Archive | December, 2011

Festive Centerpieces

13 Dec

My friend Stacey turned me on to these lanterns at ShopKo.

They had some great red ones in their holiday decor and then these in the everyday decor section. ShopKo is not typically known for its design aesthetic but these were solid and had nice shapes and great prices at $14.99 each.

I had recently acquired an enamalware bowl at Goodwill for $4 and wanted to incorporate it into my Christmas decor. I combined it with one of the red lanterns, a Christmas napkin and leftover fake greenery and was proud of the results.

Several months back I had sent my kids and the neighbor kids on a pine cone hunt because I hate to think of purchasing pine cones when they’re in ready supply around the neighborhood. The kids had a riot and I got a bagful that made for festive filler in this centerpiece.

Putting this together inspired gift ideas for my hard-t0-buy-for-step-sister and my mom. I found some more baskets at Goodwill that would make for good bases.

I tried to get rectangular- or oval-shaped baskets to serve as the bases because the lanterns were bigger and I wanted to incorporate some live Poinsettias. These baskets are pretty easy to find at thrift stores and run about $4 each. Stacey also told me about ShopKo’s faux candles at half-price so I picked up some of those.

I had to build up the base because I wanted the piece to have some varying heights. I used whatever I had around–some floral foam in one and a box, styrofoam and newspaper in the other.

The Poinsettias were the four-inch pots from Home Depot at $3.99 each. I did two in each centerpiece and filled in the rest with pine cones.

Phoebe, the Cockapoo, approved.

Definitely liked the more natural glow on the pine cone candle below but it wouldn’t fit into this more slender lantern.

We celebrated our Christmas with this part of the family this past weekend and my stepsister and mom were thrilled with my creations. They both had future entertaining in their holiday schedule and were excited to have these inviting pieces as part of their tables.

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Dish Towels – A Practical Gift

11 Dec

I’ve been called practical. I hope that’s not code for cheap . . . thrifty maybe. Smart, I’d like to think. Whatever it is, with practicality in mind, I like to give gifts that serve a little purpose. I like to think that when people use their gift from me, they think, “Gosh that Stacy, she’s so clever.”

So, I love a good dish towel. I really like dish towels from Williams-Sonoma. They come in good colors, and they last forever. (PS – Now that my husband and I have hit the 10-year mark in our marriage, I often think about those wedding gifts that have lasted long and my W-S stuff really has. For example that rattan stuff lasts FOREVER! I’ve been using my fruit basket as a fruit basket every day for 10 1/2 years and it still looks like new. It’s had its share of moldy fruit, onion skin and gunk but I can rinse it and it still looks great. Sorry . . . I digress.)

Around Thanksgiving, Williams-Sonoma puts their tableware, including dish towels, at 15 percent off. It’s not an amazing discount but it’s something.

I buy a pack to use for my teacher gifts. And I bake the only thing that I ever bake–Banana Bread.

I love to give Thanksgiving gifts for two reasons. One – It’s one less thing I have to do between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Two – I think it makes sense to give Thanksgiving gifts to people to whom you’re really thankful–like your kids’ teachers.

This year I got some really cute string to help with my holiday packaging.

I wrap the bread in plastic wrap and then wrap it in the towel.

For another idea, I wrapped the bottom of a Poinsettia in a towel for a recent house-warming gift.

I don’t know if anyone was making the Clever Stacy comments that I was imagining but I was pretty pleased with the results.