Gifts from the Heart of Your Kitchen

As a girl raised in the south (yes, the acronym is GRITS), I was taught to never show up empty handed to someone’s home. Hostess gifts not only validate your good manners, but also thank the person who has just spent hours cleaning, cooking, baking, decorating, fretting, and putting extra toilet paper in the bathrooms prior to your arrival.

Most guests deliver a bottle of wine or pretty candle, which are both perfectly acceptable. But if your hostess is truly the mostest, why not thank her with one of these unique and delicious gifts? And did I mention they’re easy to make and require less than four ingredients each? It’s true.

I researched, tested several recipes, and pulled together the easiest (and in some cases, safest) options for you to make. Drum roll…

Rosemary Infused Olive OilRosemaryWhat you’ll need:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 6 sprigs dried rosemary*
  • Bottle or cruet
  • Funnel

Directions: Cook the olive oil with rosemary sprigs in a saucepan over low to medium heat for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rosemary infuse in the oil for 1 hour. Transfer the sprigs to your glass bottle. Funnel the cooled oil into the bottle and seal. Store at room temperature for up to 2 months or in the refrigerator for 6 months.

*Using dried herbs is a much safer method. Moisture from fresh herbs can cause bacteria to grow. Drying herbs removes the water, while leaving the essential oils. This time of year, I get fresh herbs from my grocery store and dry them at home.

Download a Rosemary Gift Tag complete with serving suggestions.

Vanilla Infused Honey

vanilla honey

Here’s a batch of homemade vanilla lavender honey from Etsy.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • Mason jar or honey pot with an airtight lid
    honey pot

    Look at this adorable honey pot with dipper from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Directions: Pour the honey into your mason jar or pot. Use a knife to split the vanilla bean open lengthwise, down the center. Scrape the seeds out of the bean and add them to your container of honey. Stir well. Add the bean pod to the jar and seal the container. Let it sit for one week to infuse the honey. After that, it’s good and ready to slather onto some warm, buttered biscuits.

Download a Honey Gift Tag complete with serving suggestions.

Citrus Finishing Saltscitrus saltsWhat you’ll need:

  • 1 cup flaky sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Mason jar or airtight container

Directions: Preheat oven to 225 F. Mix the salt and zest in a bowl. Spread across parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an hour or until peels are dried and crumbly. Remove from oven and cool. Transfer salts to an airtight jar. Store for up to 2 months. This recipe was adapted from Whole Foods Market.

Download a Finishing Salt Gift Tag complete with serving suggestions.

I think I’ll make several batches of all of these goodies so I’m armed and ready to spread some flavored joy. ‘Tis the season, you know. I hope you decide to whip up some deliciousness for yourself. Oh, and be sure to let me know which one you like best.

Cheers, my friends!

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Creative Tip: Enjoy the Season!

Christmas kindness

Designed by The Neat Nook

There’s no question the holidays are a special time of year. I love catching up with friends, eating good food, and exchanging thoughtful gifts.

If we’re being honest, it can also be a bit stressful. The weeks leading up to Christmas are hurried and hectic. There’s the decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping, shipping, entertaining, and sometimes traveling to be done. When you’re a momma, you also have school plays, church pageants, class parties and teacher gifts to manage. Whew!

How does anyone stay calm and joyful with so much business going on? It’s not easy. That’s for sure, but if you have the right mindset, you can stay fairly calm through it all.

Try these five quick tips and see if you feel a difference. They won’t guarantee rock star parking at the mall, but they might help you ease up on the horn when someone snags your spot.

  1. Check in with yourself.
    • Stop in your tracks when you’re feeling stressed, and take note of what you’re doing. And I mean all the way down to the verb. Does baking pies from scratch and making the crust look like a string of holly berries (like the picture you saw on Pinterest) send you spiraling into tears? If so, change the plan and simplify. Get the premade crust or better yet, order from your favorite restaurant and call it good. No one will judge you.
    • Also notice what activities make you feel energized and creative. Allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy these things! Personally, I could wrap presents all day long. I adore playing with papers, tissues, boxes and bows. I would swap wrapping presents for making homemade pies any day.
  2. Do only what you can (and want) to do. Delegate the rest.
    • Write down your entire to-do list so it’s out of your head – where it only stresses you out.
    • Cross off anything that doesn’t fill you with joy and is also unnecessary. Synchronizing your outdoor lights to music – when you’re not technically savvy – would fall into this category.
    • Put a star next to anything you love and that only you can do – such as attending your child’s Christmas play.
    • Find a way to delegate or simplify the rest. Enlist a crafty cousin to make a few small gifts, or pay a neighbor with treats to help hang your lights. Get creative!
  3. Stay within budget.
    • One of the biggest stressors this time of year can be money. Plan a realistic budget that includes all of the details (like stamps for those adorable cards you ordered).
    • Keep track of your receipts as you go, so you know where you stand. If gifts are getting out of control, switch gears to something handmade or repurposed. If you’re thoughtful about the present, it will be appreciated – regardless of the price tag.
  4. Make a new friend.
    • Empathy can go a long way when you’re standing in line waiting to pay at the register. Strike up a conversation with the person in front of you and you might realize just how lucky you really are this holiday.
  5. Be kind to yourself.
    • Whatever you choose to do this holiday, make sure it makes you happy.
    • Don’t try to do too much, and certainly don’t try to make everything perfect. Perfection is unrealistic. If your 2-year-old won’t stop pouting in the family picture, let it be. If you burned all of the cookies for the school party, feed them  to the ducks and pickup some store-bought goodies. Serve them on one of your prettiest plates and you’re back in business.
    • The bottom line is, give yourself a break. And have a glass of wine while you’re at it. You deserve a happy holiday just as much as anyone on your gift list.

Cheers, my friends! Here’s to the most joyful and relaxed Christmas season, yet.

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DIY Pottery Barn Ornaments

Pottery Barn Inspired OrnamentsAs promised, I’m going to share lots of DIY holiday projects this season. Now that Thanksgiving is T-minus 11 days and counting, I think it’s safe to start thinking about Christmas. I don’t know about you, but I like to keep my holidays as separate and special as possible. I feel this way about lots of things. When I was little I had one of those divided dinner plates because I didn’t like my food touching. Holidays are the same for me. I don’t like any Jingle Bells spilling into my Jack-o-lanterns.

Okay, let’s kick this off with a few ornaments. I was thumbing through the most recent PB catalog and saw a few ornaments that looked like perfect DIY candidates. I gave them a try, and they turned out great. Plus they were ridiculously easy to make. I had to share!

Ornament Supplies

The basic supplies for all three ornaments!

>> Glitter Initial Ornament

Glitter Initial Ornament

I used a silver glitter that looks like pewter.

What you need:

  • Chipboard letters
  • Spray glitter (the secret ingredient)
  • Ribbon for hanging
  • Small hole punch, if needed

What to do:

When you use a can of spray glitter, all you have to do is place your chipboard letter on top of some newspaper and spray away. That. Is. It. Once the glitter dries, you can add another coat, if needed. Be sure to turn and spray the backside, as well. That way it looks pretty from all sides when it’s hanging from the tree.

If your letters don’t have holes at the top, you can use a small hole punch. Then take your ribbon, thread it through the holes and secure with a small knot at each end.

Backside of Glitter Monogram

I tied knots on the back side of the letter.

An easy alternative would be to hot glue the ribbon to the backside of the letter.

>> White Feather Ornament

I tried to take a pic with the ornament backlit so you could see the feather better. It's really pretty in person!

I tried to take a pic with the ornament backlit so you could see the feather. It’s really pretty in person!

What you need:

  • Clear glass globe ornament
  • Package of white feathers or a feather boa
  • Toothpick or bamboo skewer
  • Ribbon for hanging

What to do:

Carefully open the top of your ornament by pinching the two sides of wire that are threaded down inside. Next, take one of your feathers and slip it inside the globe.Feather OrnamentYou might need to take a toothpick or skewer to help fan out the feather inside the globe. I added two feathers to help fill the space. Slip the top back on and add a pretty ribbon.

Similar ornaments sell for $10.50 each at Pottery Barn. I made six of these for the same price. Plus, you can probably make them faster and easier than you can say “Christmas.”

>> Monogrammed Glass Globe Ornament

Monogrammed Glass Globe OrnamentWhat you need:

  • Clear glass globe ornament
  • Adhesive letters
  • Ribbon for hanging

What to do:

Once you select the letter you’d like to use, simply adhere it to your clear ornament. If your letters are small enough, you can do a full monogram. Here’s a nice refresher on monogram rules by Mark & Graham. Once your letter is in place, simply tie the top with a gorgeous bow and boom, clap, you’re done.

Any of these ideas, especially the personalized initial ornaments, would make amazing hostess gifts, teacher gifts and friend gifts!

Oh, and light bulb sleeves make great ornament packaging. (I love to repurpose when possible.) Trim the sleeve to size, tuck your ornament inside, and wrap the outside with wrapping paper or tissue and a bow.

Have fun making these ornaments! If you don’t have time to make them this week, no worries. Just pin the project on a Pinterest board for later. Be sure to stop by tomorrow for Creative Tip Tuesday. I’ll have some (hopefully) inspiring words on how to stay calm, cool and creative this crazy season.

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Five Ways to Share Gratitude

Thanksgiving bunting

Bonus idea: Here’s a little project I did this weekend. It’s a Thanksgiving bunting made with burlap and gold-painted chipboard letters. I hung by the chimney with care – and a few mini clothespins.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. My husband and I were even married on Thanksgiving weekend. That’s how much I love it – and him. While I treasure the awesome food and permission to wear yoga pants all day (or two), I appreciate how it’s such a low-key holiday that invites us to just hang with the family and give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

I truly believe gratitude changes everything.

Gratitude has been proven to make people feel happier, strengthen relationships, improve health, and reduce stress. That’s some amazing grace right there. We should make giving thanks an everyday deal. And if you want to throw in some turkey, go right ahead. No one’s judging.

So in an effort to invite more gratitude in my own life, I found five ideas I’d like to share. I adore each and every one of them, and I encourage you to pick one or two and give them a try for yourself!

  1. Start a Gratitude Journal: This post includes a sweet idea about creating a journal not only for yourself, but also your children. You’re never too young or old to give thanks.
    Gratitude journal

    Gratitude Journals from Let’s Lasso the Moon

  2. Make a Gratitude Tree: This tree would make a perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. If you don’t have room for one big tree, a set of three or four smaller versions arranged down the middle of your table would be pretty – and easy for guests to participate. You could leave a “leaf” and small pencil at each place setting. What I love about this post from The Mother Huddle is it includes printable tags for you to use.
    thanksgivingtree

    Gratitude tree from The Mother Huddle

  3. Read a Book about Gratitude: 365 Thank Yous is a touching memoir about a man named John Kralik who decides to write 365 thank you notes in the coming year. In the words of the publisher, “Kralik sets a believable, doable example of how to live a miraculously good life. To read 365 Thank Yous is to be changed.” This would make a wonderful gift for anyone dear to your heart.365ThankYous
  4. Watch a Gratitude Video {link}: The Gratitude Project filmed a unique social experiment that will tug at your heartstrings. People were asked to express gratitude to someone they haven’t spoken to in awhile. Each person selected three contacts in their phone and called them to say “thank you”. It’s a great reminder of how powerful a simple call can be. It would be awesome if everyone would stop to do this.
  5. Take a Gratitude Challenge on Social Media: You may have seen a few hashtags in use with the gratitude theme. Why not give it a try yourself? #100thankfuldays is one challenge where you spend 100 days posting your gratitude. It’s a brilliant way to create a habit. If you’re not ready to bite off that big of a commitment, you can take the 5-Day Gratitude Challenge, where you list five things for five days that you’re grateful for. Then you can nominate a Facebook friend to do the same.

I hope you’ll join me in trying a few of these ideas. In the meantime, I’m grateful you’re here!

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Simmer the Sweet Scents of Fall

IMG_4514Don’t you love walking into a home that smells good? Our sense of smell is pretty amazing. It can trigger memories and sway emotions, so no wonder it feels warm and inviting to have a fragrance like Cranberry Orange drifting through the house on a cool fall day. It carries with it delicious memories. I also think the right fragrance can make a house feel clean and well cared for – and who wouldn’t want that thought running through the mind of your next guest?

There are tons of great options for making your house smell awesome. A trip to Bath & Body Works alone will provide hundreds of selections. P.S. I’m in love with Cranberry Woods this season.

But if you want to conjure up a warm, delicious (and inexpensive) aroma, try brewing one of these fall recipes on the stove. It works like magic making your family and friends feel, well, right at home-sweet-home.

Cranberry Orange

  • 1 sliced orange
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Bay Leaves and Cinnamon

  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon

Lemon Rosemary

  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Once you choose your concoction, toss everything into a small stockpot. Cover with water (about 2/3 full) and simmer until the smell drifts through the house. My heavens, this is a treat!

You can also opt for the oven. Fill a loaf pan with water and your favorite recipe above. Set it in the oven at 350 degrees until you start to smell the lovely fragrance. Then turn off the oven and prop open the door.

Tip: Freeze uncooked batches to have on hand when a friend or family stops by for an impromptu visit. So even if the house isn’t clean, it will at least smell like it is. I won’t tell.

Enjoy simmering some fall fragrances, and let me know which recipe is your favorite!

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DIY Layered Bow

full bow

A simple, layered bow.

Can you believe it’s already November?! Christmas will be here before you know it, so warm up your glue guns, everyone! I’ll share tons of DIY ornaments, easy holiday wrappings, and creative gift ideas in the coming weeks. Who’s with me?

Today, we’re going to start with the basics.

Some things in life just aren’t the same without a big bow, like the top of a pretty gift, the pigtails of a little girl, the welcoming wreath on a front door…the list could go on.

Now, a basic bow-tying method works for some situations – like tying your shoes. When you want to do it up right, you need a gorgeous layered bow. They’re actually quite simple and look like something a professional florist would create. You can do this. I believe in you.

Here’s the supply round up:

  • Two types of ribbon
  • Florist wire
  • Wire cutters

The length of ribbon depends on the size of bow you want. I like to use at least 2 yds. of each ribbon for a bow that will go on a wreath, because I’m serious about big bows.

When selecting different ribbons for a layered bow, you want coordinating colors and patterns. Today I’m using a solid color with a floral pattern. If you use two patterns, just make sure the colors are compatible and you’re set. A monochrome look is also pretty. Be sure to use different widths and textures to make it more visually interesting.

types of ribbon

Thin silk ribbon paired with a wider burlap makes a great combination full of texture.

Here’s an example of silk ribbon paired with burlap. I would use the thicker burlap for the bottom bow and the thinner silk as the top bow when layering. You always want the bottom bow to be larger.

Step-by-step layered bow, with pictures:

  1. We’ll start by making the bottom bow. Make your first loop, and make it fairly good size since this is your bottom bow. You want some volume here. Also, leave some ribbon hanging for a tail.
    first loop

    First loop with the tail hanging on the right there.

  2. Now for what I call the “under-over” approach:
    • Take the longest end of the ribbon, loop it under and away from yourself. The longest end of the ribbon is on the bottom of the bow now.
      second loop on a layered bow

      I looped the ribbon under and away from me. The tail is still down on the right.

    • Next, take the ribbon and loop it over and toward yourself. You’ll have three total loops at this point.
      third loop

      The third loop (upper right corner) goes over the top and toward you.

    • For the fourth loop, you’ll go back under the entire bow, away from yourself.
      four loops

      The forth loop is made and both of the tails are on the bottom side of the bow.

    • Repeat the “over-under” as many times as you’d like until you have the desired number of loops on each side. I like four, so I’ll stop here.
  3. Pinch the center of the bow and secure it with a piece of floral wire and set aside.
    wire on bottom

    I twisted the floral wire tight around the center.

  4. Now for the top bow. Let’s give it a pretty looped center. Make a loop around your thumb.
    See how the end of the ribbon is inside the loop?

    See how the end of the ribbon is inside the loop?

  5. My ribbon is one-sided (hopefully the only thing in life this way), so I will pinch and twist the ribbon over allowing the pretty side to show.
    FullSizeRender

    I twisted the ribbon at the center so the pretty side is facing outward.

  6. Loop the ribbon under and away from yourself. On this particular bow, you’re going to continue to form loops by twisting the ribbon and going under each time.
    FullSizeRender[1]

    I’ve looped the ribbon, and am working on my second loop.

    Four loops_top

    I’ve made four loops. You can see I’ve twisted the ribbon each time so the pretty side is always showing.

  7. Once you’ve made all of your loops, secure the bow through the center loop with floral wire. Twist a couple of times and leave the two wire ends hanging down.
    See the wire through the loop? Then I twisted the floral wire underneath to secure.

    See the wire through the loop? Then I twisted the floral wire underneath to secure.

  8. Let’s layer this baby! Use the wire from your top bow to secure it to the bottom bow. Twist all of the wires tight and leave some hanging so you can attach your bow to a package, wreath, hair clip, or whatever suits your fancy.
    IMG_4497

    It’s layering nicely. I twisted all of the wires together under the bow.

  9. Hold up your bow to fluff the loops – and admire your creation.
  10. Trim the ends of your tails so they match in length. You can cut on an angle or in a V-shape.

Tip: For the perfect “V”, fold the ribbon in half (lengthwise) and trim at an angle.

IMG_4507

Once your ribbon is folded, be sure to cut the angle up toward the center of the ribbon.

You’re done! What did you think? Helpful? I’d love your feedback. I’d also love to see your beautiful bows! Send me a message through comments, email, Instagram or Twitter.

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Pumpkin Seeds Three Ways

Halloween Week Banner2Happy almost Halloween! For my family, the most exciting part of this week (other than Halloween night itself) is carving our jack-o-lanterns. We’ve had one too many squirrels demolish our creations, so we learned to wait it out. The all-you-can-eat pumpkin buffet can open after Halloween!

Speaking of carving, did you know it’s easier to carve from the bottom? I had NO idea until I recently stumbled across this carving video from Better Homes & Gardens. I’m a huge sucker for a good tip like this.

Once the excitement of carving our ghoulish grins is over, we love playing with the seeds. Well, once they’re clean. Funny how the kids suddenly have something terribly important to do when it comes time to desliming the seeds. Thanks, guys.

Since pumpkin seeds are pretty much a once-a-year treat for us, I love finding new ways to use them. Here are three of my favorites!

  1. Bake them. The basic salt-and-oil roast like this from SimplyRecipes is classically delicious. If you want to mix it up a bit, try a batch of Sweet and Salty seeds from Real Simple.
hallo-pumpkin-seeds_300

Sweet & Salty Pumpkin Seeds, Real Simple

  1. Grow them. Why spend lots of money on pumpkins next year when you have a handful of free seeds this year? Once your seeds are washed and dried, store them in an envelope. Pumpkin seed envelopeThe best place to keep them is somewhere cool and dry. I like to use the refrigerator in my garage. Label the envelope with the date and name so you remember what’s inside! When to plant? In cooler parts of the country, the best time to plant pumpkin seeds is late May. In warmer parts of the country, you can wait until mid July to plant pumpkins in time for Halloween.
  1. Craft them. Seeds are way underrated in crafting, IMO. Look at this pretty ornament I whipped up. I’ll have a full DIY on these beauties Thursday. Be sure to check back!
Pumpkin seed ornament_finished

Pumpkin seed ornament. Watch for DIY instructions Thursday!

In the meantime, what’s your favorite way to serve up some seeds? Do share!

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A Happy Halloween Meal

Halloween MenuThe formula for concocting a perfect Halloween dinner is “simple + delicious.” For this reason, using your crockpot is a must. Just fill it with tasty treasures before you head out to work, and you’ll come home to a magically finished meal.

This is especially helpful when you have a house full of eager trick-or-treaters who want to eat, dress and run. Everyone can have a good meal before they head out. When they return, second helpings are warm and ready!

I also like recipes I can prepare ahead of time, so this post is full of ideas for the simplest, happiest Halloween meal.

The Line Up

  • Spooky Taco Soup
  • Ghoulicious Guac with Bat Chips
  • Pumpkin Veggie Dippers
  • Sopapilla Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Fanta-lanterns

Quick tip: To add seasonal flair, take everyday recipes and get creative with their names – like Spooky Taco Soup. It’s taco soup with a cute name and served in bowls that look like little ghosts for instant Halloween cred.

Speaking of bowls, I’m a huge fan of paper plates and other disposables on nights like Halloween. Who wants to spend this special night hovering over the kitchen sink? I’ll give you some easy and creative serving ideas with each recipe below.

Spooky Taco Soup (click for recipe)

This version from Allrecipes.com is a good one. I also like how their site allows you to adjust the servings so you can easily scale the recipe.

Spooky Bowl

Ready for my soup now.

To make the soup “spooky”, hot-glue googly eyes to the sides of paper or plastic soup bowls.

Ghoulicious Guac (click for recipe)

Homemade guacamole is the perfect partner for a cup of taco soup. I don’t know many variations of guac, so you might already have your own go-to recipe. If not, here’s a great one from SimplyRecipes. You’ll want to prepare this right before serving so it’s fresh and delicious.

Now, to make the dip Ghoulicious (see what I did there?), serve it with Bat Chips!

Bat Chips

A fresh batch of bats ready for the oven!

All you need is a bat-shaped cookie cutter, a package of flour tortillas, olive oil, Kosher salt and black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut each tortilla with your cookie cutter. Place your bats in a single layer on a sheet pan and sprinkle lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, until crisp, turning once. You can make these a day or two ahead of Halloween and store them in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Veggie Dippers (click for recipe)

pumpkin platter

Such a happy pumpkin.

This is a basic veggie platter featuring carrots, sliced cucumbers, broccoli and Ranch dip. Simply arrange the vegetables in the form of a pumpkin on a large platter. Serve the Ranch dressing in small bowls or ramekins to create the eyes and nose. It’s super easy and kid friendly.

Sopapilla Pumpkin Cheesecake (click for recipe)

Why not top off the night with a slice of this decadent dessert? When I saw this recipe, I was like, “You had me at sopapilla. And pumpkin. And cheesecake.” I love this recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff. They have tons of great recipes. Be sure to check them out!

You can cut these into squares and serve on a pretty orange or black platter. Or eat straight from the pan. That’s how I roll with these beauties.

Fanta-lanterns

Fanta-lantern

Cheers!

This is a cute way to dress up your drinks. I made silly jack-o-lantern patterns out of black construction paper, cut them out and used double-sided tape to adhere to the sides of clear plastic cups. Serve fizzy, orange Fanta in these adorable cups for instant Halloween cheers.

Planning Checklist: Day(s) Before

  • Grocery store run. Here’s A Happy Halloween Meal Grocery List you can download.
  • Create the soup bowls and cups
  • Bake the bat chips
  • Make the cheesecake
  • Prep the vegetable platter
  • Brown the meat for the soup

Planning Checklist: The Day of

  • Fill your crockpot in the morning
  • Make the guac just before serving
  • Set out your food and serving pieces
  • Enjoy the night

Happy Halloweeating!

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Trick Out Your House for Treats: A Halloween Checklist

Halloween's pumpkinsWhen we first moved to Arkansas, we made the rookie mistake of not asking our neighbors about Halloween. We figured we’d see about the same number of kids from our previous neighborhood, so I bought a single bag of 100-count Snickers. Thinking half of them would be for me while I waited patiently between doorbell rings. Boy, were we wrong!

Our street was swarming, SWARMING I tell you, with costumed kids. The little ones started as soon as we pulled in the driveway from work. So we obviously didn’t have our A-game on. At one point, kids were lined up down the sidewalk waiting at each door like they were in line for a Disney ride. Needless to say, our bag of candy disappeared faster than you can blow out a candle. We made an emergency trip to the grocery store for more candy, which only lasted another 30 minutes. We finally had to shut down our candy factory and watch the insanity from a one-inch opening through our blinds. It was incredible. It was also pretty cool to see so many of our neighbors getting into the spirit and creating a safe place for kids to enjoy the holiday. I’ll always remember that night, which is why I developed a plan for all of the Halloweens to come.

If you want a fun and organized Halloween night, here’s my go-to-checklist. Now is the perfect time to start planning and checking away:

  • Costumes and accessories. Here’s a huge photo library of homemade costume ideas from Costume Works. Remember to wear long underwear if it’s chilly so you don’t have to cover up your cool, new outfit.
  • Treat bags. If you don’t want to go the standard pillowcase or plastic bag route, Pottery Barn has the most adorable plush treat bags on sale and they can be personalized – so there’s no question whose candy is whose. Unless it’s a Snickers. Then it’s mine.
  • Flashlights or glow-in-the-dark necklaces. These are important safety items for everyone – big and little tikes alike!
  • Jack-o-lantern candles. We like to use flameless LED candles so we don’t have open flames near the bushes – or the kids with flowing princess dresses.
  • Special goodies for your friends and neighbor kids. I like to wrap non-candy treats, such as pencils, stickers and small glow sticks in clear cellophane bags tied with festive orange and black curly ribbon. All of the parents will thank you.
  • Candy bowl prepped and ready for the onslaught of everyone else! Shop at your local wholesaler (like Sam’s Club) for good deals on big bags of candy.
  • Cute door sign for if/when you run out of candy. I made this one out of a chalkboard sign from Hob Lob. I used white paint for the message and tied a new ribbon through the holes.IMG_4250
  • Crockpot prepped and ready. Halloween is the perfect night for a crockpot meal. A special, spooky menu with recipes will be posted this week!
  • Treat jar to store the goods. Each of our kids gets his/her own jar. As soon as they get home, they sort through their candy, toss anything unwrapped or homemade from people we don’t know (I’m not taking chances), trade anything that’s not a personal favorite, and store the “keepers” in their jars.
  • Festive movie for candy-sorting entertainment. Our family favorite is the classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Even if you don’t have a wild and busy neighborhood like ours, you can conjure up your own Halloween fun. Invite a few friends over, have an awesome meal, eat your own trick-or-treat candy and watch for that Great Pumpkin to appear. Just wait and see.

I hope this helps you have a happy and relaxed Halloween!

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