What Martha Isn’t Telling You About Christmas

Christmas starts in July. That’s it! That’s the big secret that Martha and every other Martha Stewert-Like blogger isn’t telling you about Christmas, and all of those beautiful hand made decorations and gifts. I am sharing this little secret with you, because every Christmas the same thing happens to me.

It starts in the Fall with Halloween; I call it Holiday Fever, and I get it bad! I see all of these beautiful hand made decorations and gifts everywhere. They sparkle, and shine — and taunt me. “Make me. Make me! Make Meeeeee!” They call from the magazine rack in the grocery store. “Don’t you want to give me to your friends?” They beckon from my e-mail. “Your house will be the prettiest on the block,… if only you will decorate it just like this.” I hear as I scan my favorite craft blogs every morning. But what they aren’t telling you is, you have to start planning months in advance to achieve these beautifully decorated houses and handmade gift baskets. If you are a procrastinator with high hopes, like myself, then you may have attempted to get all of these things done in previous Decembers, only to have Christmas come and go in a hot, stressful, flash; leaving you feeling unsatisfied and disappointed.

How can you achieve a beautifully decorated home, make heartfelt handmade gifts and still have the time to enjoy your friends, family and true spirit of the season? Easy, start now! There are so many things you can do in the summer to prepare you for the Fall Holiday Season. Here are a few (ok, several) suggestions to get the ball rolling.

1. Start collecting! Start collecting pine cones for decorations (or one of these cute, homemade fire starters) on your next camping excursion. Not only will you save time, but you will save money, buy not having to buy them.

Click picture for link!

2. Spray Paint now! If you have items (like your pine cones) that you want to paint gold or silver (or white, or green, or red…) do it now. Spray paint doesn’t dry well in the wet Fall weather; dry summer heat is ideal for spray painting.

3. Get cooking! (Or canning.) Homemade jams or jellies, and liqueurs are always appreciated. Jams can be made and stored for months in advance, saving you time later. Liqueurs need time to infuse with flavors and taste better with a little age, so they really need to be made ahead of time. In order to save yourself precious “holiday time,” avoid giving “fresh baked” gifts that have to be made the same week they are given. If you like giving fresh baked cookies, consider making the dough ahead of time and freezing it in an airtight container. That way you will always have fresh baked cookies on hand within 15 minutes.

4. Get Sewing! Or Crafting. There are so many handmade gifts that can be sewn or crafted ahead of time. My current favorite blog is EverythingEtsy.com They have…

5. Simplify! Don’t try to design a different homemade gift or basket for every single person on your list. Pick one or two crowd pleasing themes for your baskets, (or sewing pattern, or craft) and stick to it. Here are two of my favorite gift baskets:

  • Coffee for Two Basket: Include 2 coffee cups, homemade irish cream, chocolate or coffee liqueur (made ahead), a tin of your favorite coffee and a bottle of milk or cream. Save your coffee tins and frappuccino bottles over the summer. Remove labels and decorate with your established theme between now and Halloween. Set aside until Christmas, then fill with store bought bulk coffee and milk or cream just before gifting. You can even make Biscotti a month in advance and store in an air tight container, or cheat, and buy it from your bulk store. Oh, and one more tip; wait to buy your baskets until you know what is going in them! This will save you money, and a head ache, when you go to put them together. I speak from experience on this one.
  • Spa Basket: Make skin care items over summer and decorate the jars ahead of time, so all you have to do is put the basket together come gift giving time. Here are a few recipes for DIY Skin care products: Exfoliating Scrub, Bath Salts, Bath Bombs.

6. Pick one theme and stick to it. Whether it be red, green, and blue plaid; blue and white snowflakes; snowmen or nature inspired; pick a theme and stick with it. You will be amazed at how much easier it will be to decorate your home, and your gifts, if you pick one color combination or character and focus on that when purchasing or creating your decorations. Plus, your friends and family will be amazed at how well “put together” everything looks when even your tree decorations and presents match.

5. Start your decorations early. You don’t have to hang them, but most decorations can be made ahead of time and stored unit the fall.

I hope I have motivated you to get started on those Christmas gifts and decorations, or at least got your wheels turning. For more DIY decorating and Gift ideas, see my Pinterest page!

 

Red, White and Black & Last Chance Giveaway

Unfortunately, I am not recovering as quickly from this surgery as I hoped, so I have not been as busy crafting, cooking or decorating as I’d like to be. As of this morning, I had not come up with a new tablescape for the dining room yet, and had pretty much given up on it. Then, as I sat in my recliner drinking my coffee, I recalled something my cousin told  me when my daughter was only a few months old: “Sometimes you just have to tidy up one little area and stay there.” At the time she was responding to my comment “How do moms accomplish any cleaning with a baby in the house?” Well my little munchkin isn’t a baby anymore, but I believe the comment applies to recovering from surgery or an injury (or both in my case) as well. For this reason I have decided to clean up and decorate my entertainment center/buffet, as it is in my direct line of sight from the recliner. I feel much better now having something to look at while I relax and recover. Hope you enjoy, and sorry about the pictures; the lighting is not very good in that corner. Maybe I will rearrange and add a lamp there next week. I know just the one too! Happy Tablescaping, and don’t forget to enter the Giveaway drawing! Today is the last day!

 

I was missing the snow (we don’t get much here,) so I went for a snowy theme with a few pops of red for Valentine’s Day. I pulled out my “snowiest” looking doilies and some snow flakes from the Christmas decorations box.

What’s a snow inspired theme without a snow globe? I remembered I had been looking for a place to use this darling little angel ever since I laid eyes on it (you’ll never guess where!) at Dollar Tree. (I know big surprise, right?!) You can also see my favorite iron fleur de lis candle stick in the background. I stole those off the mantel, and then proceeded to clear it completely in preparation for the next “mantelscape.”

Closer up you can see there aren’t any photos in those frames. I am actually going to upload some to Costco online this week (I can do that from my chair, yay!) and order some prints for those. I would also like to do something with that tall plain frame to make it more interesting. Any ideas? Please share your inspirations with me! In the center you can see my antique crystal and silver cake stand (another great Goodwill find!) is decorated with faux flower garland wrapped in circles, pinecones and more Christmas decorations. Er, I mean Valetine’s Day ornaments! LOL Here is a close up so you can appreciate the ornaments.

Here is a closer up of the apothecary jar, plain Jane frame, fluer de lis candle stick, and the candy dish you may not have noticed before. Remember the apothecary jar full of pinecones from my winter white centerpiece a few weeks ago? I just added snowflakes, changed out the ribbon and hung a sparkly “crystal” from it. Ta-dah! The candy dish is full of glass beans (also featured in winter centerpiece) then I set in my pretty glass bird and another snow flake.

You may also remember the bird from last weeks’ Casual Country Dining. Here is a close up of my dear little bird.

So that’s it. Here is the price break down.

Doilies -Goodwill- Free from Aunty for wedding decor (I think she said she paid $12 for 10)
Candlesticks -have had them for ages, but I will guess $20 for the two of them
Apothecary Jar -Christmas Gift- I think it was $14
Picture frames -wedding gifts- FREE… accept the cost of the wedding LOL
Cake stand -Goodwill- $15
Table Runner
Flower Garland
Mercury Glass Ornament
3 bags of pinecones
Glass beans
Snowflakes
Snow Globe
Red candles
Heart Shaped Candy Dish -All Dollar Tree- $11
Mercury Glass Bird $17
Finally the sparkly “crystal” (it’s really acrylic, but sure is pretty) -Michael’s Christmas Clearance sale- 20 cents! (Oh you better believe I bought 20 of them!)

For a grand total of… drum roll please… FREE! Because I stole everything from other places in the house!
Seriously though, if you had to buy everything I’d say approximately $120 and 20 cents ;-)

That’s the great thing about borrowing from storage and other areas, everything is free. My one money saving tip for the day: If you see something you love at a decent price, it’s worth the money, but if you find something you love that is out of budget, take a mental note of it (or a picture on your cell phone) and keep looking. I guarantee you will find a better deal on a similar item somewhere. Case and point here would be my beloved apothecary jar. Some retail for as much as $200, I found my exact one online selling for $42, but it only cost Mr F $14 at ROSS. Another tip, (ok so I have 2) always check out your local discount stores before buying a piece from a big retail store.

Alright, well I need to rest now, so that’s all for today. Hope you enjoyed! Remember the Blog Launch Giveaway ends tonight! Don’t miss out! Oh, and if you have any suggestions for that picture frame I’d love to hear them! Thanks!

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