Random Acts of Kindness: Include Your Children

kindness elves

{This is a picture of our kindness elves. We invited them to join us for this special week!}

There’s a quote by the Dalai Lama that proclaims,“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” I was blown away by the power of that statement.

I also wondered what kind of impact could be made if each child did one act of kindness each day. I imagine it would have astounding effects. So why not use this special week to teach our kids how to make kindness a daily habit?

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Here are a few fun ideas…

My girls recently received a list of “kindness” ideas from school, which is also celebrating Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) week. Out of the list, these rose to the top as my favorites:

  1. Bury treasure on the playground
  2. Compliment someone who is usually mean to you
  3. Leave bubbles on someone’s doorstep
  4. Write a friendly note on the sidewalk to make someone smile
  5. Leave a quarter in the gum ball machine at the store
  6. Tell the principal how great your teacher is
  7. Clean your room without being asked to do it
  8. Gather your bread crust or crumbs from lunch to feed the birds
  9. Invite someone new to play with you at recess
  10. Write a thank you note to the janitors at your school

I love how these ideas encourage creative thinking about the many ways you can brighten someone else’s day. They’re also easy things kids can do – without an adult’s help.

Of course it’s also important for us to include the kids in our own acts of kindness. When they watch us hold the door open for a mother pushing a stroller or smile at the waiter who’s visibly having a bad day, it affects how they behave and treat others.

Kindness is contagious!

One of the goals of this whole experience is to help kids think outside of themselves and beyond their own needs. Once we get them doing this on a regular basis, the habit of kindness is formed.

And perhaps more importantly, kids start observing the world in more productive ways. They might discover a friend in need or recognize a social injustice that could use their attention. Raising kids who focus on what problems they want to solve vs. the job title they want to have one day will surely have more meaningful lives. And who wouldn’t want that?

Here’s to helping the next generation live in a more loving and accepting world – through one act of kindness after another.

-Kate

PS. See you tomorrow with a special kindness challenge!!

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Random Acts of Kindness: Start with Yourself

As we kickoff Random Acts of Kindness week, I want to start with one of the most special people on earth…you.

You can’t authentically share love or compassion with others if the inventory is low in the stock room of your heart. So…

Make time to be kind to yourself today.

Here are three ideas to get you started.

{ONE} Look in the mirror.

For real. Go stand in the bathroom and take a good look at yourself. Reintroduce yourself, if needed. And instead of looking directly at your wrinkles or whatever flaws you think you have, try to look at your whole face. Take notice of the person you are, and say something incredibly kind. Start with, “What I love most about you is…” And make it the kind of compliment that would make you cry if your best friend or husband said it to you. You deserve to truly love and accept yourself.

{TWO} Listen to your needs.

Ask yourself, as if you were talking to a good friend or your child, what do you need right now? Is it to slow down and take a deep breath within this quiet moment? Could you use a fresh manicure or a personal day off work? Would a hot bath make you feel better? What about a long run? Or jamming to your favorite song, being silly or playing outside with your dog? Whatever your heart is saying to you, listen. Then go do it. And make it an act of kindness to yourself.

{THREE} Put your heart on paper.

I recently spotted this amazing book series in Barnes & Noble. It’s essentially a dozen writing prompts that are held inside of envelopes. In this edition, you’re encouraged to write letters to your future self and stash them away for a later date. It’s a lovely way to get connected to what really matters in your life.

Enjoy the day being kind to yourself. As promised, I will share a special post each day that includes ideas and inspiration for spreading kindness with those around you. So be sure to stop by again tomorrow to see what great things we can do together!!

-Kate

PS. If you want to join the bigger RAK movement, go sign the kindness pledge!

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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

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{via}

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!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Fiveonfriday

-Kate

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10 New Uses for Loom Bands

Loom Bands

If your kids jumped on the Rainbow Loom craze at any point in their young lives, there are bound to be millions (not even exaggerating) of baby rubber bands hiding around your house. Even if you put the loom away months ago, you will still find bands lurking in the carpet, on your tables, between couch cushions, and even at the bottom of your purse. They must self-multiply. How else is this even possible?

While I do love my collection of loom band bracelets, I’ve discovered that these baby rubber bands can do so much more than decorate my arms – and clog up my vacuum. They can actually be quite useful.

I’ve compiled a list of 10 creative ways to use loom bands.

{1} Hair Ties

Sometimes you just want to pull back a small section of hair or wear a single braid. Loom bands are perfect because they’re not as bulky as regular pony holders.

Loom bands as hair ties

I used a white loom band so it was easier to see. You could choose a color closer to your hair color if you’d rather have it blend in.

{2} Bouquet Holder

When you’re arranging flowers, it helps to have them secured toward the bottom of the stems so they stand upright (and exactly how you like them) in the vase. I wrapped a loom band around these stems twice for the perfect fit.

Loom bands as bouquet holder

Green loom bands would blend into the stems really well.

{3} Bottle Opener

Don’t you hate it when a bottle of nail polish has been painted shut? It can be nearly impossible to open because the handle is small and slippery. Wrap a loom band or two around the top and you can actually get a grip.

Loom bands as bottle opener

The easiest way to open nail polish, IMO. Love this color, too. It’s Ballet Slippers by Essie!

{4} Waistband Extender

If you’re feeling bloated after over indulging on salty popcorn – or if you’re expecting and aren’t ready to jump into maternity pants, this tip is for you. Thread a loom band through the button hole of your jeans or pants, then loop the end over the button. This gives you the perfect smidge of extra room around the waist without anyone ever knowing. Your secret is safe with me.

Loom bands as pants extender

The top shows you how to loop through the buttonhole. The bottom shows how it secures to the button.

{5} Spoon Saver

This isn’t a daily occurrence for me, because I don’t always cook, but sometimes my spoon slips down into my mixing bowl and the handle gets all messy. Such a bummer. Wrap a loom band around the upper part of the spoon’s handle, right above the point where the spoon touches the rim of the bowl. No more slipping and sliding. Yay!

Loom band as spoon saver

See how I wrapped the band around the end of the spoon?

{6} Drink Markers

Of course you could buy fancy wine glass markers, but why? Especially when you have those millions of loom bands looming around the house. Have each person pick their favorite color and slip the band over the stem of a wine glass.

This works for bottled water, too. Marking bottles helps keep track of whose is whose, and you don’t waste as much water!

Loom bands as drink markers

I call purple! Now, where’s that wine?

{7} Ribbon Holder

Ribbon can get out of hand if left to its own unfurling devices. And when you’re obsessed with ribbon, as I am, you have to have a plan of action for storage. I use loom bands to secure spools of ribbon and even little ribbon scraps. Then I store all of it in clear containers so I can easily see what’s inside. Another post, another day for that part.

Loom bands as ribbon holders

Totally tidy!

{8} Pencil Gripper

If you want a legitimate loom pencil gripper, this video shows you how to weave it together. If you want the 2-second version, just slip a few bands around your pencil and you have a no-slip grip in no time!

Loom band as pencil grip

Hmm, what shall I write with this comfortable pencil?

{9} Little Reminders

As long as the band isn’t too tight, you can slip one on your finger to remind you of something important.

Loom bands as reminders

Now I’ll remember to drink more water today!

Bonus idea: Use loom bands like a rubber thimble. Put a few on your finger tips, and it’s easier to shuffle through papers. I’m thinking teachers might like this trick?

{10} Cord Corral

I like to carry a phone charger in my purse so I can recharge at a moment’s notice. The trouble with those things is that they never stay wrapped. They go sprawling all over my purse – kinda like how that one zucchini plant took over my garden last summer. Out. of. control. Okay, so I wrapped a loom band around my charger to keep it pulled together.

Loom bands as cord corral

It’s nice and neat and ready to stash in my purse! Regular rubber bands have to be wrapped several times. I just slipped one loom band over the cord and called it good in the ‘hood.

What was your favorite idea? Be sure to pin it to your Pinterest board so you can remember it later!

-Kate

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When You Want Fresh Ideas, Think Laterally

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a creative tip, so today’s post is all about lateral thinking.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper?” There are several variations of this line that all mean essentially the same thing: to get new ideas, you have to look in new (and sometimes illogical) directions.

It might feel comfortable to use the same solutions to a problem (which is considered vertical thinking, btw) but that doesn’t always lead you to good answers or ideas.

When we talk to new people, read interesting magazines, listen to different music, and take new routes, we allow for inspiring ideas and new perspectives to soak in.

All of that is good material for solving problems – especially if you want to try your hand at lateral thinking.

What is lateral thinking?

The father of lateral thinking is Dr. Edward de Bono. Some people claim he is one of the very few people in history to have had a major impact on the way we think. He defines lateral thinking as “disrupting an apparent sequence and arriving at the solution from another angle.”

Yah, yah. What are some examples?

Have you seen the New Uses for Old Things section in each issue of Real Simple? This is lateral thinking!

life saver candle holder

A candy Life Saver can also be the perfect candle holder! {via}

books as shelves

Books can make great shelves. {via}

rubber band

If you have a stripped screw, a rubber band can get you out of a jam. {via}

Another example can be found in a lateral thinking puzzle, like this one…

puzzle1

A: Pour juice from second glass into the fifth. {via}

How to put lateral thinking to use?

For one, I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to New Uses for Old Things. There are countless ways to think laterally about organizing and decorating your home, wrapping unexpected gifts, cooking, etc. So lateral thinking has some practical uses.

You can also apply this to your job. I read a great article that gave some solid examples.

  • Lawyers and detectives use lateral thinking when attempting to solve crimes, because the sequence of events is often not as straightforward it first appears. (Um, and having some detective skillz can come in handy as a parent, too.)
  • If you’re in the creative arts, lateral thinking is an especially useful technique for developing ideas.
    • As a writer, this approach could help you come up with unexpected twists and turns in a plot.
    • For comedians, it can help you set up the perfect joke.
    • If you work in communications, like I do, it could help you develop an unexpected headline or approach to selling a product.

Keep up the good work!

You’ve probably been using lateral thinking all along, but didn’t realize what it was called. Now that you do know, be sure to keep up your skills. It’s like anything in life. The more you practice, the easier it will become. Here are a few links to some fun lateral thinking puzzles and resources:

Have fun thinking laterally. How do you think you’ll use this in your daily life? I’d love to know!

-Kate

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DIY Candlestick Projects (That Organize Your Space)

If you want a stylish way to organize some small spaces in your home, here are five solid projects to consider.

{ONE} Your sink

Gather your hand soap, dish soap, counter spray, and other sink stuff in one easy place. By elevating a tray or dish on a candlestick, it’s easy to reach your things – and they stay out of the wet zone. #winning

{TWO} Your photos

This is one of the most creative and inexpensive ways to gather and arrange your favorite photos. Take an inexpensive candlestick, wine cork and paper clip and voilà, you have a beautiful photo holder. And who doesn’t love a project that requires a cork or two? Cheers!

{THREE} Your coffee and tea

In most kitchens, counter space is highly valued property. By elevating a few items, like sweeteners and k-cups, you create more space along with a beautiful display.

{FOUR} Your jewelry

This organization project includes a variety of glassware, such as cups and vases. I’m thinking you could add candlesticks to this list and use it to stack and store your bracelets.

Tip: Cover your glass items with white gloss spray paint to give it the look of milk glass.

{FIVE} Your bathroom essentials

This project combines mason jars with candlesticks to make lovely apothecary jars for your bathroom. The key is to use varying heights of candlesticks to create a nice grouping. You could easily take inexpensive glass candlesticks and spray them with metallic spray paint.

I think I’m going to try the photo project later today. I’ll be sure to take pictures and let you know how it goes. We’ll see if it makes it on my “Friday Faves” list tomorrow. Here’s hoping!

Which of these projects sounds like something you’ll try? Be sure to take pics and tag me (@Katejandersen) on Instagram so I can see your great work.

-Kate

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Creative Habits

IMG_5301Habits are a funny thing. Sometimes we want to kick them and other times we want to form them. I’m always in fluctuation between the two. Right now I’m desperately trying to drink more water during the day. I religiously drink coffee every morning, so you’d think remembering to water myself would be a cinch.

Water on Head

More water!

Just like anything, there are good and not-so-good habits when it comes to creativity. Keeping a sketchbook and people watching (a favorite pastime) are fun habits and can do wonders for creative thinking.

Sketchbook

Sketching is awesome!

Other habits simply make you lazy and turn off your brain. That’s not exactly the recipe for developing imaginative ideas. For instance, I have a habit of driving the same way to work, which literally keeps me from seeing new sights. Remember the scene from National Lampoon’s European Vacation when they keep driving past Big Ben? That’s me…constant loop.

national lampoons

Look kids, Big Ben!

It’s easy to fall into routines. When you do them long enough, you create a well-worn path that deepens into a rut, making it harder to get out. I never want to be the kind of person who “phones it in” when it comes to offering creative ideas.

So I’m in the process of assessing my habits, and I’ve decided that instead of kicking stale habits, I’m going to shake them up. (Thanks for the motivation, T. Swift.)

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Rotate artwork and photos in my office. The family pics don’t have to rest on the desk. I can move them to a side table and bring a fun piece of art from the living room into my office. It’s gettin’ crazy up in here.
  2. Sit in the visitor’s chair. My office has several chairs reserved for guests. Why not become a guest in my own space? I wonder what new ideas I’ll think of from the other side of the desk?
  3. Use a different restroom. Since “bio breaks” tend to be the only times I actually leave my seat (another bad habit), the least I can do is head to the next closest bathroom in the building and potentially run into new people along the way.
  4. Take a short break (other than going to the bathroom) and talk to someone new – on purpose.
  5. Listen to a new station on Pandora. This means giving up Blind Pilot and JT for a while, but I’m okay with that. I have a feeling there are a few country singers out there who have a lesson or two about life I could use. Consider this student “present”.
  6. Pull out a sketchpad instead of the laptop. I enjoy sketching, but when it comes to thinking of ideas for work, I tend to lean on the computer – literally. I’m going to kick it old school and sketch my next round of thoughts. Sketchnoting, here I come.
  7. Use different color ink. Black and blue are for bruises. I’m going to mix it up with orange or green and just see what happens. Maybe nothing, but at least my notes will be prettier.
  8. Go outside and park it on a bench for a few minutes. Nothing beats stale ideas like some fresh air and new surroundings. It seems simple, but I don’t get outside nearly enough during the day. My Fitbit would agree with me, too.

I hope you’ll join me in trying some of these ideas or thinking of a few new ones yourself. Please share!

In the meantime, have an enormously creative day.

-Kate

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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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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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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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