A Giveaway~My Favorite Holiday Decorating Element

This post is sponsored by AirWick.
At the end of this post, please be sure to join the conversation for a chance to win a set of four holiday scented candles! Today, I would like to talk about my love affair with candles. In my opinion, they are a very under-rated decorating element. This one small item can instantly enhance the mood of an entire room with a simple swipe of a match. I love to decorate using candles year round, but during the holidays, they are an absolute must-have. 

There are so many simple and affordable ways candles can be used to create a festive holiday atmosphere. Even budget friendly candles found at the supermarket can be transformed into elegant, expensive-looking, holiday displays with just a few simple embellishments. Not only do candle displays look pretty, but scented candles can play a big roll in creating a heartwarming holiday feeling by providing the aromas of the season.

Here are some of my favorite places around the house to use candles during the holidays…

1. On The Table

This example is my Thanksgiving table from a few years ago. I filled a trio of lanterns with fresh coffee beans and placed a vanilla scented candle inside each one. The coffee beans looked really pretty and provided texture to the table top. They also gave off a heavenly scent as they were warmed by the candlelight. 

This DIY centerpiece by Just A Girl is a simple, but stunning way to create a holiday candle centerpiece that casts a beautiful glow on your table. If you ever wanted to try your hand at a DIY project, click here for a great step-by-step tutorial.

Speaking of simple, this tablescape from Best Day Ever couldn't get any easier to assemble, nor could it be any prettier! Simply placing fresh greens and twigs along the center of the table and topping them with pretty, white candles creates an incredible winter table scape. Click here for more fabulous images of this holiday candle display.

2. Around The Fireplace

If you ask me, there is nothing better than having a beautiful fireplace to cozy up to during the holidays. This gorgeous holiday fireplace is all aglow thanks to a collection of candles on top of the mantle and along the hearth. I may never want to leave if I visited this home for the holidays. More details on this mantle can be found here.

This image from Potterybarn grabbed my attention right away thanks to the beautiful oversized candle holders and small votives grouped together inside the fireplace. Occasionally I fall in love with the scent of a candle, yet the color may not be right for the area I am using it in. A pretty candle holder allows you to incorporate a warm candlelight glow in any scent you wish, regardless of the color of the candle. Such as the Emerald Woodlands candle by Airwick. It is a fabulous holiday scent and the green color looks great in most areas of my home, however, if I wanted to use it in our bedroom where green isn't an accent color, having a pretty holder to place it in gives me total freedom to use it there. 

3. Any Room a Guest Would Use

This image is of the shelves in our powder room located in the main level of our home. This is the rest room that our guests use during holiday parties, having a pretty scented candle for this space is a seasonal must-have. A lit candle placed in the areas used by our guests provides a warm, welcoming atmosphere as well as provides a fresh scent.

If you follow decor blogs then you are sure to have visited Dear Lillie. Her Guest Room always looks cozy and welcoming. During the holidays it is especially beautiful. As you can see in this vignette on her dresser, this space always features fresh florals and candles for her guests to enjoy. Yep, pretty sure I would be overstaying my welcome if I visited her home. 

4. Outside

Why stop at using candles to welcome your guests inside your home?

 These candle lit luminaries lining the walkway to our front door the other night drew our neighbors over for a visit. I was lucky enough to be across the street with my camera just in time to grab this picture of the visitors that were lured to our home by the candle lit path. This project was so easy to do, I filled white paper bags with play sand and placed a candle in each bag. Voila!


This large urn featuring holiday greens and an oversized lantern filled with candles is a show stopping way to decorate the front porch. I think this is my favorite Christmas planter EVER (image found here). 

5. On The Stairs

Use scented candles to add warmth and holiday cheer with seasonal fragrances.

I have always wanted to place a collection of candles on the staircase during the holidays and my children are almost to an age where I feel safe doing so. This candle display featured by Coastal Living is just too pretty. I can only imagine how it looks at night!

To make it a little easier for one lucky reader to incorporate candles in his/her holiday decor this year, I'm giving away four delicious smelling candles from Airwick (2 Apple Crumble and 2 Emerald Woodland). All you need to do to enter for a chance to win is share your favorite ways to incorporate candles into your home during the holidays in the comments below. Please be sure to include your email address so we can contact the winner! 

Entry Instructions: 
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
4. For those with no Twitter or blog, you can post to Facebook tagging #Airwick
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
This sweepstakes runs from 11/25/2015 – 12/06/2015

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Giveaway! HGTV Property Brothers are Taking Me Back Home For The Holidays!

I always get excited for HGTV's Holiday episodes to start airing. But this season, we have a very special series to look forward to. The Property Brothers, Jonathan and Drew Scott are going back to their country roots to bring us a brand new holiday series, Property Brothers at Home on the Ranch! Although I could watch it just for the scenery, the truth is I can't wait to hear them reminisce about their lives growing up on the ranch. #BrothersatHome
Thinking about the boys heading home to the country for the holidays strikes a personal chord with me. The anticipation of this series has taken me on a trip down memory lane, back home to my holiday roots. This look back at my childhood has made me realize how much of my parents' traditions are still going strong in my suburban home. I grew up in the country in a small town called Davisburg, Michigan. We lived down a dirt road on a large piece of land in a charming salt box reproduction built by my Dad and passionately decorated by my Mom. 
(My Childhood Home in Davisburg, Michigan)
The holidays were a very special time of year for our family. Every year, my mom went all out with country-inspired Christmas decor, hand-made gifts, heavenly baked goods and hearty holiday meals. My three siblings and I looked forward to our holiday traditions when we were younger, even though there were times (our teenage years) when we pretended not to. Now that we are older, our holidays in the country are reflected in our suburban lives and in our traditions. 

For instance, my favorite holiday tradition growing up was hands-down our holiday meals. Christmas breakfast was a very big deal. I've carried on that tradition with my own family and each Christmas we start the day with a very special, very big breakfast. Just as my mom did, I set the table using our best dishes and linens. 

My mom always had a fantastic centerpiece. Her table was adorned with fresh evergreen clippings from around the house or dried flowers from her gardens. Her centerpieces are not something I could ever replicate, so I do the best I can with pretty plants from our local nursery, or sometimes even floral arrangements from the supermarket, tweaked and embellished, of course, to make them special.

 Even though a lot of our suburban Christmas morning breakfasts are inspired by my childhood country Christmases, there are differences. For instance, when I was a kid, my dad would prepare French toast in a cast iron skillet. The recipe I use is this Overnight French Toast. 

 My daughter and I have made it a tradition to prepare this dish after we return from Christmas Eve church service. We also set the table the night before and make sure everything is ready to go so in the morning, all we need to do is pop the casserole in the oven and start making childhood memories of Christmas breakfast for my kids.  

I can't wait to watch the Brothers at home and get a glimpse at their life growing up in the country. In the new episodes, Jonathan and Drew Scott, The Property Brothers, go back to their roots as ranch kids in Alberta, Canada in a new HGTV Holiday series Property Brothers at Home on the Ranch. Jonathan and Drew help close friends of the family transform a run-down horse ranch into a dream property. Their family joins them as they reminisce about growing up on the ranch and how the "Cowboy-Code" of hard work and keeping true to your word helped them become international home renovation celebrities. 

HGTV's Property Brothers at Home on the Ranch premieres November 25 Wednesday 9/8c.
Cowboys, take me away!

Now, it's your turn, please leave a comment below sharing your favorite childhood holiday memory or tradition for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!

Entry Instructions:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 11/18/2015 – 12/16/2016
Be sure to visit HGTV Property Brothers  brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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How To Make A DIY Wooden Stocking Planter Box

This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. 
Last week I announced my partnership with The Home Depot for their Holiday Do-It-Herself Workshop (DIH Workshop).  In case you missed it, I mentioned that this Thursday I will be hosting a workshop live from Toledo, Ohio and that the workshops across the country will all be demonstrating the same project, an adorable wooden stocking planter box. I also mentioned that I was in the process of making my own wooden stocking planter box using The Home Depot's instructions, but giving it a custom look. 

Here is what I came up with...

As soon as I got my hands on the step by step instructions, I went to town. It was a very simple DIY project and took no time at all. In fact, it came together so quickly I made several of them.

Before I get into how I gave my stockings a unique look, let's take a look at The Home Depot's version that will be demonstrated at the DIH Workshop next week…

Aren't they cute?
Home Depot locations everywhere will be demonstrating the project steps this Thursday at their free DIH Workshop. You can pre-register by clicking here. In the event you can't make it,  but would still like to make one, here are the project instructions:

(These instructions can enlarged by clicking on the image above. They also be found here).

I followed these steps, but made one tweak to give my stockings a unique look. Instead of free-handing a traditional stocking shape (step number two), I used a sewing pattern for a more whimisical stocking shape. I printed out a free pattern printable, cut it out and traced it onto the plywood. 

(The free printable sewing pattern I used can be found here).

You can see I made my pencil markings slightly larger than the pattern to achieve an oversized stocking for a dramatic, large-scale look. Once my stocking planter box was fully assembled, I gave it a coat of white paint, taped off a few stripes at the top and applied cherry red chalk paint to the entire surface except for the box. I used black chalk paint for the box and a white chalk marker to write the kids names. To hang them, I stapled a loop of jute rope to the upper left corner of the stocking so they would hang on an angle. This enhanced the whimisical shape.

These little planter boxes are a really cute and simple way to decorate the mantel. They are perfect for small gifts or as a way to display fresh greenery or special ornaments.

In addition to these stocking planter boxes on my mantel, I also made one for the front door. I attached it to a wreath and used my chalk marker to say "Welcome" to our holiday guests. That version can be seen on The Home Depot blog.

If you have never been to a Home Depot Workshop, let me tell you about them. The Home Depot Workshops are FREE, live, in-store workshops held at ALL of thier locations for Do-it-yourselfers of ALL ages and experience levels. These monthly workshops offer step-by-step instructions on how to make simple DIY decor and home improvement projects with easy to operate power tools. Whether you are an experienced DIY-er or have never touched a power tool in your life, The Home Depot's Workshops are designed to provide a mix of associate-led instruction, demonstration, and some hands-on learning. Materials can be purchased to make your own project. 

*In case you missed the announcement, I will be hosting the Holiday DIH Workshop this Thursday live in Toledo, Ohio. The store is located at 3200 Secor Road Toledo, Ohio 43606. Please don't forget to pre-register here.

If you are not in the Toledo area, you can register for the workshop at your local Home Depot. 

If you attend the workshop or make one of these adorable wooden stocking planter boxes, I would love to see it! Please feel free to share your photos on my facebook page or tag me on Instagram or Twitter! Don't forget to hashtag it with #DIHWorkshop!
Thanks for stopping by!

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*This post is sponsored by The Home Depot
I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with me to participate in this Workshops Program (the “Program”). As a part of the Program, I am receiving compensation for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

A Kids DIY Day To Honor Our Vets

This post is sponsored by The Home Depot.
I'd like to start today's post by saying thank you, to our Veterans for your service! And, thank you to the families of our Veterans for all you have sacrificed. 

This past weekend, I had an amazing experience hosting over 200 kids at The Home Depot in Grand Rapids, Michigan as part of the fifth annual Celebration of Service. In honor of Veterans Day, this month's Kids Workshop was dedicated to making wooden jet airplanes. In addition to the jet planes, our workshop was one of only three stores across the country where the kids made a very special custom project for a local charity that assists our veterans. 

Every month in Grand Rapids, Michigan the kids workshop is a big hit. This one, however, seemed to be extra special and drew an extra large crowd. The store employees were prepared for lots of kids and they were not disappointed. 

I arrived at 8:00 am to find project tables lined up down the main aisle as far as the eye could see, just waiting for a crowd of little Do-It-Yourselfers to arrive. It didn't take long for the store to fill, and then overfill, with little ones eager to try their hand at these special DIY projects. 

It was more than just a workshop for kids, it was a workshop for families. Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles all showed up and joined in the fun. Thanking our veterans and talking about the importance of doing so to the kids was the topic of discussion throughout the workshop. My favorite part of the day was working alongside the children and hearing their stories about friends and family that have served our country.

For some of the kids, this was the first time they attended a workshop and made their own DIY project. But, many of them were DIY pros and the workshop is something they look forward to every month.  

The jet airplane project was a big hit, of course. The kids were playing with them before the paint was dry and couldn't wait to take them home. The mosaic garden stone project was a great way for the kids to express their creativity and create something special to give as opposed to keep. 

In the end, we made over 18 patriotic garden stones. Most of them will be given to Habitat For Humanity, in Kent County, Michigan for use in their Learning Garden. The Learning Garden is a place for new homeowners to learn about caring for their lawn, gardening, and landscape maintenance. A few of the stones will be going to the homes of local veterans that are currently receiving home improvement assistance from Habitat For Humanity. 

For step by step instructions on how to make these DIY Mosaic Garden Stones, please click here. It is a fantastic project for kids, especially for the upcoming gift giving season. The children that attended the workshop really enjoyed the project. For information on the monthly Kids Workshop held by The Home Depot at all store locations each month, please click here. To learn more about The Home Depot Foundation, Team Depot, The Celebration of Service Events held across the country and how you can help, please click here.

Thank you, Home Depot Store #2720 in Walker Michigan (Grand Rapids) for having me! I enjoyed co-hosting this workshop with you more than I can say. And a very special thank you to all the families that came out the workshop and made it such a huge success. 

Online Design Services are now available. Please click here for details. 

* I acknowledge that The Home Depot Foundation is partnering with me to participate in this Celebration of Service program (the “Program”). As a part of the Program, I am receiving compensation for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot Foundation and its non-profit partners. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

The Story Behind My Trees Featured In Romantic Homes Magazine!

I'm really excited to have two of my Christmas trees featured this month in one of my favorite magazines, Romantic Homes! I'm especially excited because these particular trees are really good examples of how Christmas decorating doesn't have to be expensive or difficult to be beautiful and have a ton of meaning! 

My trees are featured on pages 78 and 79. The article shares some really good tips on holiday decorating, positioning your tree, using ribbons and layering ornaments. It is a fun piece with lots of good advice. In addition to all of these tips, there is another side to the story of these trees with juicy behind-the-scenes details that I would like to share with you today. 

The first tree was decorated with sentimental objects and ornaments from the thrift store! Yes, you heard me correctly, the thrift store. My Goodwill tree made it into a magazine and it cost less than $10 to decorate! Not only was this tree extremely cost effective, but it has a lot of meaning. 

Here is the story…

A few summers ago, a fun family day of thrifting with my sisters, Buffy and Laura, my daughter, Hannah, and niece, Taylor, changed my master bedroom Christmas tree forever.  
It went from being a small table top tree decorated with baby momentos to a full sized tree that represents five generations of our family. 

Here is how it happened…
At first we weren't having much luck thrifting, but we were having a ton of fun together.  We were laughing and joking about our bad luck day when we hit the mother load.  

The entire Christmas aisle was on sale, 75% off.
I was able to snag 200 Christmas ornaments for less than $10.  In the spirit of full disclosure, we did have to do some bartering for that price.  We had fun with that too ...five girls who were way too excited about Christmas in the middle of July ...hard for the manager to say no to.  

The overabundance of ornaments was just what my tree needed to take it from a small, table top baby tree to a full sized 5 generation family tree.  After collecting these additional ornaments, I had to upgrade to a full sized tree.

The decorations represent many generations of our family, from babies to Great Grandma. 

Pictures of each of my children on their first birthdays were placed in little gold hanging frames.

The family Christening gown (handmade by my Mom and worn by the babies on our extended family) was placed next to the tree; not only was it really pretty but it reminded us of the day each baby in our family was Baptized.  

Of course baby shoes from each of my little ones were hung from the tree as they are every year. 

 Our Great Grandmother's hankie, our Grandmother's vintage costume jewelry, a cherished ornament with a handwritten message from my late father, 

and childhood photos of my husband and I rounded out the family tree display. 

What I loved most about this tree is not only how it brings the whole family together in a festive way, but how it reminded me of the fun we had together the day it was inspired at the Salvation Army.  Spending an afternoon with family resulted in something we will enjoy for many years.

The second tree featured in Romantic Homes on page 79, was my daughters table top tree. 
The year this tree was decorated, I decided to loosen up and let the kids participate in the decorating more than I had in the past.  The result was true perfection.  Not the kind of perfection we strive for when decorating but a more pure perfection, straight from a child's heart. 

Hannah was 11 when she decorated this tree.
She had recently re-designed her bedroom, so I gave her a $25 budget to spruce up her Christmas tree to coordinate with her new bedroom design.

She combined new decorations with special ornaments she has collected over time.

Each ornament represented a different phase in her life.

 Her tree skirt was her first ballet tutu.   Oh, how I miss the ballet phase...

She decided to layer a small turquoise sequenced tree skirt from The Dollar Tree over the tutu.  
(Good call, Hannah).

She chose a white tree with multi- colored lights. 

Looking at this tree reminds me of how she has grown. Stayed tuned for our 2015 Christmas tour to see how this tree (and her bedroom) has evolved into the teenage years.

Be sure to grab a copy of Romantic Homes December 2015 edition for lots of gorgeous Christmas decor inspiration, project tutorials and decorating advice. It's a Holiday 2015 coffee-table-must-have!

Thanks for visiting!

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