Monthly Archives: December 2012

The 10-Day Hustle

That’s right, everyone. Christmas is 10 days away. 10 days. That means tomorrow it will only be single-digits away. Are you ready? (And yes, I can hear your echoing, angry “nos” all the way in Upstate New York.) So if your shopping still isn’t done, you’re still trying to decide between ham and turkey on Christmas Eve and you haven’t even decided on the holiday schedule (because we ALL need one,) this post may overwhelm you at first. But just know I want to help you compartmentalize, so you can focus on one thing at a time and enjoy doing it!

As for me, when I tell people my tree is up and decorated, my home is peppered with homemade crafts and DIY Christmas apparel to make it feel more warm, cozy and well “Christmasy,” my dining room table is set and my gifts are wrapped, I get the total evil eye, coupled with a chastising tone. And I totally get why, because that was me in 2011. But this year, I decided things were going to be different. This year, I was going to be proactive.

I know it’s a bit late to talk about the ins and outs of being “proactive” with Christmas and all its glory right around the corner, but hopefully these tips will allow you to use the next 10 months or so to mentally prepare yourself to start strategizing for Christmas 2013. It may seem ridiculous that I even suggest such a thing, but we all know it’s true! I’m not going to over-stimulate everyone and talk about every facet of holiday planning, but I’ve picked a couple that I know can be daunting. Here we go…

Setting the table for your Christmas celebration
We all know PInterest can be both a blessing and a curse. Yes, there are a million and one cute ideas on how to set your table for the wonderful dinner you will serve, but how do you choose which motif to go with? Centerpieces, tablecloths, napkins, runners…. ahhhh! But if you take this step-by-step approach, you can actually decide what you’d like your table to look like before you even get to the store. How do you ask?

1) Find old treasures. Dig through the bins of Christmas decorations you may not be using, and try to picture how they could be used in your centerpiece. Whether a wintry wreath or some pretty bulbs, you’re sure to come up with some ideas. Once you have a clear picture of what you already own and don’t need to buy, this will help you decide on a concrete and reasonable budget (both operative words here.)

2) Define a table setting budget. Yes, I said it, a budget. Now that you’ve taken an inventory of what you have and know what you’ll use, this will be easy. Speaking of budget, Dave Ramsey has an awesome Christmas budget sheet available on his website. Again, I know it’s only 10 days before Christmas, but this may help you stay financially organized. As we all know, when days start to get crazy, money just flies out of our bank accounts.

3) Choose a color scheme. This may be a little difficult to do without standing in Target’s Christmas aisle for 45 minutes, but at least limit yourself based on the materials you already have. For example, I knew I needed a silver, gold or green tablecloth and napkins to match the bulbs I was going to use. It was much easier to find those items in one of the three colors than heading to the store without a clue. When that happens, I always end up frustrated, overwhelmed and, well, sweaty.

Guide to Christmas planning

Ready, set, Christmas!

For my table setting that you see here, the only things I bought new were the tablecloth and the linen napkins. I had everything else (little did I know!) Total cost: $25. Budgeted: $30

The Perfect Gift… Wrapping!
This year I vowed to myself I would not buy one ounce of wrapping paper or any other packaging paraphernalia. I was going to use what I already had. <GASP> But once again, after taking an inventory of everything from bows and ribbons to bags and tags, I didn’t need to buy a thing!

Guide to Christmas planning

A flower topper

Not only did I not buy any wrapping paper, but I used scraps I never thought I would have a use for (unless I was giving someone a pet millipede,) to make my own homemade bows and gift toppers. And I must say, my gifts this year look soooo amazing!

So how do you make said bows? Well, since I’m trying to whole “less is more” thing, I’ll give you the steps to make the flower topper above, since that seems to be a favorite. You’ll need:

– Scrap wrapping paper (length and width will determine the circumference of the flower)
– Scissors
-Stapler
-Curling ribbon or twine

1) First, take your scrap paper and fold it accordion-style, first away from you, then towards you. It doesn’t matter if the printed side is face up or face down.

2) Once you have your makeshift fan, staple it in the middle.

3) Using your scissors, cut either a pointed or a curved design on each end.

4) Fan the paper out, connecting the two sides with either a piece of tape or another staple.

5) Complete with a bow or ribbon of your choice in the middle to give it some extra flair.

And ta-da! Happy bow making!

So, with all of this said, remember, baby steps. Take one thing at a time. And hopefully I’ve inspired you to get your table set and your gifts wrapped… today!

-Ambitioussoul

Tagged , , , ,

Macy’s or Memories: A Christmas Tree Conundrum

Christmas Tree Decorating

Christmas Tree Conundrum Turned Compromise

Well, it’s that time of year in our household where the Rubbermaid bins of ornaments are lugged from the basement to the living room, only to be critically analyzed and categorized by yours truly. I start to sort the ornaments based on color, carefully making my selections on a strictly aesthetically pleasing basis and begin methodically planning my decorating technique for the upcoming Christmas season.

All of this careful strategizing is quickly turned upside down when my husband enters the room and starts to pull out the folk art ornaments his mom made for a small-town western Pennsylvania craft show in 1988 and the myriad of Pittsburgh Steelers ornaments he’s collected, immortalizing all 30 football seasons since he’s been born. And yes, I said 30.

I roll my eyes, quietly scolding myself for thinking this year would somehow be different than all the rest. I try to sneak some of the ornaments back into the bin, he pulls them back out. This charade goes on for several minutes before I start to lose it, knowing the tired conversation we have every single Christmas is on the horizon.

Every year we have the same debate: I want a themed tree, one that could be a serious contender in a Martha Stewart magazine contest. He wants a tree representing a lifetime full of memories as children, husband and wife and now as parents. As I listen to his droning, I glance out the window and fall into the often unescapable zone of holiday nostalgia. As I watch the snow fall gracefully on the ground, I inhale, remembering what Christmas used to smell like, what it used to feel like, what it used to be like.

I quickly snap out of it. No, he can’t do this to me. Not again. Not this year. I WILL GET THE TREE OF MY DREAMS. I know, so many of you are thinking, “Compromise?” We’ll get there…

My Dream Tree

Forget sugar plum fairies. You see, I DREAM about the perfect tree. And my dream tree looks something like you’d see in the 34th Street Macy’s display window. I want the lights to subtly glisten, illuminating each ornament that has been delicately placed. I want the beads seeming as if they have been haphazardly wrapped, but in truth perfectly draped by no accident at all, each rope equidistant from one another. I want the ornaments to match impeccably. Whether the color scheme be silver and gold, or red and green, or plum and hunter, each and every ornament should compliment the colors of the one that surrounds it. I want a tree I can sit in front of each night, admiring its artistic integrity.

His Dream Tree

In one word: shmorgishborg. Like the annual pot luck dinner at church. He believes every single ornament he’s ever held in his palms,¬†belongs on the tree. Forget aesthetics. Forget dreams (well, mine at least.) None of this matters to him. He wants to take each ornament out of the box and talk about where it came from, who gave it to him and why it belongs on the tree. Can you say MADNESS?

The Compromise

I suppose you can find honor and value in what my husband believes a tree should stand for. And this was the first year I actually took the time to think about this. I decided I agreed with and respected what he had to say.But that still didn’t solve how we were going to both get the tree we’ve always wanted. After some quick deliberation, we came to the only feasible decision: we must have two trees.

One, Two, Tree

So yes, we will be adopting the two-tree approach this year. That way if I want to reflect on Christmases past, I can visit the tree in the family room. If I want to imagine I’m in Manhattan window shopping, I can saunter into the living room. It seems like the perfect set up. I just need to be careful not to meddle with his tree. We both deserve to have our Christmas tree dreams come true.

-Ambitioussoul

Tagged , ,