December Coaster Winner & Weekend Update

We sure had a lot of interest in the coasters this month! That was exciting to see, and I’m happy to announce that Mary Elliff was our big winner this time. I can’t wait to see which coasters she picks. There were so many cute designs to choose from.

I also wanted to extend a special thank you to all of the readers who entered to win. You still have time to order from Qostr and get 20% off using the Neat Nook promo code of DECEMBER20. I hope you enjoy!

Now for a quick update on the weekend…

We had a wonderful time at the Bentonville Christmas parade on Saturday. Here are a couple of fun pics.

Bentonville parade

There was no shortage of adorable elves this year.


It’s SANTA!!!

pugs on parade

You gotta love the “Pugs on Parade.”

Bentonville Band

The marching band is always my favorite. Click for a cool video recap of the whole parade.

Oh, and we had some visitors from Little Rock join us this year. Our friends Mark and Amy drove up for the weekend. Mark owns Personalized Bottle Water, and he made some super cute labels for the annual pre-parade party at my brother and SIL’s house.

personalized bottled water

His wife Amy is a girl after my own heart and loves to sew and craft. She made me some ADORABLE fabric coasters. I’m so in love with them. If you have Christmas fabric left over from projects, you should make these as gifts. People will love them. Trust me! 🙂

Christmas fabric coasters

Aren’t these so sweet? The lower right shows the front and back.

We wrapped up the weekend with a stormy Sunday, which coaxed us into some much needed rest. Now I feel recharged for the week ahead. Get ready for the Christmas ideas to continue!

Many hugs,



Holiday Drink Recipes + December Coaster Giveaway!!

‘Tis the season for holiday parties!! In addition to launching the December coaster giveaway (details are below, so be sure to keep reading) I thought it would be fun to share a few delicious recipes and party tips.

It seems like I’m always second guessing how much food and how many drinks to get when we’re throwing a shin dig. In fact, this past weekend, we invited some friends to join us at my brother’s cabin at Indian Hollow. As I was planning and packing supplies, I came across this great resource.

Here are the most helpful planning tips from the article.

  • Total number of drinks: Each guest drinks an average of two drinks the first hour and one drink each hour thereafter. So, for a 4 hour party with 20 people, that should be about 100 drinks.
  • What to buy: A one-liter bottle of alcohol yields approx. 22 mixed drinks. Once you figure out what kind of bar you’re going to have, that will help you determine how much to buy. Most crowds like vodka, rum and beer if that helps to know.
  • Accommodate non-cocktail drinkers: Estimate one bottle of wine per eight guests, remembering that white wine tends to be more popular than red.
  • Ice it all down: Plan on one and a half pounds of ice per person. This will provide enough ice for drinks as well as any ice baths for wine or beer.

We seemed to have plenty of wine AND beer at our little gathering this weekend. 🙂


Amy, Katie and I took a quick pic right as everyone arrived.

the guys

The guys were so cute in their college hoodies. Cheers!

Okay, so let’s move on to some delicious recipes, shall we? Here are a few goodies for the holiday season.

{Hot Caramel Apple Cider}

This would be great to serve in your slow cooker to not only make your house smell divine, but also offer an option for the kids or anyone who doesn’t want to booze it up at your party!

{Cranberry & Apple Spritzers}

This is another non-alcoholic option that looks like a tall glass of Christmas when it’s garnished with fresh cranberries. You could also toss in a sprig of fresh mint. If you want to get adventurous, you could easily add a splash of vodka.

{Peppermint Stick Martini}

Don’t you just want to lick the crushed peppermint sticks right off that rim? These festive drinks would be beautiful served on a large tray lined with greenery.

PS. If you serve a fancy drink like this, you can simply offer beer, wine and sodas as your other options. No need to go overboard with lots of ingredients.

{Cranberry Mimosas}

If you can tell, I love drinks that have decorated rims. This one uses colored sugar crystals! If you’re having a holiday brunch, this would be a must-have drink on your menu.

Are you ready for some more fun? It’s time for the December coaster giveaway!!

Our friends at Qostr are offering not just one, but four holiday designs to choose from. One lucky winner will receive one FREE set of coasters, and you get to choose which of these designs you’d like.

holiday coasters Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.04.28 PM (1) Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.04.15 PM (1) Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.04.07 PM (1)

Here are the details!

Simply enter below from now until Sunday at 10pm CST. I’ll announce the winner next Monday. (Tip: Be sure to click each of the checkmarks in the lower right corner to get entered in the contest.)

You can also order any time and get a 20% discount just for Neat Nook readers! Use the promo code of DECEMBER20 at checkout.

Good luck and many cheers to you!!


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Five Unique Hostess Gifts

My mom is one of the most gracious guests. She always shows up with a gift in hand – even if she’s just coming over to visit the kids. While she’s originally from the West Coast, she raised our family with good Southern manners. And I try to carry on her tradition of bringing something with me to every event.

Sometimes I grab a bottle of wine and call it good, but notable occasions, like a Thanksgiving meal or holiday party, call for something more special. So…

Here are a few unique ideas to tuck in your thinking cap as you’re planning gifts this season. And they’re all around $10, which means you won’t have to break the bank shopping for all of your friends.

{ONE} Holiday Plates

A hostess can never have enough serving dishes. Really. It would be a welcomed treat to receive any one of these dessert plates. And by one, I mean you could buy a set of these precious plates from Pier One for $20 and divide them up as four hostess gifts. Fill the plate with homemade cookies, wrap with cello, add a pretty gold bow and you have yourself a show stopping gift – times four!

{TWO} Convertible Scarf

This cute little number is called the Ellie Convertible Button Scarf from Mudpie. It can be worn three ways: traditional over the shoulder, as a draped shawl or as a chunky scarf. Regardless of how it’s draped, your friend will be wearing it with a smile once she opens this gift. You might just need one for yourself, as well. The current price is $9.99. You can have it monogrammed for an additional $10.

{THREE} Personalized Oreos

For that quirky and fun friend, who also has a sweet tooth, this gift will be one she’ll remember. You can log on to the Oreo site, design your package and they’ll ship it right to you. The package price is only $10.

{FOUR} Williams-Sonoma Pancake Mix

Who doesn’t love waking up to a stack of piping hot pancakes? This is a gift your hostess will appreciate come sunrise. Package price is $10.95. If you want to splurge, you could add a pound of freshly ground coffee beans from your local coffee shop and tie them together with a pretty ribbon. Breakfast is served!

{FIVE} Custom Coasters



Of course I had to mention these adorable coasters from Qostr. They’re ideal hostess gifts you can personalize with pictures or other designs. Be sure to use promo code NOVEMBER20 to get 20% off your order. This offer is just for Neat Nook readers, so enjoy!

I’m also hosting a giveaway for one set of Thanksgiving coasters that were designed just for The Neat Nook. You only have until Monday, 10pm Central to register to win. Enter below, my friends!!

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Have a terrific weekend and be sure to check out all of the blogging goodness on Five on Friday and Oh, Hey Friday!




Wine Glass Wisdom + Thanksgiving Coaster Giveaway!

On my recent trip to Willamette Valley in Oregon, I learned a little about wine glasses along the way. Well, specifically the Pinot noir glass. (We were in deep Pinot country!)

This glass is flared at the rim to help deliver the wine to the middle of your palate, where the wine is better experienced. The bowl of the glass is wider to give the wine space to “open up.”

I was fascinated by all of this and did a bit more research – and just in time for the biggest wine holiday of the year: Thanksgiving!

Where did all of this pairing begin?!

Legend has it, the idea of matching stemware to the specific type of wine was developed by Riedel, an Austrian company that has been making glass for 250 years. The company’s president believes, “You have to have the perfect messenger to deliver the wine.”

With that said, I found this cool chart that maps out each of these little messengers:

This can be helpful if you arrive at a party and have multiple glasses in front of you. You can be smart about what goes in what. Or if you’re hosting a party and you want to buy special glasses or borrow some from a friend, then this chart can help you know what to serve in what. 😉

Speaking of serving…

You don’t have to line a table with a dozen glasses for each guest. A good rule of thumb is to offer guests two types of wine: a red and a white. So you’d be solid if you had at least two types of glasses on hand: a larger-bowled glass for reds and a smaller-bowled basic for whites.


{via} This is a nice option for a basic, red wine glass.


{via} This is a great white wine glass that has a smaller bowl.

If you want to get fancy and pop open some champagne, you could include a flute in the mix. By the way, my awesome SIL found this article on the benefits of drinking champagne every day. Bring on the bubbles. Your health depends on it.


I think every nice glass of wine deserves a beautiful coaster. Wouldn’t you agree?!

So let’s have another coaster giveaway!

Our awesome friends at Qostr designed this adorable Thanksgiving coaster just for us.

November coaster

Qostr is a product of Matchstick Studio, and they’re the perfect way to personalize your table – especially for a lovely Thanksgiving meal.

We’ll giveaway one free set of 8 coasters (shipping included) this week. You have from now until Monday, 11/16 at 10pm Central to enter. Details below.

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In addition, anyone can order from the Qoster site right now and get 20% off using The Neat Nook promo code of NOVEMBER20 at checkout. This code will be good through November 30th.

Happy shopping – and sipping!



My First Official Giveaway! 10/14/15 – 10/16/15

Friends, I have exciting news to share!

An extremely talented designer and friend of mine is part of a company called Qostr, and we’re partnering for my official first giveaway. This is before my planner giveaway, which is still happening in honor of my first blogiversary. Stay posted for that announcement in the coming weeks.

So what’s Qostr?

Qostr (pronounced “coaster”) is your go-to source for custom and designer coasters. It’s a product of Matchstick Studio, and they’re the perfect way to personalize any party – or even day at the office. Our coffee mugs deserve a fun place to hang, too. Right?

Imagine the kind of coaster you’d find in a bar or restaurant, but printed on FSC-Certified eco-friendly paper. That’s what we’re talking about here.


I love their Instagram coasters. You can turn all of your exotic vacay pics into party props.


So what’s the fun giveaway, anyway?!

My friend has graciously offered to giveaway one free set of coasters (shipping included) this week! You have from now until this Friday at 7pm Central to enter. Details below.

In addition, anyone can order from the Qoster site right now and get 20% off using The Neat Nook promo code of OCTOBER20 at checkout. This code will be good through October 31st.


Ta-da! These are the beautiful ampersand gold coasters we will be giving away this week. There are 8 coasters to a set.

(For anyone who saw my wish list for home office updates, don’t you think I need to get some of these for myself?!)

Now for exciting news, part two! The fun doesn’t end with one giveaway.

Qostr will be offering a custom design exclusively for The Neat Nook each month. I will be hosting a giveaway of these awesome coasters, and sharing a new monthly 20% promo code to all of my loyal readers and friends.

I’m thrilled to be able to offer you something special like this each month. I promise to keep looking for other fun new partners, too, so you can learn about new companies – and get some great products along the way.

Be sure to enter below for this month’s giveaway! Remember, you have from now until Friday at 7pm Central to enter to win. The best of luck!

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