{Handmade} Holiday

Merry & BrightI hope everyone has been having as much fun prepping for Christmas as we have! It’s no secret that I LOVE the holidays, and all that comes with them. The family, the TV specials, the food, and our annual forced popcorn-stringing marathon that The Husband simply adores…

Not. But, we like the end result ;)

This year, I was a little dismayed when I pulled out my rag-tag/hand-me-down/college-dollar-store-purchase Christmas decor. Yes, we have a few nice things I’ve picked up since we’ve been married, and lots of gorgeous ornaments for the tree that my mom has bought me every year since childhood, but nothing super put-together… and nothing like my Pinterest Holiday inspiration boards.

Home for the Holidays

So, I took matters into my own hands, and did a few experiments. And somehow, week-old bush clippings salvaged from the compost pile, leftover burlap, a giant Frosted Mini-Wheats box, an old newspaper and clearance-rack ribbon transformed the house into a little winter wonderland…

Here’s How:

Rustic Boxwood Garland & Mini Window Wreaths

Supplies:

  • A bucket of boxwood clippings
  • Green floral wire
  • Ribbon for hanging, bows for decoration

Garland!

Garland Directions:

  • Choose 3-4 sprigs of boxwood, varying lengths
  • Wrap the ends tightly 3-4 times with the floral wire
  • Gather another bunch of boxwood, and lay along the wire, overlapping the last bunch. Wrap tightly. Repeat until garland reaches desired length.

Wreath Directions:

  • Use the same method as above, but begin your garland with a longer piece, then choose slightly shorter clippings for your bunches.
  • Once you reach desired length, form into a circle, cut wire, and attach your first, longer clipping to end.
  • Use ribbon to hang several of varying sizes in the window.

Vintage Newsprint Christmas Tree

Newsprint TreeSupplies:

  • Empty cereal box
  • Packing tape
  • A pencil or pen
  • Newspaper
  • Glue stick or rubber cement
  • Ribbon or other topper

Directions:

  • Deconstruct and flatten the cereal box
  • Cut into a rough circle, and cut a slit to the center
  • Roll into a cone shape, tape, and trim bottom so it stands level
  • Cut the black and white text sections of the newspaper into strips, roughly 1″ wide (I alternated making the text horizontal and vertical on the strips – variations in size and direction of the text adds to the vintage look)
  • Roll strips around pencil to give them a slight curl, and cut to about 2-3″ in length
  • Start on the bottom, and glue strips around the base. Allow them to hang over the edge of the cone slightly, and overlap each piece. Work your way up the tree, one layer at the time, overlapping each.
  • Top with a bow, or other decorative piece.

Perfect Christmas Bow

Watch this slightly annoying video, and you’re set!

Bows!

I used strips of burlap for the garland on my mantle and bay window, and ribbon for my newspaper tree and hutch in the kitchen – get creative – it’s so easy!

Classic Popcorn & Cranberry Garland

The directions on this one are pretty obvious, but I do have a few tips:

Pop!

  • Pop your popcorn the day before and let it go stale – it’s easier to string that way!
  • Use plain kernels, and pop in a paper lunch bag in the microwave. Just put about 1/4 cup in the bag, roll top twice, and pop. No grease, no weird butter-flavoring color (a great, healthy, snack, too ;)
  • Mix up your patterns!
  • Use a thimble if your fingers get ouchy.
  • Make your husband help while watching Christmas specials. Require he completes at least two full strands, and doesn’t use a 10-1 cranberry-to-popcorn ratio because the berries are easier string.

ChristmasA&RHave fun!

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{festivities}

It’s only just begun…

It’s okay. Go ahead and sing the Carpenters’ song in your head.

I won’t judge.

We’ve been busy getting into the holiday spirit: Our tree, my parent’s tree and our annual “Thank God it’s Christmas” party with friends! I LOVE the Holidays (read: pretty much crazy/obsessed/drive-The-Husband-nuts-with-non-stop-christmas-music). So, I am totally in hog heaven right now.

{Best Christmas Tree impression}

We went to Kaleidoscope Farms to cut down our tree – our third “married” Christmas tree! They have a lovely little shop, a donkey, a reindeer, and absolutely beautiful trees…

{Hot Cider – Yum!}

It’s a tradition to go out to a fun dinner before we set the tree up. This year, we went to Alexandria’s (remember this concert?) for cocktails and appetizers, and then headed over to Revolver (Yum) for dinner and dessert.

It was divine.

After that, we trimmed the tree, drank “egg” nog (really soy nog… surprisingly tasty!) and listened to music… perfection.

The next day, we ran errands, strung lights outside, cooked, cleaned and headed over to Andy and Sara’s house for the Annual Thank God It’s Christmas party with our friends!

{Brussels sprouts with maple, cranberry and sliced almonds and roasted squash & harvest grains were my contributions. So much good food!}

Everyone brought delicious food and fun drinks, and we laughed, talked and ate until late that night. We also worked with Halley on her Christmas card project – she is sending cards to soldiers overseas and in VA hospitals. This is her second year of the tradition – such a worthy cause. It’s a great feeling to give back during the holidays. Learn more on Halley’s blog.

{Bottom right: Zane (14), Dad, Me, The Husband, Joe (21), Bekah (9)}

The Christmas-themed marathon didn’t stop there: on Sunday we headed over to my parents to get their tree with my siblings! Mom, Dad, Bekah, Zane, Joe, The Husband and I packed ourselves into the car for our annual trek to Timbuk Tree Farm.

We ALWAYS ride the bus, and we ALWAYS go to Granville for dinner and ice cream afterwards. We started these traditions with my great-grandparents years and years ago.

We ate at Brew’s Cafe (portobella mushroom sandwich with sweet potato fries) and then went to Whit’s Custard (PB Whister) for dessert. Everything was. to. die. for.

We trimmed the tree when we got home (it was MY year to put the star on top!) and drank egg nog… only UDF brand will do in that household (it is sinfully delicious).

{Whew! Yes, that did take as long as it looks. But I got the job done. Eventually. Let’s just say that there were some picky bystanders.}

It was a wonderful kickoff to the Christmas season, and we’ve got so much more to look forward to! Potluck at the office, Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, The Husband’s huge office party,  The Nutcracker, a cookie exchange, Office Christmas lunch downtown, family celebrations and lots of traveling… can’t wait!

What do you have in store in the weeks leading up to Christmas?