Wrap Gifts Better

christmas wrapping

We are in the thick of the holidays and I am enjoying every moment.  We could use a little snow, but other than that, everything is right on schedule. I spent the weekend making Christmas cookies, which I’m sharing tomorrow, and wrapping presents!

Present wrapping is literally my favorite part of the whole season.  I absolutely love spending time with each gift and making it as pretty as I humanly can.  This year, I am trying to do my best to stay true to my colonial theme and I choose a really cute navy blue antler paper and a plaid with red, green, gold, and navy. I loved both of the papers, but at close to $9 per roll, I was going to make sure they could stretch as far as possible.

Early on in my wrapping, I would spend almost as much money on the paper, bows, and tags as I would on the gifts.  Over the years, however, I’ve developed a system which saves a ton of money and makes the gifts just as beautiful.

cheaper ways to wrap gifts

easier gift wrap ideas

Aside from the cost of tags and ribbon, nice paper also seems to cost a boatload.  My beautiful $9 paper had just 3 yards on the roll, which is crazy!  You can only get 3 gifts out of that!  Although I obviously still buy the beautiful paper, I’ll share my secret for making it last.

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Our Traditional Thanksgiving Table

thanksgiving table setting

As you know from yesterday’s Kahlúa bar post, we enjoyed a pretty amazing Friendsgiving this year.  I wanted to share with you my table so that you could take inspiration for your Thanksgiving (or any holiday dinner) this season.  It was a simple palette that I talked about in my inspiration post.  I wanted to go very classic and traditional with mostly http://www.crateandbarrel.com/essential-dinnerware/f10931 and serve ware and a rust colored plaid for the table runner.  I actually used the same exact plaid that I used on the backs of my invitations so that there was a really wonderful tie-in. Plus, since it was just custom wrapping paper, I was able to cut it to size and make it long enough for my super long table.

thanksgiving place setting inspiration

Aside from the plaid details, I used birch twigs and wood slices from the craft store to give an even more classic outdoorsy look to the table.  More sources, details, and photos below!  [Read more…]

Friendsgiving Dessert Drink Bar

thanksgiving kahlua dessert bar

I’m still recovering a bit from our big Friendsgiving that was this past weekend!  I always put together an after dinner drink bar for our friends and this year was no different.  We usually get into something game-related after dinner (sometimes it’s ‘Just Dance’ on the Wii and sometimes a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity or Pit), and everyone always welcomes something sweet and warm after a big meal.

I transferred the goodies into fun bottles to give the bar very stylized vibe.  I feel like people love exploring a fun set up and are bound to try new things.  This year, I’ve put out three types of Kahlúa – Original, Pumpkin Spice, and Peppermint Mocha.  They’re the center focus of the whole drink bar, but there is so much variation in all of the mixers we have, there is no way any two people would ever make the same drink.

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kahlua drink bar

Friendsgiving bar ideas

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Party Beverage Bucket DIY

diy champagne bucket

My favorite part of entertaining has always been finding my own way to do things that is cool and low cost.  This particular project is one that I’ve done a few times before for other parties and just love how customizable it is.  Beverage tubs and champagne buckets tend to be one of those things that are weirdly expensive.  I saw an iron one last year that I like and it was over $100! Really, it’s just a tub!

So, I have started using small (bathroom sized) trashcans as a stand-in to keep bottles cold during our parties.  They’re inexpensive enough to not be a big blow to your party budget and with a couple of drawer pulls or knobs from the hardware store and a quick customization they also turn out way more cute than the run of the mill version.

 

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It’s an easy three step process and rolls in at under $20.  Want to make your own?   [Read more…]

Thanksgiving: Fake it? Or make it?

dinner table

I was shocked to learn this week that some families don’t do a potluck Thanksgiving.  This means that the hostess is cooking most of the dishes served.  If you’re one of those families that makes the meal together (sisters, aunts, grandmothers unite!) then that’s amazing, but this family that I was speaking to however, just all shows up at someone’s house who has cooked the entire dinner! The hostess in question happened to be a friend who was so nervous about the quest.

I’m kind of a purist when it comes to the Thanksgiving meals, but if I had to do it all myself, I could quickly relinquish some of the dishes to store-bought (or at least help from a box).   This got me thinking about which dishes I would still make and which I would fake. Of course the ‘faking it’ doesn’t have to mean straight up bought from a store in it’s complete form, it could mean anything from buying bread cubes for the stuffing instead of drying and cubing yourself.  Or it could mean using a frozen pastry crust instead of going from scratch.  What I’ve learned is that everyone takes help in some way or another – it all just depends on where their food allegiances lie!

fake it or make it

When it comes down to it, I would take this shortcut on cooking the turkey, make the stuffing using my favorite recipe, use the help of little potatoes and my crockpot for the mashed potatoes, make the pumpkin pie the day prior (using a pre-made crust, because homemade crusts are not worth the effort in my opinion).  The classic green bean casserole is an easy couple of cans to open, so all in all it wouldn’t be too bad.

So, this is pretty hypothetical because we’re having a potluck, which is what I grew up knowing. Still, however, I am making both the turkey and the stuffing for our friends giving, so I’ll still follow the exact recipes above.  I’d really like to know about your family traditions, short-cuts, or long-cuts, though!

Tell me…. What do you HAVE to have homemade and what do you cut corners on? I hope we can all get some great ideas with plenty of time to implement them!!

 

 

Images: Harvest Table Setting | Turkey | Stuffing | Potatoes | Green Bean Casserole | Pumpkin Pie