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Dessert And Champagne, Anyone? How To Host A Simple Holiday Party

Simple Solutions Diva’s Tips For

A Simple Holiday Party:


For easy invitations, try using the website, where you can customize one of their great designs and import email addresses to send out invites electronically! Good for you AND the environment!

A Champagne Bar is easy to do! Offer a variety of add-ins for your champagne, like cranberry, peach, pomegranate juices, strawberries and pomegranate seeds.  For Champagne, I served Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut, recommended by the wine expert at World Market. With a price point under $7.00, I was a bit wary.   I was extremely surprised by how wonderful the champagne tasted! It was rated by Wine & Spirits Magazine as the Value Brand Of The Year for 2013 (3rd year in a row!).

Desserts are so simple! Use a combination of store-bought and homemade desserts. Items on my dessert table included:

  • A tasting plate of flavored dark chocolates – Chipotle Chili, Pomegranate and Strawberries & Champagne.
  • Ginger Crisp cookies and Chocolate Lace cookies from World Market.
  • Two beautifully decorated mini cakes from Publix Supermarket.
  • Store-bought Chocolate Truffles
  • Homemade Coconut Macaroons – Wonderfully easy recipe from JoansFoodWanderings Blog.
  • Homemade Peppermint Bark – Here is my recipe for peppermint bark.
  • Store-bought Chocolate Truffles
  • Homemade Candied Pecans – This recipe was so simple! I made them in the crockpot! You can find the recipe Here!
  • A Cheese Plate featuring Manchego, Triple Cream Brie, and Boursin Cheese.
  • A Fruit Plate
  • The big hit on the dessert table was the Toasted S’mores Bar, from the website by South Florida Chef,  Ron Lock.


Have a wonderful holiday!


Simple Flatbread Appetizer Done Four Ways

Flatbread Appetizer Four Ways, by
Flatbread Appetizer Four Ways by

Flatbread is a great way to create a variety of easy appetizers! I used Stonefire Naan flatbreads from my supermarket to create these four appetizers; feel free to go crazy and make your own flatbread! I try to assemble all my ingredients prior to starting, then just go down the “assembly line” to make the variety of flatbreads!

Note: All amounts noted below in each recipe are variable, depending on your taste and the amount you plan to make! Each flatbread recipe makes approximately 16 appetizer-sized pieces.

General Preparation: 

Place a pizza stone inside the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. If using a regular cookie sheet instead of a pizza stone, set the temperature to 450 degrees.

Lay the flatbreads on a clean, flat work surface.  Distribute the cheese slices evenly on the flatbreads;  assemble the remaining ingredients on the flatbreads (except for the finishing drizzles as noted!).

Place flatbreads on pizza stone and bake for approximately 5 minutes. Remove when cheese is melted. Remove from oven, drizzle with appropriate finishing drizzles (if called for), and slice into appetizer-sized pieces. Serve immediately.


Apple, Brie and Cranberry Flatbread Appetizer from
Apple, Brie and Cranberry Flatbread Appetizer from

Brie, Apple and Cranberry Flatbread Appetizer


  • 2 Stonefire Naan Flatbreads (They come packaged in twos)
  • Wedge of Brie, sliced into thin slices. (I try to remove most of the white rind on the cheese)
  • One apple – skin removed, cored and sliced into thin slices.
  • 1/2 cup (Approx.) Dried, Sweetened Cranberries (I used Ocean Spray Dried Cranberries)


Apple, Bacon Cheddar Flatbread with Maple Syrup Drizzle from

Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Flatbread Appetizer With Maple Syrup


  • 2 Stonefire Naan Flatbreads
  • One apple, peeled, cored and sliced thin.
  •  1/2 cup crumbled bacon (I used Boar’s Head Precooked Bacon – I like keeping things easy!)
  • Cheddar Cheese, sliced thin.
  • Real Maple Syrup (This is for a finishing drizzle on top of this flatbread)


Fig, Procciutto, Provalone
Fig, Prosciutto, Mozzarella with Honey Drizzle Flatbread Appetizer from

Fig, Prosciutto, Mozzarella Flatbread Appetizer With Honey 


  • 2 Stonefire Naan Flatbreads
  • 4 dried figs, chopped
  • 4 slices of Prosciutto, thin sliced
  • 8 oz. fresh Mozzarella, sliced
  • Honey (This is for a finishing drizzle on top of this flatbread)


Pear, Gorgonzola
Pear, Gorgonzola, Provolone, Caramelized Onion Jam With Balsamic Vinegar Drizzle Flatbread Appetizer from

Pear, Gorgonzola, Provolone, Caramelized Onion Jam Flatbread Appetizer With Balsamic Vinegar


  • 2 Stonefire Naan Flatbreads
  • One pear, peeled, cored and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup Gorgonzola Cheese Crumbles
  • 8 slices Provolone Cheese
  • Caramelized Onion Jam (you can find this in specialty food aisles of your supermarket, or specialty food stores)
  • Balsamic Vinegar (This is for a finishing drizzle on this flatbread)

A Big Thank you to Stonefire Naan for providing me with a wonderful selection of Naan Flatbreads for this post!

Holiday Shopping – When Do You Get It All Done?

Simple Thanksgiving Craft Ideas

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather and be thankful for all they have. Simple Solutions Diva has a few simple ideas to add to the Thanksgiving festivities, keeping family and friends connected, and keeping the conversations going! Thanks to WTLV-TV/Channel 12’s First Coast Living for inviting me to share these ideas on air!

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Father, we thank Thee for this food, for health and strength and all things good. May others all these blessings share, and hearts be grateful everywhere. — Traditional American Blessing, circa 1800’s

Thankful Tree

The Thankful Tree
The Thankful Tree

This project is very simple to make. You need the following items:

  • Heavy vase or clean, outdoor pot
  • Branches from trees in your own back yard, stripped of foliage and cut to the appropriate size for pot. You can paint the branches white or black, or you can leave them natural. I used white spray paint.
  • Styrofoam block or floral dry foam block.
  • Filler (I used nuts, but you could use fabric, autumn leaves, etc.)
  • Blank tags with ties. I made my own with construction paper, and hole punch and natural cord/string.
  • Pens

Place your pot on a flat surface. Place styrofoam or floral dry foam block inside pot; secure with tape if needed.

Insert branches into the foam block. Add filler material around the base of the branches to cover the foam block.

Place the Thankful Tree, tags and pens in a prominent place in your home and ask guests to write what they are thankful for and to tie it to the tree.

I found this thoughtful idea from – to see their beautiful post, click HERE.


Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Centerpiece

Thanksgiving Conversation Centerpiece
Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Centerpiece

Keep the fun conversation going at the Thanksgiving table! For this project you can use many items from around your home. You will need:

  • Large glass vase or decorative glass bowl
  • Thanksgiving themed filler – you can use nuts, ornaments, ribbon, leaves, felt pumpkins. Basically whatever calls to you!
  • Small blank cards or squares of construction paper
  • Pens
  • Stickers or other decorative elements – optional

Assemble your filler of choice in the vase or bowl. Write conversation prompts on the small cards and fold them (or roll & tie them). Place the cards into the bowl. Place bowl on or near the Thanksgiving table. Reach for the the bowl whenever the mood or need arises! Make sure you have at least one prompt per person.

Stumped for prompt ideas? Try some of these:

What life advice would you give a younger person?

What is your favorite holiday memory?

What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?

What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving?

How is Thanksgiving different today from when you were a child?

When you were a child, what were the popular toys everyone wanted for Christmas?

I found this great idea on Here is the original post!


Turkey Day Table Runner

Let your guests get creative during the Thanksgiving meal!  Let them discover their inner artist! And most importantly, keep them at the table by giving them something to do between courses!

You will need:

Brown or white plain wrapping paper or white butcher paper. I used postal wrapping paper because it is a little heavier than wrapping paper and there is no gloss to it. It is also significantly cheaper – $4.99 for 75 sq. ft of paper, versus $4.99 for 45 sq. ft. of wrapping paper.

Pens, crayons, markers (no bleed).

Thanksgiving themed stickers or other decorations

Run the wrapping paper down the center of your table. Add your major table elements, like your candles, centerpiece, salt & pepper – whatever you plan to place on the table for dinner.

Add a few decorative elements to your table runner, to let people know they can write on it. Add stickers or other decorations. Or even use it to write out place cards for your guests!

Place markers and or crayons in small cups along the table within easy reach of guests. Be sure to let them know they are free to doodle!


Cornucopia Place Card Holders

Cornucopia Place Card Holders
Cornucopia Place Card Holders

This is a perfect project to get your kids involved in, but be sure to have plenty of the candy filler around!

You will need:

  • Waffle cones
  • A bowl of water
  • A fat pen
  • Candy filler – you can use the Harvest mix candies (they are like candy corn, but veggie shapes), or you could use Reese’s Pieces (they are perfect harvest colors!), or even use a nut based trail mix.
  • Place cards (you can find a free place card printable at

Take your waffle cone and soak the pointy end in the bowl of water for about 30 seconds (not too soaked – you don’t want it to get too mushy). Place cone in microwave for approximately 30 seconds, until the ends is just softened and pliable.

Remove cone from microwave and using the fat pen, flatten and curl the cone’s end up around the pen to create a cornucopia effect.

Fill cornucopia with candy or nut filler and lay at the place setting. Filler can spill out for effect, or you can wrap the open end in plastic wrap and secure with ribbon.

Lay the place card on the back end of the cornucopia.

This creative idea came from


Sugar Cone Teepees

Sugar Cone Teepees
Sugar Cone Teepees

A simple little craft to entertain the kids while waiting for dinner!

You will need:

  • Sugar cones
  • White frosting
  • Black gel icing tube
  • Harvest color edible decorations – Reese’s Pieces, sprinkles, etc., placed in dishes
  • A flat, clean work surface safe for kids.

Smear white icing to cover the cones. Let the kids go to town decorating their teepees!



The Luxury Of Time At The HolidaysSimple Tips To Enjoy What’s Important To YOU

Simple Idea: Don’t Toss The Graduation Tassel!

This is the season for graduations! After the mortar board and tassel are tossed in the air in celebration, where does the tassel end up? Usually, dangling from the rear view mirror (am I showing my age?)!  But it doesn’t have to stay there! I found a great way to save those tassels and I thought I’d share it with you.

alex ornament2

Simply take a clear, refillable ornament (4-inch size would be perfect) and insert the tassel, leaving the cord wrapped around the neck of the ornament. You can add confetti that coordinates with the school colors. Replace the top on the ornament, leaving the tassel suspended inside the ornament.

Now you have a beautiful keepsake of graduation that can be displayed year-round or as holiday ornaments!

To find 4-inch Clear Acrylic Fillable Keepsake Ornaments by the case (because you KNOW your friends will want to do this, too, for their kids!), Click Below!
Bulk Case of 24 Clear Acrylic 100mm Fillable Keepsake Ball Ornaments


Tassel 2

Simple Recipe: Easy Brie/Apple/Caramelized Onion Stuffed Crescent Rolls

Crescent Rolls Stuffed with Brie/Apple/Caramelized Onions


I am always looking for simple recipes for foods I know I love.  In my book, there is nothing better than apples and brie together. So when I found this recipe on the website, Kasey’s Kitchen, I knew I had to include it!  I know it will make’s  Simple Holiday Survival Video Series in November 2013!  It also would be a great little appetizer for kids to make and serve for a Mother’s Day Brunch (with help from an adult, of course!)!


  • 1 Green Apple (I love Granny Smith), thinly sliced
  • 1 small brie round, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 roll of crescent rolls
  • 1/2 sweet vidalia onion, thinly sliced
  • brown sugar
  • cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute onions in cooking spray until translucent.  Add a sprinkle of brown sugar and set aside.

Roll out crescent dough, separate into pieces (it is usually perforated for you).

Lay 2 slices of apple, 1 slice/wedge of brie and small spoonful of onion mixture onto dough and roll it up.

Place onto lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve on their own, or try it with a dab of cranberry relish! Enjoy!


Simple Easter Brunch Ideas on Pinterest

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