Holiday recipes + a look at holiday party outfits

It is officially my favorite month of the year. It doesn't matter how old I am; I will always love Christmastime and the aura it brings. Cooler temps, warmer homes, tons of lights and an array of Christmas treats--I just LOVE it. I'm going to be completely transparent here: I am a sucker for the convenience of peel-apart and bake cookies, but this year I wanted to try my hand at baking cookies from scratch, and I am SO glad I did.

My husband and I made these amazing sugar cookies this weekend. I grabbed the recipe from Lively Table. Her family has been using this recipe for years, and I can see why! This will be my go-to recipe from now on, and I think everyone I bake these cookies for will be grateful for that.

I also got an amazing peppermint hot chocolate recipe from a friend. It's so simple; I don't know why I never thought of it! I have a Keurig, so I just make a cup of Swiss Miss hot chocolate, drop a Hershey's Candy Cane Kiss in the hot chocolate, and stir until the kiss is completely melted. Then, I top it off with some marshmallows. So easy! If you don't have a Keurig, place your desired mix in a mug, place one Hershey's Candy Cane Kiss on top of the mix, and pour hot water over the mix and kiss. Next, stir it all together and add marshallows (if you want, of course). If you prefer a stronger peppermint taste, just add more candy cane kisses.

I made this Apple Cider Sangria on Thanksgiving, recipe courtesy of Lively Table, and it was a hit in the Culotta household! My husband doesn't typically like white wine or cider, but he enjoyed a glass of this sangria. If you're wary of the whiskey in this recipe, don't be! You can't really taste it, and as my husband says, it mostly neutralizes the sweetness.

Photo via Lively Table

I have my eyes on these Christmas Funfetti Cake Batter Truffles. I think this will have to be a weekend experiment that can hopefully turn into a Christmas day treat for my family. (Crossing my fingers that I don't have a #pinterestfail in my future.)

Photo via Lauren's Latest

Decorating our home for the holidays is one of my favorite things about this season. We don't have as much space to decorate this year, but I've managed to add a few touches here and there that have really made our home feel extra cozy during the holiday season. I think my husband is secretly happy he doesn't have to hang Christmas lights on our house in Dallas this year. Plus one to small SF apartments.

Quick note: You can still get 15 percent off Bijou Candles using my discount code (HerStoryBijou). Just follow this link, choose your candles, and enter HerStoryBijou at check out. These make wonderful gifts for yourself and loved ones! I currently have Winter Pine and Mulled Wine burning in our home as we speak! You have until Christmas Day to take advantage of this discount code.

Finally, it's time to stock up on holiday party outfits! My husband and I attended his company party on Saturday (it was at Airbnb headquarters...) and I fell in love with this black + gold sequins dress from Francesca's (after I got over the claustrophobia I felt with the neckline) and these Jessica Simpson heels. Just being honest, the shoes hurt by the end of the night, but I'm going to hope it was because I needed to break them in. They'll get a second chance at my company holiday party in a couple weeks. Shop Francesca's holiday shop here. Stay tuned for more holiday party looks coming soon!

Dress photos via Francesca's

Photo via Heels.com

What are some of your favorite holiday recipes? I'd love to hear from you!