Cookie Swap - It's Pretty Sweet Cookie Book Cover Buy it! Cookie Book Cover Buy it!

"This really is the ULTIMATE cookie book. Whimsical, elegant, colorful, and creative!! What more could you ask for? You will not be disappointed.”

Colette Peters

Celebrity Cake Decorator; Owner, Colette's Cakes


Nov 21, 2014 1:36pm

Julia Usher baking in her home kitchen
Noshes and Notions

Tabletop Twist :: Photo by Julia M. Usher

My Top 10 Holiday Table-Setting Tips

Still recovering from Christmas? Weary of party after same-old party? On the verge of drafting a New Year’s resolution vowing never to entertain again?

Hold on - don’t be rash! I know all too well the consequences of holiday party-planning burnout - and they’re not pretty! Foregoing good times with friends and family out of fear of more dishes, lack of novel decorating ideas, or even shortage of cash usually isn’t the right trade-off. Even now with a few days ‘til New Year’s, it’s not too late to give your holiday table some special design twists that won’t break the bank - or your back. With some thoughtful rearranging and re-purposing of things you already have, it’s possible to create an entirely new, and impressive, party ambience in much less time than you might think.

In this post, I share my top 10 tips for holiday tabletop design - basically those tricks I apply when I need to change things up fast, yet still make a statement.

» More


Rosemary and Olive Wreath :: Photo by Greg Rannells

A Green Christmas:
Decking the Halls with DIY Style

If the flurry of malls and mass consumerism overwhelms you during the Christmas season, then do as I do and avoid the excess by delivering holiday cheer with handcrafted party invitations, favors, and gifts. Or go the extra distance and turn your next holiday open house into a green Christmas party. After all, there’s nothing more thoughtful than a gathering that’s both respectful of the environment and expressed with love and care!

Are you scratching your head, wondering how to get started? If so, any scratching can stop here! I’ve assembled a handful of easy, DIY party ideas with help from recycled flea market-castaways and items found in the nooks and crannies of my basement and attic.

» More


Not Your Ordinary Entryway Cheer :: Photo by Julia M. Usher

Color Me Christmas:
In Traditional Red and Green

You might be dreaming of a white Christmas, but I prefer the traditional red and green - for decorating, that is! These colors cheer up even the dreariest of winter days; they’re naturally found in nature, which often means cheaper, faster decorations (think: hand-cut evergreens and berries); and, better yet, they coordinate perfectly with the palette of my house!

I swear, not more than a week ago I declared to my Facebook friends that I wasn’t going all-out this year. Too much travel, not enough time, yada yada . . . I’d just slap my quirky 50s-era masonite wreath (next page) on the front door, and that would have to be fine. But once I latched onto this easy red and green idea (with a Santa subtext), I soon found myself on overdrive.

» More


Chat with Julia News From Julia's Kitchen
  • In September, Julia won the coveted Medal of Honor at the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show for her contributions to the sugar art community!
  • Now in Hallmark stores near you! A special holiday gift edition of Julia’s Cookie Swap! Julia M Usher's Cookie Swap, special Hallmark edition, cookie book
  • See Julia’s exciting lineup of 2015 cookie events - Denmark, Chile, Barcelona, and more!
  • Woo hoo! Listen to Julia’s recent NPR interview, and read about her Best Cookier of 2013 Award. Julia M Usher, Best Cookie Decorator, Best Cookie Decorator of 2013, Award, Cake Masters Awards
  • Explore the world of cookie decorating! Join Cookie Connection, Julia’s free cookie community. Then grab a badge! Julia M Usher, Cookie Connection, online cookie decorating community
  • Hone your decorating skills with Julia’s app!