After much deliberation, I have chosen my color scheme for my wrapping paper this year. I LOVE to pick out the wrapping, ribbons, and gift tags each year. I have done every color combo you can think of: Newsprint with many different red ribbons-(eco friendly, but super messy); Pale green with pink ribbons, all white with gold and silver ribbons (seems too precious this year), all red with gold ribbons, black and white with teal ribbons, teal with red ribbons (Tiffany style), etc. I have also done all the package toppers including glittery ornaments 10 for $2 at Target (which are still a favorite) silk flowers, silk leaves, blah blah blah. This year I plan to keep it simple. All white paper, (super cheap at Michael's) and Happy Tape found here.
It is Japanese masking tape in so many cute colors and patterns. Brilliant. It is all over the blogs this season, so I ordered some today and I will let you know how it turns out. I had always spent a lot of time tying pretty bows and adding clever adornments, that would inevitably fall of when I packed up the gifts and headed off to our various celebrations. Not this year. Happy tape. Do it. All the cool kids are.
Stagers are often asked, "should we decorate for Christmas while our house is on the market?" and the answer is usually no. The reason is that most Christmas decor is highly personal, and when selling your house, you want the buyers to picture themselves in the house, not you and you family. But you are also selling a lifestyle. So if you can create a warm, luxurious feel with your Christmas decor, and you promise to take it down by the 27th, AND you DO NOT have the decor in the MLS photos, then put up a tree and hang a wreath. Keep it simple and tasteful, like this
I have dramatically scaled back my holiday entertaining in the last 5 years. At first it was because of all the babies I kept having around that time. (just 2 really but it felt like more). Then it was because of money. Now it is because I am embarrased by my carpet. Seriously you would be too, it is really bad. But I might bite the bullet this year. You should too. Here are some ideas on how to do it cheap and easy. Just like______. (fill in your cheap and easy friend's name here).
Party Idea #1: Neighborhood cocktail party
No need to break the bank on all kinds of booze for a full bar. Just serve one signature cocktail like this pear and cranberry bellini. Then choose one appetizer. You don't even have to make it. You can buy perfectly yummy frozen apps at Trader Joes. Pop them in the oven when you get home from work, mix up the drinks and pour them 10 minutes before it starts, swipe on some lipstick and something sparkly, pull out the apps and arrange them on a big platter or cutting board, and voila, you look like Martha herself. Simple, elegant party, no stress. Oh and if you house is like mine, turn off all the lights, light some candles and no one will notice all the dirt. I promise.
Party Idea #2: Saturday morning coffee klatch
Send the mister and the kids to the ice rink for the morning and gather a group of close friends for an old fashioned coffee klatch. You don't have to do a cookie exchange (which would require baking dozens upon dozens of cookies), just grab some scones from your favorite bakery, make a big pot of coffee, and start the gossip. I won't tell if you add some Baileys.
Ok this is the hardest one, but still super easy. And as Martha says, "brunch is the perfect reason for a
midday cocktail on the weekend." You can make an egg bake the night before. Serve one signature cocktail (see pear cranberry bellini above). Go to the bakery for some scones, again, see above. Add a plate of fruit and a pot of coffee and you have brunch.
You know those days when you actually pull together a decent outfit, your hair and makeup come together for some reason, you feel confident, but then don't run into anyone you know (or want to get to know)...this is how your house feels at Christmas. All dressed up and no one to show it off to. If you put up a tree, throw a party. "You know, Jingle Bells, Ho Ho Ho, and mistletoe, and presents to pretty girls," Lucy Van Pelt, in a Charlie Brown Christmas.
I have never been a big fan of "harvest colors", indian corn, or hay bales, so a Thanksgiving table is a challenge. Luckily, I get to go to my uncle's house where I am still one of the kids. They don't even make me bring anything! We have 40 plus people eating off Chinette and sitting at tables all over the house. But if you are a grown up and hosting a more intimate gathering, here are some ideas for your table. I would love to hear about your Thanksgiving traditions.
Pierce Brosnan, Hugh Dancy....if I can't have one of those for Christmas, I will take a Union Jack pillow from Karen Hilton's Etsy shop. I am having a love affair with all things Brittish lately. Have you ever heard Jimmy Fallon do his Brittish accent? I heart Jimmy Fallon too.
Dare I say it, but it is time to order your Christmas cards, and I have found a way to make it super easy, thanks to two local moms who are totally amazing. The first is Kristin Gunderson, a local photographer who took the above photos of those gorgeous kids. Now if you have been going to pricey studios get ready to be gobsmacked. Kristin spent over an hour with my kids at the location of my choosing. About a week later she delivered 2 cds of every. single. picture. she took. Plus 35 edited 4 x 6 prints and a cd with those prints, for $150. Again, gobsmacked. You can take those digital images and make a calendar or a book for the grandparents or a coffee mug for the mister. Your christmas list is now half done. Your welcome. I found her on Google and took a chance, you can find her here.
The second part of the equation comes from a mom I met in ECFE when our sons were mere weeks old. Erin Newkirk and I laughed and cried together about not sleeping, weirds poops, how to make your own baby food, and how not to feel guilty if you don't. She went on to create the fabulously successful online business Red Stamp Cards. If you are not familiar, you should be. Oprah is. And so is practically every other major publication in circulation. Check out the website here.
All of the success has not gone to her head. She offers gorgeous holiday cards that you can personalize with a photo in just a few clicks, for really reasonable prices. In fact I think the prices are lower than last year. Is that right? How can that be possible? Red Stamp also offers a free online calendar. They email you when your loved ones birthdays are coming up, you click a few times and voila! Beautiful cards arrive in your mail box, ready for your witty note and signature. For the super lazy among us, they will even write the witty note and send them for you. And those girls are witty.
So get to it ladies. Have your photos taken, upload them to Red Stamp, order your cards, and then have some egg nog and enjoy some Peace on Earth. Christmas cards? Done and Done. Word to your mother.
I'm dreaming of a brown Christmas...well I am not, but my mom is. We sometimes wonder if I was switched at birth. While she loves all things neutral, I prefer sparkly and glittery. Beige can be beautiful if you mix textures and shades. She wraps her presents in brown mailing wrap and they always look great. Christmas does not have to be green and red. What is your favorite Christmas color combo?
While I really don't like using words as decor, ie: the ubiquitous wooden words FAMILY, WELCOME, or what have you...
I am overly fond of monograms and letters on the wall. Weird quirk I know. I am doing an entire wall of the letter G in my porch. I will post a photo when it looks good. Anthropologie and Urban Uutfitters are good places to find fun letters, and locally the the antique store Hunt and Gather at 50th and Xerxes in Minneapolis has a huge room full of them...cheap!