christmas

DIY Holiday Teacher Gift

Easy diy for kids: personalized mugs as gifts for teachers during the holidays

We aren’t the most original when it comes to gift-giving to teachers during the holidays. I think I’ve given a coffee mug and Starbucks gift card to my children’s teachers for both Christmas and Valentine’s day every year since they started school. This year isn’t entirely different; however, I did deviate from my night-before-the-classroom-party run to Starbucks by planning a week in advance AND organizing a mug decorating craft so that my children could create a personalized cup for each of their teachers. (more…)

Gingerbread Houses: Shopkins Edition

This year's gingerbread house decorating took on a Shopkins theme.

This weekend marked our annual gingerbread decorating day. It’s become a Christmas tradition, and I’m surprised by how much J + J continue to love this activity, even as they get older and the latest wave of popular obsessions (Star Wars, Minecraft, etc.) seem to dominate their time. This year’s gingerbread decorating, however, didn’t exactly escape the hold of popular culture. In fact, Jenna’s Shopkins toys were the focus of her gingerbread endeavor this year.

gingerbread-shopkins-2015-1

For those who aren’t familiar with Shopkins, they are are tiny plastic toys that personify everyday consumer products – things like eggs, notebooks and shoes. Truth be told, they are pretty cute, and their names further their appeal. Mary Mobile is a mobile phone, Kooky Cookie is, of course, a cookie and there’s even Ginger Fred, a gingerbread house. Jenna has amassed quite a collection of these adorable characters over the past couple of months.

gingerbread-shopkins-2015-2

Jenna not only used her gingerbread house as the site of a Shopkins character party, she also filmed a video in which she narrated a story of the little figures as they gather around the house to celebrate Christmas and mostly comment on the decorations of the house.

gingerbread-shopkins-2015-3

In the past two months or so, Shopkins have become huge at our house. They’ve even become inspiration for the art Jenna creates. Meet Snow Crush, a season one special edition that Jenna painted in watercolors:

gingerbread-shopkins-2015-5

And even Jason is willing to play Shopkins alongside his sister. Shopkins are perfectly scaled to his Minecraft minifigures, so Minecraft/Shopkins mash-ups games have become part of their daily routine.

gingerbread-shopkins-2015-4

Five Favorite Holiday Finds at Magnolia Market

Five favorite holiday finds from Magnolia Farms, the home decor shop of HGTV's Fixer Upper stars.

This weekend we visited Magnolia Market, the home decor shop owned by the stars of the HGTV series, Fixer Upper. We’ve been fans of the show for nearly a year now, and with Waco less than 2 hours away, we decided to take a road trip. I had visited their smaller shop over the summer, but was blown away by the significantly larger new location. With two giant silos, a garden, large lawn for children to play and two warehouse-sized showrooms, it was definitely worth the drive. In addition to the gorgeous holiday scenery, the market featured tons of products and ideas for decorating during the Christmas season. (more…)

Weekend Snapshot

weekend-gingerbread1

Decorating gingerbread houses is an annual holiday tradition in our family. This year’s two-house event was definitely scaled down compared to last year’s village creation, but we still had a messy fun time and Jason’s house definitely achieved a new record of colorfulness. Before we began, I separated all of the green, red and white Jelly Bellies from the rainbow of colors … to maintain a common palette, of course. Somewhere along the way, however,  Jason discovered the banned colors and covered his roof in them. And I have to admit, his house is my favorite one yet. (more…)

Countdown to Christmas: Teaching Kids to Give

Instead of an advent calendar, I'm sending my kids secret letters that will encourage them to give back this holiday season.

Now that Thanksgiving is a wrap, we’re turning our attention to Christmas, which immediately brings to mind the subject of advent calendars. While I love the way advent calendars weave holiday excitement into the month of December, I’ve never been a big fan of giving our children extra gifts leading up to a day full of even more gifts.

This year, I’m trying a new way of counting down to the big day – one that I hope will place more emphasis on giving than receiving. I’ll share the details of the plan on the Tiny Prints blog next week. In the meantime, I’ve posted a free editable Photoshop template here and be sure to check out the Tiny Prints holiday collection

Update 12/1/2014

Check out the Tiny Prints blog for more details on our approach to counting down to Christmas this year, including top ideas for getting your children involved in charitable giving. (more…)

Holiday Gallery Wall

Add an easy-to-install / easy-to-remove gallery of Christmas Pasts with this simple tutorial. We do this every year.

Christmas Photo Cards are an annual tradition in our family. Last year I framed all of our past cards and displayed them in the kitchen during the holiday months (and maybe a few months after). This year, we’re continuing the tradition, but the addition of this year’s card caused us to exceed the wall space in the kitchen. Luckily we have a living room with completely bare walls just waiting to be filled. (more…)

Christmas S’mores

candy cane christmas s'mores: 3 ways

For our recent home tour, I set up a Christmas-themed s’mores and hot chocolate bar in our backyard. The set-up was just for display – we didn’t make any s’mores as part of the tour. The idea of candy cane s’mores, however, stayed with me well after the weekend was over. Yesterday, I decided to test out my theory that s’mores, combined with a bit of peppermint, would yield a pretty awesome treat. My recipe included graham crackers and marshmallows (broiled in the oven for a couple of minutes) topped with a small piece of peppermint bark. It was pretty amazing.

We used Williams-Sonoma peppermint bark, but you could also use crushed candy canes and chocolate or pieces of a Hershey’s candy cane bar.

Here are a few photos of the s’mores and hot chocolate station in our backyard:

make christmas s'mores

Classroom Gift: Secret Santa Starter Kit

Great idea for classroom gifts or craft: create a santa beard

I signed up to bring gifts for the goody bags for my son’s Christmas party this year. I’m not a big fan of bags full of plastic toys, and I think most readers of this site know my policy on candy containing artificial dyes, so I mostly signed up for this task to provide an alternative to the usual goody bag fare.

As I walked the aisles of Target, I realized that non-plastic, non-candy goodies weren’t so easy to come by. But eventually the idea of creating a “Santa Disguise Kit” popped into my mind, and I set out to find materials for creating a santa beard.

These were super easy and inexpensive to make. Here are the materials I used:

make a santa beard: materials

The stretchy string was purchased at Michaels but everything else can be found at the grocery store. If you don’t have a hole punch, you can make a small incision with scissors to thread the string through.

Here are the steps to create the beards:

how to make a santa beard

I cut out the top section of the plate and then folded it in half to cut out the mouth shape. Next, I used the paper punch to cut small circles into each side of the beard and threaded the string though the holes, tying each end in a knot. I applied glue to the paper plate in sections and stretched each cotton ball a bit before gluing it to the plate.

Once the beards were complete, I packaged them up in lunch-sized bags and attached some instructions for playing “secret santa” at home.

secret santa starter kit: make a santa beard as a classroom gift or craft

Oh, and I also asked Jenna to model my design. She is one serious secret Santa:

secret jenna santa

A Christmas Tour with Williams-Sonoma

A Christmas Tour of our family and dining rooms styled by Williams-Sonoma

This weekend we participated in the annual Christmas Tour of Homes in our neighborhood. While we did quite a bit of decorating on our own, we were also very excited to work with Williams-Sonoma on our family and dining room. They came in and decked out our dining room table, console table and sofa in gorgeous products from both Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn.

A Christmas Tour of our family and dining rooms styled by Williams-Sonoma

My own style is very minimal, and our house tends to be a bit under-decorated as a result. It was fun to see the talented folks at Williams-Sonoma completely go to town in this space and work with our existing furniture and decor to create a styled and festive environment that also felt very warm and inviting.

A Christmas Tour of our family and dining rooms styled by Williams-Sonoma

Here are a few of the details:

A Christmas Tour of our family and dining rooms styled by Williams-Sonoma

Christmas at our house wouldn’t be complete without hot chocolate, so we also created a hot chocolate station in the kitchen:

hot chocolate bar for the holidays

Thank you so much, Williams-Sonoma, for helping make our home tour a success.

A Modern Rustic Christmas

A modern rustic Christmas decor inspired by our backyard

One of the things we love the most about our new home is our backyard – lots of trees and wide-open spaces. The recent snow has made it even more appealing, and we’ve spent the last couple of days pretty much stranded at home, making fires, baking and playing in our yard.

When I started decorating for the holidays this year, I was largely inspired by the view above (minus the recent addition of snow, of course) and a desire to bring some of the natural elements that we love into our home.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a post for Modern Parents, Messy Kids sharing our nature-inspired fireplace decor, and now that I’ve finished decorating for the holidays, I thought I would share a few more holiday decorations.

We have quite a few traditional and not-so-traditional trees in our house this year. My favorite is a driftwood tree that we purchased while on vacation in Fairhope, AL over Thanksgiving:

A driftwood Christmas tree in a modern rustic decor

I also love this tree that my husband made out of firewood:

a firewood Christmas tree

We also have quite a few traditional trees without decorations, except for the occasional strand of white lights. I think the trees are beautiful in themselves:

simple, natural Christmas trees

I haven’t shared much about our upcoming charity event, but as part of the event, Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn have each decorated one room in our home. I’m super excited to share these rooms next week, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at the Pottery Barn room. I love these birch trees:

birch trees in a modern rustic holiday decor

And while the rustic theme doesn’t dominate every room, I have tried to incorporate a few elements of nature throughout:

a modern rustic holiday decor

DIY Tartan Plaid Wreath

Super simple diy tartan plaid wreath

I love tartan plaid this season, but haven’t seen many plaid Christmas decorations, so I decided to make my own using this tutorial for ribbon wreaths. As the post says, it’s almost too easy to have a tutorial. I wrapped the ribbon around a styrofoam wreath form, attached the final piece of ribbon with sewing pins, and, instead of making a bow, I added a small holly berry garland. That’s it.

Super simple diy tartan plaid wreath

tartan plaid wreaths

Decorating With Christmas Lights

Decorating with Christmas Lights

This holiday season, we are decorating nearly every room in our home for an upcoming charity event. Nearly. Every. Room.

Not only is it a bit more work than I realized, it’s also pretty expensive to put up decorations in rooms that, in previous holiday seasons, had no trace of Christmas cheer. It’s caused me to get a bit creative in the decorations department, and, in a couple of rooms, I’ve turned to Christmas lights to bring a festive look without spending a lot of money.

Here are two ways I’ve incorporated Christmas lights in our house:

Decorating with Christmas Lights

This  is my favorite BY FAR, and I’m hoping we leave it up after the holidays. To create the bedroom lights, I purchased four sheer curtain panels from Target along with two sets of white Christmas lights. We used push pins to attach the lights to the wall behind the bed.

Decorating with Christmas Lights
For the wall tree, I started by measuring the top center point of the tree and then measuring equal distances from the center for the outermost left and right points. I drew dots on these points in chalk and then attached striped burlap ribbon using pushpins. The white garland and battery-operated lights were purchased at Target.

Decorating with Christmas Lights