Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Need some Christmas inspiration?

One of the nice things about my job is that it *requires* that I read a lot of magazines in search of new editorial and design ideas. I eagerly await the arrival of each year's Christmas magazines, and this year's issues are some of the best yet. In recent years the trend seems to be for well-known magazine brands to publish special Christmas/Holiday issues in addition to their regular monthly or bi-monthly issues. They feature thicker paper stock and a higher price tag, but the quality makes them worth it. Country Living Holidays ($9.99, 122 pages) is brimming with good ideas, from do-it-yourself candles in teacups to beaded snowflake ornaments and Chocolate Bark made with something called cocoa nibs. If you're planning a Cookie Exchange, you'll be happy to see such recipes as Cranberry Pinwheels, Ginger-Marmalade Thumbprints and Chocolate Chip Shortbread. You'll find recipes for cooking the turkey AND the ham, and there are giftwrap and decorating ideas galore, all served up with the beautiful photography we expect from Country Living.

Southern Lady Holidays ($7.99, 132 pages) is a special issue from Hoffman Media. The cover's color palette is very similar to that of the new Tea Time, red with white-hued foods. I especially enjoyed the giftwrap ideas (though I'm not sure I'll tuxedo pleat or accordian ribbon anything this year!) and the elegant black-and-white table setting featuring silhouettes. As a fan of both Barbara Randle (the colorful crazy quilter) and the MacKenzie-Childs company (which makes colorful furnishings and home decor), I must say I was quite smitten with the colorful Christmas table setting styled by Randle. (Yes, I'm the magazine nerd who flips to the back of the book and reads the credits. "That looks like Barbara Randle's work" and then "By George, it *is* Barbara Randle's work!") There are also some good recipes to try, including several that would be perfect for a Christmas tea or luncheon.

Finally, my favorite "special" Christmas issue so far this year is Southern Living Christmas at Home ($10.99, 114 pages). Now here's a bit of magazine trivia for you: When we editor types go to conferences, the "experts" are always telling us to put numbers on our covers. If you look at all three of these covers, they all have numbers on them. I did not realize until just now that the magazines boast 215, 185 and 86 ideas, respectively. (The "experts" also say to make it an odd number, not an even number, so I'm heartened that Southern Living went all renegade on the matter.) But seriously, have you EVER bought a magazine because it had "x" number of ideas inside? I never have. I always flip through a magazine first, and generally if it's got one or two things that grab me, I'll buy it. But I digress ... What I love about this issue is the great variety of styles of Christmas decor. There's organic (wrap presents in burlap!), glamorous (flock your tree and decorate it with Tiffany blue beads and ribbon!), natural (make angels from pinecones!) and more. The recipes are great, and I predict I won't make it through Christmas without succumbing to the desire to make Snowy Chocolate Baby Cakes, which are inverted muffin-sized cakes topped with icing and red berries in imitation of Christmas puddings. And if YOU come across a terrific Christmas issue, I'd sure love to hear about it!

12 comments:

The Cake Lady said...

I love all three covers. I think I need to go and bake something...

Cynda P said...

I bet the snowy chocolate baby cakes will look fabulous in your mini domes!

Steph said...

Planning ahead is good! But I just have so much trouble getting in the spirit before Halloween!

Celestial Charms said...

Such lovely magazine covers...does tend to put one in the mood for Christmas. I can almost smell the cookies baking in the oven right now :-)
Maureen

ChaChaneen said...

To answer your question, no I don't buy a mag based on the number listed on it. For me, it has to be the content and I'm usually looking for pictures because I make journal out of them.

I lurve those snowflake cookies, one of those would go tasty with some coffee right now. Mmmmm

Christa said...

Wow, thanks for your professional reviews. I just LOVE magazines and my husband would be really happy to know it was required reading for my job. Then at lease there would be a reason why so many magazines come home with me! I will certainly be on the look out for your recommendations. Thanks Angela!

Jason Witt said...

Those numbers are a copywriting trick. Would you want the magazine if it had "a lot" of tips in a story? No. You want to know how many that is. Maybe an odd number sounds less fabricated and more natural. I'm just guessing on that. --Teaternity

Marilyn said...

I am a magazine addict; so I also love it when all the Christmas magazines start arriving. I am saddened each time a magazine goes out of business. I don't buy the magazine for the number on the outside, but for the pictures on the inside. Now if I just had the time or took the time to sit and read them from cover to cover. I think I will go pick one up now.

Linda J. said...

Baking Christmas cookies is a long-time tradition I enjoy. I admit I will pick up and browse a magazine if they claim a high number of ideas on the cover, but I don't always buy them. Honestly, I hate to guess how much money I spend on magazines each year. I already purchased three new holiday cookie issues!

Lisa Leggett said...

Oh dear... it's almost "that" time again isn't it... yeesh. I need to pick up the pace.

Mary said...

I am so ready for Christmas! I think I'll start baking tomorrow...these look scrumpteous!
Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Dear Angela, I love your selections, especially the Southern Living Holiday edition. I must confess: 'the numbers' always seem to catch my eye - and then a quick look through, I'm usually sold! 'The numbers' seem to reinforce my thought process, confirming the fact that I'm making a 'wise' selection (look at all the $value$ you're getting!)
I love Halloween and Christmas magazines - thanks for sharing,
Joanie