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Christmas/ DIY/Crafts/ FUN/DIY/ Holidays/Parties/ Homemade Gifts

DIY Wine & Snack Gift Basket

WINE-SNACK-GIFT-BASKET

I love showing up to a holiday party with a little hostess gift. Usually I keep it small and simple, like a homemade snack in a mason jar. During the holidays, it is fun to get a bit more generous and creative, so I did! I made this this festive DIY Wine & Snack Gift Basket. Wine is the perfect simple, sparkly & sophisticated hostess gift.

2 bottles of Gloria Ferrer Wine & a sparkly gold ornament

Gloria Ferrer wines is the star of this DIY Wine & Snack Gift Basket. Gloria Ferrer caves and vineyards opened in 1986, is Carneros’ original sparkling wine house, owned and founded by the Ferrer family of Spain. Exuberant and fruit-forward, Gloria Ferrer wines go perfectly with today’s diverse and flavorful cuisine, and have earned over 400 gold medals and 50 90+ scores in the last 5 years. Needless to say, they are the perfect wine choice for my gift basket.

I chose the Sonoma Brut & the Royal Cuvée:

Sonoma Brut –91% Pinot Noir, 9% Chardonnay

Winemaker Notes: Delicate pear and floral notes backed by toasty almond.  On the palate, one finds lively citrus, toast and apple flavors overlaid with persistent effervescence, a creamy mid-palate and toasty finish.

Royal Cuvée Brut –67% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay

Winemaker Notes: The wine opens with green apple, citrus and honey on the nose.  This continues into the mouth adding black cherry and brioche with Asian pear.  The mousse is fine textured and creamy.  Light mineral character and Meyer lemon continue into a long crisp finish.

After typing that, I am tempted to keep the basket for myself! They sounds so delicious!

Glittery feather, reindeer candle and wine for a gift basket

I wanted a few fun things in the basket along with the wine. I wanted the basket to have a simple, classy and elegant feeling, to compliment the Gloria Ferrer Wine. I wanted a touch of glitz without being overdone.

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Christmas/ Holidays/Parties

Family Christmas Tree Trimming: A Survival Guide

Tips For Trimming The Christmas Tree

It is the first week in December and time to trim the Christmas tree! We are big into traditions Christmas traditions and family tree trimming is one of them.  We have made some sweet memories over the years–and some not so sweet memories. If you follow me on instagram, you will know we had a tree topple while halfway decorated a couple of years ago. It made for a great photo– little me holding up a great big tree with lights all hanging off & ornaments all around my feet–thankfully we only lost a couple of them!

We are going to decorate as a family tonight, and I am really looking forward to it.  These moments with my family are so sweet right now, as I find my girls growing up so fast and have recently been reminded just how precious life is. I am trying to savor every moment.

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Here are a few things I am going to do that will help us survive trimming the tree as a family:

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Christmas/ FUN/DIY/ Holidays/Parties/ HOME/ Organizing/ Simplifying

Simple Christmas Decorations

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Every year I find myself keeping Christmas decor more and more simple.  It is amazing how freeing it is!  Less bins, less mess, less dusting, less time setting the house up & less clutter.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that ‘less is more’ when it comes to Christmas decor.  My home feels just as festive, cozy and meaningful as it did in past years.  I know this is because I was purposeful with what I decided to keep around.

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1.Keep the Twinkle & Sparkle

I adore anything that has a twinkles and sparkles, especially around the holidays.  Even my nail polish gets a bit of sparkle around this time of year!

Christmas lights are a great way to add amazing atmosphere in a simple way.

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2. Use Books

Books are a practical way to add meaning to your decorations.  We had a tradition when the girls were young to buy a Christmas book each year.  We now have a collection of about 13 amazing Christmas books.  I used to read one every evening when the girls were younger.  Now that they are teens and preteens, we save it for Christmas morning, after stocking are emptied but before bigger gifts are opened.  It is a great reminder as to why we celebrate Christmas.  Every time I pass the book in the picture above, I am reminded of THE gift of this season.

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3. Keep Things That Make You Smile & Bring Tradition

It is hard to know what to keep and what to get rid of when downsizing Christmas decorations.  This fun pillow was a no-brainer for me.  It was given to me by my Mom which makes it automatically meaningful, it adds a pop of color, texture & whimsy to our couch, the kids love it, and it makes me smile.  That pillow will be around for years to come.

I must touch on the subject things that are kept because they were gifts from loved ones.  Your loved ones do not want their gifts to add clutter, work, stress and extra dusting to your life.  It is ok to let things go.  If it does not make you smile,  get rid of it.

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Getting rid of things can bless others.  Whether you give your extra items to a local mission or to someone in your life that you know might like it, it can be a super meaningful thing for everyone around.

Here is an example.  For years I have drooled over nativity sets every time I would go to Hobby Lobby during the holiday season.  Yep, I would lust after shepherds and 3 wise men.  I just love nativity sets…but I do not love their price.  I settled a few years ago for this little snow globe that has sparkly glitter that floats when shaken and plays music.  It brought our family much joy.

This year, my Mother-in-Law texted and said she was downsizing her decorations and asked if I wanted a nativity set.  She had 2 to choose from.  I get a bit giddy, but asked for a picture as I know I would only want to accept something I would love to keep around and matches my esthetic & taste.  I had my fingers crossed for a very simple, all white nativity set.

She sent a picture of 2, and sure enough, one of them as all white.  It is so precious to me. It is worth every bit of dusting and packing it up with care that I will need to do.  It has brought such a feeling of peace to look at in the midst of a pretty challenging December.  I will share a picture of it below, but it brings me to my next point:

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4. Know When to Say Yes To Gifts Offered

The new items in our home this season is the nativity set I spoke of above, and these two chairs.  I love that both items that pack a punch.  I brought this table out from our kitchen in to the living room.  In the world of laptops, I love having a sitting area with a table in my living area.  Todd’s Mom, Sharon, knew I needed chairs for it, and my birthday happened to be at the end of November, right when I was rearranging and decorating.  She suggested gifting me a chair for my birthday and a chair for Christmas, and even let me pick them out.

These chairs make me so happy!  I have already had some amazing heart-felt moments & conversions while sitting in them.  I love that the silver embellishments add just a bit of shine.  They can be found at Target.

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4. Candles, Candles, Candles

Todd and I were at a Christmas party thrown by my sweet mentor.  There was a gift exchange and I stole this candle from another person at the party, as it was one of those fun gift exchanges that you are allowed to be selfish at.  Love it!  This candle smells so, so good.  It is a bit of a unisex scent, not too girly or fruity.  I want to go grab a couple more up before they sell out for the season.   It can be found at Bath & Body Works.

I light candles every day during December.  I love having a candle burning, both for the scent and the warmth they bring.

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6. Be OK With Using Inexpensive Decorations

I’m all about the dollar store!  This little tree and those silver balls both came from the dollar store a couple of years ago.  They add a ton of sparkle to a dark corner of our living room.  I sprinkled those little glitter balls in a couple of areas, which made that dollar stretch! I like that I am more free to get rid of items if I know they didn’t cost a whole bunch of money, and I like it when things don’t cost a whole bunch of money!

The candy canes also came from the dollar store.  Hooked onto a vase, they are super festive & add fun color to my dark book shelf.

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7. Add Meaningful With Whimsical

The HOPE photo above was taken by my dear friend Megan Newsom.   She used to be a contributing author here at New Nostalgia & she was such a gift!  She is an amazing photographer and has such an eye for creating and capturing beauty. It is crazy to think I have never met her in person, as I have such a heart connection to her.  She sent me this photo in a care package when I was going through surgery.  It was the perfect word & perfect gift.  When I look at it, it brings back all the emotions of opening her care package & the love I felt from her in all of the sweet details of it.  It makes me very happy!

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8. Don’t Take Your Decorations Too Seriously

This is important especially if you have young ones.  Cherish every one of those homemade decorations.  Notice I didn’t say you have to keep them all!  I said to cherish them.  Notice them.  Display that amazing kid art your kids are so proud of.  Use the refrigerator to group them together or even tape them into a collage on a door.  A key to keeping things organized and easy on the eye is keep in mind the idea of a group.  Kids are packs a sweet punch when grouped together, verses spread out all over the house.  When everywhere, the eye doesn’t know where to look.  A grouping tells the eye right where to go.

We have the tradition of making a gingerbread house every year.  My 11-year-old youngest is the only one still interested in that tradition.  She made the one above.  I love displaying them every year!  I love how they look with our Nutcracker.  He is one of the few decorating items I kept from when the girls were young.  I remember little chubby fingers playing with it, making his mouth open and close.

The great thing about gingerbread house is they can be thrown away at the end of the season.

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8. Wreaths

I only have one wreath, and one is enough.  I love that it is large-scale, which makes a statement.  I also love any Christmas decorations that I can make stretch through the winter season. My wreath is plain enough to keep out until spring, as it just has a few pinecones added to it.

I do the same with a few evergreen trees.  They, too, are simple enough to keep out as winter decorations until spring.  This year I have two of them at our dining room table.  You can see them keeping my Colsie girl company as she does her homework in the picture below.

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9. Pops Of Color

My pop of color choice for Christmas is red.  It is a no-brainer.  It will never go ‘out- of -style’ at Christmastime.

The round, red candle holders below are from my sister-in-law.  They add red, shine and sparkle.  I have had them for about 5 years now and I love them.

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Another way to add a pop of color at Christmas is to use wrapped gifts.  The silvery gift wrap you see is so very pretty under the tree as the tree lights reflect off of it & create a sparkle under the tree.  I love it so much I will be purposeful about buying reflective gift wrap again this year at the after Christmas sales.

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10. It Is OK To NOT Have Christmas Dishes

I got rid of all Christmas dishes, except one festive platter,one red mug, and those little tea bag holders.  I love drinking hot chocolate out of my festive mug, and it is made double special as it was a gift from a friend.  I use the platter when we are asked to bring a sweet treat to parties.

I do not miss packing up a bunch of Christmas dishes.

What do you think of my new stackable Starbucks mugs? I used some birthday money I was given and splurged on these awesome mugs.  I ordered them on black Friday where Starbucks was having a deal of free shipping and $25.oo off every $70 dollars you spend.  They were a steal.

I have very little kitchen cupboard space so I got creative with a cabinet that we brought into the kitchen from the living room.  I took the doors off and am using it for storage.  I freed up a ton of cabinet space by getting stackable, matching mugs.  These mugs feel so nice sturdy in your hands, & make me very, very happy!

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11. Don’t Decorate Every Room

I used to go nuts and have Christmas decorations in every room.  Not anymore.  I now keep it to my living room, dining room, a couple pops of sparkle in my kitchen & a festive candle in my bathroom.  That is it.

It is what works for me.  I no longer dread packing and unpacking Christmas decorations.

The little evergreen in the kitchen window was a birthday gift from a friend.  I love!

Notice how even marshmallows in a jar can look festive.  Finding ways to decorate yet still be practical is rewarding for me.  I love making the mundane beautiful, and my kids love just grabbing the jar of cocoa mix and marshmallows when in the mood for a warm drink.  Accessible warm drinks are a must in my kitchen during the holidays!

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Whoops…I forgot about this guy in our home office.  He has a matching friend on the other side of the desk.  These nutcracker’s were kept purposefully and will be given to my girls when they move out.  They were gifts from their Grandpa Don which he bought them when he took them to the Nutcracker a few years ago.  It was a super special night and it was when I was sick, so I remember being so touched that he would love on them in that way & create such a beautiful memory.  I think they look great with our new office painted wall treatment.

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Do you see my ‘new-to-me’ nativity? Isn’t it just wonderful?

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How about you?

Do you feel like simplifying Christmas decorations?

Why or why not?

Beauty/ Christmas/ FUN/DIY/ Holidays/Parties/ Uncategorized

10 Ways To Sparkle & Shine This Holiday Season

SPARKLE&SHINE

 

1. Crest 3D White Luxe Supreme FlexFit Whitestrips

I cannot tell you how impressed I am with Crest 3D White Luxe Supreme FlexFit Whitestrips.  They WORK!  You wear a strip everyday for 2 weeks, an hour a day. These strips stick and stay in place–you can even drink water while you are wearing them.

I am about 12 days in and I can’t tell you the difference in my smile. It is pretty amazing. I drink a lot of coffee and tea so I was due for some whitening.  My brother-in-law is a dentist and approves of Crest Whitestrips. He even had my husband use Crest Whitestrips before fixing a front tooth veneer.  He wanted my husbands teeth to be as white as possible before color matching the veneer.  My husband and I were amazed by the results!  Nothing like having a professional recommend Crest Whitestrips for a professional result!

I had some sensitivity to the strips, so I used them every other day instead of everyday, and bought some toothpaste for sensitive teeth.  I had a cleaning in the middle of my whitening experience, and my dental hygenist approved and reassured me that the sensitivity would go away.  It has.

“Get $7 off your purchase of Crest 3D White Luxe Supreme FlexFit Whitestrips at Target.com: http://clvr.li/1vwTKSS”

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2. Nails That Shine

One thing I love to do around the holidays, especially Christmas and New Year’s Eve, is wear a  glittery, shimmery or sparkly nail polish.  It looks so great & festive to have a little sparkle at the fingertips.  If every nail is too much for you, you could polish all of your nails a color of choice and put a coat of sparkle over the polish on ring fingers only.  It’s a ‘thing’ right now…ya know?

I was just recently introduced to the world of gel nail polish and WOW! I sure didn’t know what I was missing. It has been 3 weeks since my manicure and the polish still has not chipped!  I have stayed away from gel manicures as I like to keep things pretty natural and only used nail polish with less chemicals from my local health food store,  but now that I know what I’m missing it will be hard to not do it again!

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3. Red Lips & Fun Lashes

I don’t wear red lipstick very often, come think about it, it really is only during the Christmas season that I do wear it.  I love how a simple red lip can make me feel festive, even if I’m wearing all black!  Hint: If wearing a red lip, keep eye makeup natural and toned down.  It usually takes a professional to balance made-up eyes with a red lip.  It is best to keep shadow neutral and light, with just a bit of natural brown eyeliner and mascara.  Choose to either make the eyes pop or make the lips pop, but not both.

A great way to make eyes sparkle is with false eyelashes.  I am wearing them in the picture below.  That photo was taken last year when my man took me out of my birthday.  I don’t wear false eyelashes often.  Really just for very special occasions — like a birthday date, anniversary date or a fancy party.

 

4. Shine Spray for Hair

Shine spray is my secret weapon against flyaway, winter static, and frayed ends.  I love it, and most brands work well.  The key is to not overdo it, or you will end up with greasy looking hair.  A little goes a long way.  Want a more natural approach to shine hair?  Do my coconut oil moisturizer treatment & then put a tiny bit of coconut oil on the ends of your dry hair to smooth dry ends.

 

5. Sparkly Headbands

I love that headbands are an option no matter what length your hair is.  I do feel like I’m getting close to the age where headbands might start looking a bit too juvenile, but I will keep wearing them, as long as I can get away with it, especially the more fancy ones with a bit of sparkle!

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6. Necklace, Bracelets, Earrings

I have a pretty tame, some would say ‘plain’ wardrobe.  I buy a lot of black, grey & neutrals.  I buy classic.  To give my outfits some personality, I rely on accessories.  A necklace, bracelet or earrings are a great way to add a bit of specialness and sparkle to any outfit.

 

7. Shine From The Inside-Get Your Greens & Turmeric & Fluids

You all know how much I love drinking lemon water, as I talk about it all the time. It is another great way to shine from the inside out.  When you are dehydrated, it shows.  Being hydrated plumps skin up and helps it glow!

When I am drinking green smoothies, there is a noticeable difference in my skin tone.  When I stop, I look pale and drab. The dark leafy greens in smoothies really do help give some color to skin, as does a carrot thrown into those smoothies.

Good fats like nuts and avocados are a great way to make the skin glow, too. I love adding both to my smoothies.  I am sipping on a smoothie as I type this that is my Velvet Elvis smoothie but with 1/2 an avocado added.  Yum!

Another way to give yourself a bit of color from the inside out is taking Turmeric supplements or drinking delicious Turmeric Chai Tea. Turmeric is an amazing root with tons of health benefits.  The reason I take it nightly is because it is a natural anti-inflammatory and helps bring relief to joint pain that I experience as side effect from my cancer meds.  It is a supplement that I will take the rest of my life due to the health benefits.

 

 8. Statement Shoes

My birthday at the end of November, which I love.  My Todd and I do not exchange gifts.  Instead, we give each other the gift of experience and memory by going out on a hot date!  I love that my birthday falls right as the holiday season starts.  Everything always feels so festive and fun.  The one draw back is dressing up while it is cold outside!  I hate being cold, so I have found a lot of ways to make a pair of black slacks, leggings, or a great pair of jeans look less than ordinary.  The best way I’ve found to do this is by adding a statement shoe.  High heel is a must, and a shiny red high heel is my favorite around the holidays. I also love a great shoe in glittery gold or silver.

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9. A Sparkly Scarf

I often fall back on this one.  I love showing up to a nice Christmas party or dinner with a warm scarf, and I especially love adding a bit of fun to my bland grey coat with a sparkly scarf.  Look for scarves with silver or gold thread or material running through it.

 

10. A New Do’

I’ve been crushing on Taylor Swifts bangs & had to copy!  I was looking through my instagram feed and a couple of selfies that I took seemed to be all forehead!  I decided I needed to soften it up a bit so I got my ends trimmed just yesterday and asked my stylist to give me the swoopy- side- Taylor Swift bangs.  She did it and I love it!  Follow my Instagram feed–I will post a picture of how I look with bangs soon!

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What are ways you add some sparkle and shine to your holiday look?

Do any of these stand out to you?

How about those pearly whites?  Do they need a bit of Crest Whitestrips this holiday season?  They would make a great stocking stuffer, especially if you have teenager girls like I do! Shop at Target and pick them up in time for Christmas.

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Christmas/ FAMILY/ FUN/DIY/ Holidays/Parties/ Kids/Family/ Seasonal

Favorite Family Christmas Tradition

Favorite-Family-Traditions-Main

Feeling Sentimental

I find myself so sentimental this Christmas!

I think it is because my girls are 15, 13 & 11 years old, and now that they are teens and preteens, I am wanting to just hold on to the few years we have left with them.  I’m really feeling how old they are, as I’ve noticed there are a few family traditions that are just not as exciting as they used to be. Our girls are getting older and naturally the things that excite them change. My oldest is a cross-country runner, so making and eating a bunch of Christmas cookies is not something she wants to engage in, as eating healthy is pretty important to her.  Our puzzle tradition?  I’m stuck doing it alone, as the girls are just too busy or too cool {grin} to sit with Mom and do a puzzle.

Another tradition that has fizzled out, and the one I’m mourning the most, is our ‘Steal-the-kids-from-thier-beds-to -go-look-at-Christmas-lights’ tradition.  They now stay up way too late for us to wake them up and steal them from their beds.  They are also at the age where being crammed in a car together late at night is the perfect recipe for sister drama!

Despite being so sad to give it up, I think back fondly to the many  years we did this favorite holiday tradition of mine. They may not be interested now, all 3 girls would say that it was one of their favorite memories of the holiday season, too.

 

Favorite Holiday Tradition

The tradition started way before the girls were born, when Todd and I were engaged & newlyweds.  His Mom would rent a limousine and Todd, his Mom, his brother & wife and I would relax in the limo while the driver took us around to the best neighborhoods in town to look at Christmas lights.  I remember loving it, and thought it was such a loving thing for Todd’s Mom to do.

When our kids got old enough to have interest, we started a similar tradition.  We decided that some weekend night in December we would put the kids to bed a bit early, then heat the car & steal them from their beds, tell them we were going on an adventure, and throw them -footie pajamas & all- into the car.  They absolutely loved it.

I have so many vivid images of the girls holding on to their Dad, squealing in delight with eyes bright as he carried them to the car.  I was always behind them, capturing the moment with the camera.  If they were not wearing footie pajamas, we would throw on their slippers and they, of course, always grabbed their favorite snuggly blanket, as we always skipped coats.

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Dad’s job was to heat the car and carry them out.  My job was to gather the Christmas music & a small snack for each girl.  I would often take a thermos of hot cocoa for Todd and I and sippie cups for the girls.  Their favorite CD’s for so long was Strawberry Shortcake Very Berry Christmas & The Chipmunks Christmas. We had another one with kids Christmas songs on it –the favorites being ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause’ (which they all would say “Eww!  Gross!!” and ‘All I Want For Christmas Is My 2 Front Teeth’ which drew extra laughter when one of them actually WERE missing their 2 front teeth.

I would usually get snacks from the Dollar Store.  I’d find a fun little Christmas purse or small stocking, and load it up with a package of crackers and some Christmas candy.  They just loved it–especially the sweet treats. Hint: suckers are great.  They keep little mouths busy and the volume of the car down.

Stawberry-shortcake-Christmas-CD{Notice the glass of wine I took with me that year}

As the girls got older, we had to get smarter.  I remember running around the house setting all the clocks back so we could get them to bed earlier.  It became a guessing game every weekend in December, “I bet it is going to be tonight!” they would say…and often they were right.

The image I cannot get out of my brain is the girls being carried out by their dad. Like I said, I got the view from behind, their little legs would be wrapped around their Dad with their fuzzy slippers hanging, their little heads peaking at me from his shoulder.  Those legs kept growing longer every year and his struggle to lift them each year grew.  Even as they got older, he still carried them out so they wouldn’t get snow on their slippers.  It was so much fun!

Holiday-Christmas-Lights-2{“Slow down so I can get a clear picture!”}

The lights were always so great to look at, and we would choose our favorites as a family.  I’ve heard of families having a holiday lights tradition where they would leave a plate of cookies at the house that was voted the family favorite.  We never did this but it is a fun idea.

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Holiday Lights Contest

Do you have a favorite house in the neighborhood?   Do you know someone who goes all out? Is it you?  If so, enter USA TODAY Holiday Lights contest to be in with a chance to win a $5,000 gift card, and help choose America’s 10 best public light displays!

Participants Can:

  • Enter the USA TODAY contest by uploading a photo of your own holiday lights display on the USA TODAY website. The winner of this photo contest gets a $5,000 gift card from USA TODAY.
  • Vote for your favorite holiday lights display from a group of 10 pre-selected public organizations. Each voter will also have the chance to win one of two prizes: A $1,ooo gift card or a $1,500 gift card.

 

New Family Traditions

I have been thinking hard about some new traditions we can implement with our girls now that they are older.  I know that they would be into entering in the USA TODAY contest above, as a gift card of any value would be exciting, much less one in the thousands!  They also are at an age where they love giving an opinion and love a good competition.

I know any traditions that involve their friends or cousins would be super appealing to them right now.  Or, sadly, one that involves shopping!

Have any ideas for me?

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

Do you put up holiday lights each year?

 

Christmas/ FUN/DIY/ Holidays/Parties

How To Simplify Christmas

SIMPLE CHRISTMAS

Christmas always makes me giddy and excites me.  I love the hustle and bustle.  I love how twinkly lights create an instant atmosphere.  I love carefully unwrapping the ornaments that we have collected over the years. I love how it gives a reason and motivation to have parties and get together with the ones we love.  I love having an excuse to eat lots of sugar. Last but not least, I love focusing in and celebrating the birth of God in flesh.  Emmanuel.

Each year, I have tried to simplify Christmas, chiseling it down a bit each year.  There are many different reasons why one should simplify Christmas. Even a simple Christmas looks different for different people, depending on what season of life you are in and how you are wired. This year I find myself cutting even more of “should do’s” and “to-do’s.”  It is freeing.  I am finding the more I remove, the more meaningful Christmas is & the more I can focus on all that really matters.

 

1. Make lists, but just a few.

I used to have an entire binder that I would use for Christmas.  It was helpful, especially when I was a rookie at being a homemaker and planning holidays.  I have found though, that most of it is not necessary.

I have written 3 lists for the holiday:

~People I need to buy gifts for

~Celebrations/Parties and their dates & times & whether I need to bring a dish or a gift to exchange.

~Food I want to make–including what type of Christmas cookies!

 

2. Keep decor simple

I used to put up two Christmas trees–one pretty tree and one traditional tree.  The stand of one tree broke last year, freeing me from one tree.  I decided to mix the ‘pretty’ tree with our traditional ornaments, & it ended up being one of my most favorite Christmas trees.

I also got rid of a ton of Christmas decorations the last couple of years, purging while packing them up after the holiday was over. I used to have a little something in each room to make it festive.  Now I keep the decor to the main rooms, and maybe a festive candle in the bathroom.  It is just as beautiful & now decorating takes 1/2 the time.

 

3. Let decorating be a process, & enjoy it.

I used to rush through the decorating process, getting it all done at once.  When I was going through cancer treatments, I learned to do things slowly and in steps.  It’s ok for it to take a few days. It’s ok to wait a while after Thanksgiving to get it done.  Christmas is not an emergency. Enjoy the process.

 

4. Have a cookie exchange.

I would rather bake a bunch of one type of cookie instead of a bunch of different types of cookies.  A cookie exchange is a great way to have a variety of cookies while saving money on a bunch of different ingredients.  Invite 6 friends, have them each bring 7 dozen of one type of cookie, then exchange cookies, with everyone goes home with 6 dozen different types of cookies!  The 7th dozen is to eat during the exchange.  All you have to do is have some little plates, napkins & something warm to drink.  Use social media to invite your guests…no need to buy invites, stamps or take a trip to the post office.

 

5. Use Pinterest

I have some amazing Christmas boards on Pinterest.  One is for Christmas food, one for Christmas decor, and one for Christmas Cookies.  I use the decor board for inspiration.  I might pin elaborate, beautiful pins, but most of the time it is for the inspiration or to take one element of the photo to copy & make my own.

I recently went through my Christmas decor board and made a secret board from it, pinning only things that I think would be fun to implement this year.  They are all simple, fun things…many of them my 11-year-old daughter could do.

I use my Christmas boards for food inspiration, making a food list from those fun boards.  No need to go search all over the internet when there is Pinterest!

 

6. Have a stash of simple, homemade gifts to give away to those you care about.

I have another board on Pinterest called Homemade Gifts where there is a ton of inspiration!  Some would take a lot of work, and some are simple.  I plan on looking for something simple and easy to do, a small little something to have on hand for people like my mailman, hairstylist, therapist, and even my close girlfriends who I don’t usually exchange with, but want them to know I love them.  It could be as easy as buying 12 small mason jars, some jute or ribbon & ingredients to make homemade hot chocolate.  Mix up a double batch, print out some fun jar toppers, write instructions with a Sharpie, and set aside for when needed.

 

7. Skip the Christmas cards.

I used to write a family newsletter and send out over 100 cards.  It was such a process!  Now with social media, I am in touch with more people and can see pictures of their families and know with a click how they are doing.  I use this to my advantage and no longer send out Christmas cards.  I know my friends and family are ok without a card from me, especially if they know it keeps me from being stressed out.  Eyy! Just the thought of trying to find everyone’s address makes me sweat a little!

If you still want people to know you love them, send an online greeting.

 

8. Buy store-bought instead of homemade.

Now that stores like Trader Joes are starting to use ingredients I would use at home- without added chemicals & preservatives-I take advantage of what they could make for me instead of killing myself in the kitchen.  This is especially true for sweet & fun food that gets eaten during the holidays.  Their biscotti can make Christmas morning coffee extra special, their popcorn tins add fun to family -decorate-the- tree -night, and their cranberry sauce tastes just like homemade & uses the exact same ingredients as my favorite recipe.

 

9. Shop online.

Skip the crowds & shop from your cozy home in your cozy pjs.  I plan on taking 2 evenings this week to go through my list and figure out what can be bought online.  Target has free shipping during the holidays.  I do lots of shopping on Amazon with free shipping on most items thanks to Amazon Prime.  If you do shop on Amazon, kindly Click Here and I will receive a small percentage of your purchase for referring you, with no cost to you!

Amazon is a great.  I have a niece and nephews who make Amazon wish lists so all I have to do is log on and see what their little hearts’ desire.  It makes shopping so easy!

 

10. Read the Christmas Story.

We have a Christmas tradition of buying a new Christmas book every year.  My girls still love to read through these books, and I love how it keeps our mind on the true meaning of Christmas.  We have also worked through the Jesse Tree book a few different years, which was my absolute favorite way to focus in on the Christ at Christmas. This simplifies my brain in reminding me what truly matters.

 

So there are some ideas I have for you.

What are ways you simplify Christmas?

Christmas/ DIY/Crafts/ FUN/DIY/ Holidays/Parties/ Sponsored

Last Minute Simple But Thoughtful Christmas Gifts With Easy Homemade Gift Tags

I have so many sweet friends, but I only buy Christmas gifts for a select few of them.  Every year I try to come up with something simple but personal. This year I decided I could not go wrong with a coffee gift card — they ARE my closest friends after all, so of course they all love coffee!  I smile when I think about the precious time I have had with each one of them sharing our hearts over a cup of coffee.  
Another thing I know my close friends all love is chocolate.  Coffee + chocolate + a fun gift tag, “homemade” by the help of a kit and my love for Metallic Sharpies = a fun & simple gift!
Sharpies have always been my favorite brand of marker– by far!  I love that you can always expect them to work long and hard for you.  They are dependable, predictable, come in all types of point sizes & colors.  My new Sharpie crush is the Metallic Sharpies. Gold, Copper & Silver –they are so pretty!
Right now is a great time to purchase Sharpies.  Staples is having an amazing deal. They are selling the 12 pack of Sharpies for only $6.00!  I bought a 12 pack of black Sharpies and a 12 pack of multi-colored fine-point Sharpies both for $6.00, and a 4 pack of assorted metallic Sharpies for only $5.00.  
I store mine in mason jars (of course!) and they sit out on our art desk so I can easily grab a single marker or a whole set if needed.  My 10- year old Avery drew this amazing owl using the metallic Sharpies and some crayons.  She is crushing on the metallic Sharpies, too!
On to my fun project.  I stamped the tags with white ink, and envisioned how I could embellish them with metallic Sharpies just to make them a bit more special.  
I used the metallic Sharpies to add a bit of shiny & shimmer to my gift tags.  Just a touch here and there made a huge difference.  I also used metallic Sharpies to to write who the gift was ‘to’ & ‘from.’

I got out my ribbon and some jute, stacked the coffee card and chocolates, and tied the shiny gift tags to the gifts.

I had fun finding different ways to tie the gifts together and using different Sharpie markers to embellish and sign the tags.
So festive and fun!
Don’t you love how the gold Sharpie shines? I wish the camera could capture it better.  Take my word, it is PRETTY!
These little packages look so cute under my tree.  I cannot wait to give them to the special ladies in my life.  I hope it reminds them too, of our shared love of coffee and chocolate, and just how much they shine light into my life!  
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For a TON of fun Sharpie project ideas, make sure you follow them on:
Get inspired, then head to your nearest Staples this holiday season and purchase the 12-Ct multi colored pack of Sharpies for &6.00 and the Sharpie Metallic Assorted 4-Ct pack, as well as other Sharpie products for your holiday needs.  You will love them!
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