Category: DIY

Last Minute Ways to Make Thanksgiving Special

Holy moley – can you believe it? Thanksgiving is TOMORROW! How did it creep up so quickly? If you’re like me, you thrive on pulling last minute details together to make a holiday celebration extra special. I’ve seen so many cute ideas drifting around the internet that I’ve been ohhh-ing and ahhh-ing over for the past few weeks. We’re traveling all day on Thanksgiving to my home town in Pennsylvania where my Mommom is hosting us for lunch and my Mom and Nana are pulling out all the stops for dinner, so I wasn’t able to put any of these cute ideas to use since we’re not hosting. But, I figured I’d round up my favorite easy-to-execute Thanksgiving ideas just in case they could be of use to you! Meanwhile, I’ll be baking my butt off since I’m in charge of bringing dessert this year. Pumpkin Dream Cake and French Silk Pie, anyone? Yum. But anyway, here are some of the last minute details that I think you could quickly pull together to give your dinner an extra special touch.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Heaping piles of leftovers are the best party of any great Thanksgiving dinner, and your guests will probably be clambering for every last slice of succulent turkey and whipped mashed potatoes to enjoy the next day. This suite of Thanksgiving leftover printables from Courtney over at Pizzazzerie is by far my favorite extra special touch for a memorable Thanksgiving feast. I mean how stinkin’ cute are these? You could easily print them out at home and slap them on plain paper lunchbags using a glue stick for a custom look and your guests will be toting home leftovers in style.

Thanksgiving leftover printables from Pizzazzerie
Thanksgiving leftover printables from Pizzazzerie

Gold-n-Pumpkin Place Cards 

If Laura’s birthday was any clue, you know I love dressing up a table to make an occasion feel extra special. I used a variety of small pumpkins and gourds to decorate our house for fall and they’ve been around for weeks now. When I came across this gilded pumpkin place card idea from The Nest I loved the way it dressed up a simple gourd to feel luxe and personalized. In my case, I’d take a few of the gourds that I already have laying around and  give them a quick coat of paint at some point today before tying a handwritten place card (possibly made from a gift tag?) on the stem. How easy is that? And it’d be super cute!

Gilded Place Cards from The Nest
Gilded Place Cards from The Nest

Notes of Thankfulness

Mike’s family has a tradition of going around the table to say what we’re each thankful as a way to show gratitude for our blessings and reflect on the past year before diving in for dinner. It’s really sweet to hear what each member of the family is thankful for – especially when his little cousins poignantly exclaim, “I’m thankful for Jesus!” or “I’m thankful for school!” When I came across this free Notes of Thankfulness printable from Hello Bee I thought they’d be a cute way to go a step further and write down your thoughts of gratitude. You could even save your family’s notes of thankfulness and revisit them when you’re having a rough day and need a heartfelt pick-me-up. With some printer paper or card stock and a pair of scissors you could quickly prep a note card for each person who will be joining you for dinner in no time. Note, click here for the printable file.

Notes of Thankfulness by Hello Bee
Notes of Thankfulness by Hello Bee

I certainly have so much to be thankful for this year, and I’ll be counting my many blessings when we sit down to dinner tomorrow. I’m wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours! Make it extra special and soak every moment in!

DIY Christmas Wreath

Sunday was another Christmas craft day for me as Mike and I were prepping for our upcoming Christmas decorating bonanza. Thanksgiving is a week later this year so we laid some groundwork for our outdoor decorating by laying out the grid of extension cords across the yard, wrapping the trees with lights (without turning them on) and hanging command strips that we’ll hang the garland from. I showed you the stuff I got to make my own wreaths in this post, and I finally had time last weekend to put the wreath decorations to good use.

DIY Christmas Wreath

I started with a blank slate – this $15 unadorned wreath. About an hour before I started decorating the wreath I took my decorations outside and sprayed them with a weather protectant spray so the wreaths would be weather resistent. I’m hoping to use these wreaths for years to come so I wanted to do all I can to protect them from the elements. Weather proofing the decorations added an extra step to this process, but I’m hoping it will do a lot to protect my investment in these wreaths.

Plain Wreath

 I laid out all of the decorations on the wreath until I came up with an arrangement I liked before attaching them. That way I could rearrange before my design was set in stone.

Test Wreath

When I had the design finalized, it was time to start attaching each decoration with hot glue. I set up my hot glue gun on a plate to protect my table/dining room from any dripping hot glue.

Hot Glue Gun

I started by attaching the bow at the top of the wreath so it’d be centered. Then I strung my letter “G” on some twine that I bought when we got the rest of the decorations and tied it right beneath the bow.

Bow

With those two key elements attached it was time to start placing the rest of the decorations. I started at the bottom and worked my way around the wreath hot gluing all the ornaments, pine cones and sprays until everything was securely in place.

Gluing

Here’s the final product!

Finished Wreath

Then it was time to put it up out front. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a few wreaths up before Thanksgiving, but we’re saving the rest of our decorating until later. Here’s what it looks like outside – keep in mind we’ll have more stuff out here in a few days.

Arbor Vitaes

Front Wreath

With the first wreath done, I had one more to decorate for the side of the house. Our house is a corner unit so we wanted to be sure we weren’t ignoring our side yard/window. I started with the same decorations that I used for the front wreath – minus the “G.” This is what I came up with for the second wreath.

Side Wreath

And this is what it looks like on the window outside!

Side Wreath Outside

Have you done any crafts to get ready for the holidays? Are there any holiday decorations you’re planning to DIY?

Just Call Us the Griswolds

Can you tell by the theme of my posts this week that I’m in full holiday prep mode? If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know we may have gone overboard in our recent shopping trips for outdoor Christmas decorations for the new house…

Christmas Haul

We have enough lights, garland, ornaments and bows to decorate the entire block. Okay, well, maybe not. But we did go a little crazy. Mike and I both love the holiday season and we’re having a blast buying decorations for the new house. It’s a thrill to finally have a home to decorate! Our motto is, “divide the cost by all the years we’ll be putting these to good use.” Yeah, we’ll go with that.

Let’s take a closer look at what we bought to (hopefully) achieve the look we have planned for the outside of our house. I did a ton of searching (both online and in stores) for the perfect wreath to adorn both the front and side of our house. Our home is on a corner lot and exposed on three sides, so we’re planning to decorate more than just the front view. None of the wreaths that fit my budget were quite right, so I decided to buy unadorned, non-lit wreaths and style them myself (hello, future blog post). I can’t wait to get these babies put together to share the final product with you! Here’s the base wreaths that I purchased for around $15 a piece.

Wreaths

And after some more search and planning, these are the decorations I went with to decorate them.

Wreath Decorations

Notice the ‘G’ from my post last week? I told you I wanted to sneak it into my holiday decor! I played around with these decorations after we got home from shopping last night to give you an idea of what I’m envisioning.

Test Wreath

Like I said, the wreath above is no where near final, I just wanted to lay everything out to see if I liked how the pieces were all coming together. I’m hoping to hang the wreaths in the window with a spotlight shining on each one. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

We also purchased a ton of lights and garland to adorn the outside of our home. One of my favorite things that Mike found were these red and green Edison bulb light strands. I’m obsessed with the festive, vintage feel these have and I can’t wait to see them go up. Mike really wanted some sort of colored bulbs out front and I was struggling to figure out a way to pull everything together – especially since traditional colored light strands include non-traditional colors like purple, yellow and orange. I think these lights will add color without looking too visually overwhelming. What a great find!

Edison Bulb Light Strand

Mike also wanted to wrap the three trees in our front/side yard with lights, so we picked up three 300-bulb packs of mini lights to wrap the trunks and we’ll hang these oversized red and green ornaments from the branches for an extra special touch.

Oversized Ornaments

Finally, we’ll give the look a finishing touch by putting these candles in the front and side windows of our home to give it a soft glow. We decided not to line the house in lights for safety reasons (neither of us are interested in climbing on a high ladder or a roof) so I think these candles will add some sparkle instead.

Window Candles

There you have it! A sneak peek of all the stuff we got in our two-night marathon of shopping trips in preparation for the big Christmas decoration bonanza that’ll be happening at our house during the weekend after Thanksgiving (if we can hold out that long). How are you guys planning for the upcoming holiday season? Any outdoor decorating tips to share before we get started?

DIY Christmas Tree Garland

Happy Monday! I had a pretty leisurely weekend catching up with friends and family, so I wanted to squeeze in some time to do a Christmas craft in preparation for our holiday decorating bonanza that will be happening over the next few weekends. I made a cute paper bunting as a decoration for our housewarming party, and I loved the look of it so much I left it up until a few weeks ago – well past the date of the party. I wanted to bring back the look of the bunting but give it a holiday flair, so I used the same technique to make this Christmas tree garland.

DIY Christmas Tree Garland

My first step was to search for a simple Christmas tree image to print out and use as a template. After a quick search I found this sweet, rounded Christmas tree that was meant to be a coloring page for kids. The simplicity was exactly what I was looking for, so I printed it and cut it out to get started. Though I loved the star on top, it just wasn’t practical for this craft so I had to cut it off.

Template

Next up was choosing the scrapbook paper to make the garland out of. I bought a book of Christmas-themed paper a few years ago so I just thumbed through it until I found the look I wanted. I chose four coordinating patterns to give the garland a little variety while keeping it easy on the eyes. It’s visually interesting without being too busy.

Scrapbook Paper With the paper chosen it was time to trace my template onto the back of each page. I traced three Christmas trees on each page for a total of twelve trees. The finished garland came out to be about two feet long, so keep this in mind when you’re choosing how many trees to cut out.

Tracing

When all your trees are cut out it’s time to punch a small hole in the top where you’ll thread the twine through. I recommend punching a few test holes into the template tree first so you don’t ruin one of your hard-earned trees with a poorly placed hole punch.

Hole Punch

One of the added benefits of a craft project like this is the confetti that results from punching holes into cute craft paper. Check it out! I’m saving this as I go because I can definitely see this looking adorable in a confetti balloon or strewn across a table at a party. This is about three projects worth of confetti so it will be a while before I have enough to use for a party – but you could always make your own by punching wholes throughout a few pieces of scrapbook paper. I don’t think it’d take you very long, either.

Confetti

Anyway, back to the garland. We’re almost done! Now it’s time to string the trees onto your twine. I recommend threading the twin trough the back of the whole twice so the twin wraps around each side of the hole giving it more stability. If you only thread it through once your tree will turn more to one side and your garland won’t look very good from straight on. This is a pretty tedious step too, but once you have your twine threading down pat it moves more quickly.

Twine

The beauty of this project is that the twine holds the Christmas trees in place so you don’t have to go through the extra step and added cost of adhering them (though you can if you want). To hang the garland, I simply wrap the ends of the twine around a thumb tack and push it into the wall. I’m eventually planning to hang this over my mirror in the dining room so you won’t be able to see the thumb tacks at all, but it doesn’t photograph well so I pinned it up on the half wall leading into my kitchen to give you an idea of what it looks like hanging.

There you have it! DIY Christmas tree garland that’s as easy to make as it is on your budget. I actually had all these materials on hand, so this custom garland project only cost me $0. I’m hoping to do some more Christmas crafts on the blog leading up to the holiday. What about you? Have you gotten crafty with your holiday preparations? Do you have a traditional holiday craft that you make every year?

DIY Vanity Upgrade

I’m excited to post my first DIY project  – a vanity upgrade that I completed right before our housewarming party back in September. For just $19, I upgraded my beloved vanity to better fit our new space, and I’m in love with the result!

New Navy Vanity

I have a very soft spot in my heart for this desk-turned-vanity that has been with me since college. I purchased it at a thrift store for $35 when I was moving into my first apartment, and I promptly gave it a more personal touch by spray painting the hardware turquoise. Always an overachiever, I decided to also repaint a neat hand-me-down chair with the same turquoise color to give it some extra punch. At the time I loved the combination, but I finally felt like I was growing out of it as I honed my DIY savvy and my decorating sense. I just knew I could do a better job and give it more style.

Old Vanity

The old vanity’s bright turquoise hardware and matching chair that I loved in our old apartment just wasn’t translating well in our new master bedroom. It was feeling very mismatched to me (in an ahhh-what-is-that-eyesore-in-the-corner way, not a cute-vintage-thriftstore-makeover way) and I knew I had to give it an update before our closest family and friends showed up to help us break in our abode the following weekend.

A few months earlier I had pinned this vanity because I loved the look of the huge mirror resting on top. The vanity base reminded me of my desk, and as luck would have it my mom was looking to unload an oversized mirror with an awesome wooden frame. She saw my pin and told me she’d give me the mirror for free (score!) so project DIY-vanity-upgrade was launched!

Mirror Prep

I started by dragging the mirror and my painting materials (drop cloth, spray paint, cardboard and painter’s tape) out to the backyard where I could safely use the spray paint in a well ventilated area. I washed the frame down to get rid of any dust and dirt so the paint would stick for the long haul. Then, I cut a piece of cardboard to cover the mirror while I let the frame fully dry. When it was taped off leaving just the raw frame exposed, I spray painted the frame in short, quick blasts being careful not to spray the paint on too thick. The key to a smooth finish when spray painting is taking the time to do several thin coats to avoid drips.

Navy Mirror

When the mirror was finished it was time to move onto the bigger part of the project – refinishing my new natural wood stool. After doing some comparison shopping I decided to purchase a $13 stool at Target and refinish it myself to stick to my budget with the housewarming party right around the corner. I chose to purchase a new stool to replace the chair because my vanity sits right outside the doors to both our walk-in closet and our master bath, so I figured a stool would be a little more streamlined in such a busy space.

To refinish the stool, I started by sanding down the polyurethane finish and giving it a thorough wipe down to remove any dust that the sanding left behind. When the stool was fully dry it was ready for paint, and I gave it an all-over coat of crisp white. After letting the first coat dry fully, I applied painter’s tape in even stripes across the top and around the circumference of the stool. I also taped a drop cloth around the legs of the stool to protect my fresh coat of white paint from any navy overspray. I chose to tie the mirror into the stool by painting stripes on top of the stool in the same navy color as the mirror, and I love the way it turned out!

My last step was to repaint all the hardware from the vanity in the same crisp white as the stool. The vanity is actually a cream color and I really like the way the crisp white of the stool and handles contrasts with the vanity’s finish without being too compete-y. When all the painting was finished and dry to the touch I removed the painter’s tape and drop clothes so they wouldn’t stick to the finish. I then let all the pieces cure for 24 hours before putting them back into use. This is a very important step with spray painting to ensure the quality of your final product.

I wanted to choose functional yet beautiful accessories to top the vanity, so I ended up choosing a narrow tan and white tray to hold my foundation and perfume where I can easily grab them. I also added a vintage glass with gold stripes on the left side where I like to keep a fresh cut flower. It cheers me up. Hey, it’s the little things, right? And a vanity is something you’ll be using at least once a day, so it might as well make you happy!

Here’s the end result. What do you think of the before and after? Have you redone a piece of furniture to better fit a new space recently?

Vanity Before & After