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Filtering by Tag: gifts

Start a Project: Thank You Notes

Suzanne Pollak

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Back to school! Your very first homework assignment of the year: THANK YOU notes…

Why? When you see your handwritten note on a friend’s mantel or stuck in her mirror, you know your words produced a bit of happiness, because you acknowledged something lovely someone did. Thank you’s pay off a hundred times. Written thank you’s make you really stand out.

How? Text or email is way better than nothing, but writing a note on personal stationary is extra special. You only have to produce two sentences (or if you are an artist simply a THANK YOU with a drawing of what you are thanking…)

When? Not to get all squishy on you but consider going on a 30-day thank you binge. Write a daily thank you by text, email, or paper — not to see what comes back as a transactional exchange, but to see how good you will feel by expressing yourself and sharing your love. To start your project and get in the habit, write us at the Academy and we will in turn write to you!

What for? For anything big or small, a diverse collection of thanks: a cup of coffee, cookie, lunch or dinner, a flower, personal or business meeting, a gift, friendship, time, even simply a shared idea. How about a thank you for something a friend did years ago that you still think about, or because a person helped you when you needed it most?

Now what are your favorite ways to say thank Thank You?

MT. VERNON XMAS PUNCH (& other Homemade Gifts)

A. K. Lister

There is no good reason not to have an arsenal of homemade gifts on hand this time of year, whether to give to hosts of the many Christmas (and Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, etc.) parties you are sure to attend, or to reciprocate when a neighbor shows up with a little surcee for you and yours.  

Homemade gifts, like the Washington family's famed punch, can be simultaneously simple to prepare and yet still spectacular to behold, not to mention imbibe.  For as velvet-y as this punch may seem, it is a nonetheless quite potent mixture of bourbon, rum, Chartreuse, sherry, vermouth, and tea, cured for a week in tightly-sealed mason jars.  

Who knew George was such a party animal?!  You can find the recipe for Washington's Punch in our Archive.  Each jar may be individually labeled and tied up in a cheery ribbon, with serving instructions alongside for the recipient to enjoy at another occasion.

Now, there are a few ways to serve a jar of Mt. Vernon Christmas Punch.  For a small gathering of 5 or less, stick with cocktails.  Simply pour a couple ounces of the base over ice, top with either champagne or soda, and garnish with a cherry.  Why not present a plate of Cheese Coins alongside?

For 6 or more, get out the punch bowl -- we're having a party!  But first, you'll need an Ice Ring.  Simply fill a bundt pan halfway with cranberries, cherries, or any other festive fruit to garnish your punch.  Then run hot water over the pan to loosen the ice, flip it into the bowl, and top with 2-3 bottles of champagne to put it to action.  Like so:

There you have it, Mt. Vernon Christmas Punch, the gift that keeps on giving.  There are plenty of other goodies you can whip up and portion for casual gifting, whether alongside the punch or no.  Try biscotti, bourbon cake, or Raisin Scones.

But, if your kitchen is already sanctioned for other grandiose projects -- we're making Prime Rib for Christmas Eve dinner (more on that a little later this week) -- build your Holiday credit with promises for the New Year: offer to make a series of meals, complete with menu suggestions, for someone extra special, or plan to throw a dinner party in their honor.  Or, simply take all your girlfriends out for a nice lunch and hand out a few fabulous party favors.

Regardless, 'tis the season to let the people you love know exactly how you feel...and to drink lots of punch!

XO, the Academy