto the paper layer of a square of lightweight fusible web. Fusible web is transparent so simply lay it on top of your monogram print out, paper side up, and trace away. If using a letter, remember to flip the letter before printing it out or you will end up with a backwards letter after adhering the fusible web and cutting it out.
Following the instructions provided with it, iron the square of lightweight fusible web to the back side of a square of fabric.
Cut the shape out, peel the paper backing, and iron the patterned fabric square that is to be the center of your blanket.
Machine or hand stitch around the applique. I used a blanket stitch around mine.
3. Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, stitch the squares together in rows of 3 squares (ironing the seam allowances open as you complete a row) and then stitch the rows together. Iron all seam allowances open.
4. Lay a 2 yard length of 45 inch wide fleece face up on the floor. Lay the pieced blanket on top of the fleece, right side down. Pin around the edges. Stitch the layers together using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, leaving a 10 inch opening for turning the blanket right side out.
Because you are using fleece and the layers will be thick, it is a good idea to use a walking foot on your machine for this step. When sewing thick layers together, the layers tend to shift leaving you with unmatched edges as you reach the end of your seam. A walking foot pulls the top layer of fabric through as the feed dogs pull the bottom layer through and this prevents the layers from shifting.
5. After making sure all pins have been removed, clip the corners to reduce the bulk and turn the blanket right side out. Stitch the opening closed. Press around the edges of the blanket. Top stitch 1/4 inch around the perimeter of the blanket.
We drink a lot of cocoa on New Year's Eve. I fill a pump dispenser with it and leave the dispenser out for everyone to refill as needed. Setting up a Cocoa Station makes drinking cocoa even more fun. I skewer marshmallows with plastic spoons, coat the mashmallows with melted chocolate, and then dip them in sprinkles and crushed candy cane. I store the spoons in a glass jar so everything right there, quick and easy for everyone. Tying a scrap of fabric from the blankets around the jar and adding tag made using a stamped snowflake from the Winter Wishes Repositionable Rubber Stamp set framed by a punch using the Seal of Approval Extra Large Squeeze Punch helps coordinate the cocoa station with the blankets.
I made personalized mugs using "Scrapbook" mugs. The base of the mug is removable allowing you to slip papers and photos between the clear walls of the mug. I created simple monograms by printing them out (in reverse) on book paper and cutting them out with the Fiskars Retractable Fingertip Knife. I trimmed them with papers from Graphic 45 punched with the Limited Edition Fiskars Flaking Out Border Punch.
While I do let our kids enjoy sweet treats over the holidays, I try to serve healthier snacks when possible. During movie time, rather than give them popcorn and a bowl of candy, I decided this year to mix up a healthier trail mix. It will be set out on the snack table in a glass jar embellished with a pennant banner I made using freehand cut shapes, a punched shape using the Seal of Approval punch, and the Happy New Years stamp from the Holiday Hooplah Repositionable Stamp Set. These were attached to a length of twine by machine stitching.
To help them keep a handle on all of their treats as they sit on the couch, I've decided to serve the trail mix in mason jars and the popcorn in paper cones that can sit nestled inside the jar.
A pattern for the cones can be easily created using white paper and a Fiskars compass. Using 1/4 of a 12-inch circle as the pattern, trace this onto your paper of choice. Along one edge, extend outward to create a tab. This tab should be cut at an angle at the tip of the cone. Cut the shape out, roll it into a cone overlapping the edge onto the tab, and staple the edges together.
I made a coordinating cozy for my cocoa dispenser.
1. Measure the circumference of your dispenser at the top and bottom. Add 2 inches to both numbers to allow the ends to overlap. Then add 1/2 inch to each side for seam allowances. Measure the height and add 1/2 inch to the top and bottom for seam allowances.
2. Cut 2 layers of fabric to these dimensions. If the top of your dispenser is smaller than the bottom (20 inches by 22 inches in my case), make sure to center the shorter edge so you end up with your fabric cut to the proper shape. In my case I cut a 22 inch rectangle (the longest edge), and measured in 1 inch from each side on the top edge. I arrived at this by taking 22 inches (bottom edge) - 20 inches (top edge) = 2 inches. This 2 inches has to be shared by both sides so 2 inches divided by 2= 1 inch. This is how far I measured in from each side at the top.
3. Find a snowflake pattern you like and create an applique following the steps for the monogram on the blanket and adhere it to the front panel.
4. Place the lining fabric face up, the front panel face down on top of the lining, and a piece of quilt batting on top of this. Pin the layers together and stitch them together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance leaving a small opening for turning. Clip the corners. Hand stitch this opening closed after turning the cozy right side out. Top stitch 1/4 inch from the edge of the cozy.
To continue with my rustic theme, I will be serving blueberry muffins baked in parchment paper liners. I love how these liners brown in the oven. The liners are simple to make. Using a Fiskars trimmer, cut 6 inch squares and fold them to fit into the cups of a muffin tin. Fill the liners with batter and bake according to your recipe. Served piled up in a basket, I think the muffins add the perfect finishing touch to our movie snack table.
We may not be out on the town on New Year's Eve, but you can bet we'll still have a memorable night of fun!
Blanket: 1 yard each of 3 different fabrics (muslins or flannels), 15 inch x 15 inch coordinating fabric, 13 inch x 13 inch fabric for monogram, 2 yards fleece, thread, embroidery thread (optional).