Five Tips for Holiday Storage

Christmas StorageIf you haven’t put away your holiday decorations, yet, you’re not alone. If it gets to be July and we’re having this conversation, we’ll want to get the decorative balls rolling into some sort of container. For now, it’s perfectly and socially acceptable to still have some lingering lights. When you’re good and ready to start packing, here are a few tips and tricks for closing out the season.

{ONE} Organize your business

Before jumping right in to stuffing a bunch of bins, stop for a moment to sort. Decide if you really want to keep everything. Toss old lights or donate items you know you won’t ever use.keep calm buttonOnce you’ve simplified, decide how you’re going to store your stuff. Some people organize by type of item. For example, all of the lights go in one big bin.

I prefer to pack by location. That means all of the outdoor lights go with the outdoor décor. As long as you liked where everything was situated this year, storing your things this way makes unpacking a cinch next year. Be sure to label the bins with the name of the room to amp up the ease. Speaking of bins…

{TWO} Color-code some bins

Plastic bins are ideal for storing your precious decorations. They’re waterproof in case you have an unfortunate leak in your roof or basement. They’re also pest-proof when they have tight-fitting lids. Nothing freaks me out more than opening a box and finding a spider. #notcool

plastic bin

Rubbermaid bins are durable and have tight-fitting lids.

I like using clear bins so I can see what’s inside. Some people like colored bins, such as red or green for Christmas items. While this makes it easier to distinguish between the holidays up in a dark attic, once you get the bins down, it’s kind of a pain not knowing what’s inside.

Tip: Stick with clear bins, but pick colored lids for each season.

Plastic lids

These are available at Walmart. You could pick red lids for all of your Christmas bins.

If you can’t find assorted lids, use various colors of Duct tape to label your bins. You could use green for Christmas, orange for Halloween, pink for Easter, etc.

{THREE} Divide those ornaments

I’ve had one too many sad moments opening a bin and finding a broken ornament. That’s why I pack them in individual compartments now.

Ornament Storage

This bin is from The Container Store.

You can either purchase special bins like this from The Container Store or take a “plain” bin and make your own dividers with a few cups glued to a piece of cardboard.

DIY Ornament Storage

Get the full DIY instructions at One Good Thing

Don’t forget to pack the ornament hooks. For small items like these and replacement bulbs, use a plastic jewelry organizer.

Organizer

This organizer is from Joann Fabrics.

{FOUR} Wrangle your wreaths and lights

You probably spent a lot on your wreaths – time and money or both! So when it comes to storage, give them some extra TLC. I splurge on plastic wreath holders because they snap shut (no bugs allowed), and they help wreaths hold their shape.

wreath case

This crush-free case is from Spacesavers.

I’ve used heavy-duty trash bags before, and some of my friends use dry cleaner bags. Those work too. You’ll just want to be sure not to stack items on top of them if you’re going this route.

Light storage

Image source: Curbly

When it comes to lights, I like to wrap the strands around pieces of cardboard. You can even jot a note directly on the cardboard about where the lights go.

hose-reel-for-holiday-lights

Image source: Real Simple

If you have a large volume of lights, keep them strung together on a hose reel from the hardware store. Smart, right?

{FIVE} Care for your cards

The last thing I like to do is take a minute to re-read all of the thoughtful cards we received and update my contacts with any new addresses.

Christmas Cards

Image source: BBC

Once that’s done, I always have a hard time throwing the cards away. Brené Brown shared a fantastic idea of snapping pictures of each card with your phone and adding them to your contacts. That way you can see the darling Christmas photo your friend sent every time she calls. Don’t you love that idea? I’m totally doing it this year.

So what have I missed? What’s your favorite way to pack or organize your holiday goods? Give me a shout either in the comments or tag me on Instagram or Twitter @Katejandersen. I’ll be sure to check my accounts between packing all of these bins. Gracious!

Have a great weekend and be sure to check out all of the amazing blogs through Five on Friday.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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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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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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Lovely Lavender No-Sew Sachets

IMG_4169The smell of lavender can be intoxicatingly good. Giving someone a bundle of fresh lavender wrapped in silk ribbon always makes a nice gesture.

In fact when given as a gift, lavender flowers represent luck. They also offer the promise of new adventure. So why not go the extra mile and make a no-sew lavender sachet for your favorite travel buddy? Sachets are perfect for tucking into a suitcase for a sweet-smelling arrival. I mean, who wouldn’t that?

Let’s do this thing.

First you’ll need a bundle of dried lavender buds. Either buy some in bulk or create your own. To DIY, simply cut fresh stalks from your garden. Either hang the lavender stems upside down to air dry or lay them flat on a towel for a few days. Once the buds are dried out, strip them off the stem into a pile. This is what you’ll use inside your sachets.

If you don’t have access to fresh lavender, don’t despair. You can still make sachets with a couple of tablespoons of uncooked rice and a few drops of lavender oil.

Now take an antique handkerchief or pretty scrap of fabric cut into a 6” square. Place the lavender buds in the center of your fabric. Pull all four ends together into a bundle and tie with a pretty ribbon.

IMG_4187You can add a personalized note to complete the package. Now go surprise someone with this precious gift.

What’s your favorite way to use lavender?

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