Rustic Winter Engagement Party

Rachel and Hugh's Engagement Party Collage

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life -Confucius (smart guy)

I feel this is never more true for me than when I’m working on decorations for a loved one. One of my best friends since we were 13 recently got engaged to her beau and her mom wanted to throw her an engagement party right after Christmas while friends and family were in town for the holidays. This made a very busy month for me between Christmas shopping and working on decorations, but I loved every minute of it.

I wanted a winter theme that would tie in the Christmas decorations that would still be around the house for the party. I went with a winter woodland theme with birch trees and pops of red and turquoise.

These beautiful invitations were ordered from Oh Happiness Cards on Etsy. Everyone loved the back detail!

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I purchased these awesome birch tree straws for the mimosas at the party, simply displayed in mason jars with ribbon.

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Speaking of mason jars, I also used them as accents around the house filled with cranberries and floating candles.

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Along with mimosas, we also served coffee and tea, so I made custom hot cup sleeve covers with a birch tree stamp and the couple’s initials.

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I love the way covering cups and bottles with printed paper makes them that much more special. I created little custom labels for the champagne bottles that made them really stand out.

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I decorated the drink table with a painted burlap banner.

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And I added a little festivity to the doorway with simple paper cones strung between the dining room and living room

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Something I don’t usually tackle for parties (except those I host) is desserts. For this party I actually made two desserts- a cake and sugar cookies.

First the cake: chocolate with vanilla icing, decorated with cranberries and rosemary

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With a custom burlap cake topper!

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The cookies are of Vermont, with a little sprinkle heart on Burlington where Rachel and Hugh met and fell in love.

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(These gave me a very hard time. I wished I could teleport Clara to help me!)

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Thankfully, the cake went easy on me.

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Love the birch round I found at Michaels to use as a cake stand!

Lastly, I painted a sign for the couple that sums up the feeling going into the new year and celebrating their lives together.

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Love you guys!

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Oh, Christmas Tree

Like many people, the smell of a real Christmas tree is one of my all-time favorites. Maybe it’s the memories of childhood associated with it, but it never fails to bring a smile to my face.

This year, however, I decided to go an untraditional route. I’d like to share with you my Christmas ‘tree’-

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This, my friends, is a branch I found laying on the ground in the park near my house. I can only imagine what people thought when they saw me dragging it back to my apartment (in the snow, mind you). But once it was dried out and hung up it was ready to be trimmed with special ornaments and presents underneath.

I have to admit, I’m smitten with it.

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Did I mention it lights up?!

I used little fairy lights that attach to a battery pack (hidden behind the ornament on the far left). When it’s lit up and a spruce-scented candle is burning, it definitely feels like Christmas around here.

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Friendsgiving 2013

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Every year my friends and I make a point to get together around the holidays to celebrate our friendship in the midst of family gatherings and the general busyness that occurs this time of year.

I offered to host Friendsgiving this year, choosing blue, orange and gold for the decorations. I made a few simple things that created a festive atmosphere for the grown-ups to sip white sangria and the littles to run around/lay about bringing joy to our growing friend-family.

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I used paint to add color to the setup, including the vase filler, gold accents on the orange votives, and giving a few little pumpkins a colorful makeover.

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I made the banners with brown card stock and paint, and found some pretty orange flowers to brighten up the table.

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Finally, I sent my friends home with simmer jar favors filled with oranges, cinnamon and cloves so they can continue the festivity in their own homes.

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I’m so thankful for the good people in my life. Enjoy celebrating with yours.

 

DIY Holiday Wreath!

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My idea of the perfect wreath is one that is beautiful and is neutral enough to be hung throughout the holidays and well into the cold, holidayless months of winter. Of course, the wreath could be tweaked to be more holiday-specific if that suits your fancy!

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I had a few materials lying around (as usual), so I used the leaves and feathers left over from my dreamcatcher, and I gave the berries from the baby shower a little makeover using white paint and gold glitter.

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I made the bow from some burlap ribbon, but you could also buy one while you’re at the store gathering other supplies (although I think it’s usually cheaper to make your own, and it’s not that difficult if you cheat and use glue to make the ribbon look perfect!).

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The flowers I made are a little strange since they are made out of pistachio shells, but clearly I am not the only person who looks at a pile of shells and thinks they should be refurbished into craft supplies.

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Alright, time to start gluing! I knew I wanted my wreath to be free form and asymmetrical, but to give myself a little guidance I started by placing the berries around the wreath and attaching the bow.

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Pause to yell and curse when I burn my finger on the glue gun. Crafting is dangerous business.

And we’re back. I glued the largest items first, eying where they looked best to me. No rhyme or reason, just going with the flow.

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Here you can see the mess I was making of my work area. Crafting is also messy business 🙂

Once I had the big pieces attached I went back in and stuck leaves and feathers wherever there were holes, working my way along the left side and tapering off at the top to achieve the asymmetry I was looking for.

Done!

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The finished wreath, ready to hang on the door!

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I hope you are inspired to create your own wreath to brighten up your door for months and years to come. Happy holidays!

Harry Potter-Inspired Halloween Bash

What do you do when your roommates suggest that you all host a Halloween party a week in advance? You say “heck yes” and immediately start drawing decorating inspiration from your favorite series of all time, Harry Potter!

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Given that I only had a week to get decorations together, I utilized free Harry Potter printables that I found on Pinterest. If this had been a client’s party I would have designed my own, but I am fine with taking a shortcut for myself. I printed out a “Happy Haunting” banner and several drink labels that I used with bottles I had around the house.

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I was also able to squeeze in a trip to the dollar store to get a couple other Harry Potterish decorations, like a little owl and a skull that I painted black and dripped a candle on top.

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For food, my roommates helped make some fun snacks, including witches broomsticks, witches hats, and these adorable owl cupcakes.

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And I finally got to make my own Butterbeer! I found the recipe here. It was a big hit!

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I know I’m not the only person who loves taking pictures, so I made a simple photo backdrop for people to pose in front of.

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And since this was an adult party, I made a giant Harry Potter Drinking Game. Don’t make fun of my little drawings (or do, it’s fine).

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And, finally, a minimalist Harry Potter pumpkin.

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Yes, that is a wand. And, no, I did not buy it for the party…

In case you were wondering, I did not do a Harry Potter themed costume. I couldn’t get a cape in time. Maybe next year!

 

DIY Dreamcatcher

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When I was a wee child I had a dreamcatcher over my bed. It was purple and turquoise, brought to me from New Mexico and I loved it. Sadly, as the years have passed neither my mother nor I can remember what happened to it. As I was browsing Pinterest recently, I came across this beauty and was inspired to remake my childhood keepsake. So here, folks, is what I did.

If you check out that link, you’ll see that they made the clever decision to use a doily as the center of the dreamcatcher. Of course, I have never been someone who makes things easy for herself, so I decided to learn and execute the traditional woven style, as explained in wonderful detail in this post.

Michael’s was having a huge sale, and I had a stash of beads and an embroidery hoop at my disposal, so I’d say this project cost me about $10, but could get up to $20 if you had to buy all the supplies at once.

Here’s what I used (or, what I planned to use. I did not end up using everything, as you’ll see at the end).

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My color palette was cream and soft dusty pink and tan. The packages of feathers and leaves included really pretty dark browns and reds, though, so I might need to make another dreamcatcher with those soon…

I started by wrapping my hoop with the lace. I didn’t need to glue it all the way around, just at the beginning/end of the hoop.

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Once that was all set I braided a few pieces of twine to make the loop that the dreamcatcher hangs from.

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Then came the intimidating part, the weaving. I am not a sewer/crocheter/knitter and it took me a while to get the hang of it. And, to be honest, took a LOT longer than I thought it would. That doily idea seemed better and better as an hour turned into two (embarrassing, but true). However, I did manage it and I was really glad I went with the weave because it reminds me so much of the little dreamcatcher of my youth.

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Can you see where I messed up right at the end? Bless you if you say no, but that wonky gap next to the center opening was NOT intentional. So, I did what any good crafter does, and I glued something pretty over it.

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All better!

Time for the creative part- all the dangly bits of ribbon, beads and feathers that give dreamcatchers their character!

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To hang everything I used my twine and a little superglue in some places to make sure everything stayed where I wanted it to. I didn’t end up using all my beads, but they will stick around for another project on another day.

Here she is, my new dreamcatcher all gussied up!

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I’m really happy with how it turned out, and it is now happily hanging over my bed. I anticipate only good dreams tonight 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Next up, a Harry Potter themed Halloween party!

Navy Blue and Lime Green Bachelorette Party

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I’m a firm believer that a bachelorette party doesn’t have to be tacky. But it is a great opportunity for a bride-to-be to have a lot of fun with her closest friends. To celebrate her sister Liz’s impending nuptials, my friend Clara (of Reckless in the Kitchen) asked me to design decorations that incorporated Liz’s wedding colors (navy blue, lime green and white) and would make her bachelorette party feel special.

Since this was another party that would need to be portable, I used mainly card stock and ribbon to put together decorations that would add a lot of color to the final tablescape.

For favors, I decorated wine glasses with the initials of the guests. For the bride, I did “E&J” on one side (for Elizabeth and James) with their wedding date on the other side.

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To make wine bottles more festive, but without having to remove and relabel the bottles, I made wine bottle cards that slipped over the bottles.

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The banner was made with card stock and decorative nautilus shells, which Liz loves.

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I also added tissue paper garland to decorate the table.

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I made cupcake toppers with paper flowers I found at Michael’s, which I also used to decorate mason jar wraps. My circle punch came in handy for these items, as well as for table confetti.

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Lime green apples for a nice Fall tie-in 🙂

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Here’s the table all set up, which Clara will recreate for Liz’s party. Congrats Liz!

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