Sparkles for Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve has always been a special holiday to me. I love our family traditions, especially when we share “oplatek” at my grandparents’ house. It’s a Polish tradition, one rooted in the idea of breaking bread with your family at the end of advent. If you want to read more about this tradition, check out this article on NPR.

 

 

This year is our second year hosting Christmas Eve in our home. I’ve been planning our menu for weeks (and weeks), which we’ve settled on being cocktail party food. With about 15 people joining us, it will be an easy way to pace our celebration over the course of six hours.

We’ll have a mix of cold and hot appetizers, each hour featuring a small hot dish that serves as the centerpiece. We’re planning on mini quesadillas with scratch made tortillas, mini beef wellington, lamb lollipops, stuffed mushrooms, falafel, chicken skewers and pumpkin soup. It sounds like a lot, but we’ll be serving small portions so everyone can enjoy and graze throughout the day.

Because I’ll be in and out of cooking throughout Christmas Eve, I’ve opted for a simple jeans and tunic outfit. I just picked up these step hem jeans from Nordstrom that are to die for. They have so much stretch, are so super comfy, but also keep their tailored shape. Plus that have the step hem and I’m a total sucker for a raw step hem!

The sparkles on this Free People are the perfect holiday touch! This top really does run large – I would go down at least one size if not two! I do like things to be oversized, especially with jeans, but wish I had sized down.

We’ll be busy and I really want to be able to sit and enjoy our time with family and friends, especially my grandmother and uncle who will be visiting from Michigan. This outfit will be comfortable enough to move around all day and head out to “midnight” mass (why is it at 10PM now?!).

I’d love to hear about your Christmas Eve traditions!

Oh, Christmas Tree

This November marked 3 years with our home and I can’t believe it. Time has gone by so quickly! Each year, we’ve layered our Christmas decorations – especially our ornament collection – and added a little here and there.

When we first bought our home, I couldn’t wait to dress it up in holiday trimmings and have all our friends and family gather with us.

 

 

Each year, I add to our Christmas ornament collection by a few (dozen…don’t tell on me). I’ve been aspiring to dress our tree the way my mom did hers every year – completely dripping with an eclectic mix of ornaments.

When Al and I travel, we’ve begun a tradition of collecting an ornament from our trip. It’s a fun way to remember our adventures without filling our home with unnecessary things. I could sit and stare at our tree for hours – it’s really my absolute favorite feature of our holiday decorations.

 

 

Holiday Gifting: 13 Books for Everyone

 

There are few things I love more than a good book. Receiving a great book as a gift is definitely on the top of my list – it’s thoughtful, and when it’s a book the gifter themselves truly loves, it’s a little piece of them that they are gifting to you.

A good book doesn’t have to mean the next best novel, a good book is recognizing that it is one you know the recipient will love. Also, not for nothing, but it’s a great last minute gift, either with Amazon Prime or running out to your local bookstore.

Holiday Entertaining Essentials: Music

Whenever we host a gathering, I like to think about how I can set the mood and music is always a part of that planning. Putting together a great playlist is a wonderful way to set the tone for your celebration and only takes a little bit of uninterrupted thinking. With just a week until Christmas Eve,  I’ve started to put together the music we’ll play for our guests during our celebration.

When I put together a playlist there are a three things I like to consider:

  • What time of day is the gathering? If it’s day-to-evening like our Christmas Eve celebration will be, I start a playlist with up-beat music and shift into low key music for dinner and after.
  • How long do I expect to be entertaining? I try to include as many songs as I can to cover the time we’ve invited our guests..
  • Who will be joining us? Hubby and I love country music, but not all of our guests do. I try to make sure I include music I know everyone will enjoy.

Here is our Christmas playlist you can subscribe to on Spotify – I’ll be editing and adding music to it over the next week. I’m always rearranging my playlists as I listen to see if I like the way the songs transition. I know. A little crazy.

Happy listening!

Holiday Gifting: Teens

To me, teens are always the hardest group to shop for. Sometimes, it comes down to budget, sometimes lack of ideas, and sometimes I have no recollection of what I would have wanted as a teenager. Plus, I mean, they have so much more technology than we did!

In each of our guides, I’ve talked about gifting based on what you think that person really wants and wouldn’t gift themselves. I don’t particularly enjoy gifting money, but I do remember as a teenager always loving having my own money and I do know my nephews appreciate hard cold cash more than any gift I would give them at this point.

No. 1 A Lumee phone case, this one is doublesided with lights for ultimate photo taking // No. 2 The ONLY way I’m gifting $$$ this year! If we are giving money, we are giving it in a creative way & I love these can safes. // No. 3 Create Your Life notebook, for those cerebral teens & soon-to-be-graduates // No. 4 Headphone earmuffs (you can also find headphone beanies for the fellas) // No. 5 Lightbox // No. 6 Sugarfina treats // No. 7 Polaroid instant print camera! I might need to add this to my own wishlist // No. 8 Sonos compact speaker

Dear Santa

For me, the key to gifting is picking an item you wouldn’t expect the recipient to treat themselves to. Maybe it’s a more extravagant item, maybe a little outside of their spending comfort zone (ya know, I don’t looooove to spend $35 on lipgloss for myself, but my best friend? You bet!). This approach helps you to select an item you know they’ll love and really feel the thought that you put into it.

After all, it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

This year, my letter to Santa has a little bit of everything, from beauty to clothes to accessories to my favorite pan I cannot live without (so I obviously need a second one).

No. 1 Dyson hairdryer // No. 2 Ruffle blouse // No. 3 My favorite All Clad pan (similar)- total workhorse in my kitchen and I would just love love love to have a second one // No. 4 A subscription to Magnolia Journal because JoJo is my homegirl // No. 5 A cozy pair of slippers // No. 6 A pretty scarf in neutral colors // No. 7 The Waterford New Years Ornament I ask “Santa” aka “Hubby” for every year // No. 8 Fittingly the iPhone 8 – you don’t even want to see my phone screen right now…// No. 9 Burberry lippy in military red // No. 10 A new pair of black flats, because the pup ate my good pair.

Holiday Gifting: The Gentlemen

I can’t even tell you how much fun I have picking out gifts for Hubby. Al doesn’t really buy himself much throughout the year, and if he does it’s more related to a hobby, like a new golf club or new kicks for the gym. Christmas is my time to shower him with love, and some things I know he’ll really appreciate, but would never buy for himself.

One gift not on this list that was a huge hit from last year was two nights in Washington DC and dinner at our favorite restaurant. I picked a weekend, booked a hotel, and made a reservation for us – it was the perfect, thoughtful gift, and something I knew we would both really enjoy. It would go perfectly in the duffel bag below!

No. 1 A sharp looking fleece // No. 2 A leather watch, because he has a dressy steel one, but he neeeeds a casual leather watch! // No. 3 The Nest thermostat, which he received last year and LOVES – big hit! // No. 4 Bose noise cancelling (wireless) headphones // No. 5 A beer making kit – who doesn’t love a new hobby?! // No. 6 For his nicest of bourbons (Pair with a nice bottle of his favorite liquor for a brother or father or father in law gift!) // No. 7 A duffel bag – for a quick weekend getaway // No. 8 A more fashionable pair of sunglasses – don’t ask 😉

Holiday Gifting: The Hostess

There is an etiquette saying, “always ring the door with your elbow.” I love this sentiment, especially around the holidays – it’s meant to say that you should always go to a friend or family’s home with your arms full.

Bringing hostesses a little something for themselves is one of my favorite gifting opportunities. It’s a way to show how grateful you are to that person for having you in their home and for the gift of their time. It doesn’t have to be a big or expensive gesture, and often something you love is the perfect gift – they’ll think of you whenever they see it!

No. 1 Potholder set // No. 2 Pretty gold bluetooth speaker // No. 3 Pine scented dish soap & lotion // No. 4 Sweet little honeypot // No. 5 Rewined candles – champagne is THE BEST scent // No. 6 Rosemary trees – Trader Joe’s has them! // No. 7 A beautiful ornament – my FAVORITE gift to receive // No. 8 A light box // No. 9 Gold mixing bowl set // No. 10 Your favorite home made cookies in a pretty jar

Holiday Gifting: The Ladies

We’re kicking off our gifting week with gifts for the ladies! From big to small, there are so many great gifts for women to really make them feel special, which is always my goal in gifting to the women in my life. I think these ideas are perfect for everyone from your mom to your best friend to your wifey.

If you’re like me and not that into gifting cash for the holidays, I have two simple tips when thinking about gifts for the ladies (which really works for everyone):

  1. Think about what she’s really into (does she love to get her hair blown out, go for manicures, take photos, cook?)
  2. What would she probably not buy for herself, but still love to receive?

No. 1 A luxe bag in a neutral color to be worn year round // No. 2 Gloves with an extra special detail, like a sweet bow // No. 3 A beautiful pot for her kitchen // No. 4 The fresh sugar lip suite – I love these, want to try them all, but just can never bring myself to buy them for me // No. 5 A beautifully designed aromatherapy diffuser // No. 6 Fun and trendy earrings in a seasonal color // No. 7 Treats from Sugarfina // No. 8 Cozy slippers in a neutral color to go with all her favorite pj’s