By Patty Sachs and Phyllis Cambria co-authors of
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Throwing a Great Party
This refreshing pineapple float is doubly delicious because the beverage and the ice are really "made for each other." Serve with crisp, tender tea cookies or with your special dessert party menu.
1-1/2 cups drained crushed pineapple - save syrup
Pineapple Syrup - Combine the crushed pineapple, 2 cups water and sugar in a saucepan and set over low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cover, increase heat and bring to boiling. Boil syrup gently 5 min. remove from heat.
Blend in the reserved pineapple syrup and lemon juice. Chill 1/2 cup of the syrup mixture for pineapple ice. Chill remainder in refrigerator.
For pineapple ice - add the 1/2 cup chilled syrup mixture to the crushed pineapple and 1/2 cup cold water and mint extract. pour into the refrigerator tray. Freeze until firm, stirring two or three times.
To serve - Pour the chilled pineapple syrup into a pitcher containing ice cubes and gently add and mix 3 cups ginger ale. Pour the beverage into tall glasses, filling each about 2/3 full. Put a spoonful of pineapple ice into each glass. Garnish with mint sprigs and Maraschino cherries.
Sparkling Rasberry Float
Follow the directions above but omit the pineapple and mint extract. Decrease sugar to 3/4 cup. Sieve about 3-1/2 cups thawed raspberries and add to the sugar syrup with lemon juice. Use 1 cup of the raspberry syrup mixture plus the cold water for the raspberry ice. Omit cherries and use fresh raspberries or frozen thawed instead.
Gather a collection of your favorite, no-longer-used, or unusual tree ornaments into a crystal bowl or a basket for a last-minute centerpiece, or to keep on display throughout the house during the holiday season.
Drape your exterior doors and windows in pine or spruce branches. (Most tree lots give away leftover branches for free!) To keep them fresh, use a spray bottle to spritz the boughs daily with water.
Gild small castoff toys with gold spray paint and tuck them into branches or wreaths of fresh greens. Add a gold string to use as hanging ornaments.(Mismatched toys are mini-items like plastic tools, tea cups, cars, trucks, Legos™, animals, balls and puzzle pieces.)
Wrap small cardboard containers (pasta, rice and cereal boxes work well) as gifts, in waterproof papers, pieces of plastic tablecloths or decorative bags, then hang with ribbon on tree branches or shrubs in your yard.
For mini-tree decorations wrap tiny boxes such as those for raisins, juice, individual cereals, or jewelry.
Have lots of shells from your summer vacation? Spray them gold or silver, or leave natural, drill a small hole, string them as ornaments on a seaside-themed Christmas tree or as a garlands of shells.
Customize smaller trees with collections such as sports cards (in plastic protectors,) souvenir spoons, cookie cutters, bells, mini-dolls, costume jewelry or fancy hair ornaments.
Use permanent markers to paint festive designs on cast-off beverage glasses, tie a pretty ribbon around the stem and use as votive candle holders to make a festive collection on your holiday table.
If you display all your gifts under your tree before the holiday, color-coordinate the wrapping paper with the rest of your seasonal decor. Gift boxes with beautifully wrapped tops can be used year after year.
Spray dried pasta in holiday colors and let children string the pieces together to use on your tree or around your room.
Make a free-form table runner using leftover pine branches, votive candles in holders, ribbon, battery-operated twinkle lights, nuts and fruit. (Be extremely careful with candle's flames and heat so they don't come in contact with the branches.)
Decorate the doors to your children's rooms as large gifts using wide ribbon and paper specially sized for the job.
Tie a festive plaid bow around the necks of your child's stuffed animals or dolls and pose them prettily around your home.
Fill a shiny red wagon with holiday packages as a decorative display.
Save and display your children's hand-crafted holiday cards and holiday photos in picture frames.
Create ornaments using your child's photo, one for each year. When it is time for that child to decorate his own home for the holidays, present him with the entire set.