Secret Santa Ornament Exchange & Potluck

The holiday season is not complete without a Secret Santa gift exchange! Last week my work hosted an ornament exchange between the therapists. We chose names out of a hat and had to try to find the perfect ornament for that person. The best part of the whole event was watching everyone struggle to guess who gave them the ornament (only 2 guesses allowed!) We also had a potluck to make sure we had a great holiday feast for everyone.


I decided to get crafty this year and make my own ornaments. I didn’t know the person I picked very well, but I remember her mentioning her plans for Halloween were drinking wine and handing out candy, so I decided to go with a wine theme for the ornaments (duh!). I was looking at Pinterest for ideas and came across the cutest reindeer cork ornament (original post at The Homeless Finch).  I couldn’t resist trying to make him and he turned out adorable!


For this ornament I used 3 and 1/2 corks (1 full cork for the body, 4 x ½ corks for the legs and 1 x ½ cork for the head), hot glue to make sure everything stuck together, burlap for the tail and antlers, googly eyes, ribbon, a red ball from a flower arrangement, a small screw eye and a small slice of cork cut in half for the ears. I had to use a pretty sharp knife to cut the corks, but overall it was easy to put together and my coworker loved it! 

I also made a few of these wood slice ornaments for a good friend that I work with (originally from Jen Goode’s 100 Directions). I bought the wood slices from Michael’s which are supposed to be wood coasters. I used pencil to sketch out the design first to make sure it was perfect before I completed it with permanent marker and pen. These were also very easy to complete. I added a personal note on the back for her with the year to personalize them.




Potlucks are a great way to test out a new dish that you want to try. I signed up to bring an appetizer  and I knew exactly what I wanted to make! A few years ago I went to a restaurant called The Moon Under Water in St. Petersburg. I ordered olive tapenade and it came with naan bread on the side. I loved it and decided it would be fun to try to make for the party. Olive tapenade originates from Provence and is great spread on crackers, bread, stuffed in chicken or on fish.

 This was my first time making this so I was a little nervous about how it would turn out. I reviewed several recipes on Pinterest and came up with this recipe on my own. I used Kalamata olives, black olives and capers for the base of the dip. The dip is not the prettiest to present, but it was delicious! 



Olive Tapenade

  • 9 oz. (1 ½ cans) black olives 
  • 5 oz. Kalamata olives
  • 3 TBS Capers
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic

Combine all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Pulse or process until you reach the desired consistency. You can add more Kalamata olives and capers if you want the tapenade to be saltier. You can add more black olives if you want it to be less salty.  This makes about 1 ½ c.

I served this dish with crackers at the pot luck, but this would taste great spread on a piece of naan.  Naan is a type of Indian flat bread, like a pita. I didn’t have time to make the naan for the party so I decided to make it later and have it with my leftover tapenade. I adapted this recipe from Gimme Some Oven. I don’t use yeast very often and I find it a little scary to work with. In the past I have had trouble getting my dough to rise. Yeast needs a warm and moist environment to activate, which I made sure that I had this time! 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  • 1 c. warm water 
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 1 package active dry yeast (¼ oz.)
  • 3 ½ c. flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ plain greek yogurt (you can use regular yogurt too!)
  • ¼ c. butter
  • 3 cloves garlic minced

Mix the honey into the warm water until dissolved. Pour into a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Mix into the water. Let this sit for 5-10 minutes. Gradually add in flour, salt, baking powder, egg and yogurt with mixer on low speed. Increase the speed to low-medium for 2-3 minutes until the dough forms a ball in the mixer and none is left remaining on the sides. Remove the dough from the mixer and form the dough into a ball (if it is not already formed). Next grease the mixing bowl and place the dough ball back in. Cover with a DAMP cloth and place in a WARM spot for 1 hour to let the dough rise.

Meanwhile melt butter and minced garlic together. Strain and discard the garlic from the infused butter and set aside.

When the dough is ready heat a large cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and cut the dough into 8 pieces. Form into balls with your hands and roll out flat with a rolling pin. Brush each side with the garlic-infused butter and transfer to a pan. Cook for 1 minute until the dough begins to bubble and turns light brown. Flip and cook the other side for 30-60 seconds. Transfer to a separate plate and cover with a towel. Repeat this process for each dough ball.

The end product looked and tasted delicious. Just like it was at the restaurant. 

tapenade naan



With the strong salty and earthy flavors that this dish brings a strong red wine with fruity flavors would work well with this appetizer. I would pair this with a Meiomi Pinot Noir. The berry and earthy flavors in this wine work well with strong flavors of the tapenade. 

Meiomi Pinot Noir



Now this is the season of giving and I hope that you and your family all get everything you want this Christmas, but it is not all about the gifts you give and get. It is about being together, loving one another and caring for each other. When one of your family members is sick or is in need I hope that you will be there for them. One of my good friend’s niece is having to fight the battle of cancer this Christmas. She is just a child and should not have to go through this. She is asking for donations for the cause to help this little girl and her fight. Click the photo below to be directed to the giving site. 



I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *