Saturday
Dec222012

Homemade Christmas Cards in 5 Designs

Well, it looks like I've survived the Mayan apocalypse ... so I guess it's a good thing I tackled another 30X30 goals and actually sent out Christmas cards this year!  (Did anyone guess that it was the Christmas cards I was referring to at the bottom of this post?)

To be honest, my original plan was just to use pre-packaged cards; but, when I used these poinsettia stickers for the table setting article for SheKnows, my plans changed a bit.  I purchased the package of stickers from Michaels for around $3.  Most of the items I used for the staging were eventually returned to the store, but once this sticker package had been opened I knew I had just committed myself to making my own poinsettia-themed Christmas cards.

As if I have nothing else to do, right?  Ha!

But, even though making the cards took more time than a pre-packaged deal, I think it was still worth it. It was actually fun to revisit some scrapbooking crafts, and overall I wound up with 50 custom cards, in 5 different designs -- for around $8!  (I'll tell you more about the cost breakdown at the end of this post.) 

Design 1

Design 2

Design 3

Design 4

Design 5

Making the cards was a pretty simple process, and it wasn't all that time consuming.  I was able to knock out the designs over two evenings (a few hours each sitting), while catching up on some Glee, and Modern Family episodes.  

PS ... Is anyone else a bit disappointed in this season of Glee?  Weird though, I still feel the need to watch every episode to see what songs they will cover next.  I'm hopeless!

Getting off my Glee soapbox now!  Back to the cards ... 

To make these designs, first start by using the cardstock to make measurements of the card width on your scrapbook paper.  The cards are pre-cut, so this step makes it easy to get your decorative paper to the right size.

For most of my cards, I used strips of paper that were about 2" tall and just glued that strip of decorative paper strip to the bottom edge of the front of the card.  But, for designs 1 & 4, the strips of paper were about 3.5" tall, creating a completely different look.

(No, that's not nasty, peeling skin on my fingers ... it's just glue.  Making cards can get pretty messy!)

Finishing off the cards is simple -- just glue your strips of paper into place, then add your sticker.  You may also need to trim some of the edges of your cards if any of your strips of decorative paper are slightly too long.  This is just an easy way to make sure your cards look crisp and clean.

I know that Christmas cards are usually used to tell your family and friends all about the happenings of the past year, but my message was slightly different.  Considering this is the first time in my 7 years of marriage that I've sent out cards, I took this as an opportunity for somewhat of an apology.  

Using my PowerPoint method, I created this printable to insert into each card:

Then I glued a few more strips of decorative paper on the inside of the card, to create a little sleeve for the printable to tuck inside.

It took me a few tries to find the perfect design for the inside of the card, so a few people ended up with this mess (sorry guys) ...

You may have also noticed that I skimped out on colored prints for the letter itself.  Even though I loved the colored version, to keep my costs down I just went with standard printing.

So, to save some scrolling action ... here's the finished product (front & inside):

Maybe next year I'll go with the pre-packaged cards, but it's hard to tell.  I feel like I got a bit more bang for my buck with the homemade cards.  Each card was a little different, which made them feel very personalized to me.  That's something you can't really find in a box!

Here is the cost breakdown:

  • Cardstock & Envelopes (50 count), $6.99/Hobby Lobby, with 60% off coupon = $2.80
  • 12x12 Holiday Subway Art Scrapbook Paper (5 total), $.49/Hobby Lobby = $2.45
  • 12x12 Green Print Scrapbook Paper (2 total), already had/Michaels = $0, using the stock, baby!
  • 12x12 Red and Blue Print Scrapbook Paper (3 total), already had/Michaels = $0, more stock, baby!
  • 50 Custom Printables/Letter Inserts = $0, made them myself, and printed at home
  • 1 Pack Holiday Poinsettia Stickers (25 count), $2.99/Michaels = $3.00
  • Grand Total (50 cards):  $8.25

What do you think?  Pre-packaged, or custom/homemade?  Leave me a comment to cast your vote!

 

 

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Thursday
Dec202012

Knocked-Off: West Elm Feather Ball Ornament

A few days ago, I mentioned another West Elm knock-off was on it's way -- and though it's not another faux capiz chandelier, it made me smile nonetheless!

Ever since West Elm rolled out their new holiday product line last year, I've been ooohing and aaaahing over these fluffy feather ball ornaments ...

Image Source

But (as usual) the price on the tag was just a smidge too high for me to justify the splurge.  I mean, $9.00 isn't bad if you're just buying one for a gift -- but to get enough fluffiness on my tree, I knew one lonely ornament just wouldn't do the trick.  Nope ... I needed at least 6 ... which meant a grand total of $54.00 (plus shipping, or a drive out to Scottsdale).  Ugh!

So, I decided to make my own version of this fluffy charmer, using the clear plastic ornaments from my holiday backdrop ... 

To create the fluffy, textured look, I first thought of using a feather boa, but two things caused me to change my mind.  First, they were $8.00 each ... and second, they were pretty stiff, which made me wonder if they would bend easily around the ornament.

So ... as an alternate, I went with three of these fluffy boas that were $5.00 each.  

To make the ornament, I simply used my hot glue gun to wrap the boa around the ornament ...

Because of the length of each boa, and the size of each ornament, I was only able to get two ornaments out of each boa.  I was hoping they would go further ... but at the end of this post I'll share some ideas on how I think you could get more bang for your buck with this project.

Here's the finished knock-off:

I'm absolutely in love with these fuzzy creatures, and I don't think the pictures do them justice.  But, in an effort to keep things real ... I am a little disappointed that my materials didn't stretch as far as I thought they would.  Considering I was hoping to get about 9-10 ornaments out of this, this project fell a little short (in my opinion).  

Here's how everything tallied up ...

  • 3 Fluffy boas = $5.00 each (Total:  $15.00)
  • 6 Clear plastic ornaments = $.97 each (Total:  $6.00)
  • Grand total:  $21.00 for 6 ornaments
  • Cost per ornament = $3.50

While it's still better than $9.00 each, had I been able to get even nine ornaments out of these materials, my cost per ornament could have been lowered to $2.33.  It may seem like it's not that big of a price gap, but imagine my disappointment today when I discovered West Elm had discounted the ornament down to $4.00 each!  

Double ugh!  That means I spent the time and the gas money to gather the supplies all for a mere $.50 savings.  

I tried to make myself feel better by acknowledging I at least saved on shipping costs, but West Elm had to be all haughty-taughty and offer free shipping this week.  And to top it all off, they're offering an additional 20% off of discounted items with promo code XTRAXMAS.  

Blast them for being so amazing!

So ... to get over my disappointment, I decided to just seize the opportunity, and I ordered myself six of the original ornaments I've always loved.  Now I can't wait until next Christmas when my tree will have both the fuzzy boa ornaments, and the feather ornaments in all their fluffy wonder!  

Talk about turning lemons to lemonade, right?  Ha!  Plus, this allowed me to cross off another of my 30 by 30 items (man, I've got to get crackin on this list ... only 11 more months to go!).

What's the moral of this story?  Well, now I'm not exactly sure ... but I did come up with a few money saving ideas to pass along to you, should you ever try this project yourself.

Here they are:

  1. Find your ornaments in an after Christmas sale, yard sale, or even just cover old ornaments you already own.  The only reason I felt good about spending $.97 for each of my ornaments was because I knew they would be able to survive the torments of my cat Zach.  But, imagine if you found six ornaments at a yard sale for $2.00 ... that would be a huge savings just right there!
  2. Use ornaments that are average in size.  The smaller the ornament, the less fuzzy boa you'll need to cover it.  The boa itself will make the ornaments look big and poufy, so you don't really need a larger-sized ornament.  I think if I would have used smaller ornaments I could have gotten seven, or maybe even eight ornaments out of my three boas.
  3. Lastly, collect your boas one at a time, and use a coupon with each purchase.  During my Hobby Lobby shopping spree I did have a coupon in hand for 60% off one item; but it went to another (higher priced) item, which meant I missed out on the discounts for the boas themselves.

Combine all three of those tips, and you could make these knock-off feather ornaments for pennies on the dollar!  You see ... that's what I'm here for.  I'll find all of the pitfalls of a project, so that you can avoid them when you give it a go!

One thing I could mention to hopefully regain a smidge of my thrift & DIY credibility ... with the leftover portion of the boa I was able to make 14 of these snow globe ornaments:

To make them, I simply cut of 1.5" segments of the boa and stuffed them inside the ornament.  I'm not really sure how that could factor into my total cost calculations though.  I'll let you be the judge of that ...

Anyone else got a good knock-off to share?  Tell us the details!

PS ... I've got another 30 X 30 item to cross off the list.  Can you guess which one it is?  Leave me a comment to take a guess.  I'll be sharing the answer on Saturday.

 

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Monday
Dec172012

What Matters Most

In light of the terrible events that took place last Friday, my plans for this weekend were suddenly turned on end.

There were so many things I planned to check off the to-do list -- chores around the house, projects for the blog, addressing & mailing my Christmas cards -- etc., etc., etc. To be honest, the list felt a bit overwhelming, and I was prepping myself mentally to tackle as many items as possible.

Friday night, I mentioned we would be taking a brief pause from posting out of respect for those impacted by the shooting in Connecticut. At that time, my thoughts were very sentimental, very humble, and very nostalgic.

Then came Saturday ... and I fell right back into my "gotta move" mentality, rushing through as many tasks and projects as my strength would muster.

But something happened...

Mark was home with me, and I found myself feeling frustrated that he didn't seem to be as busy as I was. I started to feel that self-imposed pressure that everything needed to be done, and I was the only one to do it.

Time is a crazy thing.

By the end of the evening -- covered in paint, and knee deep in projects -- my sentiment hit me once again. I found myself baffled at how quickly I had forgotten what matters the most. The things I had felt so touched by just 24 hours earlier had so quickly been pushed to the back of my mind.

The truth is, sometimes this world makes you feel like slowing down is not an option. There is always something that needs to be done. There is always a list of "to-do's" and "somedays." And what's worse ... sometimes we feel that slowing down is an indicator of failure.

Here's what is really sad ...

Lately, I have been so caught up in everything else that I nearly forgot today is Mark and I's 7th wedding anniversary. Luckily, it entered my mind on Saturday night -- causing me to once again feel like I had been overlooking everything that was truly important.

I realized I had been so wrapped up in posts and projects that I hadn't even planned anything to tell my husband thank you for 7 years of sticking by my side. I realized that the frustrations I had felt earlier were about nothing that really mattered. The house could always be cleaned later. The projects could stand to wait another day. In a way, it all was meaningless.

Sunday, I decided the list would just have to wait. I had bigger fish to fry, if you will. Rather than spend the day stressing about what got done and what didn't, I decided to spend the day enjoying time with my husband.

While it was challenging to let go of my self-inflicted deadlines, it was worth it to just have some time to relax and actually ENJOY one another's company. It was a good day.

Today, I still had no plans for a gift, but found this printable in my daily email from Fab.com.

It's a bit tough to read, but I thought the message was perfect for a day like today -- so I used PowerPoint to create my own version.

It says: YOU are patient with, encourage, amaze, mean the world to, complete, always impress, take care of, surprise, are home to, ME, and I adore you.

I hope I can put my mind in it's rightful place, and continue to remember the things that matter most. That is, the people who mean the world to me, and make my life happier than I even realize.

Thursday
Dec132012

Your Holiday Side Table, 3 Ways

Lately, I've shared a few holiday table setting ideas that I put together a few weekends ago. In case you're just joining in, see my silver and cream setting, and my candy cane inspired setting from earlier this week.

These settings were staged for the Sheknows.com article, Setting an unforgettable holiday table -- and one tip I shared in the article was to go beyond just the table with your decor.  Sometimes we place so much focus on the table itself that we forget to highlight other features within the room. 

In my oppinion, it's an opportunity lost if you serve the meal, but forget the dessert ... and the same holds true when it comes to holiday entertaining.  Why set an amazingly festive table, just to ignore the dining room itself?

But, updating your dining room for seasonal entertaining doesn't need to be excessive.  A few accents here-and-there really go a long way -- and a perfect place to start is with a side table!  Here are the side table settings I put together to enhance the table settings for the article:

Setting 1:  Nature Inspired

*paired with the silver and cream setting*

Setting 2:  Home Sweet Home

*paired with a table setting I haven't shown yet*

Setting 3:  Pops of Red

*paired with the candy cane inspired setting*

So, what do you think?  Anyone else feeling pumped up about holiday decorating?  As excited as I am about it, I've still yet to finish decorating my own house...ugh.  All in due time!

 

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Wednesday
Dec122012

Set Your Holiday Table: Candy Cane Inspired

Hello Everyone,

It's getting closer and closer to the main event, even as we speak!  A few days ago, I shared a table setting that had an elegant flair ... but today, I'm sharing a table setting that will speak to your wild, daring, and fearless side!

It's fun, it's playful, and I'm pretty sure it's one of my favorites for this holiday season!

Just like the silver and cream setting, many of the items you see in this setting were found at Ikea and Michaels. 

For the "table runner," I used the Margareta rug from Ikea.  The chargers and the white candles are the Skurar candle dish, and the Skurar candle holder -- also from Ikea.

I found the little cardboard boxes at Michaels, along with the poinsettia stickers that I placed on the top.  If I would have really been entertaining guests with this set up (this was staged for a SheKnows.com article I was writing), I would have filled the boxes with little gifts that each guest could take with them when the left.  They would make the perfect party favors, and they were less than $1 each.

The red dishes were also from Ikea, though I couldn't find them on the website.  I thought they were perfect for a holiday table, and that it would be a bit different to fill them with water and place a floating candle inside.

The little artsy sculptures can be found at Ikea, and then I added the Santa hats to turn them into holiday decorations.  To prop them up, I flipped over some bowls and just placed them on top.

All-in-all, this setting was pretty simple -- yet, it instantly becomes a focal point because of the crisp red and white combination. 

What do you think?  Would you prefer the candy cane inspired setting, or the silver and cream?  Cast your vote in the comments below.

 

 

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