Tag Archives: Holidays

Christmas quits

22 Dec

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With each passing holiday season I’ve felt this increasing anxiety plant itself right in my chest and grow, untamed from about early November to just after ChristmasI know I put this pressure on myself to “do-do-do” throughout the holidays since they’re over too quickly and I want us to enjoy them to the fullest with everyone we love, but this year I had to just call it quits.

In a matter of 12-hours I managed to slice open both my thumbs, our oven stopped working just as I started massive food prep for our annual Christmas party, and I caught an awful stomach bug the morning of the party. (Exhaustion, nausea, dizziness..blegh. If I didn’t know I wasn’t pregnant I’d swear I was based on these symptoms!) After pushing myself all morning thinking I was just tired, I felt this sweeping wave of utter exhaustion wash over me and suddenly had this incredible urge to start weeping. (See what I mean about the pregnancy symptoms?) I mean, I couldn’t even wrap gifts because both thumbs were out of commission. Do you even realize how much you use just one thumb for?? Mind blown, I’m telling you.

Reluctantly, we re-scheduled our party and I crawled into bed, defeated. It was so disappointing to not see family and friends before the holiday, but it also forced me to slow down think about what really matters at the holidays so I can better prioritize for next year.

So far, here are a few ideas I’ve come up with:

1. Start decorating earlier

Last year, I made a note to myself in my planner to be all decorated for Christmas by December 1. Hah! — this didn’t even come close to happening. Thanksgiving fell very late this year and we went big with Halloween decor for once which really mucked things up. Next year we’ll go small there and start thinking Christmas decor closer to early November. I like to decorate over the course of a few weeks too, which isn’t something I’ll always be able to indulge in, so the sooner I start in late fall, the better.

2. Block the family stuff first

Since getting engaged we’ve pretty much stumbled through the delicate territory of family holidays. No matter how we split them, some of our family gets slighted and we’re exhausted logging miles back and forth on highways. It’s is a good problem to have and if it means less time enjoying our home together at the holidays, we’re lucky to be so blessed. I think if we can just nail down when all the family parties are early enough in the fall, it should cut down on any last-minute party-overlap and we can plan for shopping and baking without being up until 1 and 2 am getting it all done.

3. Call a cleaning lady

I feel like the turnover from Thanksgiving to Christmas happens so quickly that whether we host the former or not, our place is typically in shambles come December 1. Since I’m also an appallingly messy baker, this would be a nice “gift” for my poor husband — freshly made baked goods, a clean house, and a sane wife just in time for the start of the Christmas season.

So those are just a few of the ideas I’ve been brainstorming so far. Fingers crossed next year goes more smoothly with a little more forethought!

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Chic + Cheap Halloween Decor

25 Oct

IMG_9434Halloween has never been my favorite holiday as far as decor is concerned. I love the candy and the costumes, but my giant-wuss-self can’t take the straight scary stuff. Someday we’ll string up the skull lights with the demonic red eyes that Brian bought a few years ago… but I’m just not there yet.

So I decided to get creative and re-purpose some things we already had and am really happy with how effortlessly it all came together. We lucked out being able to re-use a lot of our black + white-striped wedding decor. Together with a few easy DIY art projects, some mini pumpkins and gourds we picked on our annual pumpkin-picking trip, with a few new items sprinkled in, were able to style our place without breaking the bank.

Here is a peek at what we did:
Printable Happy Halloween banner

The b+w striped and solid paper lanterns I bought here for our wedding and the banner was a freebie printable. I loved the design so much I opted to print on some leftover heavy-weight card stock so we can re-use it year-to-year.  I strung it together using some leftover wedding ribbon. Total cost: Free!

IMG_9360Added some spiders I found on clearance last year to this flower wreath my mom made us for the wedding. I debated adding a bow but loved the spooky simplicty so I left it as is.

IMG_9365Found a couple of quality black glitter skulls at CVS for about $4/each earlier this month. Yes please! Nestled in with some very old books I’ve picked up over the years, it’s creepy without being over the top.

IMG_9381A little spider web over a stretched canvas photo a friend gifted us for our wedding.IMG_9417Used a Wilton Armetale serving tray (a wedding gift) to corral some coffee table items, like coasters (from my bridal shower), candy corn and this scorpion votive candle holder (set of 4) that I found at TJ Maxx last year after Halloween for $5!

IMG_9425I have a bit of a gourd obsession. The variety of textures, shapes, and colors is incredible and their small scale makes them perfect for popping into random spots for a pop of festive color anywhere you need it. Eventually I’d like to swap in some faux ones for the real thing so I don’t have to buy them year after year, but for $1/each, they’re hardly investment pieces. We bought them late enough in the season that with proper care, they should last through Thanksgiving too. Bonus!

IMG_9423It’s not Halloween without candy, right? I love how pretty candy corn or wrapped caramels look in some vintage Ball Ideal jars. Plus, the wire closures are just tricky enough to open that I’m usually not tempted to sneak any — they’re for guests!

IMG_9428I’d been reading up on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) when I saw this awesome graphic Sugar Skull on the cover of a Paper Source catalog. I just ripped off the cover, trimmed it to fit an 8.5 x 11″ frame and popped it in before adding it to our wine bar. Cost: Free!

IMG_9431Above the bar I strung up one of the b+w fabric banners my mom sewed for our wedding. I debated adding another printable sign, but I thought it’d be overkill so I kept it simple.

IMG_9438We took this centerpiece home from a wedding we attended on October 4th! Thanks to long-lasting greens, faux leaves, and careful watering of the floral foam base, I only had to replace just 2 of the red roses with fresh ones to keep it looking fresh, before popping it into a nicely tarnished silver champagne bucket. (I was temped to polish it up but actually really liked the look just for Halloween.)

IMG_9443Another freebie online printable banner I strung up on a silver tray we keep on a picture ledge in the kitchen.
IMG_9447This “Autumn Essentials” print is one of my favorites; I love watercolor illustration! It’s a freebie download from Jones Design Company. (Also pictured is my “2013 De-clutter calendar” which I’m obsessed with.)

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IMG_9461Found this little skull picture holder at Kohl’s for less than $5. Eventually when I print some Halloween photos, I’ll display them here. (BTW: The irony of this placement isn’t lost on me since Brian is convinced that Truvia is bad!)IMG_9475Space is at a premium in our teeny tiny bathroom, but a couple more macabre votive holders and a mini pumpkin are festive and simple and about as heavy as I want to go in terms of testing the weight capacity of these shelves!IMG_9479A grapevine wreath with some pretty vintage ribbon and rosettes (made by my mom) is just inside our high-traffic doorway so we’ll see it often. IMG_9485Free printable Halloween subway art in a simple clip frame. I wanted to keep it sleep and simple so I skipped a traditional picture frame. Eventually I may try transferring the print to a large-scale canvas more impact. The table runner pictured here is another wedding item my mom made for us that we use all the time.

So that’s a rundown of how I re-purposed a lot of our wedding decor for Halloween. I’m really happy with how it all turned out particularly because I’m trying to be more mindful of waste. Decorations are a fun addition to our home, but I want them to be multifunctional when possible (like the white wreath) or small and easy to store if they’re not, like the votive candle holder set. By keeping this in mind, I was able to eliminate waste and also save a few bucks. But most important of all, I love how fun and festive our place looks for Halloween this year.