Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Easy Thanksgiving Decor Ideas

I wrote this 2 years ago as a guest post (see it here) for a financial advice website.  I never, however, shared the simple ways to get your home ready for the Thanksgiving holiday.  So, here goes...

Am I the only person who woke up to the reality that Thanksgiving is upon us? By wake-up, I mean my "Countdown to Christmas Decor" announcement was interrupted by my [at the time] 5 year old asking, "how you gon' decorate for Christmas when we haven't done anything for Thanksgiving and I don't have to go to school for that either?!" UGH.

Fine. I'll give the holiday its due. I'll decorate and bake and do the whole turkey thing... I apologize, Thanksgiving, for treating you like the Wednesday of holidays and joining the rush to the holly and the jolly that is Christmas. There. Happy now?

I was faced with the dilemma to decorate on just a few days' notice.  Of course, this wasn't going to be a major investment - $15 is all I was willing to give.  After all, this ain't Christmas!

When I'm short on cash but big on ideas, I head to my local dollar store, park in the spot with my name (in my head) and walk the aisles until I'm inspired... Here's how I thriftily (it's a word, don't worry) created our last minute Thanksgiving decor:

1.  Yarn wreath.  I purchased 6 Styrofoam wreath forms ($1/each) and tan yarn from Wal-Mart ($1.97).  I wrapped the yarn in 3-foot increments and wrapped (and wrapped and wrapped) to create 6 wreaths.  I then used scrap ribbon I had on hand to hang them from the backs of my dining room chairs.  I loved how they turned out... but felt they were missing something.  So, Munchface (my daughter) and I took a stroll to collect some leaves and greenery to spruce it up... I hot glued the greenery together then simply tucked the ends under the yarn because glue would be too permanent and I FULLY intend to use them for Christmas too.  Aren't they fab? Total: $8(for 6 wreaths)

2. Brown paper table runner.  I purchased a roll of brown packing paper from the Dollar Tree ($1).  I cut a piece the length of my dining room table while, Munchface checked our leaves and sticks for bugs and other icky things; it was a top secret and VERY important operation. 

Then I gave Munchface the leaves she picked and told her to arrange them on the brown paper "table runner" however she wanted.  Imagine her channeling her inner designer telling ME why leaves go in a certain place. 

We'll place a marker at each place setting for guests to doodle or write what they're thankful for.  Munchface had a blast writing her words on the runner.  Total: $1.

3. Pumpkin candle holders.  I purchased mini pumpkins from Wal-Mart ($2.50 for a bag of 5).  I then carved out the top to fit a pillar candle ($1/2 tapered candles and $1 for a vanilla pillar; BOTH from the Dollar Tree).  I also purchased seasonal vase filler on clearance (for $1.50) from my local craft store. Note, the day after Halloween, all Fall decor is placed on clearance to make room for Christmas stuff so take this opportunity to stock up for Thanksgiving and the FOLLOWING year's Halloween decor.  I digress in the name of SAVING MONEY... So, here are the steps to create mini pumpkin candle holders:

- Cut the top of the pumpkin to hold the pillar candle.  Note: this hole needs to be the same size as the candle base

- At this point, when you see the "pumpkin guts," get really grossed out, squeal about how NASTY this is and put on protective gloves. THEN announce that you're ready to proceed to step 2. Drama, I know... comes with crafting with kids, trust me!

- Place the pillar candle in the carved area and ensure it's level because wax drippings are no fun to clean…

- Place pumpkins on a platter or plate. I chose a striped blue plate because I loved the mixture of texture and print.  I filled the plate with some of my clearance vase filler and placed it in the center of my table.  VOILA! Ambiance (in my fancy French designer voice)!! Total: $5.50

Here it is all together... I added some clearance pumpkin decor from Wal-mart ($2/each) and, can I just toot-toot my own horn?! I love how it turned out!

3. Sticks arrangement.  That's right, Munchface and I went on a mission to find pretty leaves, branches, and shrubbery to create a simple arrangement. I just grabbed a glass pitcher, wrapped a strip of brown paper around it and wiggled the branches around until they were just.right.  I love the branch with leaves still on it... My world? Rocked.  Check it out:

4.  School work display.  You can see in the top right corner of the photo above one of Munchface's school crafts.  For holidays, I simply use painter's tape to attach the artwork to a frame by just sticking it to the glass.  Displaying her artwork in this manner:

- Shows our pride in her projects thus, positively reinforces the importance of her education

- Includes Munchface in the decorating because she gets to help choose a place for her work (and ensure our guests are WELL-aware she paints and her painting is over there *on tippy toes...pointing...* Can you see it?)

- Personalizes holiday decor without spending a dime

So, what am I thankful for this holiday? I'm thankful for the benefits of investing my time and energy into family, for the joy in my daughter's eyes when she learns something new, for the smell of Saturdays, for the warmth of hugs and family hamster-pile naps. 
I'm grateful for the reminder to take every opportunity to celebrate.  There is no reason to rush through holidays but rather, look at what you have and find affordable ways to MAKE them special.  
I put Halloween décor away and pulled out my Christmas décor.  I did leave a few decorative pumpkins out.  I also updated the fall place settings with a rattan charger.  I love the texture they add to the table!

Aren't those plates awesome?  I got a total of eight Pier1 plates (salad and dinner) for a whopping...

*drum roll please*


Talk about being THANKFUL!  I love great thrift store finds and deals!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turkey Hair Bow Tutorial

Good morning, Islanders!
It's finally time to share the infamous Turkey Bow tutorial.  I've received requests for this tutorial since 2010 when I made Munch's first bow (see the post with its debut here) so I know you're excited!!
- Brown Ribbon (20 inches)
- Pink Ribbon (less than 1 inch)
- Ribbon for Feathers (your choice)
- String
- Hot Glue Gun
- Lighter
- Clippie or Headband
Note: thinner ribbon works better for this design.
1. Cut the brown ribbon into the following pieces - 3 in., 2 in., 1.5 in., and two (2) 1 in. pieces
2.  Glue the ends of the 3 in., 2 in., 1.5 in. pieces together to create a loops like this:

3.  For the 1 in. pieces, create a flat loop (pictured below to the far right):
4.  Stack the loops according to size (dabbing glue at each layer's meeting point):

Back view

Front view
5. Repeat with the two remaining loops to create the turkey head.  Glue the head on top of the body:

6.  Cut 5 pieces of the feather ribbon(s) to be 2 in. long.  Create the open loops:

7.  Glue the loops to the back of the turkey:

8.  Cut a small triangle for the beak and a squiggly strip for the "turkey jiggle" (as Munch calls it):

9.  Glue to clippie (after covering with brown ribbon OR to piece of felt for headband.
10.  Enjoy your festive and fabulous turkey bow!!!

Once I made one, I stopped measuring and whipped up bows for all of our friends.  They make great gifts for little girls:
PLUS, a few spools of ribbon really go a LONG way!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey Week!

Happy Thanksgiving week, Islanders!

I am so excited to share some awesome posts this week!  Be on the lookout for the following:

A Turkey Hair Bow Tutorial!

Fabulous Last Minute Thanksgiving Decor Ideas!

The annual Thankful post!

A Big Girl Room Update!

… and more (free printables, awesome pics, funny stories, etc.).

I hope you'll return tomorrow!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Gadiel's Monster's Bash

I've posted about Mom and Dave's Toga Party which was hosted the weekend before Halloween.  I've shared Munch's cute little semi-homemade Halloween costume.  The time has OFFICIALLY arrived to share the party that was hosted the weekend after Halloween when we celebrated Gadiel's second birthday.

Yes, Gadiel.  My baby boy whose baby shower I helped plan and host.  The one whose first birthday party I was so excited to help execute:
Yes, him.
This year, my favorite Costa Rican family was hit with tragedy when, two weeks before the party, a pipe in their upstairs bathroom burst and flooded their entire house!  I was brought to tears when I received the phone call and learned my friends would live in a hotel until well after the New Year while their dream home was gutted and rebuilt.
I listened to the sadness in Gaby's voice fade as she excitedly shared the plans for Gadiel's Monster's Bash.  Sure, with the recent events, the venue changed but the party was going to happen.  After all, it was the only thing they had to look forward to.
My only task? The cake.  Gaby settled on his costume for the day and told me her décor plans... I used this information to get to work planning the design with Misty, my favorite awesome baker-friend.
I wanted the cake to be over-the-top and special.  I wanted to shock Gaby with a beautiful cake because I knew, if only for this one day, they didn't want to think about packing up their soiled belongings and moving to temporary housing.
FFWD to PaRtY DaY!
Munchface got all dolled up in her Winter Snow Princess dress.  I let her wear dangle-sparkle earrings, real makeup and even re-used my head piece from Mom's Toga Party.  She looked so cute!
It was a warm sunny day so Hubbs insisted he take a picture of her before we left.
We picked up the cake and headed to the party room with the sweets :)
Gaby was so excited when she saw the cake; it was GORGEOUS! 
I put the cake in its designated location and admired it for just a few moments:
Isn't it cool?  It was the perfect addition to the menu because Gaby went all out with the snacks!  There were:
Ghosts (Costa Rican bananas with edible food marker)
Pumpkins (oranges and celery)
Witches' Brooms (pretzel sticks and string cheese)
Mummies (pigs in the blanket)
Spiders (meatballs)
... and SO much more!
O and games?! Gaby never disappoints! Guests enjoyed a traditional Costa Rican game!
Volunteers ate a marshmallow and said a phrase after each marshmallow.  The rules are players cannot swallow or chew the marshmallows and the person who fits the most marshmallows in their mouth wins!
Yep, you guessed it - this guy won! He stopped after 45 marshmallows... Although he knew he could fit more, lol.
Next up, the kids played pin the nose on the Jack-O-Lantern:
This activity was a hit with kids of all ages!  After a few games of hot potato (with Thriller playing in the background), Gabby passed plain bags and stickers to each of the guests.  They were given a chance to personalize the bags before lining up for a costume parade with trick-or-treating!!!
I, along with 5 other adults, headed outside with our bags of goodies for the kids.  The kids came out and looked so cute as they walked the loop collecting treats from the adults along the way! 
After the parade, it was time to fill the bags with treats from the piñata!
We sang happy birthday and cut the FABULOUS AND AWESOME AND ADORABLE AND GREAT AND PERFECT cake:
Gadiel loved the cake but was afraid to touch it.  To help him warm-up, Gabby reached and grabbed an eyeball...
...turned it to Gadiel and said, "I SEE YOU!!"
Talk about hilarious!
 OMG! Isn't Gadiel adorable?!  Let me just say, he wasn't the only cutie on duty, these little Hulk twins were flirting with me the entire time:)
O and all of the kids were adorable in their costumes but this little Mexicana?!  She took the cake!
It was a great day!!!
I'd say the birthday boy had a good time too:
He was knocked out, in that very spot, with all the sounds of a party and even the sounds of party clean-up buzzing around him!
We headed home where Tati and Langston were hanging with Hubbs awaiting our arrival.  I don't know how it happened but there were family room decisions made. 
Blame the Dr. Pepper we shared or the exhaustion on both our parts.  Whatever the case, I have some updates but, don't worry, I'll share the changes as soon as I'm finished!


Goodwill Finds: The Magnolia Wreath

Happy Friday, Islanders. I wanted to share a thrifty find from a while back.  Ugh, I love my local Goodwill Outlet.  Oh, and yes, you saw ...

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