House For Six

seasonal

Goodness of Christmas Past (and Free Printables!)

Deme CrinionComment
As I type the kids are chugging down the sugar at their class parties and as of 3pm we'll officially be on Christmas break here!  All of the non-morning people in this family (all female) could not be happier.

We're planning to wrap up the Christmas decorating this weekend.  We've been doing a little each day, which is a much better pace for me than a frenzied weekend of holiday craze.  But our porch/yard is still bare and we're hosting dinner Christmas eve.....so you know, now I'm feeling like sprucing a little more.

However.  If I don't give myself an end point, I'll still have a running list of things I want to do/finish right up to Christmas day.  So, whatever doesn't get done by the end of the weekend, is getting the official cut. For my own sanity.

I'll be back on Monday with the merrifying that did get accomplished around the house and then I'll be logging off for some family time until the new year.  In lieu of a home tour, I've got a few oldie but goodies of the Christmas variety to take you into the weekend....

If you're planning to fire up the oven for some baking this weekend, we did a holiday dessert roundup last year with some tried and true treats from our family recipe book.  The salted chocolate shortbread is happening stat.
Yummy round up of easy holiday desserts!

And if you're brave enough to enter the land of homemade sugar cookies, I not only have the best recipe in the history of ever (thanks to my SIL) but I have some helpful sugar cookie tips for getting those perfect melt-in-your-mouth chewy batches.
tips for the perfect cake like sugar cookies

A couple years ago I whipped out the hot glue gun to give some plain clothes pins a little holiday cheer.  We've used them with twine for a Christmas card display the past couple years, but I'm thinking about something different this year - same pins, different set up.  We shall see.
Santa suit clothespin card display

I realize were about to enter the 4th week of Advent but you know what...it's never too late to start.  With any Christmas tradition.  I was late starting almost everything this year (and most other years), and honestly, I've felt a little off.  Maybe it's the 60 degree weather we're having.  I prefer my winters snowy and frigid....otherwise curling up with blankets and cocoa feels odd.  And sweaty.  Either way, we started our Advent wreath late, but it's an easy DIY from last year - candles, clippings from the tree, and a couple ornaments/twine.

Earlier this month, I was at Mama Needs Coffee sharing some of our Advent traditions and what that season looks like around our home.  You can hop over here for that read, where you can also find a few free printables that might help you keep your Advent focus.  Whatever our family does over these next few days, I want them to get us here:
(These color versions available for download in the post.) 


And if you like your walls with a little less flare, I have these versions you can grab too.


Now that school is out, I'm ready to clear the calendar and just lean into this last week before Christmas.  And by lean, I mean into my couch with some coffee.  Not into more hectic days.  I don't think it's too late to slow down.  In fact, I'm counting on it. Here's to wrapping up the to-do's so we can lean into the week to come.  Have a great weekend!


From earlier this month....

A super easy and stress saving Holiday Card Station....

How we saved bucko bucks and landed with a slew of great family photos...

Our list of best family games (for all ages, including those non-readers)....

Our DIY Advent Calendar (again - easy.  Complicated is not my game).


Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Holiday Card Station

Deme CrinionComment
I could have titled this "Cultivating the Art of the Hand Written Letter" or "How to Body Slam Your Inner Procrastinator", but I stuck to the middle ground.

This past year has been overwhelming and challenging and really amazing....all thanks to a little girl named Livy Joy.  Admittedly, survival mode was the name of my game and one of the biggest areas to suffer was correspondence. Which is sort of important since most of our closest friends and family are scattered across the country.  I was late remembering special days and one missed thank you note lead to another.

In the coming year, I'm hoping to redeem that.  And with the onslaught of holiday cards hitting my mailbox, there couldn't be a better time to start.  To set myself up for success, I put together my own little holiday correspondence zone.
Holiday card station

I took a cue from this letter writing station we made for our daughter last year. We set up an area where she would have everything she needed to write and send off a letter.
Letter writing station
She still loves and uses this all the time.  In fact, I plan to sneak a new set of thank you cards into her stocking and pop her gift list into her station so she can easily work on thank you's during the Christmas break.

I filled my own card station with much of the same.  I wanted a spot to manage our own Christmas cards, update my address book as new cards come in, and keep track of gifts/thank you's.  I also wanted to keep a few extra blank cards in case I needed an unexpected holiday greeting.
Holiday card station

Holiday card station

Here's the run down of what's inside:

-Our family Christmas cards/envelopes
-Thank you cards/envelopes
-Blank note cards/envelopes
-Notepad for gift/thank you lists
-Address book
-Stamps
-Pens
-Clothes pin
-Branch from our tree #freearomatherapy

The Santa clothespins were a fun little DIY from a couple years ago that we use to display all the Christmas cards that come in throughout the month.  I stole one for this caddy and use it to keep outgoing mail together.
Holiday card station


Holiday card station

Having all the stamps right here instead of floating in my purse and random drawers throughout the house is (sadly) life changing.
Holiday card station

I keep this caddy on the desk in our kitchen, where most of our other household management tasks happen....making it easily accessible and super convenient.
Holiday card station

Holiday card station

The most important thing for me actually getting something in the mail is having ALL the things I need to do it in one spot.  Because laziness is strong over here and if I have to run all around the house for cards, then stamps, then my address book, well....it's a lost cause.  Throw in a large mailing like Christmas cards and keeping track of thank you's - I need all the help I can get.

And so far, so good!  Sometimes the smallest changes make the biggest impact.  This is one of my favorite additions to our Christmas decor (if you can call it that) thus far. It only took me a few minutes to put together and it's already saving me time and sanity.  You can't beat festive and functional!


Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Our [DIY] Advent Activity Calendar...With Free Printables!

Deme Crinion2 Comments
Welcome to December!  I'm not quite sure how we landed here, but my pumpkins are looking awfully out of place.  I'm trying my best not to get swept up in the hustle and am taking my sweet time decking our halls....or undecking them from fall?  Basically, I'm feeding my inner procrastinator.

Right now my living room looks like the zone of a throw down between the Pilgrims and Santa's elves.  The bins of Christmas decorations are halfway unpacked and the fall bin is only partially packed up. I'll get to the pumpkins eventually, but not before we set up our favorite Advent tradition!
DIY Advent activity calendar

I literally pulled this together in 20 minutes this morning.  I know there are super cute and fancy ones out there, but if you're not in the market for one or want to try your hand at creating your own, let me just encourage you to go for it.

They can be as creative or simple as you like.  Heck, you can even just tape the activity for each day on the fridge.  The fun and beauty of these are not in the setup, but in their purpose.

The number one reason I love an Advent activity calendar is that by choosing certain activities for each day I can really shape our Advent experience as a family.  If I feel like we're getting a little too caught up in the marshmallow topped cocoa and growing Christmas lists, then I can add in a few service activities or something that will redirect our focus back on the manger.

I was able to make ours using mostly supplies I had on hand (old frame, twine, Sharpies, envelopes), and found the sweet clothespins and notepad at the Target Dollar spot.

What you'll need...
DIY Advent activity calendar

What to do...
DIY Advent activity calendar
I liked the way 5 across looked.

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

I chose to use envelopes for our calendar, but you really can use anything....baby socks as mini stockings, small bags, or even just a folded piece of paper.
DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

I could only find one package of these green buffalo check clothespins...
DIY Advent activity calendar

...so I spruced up some plain ones with red stripes using a Sharpie.
DIY Advent activity calendar

I needed a spot where the baby wouldn't get to it, so I pulled up a small bench next to the piano and called it good.
DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

Except that she totally got to it anyway..
DIY Advent activity calendar


This list continues to grow, but here are some of our favorite activities from year's past....

-Bake holiday cookies
-Deliver baked goodies to neighbors
-Wrap gifts
-Watch a holiday movie with popcorn and hot cider
-Clean out closets and gather donations
-Adopt a family through the giving tree
-Visit a live nativity
-Go to a holiday concert
-Take a horse and carriage ride through downtown
-Make cocoa to-go and drive to see the Christmas lights
-Say a family rosary or decade
-Make handmade cards to mail to family/friends
-Pick out a Christmas tree
-Decorate the tree
-Build a snowman
-Shovel our neighbor's sidewalks
-Make something special for the postman
-Take family pictures
-Address Christmas cards
-Go out for ice cream
-Help decorate the inside of the house
-Help decorate the outside of the house
-Holiday craft night
-Go sledding
-Have a sleepover by the Christmas tree (usually on Christmas Eve for us)
-Visit friends at a nursing home
-Take food down to the local foodbank
-Serve at a food pantry
-Write someone a thoughtful note and deliver it
-Write a letter to Santa/St. Nick
-Read your favorite Christmas books
-Deliver gifts to your teachers
-Have a dance party to your favorite holiday tunes
-Make a birthday cake for Jesus
-Write a note/draw a picture for your pastor


I made a couple of blank templates you're welcome to download to write down your own activities (seen below).  Just click on the color link below the image for a free printable version.
DIY Advent activity calendar

Tips for success:

-Never seal your envelopes (or whatever you're using to hide the activity paper).  If something unexpected comes up or you want to move a certain activity to another day when the weather will cooperate, you want to be able to do that without tearing apart your calendar. #askmehowIknow

-Look at your family calendar when planning events.  If the kids have a Christmas concert through their school, or another holiday event already scheduled, I include those as part of our activity calendar.  I write down the event and slip the paper into the scheduled day.  All others I wait to put in the envelope until the night before (see above).

-Have a few backups.  We can include "build a snowman" but that obviously depends on the weather.  Having a few similar activities as a backup will help you avoid scrambling.

-Keep school days easy.  Since there's still homework and regular work schedules, we save the bigger activities for weekends and Christmas break...which also allows us to build up to the big celebration.


It's an easy tradition that we've all come to love!  Does anyone else do an Advent activity calendar?  What are some of your favorite activities?  What other traditions do you look forward to during this time of year?


Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Juju Hat Inspired DIY, in Which I Create an Eyeball

Deme CrinionComment
Just for the record, this was supposed to be a legit tutorial in which I offer you a super cost effective way to bring the amazingness of a juju hat into your own home.  But it's not exactly that.

I feel like juju hats must have been a trend I totally missed the first time around.  But no matter.  They seem to be making a come back and I got all excited because who doesn't want a burst of fabulous feathers on their wall?  My husband, that's who. No one!

If you are unfamiliar, a juju hat is actually a headdress made of the most beautiful feathers woven into a raffia base.

Observe:
Image via House Seven Blog

Gorgeous.  A simple, beautiful statement and a great textural element.  Albeit a very, very pricey element.

I had this big open space on my fireplace, so I thought why not make my own big black feathery adornment for Halloween?  And I did.
DIY juju hat

I couldn't afford real feathers.  Even DIY's I looked up were still quite costly.  But I could afford feather boas from the craft store for $3.99 a pop at 40% off. (Yes, I'm still on a personal spending freeze, but I had set aside a little bit last month for a couple of things I would be working on this month).DIY juju hat

The conversation that ensued the afternoon it was hung above our mantle, confirmed that what I created was not exactly what I intended...

Sully (5 yrs old): "Look, Dad!"

James: "Oh....is that the project you were helping Mommy with yesterday?"

Sully:  "No.  She made an eyeball!  And she made it all by herself!"


DIY juju hat

I knew I wasn't crazy about it, but ever since Sully deemed it an eyeball I can't see it as anything else.

Should you attempt your own (juju hat or fuzzy eyeball), here are some things you should know....

-This project makes the biggest mess ever.  If James was home during this little craft sesh, he may have died.  There were feathers everywhere.  The regular feathers, but lots of super fine little teeny-tiny feathers that I'm still finding all over the floor, the table, my clothes...everywhere.  If you want to avoid this delightful scenario, never ever cut a feather boa.

-If you are brave enough to cut it into smaller pieces and then attach (like I did with the white) you will need more feathers than you think.
DIY juju hat

If you keep the boa intact and just wrap it around (like I did with the black - much less noticeable with darker colors), You won't need as much.  Although I did try to leave as few gaps as possible for optimal fluff factor.
DIY juju hat

-Go BIG.  In this case, the bigger the better.  Especially if the outer layer sort of blends into the wall color.
DIY juju hat
Mine is way undersized and I'm afraid adding another layer to the outside will only contribute to the eyeball effect or take it more of a bulls-eye route.  I'm sure that won't stop me from trying though.

-Even though it's sort of comical, and not nearly a close replica of a true juju hat, I don't hate it.  I really wanted all black but they didn't have enough black boas.  And when you're working off a clearance rack, you go with what's there.  I think I might even love it if it was all black.  So much so that I might endure the feather debacle one more time to fix it. Maybe.
DIY juju hat

-I wasn't sure how to handle the center so I grabbed one of these.
DIY juju hat

I bent a paper clip and glued it to the center before I added the last boa, and attached the clip onto that.
DIY juju hat

I think it would have been fine without it, but I liked the way it finished it off and was slightly different than the rest of the feather pattern.
DIY juju hat

OK that picture wasn't helpful.  It's not easy to photograph black feathers.  #firstworldproblems

-On the plus side, this project was literally light as a feather, so I just used a command strip hook on the fireplace and glued a paperclip to the back of my circular cardboard base to hang it.
DIY juju hat

DIY juju hat

It didn't pack the elegant Halloween punch I had in mind, but since it does read like an eyeball maybe we can put it in the "creepy" Halloween category?

At least the rest of the room is feeling more like fall, sans the creep factor..... 
DIY juju hat

DIY juju hat

kantha throw

I think we finally have this part of the room figured out and here's a sneaky peak at what's happening on the other side of the room.  Baby gates and all.
DIY juju hat

By the time we finally finished the bones of this space and were ready to move onto details, the holiday season was a knockin'.  I wanted this room to have a  neutral base, so that I could easily change things up for the seasons.  So, far it's been perfect.  Not perfect as in perfectly styled (did you see the baby fence?), but perfect as in it only takes a few changes via pillows and throws to give the room a totally different feel.  I think the next few months are going to be a lot of fun.

*Pssst!  Did you catch the Giveaway we're running this week?  TWO amazing prints of your choice from Hatch Prints Shop, AND a gift card of your choice to either IKEA or Target.  Something to help make things feel a little more like home in your casa.  Hope over to this post to enter!  Ends Friday at midnight.

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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