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Holiday Party Planning – New Ideas!

You’re an expert hostess who knows how to throw a great party. Whether it’s a formal sit-down dinner for 20, or a casual get-together for family and friends, you’ve done it all. In fact, you’ve been doing it for years. You’ve got all the details down. And you always seem to make it look so seamless, so effortless. However…


…there are always going to be some exciting, new ideas you may want to consider to freshen up your tried-and-true entertaining routine. Perhaps an especially pretty tablescape detail. Or a particularly unique recipe. Or maybe even a clever party theme.

The editors at Blue Mountain have joined together to assemble some of their favorite suggestions for your upcoming holiday entertaining. We hope by doing so, we’ll inspire you to try at least one new party idea this joyous season. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

1. Ornate Framed Menu Chalkboard via HGTV
2. Rosemary Wreath Place Card via The Happier Homemaker
3. Candy Flower Centerpiece via Stonewall Kitchen
4. Christmas Tree Cheese Board via Kraft
5. Simmering Homemade Potpourri via Marty’s Musings
6. Hot Chocolate Bar with Free Chalkboard Printables via Yellow Bliss Road



Holiday Party Planning – Being a good guest

You’ve spent years hosting parties. You’re used to doing most (if not all) of the work and making sure everyone is happy and everything runs smoothly. You love it—and you’re really very good at it!

But this year, for once, you suddenly find the roles reversed where you’re going to be attending a holiday party as a guest instead of hosting one. Between us, we know this may take you out of your comfort zone a bit…or a lot. Yes, it does take some work to be a good party guest. But to help you get through this holiday season with ease and grace, we’ve assembled a few tips for you. We hope they help. And we hope you have a fabulous time. It’s a party, after all. Have fun and enjoy!


  • RSVP – RSVP, which stands for Répondez S’il Vous Plaît (French for “please respond”), means exactly that: respond. And be sure to respond before the deadline on your invitation, not after. It’s ok to send a text or Facebook reply, but it’s absolutely not ok to pull a “no-show.”
  • Contribute – Making a courtesy call to the hostess ahead of time is just that: courteous. Offer to bring an appetizer, salad, or dessert. If the hostess is firm about having the meal under control, then offer to bring wine, Champagne, or a centerpiece. If rebuffed again, be sure to just quietly bring a nice hostess gift, such as a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, or a jar or artisanal preserves.


  • Arrive on Time – Even if you’re tempted to arrive early, don’t. The hostess may still need time for last-minute preprarations. Instead, plan to arrive within 15 minutes of the invited time. If you’re right on time but no one else has arrived yet, offer to help. However, if you’re running late, get lost, or have an emergency, be sure to call immediately and explain.
  • Converse & Enjoy – Get into the party spirit by smiling, mingling, and conversing with the other guests. It’s also important to be a good listener. However, don’t dominate the conversations, especially with your problems, and avoid all bad language, off-color jokes, and controversial topics. Instead of asking overly personal questions (which is a huge no-no), ask more neutral questions instead, such as “How do you know the host?”
  • Eat & Drink Responsibly – Don’t come to the party famished and ready to devour everything in sight. If hors d’oeuvres are being passed, don’t heap your plate with them. Absolutely no double dipping! And of course, do NOT become inebriated.
  • Help Clean Up – Before leaving the party, offer to do the dishes. If the hostess refuses, at the very least, stack dirty plates, throw out empty bottles, and clean up any huge messes.
  • Don’t Overstay – When you see the party starting to wind down and conversations hitting a lag, it’s time to go. Be sure to genuinely compliment the hostess when saying your goodbyes.
  • Send a Thank You Note – Within a few days of the party, always send a note of thanks to the hostess. And despite what your grandmother told you, a Thank You eCard is perfectly fine!


How to Write Letters From Santa

Now that your little ones have stickered, licked, and stamped their letters to Santa, they wait in eager anticipation, dreaming of how fun and magical it would be to get a letter from Santa Claus himself! Here’s how you can bring that magic to life.


Start off with one of our newly-designed, festive Santa Letters that you can print from the comfort of your home. Then try some of these helpful tips to do that jolly old elf proud:

Begin by thanking the child for their letter and add a comment or two about their writing skills or drawings.

Follow-up with their inquiries about Mrs. Claus and all the elves.
Say fun things like how busy Mrs. Claus has been trying a new cookie recipe this year which you find quite delicious, and how the elves just brought all the reindeer back from flying practice and they’re taking them to the barn to feed them lunch.

Acknowledge what the child said in their letter about being naughty or nice.
Tell them how wonderful you think it is that they helped Mommy dry the dishes or feed the cat, etc. If they had admitted they did something bad, add a positive thought like you see them working very hard not to do that again and what a sign of good character that is. You could then mention a recent accomplishment the child had, like getting a good grade in school, or learning to tie their shoe or play a new instrument.

If the child thanked Santa for any toys he brought them last year, be sure to mention that you’re happy they enjoyed them and you think they’ll be very glad with the surprises you plan to bring them Christmas Eve.

Before closing your letter, add that you’re looking forward to stopping at their house on Christmas Eve, and that you always enjoy the milk and cookies that are left out.

To close your letter, you can say that you need to get back to checking your list and preparing the sleigh for your big ride. Tell them to be good and that you’re watching over them and sign your letter, “Love, Santa.”

For some added fun, use an old-style font that you think Santa himself might use. This gives your letter a more authentic touch. When your letter finally arrives, enjoy the squeals of delight, and revel in the magic that lives on in the hearts of children everywhere.



How to Write Letters to Santa

There’s magic in the air, which may have something to do with the thousands upon thousands of sugar-plum wishes riding on the north wind to find their way into the loving hands of Santa Claus.

No doubt your children and grandchildren are busy telling you all about the latest toy they just “have” to have, and so there’s no better time than now to sit them down and have them write their letters to Santa.

To begin,  choose one of our newly-designed, FREE Letters to Santa that you can print from the comfort of your own home. Then follow these helpful tips for a letter that is sure make that jolly old elf’s eyes twinkle.


  1. Be North Pole Polite. Begin with “Dear Santa and ask how he, Mrs. Claus, and all the elves are doing. Then have your child tell Santa their name and how old they are.
  1. Naughty or Nice? Before diving headfirst into that long list of toys, have them tell Santa the ways in which they were good this year and what they did to help their parents, siblings, neighbors, friends, teachers, or pets.
  1. Practice gratitude. Next, have them thank Santa for what he brought them last year so Santa feels appreciated and knows he made them happy.
  1. Think about why. Here comes the march of the toys! But instead of having them simply list one toy after the other, have them put some thought into what they really want by telling Santa why they would like it.
  1. Reindeer games. For a fun, thoughtful ending, have them tell Santa to pat the reindeer for them and to shine Rudolph’s nose so Santa can see clearly and has a safe trip.
  1. From.. At the end, they can write “Love” or “Your Friend” or “Sincerely” and sign their name.

Now they’ve written a thoughtful and kind letter to Santa that’s sure to put them at the top of the “nice” list!



December 2014 Desktop Wallpaper & Letter from the Editor


 “I will honor Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year.”
_ Charles Dickens

December is here and for many of us around the country, it’s the season to be freezin’!  But we’re from hardy stock, here at Blue Mountain, and we think the best month was saved for last. December is sparkling snow, crackling fires, and frosty mornings.  It’s wonder and dreams, laughter, nostalgia, old friends, and traditions we treasure.

December brings the holidays, giving us the feeling of hope in our lives, the promise of peace in our world, but most importantly, the gift of love in our hearts.  It’s a joyful time of reaching out to those we care about and remembering that the greatest gift we can give someone is our time and attention.

We’ve pulled out all the stops for this year’s BlueMountain.com Christmas offering.  We created a beautifully rendered and richly animated show that takes place in New York’s Central Park in Charles Dickens’ time.  You can watch the horse and carriage walk over the Vine Arch Bridge and the skaters spinning on the Pond.  We brought in a special choral group to sing “The Carol of the Bells” as the choir in the Pavilion.  At the end, you can roll over the historic landmarks and learn more about them.  Our new religious card celebrates the first Christmas in Bethlehem.  We brought in an ensemble to perform an awe-inspiring version of “O Holy Night,” and have included the amazing story behind the hymn at the end of the show.  We have warm-hearted wishes for the season and light-hearted smiles, such as our talking Chihuahua, “Feliz Navidog,” and our adorable talking Penguin, “Let It Snow!”  For those of you celebrating Hanukkah, we have a fun snowman surprise for you in “It’s Hanukkah!”

We also wanted to offer our friends and fans a beautiful winter-inspired  download for your desktop background, your phone background, or even your Facebook cover image. All of us here at Blue Mountain wish you peace and joy and beautiful holiday memories to keep throughout the year.

Merry Christmas!
Caroline Leech, Senior Editor


December Background
2560 x 1440 / 1680 x 1050 / 1440 x 900 / 1280 x 800Facebook Cover Photo / Phone

For help on how to install, click here.



Thanksgiving Printable! (place setting cards)

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving! We all get so caught up in the daily busy-ness of life that it’s easy to sideline what matters most, which is why Thanksgiving is so special. It makes us stop and take note of what truly matters in our lives. That’s why we created these special printables for you to cut out and set at each place-setting on your Thanksgiving table. There are four different art styles to choose from. Simply decide which style you like best and click on the link under the image to download and print your cards!

As guests arrive, point them to their place setting and invite them to fill out what they’re thankful for as they mingle and enjoy appetizers or cocktails. Then, whether you decide to do it as part of the blessing, before the meal, or afterwards, go around the table and have everyone share what they wrote. Hearing all the many reasons for which people are grateful reminds us to cherish all we have and, more importantly, who we have to share it with.


Version 1 / Version 2 / Version 3 / Version 4



Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks…and enjoying each other’s company. Traditionally, we do that around a bountiful table of delicious, traditional foods and desserts. This year, as a treat, the foodies at Blue Mountain thought it would be fun to share some recipes with you. But not just any recipes. They’re a slightly unusual—but decidedly tasty—twist on the classic Thanksgiving dishes everyone tends to make year after year. We hope you’ll give these fabulous options a try! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


1. Cornbread, Bacon, Leek & Pecan Stuffing via Martha Stewart

2. Cider-Glazed Turkey with Lager Gravy via Food & Wine

3. Sweet Potato Tater Tots via Super Glue Mom

4. Cognac Cranberry Sauce via Tablespoon

5. Crispy Baked Parmesan Green Bean Fries via Dashing Dish

6. Caramelized Phyllo & Pumpkin Marshmallow Napoleons via Baking Obsession



5 Ways to be Kinder

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
_ Henry James

Kindness matters. It’s a simple and true fact. Being kind causes a ripple effect through the world, making a beautiful difference. And not only does kindness effect the world, but it always positively affects the person who is being kind. But how kind are we (or aren’t we) on a daily basis? Being kind comes easier to some people than it does to others, and we thought we’d share some helpful ideas for all of us to keep in mind as we practice the art of kindness in our daily lives.


  1. Be grateful for what you have. It’s easy for all of us to take the people and things we have for granted. Avoid that by taking a few minutes each day to reflect on what you can be grateful for.  Even better, write down 5 things you’re grateful for each day in a gratitude journal.  If you’re more aware of all the nice things that happen to you, you’ll feel like doing nice things for others.
  1. Be present. Everyone wants to be heard and validated. One of the most important things you can do is be fully attentive and actively listen when someone is talking to you. No cell phones, emails, or texts—take the time to connect with people face-to-face, or with an uninterrupted phone call. The greatest gift of kindness to another is to be in the moment in their presence.
  1. Minimize judgment. Set aside your judgment of other people and practice being positive and compassionate. Remember Plato’s saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It’s easy to focus on ourselves and forget that others around us have their own struggles, too.  So instead of being critical, try giving people the benefit of the doubt and make positive observations about them.
  1. Smile more. Buddy the Elf said it best, “Smiling’s my favorite!” Don’t ever underestimate the power of a smile, because yours might be the only one a person receives that day. Even if it doesn’t come naturally to you, practice by simply smiling at strangers as you pass by, or holding open a door for them. It will not only add a pleasant spark to their day, but it will actually trick your mind into feeling happier, too.
  1. Be kind to yourself. When you’re kind to others, you have the tendency to be kinder towards yourself, but don’t get caught up in meeting everyone else’s needs before your own. That’s why it’s important to take time for yourself and rejuvenate in ways that make you feel good. This is also a good time to stop any negative thinking. When you become aware of your own needs and limits, you’ll reach out to people with more strength and compassion.

Please share our image above with friends and family as a gentle reminder of ways to be kind each day.



Thanksgiving Craft Roundup

Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, and as you pack up your Halloween decorations, the Thanksgiving decor is probably making its debut. If you need a little Thanksgiving craft inspiration, we have it right here, from one of our very own Blue Mountain family members!


1. Autumn Wreath
2. Painted Acorn
3. Pom Pom Flowers
4. Family Turkey painted pumpkin
5. Thanksgiving Table Runner
6. Pumpkin Pom Pom Garland

Alison Osborn is an art director here at BlueMountain.com, and when she’s not creating beautiful eCards, she loves to make her own beautiful ProfilePicworks of art for her home. After seeing some amazing Halloween decorations, we had to have her share what she’s been working on for Thanksgiving. To learn more about Alison, click here, and you can see more of her crafts on Pinterest!




Celebrate November!

November is here, and there’s so much to be thankful for! We love November for so many reasons – crisp weather, hot chocolate, family, friends, and of course, Thanksgiving! We’d like to share a little something with you in celebration of November. We’ve designed a beautiful piece of artwork that you can download for your desktop background, your phone background, or even your Facebook cover image. Enjoy!

November 2014 Background
2560 x 1440 / 1680 x 1050 / 1440 x 900 / 1280 x 800 / Facebook Cover Photo / Phone

For help on how to install, click here.