Cotton Candy Valentine

I just finished these Valentines for the kiddos and I had to share them. Behold – cotton candy Valentines!

V day cotton candy

Easy to put together and super cute.

I saw these individual-sized buckets of cotton candy while out shopping one day and thought they would make such a neat Valentine gift. The containers already had conversation hearts on it, but I wanted to up the Valentine factor.

I searched around for some circle-shaped Valentine’s Day printables, and stumbled across these from Magnolia Creative Co. The circles were a little big for the lid, so I cut them down a bit. I used simple double sided tape to stick the label to the top, but using washi tape would be great as well.

To finish off the little treat, I printed and cut out the matching labels from the same set and attached each one to the cotton candy with some red ribbon.

Now I just need to resist the temptation to eat these all myself before Valentine’s Day arrives!

Monthly Photo Onesies

OK, I know I said the Christmas posts were finished. And they are. Kind of. I just had to share these monthly onesies that we made as part of my pregnant sister-in-law’s Christmas gift.

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Ahhhh, the cuteness!

Making them actually wasn’t too difficult (surprisingly). I came across this Martha Stewart tutorial via Pinterest. I liked the way the monthly numbers looked, so I just used them instead of searching around for another one. You can use any numbers you would like, and I saw a ton on Pinterest, but keep in mind that you will be using iron on transfer paper for the onesies, so the image will need to be reversed if it isn’t already. The Martha ones were already a mirror image, so I had no issues there.

Just print the images on iron on paper and cut them out, leaving a small bit extra around the circle. Ready the onesies by ironing out all their wrinkles, then iron on the image by placing it face down on the onesie, turning off the iron’s steam function, and press down firmly, being sure to iron over all parts of the image. Let the onesie cool, then carefully lift up and away the iron transfer paper.

I wanted to wrap them in a way that my sister-in-law would know what they were right when she opened the gift, so I knew I needed to fold the onesies in such a way that the numbers would show. I hadn’t quite figured out what I would do when I went shopping with mom and saw a Christmas pie box among the wrapping paper and bows. I liked that the top of the box was see through, so the numbers would be visible even with the box still closed.

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To round out the gift, we also gave her this My First Year photo frame to hang in the new baby’s room. That way, she can display a photo of the baby in each monthly onesie.

This was definitely one of my favorite gifts to give this year. not only was it a heartfelt, homemade Christmas gift, it’s a gift celebrating and looking ahead to the new baby that will be here in the new year.

Mini Gingerbread Loaf Neighbor Gifts

I love this gingerbread loaf. I first made it for last year’s Wreath Decorating Party as a last minute snack idea, and I’ve made it a ton since then. My mom even bought me a special pan with gingerbread people on it to use every time I make this yummy bread.

Friends always ask for the recipe, and a few have made it on their own with tasty results. So, when I began to think about what to bake our neighbors this year, gingerbread loaves immediately came to mind.

Each loaf took an hour plus to make though (including baking time), and since I only had one pan, I knew this would become quite a process. That’s when I got the idea to make this loaf into minis. They turned out great!

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I doubled the recipe, and it made 8 mini loaves. I had bought 6 ceramic mini loaf pans in an end of the season sale at Michael’s last year, and knew they would be perfect for this. We had to adjust the cooking time, so don’t forget to do that. The recipe calls for 55 minutes. We started checking on the loaves at 25 minutes, sticking a toothpick in each loaf to see if it was done. They probably spent about 35 minutes in the oven total.

Once the loaves cooled completely, we sprinkled them with powdered sugar, which really adds something to the otherwise spicier dessert.

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Then, we wrapped them in cling wrap, packaged them in Christmas favor bags, and added a tag (find it here – and it’s customizable!) with some curly ribbon.

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It’s a small, simple gift, but the packaging makes it look fancy! I really hope the neighbors like this treat as much as I do.


DIY Christmas Dot Wrapping Paper

You guys, I met my goal! All our Christmas gifts were purchased, wrapped, and under the tree!

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How did I do it? Well, once the gifts start accumulating, I try to wrap 1-2 gifts each weeknight once I get home from work. That way, I’m not spending hours over the weekends or on Christmas Eve trying to wrap. We adopted this  method last year, and even Dan commented on how nice it was to relax in the days leading up to Christmas, rather than making mad dashes to the crowded stores for last minute gifts or being overtaken by wrapping paper and bows as you try to get everything done under a time crunch. Instead, we spend that extra time watching Christmas movies, drinking hot chocolate, and baking.

This year, we wanted to try wrapping our gifts with kraft paper. I shared how I played around with painting dots onto the paper, and decided to use that method for all our gifts. This time, I wrapped the gifts first, then painted the dots right onto the wrapped gift. It took a bit longer this time because I used more than one paint color, but I’m really loving the plain brown paper jazzed up with colorful Christmas colored dots.

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We used a couple different kinds of ribbon, to more easily identify the recipient of the gift. The colorful, chevron-like ribbon is for our nieces’ gifts. The red, white, or green thinner ribbon edged with silver are for the adult family members. Putting gift tags on each gifts made them look sort of fussy, so Dan decided to just write out a gift tag on each gift with a red pen.

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That didn’t work so well with the bags, so I went ahead and put glittery Merry Christmas tags on those.

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Aren’t they cute? I found those tags (3 in a pack) in the $1 section at Target!

As for the dots themselves, I just free-handed it. Some gifts have two different colors of dots, some have one. Some have dots in a symmetrical pattern, and some are on a diagonal. I just eyed it up and started dotting, still using the pencil eraser method I used last time.

Just a  few days left until Christmas! I can’t wait to hand these presents out soon!

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Oprah’s favorite things are fancy. Fortunately, mine are not.

My friends and I decided to do a “My Favorite Things” gift exchange this year. The guidelines are simple – gather some of your favorite things and put them together to create a gift, with the spend limit being about $20.

Now, $20 may not seem like a lot for a gift, but I promise you that it’s more than enough to put together a bunch of small items you love. I came up with many ideas for gifts like chamomile tea, Nutella, Method all purpose cleaner, Weber Grill spices, cashmere blend socks, Real Simple magazine, Uno card game, San Pellegrino Aranciata sparkling beverage, Essie nail polish, Bath & Body Works Linen Spray, and fleece lined tights, but cut that list down considerably.

Here are my favorite things:

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Yup, that’s a cow-shaped creamer. I’ve loved mine for years, and it always get a ton of complements when I bring it out for parties.

The pumpkin butter from Trader Joe’s may not seem like anything special, but it is delicious! Put it on toast. Put it on a bagel. Put it in your yogurt. Use it for pumpkin butter thumbprint cookies. So versatile.

Of course, I had to include some spirits in my favorite things. Though I don’t drink it in the winter, I think my all-time favorite liqueur has to be limoncello. Maybe because it’s from my homeland?

I’m seriously loving small, delicate, blingy jewelry these days. Believe it or not, Lauren Conrad’s earrings line at Kohl’s has some really cute stuff. These dainty and sparkly triangle earrings just make me happy.

Those little candles from Bath & Body Works are such a great little gift to give. People don’t usually buy themselves candles, so I love giving them as little splurges. I went with the Holiday scent, but it was a toss up between that one, Marshmallow Fireside, and Winter.

Big ice cubes are a must, so I included this handy little ice mold. I use them in everyday drinks like iced coffee, and Dan uses them for whiskey.

Finally, I included a mini panettone in the gift bag. If you haven’t had it, it’s a sort of sweet Italian bread with raisins and other fruit baked into it. I like to eat it for breakfast with my coffee during the holiday season. I had it every Christmas growing up, and I look forward to it every year.

I wrapped up my gifts in a fun chevron kraft Christmas bag and adding the cute printable tag that I found here.

The gift exchange happened over the weekend, during our annual friends’ holiday party, and I think this was the best one yet! I loved getting to see everyone’s favorite things.

I hope you get the chance to organize your own Favorite Things gift exchange this year. If not, the Favorite Things idea still makes for a great party in a big group of people. One of my friends from college hosts a Favorite Things get together every year in April. For that gathering, we all bring three of the same favorite things valued around $5 each, and everyone walks out with three cool new items. And if you don’t see yourself organizing any parties/gatherings related to Favorite Things, you can always use these ideas for stocking stuffers.

DIY Wedding Invitation Ornament

I can’t believe I’ve never shared this craft before. I’ve made these kind of ornaments at least a handful of times, and I’ve started to make them for the newlywed couples of just about every wedding I attend.

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Can you tell what it is? If you thought it was a wedding invitation inside a clear ornament, you’re correct!

I saw the idea on pinterest a long time ago, and finally made one from my own wedding invitation a couple years back. When one of my bridesmaids got married in November 2012, I decided to make her one of these ornaments as a Christmas gift just a month later. She loved it, and so began my tradition of making one to give to every newlywed couple whose wedding I attend.

Making this DIY gift is quite easy. To start, I cut the invitation into strips that are only as wide as the text. The skinnier the strips are, the better the ornament will look. I use a scrapbook paper trimmer, but scissors work just as well. It’s a bit easier to get a straight line with the trimmer though.

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Next, grab a pen. Wrap each strip around the pen, making as tight a curl as possible. You’ll have a more difficult time with wider strips of paper.

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You’re ready to fill the ornament! Finding these glass ornament is really easy around Christmas time. I usually buy a couple 4 packs during the holiday season from Michael’s, then store them away until I need them.

I grabbed an ornament from my stash and put the curled paper strips into it, one by one.

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If it starts seeming full, give the ornament a shake. You want the ornament to be pretty full, but not too full. I tend to put the strips with the most important text in first (like bride’s and groom’s names, wedding date, parents’ names) in case not all the strips fit nicely.

Once all the strips are inside, I put the top of the ornament back on, tie a ribbon to it, and add a little note to the bride and groom.

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I smile as I put my wedding invitation ornament on my tree every year, and I hope the lovely bride and her new groom do the same.