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Easy tips to creating the perfect beverage bar for your holiday entertaining

Thanks to Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company for sponsoring today's post. All opinions are mine alone! #SavorTheMemory #CollectiveBias
coca cola soda stream home essential beverage bar

  My absolute favorite part of the holidays are the great conversations with family and friends.  It's the perfect time to catch up and share stories of the past year. Let me tell you, sometimes the stories are the real gift of the holidays! They can get quite colorful if you know what I mean. 
  It always seems like everyone congregates in the kitchen for the juicy gossip. That's always where the great conversation really happens. Throw in some finger food and a beverage bar and you've got the start to something good!
  I'm going to show you how you can create a really amazing fully stocked Coca-Cola beverage bar. Many times the simplest of details can get overlooked so I'll provide a complete checklist along with a few great simple tutorials. We'll make cranberry, mint-infused ice cubes and candied lemon/orange peel Christmas tree stirrers. Keep reading for the easy and fun details!

  I found everything I needed right at ACME. Feel free to print out the free printable I've provided below to take along with you. While you're shopping keep in mind that Coca-Cola and Shutterfly.com have a great holiday promo they're running right now. When you buy 4 participating Coca-Cola products you'll receive a  $20 off at Shutterfly.com via Catalina register print out. It will provide you with your own code to redeem online! You'll definitely want to take advantage of that offer once you've realized all of the great pictures you've taken this holiday season.

  I love the way these candied lemon and orange peel Christmas trees came out. They were super easy to make and taste delicous -think all natural sour patch kids! I'll also show you a trick to making these cranberry-mint ice cubes look even better.

  • Lemons, Limes, Oranges & Cranberries
  • Mint Leaves
  • Superfine Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Bamboo Skewers
  • Square Ice cube trays
  • Distilled Water

Step 1. Begin by slicing the lemons and oranges into 1/4" strips.

Step 2. Boil the fruit strips for about 20 minutes. Drain. Repeat. This helps remove the bitterness from the peel.

Step 3. Add equal parts sugar and water and bring to a simmer. Reduce to about half. Do this in two seperate sauce pans, one for the oranges and lemons, and a seprate one for the cranberries.

Step 4. You can add the oranges and lemons right to the simmering sugar water. 

Important: For the cranberries, you want to remove the pan from the heat for a few minutes then, gradually stir in. If you add the berries too soon  the heat will make them pop. 

Step 5. Set the syrup covered fruit to cool on a cookie rack or waxy freezer paper. After the cranberries have cooled you can start making the ice cubes. The trick to suspending them half way into the cube is to freeze them twice. First fill the tray half way with water (Using distilled water and gradual freezing makes for a more clear, transparent cube.) Add the cranberries and mint. They will float to the top. Freeze about 1 1/2 hours. Once set, add water to top off the cubes. Now your cranberries will appear "suspended" in the cubes. Pretty cool right! 

Step 6. Skewer your candied peels throught the center. Carefully cut sides on an angle to resemble tiny trees. Add a cranberry to the top.

Step 7. Sprinkle superfine sugar to completely coat peels. If needed, drizzle extra syrup on top so the sugar adheres better.

Now you're all ready to set up your beverage bar.

  Add any left over candied fruit to a glass jar and top with remaining syrup, or use prepared corn syrup. Add about a teaspoon of vanilla extract. You've just created your own homemade vanilla syrup. How easy was that! Your guest will love to add it to  Coca-Cola and make fresh vanilla soda.

Make sure you have plenty of bowls set aside for freshly cut fruit.

Cranberry-mint ice cubes are perfect for Sprite cranberry.

Add a sprig of fresh mint to your Gold Peak Tea for an extra burst of flavor!

Use your candied lemon and orange peel Christmas tree stirrers with your Sprite cranberry as a garnish and a treat!

  What's your favorite way to enjoy the holidays, share stories and get the perfect photos? I think having a great, fully stocked beverage bar is a good start for some great conversation. It always seems to make my friends and family feel welcome. What are your tips for making unforgettable memories this holiday season?

OH, and don't forget to grab your $20 off Shutterfly.com coupon!*

*With purchase of 4 qualifying Coca-Cola products. Some restrictions may apply. See full details at Shutterfly.com