Please forgive me my Savvy Friends! Between a new job (a little PR consulting on the side), sickness, my FORTIETH birthday (did I really type that?!) and an unusual amount of business travel by my Beloved I've been totally neglecting you all! But fear not, there is yet time to Shop Savvy this Holiday season!
Outside of the stress of parties, birthdays (my own and the youngest Superstar's, whose we celebrate New Years Day) I do love the Christmas season. I love it especially now that we're in a place where it actually snows (versus my Southern California upbringing). The cold weather adds to the whole ambiance of the season.
That said, if we're "lucky" it may snow 10 inches a year. Because of this, Nashvillians are ill-equipped for the white stuff. We have only 3 snow plows in our county just south of the city and you can bet that the milk and bread will be stripped from the shelves should there be any sort of television or radio forecast where the word "snow" is mentioned. It's crazy, but I love it.
I also love decorating the outside of our house. Truth be told, we're pretty low-key and simple but always savvy.
The wreaths we use are almost 10 years old now. I originally bought them at Jo-ann's for $4 a piece and when we moved to a larger home, I bought some garland for $1 a pack to make them a little bit bigger to fit the scale of the house. The red velvet bows were $1 each at The Dollar General Store. I used another package of garland to frame the door and used a $1.99 end-of-season Kroger large light bulb strand to light it up. The plastic snowflakes were $1 each at The Dollar Tree. The 3 sets of bush lights were $2 each, an end-of-the-season Walmart buy, and the red ball Christmas Tree was a $10 find at the thrift store. In all, it's enough to be festive, but simple enough that it takes about 1/2 hour to put everything up and tear it all down.
Next up, a few of my favorite Christmas tips to help make the season savvy and bright.
Suction Cups - I can't begin to tell you how much I love these suckers...ha, ha, ha, get it? Suckers? Ahem...I found a bag of them for $4.99 at the thrift store a couple years back. At the time I hesitated buying them because A) I wasn't sure if they really worked and B) it seemed an awful lot of money (I know I'm cheap) for plastic. Now I am SOOOOO thankful I got them. They are PERFECT for hanging wreaths on outdoor windows, front storm doors and indoor mirrors.
Being the clean-lined person I am, I love that the wreaths seem to just magically stay in place without any extra stuff hanging out and around. And they are strong suckers too! We've been through ice storms with these babies on our windows and the wreaths don't fall off.
I had previously used the itty-bitty suction cups to hang the outdoor wreaths. It took two, one on each window pane, with fishing line between to hang them up. Yes, a pain, but I gotta tell you, they still worked. The big ones are the best though since you need only one. All you have to do is hang out the window a second, stick it on, push the hook down to lock it in place and put the wreath up. No ladders and it's easy to do without feeling like you're going to fall out of the window.
Now that I am using the big suction cups outside, I used the mini-suction cups in a new way to add a some color to one of our mirrors in our living room. It's a simple & nice touch that doesn't leave marks on the surface you use and it took about 5 minutes to gather old cast offs from previous projects to just stick on the mirror. As for price, the large suction cups run about $5 a two pack at Walmart, but I did find a 16 pack on eBay right now, $20, including shipping. Truthfully, I haven't priced the little ones lately, but I'm sure you can get a pack of 5-10 of them at Walmart and even Target for about $5.
LED flicker tea lights & candles. Another great thing to have around the Holiday season or really, anytime of the year. I started using them in jack-o-lanterns at Halloween and I've been in love with them ever since.
This year I decided to use them in a wrought iron Christmas candle holder that I had bought years ago at the thrift store and use to use on my living room armoire. Back then I put the string lights I used on the garland decorating the candle holder, but this year I wanted to use it someplace else, our front foyer, which incidently does not have a convenient outlet to plug in lights.
Six dollars and a trip to The Dollar Tree later I ended up with 4 glass mosaic candle holders and 4 LED tealights ($1 for a two-pack). The mosaic is just opaque enough that it hides the fact that the flickering light is a battery powered contraption versus a candle. It looks pretty realistic, enough so that Superstar #1 keeps sticking her hand in the holders "just to make sure". As for the extra decorating "stuff" around the base of the candle holder - that was some of what I pulled off the wreath I bought and re-purposed for my bathroom!
I used the same technique for a couple of candle sconces in our dining room, one of which is right next to the curtains. For obvious reasons I've not lit the candles and yet given the dark color of the walls, the extra flickering light would add a nice touch. A trip to Kirkland's and two $5.99 candles later I have led pillar candles that look real. The manufacturer even "melted" the sides unevenly and added wax drips so that it looks like a real candle. The vanilla scent is another nice touch. They even come with two "levels" of flicker, one dimmer than the other. Other than the fact that it takes 4 double AA batteries, these guys should last for years as I only use them when we are in the dining room or have guest over.
Having looked on eBay, Walmart, Target, Kohl's and other places I can say that Kirkland's are the cheapest and they look the best.
Stocking stuffers ala eBay. Have I told you HOW much I love eBay? I recently sat through the Magic Worm presentation at the mall and almost walked away with two worms for $20. Seriously. I almost forked over $20 for two little pieces of fuzz and that was their idea of a discount from the $12 for 1. I quickly came to my sense and went home immediately and found the Magic Worm Fuzzle for $2.99 a piece with FREE SHIPPING on eBay. This little guys are going to be stocking stuffers from Santa...since he works in the mall and knows exactly where to get them (as Superstar 1 was quick to point out).
As for my Beloved, he wants some of those slim-line earmuffs that fit behind the head. An off-handed comment about how he thought $15 on sale seemed too much issued with a "if you find them cheaper somewhere can you get them for me?" led me to eBay. I snagged these guys for $3.98 including shipping. Dad's stocking will now have something in it so that he doesn't feel left out should the girls and I have full stockings.
The BEST thing about these little things is that they will come directly to me in the mail - no running to the mall, or 10 different stores, frantically searching for the best price...especially when I'm hauling the kids with me, especially when it's snowing outside, especially when I would rather sit at home with a nice cup of coffee sitting at the computer talking to you guys instead.
Costco Photo Christmas Cards. Last but not least, I love Christmas cards that have pictures. I love getting them and seeing the smiling faces of my friends and family, and I can only hope they feel the same way when I send them out. I usually try to snap a picture of the girls in front of the Christmas tree or some other Christmas-y setting, but I did not have time this year!
Thanks to Costco it didn't take a lot of time or money to put together one of the cutest cards I've seen. Costco unveiled larger and multi-photo cards this year. Using a few of the pictures I had taken throughout the year I finished them in about 15 minutes on my computer and picked them up within 48 hours, complete with silver foil "lined" envelopes. Fifty cards were just $14.99.
So my Friends, I hope you will forgive me lack of blogging. Thank you for encouraging me to write more, some of you have even asked me more about my "consultation" with Clinton Kelly. I promise to post more on that plus a picture or two I took that night. I recently watched a slew of What Not to Wear episodes that I had DVR'd on TV and was reminded all over again about how adorable that man is and how thankful I am for his and Stacie's advice.
Till we meet again, Stay Savvy!