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Recipes, Gift Ideas & Indulgences to Make This Holiday Season Your Best Yet

Written By: Britt Hackmann and Gretchen Hackmann The Nubry Girls’ Tips & Tricks For a Great Holiday
Photographed By: Valerie Kon
Styled By: Nikki Schiffman of The Vault By Nikki, Britt Hackmann and Gretchen Hackmann

We look forward to the holiday season all year long, and it’s no surprise why. Yummy treats like pound cake, pomegranates, fluffy marshmallows atop homemade cocoa, freshly baked cookies coming out of the oven, cinnamon sticks and spiked cider come to mind, but also the anticipation of getting together with family and friends, taking time off and decorating your home for the holidays. The holidays are a wonderful, joyous period that takes preparation, and it is a time that should never be equated with stress. Yes, it takes extra thought and care to craft a beautifully decorated holiday home with holiday-themed eats, desserts, drinks and florals, but we want to make sure that everything holiday-related this year is a no-brainer!

That’s why we’re providing tips on how to make your own floral arrangements that wow, makeup that looks great not only for holiday errands, but also festive parties, and recipes that take no time, look festive and are fan favorites. We’ll also discuss the little luxuries you might need this season, how to decide whether to invest or save, and more!


Candied Almonds

Time: 35 minutes


• ½ cup water

• 1 cup white sugar

• 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

• 2 cups whole almonds


1. Combine the water, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.

2. Add the almonds. Cook and stir the mixture until the liquid evaporates and leaves a syrup-like coating on the almonds.

3. Pour the almonds onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Separate almonds using a fork.

4. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.

White Christmas Martini


• 2 oz vanilla vodka

• 2 oz white chocolate liqueur

• 1 oz white crème de cacao

• 1 oz half-and-half

• Honey and coarse sanding sugar for rim garnish


1. Pour the honey into a shallow dish and put the sanding sugar in another shallow dish. Coat the rim of the glass in honey, then dip the rim in the sugar and coat evenly. Set the glass aside.

2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the vodka, white chocolate liqueur, crème de cacao and half-and-half. Shake vigorously and strain into the prepared martini glass. Serve immediately.

Apricot Ginger Bellini


• 1 cup sugar

• 1 cup water

• 4 apricots, pitted and chopped

• 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

• 1 (750 ml) bottle sparkling wine or 1 (750 ml) bottle champagne, chilled


1. In a medium saucepan, stir together water, sugar, ginger and apricots. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and let mixture simmer until sugar completely dissolves. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes.

2. Strain ginger and apricots from syrup mixture and let cool completely.

3. Assemble the bellinis by adding sparkling wine to a champagne flute, filling halfway. Top off with the ginger-apricot simple syrup.

4. Store any remaining simple syrup in the fridge. It will keep for about a week.

Black Sangria


• 1 bottle Apothic Dark

• 2 cups organic blackberries, washed

• 4 black plums, washed and sliced

• 1/4 cup brandy

• 2 cups black grapes, washed

• 1 cup sparkling water, if you desire


1. Add everything to a pitcher and mix with a large spoon.

2. Let sit in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. The longer it sits, the darker the plums become. Keep sangria in the fridge.

DIY: Homemade Potpourri


• 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

• 3 tangerines, halved

• 3 whole cinnamon sticks

• 1 tsp whole cloves

• 2 star anise for a strong black licorice smell (optional)

• 1 inch piece fresh ginger

• 1 vanilla bean

• 1 tbsp vanilla extract

• 1 small branch fresh pine

• 1 cup apple cider, pomegranate or cranberry juice

• Water


1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepot. Fill the pot with water until it is 3/4 full. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, adding more water as needed.

2. Let simmer for close to 4 hours and let it cool overnight. Simmer again the next day. Be sure to keep adding more water.

It’s OK To Indulge:

We’re all expected to pack on a few pounds during the holiday season, but know that it’s always acceptable to indulge when it comes to:

1. Fat Water with electrolytes that assist when you’re working out

2. Bulletproof Coffee blended with grass-fed butter

3. Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara by Clinique

4. Jeni’s Ice Cream, using cow’s milk that’s grass fed on small family farms

5. Make the best peanut brittle on the planet to share with friends

6. Drink a dirty martini with hand-stuffed blue cheese olives

7. Stove-made hot cocoa with extra large homemade marshmallows

8. Apple-cinnamon anything (think cobbler, tart, pie, cider, martini)

Pamper Yourself With Little & Big Luxuries

1. For 12 days of Christmas, show your friends or family how much you care by sending a gift each day. It doesn’t matter what you send! A mink backpack for work or a bag of chia seeds for morning smoothies—it’s the little things that count.

2. If someone refers to you as “my boo” and you think “bou” as in Caribou Club in Aspen, then new base layers are a must-have for your upcoming holiday ski trip.

3. Always a classic: Stuart Weitzman over-the-knee boots! Choose flat or high-heeled.

4. Transform into a French beauty by using products with marine active ingredients from Saint Malo, France. Try Phytomer’s Hydrasea, an ultra-moisturizing polarized water serum that combats dehydration, and Hydra Original for intense hydration and visibly plump, radiant skin. Also available at SpaBlue Del Mar and the Spa at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. phytomer.fr

5. Gloss Moderne Hair Care, a luxe line of shampoo and conditioner, serum and hair mask that is free of sulfates and parabens. The Coco de Soleil fragrance is reminiscent of the French Riviera and smells divine!

6. Become a gypset! Gypsetters are artists, designers and bon vivants who live and work around the globe. Get inspired by this uber-cool type with the coffee table book Gypset Style available at assouline.com.

7. Get a selfie stick, the latest and greatest tech accessory that enables you to capture everyone in the photo, including the person taking it! Available at SelfieOnAStick.com.

8. Build a collection of eclectic antique plates. They don’t have to match! Serve tapas or antipasto on the plates.

9. A new Chanel or Valentino purse! Luxury designer consignment handbags are available at bellabag.com

10. Have your makeup done for a party or a dinner date to feel relaxed and confident!

Holiday Makeup Tips:

1. Eyeliner with a built in brush is a must! Short, feathery strokes and a flip of the brush gives you a full smoky eye. Try Katherine Cosmetics Bonanza Black Eyeliner.

2. Highlight with a concealer under your eyes and at the top of your cheeks in a color that matches your skin. Contour using a darker shade to hollow out those cheekbones and accentuate your plump cheeks. This technique is an ideal look for holiday party pics!

3. Skip the deep rouge or Bordeaux and opt instead for a sultry nude lip color that goes everywhere. Try Katherine Cosmetics A+ Friends Collection Lipstick in Deni and Katherine Shimmer Beige Gloss in Beachwood.

4. The morning after the party, skip the face full of makeup and keep it au naturel. Apply the K-Sport WOW Stick before hitting the gym or running your errands. Infused with broad-spectrum SPF 20 UVA/UVB sun protection, this moisturizing stick will protect your skin throughout the day with an all over glow.

Purchase Katherine Cosmetics and K-Sport products at www.katherinecosmetics.com, Cos Bar in La Jolla, Rancho Valencia Spa, Ageless and Beautiful Spa and E.C. Stylebar.

Making At-Home Florals That Wow!

Tips and hints from Bloomers of La Jolla, your local florist! 

1. Make small arrangements using dainty little vases. This will enable you to have more live flowers throughout your space.

2. Be creative with vases or vessels like diffusers or mason jars to hold flowers. Even one flower in a vase that is skinny at the top can be elegant. Put three of the same vase next to each other for a bigger statement. Search for eclectic vases at an antique store or estate sale.

3. Arrangements do not need to be a standard height. Choose some vases that you would like to use and then buy the flowers to match and cut them accordingly.

4. Choose multiple varieties of flowers in different shades of the same color palette to create an easy and beautiful monochromatic arrangement.

5. Arrange the flowers in your hand first and tie them together with twine or string to keep the bouquet looking arranged after you’ve cut the stems to the desired height for your vase.

6. Go out and clip some of your own flowers or foliage to add a personal touch.

How to Make Your Flowers Last Longer:

1. Cut flower stems at a diagonal, allowing them to hydrate more and last longer.

2. Strip leaves or other foliage from stems that would sit below the water line to keep the water clear as you design, and to keep it fresh longer.

3. Change the water daily and cut about 1/2 inch off the stems each time you change the water to make your flowers last longer.

Bloomers of La Jolla
7520 Eads Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037
858.454.3913 | www.bloomersflowerslajolla.com

When To Invest & When To Save

1. Gifts: Splurge on beautiful ribbon | Save by wrapping with brown paper

2. Fur: Splurge on Dennis Basso and Son Jong Wan coats | Save by accessorizing with mink bracelets

3. Jewelry: Splurge on Buccellati | Save with Alexis Bittar statement pieces

4. Handbag: Splurge on a Chanel bag from www.bellabag.com | Save by consigning a bag you no longer use

5. Friends: Invest in people that are good to you all year long. Your barista? Your cobbler? | Save on the friends that are zeros


Photoshoot Location Provided By:
Jay Becker of
Sotheby’s International Realty

Luxury & Coastal Group

5672 Dolphin Pl
La Jolla, Ca. 92037

Y U L E /// Have a Happy Holiday With These Tips from the Nubry Girls.