Blend seaside and seasonal décor this holiday with these clever ideas from Coast creative directors Alicia Cahill and Lindsay Canright.

1. Wrapping it up

When it’s time to shell out holiday gifts, opt for packaging with a nautical twist.

Package your presents in pretty used charts and maps (prices starting at $3 and available at Nautical Antiques & Tropical Decor, 2202 Mechanic St. in downtown Galveston, 409-539-5469). Pair with blue and white striped baker’s twine (a rainbow of baker’s twine — 15-yard bundles for $3 and 240-yard rolls for $14 — is available at The Kitchen Chick, 528 23rd St., Galveston, 409-497-2999). And instead of jingle bells or bows, use nautical embellishments or seashells, (a large variety of shells are available at Murdoch’s Bathhouse, 2215 Seawall Blvd., Galveston, 409-762-7478).

Styled by Lindsay Canright

2. Wassail

Drinking wassail, a warm spiced ale or mulled wine, in winter months is an ancient custom, but more recently associated with Christmas. The word “wassail” comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael,’ which means ‘good health’.

Wassail is the ultimate holiday toasting beverage. With spicy notes of cinnamon, juicy apple flavors, and bursts of citrus, Wassail packs a holiday punch.

Styled by Lindsay Canright

Wassail Mix


4 cups apple cider

6 ounces cranberry or pomegranate juice

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

½ cup sugar

4 cinnamon sticks

4 whole cloves

¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

Garnish with clove-studded oranges


Wrap the cloves, cinnamon sticks and nutmeg in cheesecloth and tie with kitchen string. Combine juices, sugar and spice packet in a crockpot. Bring the mixture to a boil and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes.


For the over-21 crowd, add 1½ ounces of bourbon to a large mug with 4 ounces of wassail mix. Garnish with a clove-studded orange wedge. Or, if the weather is too warm, try a wassail-tini. Add 1½ ounces of rum or bourbon and 3 ounces of wassail mix to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain the liquid into a chilled glass.

3. Holiday hot chocolate bar

Fried foods go hand-in-hand with Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday that celebrates, in part, the miracle of oil. Although custom calls for Sufganiyah — doughnuts filled with jelly or custard and topped with powdered sugar — branch out and offer a selection of sweets at a holiday hot chocolate/pastry bar.

Items to have on hand

• Festive mugs, tiered cake platter and toppings.

• Carafes of hot chocolate

• Toppings: We suggest, jumbo marshmallows, peppermint sticks, whipped cream, cinnamon sticks, colorful chocolate candies, chopped candy bars, truffles and caramels. Serve toppings in festive red polka dot cups (4 for $1) at The Kitchen Chick, 528 23rd St., Galveston.

Chocolate-dipped spoons

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat two cups of chocolate chips in 10-second intervals and stir frequently until smooth. Dip the top of your spoon into the melted chocolate, making sure it is thoroughly covered. Allow to set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until 1 hour before ready to use and serve at room temperature.

For a Christmas gathering, make your hot chocolate bar merry and bright with seasonal mugs and decorative towels, like the Jingle All The Way Towel, $7.99 each at The Kitchen Chick.

Styled by Alicia Cahill

Hot Cocoa Mix


10 cups dry milk powder

8 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

8 teaspoons cornstarch to prevent caking


In a large mixing bowl, combine powdered milk, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder and cornstarch. Stir until thoroughly combined.

For a single serving, place 1⁄3 cup cocoa mixture in a mug. Add ¾ cup boiling water or warm milk and stir to dissolve.

4. Hours of fun

For many families, gathering to piece together jigsaw puzzles around the holidays was an old tradition. With all the electronic devices to distract us these days, gathering with friends or families over a challenging jigsaw puzzle is a fun and retro way to unplug and reconnect. Personalize the experience and test your geographical knowledge by ordering a map puzzle of your hometown with your neighborhood at the center of it, or custom design your own jigsaw puzzle.

A 400-piece bird’s eye jigsaw of your home locale is available at ($39.99 and up).

Styled by Lindsay Canright

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