Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Resolution

I have a Pinterest album full of holiday crafts, décor, and projects that I fully intended to do. However, due to a million tiny things that have all combined to bring on a bit of a bummer Christmas, I’ve been pretty blah this year. Even M has commented on how weird it is that I’m not really into Christmas, since I’m normally ALL OVER IT.

Seriously, I’m the person
singing Christmas music in July. I’d have a tree up in every room and bake Christmas cookies nonstop if I could. I love me some Christmas. So this is my promise to you.

Next year will be awesome.

C will be three years old and can really get into it with me. We will have saved up enough money to have someone put up our exterior lights (no way we are brave enough to do it ourselves, have you SEEN our
roofline?!?) I will complete my gift shopping by Thanksgiving so I’m not stressing about it come December. The house will be clean and organized so I can have a holiday party. We will take family photos. I will make lots of cookies and treats. And I will get all my crafts and projects done in advance! 

Here are some of my favorite holiday crafts and ideas that I really really really meant to do this year. But I didn’t. So I will do them next year. I will.

Don’t laugh, I WILL!

Okay, to go with my grumpy holiday mood this year, I’d like to present my first selection.
Scrapcation Getaway made these fun boxes of “Grinch Pills.” So awesome. M would definitely appreciate these, since he’s not the biggest fan of the holidays.
grinch tic tac

Snowflakes and Dragonflies made these awesome frosted bulbs and I WANT THEM!

glitter bulbs

The girls at The Ivy Cottage had an ornament party and made their own ornaments, including a beautiful one filled with pearls. Bet I can find some pearls at Goodwill!
pearl ornament

Bunny Hill Designs has the cutest snowmen ornaments ever, I am so going to make them.


Any Harry Potter fan would looove these cute golden snitch ornaments from Tiny Apartment Crafts. I know I do!

snitch ornament

It’s not all about the ornaments, though. Two Junk Chix made a beautiful holiday “wreath” out of balls of yarn… definitely recreating this! (Watch out, their site contains MUSIC so be sure to turn down your sound if you are trying to be quiet!)

yarn ball wreath

What about the chandeliers? I didn’t have enough greenery to do something as festive as the chandelier from Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour, but I will next year! It’s on my list of things to buy at the post holiday sales!
chandelier greenery

A Step in the Journey used what is probably one of my favorite holiday phrases to accent her décor, I’m bound and determined to use it somewhere in the house next year!

singing plate

Last but certainly not least we have stockings. For years I’ve been looking for the perfect stocking. One that I have a vague vision of. One that will match our regular décor, AND match both of our regular holiday themes (red white and green, and blue white and silver). And now I’ve finally found it.

Well. Almost.

Just imagine a lovely white, knit stocking. Now add a beautiful fur cuff and pom poms. I haven’t been able to find them yet, but I think I could make them. Or if you happen to see them anywhere, please let me know!

white stocking   fur stocking

Well folks, that’s my list. I fully intend to make each and every thing on this list for Christmas 2012, and you are my witnesses. I can’t very well change my mind now that it’s out there, right?

Do you have a list of things you wish you had made or decorated this year? Are you going to try again next year, or just cross them off the list?

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Homemade Poptarts

I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but M works crazy shifts. They are 12 hours long, and every two months he switches from days to nights and then back again two months later. Couple that with his weird need to be at work an hour early and a 30 minute commute, and you have long 14 hour days.

I don’t know how he does it. But he’s told me many times that he would never want to switch “jobs” with me because he doesn’t know how I do it, so I guess it works out for us.

Right now he is on the night shift which means we do a lot of breakfast for dinner. C and I definitely don’t mind having pancakes for dinner, but M isn’t too enthusiastic about a pot roast for breakfast (I don’t know why, I think it sounds… okay yeah, that doesn’t really sound good at all).

M is a big fan of pop tarts so when I saw a recipe for homemade pop tarts from Bake Me More, I decided to go for it.

pop tarts

The only thing is that M doesn’t really like the fruity pop tarts, he’s more into the cinnamon ones. But I decided that it should be fairly easy to adjust the recipe if I used a cinnamon and sugar mixture instead of jam.

Since I didn’t have a ready-made pie crust in the fridge, I just made my own. I accidentally added double flour so I just doubled the whole recipe. Extra pop tarts definitely won’t go to waste in our house. Then I rolled the dough flat and cut little rectangles to make my pop tart shapes.

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Then I mixed up a cinnamon and sugar mixture that I borrowed from another recipe…

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… and scooped a few spoonfuls onto half my rectangles. The rest of the rectangles were used as a top layer…

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… and then I pinched the edges together to hold everything in.

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Tossed them into the oven at 425 for about 8 minutes…


… and they came out looking like this.

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I think OMG is the appropriate term for this situation.

Apparently the butter holding the cinnamon-sugar mixture together just completely melted in the oven. Oops.

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I am SO glad that I thought to cover the cookie sheet with foil before cooking.

Needless to say, these were not edible. No, seriously. I actually tried one, just in case. The dough was all… doughy… and not in a good way.

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And just in case you are thinking they don’t look too bad… here’s what they were supposed to look like...

  pop tarts

My first attempt at a pie crust?    Fail. 

My first attempt at homemade pop tarts?    Definite fail!

Ah well, it’s not all sunshine and roses. I had a good laugh at my cooking misadventure because, well, what else can you do? I’ll probably try again some day, and hopefully that batch will turn out better.

Anyone else have an embarrassing baking mishap? OH, and by any chance do you have a recipe for cinnamon-sugar pop tarts?

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A gift from Santa… built by me

This year Santa is bringing C a fabulous custom built train table. But the super special thing about this train table is that it will double as a fabulous custom built coffee table (when C isn’t playing with it of course)!
The thing is, I’ve never actually built anything before. Sure, I’m great at designing, and organizing, and the Spray Paint Queen, but actually building furniture? With power tools?

Nope. Never once.

So this will be my first attempt. And I’m a little nervous, I want it to be super duper spectacular. And perfect. Something I’d pay hundreds for, only I don’t want to actually pay hundreds. Because I’m cheap like that.

I must’ve spent hours drawing up plans for my fabulous coffee table… I mean, for C’s fabulous train table. Anyway after what seemed like forever, I had my basic design.


Looks like a cute, simple table, right? But after looking at it for a while, I couldn’t help but think I’ve actually seen it somewhere before. This exact table. Serious deja vu, people.


After a quick internet search, I realized why my design looked so familiar.

activity table 2

Ah right. There it is. At Pottery Barn.

For $200.

Yup, that’s the table I want. But not for two-hundred freaking dollars. Because that’s just silly. I mean, look at it. It’s just a few pieces of wood slapped together, right? A few nails and some wood glue, anyone could make that. Even someone with little to absolutely zero carpentry experience. Right?

In less than 12 days... Well I'm not saying it's going to be easy.

During the 2 hours a day that C is napping... Sure, I mean, that's plenty of time.

In the 30 degree garage. With a chance of snow... Okay now you're just being mean.

Yes, I have inner monologues. And it's going to be ok. I have faith in me. I can do this.

activity table

Where are Santa’s elves when I need them?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My First Holiday Tablescape

Okay everyone, I’ve never really set up a holiday table before, so this was definitely a fun experience for me. Hope you like it!

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Check out my fabulous new vases from last year’s post holiday sales!

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These red glitter birds are so fun! They didn’t look that great on the tree, but they look awesome floating in my fancy vases with a few other leftover ornaments.

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I love my little “centerpiece,” and it was oh-so-easy! Just took a serving platter I already had, topped it with a Dollar Store stocking (that I already had), and scattered a bunch of glass ornaments (that I already had). Sooo… didn’t cost me a thing! And see how easy?

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Dollar Store chargers were placed underneath our everyday dishware and topped with my white napkins. And I wanted to bring in more crystal, so I added little crystal ornaments on top. If I get the chance, I’d like to make some type of napkin ring underneath… 

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Oooh sorry, you can see my baskets full of wrapping supplies in the background!

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I have exactly 6 mini wreaths that I picked up years ago from the Dollar Store, eventually I will hang them on the backs of the chairs.

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A few snowflakes are scattered around the table to add a touch of winter.

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My beautiful swan that matches the vases, also purchased at last year’s post holiday sale (sorry about the lighting, by the time I got to taking the picture the sun light was almost gone).

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Well, what do you think of my first table setting? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I decided to stick with basic and simple, red and white. I love to go in there and look around, it always makes me smile.

And stick around, because in a few days I will have a post with my new napkin rings!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Simple Holiday Mantle

Well, there isn’t much to say about the mantle, I went pretty simple this year!

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C and I took a walk last week and snipped the ends off a few trees to bulk up our greenery. We also found a ton of pine cones all over the ground, so we brought those home as well!

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I couldn’t think of anything to put next to my wreath so I just wrapped a few picture frames. I almost panicked because I didn’t have any white paper… until I realized the back of wrapping paper is white.

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I have no clue what the thing underneath the wreath is, it was sitting in our garage when we bought the house. I’ve kept it around ever since thinking I would find a use for it. I was going to spray paint it but when I put it on the mantle to make sure it would fit, the colors matched! I threw my hands up and just went with it.

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These stocking holders were another great Dollar Store find!

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Our first holiday card of the year!

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Friday, December 9, 2011

The Christmas Tree is Up!

Okay folks, I’ve finally finished my tree for the second time, and I have to give a big thank you to the puppy who decided to pull the whole thing down so I got to completely re-do it… oh wait, no, that was actually really annoying. Anyway, it’s done now… again. Please excuse my horrible photography, I know nothing  about photography and hope to get a new camera soon. Like by Christmas. Of next year. Anyway, I’m too exhausted to write much more, so enjoy the Christmas love!

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We decided to put the tree in the library this year, instead of the living room. Our living room's new floor plan just doesn’t have room for a tree this size.

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C’s horse was a Christmas gift from a friend last year, and it looks oh so perfect tucked next to the tree!

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Check out my super awesome candy garland! I was originally planning to do pink, teal, and purple this year, but it just didn’t match the garland. So the pink, teal, and purple went out the window, and instead I’m doing red, white, and green. And it looks fab with the candy garland (which I got at Dollar Tree over 8 years ago and I WISH I’d gotten more).

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I am the biggest cat lover, but it turns out that M is super allergic so I haven’t had a cat in over 10 years. The only cats I’m allowed to have are the ones decorating the house and the Christmas tree.

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These guys have collars naming them “Miss” and “Chief,” and they are always getting into trouble (get it? Mischief? Heehee) . I love these guys.

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Here they are again. Tsk tsk, they always have to be into something. Reminds me of a certain puppy…

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I couldn’t agree more!

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C’s ornament from last year, it has a side for a picture and another with a button that plays music.

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A Chocolate Moose. Yum…

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Hubby had his own contributions in the tree décor, like this Homer Santa.

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Can’t have a Christmas tree without a nod to Texas…

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and who could forget his hero, John Wayne.

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These were all bought last year during the post-Christmas sale. Yay!

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Love love love this red, sparkly ornament. I had no clue when I got it that I would like it so much, but it looks so beautiful on the tree and is probably one of my favorites!

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Well, that’s all folks. What do you think of my tree? Should I have stuck with the pink, teal, and purple, or are you loving how the red, white, and green show off my super awesome candy garland? What are your favorite holiday colors?

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Decorate your Christmas tree like a PRO

There are a lot of things I don’t know how to do. I can’t read music, quilting is beyond my capability, and power tools scare the bejeebies out of me. I can do only one thing on the sewing machine, and that’s push the foot pedal to make it go. Ask me to do a special stitch or thread the stupid thing and you are sure to get a look of blank terror.

But there is one thing I CAN do. And that’s decorate a Christmas tree. With my very first tree I made the decision that just because my home doesn’t look like it belongs in a magazine (yet!), there is no reason my Christmas tree can’t! I love to sit by the tree and smile at how beautiful it is, it’s one of the main reasons I love Christmas. But every time I see someone else’s tree being done all wrong, I just get this itching to go fix it. A little rearranging is all it needs… surely they won’t mind if I help… what? No, of course I wasn’t moving your ornaments…

You know what? You don’t have to buy fancy, expensive ornaments to make your tree look fab, anyone can do it. A lot of my décor is actually from Dollar Tree, and 95% of the rest was purchased during the post-Christmas sales. Making your tree look great isn’t about what’s ON it, but about how and where you place each item. And it’s all about dimensions!

So here is a long list of DO’s and DON’Ts on how to make your tree look absolutely amazing.
First and foremost, let’s start with the basics.

1. Location location location!

DON’T put your tree in the center of the room (unless you have a ridiculously huge room. I’m talking ballroom huge), or anywhere it will block the flow of traffic. Yes your tree can and should be the “centerpiece” of the room and the highlight of your home, but it should look as if it belongs there. It shouldn’t look like you just dropped a random tree in the center of your living room.

white house tree
If you lived here, you could definitely get away with a random tree in the middle of the room.
Yes, this is the White House.
DO move furniture around to find the perfect spot! Make sure you evaluate the room size and height and buy your tree accordingly. If it’s too tall and wide it will overwhelm the room and look all wrong, but if it’s too short and skinny it won’t look right either.

sm tree
This tree is a SHOWSTOPPER in its elegant simplicity, even though its nestled into a corner.

2. Lights!

DON’T just wrap the lights around the tree by draping them on the branches. Who wants to look at those wires when they are trying to admire the tree?

lighting dont

DO take the time to wrap each and every branch with your light strands, and make sure the wires are the same color as your branches!.


Yes, this will take a lot longer and you will probably use 4-5x as many light strands, but the end result will be so worth it! Instead of having an all too obvious strand of lights, the tree will glow as if the lights are blooming from the branches themselves. Check out Better Homes and Gardens for more detailed tips on how to properly light your tree, including estimates on just how many boxes you will need!

3. Color and style!

DON’T go into your holiday decorating without a plan. If you want the tree to look amazing you will need to decide on a theme or a color scheme. This can be anything from traditional red and gold colors, to all things homemade, to a winter wonderland. You need to tie all your décor together somehow, so it doesn’t look like a mish-mash of random holiday things scattered around your house.

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This tree is extravagant and ornate, just like the home its surrounded by,
and the colors blend beautifully with the rest of the decor!
DO match your color scheme or theme to your everyday décor. A tree full of lovely blue and white décor might look a little odd next to dark red curtains. Either incorporate your home’s color scheme into your holiday décor, or choose holiday décor to match your home’s color scheme.


You should use the same rule of thumb with your holiday color scheme as you use with your home décor: 60-30-10. 60% of a dominant color, 30% of a secondary, and 10% accent. It doesn’t matter if your tree is green or white, it will probably be the most dominant color. Decide upon another color as your secondary, this will be the color you use the most in your holiday décor. You can have as many accent colors as you want, but less is definitely more in this situation.

{To read more about the 60-30-10 rule, visit HGTV}

Of course, you can always change your entire home over for the holidays. If you are absolutely set on a pink, purple, and turqoise holiday, pack up those gold curtains and pillows and replace them with something that matches.

small tree
Use colors in your furniture and decor as a jumping off point for your holiday decorating!
Well, folks, those are the basics. Now on to the nitty gritty!

4. Garland to finish it off...

DON’T forget the garland, it will tie all your décor together! You can use popcorn chains, ribbon, beads, or even paper garland made by your kiddos. Just make sure it matches your theme.

If you are using garland, want to make sure to drape the strands from branch to branch. You don’t want it to look like you wrapped circles around your tree. And don’t be afraid to put some of the loops closer than others, it will make it look more natural.

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When using ribbon it’s also important not to just wrap circles around your tree. It will look un-natural and fake. Instead, drape the ribbon casually from branch to branch. Twist and tuck some of the ribbon into the tree to break it up so it doesn’t become too monotonous.


5. Ahhh the ornaments...

DON’T just stick your ornaments on the tree as you pull them out of the box. Use your 60-30-10 plan!

DO put everything on in order. Start with your garland or ribbon. At this point some people would put up their favorite "special" ornaments. I do the opposite; I prefer to begin with my primary color (usually white) to use as a base. Once the tree has enough of your primary color, move on to your secondary colors. Add your fun-shaped, multi-colored accents last.

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It took careful planning to make sure all the garland and decor went on the this tree right!

DON’T hang ornaments on the very ends of your tree branches. This will make your ornaments look haphazard and out of place. I don’t think I’ve EVER had a reason to hang an ornament on the very tip of a branch, they always look better at least a few inches in.

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Make sure to put ornaments at all depths, and avoid the edges!
DO utilize your Entire tree! Starting with your primary color, make sure to place ornaments near the trunk. Staggering ornaments from the inside-out will give your tree amazing depth and dimension, similar to the effect we achieved by wrapping each branch with lights. If you don’t believe me, try it and then step back. Your tree will look fuller and more beautiful, while allowing you to use more ornaments without overcrowding.

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DON’T forget the back of the tree! I can’t count how many times I’ve been to someone’s home and they decorated the front and sides of the tree… but left the back bare. And you can usually tell when you walk past, it’s like there’s a line where the décor stops. So make sure to use a few ornaments to decorate the back. It doesn’t have to be as full and beautiful as the front and sides, but having some back there in the visible spots will make your tree seem more finished. Plus, you will still be able to see some of the back décor when you are looking through the branches from the front. That means more dimension!

DO use fun and interesting items as décor. This can be anything from your baby’s first mittens, to holly berries, to antique silverware. Having unique pieces here and there will make great conversation starters, and also add a touch of personalization.

Using fun and unexpected items on your tree makes it more personal, so go for it!
DON’T rest your ornaments on the branches unless they are MEANT to rest on the branches (like the starfish in the image above). Most ornaments are meant to hang freely and when branches prevent that, it makes them look un-natural. If you know you want the ornament hanging in a specific spot but there’s a loose branch in the way, try hooks of different lengths to make it work. Move the little branches so it can hang better (that’s a lot easier if you have a fake tree). If you can’t make it work in that spot, then just put the ornament somewhere else.

It’s okay to move your ornaments! Just because you thought you wanted it in one place, doesn’t mean it won’t work somewhere else. Experiment!

BHG fruit tree

DO get rid of those horrid little ties attached to your "special" ornaments and use hooks that are the same color as your tree (they sell packages at all the dollar stores, and you will be able to use them forever). It is so hard to loop one of those little ties around a branch and make the ornament hang properly, plus, it just looks cheap. I have green hooks that match my tree, and they blend so well you can barely see them. It makes the ornament the center of attention.

Keep in mind that you CAN use pretty little ribbons, twine, rope, or pretty much anything you want to attach your ornaments. Just remember that you WILL be able to see it, so make sure it fits in with your theme.

ribbon ornament

DON’T put your big ornaments at the top of the tree and little ones at the bottom. In order for your tree to remain visually balanced, the smallest ornaments belong at the top and the largest ornaments belong at the bottom. The middle is a place for mingling  ,  with some of each.

Some of these items are so huge they really shouldn't be on this tree at all,
let alone hanging out at the top. Where is the beautiful green of the tree???
DO put ornaments where they will be shown off to their best advantage. It’s a bit of a waste to put two blue ornaments right next to each other – unless of course your color scheme is all blue – but a blue ornament next to a white one would look beautiful. Also, make sure to stagger your colors so you don’t have all your blue ornaments three feet off the ground and the white ones four feet, unless you are specifically going for a rainbow type theme.

If you have a lot of the same color ornaments, half shiny and half matte, try putting most of the shiny ones inside the tree near its trunk. This is where the tree glows the most and your shiny ornaments will reflect that light, adding more dimension.

Glitter ornaments are also important. You bought (or made) them because you love that glitter look, make sure you show it off! Instead of putting it below a branch where it catches nothing but shadows, put it in an open spot where the lights will reflect off that glitter and make it sparkle! (Hmm… anyone else just get a Twilight flashback?)

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DON’T use all your ornaments! Just because you have them doesn’t mean they need to go on the tree. I will never understand people that put so many things on their tree that you can’t even see the greenery. It’s overkill, people, and makes it look like Christmas threw up all over it. Show off that beautiful tree you worked so hard to pick out instead of covering it up!

I think Santa's Workshop might have exploded on this tree...

Instead of killing your tree (and my eyes) with Christmas overload, use your extra ornaments all over the house! Accent your centerpieces, wreaths, or garland. Fill bowls and vases or hang them from the chandeliers. Use those ornaments to bring your holiday theme into the rest of your home.


DO let your kids help! Sure they might not put the ornaments where you want them and might just hang them all on one branch. But they will feel soooo important and get such a sense of accomplishment when they are “done.” Besides, you can always fix the decorations after they go to bed.

One of my favorite moments from the holiday so far this year has been watching two year old C fumble to figure out an ornament hook before just shoving it the whole thing into a branch, throwing his little arms in the air, fists clenched, as he shouted with a huge grin “I DID IT!!!”

These are the days you won’t get back. The holidays don’t last very long, so let your kids help and have fun. Relax and try not to stress too much. Take your time when decorating your Christmas tree, instead of rushing to get it over with. In the end you will have a beautiful conversation piece that makes you smile when you walk by.

Those are my tips. What do you think? Are there any you disagree with, or did I leave anything out? I am so excited to finish up my tree and update my blog with decor pics of my own. I may even think of more "tips" to share!


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