They excite us and they stress us out. Gift giving has become expected instead of spontaneous. How do we simplify our gift giving at Christmas but still show our love and thoughtfulness to friends and family?
Gift cards are one answer. It’s so convenient to be able to go grocery shopping and grab a gift card at the same time. I walked into Ralphs this week and couldn’t believe the stores that now offer gift cards right inside a grocery store. I got one for Target right then and there at Ralphs. BAM. So easy, right?
Whether you make your entire gift by hand or purchase it from the store, it’s always nice to have a thoughtful touch to your gift or gift card. Here are some of my favorite ways to bring a personal touch to gifts:
Live greenery brings the feeling of freshness and relaxation that can be found for FREE from your yard, someone else’s, or purchased from a store.
Create handmade tags using supplies from home. Old book pages, maps, old postcards, or vintage wrapping paper can be salvaged from your craft closet or even someone else’s!
Include an item that is either your favorite, their favorite, or just something that recalls a memory or joke between the two of you.
Gather items that create an experience or tell a story. This tea-cup, tea, local honey, and gift card communicate a relaxing afternoon for a friend, loved one, or just a Mom you know who needs a BREAK! It shows care and attentiveness. Why not throw in some babysitting which will cost you only your time. Perfect for any budget, people! ;)
For the tags in this post, I used plain tags found here or use some more fun colored ones from We Love Citrus here. I attached greenery using mini-clothespins from We Love Citrus found here.
For the honey bears, I added my own favorite local honey from Mikolich into the CUTEST mini honey bear containers you can find here. I can’t even stand how cute they are!
For the tea, I added my favorite local decaf Earl Grey tea into plain cloth bags you can find here. I stamped them with a fabric-safe ink. Cute, right?
For the final and biggest touch, I added a gift card that I got from Ralphs to the tea-cup. You can find so many great gift cards at Ralphs. Some of my go-tos are iTunes, REI, and Target. The gift cards are so convenient you can just walk right into Ralphs instead of stopping by that individual store. All of the small items pictured make that gift card so much for meaningful, don’t you think?!
For more gift ideas to go with your gift cards, go to Ralph’s Pinterest board here.
Last January, when I went to AltSummit, I was so thrilled to be able to take a class with Amanda Brown on making a lampshade (that’s mine above!). She provided the materials and took us through, step-by-step, how to make it. It was definitely my kind of project. There’s something really exciting to me about learning a new skill and conquering a project that is on my list of things I’ve always wanted to make. Is anyone else that way?
Last week, I received Amanda’s new book in the mail, “Spruce: The Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design” from the Spruce team right before I left for vacation. I was super excited to tackle an upholstery project as SOON as I got home. I went to Joann’s (with multiple coupons), grabbed supplies, and immediately began deconstructing the mid-century sewing chair (I LOVE the frame of but not the plastic, off-colored covering). She shows you how to easily deconstruct in the book as well. ;)
Then, BAM. Nutcracker. Piano recital. Homeschool Handicraft Fair. Family in town for Wedding on Saturday. Christmas decorating. School. Cleaning.
So, this is what my chair looks like right now.
I was sitting on the floor of my living room and I suddenly stopped and said, “What in the world am I doing?!”. Not a great week for this. Sometimes I push myself too far, because I’m so ridiculously excited to work on a project. Sometimes I don’t say “No” when I should. I didn’t make that mistake this time. This project can wait until after the holidays. “Good choice”, I said to myself (please tell me you talk to yourself too?). The first week in January is my time-frame goal for this project. I feel good about that. Setting goals and making lists are the two best ways to accomplish what you want to accomplish in life…and also in upholstery projects!
Now, if I hadn’t been given this book, it would totally be in my amazon cart right now, ready for purchase. I really love it. I wouldn’t share it with you if it wasn’t amazing or something I would buy. We all need a little more step-by-step in our lives and Amanda rocks the DIY upholstery scene in this book. I’ve never seen a book like this for upholstery. Here is a trailer for the book.
Have any DIY ladies or gentleman on your shopping list?! They will love this book. I’m so excited I get to give away a copy to one of my readers…YOU!!! All you need to do is leave a comment at the end of the post about what you would love to have re-upholstered in your home and you get an entry!!! (U.S. only) The contest ends on December 11th, 2013 and the winner is announced on December 12th, 2013! If you can’t wait to win or you just need this for yourself right away, go here to purchase.
After you enter in the comments below, be sure to go to Facebook and enter Spruce’s Ugliest Chair Contest here for a chance to win a hand upholstery kit, $200 worth of fabric, Amanda’s personal advice for your chair, and a signed book! You can check out my picture over there as well to see which chair is my ugliest! ;)
Here are a few peeks inside for my visual friends (pardon my gardener’s hands)…
Comment below to win a copy of the book for you or someone on your Christmas list, then head over to Facebook to enter the Ugliest Chair Contest!
On Instagram today, I posted this picture of us making classic Christmas cinnamon ornaments. Did you make these when you were a kid? I did. I haven’t seen them around since I was a kid. We made them at my childhood home in the 80s, at church groups around the holidays, and we saw them hanging in all of our friend’s homes. This craft is perfect for kids because they can do it ALL. I’m sure you’ve seen the same holiday pins and DIYs for kids that left you thinking…a kid made that or a kid CAN actually put that together? Yeah, I’m confused too. The point of sharing crafts for kids is for the kids to actually be able to complete them with little to no help.
This is that craft, people!
So, I’ll share the recipe I use.
Cinnamon Spiced Dough Ornaments
1 1/4 cups cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger (optional)
1 Tablespoon ground nutmeg (optional)
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup craft glue (I use Mod Podge)
an assortment of ribbons for hanging
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (F). Mix all ingredients together. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper until it is 1/3 of an inch thick. If you make them any thinner, the ornaments will break more easily. If you make them thicker, they will take longer to cook and may not harden properly…then again I haven’t tried to make them 1/2 an inch thick so maybe it’s fine. ;) If the dough is too wet, let it sit for a few minutes and the glue will slowly harden, making the dough easier to work with. Cut your desired shapes with cookies cutters or freehand and transfer the shapes to a cookie tray lined with parchment. If the dough gets dry, just spritz it with a little water. Take a straw and make a hole a small distance from the top of the shape (close enough to tie a ribbon and far enough away that the hole won’t come apart). Cook for and hour and a half on each side, cool, then tie a ribbon through the hole. I would not recommend air drying these because part of the point is for you to benefit from the smell of cinnamon exploding throughout your house. If you don’t bake the ornaments, that spicy waft will not happen. At that point, I would question why one would make them at all. ;)
The ornaments will keep for a few years, but they will start to lose their scent a the spices get old. Also, the ornaments will eventually crumble unless you add some sort of coating. The coating will cover the smell completely, but will preserve the memory/hand-print/drawing/sculpture/design of your kiddo. So, maybe around year 3 you could add a clear coating to preserve the memory.
I’m a Whole Foods shopper. This is so true of me that I drive 20 minutes to my Whole Foods. Call me crazy or devoted. Both might be true. It’s no secret that I love food. If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen food covering my feed…and my table.Whole Foods carries fresh unique food, amazing handmade meal choices, and they support local farms on top of it all, which is so important to me. I don’t know another store who does that.
This year, Whole Foods Del Mar asked a group of bloggers to come sample their new Holiday Meal choices they will be offering for those who desire a homemade meal without putting in the work themselves. I had no idea how amazing the food would be. My friend Christina is one of the Chefs at the Del Mar Whole Foods store. She loves our local farms as much as I do (a local farm is actually where we met!). The food was fresh, traditional flavors with fun flavor twists, and didn’t have ANY junk in it. If I didn’t love to make holiday meals, I’d be all over this food. In fact, I often treat myself to a dish that the Whole Food‘s chefs make as a treat for completing yet another grocery store trip with 3 kiddos. My choice is usually roasted brussel sprouts. Mmm…so good.
(Check your local Whole Foods for similar options)
Diestel Farms herb roasted turkey with house made gravy
Suzie’s Farm acorn squash stuffed with turkey sausage stuffing
Farro Salad with pomegranate seeds, nuts, and an amazing vinaigrette
Delicata squash stuffed with yams and pecans (no added sugar or fat)
Roasted brussel sprouts with prosciutto
House-made cranberry sauce (served above with double cream brie cheese)
Drinks: Bon Affair Sauvignon Blanc or Syrah wine spritzer. Great option for your healthy guest or anyone who desires a little wine but without the guilt.
Suja Organic Juices. Add the juice to Bon Affair wine spritzer for a quick, light drink or add to regular champagne for an easy but flavorful mix! Also, you can bookmark Suja for after the holidays when your body is ready to cleanse with juice and deliciousness.
Does that sound like your typical grocery store ready-made food? I think not. This food is like having a personal chef make it all for you and you simply place it in your shopping cart.
Now, there is no excuse but to invite some family and friends over this holiday season!