It’s Wrapping Time ~ No Need for a Gift Tag Emergency

You know that recurring nightmare you have where it’s college exam time and you haven’t attended one class or cracked a book? Well, in recent years I dream, usually mid-November, that it is Christmas Eve and no presents have even been bought, nevermind wrapped. I awake heart pounding and spurred into action. Fortunately, as of last night much to TEdF’s relief, our Christmas shopping is done for 2014: nightmare once again avoided.

vintage ornaments on Christmas gifts © The Gracious Posse

The gifts, however, still need to be wrapped. On a recent trip to Charlottesville, the gorgeous papers at Caspari were sorely tempting, but restraint prevailed. My practical side refuses to let me even recycle the closet full of wrappings from previous Christmases taking up precious storage space, though my creative side would love to chic-up my gift-wrapping game like some of the gorgeous examples on our Wrap It Up Pinterest board. Instead I will clean out the closet and use up the remnants tomorrow so next Christmas’s wrappings can earn a spot on that board.

The only item in my gifting closet that I may exhaust before gifts is gift tags. Fortunately, there is no need to panic, fight store crowds or spend money – on-line freebies await. Did you know that Pinterest and the blogging world have got this item covered, and all you really need is a pair of scissors?

Pinterest Printable Gift Tags for Christmas © The Gracious Posse

We’ve compiled a Pinterest board with a variety of holiday gift tags to rescue you when you are wrapping in the wee hours of the morning or the very late hours of Christmas Eve. Just click over to the board and find a design that will work with your own wrappings. Then click through to the original page where you will find a download for your printer. While I prefer designs that I can print on full-sheet labels and cut out, most will also work great on cardstock with a hole-punch and ribbon or string or simply adhere with double-sided tape.


If you’re feeling crafty and, like Ellen, have finished your Christmas chore list, making your own tags out of remnant card stock and glitter is as easy as HO•HO•HO. 

Gift tag CollageMake a sale tag template and cut out required amount. Spray one end with crafty glue spray, using a strait edge to make a clean spray line. Then sprinkle glitter. Punch a hole and add a paper reinforcer if desired. Color possibilities are endless!

Our Pinterest Christmas Tags board provides enough different options to suit most any wrapping style, and when you are desperate, your exacting design sensibilities are usually willing to compromise. We hope you will find something in the mix to help you finish this item on your Christmas to-do list. Happy wrapping!


December 19, 2014

p.s. If you find any other on-line gift tags that you think the posse would like, please leave the link in the comment’s box below, and we will add it to our Christmas Printable Gift Tags Pinterest board.

Make-ahead Cake for Christmas

I love a good road trip with girlfriends. The conversation runs the gamut from family to current events to good books to cooking, and I always come home feeling inspired with a new idea or two. A few weeks ago Alison, aFh and I took off to Charlottesville, and our chatter landed on holiday meals: Are you cooking? What are you going to serve? How many people? Got a new recipe? aFh was looking for a make-ahead dessert.

I remembered the tried-and-true Frozen Kahlua Cake from Stop and Smell the Rosemary by the Junior League of Houston, Texas.

Stop and Smell the Rosemary

Frozen Kahlua Cake is meant to be served partially-frozen, a forgiving and tasty addition to a holiday meal. The glazed topping, once frozen, adds an unexpected crunch. Don’t cut a corner; be sure to serve with the Kahlua whipped cream. 

Frozen Kahlua Cake © The Gracious Posse

Thank you aFh for jogging my memory.  Now I can say I’ve done something ahead of time for Christmas Day!


Frozen Kahlua Cake
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  1. 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  4. 4 large eggs, separated
  5. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 2 tablespoons cold water
  7. 1/2 cup cold brewed coffee
  8. 1/2 cup Kahlua
  9. 1 1/3 all-purpose flour
  10. 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1/2 cup Kahlua
  1. 1 cup heavy cream
  2. 1 teaspoon sugar
  3. 1 tablespoon Kahlua
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Cream butter and sugar. Mix in cocoa and egg yolks. Set aside. Dissolve baking soda in water. Stir in coffee and Kahlua. Alternately add Kahlua mixture and flour to butter mixture, blending after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff. Fold egg whites gently into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour.
  2. Combine powdered sugar and Kahlua, stirring to blend. When cake tests done, remove from pan to a serving plate. While still warm, randomly pierce cake with a fork. Pour glaze over top. Cool cake completely. Wrap cake in plastic wrap. Freeze several hours or overnight. Remove from freezer about 1 hour before serving.
  3. Whip cream and sugar until stiff. Blend in Kahlua. Slice cake and serve topped with whipped cream.
Adapted from Stop and Smell the Rosemary from Junior League of Houston, Texas
Adapted from Stop and Smell the Rosemary from Junior League of Houston, Texas
The Gracious Posse
December 17, 2014

Show-Stopping Staircases Star in Two Holiday House Tours

Holiday house tours dominated the Richmond calendar this past week, and two of the posse played starring roles. With backstage passes, we couldn’t wait to show you these stunning homes staged for Christmas. Serendipitously both featured show-stopping staircases that really made them fan favorites. Come take a look for yourself.

St. Catherine’s Holiday House Tour

We knew gHb had gone all out for this tour before we even stepped over the threshold.

gHb wreath collage © The Gracious Possewreath dressed in gHb’s favorite color combination of turquoise and Chinese red with St. Catherine’s ornament featured

Immediately our expectations were exceeded.

gHb's staircase decked out for Christmas © The Gracious Posse

This garlanded staircase had tour-goers in a tizzy.

ornamented garland on bannister © The Gracious Posse

gHb’s collection of hand-blown ornaments stand out magnificently against the detailed stairs and gorgeous wood floors and moldings.

staircase decked out in Christmas garland © The Gracious Posse

Featuring mementos of the family’s extensive travels and special moments, this garland left many wondering, why didn’t I think of that.

Christmas garland close-up © The Gracious Posse

This mother of two St. Catherine’s alumnae embraces color and Christmas and has filled her home with holiday delights.

gHb’s living room on Christmas tour © The Gracious Posse

She began collecting creches after one of her daughters made this one in junior kindergarten.

gHb’s handmade creche © The Gracious Posse

Now they cover most every flat surface she can find.

gHb’s tabletop creche scene © The Gracious Posse

The formal living room Christmas tree is filled with handmade angels discovered in a shop on Portobello Road in London,

gHb’s Portobello Road angel © The Gracious Posse

while simpler family treasures

preschool ornament on sunroom tree © The Gracious Posse

populate the sunroom tree

gHb's sunroom Christmas tree and Hala © The Gracious Posseguarded here by sweet Hala. 

gHb’ blends her favorite color, turquoise,

gHb’s acrylic plant holder lighted for Christmas © The Gracious Posse

with Chinese red throughout her home that came with this silk wall covering

close-up of Gracie silk wallcovering © The Gracious Posse

in the dining room when her family moved in eight years ago.

gHb’s dining room ready for Christmas © The Gracious Posse

While she would never touch that treasure, she has created a breathtaking kitchen that is serving up all kinds of Christmas in this color combination.

gHb breakfast table collage © The Gracious Posse

Everywhere you turn,

gHb’s bamboo shelving with creche © The Gracious Posse

gHb has decked her home

gHb Christmas tour close-up © The Gracious Posse

with welcoming decor and greens.

gHb's Christmas greens © The Gracious Posse

What fun it must be to celebrate Christmas in this warm family space.

gHb's Christmas carolers © The Gracious Posse

University of Richmond Chapel Guild Tour

Looking for a grand Christmas entrance? Just open this door and behold.

cFl holiday house wreath © The Gracious Posse

cFl’s home spreads out from the grand black-marbled foyer

holiday house entry © The Gracious Posse

where you can spot Christmas inspiration in every direction.

side view of flying stairway © The Gracious Posse

The flying buttress staircase tops the list.

flying buttress staircase lined with nutcrackers © The Gracious Posse

This University of Richmond alumna has collected nutcrackers from all over that serve as a color guard

portion of cFl’s nutcracker collection © The Gracious Posse

to the second floor.

cFl’s balcony wreath © The Gracious Posse

She found this one with baby nutcrackers in London.

a nutcracker’s nutcrackers at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

Having been involved with the creation of these three favorites by local artisan Glenn Crider as a fundraiser for St. Christopher’s School, cFl now gives them pride of place on this foyer table.

St. Christopher’s nutcrackers © The Gracious Posse

cFl enlisted the help of floral designer Cathy Lee to provide seasonal arrangements that enhance the treasures found throughout her home.

red rose display at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

Filled with lilies, orchids and holly berries,

orchids, lilies and holly berries at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

the entry arrangement balances securely on a glass vase containing poets laurel clippings.

foyer arrangement at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

The six foot tall living room mantel shelf

dressed mantel at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

is lined with mercury glass and white and peach amaryllis,

mantel close-up at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

while a display of red tulips and white Stars of Bethlehem

tulips and Star of Bethlehem at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

highlight the family room mantel.

cFl’s family room ready for Christmas © The Gracious Posse

These tulips sit cleverly in a Dollar Store gift box so that the whole arrangement can be given as a gift.

gift box filled with tulips at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

Through the living room windows you can see that even the garden table is dressed for the holidays.

outdoor urn at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

The dining room’s round table

dining room ready for Christmas dinner © The Gracious Posse

and roaring fire

dining room fireplace at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

beckon guests to take a seat and linger over coffee and dessert.

dining room chair close-up © The Gracious Posse

Like gHb’s home, cFl has filled hers

Christmas bar at holiday house © The Gracious Posse

with little holiday touches meant to delight

breakfast table at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

the tour visitors and other guests.

kitchen arrangement at cFl's holiday house © The Gracious Posse

I don’t know about you, but I’m all ready to curl up and open presents in front of that soaring fireplace.

Christmas living room © The Gracious Posse

Home tours always get the creative juices flowing, and when they come at the holidays, I am ready to attack my boxes of decorations with a fresh eye. Thanks to these two homes, they’ve also left me rethinking my bannister, which is now feeling like a blank canvas. Thanks so much gHb and cFl for sharing and inspiring us with your holiday homes and those stunning staircases.


December 15, 2014