Easy Appetizers for New Year’s Eve

If you’re planning on partying at home for New Year’s Eve, you’ll want to read this: we’ve compiled a list of easy appetizers for New Year’s Eve that are perfect whether you have guests or simply need to bring a dish with you to your party of choice.

Savory Starters

fontina crab mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms with crab and fontina are a decadent appetizer for New Year’s Eve. (Photo courtesy chow.com)

Date Wraps: These super simple appetizers require just a few minutes to assemble – and absolutely no baking. Simply wrap thinly sliced prosciutto around pitted dates and sprinkle with cracked peppercorns.

Apricot Canapes: Another no-bake appetizer that is elegant and flavorful. To make, use your thumb to create an indentation in a dried apricot. Fill with crumbled blue cheese, then top with crushed pistachios, a drizzle of honey, and freshly ground pepper. Don’t like blue cheese? Try goat cheese or ricotta for a milder flavor.

Stuffed Mushrooms: There are many variations on stuffed mushrooms, but this recipe, which uses crab and fontina cheese, feels extra decadent for the holidays. Panko breadcrumbs add a welcome crunch, and lemon brings along fresh flavor.

Holiday Gingerbread cookies

Sweet Finishes

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies: This recipe takes classic gingerbread and adds a chocolately twist. Serve them unfrosted, or use vibrant colored frosting to match your holiday decor.

Phyllo Cups with Cappuccino Cream: Serve coffee and dessert in a single dish with these clever, cream-filled cups. Shortcuts like frozen phyllo dough and making the cream in advance (it can be refrigerated until you’re ready to fill the cups) are helpful for busy holiday schedules.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups: You could put out a plate of store-bought peanut butter cups, but these homemade candies are a surefire way to impress guests (or hostesses). They only require four ingredients – white chocolate, semisweet chocolate, peanut butter, and peanuts – and keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Related posts: Holiday Decorating for a Small Space, Holiday Gift Guide: What to Buy for Your First Apartment.

Holiday Decorating for a Small Space

‘Tis the season to liven up your decor, but sometimes a small space can present challenges you may not face in a traditional house. Check out our dos and don’ts for decorating a small space for the winter holidays.

Celebrate Christmas in New Orleans

Do think miniature. A 20-foot tree works for the White House, but a grandiose fir can be unrealistic when decorating a small space. Stores like Whole Foods and The Home Depot offer fresh, beautiful mini trees that have the look, feel, and smell of their larger counterparts. The trees might be small, but their benefits are enormous: they’re easier to transport (both to your home and out to the dumpster after the season), they’re cheaper to purchase, and they only have room for your most special ornaments.

Don’t let your festive dishware stay hidden. You probably have some fun holiday dishware at the back of your cupboard – maybe a themed mug or a set of dessert plates. Why not let these dishes take center stage during the holiday season? Fill a festive mug with fresh, white flowers for a wintry look for your desk or kitchen counter, or use holiday dessert plates as a tray for simple ornaments to create a festive display.

Don’t wait to wrap gifts. The winter season is often a time of giving, but we are quick to consider gift wrapping a chore. Instead, make a plan to wrap presents early, then place them around your apartment for a fun and festive look.

Do dress up your dining chairs. Whether you’re using them in the dining room or a non-traditional space like the bedroom or bathroom, dining chairs can benefit from a bit of holiday pizzazz. Tie wide ribbons to the backs of the chairs and suspend small, lightweight ornaments at the bottom. You can also hang pinecones from the back using this tutorial.


Wrap your presents in advance and place them around your apartment for a festive atmosphere. (Photo courtesy JD Hancock on Flickr)

Don’t forget about easy decorating opportunities. Coat racks, doorknobs, towel hooks, and any other hanging place can become a home for a wreath, festive scarf, ornaments, or other holiday items as part of your décor.

Do consider old-school crafts. Remember when you made paper snowflakes as a kid? Believe it or not, they can look incredibly chic and take up very little space. Place them in windows where they’ll catch the light and cast dancing shadows. Other space-friendly favorites include cranberry garlands (use dental floss!), tinsel stars, and fragrant citrus pomanders.

Don’t get hung up on what the holidays “should” look like. Who says you need a real tree or decorations galore? Displaying sentimental pieces or even a simple strand of lights over your doorway can bring festive cheer when decorating a small space. Plus, the fewer items you put out, the less there is to clean up after the holidays!


Apartment Living is Desired Option for New Orleans Newcomers

Forbes Magazine recently named New Orleans as their “biggest brain magnet,” and with that distinction, a number of young professionals have chosen to move here.


Many young professionals are flocking to the New Orleans area for amazing job and living opportunities. (Photo courtesy ruimc77 on Flickr)

According to a recent article in New Orleans City Business, census figures show that members of Generation X and Y (ages mid-30s to mid-40s) make up almost one-third of the population in New Orleans, compared with a national average of just 26 percent. As a result, demographers were quick to name New Orleans as one of America’s fastest-growing cities.

In terms of where to find a home, apartment living is quickly becoming the most viable option for residency during this period of fast growth.

Finding an apartment in New Orleans can be challenging for incoming transplants. At 1st Lake Properties, we are empathetic to the emotional and physical energy it takes to choose a new place to call home. Living outside the city presents an enticing option for newcomers. Apartments are much more plentiful in areas like Metairie and Harahan. This up-and-coming area features suburbs like River Ridge and Elmwood, in addition to our upcoming luxury property, Bella Ridge.

Additionally, these areas offer perks like easy parking and quick access to downtown, both of which are harder to come by when you actually live within the city; congestion and street parking are two constant realities of the New Orleans lifestyle.

“People moving to New Orleans who aren’t sure how long they’re going to stay or who don’t want to buy a home are driving growth in Elmwood,” says our senior vice president, Stacey Shane Schott, in the City Business article.

The suburb offers not only unbeatable proximity to New Orleans, but also plenty of amenities. Elmwood Shopping Center features major stores like World Market, TJ Maxx, Ashley Home Furniture, Ulta, Zoe’s Kitchen, Five Guys Burgers, and much more.

Bella Ridge itself creates a luxurious atmosphere for residents with thoughtful details like an on-site dog park, office space within each unit, and clean, modern interiors.

“We’re expecting folks to stay with us for one or two years until they establish job security,” says Schott, noting that residents may choose to buy a house down the road. “Until then, they’ll be our residents.”

Take a look at all of our Greater New Orleans properties, and please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions.


Bite-Size Soiree: Our Recipe Picks for a Tip-Top Tapas Party

The season of entertaining is upon us. Thanksgiving and the winter holidays mean we’ll likely be hosting large crowds and worrying over whether or not the turkey is dry. Why not ease your way into holiday entertaining with a tapas party?

Tapas – bite-size portions similar to appetizers – are ideal for easy entertaining. You don’t need to worry about setting the table either: guests can simply use a small plate or even a napkin to hold these delightful little morsels.


Read on for a list of tapas recipes like these lamb meatballs. (Photo courtesy AllRecipes.com)

With an eye toward local ingredients that are also in season, we’ve outlined a sample menu for an intimate tapas get-together.

Savory Starters

Tapas originate from Spain, so the use of Spanish flavors and techniques helps create an authentic experience for your guests. Skewer small bites of chorizo and manchego cheese on a toothpick for a no-cook snack – both ingredients have Spanish origins.

Spicy lamb meatballs in tomato sauce are a warming, comforting choice as well. Crescent City Farmers Market offers lamb on Tuesdays and Saturdays, as well as several choices for tomatoes, including heirloom and hydroponic varieties.

While you’re at the Crescent City Farmers Market, head to Pete & Clara’s Seafood and L’Hoste Family Farms to create a local version of sizzled citrus shrimp. Though the recipe calls for lemon juice, we suggest using organic satsumas instead. These incredibly juicy, easy-to-peel fruits will lend a sweetness and floral quality to the dish along with citrusy flavor.

Leek and mushroom croquettes add a vegetarian option for guests. Cap’s Flower and Vegetable Farm at the Crescent City Farmers Market offers fresh leeks – wash them thoroughly as this onion-flavored vegetable tends to hold on to dirt.

Sweet Dreams

Bite-size dessert portions can satisfy a sweet tooth without wrecking diets. For a seasonal nod to beignets, we suggest pumpkin fritters. The recipe calls for homemade caramel sauce, but simple toppers like powdered sugar, cinnamon-sugar, or even apple sauce are equally tasty pairings.

Elegant and deceptively simple, two-ingredient white chocolate mousse is another tapas choice when served in mini, edible dessert cups. Top each one with a mint leaf for a pretty finish.

Cozy Up to Fall Mantel Décor

Your pumpkin is carved, and your seasonal wreath is on the door. But what about your mantel? Several of our 1st Lake Properties feature wood-burning fireplaces, like Sawmill Creek and Willow Creek. The fireplace mantel is a natural focal point of a room, drawing the eye upward and providing an opportunity to flex your decorating muscle.

If you don’t have a fireplace, don’t worry! These fall mantel décor items work just as well anywhere else in the home, whether at the front door or in the living room.

thumbtack pumpkin

Thumbtack pumpkins are as customizable as they are easy to make. (Photo courtesy Crafthubs.com)

Thumbtack Gourds

Gourds and pumpkins are an obvious choice for the mantel, but the addition of metallic thumbtacks can transform a natural design-scape into a totally glamorous one. Add gold or silver thumbtacks to plain gourds, or paint the gourds to match your existing interior design before you add the thumbtacks. Let these awesome designs lead the way for pattern inspiration.

Elegant Upcycling

An easy, cost-effective way to decorate for fall is to use items you already have on hand. Cut paper bags into petal shapes, crease them, and use a bit of hot glue to hold them together. The result is a paper flower that pulls in fall colors and makes a major impact above the mantel, whether alone or in clusters.

An Everlasting Pumpkin

Cinderella’s coach turned into a pumpkin at midnight, but these cute fall decorations won’t turn into a rotten mess after Halloween. Leave these Mason jar pumpkins on the mantel through Thanksgiving, and save them for years to come. The addition of a cinnamon stick lends a fragrant, autumnal touch.

Borrow from Other Seasons

Another way to save on fall décor is to repurpose decorations from previous holidays. Fourth of July bandanas lend a harvest vibe when draped across the mantel, especially in shades of red, rust, and orange. Mardi Gras beads can create a quick garland, and winter holiday decorations like pinecones and acorns look just as appropriate in fall.

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