Tuesday, November 30

My Favorite Christmas Tradition -- The Advent Calendar

One More Day -- Yay!! That is, one more day until we start my favorite holiday tradition -- The Advent Calendar.

One of my sweetest memories from childhood was the advent calendars that we would buy every year when visiting my aunt in Florida for Thanksgiving. There was an amazing Christmas shop there open year round in a wonderful, old house. It was a treat for the eyes, especially for us kids!

These kinds of stores are everywhere these days, but back in the 70's it was an anomally and a real special treat. Surrounded by Christmas trees in all shapes and sizes and colors and of course, all of the thousands of ornaments and holiday candies, I was in complete awe. But my favorite things were always the advent calendars. And the funny thing was, they were nothing more than cardboard with a printed Christmas scene. No prizes, no candy, just little perforated cardboard doors that you would punch out each day of December counting down to the BIG one. It amazes me to this day how much enjoyment I got out of waiting day to day to see what little picture was behind that door!

I have always made advent calendars a part of my own children's Christmas traditions, but it usually took form in "the easy way out"..... the Dollar Tree cardboard advents with a small piece of chocolate each day for a prize. And then last year I decided to create something really special for them, something that I hoped would last for many years to come. I wanted an advent that was large enough to hold some small prizes, and I also wanted to handmake something so that they knew it really came from Mommy's heart..... just for them.

This is what I came up with.

I took various paper machie' holiday forms from Hobby Lobby like drums, gingerbread houses, ornaments, boxes, books, etc and covered them with felt and other decorations. I also used some pre-made felt stockings that I added feather boas, ribbons, ric-rac, and other fun things to.

Here are some close ups. I bought most of the felt decorations like snowflakes, the nativity, the Christmas tree, etc. I traced the numbers onto felt and cut those out myself. I also made all of the windows, doors and crosses for the church.

I bought the snowman felt piece but added the number 19 that I cut out of felt and the ruffled ribbons at the top of the stocking myself.

For the gingerbread house, I used a lacey trim, some felt and small felt balls that I hot glued on to the house. I found some very small candy cane ornaments at Hobby Lobby which were actually small Christmas tree ornaments. I cut off the little hanger at the top and glued them around the door of the house.

I strung all of the pieces onto a ribbon and added tied pieces of ribbon in between each advent piece. Every night before the next advent day, I fill the day's advent piece with small prizes, pieces of candy or a note with a fun activity for the day. I can't tell you how excited my children get over this! It was worth every moment of time that I put into it.

Which leads me to the next little tidbit of information for you..... It took about a month last year to make -- it's not for the faint of heart! But it is a cherished holiday tradition and I hope a piece that will be used even when my own kids have their children.

Just look at how happy they are! And it makes the morning routine a little easier, too. I make them do all of their "getting ready" activities first before they can run over to the advent..... amazing how quickly they can get things done when there's a little motivation!

I hope you will all create your own advents this year, whether elaborate or simple, it's a wonderful way to celebrate the season each and every day.

Linked to: Some What Simple, House of Hepworths, The Shabby Chic Cottage, Beyond the Picket Fence, Life as Lori, Blue Cricket Design, Me and My Bucket, Domestically Speaking, Just a GirlSkip to my Lou, Tater Tots and Jello, CRAFT, Todays Creative Blog, Under the Table and Dreaming, Between Naps on the Porch, The Tidy Mom, Craftomaniac,, The Idea Room, Tip Junkie, Making the World Cuter, The Shabby Nest, Fingerprints on the Fridge


Monday, November 29

Great Holiday Door Wreaths

I hope that you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday with your families and friends. I entertained quite a few myself and had a wonderful time visiting and sharing a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. But now that the turkeys are in the attic and the leftovers are completely gone it's time to focus on the magic of Christmas and decorating the house a bit...... OK, a LOT.

Over the weekend I found lots of great holiday door wreath ideas I thought I'd share on the blog today. Most are simple craft projects and shouldn't break the bank, unless, of course, you have two front doors like me! It seemed like such a good idea when I was designing the house.... Now though, two wreaths for every holiday -- not such a good idea!

This stunning Ornament Wreath from Good Housekeeping is always a favorite. Start with a straw wreath form, cover it with pieces of white felt and then hot glue the ornaments on -- simple and it can be customized to coordinate with your own Christmas colors.

Being a bit biased toward polka dots and ribbon myself, I'm loving this wreath from Stacy at She's Kinda Crafty. Stacy takes an 18" straw wreath form and lots of ribbon and performs a special kind of loopy magic to create this festive door wreath.

Another version of the ribbon wreath from Shelterness is a little smaller and possibly a little easier to make, too. Monica uses a 12" metal ring bought at the craft store and just ties 36 ribbons onto it. No-sew simple!

Kim from Incredibly Cute Personalized Art has a great tutorial on this Berry Grapevine wreath using an oval shaped grapevine wreath as a base and then covering it with multiple pieces of holiday berry picks found at Hobby Lobby or Michaels.

For all of you burlap lovers out there, here's one that sure to make you sing Fa La La La Lahh! The Holly Berry Burlap Wreath from Linda at Craftaholic's Anonymous is simply made with cut pieces of burlap folded and pierced onto a wire circular frame.

Better Homes and Gardens Moss Wreath is simply beautiful with it's light green reindeer moss and petite red ornaments. I love how they use simple materials and the square design to create a show stopper that will last for many years.

Johnny in a Dress has a cute ribbon and glitter ball ornament wreath with a monogram initial, too.

I found this unique wreath at DIY Home Decorating Ideas. If you're looking for something a little different this year, this holiday wreath is very easy to make and it uses super inexpensive materials -- white tulle and cardboard! I think it would super sweet for a little girl's birthday or possibly a baby shower, too -- just switch the colors to some pink or blue.

A few ornaments, a little ribbon and a whole lot of candy canes makes for an adorable holiday wreath idea. This Candy Cane Wreath from BHG is easy enough for the whole family to get involved in crafting.
Looks like we've got some decisions to make and some crafting to do!! Best wishes getting the house decorated this week for all of you tackling that big project -- just think of how happy you'll be when it's all up and holiday fabulous!!

Tuesday, November 23

December Birthday? Love Pink?

With Thanksgiving almost here, the Christmas holiday season is coming up fast. It's already time to start that shopping and plan those fun, festive holiday get togethers. And Shindig Parties TO GO has the perfect set of holiday printables to make your party planning a little easier this year -- The Let it Snow Collection is packed full of everything you'll need this season from fun cupcake topper circles to centerpiece signs to gift cards, favor tags, and adorable striped buffet or place cards.

Here are a few peaks at the package:

Snowmen are a favorite of just about everyone and work well for all holiday celebrations. One of the greatest things about a Snowman theme is how fun and creative you can be with your decor and food items.
Just take a look at some of the possibilities below.

Super sweet snowman made from marshmallows and sparkling sugar with a little rolo hat.

And a eye-catching snowman centerpiece can easily be made with a few styrofoam balls, some batting, a cute hat, and some buttons.

Take advantage of grocery store items like powdered doughnut holes to make adorable snowman treats, too.

And last week I added a "Happy Birthday" Snowman collection to my Etsy shop -- perfect for those December birthdays! It includes everything in the Let It Snow Collection, but also includes a little customization for the birthday honoree.

If you need an invitation, Shindig Parties TO GO has that, too! You can customize any of the wording to suit your needs, including making it into a Christmas or other holiday party invitation.

I've just added a cute "Winter Wonderland" banner to the shop, too. The fun stripes are a perfect coordinate to the polka dots from the Snowman Collection.

And for all of you girly-girls, The "Happy Birthday" Collection and the "Let It Snow" Collection both now come in PINK!!

So choose your favorite -- it's a great time to buy. All Collections are now SALE PRICED at 50% OFF in my Etsy shop -- affordable and adorable! What a gun way to start your holiday celebrations!

Linked to: Some What Simple, House of Hepworths, The Shabby Chic Cottage, Beyond the Picket Fence, Life as Lori, Blue Cricket Design, Me and My Bucket, Domestically Speaking, Just a GirlSkip to my Lou, Tater Tots and Jello, CRAFT, Todays Creative Blog, Under the Table and Dreaming, Between Naps on the Porch, The Tidy Mom, Craftomaniac,, The Idea Room, Tip Junkie, Making the World Cuter, The Shabby Nest, Fingerprints on the Fridge

Sunday, November 21

Indian Corn Cupcakes

I hope that you all have LOVED your new FREE Kids Thanksgiving Table Printables! I have had an absolutely wonderful response to the collection, and I am so very happy that lots of children out there will be enjoying their little boats and coloring page this Thanksgiving.

Today I wanted to introduce you to a fellow "party girl" friend of mine, Nicole from The Party Animal. Nicole has a shop full of all kinds of party supplies, and she is an amazingly creative baker and crafter as well. I love all of the holiday creations I've seen on her blog for Halloween and Thanksgiving. I can't wait to see what she comes up with for Christmas!!

I thought I would share her tutorial for Indian Corn Cupcakes -- this was her version of some she saw in Woman's World magazine. These are just the cutest things! What wonderful presentation! Just take a look......

This is Nicole's Step-by-Step Instructions from her blog on how to make these cuties:

"I have seen many Corn Cupcakes made, but I had never seen them with the Husks and I thought that was so cool. Being I live in the country and I am surrounded with Corn I decided I really needed to give these festive fall treats a try. So let me show you how it is done.
Here is What you will need to create your Indian Corn Cupcakes:
■Cupcakes of course – I used Vanilla
■Vanilla or White Frosting – I used Vanilla
■Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
■Phyllo Dough – Thawed if Frozen
■Jelly Beans in Fall Colors
■Tin Foil

Here are my Ingredients. For the Jelly Beans I went to my local Candy store and picked out a mix of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans in Fall Colors. Now the recipe said to pick flavors that went with Fall like Toasted Marshmallow, Cappuccino, Banana, Chocolate Pudding etc…. I may have gotten some of those flavors, but mainly I went for the colors like the Oranges, Browns, Gold, Cream, Yellows and some Red. I am not a Jelly Bean Fan myself, but I know the kids would have fun tasting them and if not they can just scrape them off. You also need Phyllo Dough which can be found in the Freezer section of your grocery store. I had never worked with this before so it was all new to me.

To make your Corn Husks this is where the Phyllo Dough comes in. Now make sure you defrost the dough ahead of time, unlike me who did not read the directions – lol. I ended up defrosting it in the microwave and although this worked I would do it the way they said next time – I get too excited and forget to read a lot!!! Now Phyllo Dough is very thin and to me it felt like Latex Gloves, but it tasted good raw cause I had to try it. I have eaten it in the Greek Restaurant cooked of course, but never raw. Anyway, open up the dough about 1/2 way and with a few sheets high and cut a leaf shape.
Then cover a cookie sheet with some foil. Then with a few more pieces of foil crumble them into like a Canoe shape so they are as long or if not longer than 3 cupcakes lined up. Lightly Spray with Cooking Oil. Then take your Phyllo Dough Leaves and lay over each one – this will help give your dough the Husk Shapes when baked. I think after they were baked I got about 12 Husks from one batch. I was only making 9 Cupcakes so if you are doing more then you will need to do it a couple times.

Now stick that in the oven at 350 for maybe 4-5 minutes – just keep checking them. When they are done they are VERY fragile due to being so thin so Be Careful. The dough tastes good cooked too, but now it tasted like thin paper. Not sure if anyone will eat the Husks, but they look good.

Once the Husks are done set them aside and get frosting. Take your Vanilla Frosting and a small amount of the Cocoa Powder and mix up well – this is just so your frosting is more of a natural color vs. white. Then go ahead and Frost your Cupcakes.
Now for the tedious part – adding all those Jelly Beans to the Cupcakes. This part probably tool the longest. Just have fun lining then up alternating colors so they resemble Indian Corn. Lucky for me I only made 9 Cupcakes, but if you are doing more – get the kids involved and turn up the music!!!
When all done with adding your Jelly Beans you can then set the scene. Make sure to have a large flat surface or plate to do so. Also remember the Phyllo Husks are thin and fragile so some make break when plating and that is ok – Corn Husks are not all perfect. Have Fun and watch as your Friends and Family are amazed by your creation. I think mine came out pretty cool for my first try at it.

You can also do this same thing making Regular Corn Cupcakes using just Yellow Jelly Beans and adding the Husks for your next Summer BBQ."
Thanks, Nicole, for that awesome tutorial! You are the best!

Friday, November 19

Tutorial: Indian Corn Treat Bag

Today I have another little tutorial from the FREE Amanda's Parties To Go Kid's Thanksgiving Table Printable set.

If you don't have your FREE printables yet, click HERE for the details.

We're going to make the Indian Corn Treat bags seen above. These would be terrific on the table as a fun little treat or even for a sweet favor for classroom friends next week. So grab your materials, and let's get started. This one is super, super easy!


2" circle or scallop circle craft punch (if you don't have one, no biggie. Just cut the favor tag out in a square shape instead)
4"x6" jewelry bag (ziploc)
Scotch tape
Hole punch & scissors
Printable sheet of 2" Thanksgiving logos

Take your printed 2" logo sheet and punch out one of logos to make a favor tag

Now cut off the top of the jewelry bag ziploc -- you won't need the closure part. Fill your bag with Skittles -- not too full though. We don't want sugar-crazed kids at Thanksgiving!

Next, fold over one corner of the back of the jewelry bag and tape it down to create a point at the bottom of the bag to resemble corn.

Your next step is to take about 10+ strands of raffia cut to maybe 8"-10" long and wrap it around the top of the jewelry bag. Tie it in a knot to resemble the corn husk.

After tying off the bag, cut your raffia to get it even. And then attach your favor tag by punching a hole in it with a hole punch and stringing a piece of raffia through and tying it to the favor bag.

Isn't it cute? And so easy!! Yay, mom!!
I hope you are all getting your kids' Thanksgiving tables ready! They are going to LOVE their fun little "Mayflower with a Citrus Twist" table!