Houston Holiday Traditions// Baking With Hiland Along With a KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway

I always spend Thanksgiving in Houston. And have really grown to love some of those fabulous Texas traditions that I have been able to create. Christmas lights, local shopping, and some holiday baking are the three things I look forward to most every year. Delicious treats and memorable family traditions are just the BEST. 

I will be sharing a simple recipe for the perfect sugar cookie too towards the bottom of this post. And there will be an opportunity for you to win a KitchenAid Mixer. 

Christmas Lights.

It's a holiday tradition that started when I was a kid — we would all pile into my grandparent's town car riding around town looking at Christmas lights drinking hot cocoa and listening to Christmas music on the radio. Some destinations involved a stop while others were just perfect as drive-bys. Driving through Houston and marveling at the Christmas lights is one of my fave things to do. If you live in Houston or if you are planning on visiting and want to check out some pretty spectacular lights...I have got you covered. They do Christmas lights so well. 

  1. Downtown. Hello, Trees! A Walking Serenade -(Nov. 18, 2017-Jan. 25, 2018)
    Inspired by the century-old oaks at the heart of  Discovery Green and the nonverbal cues trees use to communicate, this installation by Montreal art collective Daily tous le jours, is made up of a series of arches under the park’s live oak canopy. Speak into input stations at the end of the sculpture and watch your voice message transform into light patterns and music that travel along the arches. On display daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. from November 18, 2017 to January 25, 2018.
  2. Museum District. Zoo Lights. ... Here you will find a spectacular display of more than 2 million lights. Sip hot chocolate as you stroll through fifteen miles of twinkling lights illuminating the zoo’s oak trees and lighting up its pathways, plus colorful projections, and life-sized animated animal sculptures. 
  3. The Heights. Lights In The Heights. ...(Dec. 9, 2017)
    Each year, the Woodland Heights neighborhood comes alive for Lights in the Heights on a Saturday evening in early December. But the lights don't go dim in this charming neighborhood until well after Christmas so if you want to avoid the crowds, you can plan to drive or walk around on a different evening. Find a concentration of lights along Highland Street and Bayland Avenue.
  4. River Oaks....(December)
    River Oaks is one neighborhood you shouldn’t miss when looking for the city’s best holiday lighting displays. Mansions and estates go all out with grand lighting displays that are a treat to see. A popular stop is the River Oaks Country Club on River Oaks Boulevard. Start there and work your way around the neighborhood; you’re bound to see beautiful lights most everywhere you look. While some homes start putting up lights around Thanksgiving, visit in December for better sights, and try to avoid Saturdays when it’s busiest. 
  5. Highland Village 

    This is my personal favorite. It has a real coastal spirit with beautiful white lights encircling palms along Westheimer in Highland Village’s Shopping Center. I just love those palms with their wreaths and never tire of those big red bows in the sky. 

Local Shopping: 

 New cool stores are always opening in Houston. And old faves are always just getting better with age. I love taking advantage of Small Business Saturday in Houston every year and making a huge dent in my Christmas shopping. I am going to briefly touch on a few of my faves but will be launching my huge guide to Houston with about 8 years of content. 

But while you are there, these are the two must-see's of the moment.

Assouline-La Table Houston

Assouline books are now sold in exclusivity at La Table! La Table is an exclusive retailer for the entire collection of Assouline books in Houston. Guests will be able to purchase any book from the Assouline collection, including new releases, limited edition books and personalized books at the restaurant. They can also accommodate guests on special orders such as gift sets, business gifts, wedding and holiday. Their designated brand ambassador will help make selections. Books can be hand delivered in Houston or shipped overnight. Because the quality of the Assouline brand does not end with beautiful books or objects, complimentary gift wrapping with its signature red wax seal is also offered. La Table may also provide interior design service and custom book installation for larger orders. Their books are so dreamy!! And I love the little French cards La Table carries in the bakery. 

Merchant and Market

Seriously my fave store in Houston for Vintage and unique finds. I always find the best gems for my wardrobe and my home here. I don't want to reveal too much here because I am doing a full write up on them with a holiday gift guide. But go check this place out!! Their installations are incredible and they just have the eye. It's so special. 

Holiday Baking With The Family.

Baking Christmas cookies has been a tradition of mine for as long as I can remember. They make such special gifts too. I love making sugar cookies--they are so simple and so delish. 

Hiland has been a part of my holiday traditions for as long as I can remember. My grandmother would make our whole holiday meal using Hiland milk, butter, cheese--you name it. As my hometown dairy, Hiland is offering a special Holiday email series to give you the helping hand you deserve for your gatherings and holiday cuisine. Wow your guests with our easy craft ideas, delicious dishes and memorable family traditions. Your friends and family will be impressed with your fine-tuned hosting skills, and you will also be entered to win a KitchenAid Mixer upon sign up!

Sign up here

And here is my sugar cookie recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 c. hiland butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions

  1. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In separate large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low; beat in egs and vanilla until mixed, then beat in flour mixture just until blended, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; flatten each piece into a disk. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove1 piece of dough from refrigerator. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll dough until slightly less than 1/4 inch thick. With floured 3-inch to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; reserve trimmings. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on two ungreased large cookie sheets.
  3. Bake until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower oven racks halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

 Click here to sign up for the Holiday email series.

Each week, you’ll receive hosting tips or a fun craft, as well as delicious Hiland recipes and money-saving coupons. When you sign up for the series, you'll be entered in our "Host the Holidays Like a Pro" contest for a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer and a $50 Hiland coupon prize pack. At the end of the series, watch for our survey email — complete the survey and submit your email address to enter the drawing for a $50 Hiland Dairy coupon prize package.

Here's what they will cover in this email series:

  1. Celebrate the Holidays With Gratitude
  2. Cooking for a Crowd
  3. Joyful Holly-days Centerpiece
  4. Make-Ahead Holiday Recipes
  5. Making the Most of Leftovers

And happy baking!

What are your favorite holiday traditions?!