Category Archives: Events & Parties

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

*This post is sponsored by AVA Grace Vineyards.

Ahhhhh, summer…Is there anything sweeter than the beginning of this lazy, hot season?! Truth be told, fall is my absolute favorite time of year, but even still I’ll always have a soft spot for summer. I’m sure it’s all thanks to my memories as a kid, getting to enjoy those three blissful months off from school, with nothing to do but play on the swing set, go to the pool with my friends, and do summery crafts at the kitchen table with my mom and little sister.

I’m pretty notorious for letting summertime fly by, though, without getting to the things I love to do now as an adult. I start June off with big plans for spontaneous picnics at the winery, grilling out while the sun sets, lighting up the fire pit, and so on and so forth. Sounds dreamy, right? The problem is I usually tell myself I’ll get to it when work slows down, or maybe not this weekend but the next. Excuses, excuses. By the time fall gets here, I realize that I never even broke out my bathing suit!

All this to say that I’m hoping summer 2019 will be a different story. I want to embrace the free-spirited vibes of summer, and live my very best life under the sun. To kick things off, I set up a quick summer lunch over at my parents’ new house with delicious varietals (in cans!) from AVA Grace Vineyards and meats and cheeses to boot. Keep scrolling to find out how to recreate the spread for yourself this summer.

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

One of my favorite things about having my parents here in town now is the fact that, if I happen to have a slow afternoon, I’m able to shut down my computer early and head over there to hang out on their back deck (usually with wine in hand). It’s become something of a routine, but I wanted to mix things up and make it feel just a little fancier than an “everyday” type of hang out.

Taking inspiration from their massive back deck—complete with views of both the golf course and the mountains off in the distance—I went with sort of a garden party theme. That might sound overly complicated, but it really wasn’t! All I did was throw a tablecloth (that Mom already had) over their outdoor bistro table, then I situated a potted plant in the background to serve as a makeshift centerpiece to elevate the mood. For the finishing touch I plopped down a pile of plates, cutlery, and a huge cutting board laden down with nuts, cheeses, crackers, fruit, and sweet spreads, too.

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

Right before everyone dug into the lunch spread, I pulled some chilled AVA Grace wine out of the fridge for all of us to choose from. This was our first time enjoying wine in a can, and I don’t mind admitting that we’re converts to the concept. It kept the wine colder, plus the mostly-closed top helped keep bees and other winged critters out of our drinks. I love the approachable price point behind AVA Grace wines, too, and the gorgeous metallic labels we’ve come to love and appreciate on the brand’s wine bottles translate so well to their cans. The soft pink and jewel-toned cans will make just about any type of summer lunch spread look picture (read: Instagram) perfect.

But the pretty label definitely isn’t the main reason I love serving this wine at family gatherings—it’s the taste. For this particular afternoon, I chose the Pinot Grigio and Rosé. Both are absolutely brimming with summer-appropriate flavor. The Pinot Grigio, for starters, has hints of citrus, peach, and honeysuckle with every sip, and the Rosé brings to mind the flavors of berries, apricots, and watermelon. Are you thirsty yet? I know I am. Both feel really elegant and pair perfectly with a cheese board, like the one you see pictured in today’s post.

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

I set things up buffet style on the bistro table, so that we could grab what we wanted, and then find a spot on the back deck to enjoy the view. I personally loaded up on the dried apricots and fresh blackberries, plus slices of cheddar cheese, a handful of crackers, and a spoon filled with strawberry jam. I also love herb-infused goat cheese, so that was my main focus on my return trip to the buffet. Having a lot of different options available means that everyone’s able to find something they’ll love.

We ended up spending more than an hour on the back deck around the bistro table, laughing it up, sipping our AVA Grace wine, and going back to the cheese board for seconds, and maybe even thirds.

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

It was one of those perfect summer days (even though it was just a regular ol’ Wednesday!) where we didn’t have a care in the world, and we felt like royalty eating in the gardens at some place like Downton Abbey. In reality, this whole thing was super affordable to pull off, and took about 10 minutes to style and serve. Just goes to show that you don’t need a ton of money or extra time to make this summer feel like a special one.

What are your favorite AVA Grace wine varietals to enjoy this time of year? And don’t forget to tell me what’s on your seasonal bucket list in the comments below, too!

An Easy Summer Lunch Wine & Cheese Spread | dreamgreendiy.com + @avagracevineyards #ad #AVAAnywhere

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Mother’s Day Ideas For The Pet Moms In Your Life

Mother's Day Ideas For The Pet Moms In Your Life | dreamgreendiy.com + @amgreetings #ad #foundmycardattarget

This post has been sponsored by American Greetings. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

John and I might not have kids of our own, but we still very much consider ourselves parents. We couldn’t love our four fur babies more and would do just about anything to keep them safe, healthy, and happy. Of course, that statement might garner a smile and an eye roll from you traditional parents out there but from our point of view, we feel like one big happy family.

The two of us have fallen right into our roles as “mom” and “dad” with so much enthusiasm that we’ve even gotten into the habit of celebrating Mother’s and Father’s Day whenever the holidays roll around with some help from American Greetings. With three cats, one dog, and two humans living under one roof, we’ve got a lot to keep up with, and I know I feel very justified in spoiling John come Father’s Day because of all that he does for his family. We’d be lost without him.

Mother's Day Ideas For The Pet Moms In Your Life | dreamgreendiy.com + @amgreetings #ad #foundmycardattarget

Mother's Day Ideas For The Pet Moms In Your Life | dreamgreendiy.com + @amgreetings #ad #foundmycardattarget

All this to say that maybe it’s time for all of us to think about celebrating the not-so-traditional mother and father figures in our lives. Think about it! I bet you can name at least one or two women in your life who give you all those good maternal feels on a regular basis. Maybe it’s a neighbor, a Godmother, a foster parent, or even a teacher. I just love the idea of treating these types of people to a little something special as a way to thank them for all they do for us and all the “kids” in their lives—humans and pets, alike.

This Mother’s Day, I wanted to take that concept to a new level by treating my little sister to a care package full of goodies—complete with an American Greetings card to inspire her to go on an adventure with her own fur baby. She bends over backward for her dog, Rory, and I thought it was time to officially rope her into the whole “Pet Mom” Mother’s Day club. Scroll on for more inspiration, card message ideas, plus an exclusive Target Cartwheel offer to help get you started.

Mother's Day Ideas For The Pet Moms In Your Life | dreamgreendiy.com + @amgreetings #ad #foundmycardattarget

Mother's Day Ideas For The Pet Moms In Your Life | dreamgreendiy.com + @amgreetings #ad #foundmycardattarget

If you’re anything like me, then you get a special little thrill from color-coordinating your gifts and care packages. If that’s the case, go ahead and start by choosing your greeting card. It’s an easy way to come up with a color palette so that you’re not stuck wandering store aisles without any direction.

For my sister’s “Pet Mom” care package, I picked out a black, cream, and gold American Greetings Mother’s Day card that I know she’ll love. It has lots of subtle texture on the face of the card, and the monochromatic color scheme suits her minimalist style (she’s the type of girl who wears pretty much nothing but black). I could totally see her leaving this card out on her kitchen counter or fireplace mantel all throughout summer.

While perusing the card aisle, I also picked up a couple extra ones to mail to my REAL mom and mother-in-law, too. I actually have a secret love for wandering between the greeting card shelves at Target because it makes me smile watching other people out of the corner of my eye (in a non-stalker way, promise!) as they choose just the right card for their special someone.

Sometimes they’ll open dozens of cards before finding the right one, and then there are those people who end up laughing hysterically at the joke inside the very first card they pick up before heading right to the check-out line. John’s one of the latter types of card buyers, and I love that about him. No muss, no fuss, and he always ends up with the best picks.

Mother's Day Ideas For The Pet Moms In Your Life | dreamgreendiy.com + @amgreetings #ad #foundmycardattarget

Mother's Day Ideas For The Pet Moms In Your Life | dreamgreendiy.com + @amgreetings #ad #foundmycardattarget

Mother's Day Ideas For The Pet Moms In Your Life | dreamgreendiy.com + @amgreetings #ad #foundmycardattarget

Now for the goodies to go inside the box beneath the card. I’ve noticed that nothing in the world makes my sister happier than spoiling her dog. In fact, whenever she starts to sink into a stressed-out mood on the phone, all I have to do is ask her a question about Rory and she immediately gets back to her happy place. So, even though this gift box might seem like more of a treat for her dog than for her, I’m positive that she’ll end up feeling so giddy knowing that she now has a chance to make her pup happy. That’s pet moms for ya!

I chose a bunch of treats that I thought might inspire the two of them to go on an outdoor adventure together, including a plastic water bowl and bottle that won’t get broken if they go on a hike, a resealable food container and treats, a new collar, and a few new dog bones, too. I also threw in a Target gift card so that she can pick out something just for herself.

Mother's Day Ideas For The Pet Moms In Your Life | dreamgreendiy.com + @amgreetings #ad #foundmycardattarget

I think we can all agree that the term “Mother” means a lot of things and that even if a woman doesn’t have children of her own, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve recognition. Let’s make a pact to celebrate all the women who have had a maternal impact on our lives (or their pets’ lives!) this Mother’s Day.

Click “Play” on that video above (or watch it in action over on my YouTube channel here) to get more details on the “Pet Mom” care package I put together. And in case you need help drafting the perfect greeting card message before the holiday on May 12, check out American Greetings’ “What to Write” page. Oh, and don’t forget to take advantage of the Target Cartwheel offer for in-store savings, too.

Who are you going to celebrate this Mother’s Day? Tell me in the comments below!

Mother's Day Ideas For The Pet Moms In Your Life | dreamgreendiy.com + @amgreetings #ad #foundmycardattarget

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Valentine’s Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

I’ve said it year after year, and my tune hasn’t changed—Valentine’s Day still isn’t a holiday I get all that excited about. I know, I know…I must sound pretty heartless, but I tend to be of the mind that love should be celebrated every day of the year, and that Valentine’s Day, in general, has gotten pretty commercialized—which is a shame!

Please don’t get me wrong. If you love Valentine’s Day, by all means, do it up! My own sister, in fact, has always been a gigantic fan of the February 14th holiday, so I know I’m probably in the minority here. Despite my feelings about Valentine’s Day, I do look forward to seeing all those warm, fuzzy declarations of love pop up across social media the day of the big event.

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Knowing all of this, it should come as no surprise that John and I won’t be making a big deal out of Valentine’s Day this week. There will be the exchanging of cards and “I love you”s, of course, but we’ll skip elaborate gifts and probably won’t be going out to a big fancy dinner to celebrate.

Instead, I thought it would be fun to challenge us to make the holiday feel special this year just by amping up our homemade dinner at home. I experimented with a few tricks in a little trial run one afternoon last week, and it turns out that you really only need to gather a few small pieces to make Valentine’s Day feel grand around your very own dining room table. Keep scrolling for the tips I plan to put to good use this Thursday for our real holiday dinner.

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Break Out The Linens

Most days we just use everyday placemats on our dinner table, but for Valentine’s Day I wanted to make the table look restaurant-inspired. To get that vibe, I plan to lay down a white tablecloth that billows down the sides for an elegant look. Luckily, this type of “elegance” doesn’t require any money spent if you already have the cloth on hand!

To create a sense of intimacy between the two place settings I’ll spread a pink runner across the space of the table between our seats. The runner you see pictured in today’s test-run set-up is actually a floral scarf that I already owned but repurposed as a table linen.

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Never Forget Flowers

One of the few things I plan to purchase fresh for our Valentine’s Day dinner at home is flowers. Even a tiny bunch of flowers from the clearance section at the grocery store will do. To make them look extra special and restaurant-worthy, just pop a few stems into bud vases and arrange them in the middle of your table.

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

**Resources: Floral Runner/Scarf, Gold Floral Dish, Bud Vase, Tray, Terrazzo Jar Candle, Salad Bowl, Black Cutlery

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Candles Are A Must

Of course, it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without ambiance, so make sure to pull out a candle or two to light up come dinner time. Most of us keep these types of accents around for special occasions, so it’s another way to save money this holiday. Corral a few lit candles in the center of your tabletop on a nice tray to create a centerpiece.

One trick to make a plain votive feel worthy of the special occasion is to place it on a metallic plate, like the floral dish you see on our own table. By itself the little white candle would have felt lost and unimportant, but setting it on a gold dish instantly made it feel grand.

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

As for food, I say don’t feel the need to go overboard! If you try out a few of the decorative tips I shared above, your everyday dinner table will feel anything but ordinary—so much so that even simple chicken salad sandwiches could make you feel like you’re out at a five-star dinner on the town. Cheers!

Valentine's Day Dinner For Two At Home

*I earn a small percentage from purchases made using the affiliate links above. Affiliate links are not sponsored. Rest assured that I never recommend products we wouldn’t use or don’t already love ourselves.

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Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Just five more sleeps until Christmas morning! Are you ready and all set to go for Tuesday morning’s festivities? I’m just about ready, but, nevertheless, feel a little anxious that I’ve forgotten something. That feeling is probably thanks to the amount of to-dos I still have on my list of deadlines for work, but all of that will be done by the end of the day tomorrow, and I’ll finally (finally!) be able to relax and enjoy all the excitement that comes with Christmas and New Years.

For those of you who can relate and tend to feel a little on edge or overwhelmed in general this time of year, I put together a list of eight ways to de-stress and decompress. Scroll on for my tips, and picture me over here trying to take a cue from my own book, too!

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

How To De-stress This Holiday:

1. The very first thing on my list? Learn to say no! This time of year can be especially hard on people who suffer from social anxiety (like me), so go ahead and decline that holiday party invitation that’s been weighing on your mind. If the host is a true friend, they’ll understand. When you graciously decline, though, maybe suggest planning a post-holiday lunch date to catch up.

2. Don’t overextend your creativity on presents. If you’re still buying gifts for people, consider asking your family members to give you their specific wish lists. That way you can be sure you’re getting them something they’ll actually use and love.

3. Eat healthy foods. Even if you trade in just one carb-heavy dinner this holiday season for one packed with vegetables instead, you’ll inevitably feel more energetic and less stressed.

4. Turn off the television and play a board game. Bright digital lights from a TV can cause eye strain and anxiety, so dim your table lamps, turn Christmas music on low in the background, and get back to basics with a family game night.

5. Give yourself license to skip the hassle of wrapping gifts this Christmas. Instead of struggling with tape, scissors, and perfect lines, use bags (or even fabric) to loosely hide your presents from their recipients’ view.

6. Think of quick yet effective ways to give back this Christmas. I was going to suggest volunteering at a homeless shelter, but then my mind started spiraling at the thought of trying to work something like that into an already-packed holiday schedule this late in the game. Instead, go buy some coats, gloves, and hats, and donate them to your local homeless shelter.

7. Keep up with your routine. Sometimes, breaking away from the activities you’re used to during the rest of the year can make you feel thrown off, so stick with your weekly yoga class, morning meet-ups, and bedtimes this holiday season.

8. Stop for a moment at least once a day to think about the big picture. Think about what Christmas means to you, or try visualizing a couple of positive goals you want to make for the new year ahead. You could even simply tell yourself that this, too, shall pass in just a couple more weeks! Having a mini check-in with yourself puts things into perspective, and can help you recenter before tackling another potentially stressful holiday to-do list item.

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

How do you de-stress over the holidays? Or are you the type of person who can sail through Christmas and New Years with a big ol’ smile on your face despite the chaos surrounding you? I wish I could be more like that latter group of folks, but, alas, I think I’m always going to be just a tiny bit high strung this time of year. Even still, I always look forward to these festive holidays, and wouldn’t trade the occasion for anything in the world. Leave your own tips, if you’ve got them, in the comments below.

Tips For De-stressing Over The Holidays

*Photos by Chelsea Laine Francis from my 2014 feature for Camille Styles all about 10 Easy Ways to Deck Out Your Home for the Holidays
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Festive Holiday Outfit Ideas To Try

Festive Holiday Outfit Ideas To Try

I absolutely adore getting dressed up this time of year. The only problem is that I’m a pretty staunch homebody, so I have nowhere to actually go in all my fancy finer. This holiday season I’m trying to change that mentality by getting out of the house more often. I’m making a point to pop out to a coffee shop for lunch just because, and I’m also sneakily scheduling a few extra weeknight dinners out so John and I have the excuse to dress up in honor of Christmas and New Years.

For even more motivation and inspiration, I spent the morning coming up with two dream holiday outfits that I’d love to wear this season. As you might have noticed, I tried my best not to go overboard with too much holiday-themed glamour so that these pieces could be worn all winter long.

Festive Holiday Outfit Ideas To Try

1. Tiny Brass Bead Earrings

2. Knit Beanie

3. Chain Crossbody Bag

4. Fair Isle Crewneck Sweater

5. Chambray Classic Ex-Boyfriend Shirt

6. Fireside Mini Skirt

7. Chelsea Boot

8. Blanket Scarf

9. Charm Necklace

10. Foldover Pouch

11. Lurex Turtleneck

12. The Work Pant

13. Smoking Shoe

I love that any of these pieces can be mixed together, too. If you’ve been considering going the capsule wardrobe route, the 13 items I listed above combine for a great jumping-off point. The Fair Isle Crewneck, for example, is the perfect topper for those Work Pants, and the Lurex Turtleneck is a no-brainer for tucking into the Mini Skirt. Because everything is in the same general color palette, you can mix and match to your hearts content well past Christmas. Which outfit is your favorite between the two?

Festive Holiday Outfit Ideas To Try

*I earn a small percentage from purchases made using the affiliate links above. Affiliate links are not sponsored. Rest assured that I never recommend products we wouldn’t use or don’t already love ourselves.

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DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

*This post was sponsored by Scotties Facial Tissues

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags | dreamgreendiy.com + #ScottiesStyle

It’s definitely not a secret that everything inside our house is pretty thought-out. I think I have my OCD tendencies to thank for it, but not a single stack of books, piece of art, or patterned throw pillow is placed in one of our rooms without meticulous pre-planning. The same philosophy even goes for things like tissue boxes! Tell me I’m not alone in this, guys.

At any rate, John knows that if he comes home from the grocery store with a generic looking tissue box, it will inevitably end up inside a cabinet because I just can’t stand looking at it alongside our antiques and other décor. He’s gotten really good at taking the time to find patterned tissue boxes that actually match our aesthetic because he knows it’s the only way I’ll leave them out in the open. One brand that consistently checks that box (pun unintended) is Scotties Facial Tissues, and today I’m excited to be teaming up with them for a Christmas craft inspired by their seasonal box designs.

As you know, I ended up with a pretty bad cold a couple of weeks ago around Thanksgiving, and inevitably went through several boxes of Scotties tissues in the process. Instead of throwing them away (the wintery designs are just too cute!), I decided to hold onto them and turn them into DIY Christmas gift tags. Scroll on for the tutorial and craft supply list—printable template included.

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

Here’s What You’ll Need:

1. Scotties Facial Tissue Boxes

2. Printable Tags Template

3. Cardstock

4. Scissors

5. Pen or pencil

6. Rubber cement or tacky glue

7. Hole punch

8. Leather cording

9. Washi tape

10. Paint markers

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

Step One

Download the printable tags template here, and print the page onto regular computer paper. Cut out each shape, and discard the trimmings. Lay the larger circle, larger triangle, and the smaller star shape on thick cardstock, and trace the designs onto the paper. Cut them out. Note that I actually used a cream-colored cardstock because I liked the subtle contrast between that color (versus pure white) and the holiday tissue box patterns I used.

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

Step Two

Lay the remaining tag templates you first printed and cut out (the smaller circle, smaller triangle, and larger star) onto the sides of empty Scotties tissue boxes, and trace their shapes onto the cardboard using a pen or pencil. Cut the shapes out with scissors.

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

Step Three

Pair up the shapes, large with small, and glue them together using rubber cement. Allow the finished layered tags to dry fully for at least an hour (or more if you decide to use tacky glue) before handling or moving on to the next step.

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

Step Four

Punch a hole through the top portion of any tags that you want to tie onto your gift boxes. For these, you’ll loop through a piece of short leather cording or twine. On the other hand, you could leave the tags unpunched, and attach them to gift boxes using pieces of pretty patterned washi tape. You’ll see it both ways in these demonstration photos.

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

Step Five

Before attaching your finished tag to the gift box, though, make sure you write out the person’s name on the blank side of the tag using a paint marker. I like to go the extra mile with calligraphy-inspired handwriting, but don’t think—even for a second—that I know how to do that on my own. I just go on Pinterest, type out the person’s name and add the word “calligraphy” on the end, then see if the name pops up in an image that I can copy. Easy as could be, but looks a lot fancier than my own everyday handwriting.

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags

The holiday boxes from Scotties made this project so easy to pull off, and I love, love, love that it made good use of something we already had lying around the house. I’m all about reducing waste and saving a buck or two.

I also think this would be such a fun excuse to get friends together for a festive craft night. It doesn’t have to be anything overly fancy or thought-out—just text a few best friends and invite them over for gift tag making, then get to crafting with Christmas music or a holiday movie on in the background. Which gift tag or box design is your favorite from the bunch?

DIY Tissue Box Christmas Gift Tags | dreamgreendiy.com + #ScottiesStyle

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Christmas Coffee Cocktail Holiday Recipe

Christmas Coffee Cocktail Holiday Recipe

Happy Monday, everyone! Did you enjoy a nice relaxing weekend like I told you to? I think it’s so important to prioritize self-care right now since we’re all likely in the midst of a super chaotic holiday season.

Even if you’re not traveling or hosting a big group of family and friends for Christmas or New Years, chances are good that you’re having to accommodate all of those people around you who are. John and I drove out of town the other day to do some Christmas shopping in a nearby city, and we had a helluva time avoiding impatient drivers and stressed-out shoppers. It’s the nature of the beast, if you will, this time of year, so make sure you set aside some time for self-care these last couple of weeks of the year.

Today, I thought it might be fun to share one of the simple little stress-relievers that I’ve added to my own holiday routine this year. Every few days, I make myself a cup of this Christmas Coffee Cocktail, and it does wonders to soothe my racing mind. Keep scrolling for the couldn’t-be-easier (or sweeter!) recipe.

Christmas Coffee Cocktail Holiday Recipe

Christmas Coffee Cocktail

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. Baileys Irish Cream

1 tbsp. Frangelico

1 tbsp. Kahlua

8 oz. fresh coffee

Directions:

Combine the first three ingredients in a mug, and then pour the fresh coffee over top. Stir to combine, and serve hot. The drink is sweet enough on its own, but if you want to go the extra mile, try adding cinnamon sugar to the rim of your mug before mixing the drink. A dollop of fresh whipped cream wouldn’t hurt either. Cheers!

Christmas Coffee Cocktail Holiday Recipe

P.S. If you enjoyed today’s post, you’re going to love what’s coming in this week’s DGD Tribe newsletter! Sign up here to get on the list before the last newsletter of 2018 goes out on Wednesday.
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Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts For Her

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts For Her

If you’re anything like me, then you’re probably already done with your holiday shopping for the year. John and I had most of our gifts purchased, wrapped, and under the tree by Black Friday, but I’m still ordering a few odds and ends to fill up stockings. Just in case you’re looking for a few ideas, I thought I’d round up a collection of gifts perfect for the women in your lives—after all, those are the types of goodies I know best seeing as I’m a gift-loving gal myself.

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts For Her

1. Paddywax Mesa Collection Scented Soy Wax Candle: I know candles have kind of a bad rap, but they’re so universally loved! I like that this one is soy-based.

2. Befettly Moon Pendant Necklace: Dainty gold jewelry is so on-trend right now. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who wouldn’t appreciate this pendant necklace.

3. Food52 Genius Recipes: This pretty cookbook is one they’ll want to leave out on the counter.

4. Travel Neck Pillow: This one won’t get to you in time for Christmas anymore, but you could always print a picture of it and stick it in her stocking as a stand-in until the real gift arrives.

5. Teo Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser: I own this diffuser myself and couldn’t recommend it more.

6. Beats EP On-Ear Headphones: Everybody could use a pair of good headphones! (Note: looks like the white ones are already sold out, but the black version should get to you by Christmas)

7. Envelope Travel Clutch with ID Card Holder: There’s room in this wallet for credit cards, money, and even a cell phone. I also think she’ll love the tone-on-tone leather finish.

8. Sheepskin Lined Cable Knit Throw: Whenever I’m stumped for what to get someone, I almost always default to a really luxurious, extra soft throw blanket, like this one.

9. Fluf Zipper Lunch Bag: This is, quite possibly, the coolest lunchbox I’ve ever seen. That grid pattern is so fresh and modern.

10. 3-Inch Ceramic Pot: Bonus points if you fill this pretty ceramic pot with a live plant before handing it over on Christmas morning!

11. Kate Aspen Under the Stars Glass Coaster Set: I love that you have to get just a little closer to these star-covered coasters to see what the delicate pattern actually is.

12. Davines Volu Hair Mist: A hair mist that adds instant volume to thin hair? Please excuse me while I go add it to my own Christmas wish list.

Oh, and you might have noticed the new design on today’s graphic. I’ve been feeling the itch to upgrade a few things visually around these parts, so just a heads up in case you notice things looking a little different on the blog in the next month or two.

A new website design might just be in the near future, too, although I’m undecided on that. It’s so much work (and stress) redoing my website since I’ve only ever done it myself. So, with that said, fellow bloggers, let me know in the comments if you would recommend any particular web designers, and if you’re a designer who might be interested in teaming up, please do shoot me a message!

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts For Her

*I earn a small percentage from purchases made using the affiliate links above. Affiliate links are not sponsored. Rest assured that I never recommend products we wouldn’t use or don’t already love ourselves.

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Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Ever since making the spontaneous move to a brand-new-to-us town with no friends or family to speak of nearby, John and I have had the unexpected opportunity to make new holiday traditions of our own. We’ve discovered the best neighborhoods to drive through when we want to look at Christmas lights after dark, we’ve searched for (and found!) the best place to get a cup of classic hot chocolate while running Christmasy errands, and, this year, we finally decided to go on the hunt for the perfect local place to get a live Christmas tree.

This is the first year ever that we’ve gotten a real tree for Christmas as a couple, and we decided to wait until my sister was visiting from out of town for Thanksgiving so she could get in on the fun, too. The ultimate destination? Francisco Farms, a scenic 25-minute drive away in Staunton, Virginia.

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

This was right around the time that I started to feel pretty sick with my cold, but I decided to suck it up so that I could experience the adventure in person. So, the three of us bundled up (although, spoiler, we really should have bundled up much more) and piled into John’s pickup truck to make the trek to the farm. It was a gorgeous drive through the countryside in an area that we hadn’t been before, and you better believe we blasted Christmas music the entire way there and back.

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

My mom was the one to find Francisco Farms for us while we were researching places to go ahead of time, and I’m so glad she stumbled upon it because we couldn’t have picked a better spot. The farm is really casual and down-to-earth (cash/check only, no big bouncy house, or live music), but that’s much more our style anyway—and you can’t really beat the views. Rows upon rows of festive evergreen trees, neatly kept but still surrounded by tall grass and brambles. I wished more than once that I had skipped the loafers I was wearing, and that I had worn boots like my sister, but it was so much fun that I was able to ignore my chilly ankles. For the most part, anyway.

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

We saw lots of great contenders amongst the white pines, but ultimately decided on a fat tree just a tiny bit taller than us, with plenty of strong branches perfect for holding all of the decorations we planned to pile onto it. We were able to borrow a much-loved tree saw from the folks who ran the farm, and John had the tree cut and on the ground within just a minute or two.

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Since it was bitterly cold and I was struggling through the sniffles as it was, we didn’t end up staying quite as long as I wanted to. We probably were there no more than 30 minutes, but I still couldn’t imagine a better first visit to this farm. Now that we know the ropes, I think next year will be even better! We’ll definitely wear bigger coats and winter hats, plan to spend more time wandering for fun between the rows of trees, and maybe we’ll even bring the dog so he has a chance to see (and smell) the sights, too.

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

Hop back here, in case you missed it, to see our live Christmas tree in all its slightly uneven, fluffy, festive glory. It smells so good, the effect worlds away better than the faux tree we used to put up in that spot in our family room. I’m so glad we decided to start a new tradition, and can’t wait to go back and support Francisco Farms in 2019. Do you get a live tree for the holidays? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

Our Day At The Christmas Tree Farm

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How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

First, I want to thank you guys for your patience with me last week while I was sick. I’m finally starting to feel like myself, and am longing to get back into the blogging groove with longer, meatier posts once again. I thought I’d kick things off with a big roundup of all my favorite Christmas decorating hacks.

This topic was actually one that was requested by name over on the DGD Instagram feed, and it really got me thinking: do I have any valuable perspective to share? I kept the thought in the back of my mind as I worked to decorate our home for the season, and it turns out that I really do have quite a bit to say. With 32 years of holidays under my belt, it turns out that I’ve managed to collect a handful of habits that, I think, make the process of decorating a festive home much less stressful. Scroll on to hear how I do it!

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

Box Things Up By Room

Instead of keeping one or two giant boxes of holiday decorations in storage, consider boxing items in smaller containers by section or vignette. What I mean by this is, for those of you who tend to put out your Christmas (or whatever holiday it may be!) décor in the same places each year, box those pieces up together and label the container with that specific spot.

For example, I always set out our hand-me-down nativity set, ceramic Christmas tree, and sleigh in the living room, so all three pieces are carefully wrapped and boxed together with the label “Living Room” on it. The garland I hang in the same room also goes in that box, as does the stack of collectible Christmas books I keep on the living room coffee table. By boxing things according to the room or piece of furniture they traditionally go on each year, I’m able to avoid having to schlep unnecessary boxes upstairs, and I don’t have quite as much digging to do once I finally have those boxes out of storage.

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

Make “Like For Like” Swaps

I know I’ve said this over and over here on the blog, but I’m actually not a huge fan of holiday decorating. I spend so much time and effort decorating for every other day of the year, I hate the idea of undoing all that hard work for seasonal items. That said, I’m Christmas’s number one fan, so I tend to grit my teeth a little bit and go through the motions in order to live amongst all that happy Christmas cheer for the month of December.

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to simplify the process is to make “Like For Like” swaps with my styling. In other words, if I generally keep a ceramic bowl out on the dining room console to hold things like linen napkins or pretty serving spoons, I’ll temporarily switch those out for a similarly sized Christmas-themed bowl filled with ornaments. That way I’m not having to start from scratch with my styling and tabletop arranging, but I still get the holiday vibes across.

A few other swaps I make every year: our stack of everyday coffee table books gets changed over to Christmas books, the hanging art in the dining room is swapped out for a faux evergreen wreath, and a tabletop Christmas tree takes the place of the tall tapered vase in our family room.

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

Reuse Storage Containers

One inevitability of Christmas decorating is that you do end up displacing a lot of your everyday items. In years past, I’ve always struggled with finding places to temporarily put all of our non-seasonal accents while we had our Christmas décor out, but this year I finally figured out the solution.

As I took down our everyday décor to make room for holiday items, I wrapped those everyday pieces up and put them right into the box that the Christmas pieces had just come from. That way, I’m not putting empty boxes away, and I don’t have to worry about finding spots for our year-round décor in storage.

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

Box It Up Whole

A few year ago, I started a new tradition of hanging a garland over the doorway to our kitchen. It’s a faux garland, so we can reuse it every year, and it’s now where we display all of the holiday cards that came in the mail from friends and family. I use wooden clothespins to clip up the cards as they arrive in our mailbox, and I also filled the rest of the garland in with shatterproof ornaments.

I almost hesitated to admit this, but instead of bagging up the clothespins and removing each ornament from the garland after the holidays were over last year, I gently took the whole thing down off the wall and put it into the box whole—clothespins and ornaments still attached! Being able to lift that pre-decorated garland out of the box to hang on the nails (that we discreetly keep in the doorway year-round) saved me so much time this year. Yes, it’s a little tacky, but the time it saves me is worth it.

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

Time It Just Right

I think we can all agree that there’s a right and a wrong time to decorate for the holidays. The right time is when you’re feeling energetic and motivated, when you’ve got plenty of time on your hands, and maybe even when you happen to have an extra set of hands nearby to help with those hard-to-reach areas or heavy items.

On the other hand, the wrong time to decorate for the holidays is when you’re hours away from hosting a Christmas party, you’re wiped out from a full day of work, or when you’re feeling a little stressed by other things going on in your life. Even if it means you don’t get around to it until mid-December, commit to choosing your moment extra wisely this year. As cheesy as it might sound, a good attitude could be the difference between a really chaotic Christmas decorating day and a simplified, enjoyable one.

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

I know that a lot of these tips might already be key parts of your seasonal routine, and seem like common knowledge, but I still thought it was worth talking through just in case one of you hadn’t thought to try these methods before. And, of course, I’m sure there’s still so much more that I could be doing to simplify our holiday decorating routine, so if you have ideas of your own, please tell us about them in the comments below!

How To Simplify Christmas Decorating

P.S. There’s still plenty of time to grab a handmade ornament for Christmas from the DGD Pottery shop! See what’s left of the collection here.
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