Holiday Decorating

holiday decorating: when do you begin?

Have you started decorating for the holidays? We started the day after Halloween, and we’ve received a bit of criticism (via social media, of course) for what some perceive as an inappropriately early start to the holiday season. I don’t actually disagree, but we had our reasons. We’re hosting a holiday charity event in a couple of weeks. One thing I’ve learned: nothing makes your critics look worse (or apologize faster) than explaining that your actions have been put forth to raise money for those less fortunate.

What are your plans for the weekend? Me, I’ll be decorating … and scouring the web for inspiration. And speaking of inspiration, have you seen Lowe’s Deck the Halls Event? I need a little of that action at my house.

Happy Holidays Friday!

Friday (Insta)Favorites

instagram pics

Something simple that I’m enjoying this holiday season is capturing little holiday details, sharing them on Instagram and seeing others do the same. I’ve also been participating in a couple of series lately. The #happyholigram tag is one of my favorites. Are you on Instagram? Share your name so I can follow along with your festivities this holiday season.

Here are a few other favorites from my week:

Happy Weekend!

Cardboard Gingerbread House Gift Tags

cardboard gingerbread house gift tags

We’ve purchased most of our gifts online this year, so boxes showing up at our house is almost a daily occurrence. The stack of boxes in the garage is getting pretty tall, so this weekend I decided to put some of the cardboard to use by making gingerbread house gift tags. I had planned to make them by myself – you know, so Jason and Jenna wouldn’t wonder why Santa was using our homemade gift tags – but Jenna can always tell when I’ve got something crafty going on in the office and it wasn’t long before she was in on the action. Since starting school, Jason has become much more interested in coloring and crafts, so of course, he joined in.

These are very easy to make and could be used as gift tags or ornaments. I started by cutting a few panels off of cardboard boxes (in areas that didn’t have any printing) and then made a couple of house patterns out of regular paper. I traced the patterns onto the cardboard and then cut the cardboard using a ruler and extacto knife. We used a white Galaxy Marker (which can be purchased at Hobby Lobby) and charcoal crayons to decorate the houses. Once the houses were complete, I used a hole punch at the top and then tied some silver twine through the hole.



And now we have our very first present under the tree:


Gingerbread Houses

Decorating gingerbread houses

Decorating gingerbread houses has become a Christmas tradition for us. Some families have an Elf running around leaving a trail of marshmallows behind, we have our sticky, sugar-fueled children. This is one of Jason and Jenna’s most-loved holiday activities, but I’m not sure if it’s the joy of decorating or the joy of frosting that drives their excitement. There was definitely a lot of eating going on, especially since this year we were able to incorporate dye-free candy canes and sprinkles. (The red balls were left over from a couple of years ago, but luckily J+J know those are decoration-only.)

I think the best part of this year’s festivities was how much Jason got in on the action. He had announced in advance that his gingerbread house was going to be an “Angry Birds Lego Monster Haunted House” theme, and he quickly moved through the decorating phase so that he could work on arranging his cast of characters.

Here are a few scenes from our gingerbread decorating:

Decorating gingerbread houses

decorating gingerbread houses

Decorating gingerbread houses


angry birds gingerbread houses

Friday Favorites


christmas card outtake


Earlier this week I read an article  about managing stress and expectations during the holidays. The advice is simple, but helpful. Make a list of your holiday expectations – what’s really important to your family and what adds unnecessary stress?

Unfortunately for me, one of the things at the top of my ‘really important’ list is also one of the most stressful: Christmas cards. Every year, I try to send out cards with a picture of Jason and Jenna, but getting a great picture of these two is nearly impossible. Jason doesn’t stand still long enough to be in focus, and Jenna easily becomes annoyed by being photographed. This year was no exception in the difficulty category, but I’m happy to report that after promising a couple of candy canes, I was able to capture a couple of pretty cute pics of J+J. Christmas Cards. Check. (The photos above are outtake from this year’s pictures.)

Here are a few other favorites from my week:

Felt + Yarn Garland

felt and yarn garland

I made a simple holiday garland this weekend using material I had on hand. I purchased some felt balls from Purl Soho a few months ago and had been wanting to put them to use. I’ve seen a couple of felt ball garlands online and it made me wish I had purchased more.  Since I only had a handful, I decided to combine them with felt flowers and pom poms.


I made the flowers by cutting petals out of felt and sewing them together in the center. I used this tutorial, minus the decoupage/glue step.


For the poms poms, I used this tutorial. Jenna really wanted to help, so I wrapped the yarn around her hands to form the pom poms instead of my own.


Once the pieces were ready, I threaded everything onto red and white striped twine.


And then I placed the garland along our windows in the kitchen.

I Heart: Natural Baking Decorations

We eliminated artificial dyes from our diets almost two years ago. I sometimes think it would be ok to make exceptions on certain occasions, like at children’s birthday parties, but with young children, it’s hard to have rules that are sometimes enforced, sometimes not. My son is particularly black and white about this issue. When we go trick-or-treating, he asks each neighbor if there is dye in their candy before accepting it. Yes, we’re that family.

Our Christmas holidays have been equally un-colorful. In the past, I’ve relied on chocolate and white sprinkles and marshmallows (some brands are dye-free, some are not) for decorating cookies and gingerbread houses. But I recently I saw a new line of sugar sprinkles from Confection Craft, and the colors look so much richer than other all-natural decorations I’ve seen. I’m planning to order a set for the holidays. Bring on the color … and the cookies!


Independence Day Inspiration

We’re neither hosting nor attending a party this year, but seeing so many fun ideas is making me wish for some fourth of july festivities this weekend.

Left to right: