Archive | christmas

december {ten on ten} candy canes

 Hello Friends…I am finally getting around to this months 10 on 10. It only took a week {and the linky party is about the expire} but I have just been too busy with holiday merriment to sit down at my computer. My little man is under the weather and I have been sleepy lately with all the running around…so here it is. Last week was a fun day filled with candy canes {the fun prompt for this months project} and running around. The morning started with a tea party at MOPS {including a table decorating contest}. It was fun and filled with delicious food. We ran around to the Mall and I got my hair done and we ate candy canes and somehow I managed to take pictures of Paige’s holiday book for school before crashing that night {can you spy her candy cane drawing on the book?}. Hope you are having lovely December. By the way…I will be posting a few more holiday hospitality tips in the next few days. In the meantime you can follow along with me on Instagram {my username is everydayVALENTINE} with the hashtag #holidayhospitality and show me what you are busy doing to make your loved ones feel special this holiday season!

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ADVENT ideas {holiday hospitality 101}

adventI know it’s the 6th…but I am just getting around to filling our little advent Christmas house with fun activities & candies for the month. We love anticipating the sweet birth of our JESUS and the joy and promises he brought on that unusual night in Bethlehem. We love the fun and magic of the season and while I may be a little behind I figure better late than never. If you need some advent ideas this month I hope you feel inspired by these ideas on my pinterest board found HERE.

Also, I get to brag about my friend Jessica again {find her blog HERE}. These are some of the things she brought to our MOPS meeting to show how her family celebrates the Advent season. She is so talented and is now getting into photography. She took some awesome picture of my kids this summer. Love her take on life, her DIY ideas, her little family {3 babes in a row} and devotion to the things & people she loves.

jessica advent ideasCheck out how she made her Advent Pocket Calender HERE.

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more decor ideas {holiday hospitality 101}

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A few years ago I had the pleasure of helping a team of ladies decorate for a Christmas Brunch that our church hosted. The theme was: Jesus…Light of the World so we decided to decorate with candles, natural elements {that we could gather for free} and metallic accents. We used a ton of found objects and inexpensive ornaments {and lots of creativity}. Twigs, pine cones, moss and cranberries to name a few. And we all gathered whatever mercury glass we could find around our own homes to make the candle light reflect beautifully.

My friend Laura figured out how to create the beautiful sparkly letters, burlap cones and sheet music cones.

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The sparkly letters were cut out, glittered and added to metallic frames that had Christmas sheet music framed inside. It turned out simple and lovely.

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The burlap cones were huge and so simple. She took garden tomato vine cages {that her parents had around} and turned them upside down, loosely wrapped small strands of lights around them and then loosely covered each structure in burlap {I hope that makes sense}. We gathered them together on stage in groups of three or more. Here they are pictured on a table after the event was over. The lights twinkled and the whole thing just looked amazing!

She also discovered that its easy to buy a huge roll of garden burlap at a smaller cost if you need a lot of it {found in huge rolls at the garden section of the hardware store}. We knew it would make great table runners and while it was messy when cut {and the weave is not as tight as normal burlap fabric} it did the trick! We used it everywhere.

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As a team we also decided that we wanted cones made of sheet music with Christmas carols {that I had stashed away}. At first we couldn’t find an affordable solution for making them because Styrofoam and cardboard cones were too pricey for our budget. Laura bough just one Styrofoam cone mold, covered it in plastic wrap & figured out how to paper-mache several more cones out of newspaper from that one mold. She then covered each one with the sheet music {using mod-podge}. The result turned out so pretty and the detail of Christmas carol sheet music made it simple & special. This was my favorite project of all!

DSC_0724  DSC_0829   DSC_0852   DSC_0725 DSC_0714 DSC_0842DSC_0851And here are some other ideas that I have taken pictures of the last few years {like the first two below from Jessica} at the Christmas Tea Parties that I have been to at church and MOPS. Again, sorry for the blurry pictures but I think you get an idea of how things looked and can use them as a jumping off point for your own table decor!

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I think my friend’s Genis and Stephanie did this one…so gorgeous!

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Genis and my mom did the next table. There was a gorgeous twig sculpture in the middle that they hung ornaments from. Lots of sheet music and natural elements. Genis is fabulous with mixing colors, textures and layers along with adding levels and small details to everything she decorates!

DSC_0739 DSC_0740And why not dress up the buffet table as well. It never hurts to switch things up and do a few round tables for your potluck/buffet table if you have the space.

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the HEART of hospitality {holiday hospitality 101}

holiday hospitality 101For me the HEART of hospitality is to simply welcome people into our life in a casual & cozy way. We love to have friends over and we love to make people feel at home. If someone helps themselves to a cup of water and gets right in there in the kitchen with me I am thrilled. Even if the floor is not as clean as I would like it to be or the sink is full of dishes { and it usually is} who really cares. Perfection is not my thing. The point of being hospitable is to make people feel welcome, to have fun, laugh, share old memories & make new memories…that is our goal. Our hope is that when people walk through our door for a party or family dinner they know that if something spills or we forgot the bread and it burns or we run out of food…all will be forgiven. I am a girl and I want my home to look great, my decor to be special and my food to comfort people while tasting delicious…but at the end of the night I know that the most important thing is for my friends to leave with their hearts encouraged & full {not just their bellies}. That is the HEART of hospitality for us. With that in mind here are some tips on how we decorate & plan our parties. Hope they inspire you to welcome friends into your home this holiday season {even if things around your home are not perfect}.

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 ::a few decorating tips::

USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE:

There are often things already around your house or in your backyard that can work. Use ornaments, your favorite nativity scene, candles, kids crafts & even food {like fruit, cranberries or popcorn kernels} for centerpieces & table settings. Branches, evergreens, acorns, fall leaves, pine cones and flowers from your backyard work great too. Scatter on the table or arrange in a vase. Sometimes the Christmas tree lots will give their scrap branches away for free. Think outside the box. Wrapping paper is one of my all-time favorite table runners. Find something that matches your decor and can be easily discarded at the end of the party. My favorite things is a large roll of craft paper {it can be found at the Dollar Tree most of the year}. This works great on a buffet as well {use sharpies to write on the paper & point to what each dish has}. It’s cute and practical.

KEEP IT SIMPLE:

If you are fancy and like using china dishes and sleek stemware than do it. If you are not into fancy and would prefer paper plates~ do it. Make it fit for your season of life and your style. And consider your guests {if you are having a kid party you can get out your finest china and grandma’s tea-pot if you don’t mind them getting broken…or just use plastic and call it good}. There is no right or wrong way to do it. If you are at ease about the decorations and setting you will make your guests feel more at ease. Buffets, Brunches and Appetizer Parties tend to be more simple. It’s difficult to do fancy food and fancy decorations so pick one and do it well. If you want fancy decorations consider a menu that can be mostly made ahead or cater it. Potlucks can make things more simple as well. To make the day-of easier, set out and set up as many serving dishes & decorations the day or night before as is possible. If you are having a more elaborate party you need to ask for help {there are only so many things you can do on your own}. Also, don’t spend a ton of money. Borrow from friends {between all the ladies in my life there are a lot of nice entertaining dishes, coffee makers, mason jars, drink containers, tables, chairs, coolers and decorations…the list goes on}.

DETAILS GO A LONG WAY:

Small details can make all the difference {even while keeping things simple}. A nice scented candle, music that fits the setting, place cards, cloth napkins, framed photos or printed quotes celebrating the occasion are a few examples. Pandora has great “radio” stations for any occasion {Christmas Carols, Disney Music for a kids party, Classical Music for an intimate dinner}. Pinterest and many blogs have free printables of cool quotes that are both beautiful and fitting for every occasion. Place-cards are a breeze to make for place settings & to mark food.

A few examples of how I have decorated following these rules click on the partyTIME drop down above or check out some ideas HERE, HERE & HERE.

Oh and one more HERE.

::a few entertaining tips from my mom::

::plan ahead::

-Make a lot of LISTS

-Prep menu & shopping lists a few days before

-Make sure you have the right serving dishes, napkins, drinks, silverware, coffee and pantry staples a few days before your event {shop for or borrow what you need}

-Shop for food & decor

-Decorate, arrange flowers, clean house and set out platters and serving items the day/night before event

-Set table or set up the buffet the day/night before

-Check your lists again

-Purchase ice & any other last-minute items the day of the event

 ::a simple party idea::

One simple way to throw a New Years Eve Party {my mom has done this a few times} is to have each guest bring a dessert or appetizer. You can just give them an idea of what to bring {or ask them to sign up via an Evite or email} so the responsibilities are spread out and you don’t get too many of the same items {for example you can specify savory appetizers or dessert or a salad/veggie tray}. This makes planning and clean-up so simple. All you have to prepare is your home, some drinks and snacks. Providing games/activities is an added bonus. If it’s a New Years party be sure to remember some party hats & noisemakers and remember that decorating is simple because your Christmas decor is already up.These ideas can obviously be used for any holiday party or throughout the year {think evening baby showers or adult birthday parties}.

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What is the HEART of hospitality for you and your family? How do you like to entertain? What are some of your best tips? Share your ideas on Instagram with me. Just add the hash-tag #holidayhospitality and see what others are up to as well.

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it’s the most wonderful time of the year {besides Fall, of course}

Dear Christmas,

You are right around the corner. While we love you and are counting down the days until you arrive, we always seem to get caught up in the hustle & bustle. Sometimes we lose sight of your true meaning come December. Perhaps I can work hard to plan now so that our focus will be on the gift of baby Jesus and not on buying presents for our loved ones. Thank you for being the most wonderful time of the year. I want to savor every glittering light, special cookie, dazzling tree, choo-choo train, gift of service, lit candle and sacred Christmas carol this year.

All my love and devotion,

*laura*

Here is some content that I have posted before.  I hope it inspires you to get going on those gifts so that you can enjoy the holiday season as well.

Our goal (for Christmas & birthdays throughout the year) is to give gifts that express our love but also make less of an impact on landfills and clutter in our homes. This is not always possible and yes I know that some people find this impersonal but let’s be honest for a minute. How many gifts do we get every year that just fill up our home with more stuff? Not that stuff is bad (we Americans love stuff) but with the exception of a few things…here or there…I for one really do not need more of it!

So here we go with a few ideas:
*Consumable Gift Ideas*
*CERTIFICATE for TIME SPENT
*CERTIFICATE for A HOMEMADE MEAL
*CERTIFICATE for a SPECIAL TRIP
*HOMEMADE FOOD (such as jams, breads, nuts, cookies)
*CERTIFICATE for a SPECIAL CLASS (such as cooking, sewing, dance class or swim lessons)
*GIFT CARDS (for meals, clothing stores, grocery stores, movies, spa treatments, shows, events or even flowers)
*GOURMET GIFT BASKETS (chocolate treats for a chocoholic or for a friend with a special diet like celiac you could group together specialty gluten-free products)
*For KIDS: Bubbles, Chalk, Art Supplies, Stickers (one can rarely have enough of these things)
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*Giving Back Gift Ideas*
*Have you heard about Operation Christmas Child from Samaritans Purse? Click on the link to check it out and look-up how it works and where you can drop off your box this year! Hurry because the deadline to drop off your box is in a few weeks. Our MOPS group is doing it this year as a fun way to give back and get our kids involved.  Maybe even consider giving a box in place of a gift for a family you know and on Christmas present them with a description of why you have a box in their name and a picture of what you put in the box and where it went.
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*Do you know about LOVE146 yet? Their mission is to END CHILD SEX SLAVERY AND EXPLOITATION.  I learned about this organization at Blog Sugar and have not been able to get it off my mind. Items can be purchased in their store as gifts (most of the money goes back to their organization).  Check it out and be ready to grab a tissue for this one.
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*And of course you can give to Compassion right now. Year Round: Compassion is an organization that allows you to sponsor children all over the world in order to help them with basic physical (and spiritual) needs. You pay a monthly fee and are able to write letters back and forth and give extra money for their birthday’s and Christmas if you can.  We have really enjoyed doing this and wanted to spread the word!  Check them out if you are considering a new way to give-back this year!  And one more thought…if you have a baby or small child and are not sure what to get them for Christmas (because after all they are a baby and have no idea what is going on) consider looking up a Compassion child to sponsor by the birthday and gender of your child.  We did this for both the kids for their “Baby’s 1st Christmas” gift and it has been fun watching other children grow up with their birthdays (even though they are not their age)! It’s a nice way to have something in common with these beautiful children all over the world. Just something to consider as you make your lists!
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