Archive for December, 2010

Holiday Wrapping the EASY Way!


Wrapping gifts is NOT on my list of favorite things to do. With the stack of gifts for our family of six, extended family and friends, teachers, coworkers, staff… YIKES! Some of you love to wrap and put heart into each bow and tag, but I’m all about ease. So I totally scored at the dollar store when I went for my annual Christmas wrap splurge. I spent a whopping $22!

Dollar Tree provided me with so many easy, cute, good quality wrappings and it cut my gift wrapping time in a big way. Here’s what I got:

Cute decorative boxes with lids and bows for GG’s (great-grandma’s) present

A stack of 25 beautiful, gold, clear bags, plus metallic filler for the 15+ staff and teachers we pick up items for throughout the year

Gift bags called “snack bags” that are just right for new socks or gloves- 25 for a dollar!

“Bakery bags” at eight for a dollar, including twisty ties, which are perfect for holiday baking

Paper “treat sacks” that small cars and headbands, etc., can fit in, just seal with a sticker

Sparkly CD cases for the home movies and playlists that we give various people for Christmas

Zipper loop-bags that are great for class gifts or treats, they zip closed so nothing falls out

100 adhesive gift tags for a buck! For my kids’ gifts

Giant gift bags for those awkwardly shaped, huge items under the tree

Two cute gift pouches with tags, large decorative gift bags, tissue paper, and pre-decorated boxes for clothing

I got all of this for $22, and then I bought some nice ribbon at the craft store to top it all off. What a cinch, and a huge timesaver!

Christmas Tradition

When I imagine holiday décor, I think white lights, greenery along the staircase, shiny red ornaments, and piggy banks. Piggy banks? Yep, our mantle is lined with piggy banks, one for each child.

This holiday tradition originates when my sisters and I were little. Each year when my mom hauled out the boxes of holiday décor, beneath the strings of lights and pile of stockings were our piggy banks. These weren’t the ones we kept in our room, and they weren’t decorated for Christmas, but they were just for Christmas time. My parents placed them along the mantle, and throughout the season they added small amounts of money into each of them. Each year they got heavier and heavier, but we NEVER opened them and counted up our coins. Then the year I married Mark, my parents gave me my piggy bank. With all the money inside we were able to shop for our new family’s Christmas decorations and ornaments. It was such a sweet memory and meaningful gift, and now we get to do the same for our children. It might be quirky but it’s unique and always adds fun and excitement to the holidays.

Cheap and Cool Stocking Idea!

In our six stockings, each lip gloss, each hair tie, each new toothbrush is individually wrapped. It takes time, but it also stretches out time on Christmas morning, when every moment is magical. Since I’m NOT a fan of wrapping gifts, this year I actually hired a neighbor teen to wrap all of these little items!

But my tip to you is about the stockings themselves. I used to pour over the Pottery Barn catalog near the holidays, with each of their embroidered, quilted stockings, and delicately added names at the top. The dreaminess ended at their cost. I just can’t justify it!

One year after Christmas I was in Home Depot, which by the way isn’t just for hardware and isn’t one of those stores that filled to the brim with people looking for post-holiday sales. I came across these lovely, silky stockings, each distinct with beads or thread of their own. They typically sold for $25 each, but had been reduced to $5! I bought one for each of us, and took them to a T-shirt shop, where they charged me very little to embroider our names to each individually unique stocking. No two are the same, but they look beautiful hanging together and all for a steal of a deal!

Mom and Son Datenight!

In addition to the date nights that Mark and I schedule each month with one another, we each take one child on a date every other week. It’s important for each of our kids to have one on one time with a parent, and access to our undivided attention. We see these dates as a necessity, just like the ones we spend without the kids!

On this particular night, I had a holiday party on my calendar, and Mark had other plans. So my handsome 12-year-old son, Luke agreed to be my date! According to Luke, Mom offers better date nights than Dad, but that might have been slightly rehearsedJ. While we enjoyed the party, Mark took our 13-year-old daughter, Lexi, to an auction that he needed to attend.   Sometimes these kid dates cover what’s already arranged, like this week, and other times the kid chooses. Either way, we cherish the time alone with our kids, so we can really hear them and see them for who they are as individuals. Get out your calendar and schedule some memory making for you and yours!

Vodka! It’s a Pasta Sauce!

This week’s favorite find is short and sweet. Some of you already know this simple pantry addition, but it’s new to me so I must share! When I was at the grocery store the other day, looking at the pasta sauce, the store manager was nearby, and he recommended Vodka sauce. I don’t drink much, so I was skeptical, but he handed me a jar of Bertolli’s Vodka sauce, which is a perfect blend of Marinara and Alfredo sauces. It’s delicious and the best yet, the kids thought so too! Enjoy!