THE BEST GIFTS AND IDEAS FOR A ROMANTIC VALENTINE’S DAY

The right gift for your beloved is a choice that should come from the heart—but that doesn’t mean a little research can’t help. The following picks are the result of more than 100 hours of research performed by some two dozen testers tasked with finding the best items to help you plan your next romantic occasion (even if you secretly hoard all of the chocolate for yourself).

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CHOCOLATE BOX

RECCHIUTI CONFECTIONS BLACK BOX

The Black Box offers just the right balance of understated and seductive, and the chocolates inside are sure to excite the most jaded palate.

FULL ARTICLE @ wirecutter.com

50 Christmas Cocktails to Get You Through Holiday Drama

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Have one glass (or six) of these cocktails and punch bowls—who’s counting during the holidays, anyway?

via Alyse Whitney at Bon Appetit

All you need are two steps to survive Christmas: Take a deep breath and make a cocktail, stat. Cozy mulled wine, spiked egg nog, and dangerously-strong bourbon punch will help you get juuuust drunk enough to survive everything from fake-smiling through bad gifts to your post-feast food coma.

Take me to the cocktails! >>>

Check Out These Impressive Landmarks Built Out of Gingerbread

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‘Tis the season for recreating our homes and favorite buildings out of dough. Even though no one has put baked panel to icing and build the Gilmore Girls home in Stars Hollow out of crispy gingerbread or frosty fondant (yet), these landmarks both real and fictional have us whispering, “I smell snow.”

ApartmentTherapy.com has put together an amazing array of gingerbread houses that imitate architecture artistry. I can’t take my eyes away!

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Holiday Lights in Bloom at The Arboretum

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Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays to Dec. 23rd from 5-8pm, Daily Dec. 26th thru Dec. 31st from 5-8pm. CLOSED Christmas Eve 12/24 & Christmas Day-12/25.  Wander through the beautiful Holiday Lights in Bloom display throughout the Arboretum. The Arboretum will be in “full bloom” with beautiful, garden themed light displays in the the forms of flowers, animals and insects. Stroll many paths of lit trees, gardens filled with an assortment of flowers and the 9/11 Memorial Garden adorned with patriotic decorations. Other features in this year’s “Lights in Bloom” will include a pond created in lights. Volunteers from the Friends of the Arboretum will be on hand selling hand made crafts while supplies last until Dec 17th. The Orange County Arboretum is located in Thomas Bull Memorial Park St. Route 416, Montgomery. (Use Hamptonburgh for GPS directions.) Take the Grove St. entrance into the park. Admission is free.

SEE MORE EVENTS AT TRAVELHUDSONVALLEY.COM

Candlelight Tour of Homes

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 December 10: 12-5 PM  The Newburgh Historical Society’s annual Candlelight Tour features a self-guided tour of a  dozen decorated homes within the second largest historic district in New York State. Explore an assortment of public and private spaces, mansions, structures in the rehabilitation process, new construction, architectural gems, and some of Newburgh’s most important landmarks.  The 1830 Captain David Crawford House, located at 189 Montgomery St., Newburgh is the starting place. Tickets sold on line or at the door.

THANKSGIVING DECORATING, TABLESCAPE AND CENTERPIECE TIPS AND IDEAS

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via Food & Wine –  We’re at Thanksgiving for the food, clearly, but décor and a beautifully set table are just as important a part of the big day as the turkey and sides (well…they’re close). Here, a few easy tips to make sure your table is Thanksgiving ready.

FRESH LINENS

Send all of your linens (napkins, table runners, even a fancy apron for the chef) out to be dry cleaned so they’re pressed and ready for the big day.

MISMATCH YOUR TABLEWARE

Not everyone has enough matching glasses, silverware and plates for 20 plus people, so don’t hesitate to mix-and-match what you have. Keeping it all in the same color family will give your table an eclectic, but coordinated look.

USE CANDLES

Use a lot of them. Everywhere. No, you’re not trying to seduce your house guests, but the warm glow of (UNSCENTED!) candles is much more welcoming than overhead lights. Candlesticks are festive, but short pillar candles or votives won’t block the person dining across from you.

FULL ARTICLE