16 Christmas Party Beverages, Cocktails, and Jello Shots

iStock.com/Rimma_Bondarenko
iStock.com/Rimma_Bondarenko

On the weekend before Christmas, you may be off work and ready to celebrate with friends before the whole family gets together. A Christmas party only takes people and maybe some food, but along with your Christmas treats and snacks and drinks, you should have at least one visually stimulating recipe that will truly impress your guests. With that in mind, here are some eye-popping holiday beverages you can whip up, including cocktails, punches, non-alcoholic drinks, and jello shots. Follow the links for the complete recipes.

1. The Candy Cane

The cocktail called the Candy Cane consists of white chocolate liqueur and peppermint schnapps. Make the visual effect grand with a rim of crushed candy canes!

2. Candy Cane Spritzers

Why should adults have all the cocktail fun? Candy Cane Spritzers are fancy holiday drinks with no alcohol that kids will love. And it's not too sweet. The flavor and color comes from pomegranate juice; the canes are just for garnish.

3. Candy Cane Punch

Candy Cane Punch is an easy, non-alcoholic party punch that gets its Christmas flavor from the use of peppermint ice cream. But miniature candy canes for garnish add an extra touch.

4. Candy Cane Milkshake

This looks amazing—and fattening. But no! This Candy Cane Milkshake has only 205 calories, because it contains no ice cream or candy. It does, however, taste like a candy cane, thanks to peppermint extract and low-calorie sweetener. A perfect non-alcoholic treat that won't blow your diet.

5. Candy Cane Swirl

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I promise that there are drinks that aren't candy cane-flavored coming up! The Candy Cane Swirl gets its kick from raspberry vodka and peppermint schnapps. But there are mixers as well.

6. Santa Shot

The Santa Shot has both the look and the taste of Christmas, which is good, because you'll want to limit the number that you serve. There are no mixers, just layers of grenadine, green creme de menthe, and red peppermint schnapps.

7. Cranberry Margarita

If limes and strawberries make great margaritas, you know the traditional holiday flavor of tart cranberries would, too. This Cranberry Margarita also has a touch of orange from orange liqueur, which should taste like my mother's traditional homemade cranberry-and-fresh-orange sauce.

8. Jingle Jangle Holiday Punch

Jingle Jangle Holiday Punch contains your favorite fresh berries, both crushed in the mixture and again whole as an eye-pleasing garnish in the individual servings. Oh, it also has vodka, wine, and Grand Marnier in it.

9. Mistletoe Mojito

The Mistletoe Mojito is a mojito spiced up with the flavor of pomegranate. If you don't already associate pomegranate with Christmas, maybe you should start! Mint, lime, and pomegranate have the perfect colors.

10. Grasshopper

Thin Mint fans will love the Grasshopper, which has a seasonally appropriate hue and can be modified to be heavier on the mint or the chocolate. You can crush chocolate-mint cookies for the rim, or use shaved chocolate.

11. Gingerbread Apple Cocktail

The Gingerbread Apple Cocktail gets its taste from ginger liqueur and apple cider, and vodka adds the kick. The rim is crushed gingersnaps held on with honey or agave syrup!

12. The Grinch

The Grinch cocktail has more of the Christmas look than the flavor. Just make sure your melon liqueur is the right color! The cherry garnish represents the Grinch's shrunken heart.

There are those who might argue that Jello shots aren't beverages. Instead of arguing, let's just enjoy some ways to make your Jello shots more Christmas-y. The folks at your party don't care.

13. Blue Christmas Jello Shots

The liquor is subtle in these Blue Christmas Jello Shots, containing champagne and blue Curacao instead of vodka. Marshmallows and blue candy canes complete the look.

14. Caramel Apple Jello Shots

Caramel Apple Jello Shots are apple slices containing a homemade gelatin mixture with coconut milk, caramel hot chocolate mix, and butterscotch schnapps. The combined effect is that of a caramel apple—with alcohol.

15. Jingle Bell Rock Jello Shots

If you do want to make Jello shots in Christmas colors, here's your recipe. Jingle Bell Rock Jello Shots are layered with cranberry juice and vodka for red, apple flavor for the green, and condensed milk and peppermint schnapps for the white.

16. Candy Cane Jello Shots

Oh yes, here's one more candy cane recipe! Candy Cane Jello Shots are a culinary/mixology work of art. It takes time, as the red and white gelatin layers must be carefully poured and chilled one at a time, then sliced and cut into shapes. The flavor comes from peppermint schnapps.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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What Really Happens When Food Goes Down the 'Wrong Pipe'?

The dreaded 'wrong pipe' calamity can strike at any time.
The dreaded 'wrong pipe' calamity can strike at any time.
Photo by Adrienn from Pexels

Your average person isn’t expected to be well-versed in the linguistics of human anatomy, which is how we wind up with guns for biceps and noggins for heads. So when swallowing something is followed by throat irritation or coughing, the fleeting bit of discomfort is often described as food “going down the wrong pipe.” But what’s actually happening?

When food is consumed, HuffPost reports, more than 30 muscles activate to facilitate chewing and swallowing. When the food is ready to leave your tongue and head down to your stomach, it’s poised near the ends of two "pipes," the esophagus and the trachea. You want the food to take the esophageal route, which leads to the stomach. Your body knows this, which is why the voice box and epiglottis shift to close off the trachea, the “wrong pipe” of ingestion.

Since we don’t typically hold our breath when we eat, food can occasionally take a wrong turn into the trachea, an unpleasant scenario known as aspiration, which triggers an adrenaline response and provokes coughing and discomfort. Dislodging the food usually eases the sensation, but if it’s enough to become stuck, you have an obstructed airway and can now be officially said to be choking.

The “wrong pipe” can also be a result of eating while tired or otherwise distracted or the result of a mechanical problem owing to illness or injury.

You might also notice that this happens more often with liquids. A sip of water may provoke a coughing attack. That’s because liquids move much more quickly, giving the body less time to react.

In extreme cases, food or liquids headed in the “wrong” direction can wind up in the lungs and cause pneumonia. Fortunately, that’s uncommon, and coughing tends to get the food moving back into the esophagus.

The best way to minimize the chances of getting food stuck is to avoid talking with your mouth full—yes, your parents were right—and thoroughly chew sensible portions.

If you experience repeated bouts of aspiration, it’s possible an underlying swallowing disorder or neurological problem is to blame. An X-ray or other tests can help diagnose the issue.

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