Preparing Your Christmas Table

Christmas Table

I’m looking forward to using these dishes this year! They were recently given to me by my MIL. Don’t you love family treasures?

Thoughtfully preparing your Christmas table is one way to show guests how grateful you are to have them. Love is definitely in the details, so here are a few essentials I’ve rounded up for you.

Set a Proper Place

There are two ways to set a table: informal and formal. No matter what, you want to keep your table to a minimum so it’s comfortable for guests. Only set out the utensils and glassware needed for what you are serving. For instance, you might not need that cocktail fork if everyone is just snacking in the living room beforehand.

Here’s a printable Place Setting Cheat Sheet. Below is a sneak peek of what it looks like.

Place Setting Cheat Sheet

Source: Damsel in Dior

Include Names with Napkins

If you’re going casual, using holiday-themed paper napkins is totally fine. You can still make them special by personalizing with place cards. Place cards are a thoughtful, simple way to welcome each person to the table. Here are some fun ideas:

Candy Cards

Candy Cane Place Cards

This is such a sweet idea. It’s just a piece of paper with ribbon threaded through two holes punched on either side. Image source: Martha Stewart

Musical Scrolls and Greenery

Scrolls and Holly

To assemble, take a snip of holly (or any greenery) and add a paper scroll, which is just a piece of paper that’s been rolled around a pencil on each end. Image source: Martha Stewart

Holiday Lights

Lightbulb Place Card

If you’ve had a few lights burn out on you, here’s a new way to repurpose them. Paint the bulbs and use as place cards. Throw an ornament hook on there and you have an instant gift, as well! Image source: Taste of Home

If you’re using cloth napkins, try folding them in an interesting way before adding your festive place cards. I was inspired to try new folding methods by my MIL. When we visited for Thanksgiving, she gave me a great handout that includes ways to fold interesting shapes such as fans and pockets. For now here are two holiday-themed folds:

The Tree Fold

Christmas Tree Fold

This is the Christmas tree fold. I’m thinking you could add a paper star at the top that doubles as a name card. Image source: Marmite Pon Pon

The Bow Fold

bow fold

This reminds me of a bow on a Christmas package. In fact, you could decorate a square piece of paper like a gift and use it as a place card tucked under the bow. Image source: Nancy Creative

Add Pretty Centerpieces

You definitely want to treat your guests to something pretty in the center of your table. Go for several low arrangements to make conversation easy. Also add some tea light candles to enhance the festive atmosphere. Some of my favorite flower combinations include:

White Roses and Pine Boughs

White roses and pine boughs

This bouquet was featured on BHG. Simple and lovely. White roses and pine should both be easy to source this time of year.

Sage and Pine Cones

sage and pine cones

I love the silvery look and savory smell of sage. This pairs so beautifully with pine cones. This was designed by Mark Kintzel. You can grow fresh sage indoors this time of year and pine cones can be harvested from any nearby pine tree!

White Mums, Baby’s Breath and Dusty Miller

mums and dusy miller

I’m not usually a fan of mums, but seeing them gathered with baby’s breath and dusty miller provides a whole new appreciation. This was used as a wedding bouquet featured on One Wed, but you could pull these together in a small vase for a breath-taking arrangement. Your local florist should have these items.

Hydrangea and Hypericum Berries

White hydrangea and berries

I love the simplicity of these berries tucked into billowy hydrangea blossoms. To top it off, they’re held in a silver julep cup. This would be gorgeous on any Christmas table. Source: Julie Blanner

Organize Your Serving Pieces

This is a tip for your side table, and it’s something I’ve been doing for years. Place serving dishes and utensils out the day before and label with sticky notes as to what goes in each dish.

Serving Pieces with Sticky Notes

Image source: Kitchen Concoctions.

This step ensures things go smoothly when it’s go-time for serving up the food. Doing this a day ahead gives you time to gather any missing items from your kind neighbor – or closest Bed Bath & Beyond. Planning out each dish also ensures you don’t leave anything delicious in the refrigerator! #beenthere

Enjoy a Toast

Another side-table tip is to create a bar cart with your guests’ favorite beverages. That way you can welcome everyone with a proper toast, as well as save space in the fridge and on the kitchen counter.

Bar Cart

This is a lovely bar cart I saw on this site: Waiting on Martha.

Simply repurpose a side table or wooden tray table with an ice bucket of drinks, bottles of wine, glasses and opener so guests can help themselves at any time.

Here’s hoping your dinner goes off without a hitch, and that your table is as beautiful as you are.

Cheers, my friends!

-Kate

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Five Holiday Road Trip Tips

Holiday Road TripHappy Friday!! Not that I have to tell you, but Christmas is just six days away. Eek! Many of you are planning a road trip over the river and through the woods to your favorite relative’s house or vacation spot. So before you load up the wagon and roll down the road, here are a few helpful tips to keep you organized, safe and happy.

Organized

{1} Pack the bags: Three important words: make a list. Write down all of the clothes you’ll need, gifts to take, and supplies (like baby bottles or puppy chew toys) that your family requires for happiness. Here are a few list ideas from Real Simple to get you started.

{2} Pack the car: As a mom of three kids, I’ve figured out what our family does (paper towels) and doesn’t (a dozen stuffed animals) need on road trips. I made a printable of a Car Packing List that includes the things we like to pack. Maybe it will help you, too!

Safe

{3} Be prepared: You know Murphy’s Law – anything that could go wrong, probably will. But if you’re ready for any kind of emergency, chances are good you won’t have any. Let’s pray that’s the case. It’s super smart – especially this time of year when road conditions can be tricky – to have a few essential items packed away. Things like a tire repair kit, flashlight and batteries could be lifesavers. Here’s a complete list from Farmer’s Almanac to review.

Happy

{4} Eat right: Just because you’re confined to the car doesn’t mean you have to squeeze out good eating habits. Convenience stores have been improving their selection to include cheeses, fruits and veggies. Go for these options or a carton of yogurt or package of nuts (granted you don’t have allergies). These are a good source of protein, and they fill little tummies longer to last you between stops.

We also bring our Tervis tumblers and fill them with ice water along the way. Most places let you fill your own cups with water for free.

Christmas Tervis

A Christmas-themed Tervis would be a fun gift to start your trip!

{5} Play Games: Nothing makes the miles feel shorter than a few good games. With so many electronics these days, kids are usually plugged into their own worlds. It’s good to mix it up a little with some “unplugged” family fun. Here are a few holiday games to consider:

  • Christmas Scavenger Hunt: Try to find these tried and true decorations while you’re cruising the streets of town. This version is from Daily Messes.scavenger hunt christmas
  • Christmas Spelling Bee: Who can be the first to spell “Christmas” using signs and billboards along the road? Once you’ve spelled that, you can move on to other words, such as: holiday, reindeer and Santa.
  • What’s the Next Line: Play a holiday song from iTunes or a CD. Pause at any point in the song and pick someone in the car to sing the next line. If they guess it wrong, it goes to the next person. You can tally points or hand out small treats for each correct answer, like M&Ms.
  • Guess the Christmas Jingle: Someone hums a song and the first person to guess it correctly gets a prize – like an M&M or Hershey’s kiss.

My friends, wherever you’re headed I hope you have a safe and happy trip!

Lots of love,

-Kate

P.S. I’m linking up with Five on Friday, again. Be sure to check out some of the great blogs on the list! Fiveonfriday

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Gift Wrapper’s Delight

Christmas Packages ChristmasPackages2Last Friday I shared an amazing YouTube video I stumbled upon that features the art of Japanese gift wrapping. I was seriously astounded by the simplicity and beauty of this technique. In the meantime I discovered a helpful link that outlines how to do each step in detail – tutorial style.

Japanese Diagonal Wrap

This is an easy tutorial from WikiHow. Be sure to scroll down to part two in the instructions.

These videos inspired me to share some of my own go-to wrapping secrets. They’re all super simps. Even though I love wrapping, I don’t do fussy.

My top five (easy) wrapping styles:

Quick tip: Buy solid color paper so you can use it any time of year. Then customize it with seasonal ribbons and toppers.

{1} Tootsie Roll Wrap

Tootsie Roll Wrap

I love wrapping odd or round-shaped items (like candles) in this fashion. Just roll the paper around the item, gather the ends, and secure with ribbon. I found this glitter paper at Walmart!

{2} Peek-a-Boo Package

Peek-a-boo Wrap

I had a little helper with this one. Those are Avery’s sweet hands. She loves the peek-a-boo wrap. Below are the easy steps.

Wrapping Tutorial

1. Wrap the gift with a solid paper as the base. 2. Measure a second piece of paper slightly narrower than the gift, so the first layer shows on the edges.

Wrap Tutorial

3. Use a hole punch or edging punch to fancy up the edges. 4. Wrap the two sides together before securing with a bow. I use a smidge of double-sided tape to hold the paper in place.

{3} Built-in Card Pocket

Built in Card Pocket

Attaching gift tags and cards can be troublesome if you have to carry your gift very far. This package has a built in pocket for you to easily tuck your card and go! It’s all in how you fold the paper.

Tip: Using striped paper for this particular fold is great because it’s like camo for a pocket. Where did it go?

Card Pocket Wrap

1. Measure and cut your paper several inches taller than your gift box. 2. Pull and fold the paper down to create a little tri-fold. This will form your pocket. 3. Crease and flatten out the paper and then wrap as usual.

{4} Stamps & Such

Ornament Wrap

I always have a roll of white butcher paper on hand for the kids to color or paint. It also makes great wrapping paper. Snaz it up with a few stamps and then add a pretty topper – like these gold ornaments and ribbon.

Gold Stamps

I used a pencil eraser dipped in gold ink to make mini-polka dots on this package. See how easy?!

{5} Showstopper Toppers! These are a great addition to ANY package you wrap.

Pom Pom Gift Topper

Pom-pom toppers are super easy to make. I also like the addition of stickers – like these initials – to further personalize the gift. Yes, this one is for my Clara 🙂

Acorn Gift Topper

Natural elements, like acorns, make awesome toppers. I hot-glued these to some artificial greenery and embellished with some scraps of sparkly ribbon.

Seashell Gift Topper

Speaking of natural elements, I always have more seashells than I know what to do with when we get home from a beach vacation. Using them as gift toppers is a fun way to share part of the shore – especially in the middle of winter! I just hot-glued this to a ribbon.

Holly Gift Topper

I happen to have a holly tree in my yard, so I snipped a few twigs as toppers. Get creative by searching your house and garden for treasures. Anything green and natural will be perfect on a package – especially wrapped with red ribbon.

Okay, show-and-tell time, my friends. I’d love to know how you wrap your gifts and goodies. Comment below or take a pic and share with us on Instagram. Be sure to tag me @katejandersen. Until then, happy wrapping!

-Kate

P.S. Only one week until Christmas!!

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Friday Wrap

What a week! It was filled to the brim with activities and projects (both personal and work related), and it’s still not over. Give this mama another Starbucks already.

So quick confession, I think I showered maybe twice and pretty much lived in a ball cap all week. I think the number of projects on my plate compared to the number of days lived in a ball cap are directly proportional to each other. I will say, through my blizzard of activities I really did have a good time (still am). Here are a few highlights of the week:

  • {ONE} wedding flowers: My niece, Sarah, and I made these sweet pew markers for a family wedding this weekend. Finding fake greenery that looked natural was a bit of a challenge, but we found nice pine sprigs from Hob Lob and added pretty creme-colored flowers to match the rest of the wedding bouquets. We wrapped them with burlap ribbon and wired on some pew clips so all we have to do is slip them on and go!Wedding FlowersSpeaking of weddings, my niece, Emma, is getting married this June! She’s such a sweetheart and asked me to help with invites and other paper goods. I promise to share my projects and discoveries as I go.
  • {TWO} white elephant gift: My husband’s office party is this weekend, so I had to find a white elephant gift. Talk about a fun shopping project. I knew I’d find something awesome at The Mustache, which I did. I almost went with a boot-shaped shot glass, but I landed on these drink coasters with misheard lyrics. Although, I was like, “Wait, sweet dreams aren’t made of cheese?!” #eurythmics #musicfailMisheard Lyrics
  • {THREE} costumes: Don’t you love it when your child comes home from school (the day before the school play) letting you know she needs a costume? Awesome. I panicked for a moment thinking I had to somehow fashion two costumes (life of a twin mom). Thankfully her twin sister was told to use the sugar bear costume from the music department. Yes, sugar bear. Could you imagine having to come up with that in a night’s time? Avery was selected as a candy cane. Totally doable. I grabbed a white shirt and roll of red Duct tape for instant stripes. Thank the high heavens for Duct tape, btw. It was a little plain, though, so we added a tutu. I took strips of red and white tulle, tied them to a piece of elastic and then secured it around her waist. Done, next!Costumes
  • {FOUR} party clothes: I ordered a couple of cute dresses from LollyWollyDoodle for the first time. Am I late to the party on this one? Regardless, they have some stinkin’ cute stuff on that site. I just hope they arrive in time for our mother-daughter holiday party next week! I’ll be sure to share pics when the dresses get here.Lolly logo
  • {FIVE} genius gift wrap: I’m sure you’ve seen the internet sensation of Japanese gift wrapping – where you wrap a gift in less than 12 seconds with a piece of paper and a few slices of tape. I was in complete awe watching this video. It also inspired me to share some other fun and easy (‘cause that’s how I roll) ways to wrap gifts. So be sure to stop back next week.
Gift Wrap Hack

Watch this video of super-fast wrapping. It should be a sport.

I’m linking up with the fun ladies who sponsor Five on Friday again. Be sure to check them out. As always, they’re amazeblogs! FiveonfridayHave a festive weekend, my sweet friends.

-Kate

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The Best Gifts for Teachers

TeachersThis thankful Thursday is all about teachers. I’m willing to go out on a limb here to say teachers are some of the most patient, kind, humble and intelligent people on the planet. My sister, Debby, has been a 4th grade teacher for many years, and she certainly fits this description. Not all teachers are perfect (who is?), but they’re certainly special. So when it comes to making your Christmas list, be sure to check it twice for those teachers of yours.

Since the best gift is a thoughtful one, I asked a few teachers for some ideas. Here are the top five faves!

GiftCard#1 Gift cards: I was originally thinking of offering a slew of ideas besides gift cards, but after my research it became clear. These are by far the most favorite and preferred gift. If you’re worried about it not being personal, you can make it extra special by getting a gift card from your teacher’s favorite store and wrapping it in a box that’s her favorite color or fits her style.

These adorable gift card holders are on Etsy.

These adorable gift card holders are on Etsy.

Most teachers love gift cards from bookstores, craft stores, spas, coffee shops and local restaurants.

If you have a super organized group of parents, you can coordinate getting one big gift card, which will make that terrific teacher of yours feel like she’s getting a bonus. You could also purchase several smaller gift cards and display them on a photo holder with a pretty bow tied around the base. The holder makes a great desk accessory, too!

Photo Holder

Something like this would be perfect for holding gift cards.

Using a plant or little Christmas tree is another fun way to arrange an assortment of gift cards. My sister had a class use a lavender tree one year, and she said it was lovely.

This is a live tree with gift cards tied like ornaments.

This is a live evergreen tree with gift cards tied like ornaments.

Speaking of group gifts…

#2 Gift Baskets: Jump on a site like SignUpGenious or BringIt to make a list of your teacher’s favorite things. Have each family sign up to bring one item, and then turn it into a big gift basket. That way your teacher gets items she loves or needs – and ensures she doesn’t get another dozen coffee mugs.

One thing NOT to give teachers is coffee mugs. Their desks, counters and cabinets are brimming with mugs, and they don’t need any more to add to the stash.

coffee mug

As cute as this is, just walk away! That goes for knick-knack ornaments, too.

#3 Goodies: I know it might seem like teachers live at school. I thought that when I was little. I’d see a teacher at the grocery store and think, “What are you doing here – in public?” Spoiler alert, teachers have lives outside of school. Many of them are working parents, too. They don’t have much time for things like baking, so edible gifts are a welcomed treat for them to enjoy and take home to their families.

Christmas Goodies

These are peanut butter cookies with M&M features and mini chocolate-covered pretzels for antlers.

If you go the route of homemade treats, be sure you’ve tested the recipe and packaged the goods in a new container that looks appetizing. No one likes sketchy food – even if it is dipped in chocolate.

#4 Board Games: Teachers usually have to provide their own supplies, books and games for the classroom. So checking your teacher’s wish list is always a thoughtful idea. In addition to stocking up on Post-its and pencils, think about adding a fun board game to the class. With a long winter ahead, a quick game of Cranium or Bananagrams might be the ticket to a teacher’s sanity. Here’s an awesome list from Education.com that recommends games by age group starting at preschool.

cranium

Our family loves Cranium.

#5 Handwritten Notes: Good old-fashioned letters that are written from the heart always make priceless gifts. Pretty much every teacher’s goal is to help children, so to receive hand-written confirmation that they’re making a difference in a child’s life can be incredibly affirming and joyful. You definitely can’t go wrong with this gift!

I hope this was helpful. If you’re a teacher, let us know what else you’d add to this list.

May you all have a day full of gratitude! #ThankfulThursday

-Kate

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Christmas Mantel Magic

Christmas MantleMantels rank right up there with Christmas trees when it comes to important places in the house to decorate. It’s the first thing Santa sees when he drops down that chimney, you know. Gotta impress the big guy.

I wanted to do something different for the mantel this year, and I love the look of chalkboard messages as the focal point. That was really the main inspiration for this year’s look.

Now, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a large chalkboard. I also didn’t want to mess with buying hardware supplies and chalk paint to try and make one. I wanted something a little more temporary, but that still looked nice. So…off to Hobby Lobby I went.

After finding black wrapping paper and a box of white chalk, I had a thought…I’d just wrap a painting!

I had NO idea how this was going to turn out. I figured the worst that could happen is I’d be out $6 from the supplies and possibly be featured on Pinstrosity. I decided I could live with that.

Since I already had a large painting, I was able to use that as the base.

Thanksgiving Mantle

This is what things looked like before the Christmas transformation. Notice the painting? That’s what I used for the base of my “faux real” chalkboard.

All I did was roll out the paper and wrap the painting like a giant present. I used double-sided tape to carefully adhere the paper.

Backside of Painting

This is the back where you can see how I just wrapped to the edges.

“Oh Holy Night” is one of my favorite Christmas songs, so I knew I wanted to use this for the art. Chalk CloseupI used regular ol’ chalk to write. I discovered it easily wiped off with my hand. If I felt more confident in my hand lettering, I probably would have used a chalk marker.

Liquid ChalkA note on the wrapping paper. Hob Lob only had glossy paper. It turned out really nice, but a matte finish would probably look even better.

Matte Paper

This pretty matte paper is on Amazon.

Once the chalkboard was up, I added some finishing touches.

Finishing Touches

I added lanterns, paperwhites, and a few red and silver ornaments tucked inside clear cylinder vases with snow at the base.

Bonus idea: Another way to repurpose a picture is to swap it out with a beautiful Christmas card.

Christmas Card PicThis idea is compliments of my sister. She snapped a quick pic of the one in her home, and I thought it was such a creative way to holidate (holiday + decorate) your house. Thanks, Debby!

Now, show me your mantels. (I’m totally making t-shirts that say that.) Be sure to take pics, use #TheNeatNook, and tag me on Instagram @Katejandersen so we can all see your creations.

Have the most creative day, yet.

-Kate

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Five Kind Things to Do

Makayla

Meet MaKayla, our Kindness Elf

So our Kindess Elf arrived in the mail on Monday, December 1st #perfecttiming. I got her from Etsy (or a small island west of Norway – whichever you’d like to believe). Our elf’s name is MaKayla, and she’s pretty adorbs. A few things we’ve learned about her so far:

  • She loves mini marshmallows. Like a lot.
  • Her favorite stuffed animal in our house is Mr. Fluffers.
  • It’s okay to touch her – unlike Elf on the Shelf who apparently loses his magic and needs to be immediately sprinkled with cinnamon to reestablish his powers. #highmaintenance
  • She doesn’t mind listening to the same song on the piano over and over again. Maybe she’s actually a saint?

Here are the five ‘kind’ things we’ve done with our elf this week. If you’re lucky enough to have a kindness elf in your life these days, these might help with some ideas…

  1. Went around the dinner table and told each person what we like best about them
  2. Wrote letters to friends or family whom we haven’t seen in a long time
  3. Shared a bowl full of candy with some friends
  4. Made a list of “polite” words to try and use as often as we can
  5. Smiled at as many people as we could

I have to say, she’s been fun and hasn’t been too stressful adding into our Christmas traditions. In fact, she’s been pretty special to have around. Rumor has it she’s going to ask us if we want to make some dog toys for the local shelter this weekend. That MaKayla. Always thinking of others – including those with fur.

Have a super awesome weekend and be sure to check back next week for some creative ideas on teacher gifts! What’s your fave thing to give – besides gift cards?!

Fiveonfriday

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Handmade Pet Gifts

Rosie ChristmasThis week’s shout out goes to Rosie, my pet rabbit. We boarded her at the vet while we were out of town last week for Thanksgiving, and I really missed that fuzzy little friend of mine. She’s always well cared for at Dr. Lyon’s. In fact, they give her a private room away from the cats and dogs when she stays there. She’s pretty much the most spoiled rabbit in all the land, but I still missed taking care of her and seeing her sweet face every day.

If you have a pet of any kind, I know you totally understand. Pets have a way of making room in your heart. They’re always ready to snuggle or just sit and chill after a hectic day. They quickly become part of your family. So when it comes time for Christmas, I like to include Miss Rosie on the gift list.

With that said, I recently found some cute DIY pet gifts. While I don’t have a cat or dog (yet), some of my friends and family do, so I have a few ideas in here for them. A happy pet makes a happy owner, you know.

Here are a few of my top picks:

 Rope Toy for Dogs

This project just requires a few clean dish towels. I love the simplicity of this idea. I’m going to make a few of these for our local shelter.

If you and your family are looking for ways to give back to your community, call your local shelter to see what they need. Food is usually welcomed, but sometimes they just need a few extra hands to help wash blankets and socialize with the animals.

Food Tin for Dogs or Cats

Food Tin

Source: Tidy Mom

This goodie is inspired by Ballard Designs. I’m thinking you could use acrylic paint and stencils if you didn’t want to go the route of vinyl stickers. If you’re feeling extra generous, go ahead and fill the tin with some food or treats before gifting.

Feather Toy for Cats

Feather Cat Toy

Source: Martha Stewart

This toy uses felt that’s cut to look like feathers, but you could easily use real feathers from a craft store. We had a neighbor cat that would come to play on our front porch every now and then, and I discovered that a feather is to cats as One Direction is to teenage girls. They. go. crazy.

Treat Box for Rabbits, Hamsters or Guinea Pigs

Bunny Treat Box

Source: Bunny Approved

Kleenex has some of the prettiest tissue boxes right now. I might use one of those as the base. The picture pretty much stops here. I’m going to kick it up a notch by filling the paper tubes with timothy hay and making it a full-on treat box. I’ll wrap the whole thing with tissue paper, secure it with a cute twine bow, and boom – it’ll be fit for any furry friend big or small.

Store-bought treats

If you don’t have time to make anything, not to fret. Check out Three Dog Bakery out of Kansas City for the most amazing treats for dogs – and cats! Any of their items would make perfect stocking stuffers or gifts. I mean, who could resist a cup of Beg Nog? Beg Nog LatteIf you want some bun-bun treats, look no further than the Busy Bunny. Rosie will be getting several of these willow “candy” canes in her stocking this year.CandyCane

Here’s hoping your furry friends have the merriest of Christmases and a hip hoppin’ new year!

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Holiday Shopping Checklists {printables}

Well, it’s officially December. Time to get serious about Christmas shopping. We have T-minus 24 days and counting, peeps!

Mindy and I have so much in common. Shopping is my cardio, too!

Mindy and I have so much in common. Shopping is MY cardio, too!

I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed and over budget when you’re cruising through the mall or your favorite local shops. One helpful tip is to plan ahead. Sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s also easier said than done. It’s hard to walk past anything that’s more than 25% off. But if you want to respect your sanity, ask yourself, “Does anyone on my gift list really need that waffle iron?” If it’s a “no,” put down the box and step away from the deal.

The very best way to plan ahead is to make lists. I looooove making lists. So I created a couple of list templates to help make shopping easier. Consider it my little Christmas gift to you.

Gift PlannerThe first template is your planner. Think of it as your little personal shopper. You can write down all of the people you need to shop for, along with their clothing sizes, hobbies, favorite colors, etc. Once you map out your list, you can use this for your shopping. I put together a Sample Gift Planner so you can see how it looks filled out.

This template is available to download as a Word document* or PDF.

*Note: I created this on a Mac. If you’re on a PC, the formatting might need to be adjusted a bit. This version is great if you want to type directly into the document. You can email it to yourself and have it on your phone when you shop.

Shopping ListThe second template is more of a tracker. It’s a place to list your purchases and check off details, such as the cost, and if it’s been wrapped and delivered.

This is also available to download as a Word document or PDF.

I hope these are super helpful. Happy shopping and let me know how it goes out there. Remember to stay hydrated doing all that cardio.

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Five Ways to Countdown to Christmas

December1Monday will be December 1st. Whaa? Every year I have a grand master plan to make a lovely advent calendar filled with treats and inspirational sayings, and then December 1st swoops in like a thief in the night. A week or so into the month we usually pull out the same calendar from last year and move on.

Truth is, I adore advent calendars. It can be a beautiful and ceremonial way to prepare for Christmas. It forces you to stop each day, appreciate what you have, think about how you can serve others, and truly enjoy the season of giving. Who couldn’t use a little of that in his or her life?

So…this year, I plan to be prepped and ready. Note that today’s date is still November, and I have a weekend ahead of me. Joy to the world!

After “googling” on Pinterest, I created a top five list of DIY advent calendars. Now to decide which one to make?!

Five DIY Advent Calendars

{links to resources are included in the descriptions}

Advent Tins

Source: Makoodle

< 1 > I love these small tins. They’re perfect for an advent calendar since you can fill with small treats. Attach thin magnet stripping to the backs and display on your refrigerator or cookie sheet.

clothespin wreath

Source: Organized 31

< 2 > This is so pretty and creative. The base is an old 45 record, and it has painted clothespins glued around the edges. If you don’t have an old record lying around, try an embroidery hoop or a wooden plaque from your favorite craft store.

fabric advent calendar

Source: Bella Dia

< 3 > These embroidery hoops have two pieces of fabric stretched across and trimmed around the edges. See how the second piece of fabric is folded in half – forming a pocket? The grouping is then hung on a wall. So smarty pants.

< 4 > These paper sacks are stamped with a holiday design and clipped onto a thin, painted board. Looks so easy, yet pretty with these little white bags.

Picture frame wreath

Source: Kesi’art

< 5 > I was intrigued by this simple idea. The instructions are on a French blog, so bonus points if you can read along! If not, there are enough pictures to guide you. This project would be a nice option if you don’t have an entire wall to dedicate to your advent ritual. I’m thinking you could use a white picture frame for the base and attach a silver binder ring at the top. If you’re a crafty scrapper, you could have a lot of fun making pretty cards to flip through each day.

There you have it! Be sure to take pictures of your advent calendars and tag me on Instagram @Katejandersen.

I’m linking up with Five on Friday again today. It has been so fun meeting new people through this great group of bloggers: April, DarciChristina, and Natasha. #lovethemFiveonfridayBe sure to stop back by on Monday to download your Christmas Gift Planner. Let’s make this the most organized shopping season evah!

Much love and creative wishes, Kate

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