Wednesday, August 30, 2017

DIY Christmas Wreaths

If you do nothing else to decorate at Christmas, put a festive wreath on your door.  This little act will cheer you each and every time you see it.  All of these wreaths will make you smile, too.  I love taking a wreath to a Christmas party for the hostess.  Wreaths can be used inside and out, at the office or on the barn door.  There is no limit to the opportunities for a pretty wreath.

Woodland Christmas Wreath by Craft-O-Maniac
Starlight Mint Wreath by Burlap and Blue
Christmas Candy Wreath by Dollar Store Crafts
Christmas Rag Wreath by Bless This Mess
Faux Leather and Flannel Wreath by the Crafted Sparrow
Christmas Twig Wreath by Confessions of a Serial DIYer
Joy Wreath by the Idea Room
DIY Eucalyptus and Pine Wreath by the Sweetest Occasion
Hydrangea Christmas Wreath by Simply Designing
Paper Christmas Wreath by Lia Griffith
Family Photo Wreath by the Crafting Chicks
Wine Cork Wreath by Design Improvised
Fresh Holly Wreath by Garden Therapy

The history behind the holly wreath is lovely.  The circle of the wreath represents the circle of life. Evergreen branches symbolize everlasting life and when holly is used in a wreath, its prickly thorns represent the thorns on Jesus' crown.  Whether or not you are a believer, the history and legend behind the wreath is fun to know.

Which of these is your favorite? Do you hang a wreath on your door for the holidays?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Surprise Gift Wrappings

My mother had a real talent for gift wrapping in unusual ways.  Each year she would give my dad his annual hunting and fishing license for Christmas.  She was so good at coming up with tricky ways to disguise what was a gift he knew he was getting.

One year she taped the license to a brick and then wrapped the brick.

She opened a box of cereal and slipped it into the cereal and wrapped the cereal as a gift.

One year she did a progressive sized boxing and the license was in the smallest box.

She placed the license in a book once.

I remember the license was in a coffee can.

And you know what? My dad was always able to guess that the license was in that package!  I remember how it always made us giggle, that dad could always figure out which package had the license!

To spark your own creativity, check out this list of wonderful ways to wrap your own Christmas gifts! And, if you have any great ideas for my mom, please leave them here!

15 Unique Gift Wrap Ideas
Santa Belt Gift Wrap by Craft Passion
Printable Gift Boxes by Lolly Jane
Fabric Gift Wrap by the Sweetest Occasion
Kraft Paper with Cupcake Liner Bows by Craftaholics Anonymous
Personalized Photo Gift Tags by Simply Designing
Burlap Gift Bag by Uncommon Designs
Recycled Paper Strips Gift Wrap by the Country Chic Cottage
Canvas Drop Cloth Gift Wrap by the Idea Room
Coloring Page Gift Bows by Lines Across
Polka Dot Gift Wrap by I Try DIY
Lunch Bag Holiday Wrapping by Lovely Indeed
Napkin Gift Wrap by Hello Glow
Atlas Paper Wrap by a Beautiful Mess

DIY Confetti Gift Bags by Mod Podge Rocks

Which is your favorite??  I am all about that map gift wrap, wouldn't that be fun for a set of airline tickets?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Christmas Countdown Ideas

I adore counting down to Christmas! I love advent calendars and those cute little pocket things with little trinkets inside! I shop for trinkets all year around, especially when we travel. I love picking up items that are unique to the area.  For example, when we were in Cabo last, I picked up individually wrapped Mexican chocolates! I also found some delightful individually wrapped tea bags using Mexican vanilla and tea.  What trinkets are you finding out there?  This is a great time to get good deals on school supplies AND Christmas is a great time to receive new ones!  Here are some wonderful ways to count down to Christmas that you will want to make.

Christmas Tree Countdown by My Sister’s Suitcase
Christmas Countdown Garland by the Crafting Chicks
Christmas Book Countdown by Positively Splendid
Advent Countdown Calendar by Design Dazzle
DIY Advent Jar by Mess for Less
DIY Boxes Advent Calendar by Powerful Mothering
25 Days of Service by I Heart Naptime

So who started all this counting down to Christmas?  Back in the day, the celebrants of Christ's birthday used Advent to lead up to the event.  Each Sunday was a set of prayers and scriptures that were said and candles were lit.  Some attribute the countdown fad to German carpenters in the 19th century who made wooden calendars of tiny drawers in which a treat was held.  This led the way to the current explosion of ways to countdown to Christmas.  Whomever you give credit, it is a wonderful way to build the excitement for one of my favorite holidays.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

21 Things I Do Before December 1

Christmas lovers agree that planning carefully is what makes the season extra special.  Having certain things in place before the official Christmas season makes the season far less stressful.  Here are my 21 things to do before December 1.

  1. I pin every day.  I look for ideas on the things I am planning and I pin away!  Links to my Christmas boards are here
  2. I organize my Christmas stuff by sorting what stays and what is going. I take photos and start selling my stuff in November.
  3. I plan my Christmas card and photo.  We love to send photo cards!
  4. I work on my Christmas blog.  We use this instead of a newsletter.  Here is are our Christmas blogs from years past.
  5. I create a paper calendar for the month of December.  I write down all the dates of events that I hear about on Facebook, online, word of mouth, etc.  When we buy tickets, all that gets added to the paper calendar.
  6. Make a list of movies that I want to revisit and ones that are being released that I want to see.
  7. Create my Spotify list.  I add some songs and take off some that I didn't care for the last year.
  8. Buy a new Santa hat!  When the Christmas stuff starts to make its appearance, I want to buy something and this is something I know I will use!
  9. I order my husband a new set of Christmas socks.
  10. Through the fall I will make and taste several cookies and candies.  Since I am going low carb as much as possible, this is going to be a big event for me this year!
  11. Using the Starbucks app, I look for the season's holiday drinks, look at what I can do to reduce the sugar, and load my "created" recipe into the app for easy ordering!
  12. Send out Facebook invites to my family for our holiday gatherings. I know, they probably roll their eyes, but we almost always have every one there because they knew well in advance when our family gatherings were.
  13. Decide on the lighting plan for the exterior of the house.  This year, even though we are going to Cabo for Christmas, we plan to decorate the exterior even more than ever.  If the inside is going to be lightly decorated, then we are making up for it outside!
  14. Look for the perfect sugar free hot chocolate!  I'll be experimenting with my own recipes!
  15. Purchase my holiday wear.  I always look for a festive sweater, a festive long sleeved tee shirt, and freshen up my Christmas jewelry.
  16. Order my share of Christmas fiction. I love books that have the Christmas holiday as a background.
  17. My hairdresser thinks I am nuts, but I book my November and December cuts and color now. These are time consuming events, so I want to be sure I have them booked and planned into the calendar.
  18. I order our Christmas pjs as soon as I see them. I was able to get our tee shirts at the Christmas in July sale and now I am looking for leggings or pj bottoms.  
  19. Instead of air fresheners we diffuse essential oils, so I make sure I order my pine, cinnamon, sweet orange and peppermint!
  20. I get our gas fireplace serviced in October.  This year I might even switch up the logs!
  21. Last but not least by any means, I find out when The Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon is live on TV.  I know I can call it up anytime on Netflix, but I want the thrill of gathering around the TV and watching it as a family.  Call me old fashioned.
What are your MUST DOs before December first?  Share your secrets and help us all be better prepared for the best holiday ever!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Christmas Candies that You will Love!

Another treat I love to indulge in over the holidays is Christmas candy.  I love that I can give a little and that it will go a long way.  I am learning that a batch can be divided into four gifts, in a smaller tin and it is appreciate as much for its smallness as it is for its taste!

With the world watching its sugar intake, it is safe to say that I won't be making as much candy as usual, so I am considering doing a candy swap with my neighbors. Not as fancy as the cookie exchange, but the idea that I will make a pound of fudge and give her half, if she will give me half of her turtles.  It seems to be a fair exchange!  Plus, cuts down on the amount of work!  Take a look at these goodies and tell me, which two would you want to trade for?

15 Christmas Candy Recipes

Christmas Tree Chocolate Bark by Premeditated Leftovers
Candy Cane Fudge by the Jenny Evolution
Pistachio Cranberry Bark by Flour on My Face
Pumpkin Fudge by Nemcsok Farms
Crockpot Christmas Candy by Almost Super Mom
Cinnamon Whiskey Balls by Home Cooking Memories
English Toffee by the Idea Room
Peppermint Patties by the Gunny Sack
Cinnamon Candy by a Southern Fairytale
Muddy Buddies by Crazy Little Project
Microwave Caramels by Simple As That
Coconut Cream Truffles by Crazy for Crust
Christmas White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn by the Kitchen is My Playground
Chocolate Caramel Pecan Turtles by Lil’ Luna

If you already are a wizard at one of these delicious candies, please leave any tips you have for making them in the comments below.  Let's make our Christmas candy making experiences be good ones!