Great news! If you’ll remember back a couple of weeks, I shared with you a darling advent calendar pattern. Many of our readers love these kinds of Christmas decoration projects because they are simple to make and yet add so much to the whole holiday experience.  Advent calendars in particular have become a preferred way for you and your family to count down the days until Christmas, and Merry Stockings did not want to be left out of all the hoopla. Sooo, we are now carrying fabric advent calendars on our website!

The products that you’ll see come in both non-religious and religious themes, so you are sure to find one your family will love. Take a peek at the 5 designs we’re carrying brand new this year:

 

Santas Workshop Advent Calendar

Santa’s Workshop Advent Calendar

Holy Night Advent Calendar

Holy Night Advent Calendar

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

Nativity Advent Calendar

Nativity Advent Calendar

Dog Gone It Advent Calendar

Dog Gone It Advent Calendar

Tidings of Joy Advent Calendar

Tidings of Joy Advent Calendar

Every advent calendar comes with movable pieces, making these fabric decorations both utterly adorable and ingeniously interactive! No more questions about how many more days until Christmas….the little ones in your family will be telling you!

Fabric advent Calendars are a perfect way to prepare for Christmas Day, and the best news is that each of the above designs have a reduced retail price. Click on the links below each one to be taken to the Merry Stockings website where you’ll find full details!

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Christmas in October

by CSweeney on October 4, 2014

in Christmas

Santa pumpkin

While it is true that we here at Merry Stockings think about and plan for Christmas year round, most people put all of the holiday decor and plans for the season aside come January. And, we admit, that is the normal way of doing things.

I think we can all agree, tho, that it would be so wonderful if, year round and in every place in the world, the spirit of Christmas endured….that spirit of giving, thoughtful shopping, taking time to be with the ones we care the most about, and crazy fun parties.

As it turns out, there is some of the Christmas spirit floating around, and it’s not even December yet. In fact, these fine folks have been practicing this out-of-season love for 31 years!


Christmas in October
is a leading volunteer group in the Kansas City area that focuses in on rehabilitating the homes of low income home owners, some of which are living with no heat, a leaky roof, or dealing with other conditions that make their home unsafe and unlivable. This organiztion has dedicated the first 2 Saturdays in October to the giving of their time and talent for those less fortunate.

Christmas in october

Over the years more than 7500 homes have been restored! As if this wasn’t enough, in 2012 the organization expanded with a yaer round program, and now are able to complete 50 homes including 31 wheelchair ramps outside of our normal event days per year!

It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint,  a new furnace, a hot water heater, and knowing that people care can do! If that isn’t the spirit of Christmas, I don’t know what would be!

 

Photo credit:  www.spookmaster.com

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Carving Pumpkins

by CSweeney on September 27, 2014

in decorating tips,family,Fun

Everybody knows that carving pumpkins is a solid, fall tradition. What used to be strictly a Halloween decoration has turned into a fun, and even competitive family and friends activity that lots of people are getting in on. Just take a look at Facebook and you’ll undoubtedly have at least one friend who is hosting their own family-friendly competition!

If you are already into this tradition or just hopping on board, I thought I’d show you some examples to get the ball rolling for this year’s soiree. Of course there is no replacement for your own imagination, so use these “templates” as a starting point and branch out….have some fun….be wild with your pumpkins! Some have been known to even pull out the power tools!

A FRIENDLY FACE!

friendly-face-pumpkin-l

 

EXPRESSIVE!

fun-pumpkin-eyes-l

 

 

SILHOUETTE

kitty-pumpkin-l

 

 

FALL LEAVES

2249201_Carve_049

 

 

SOUTH CAROLINA STATE FLAG!

south-carolina-pumpkin-l

 

 

MESSAGE ON A PUMPKIN

spooky-word-pumpkin-l

 

 

STARRY STARRY NIGHT?

starry-night-pumpkin-l

 

 

READY TO PAINT THE TOWN ORANGE!

tux-pumpkin-l

 

 

I don’t know about you, but I think we’re heading to the pumpkin patch this year and having some fun!

Photo credit:  www.southernliving.com

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A Fall Hot Dish Recipe

by CSweeney on September 27, 2014

in Food,Holiday Entertaining,Holiday Recipes

minnesota phrasesAs you all know, I live in Minnesota. And, as most regions of our country do, we Minnesotans have certain ways of saying and doing things that are unique. When I first moved here 11 years ago, I heard some of these for the first time, and let me tell you, they ARE definitely unique.

Phrases like “up north”, a place that everyone headed to come the weekend. So many people that I met were going there, and I honestly thought it must’ve been a phenomenal town!

Another oddity is how natives drag their o’s out….as in Minnesooooohta. It doesn’t take long to pick up this midwestern accent and not even realize it.

meatball hotdish

Then there’s the hot dish, otherwise known as a casserole, popular at not just church potlucks, but come fall, in homes across the state. Hot dish recipes come out of the woodwork this time of year, and I’ve got one of those today that’ll warm you right up, Gnocchi and Meatball Bake. You’re going to just love it.

Italian spices are a big favorite in our house, and this recipe is a solid staple on our fall menu. When you combine homemade meatballs, potato gnocchi, tomato sauce and cheese, well, what’s not to like about that? It is a real winner.

You can find the full recipe and instructions here.

 

Photo credit:  Minnesota phrases

 

 

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Creative Advent Calendar

by CSweeney on September 20, 2014

in Christmas,Christmas Countdown

There are many, many ways that people around the world prepare for Christmas. We, of course, talk about this a lot on this blog as it relates to stockings, ornaments and other Christmas decorations. A very meaningful practice that is really universal is the preparation time called Advent. Advent begins on the the 4th Sunday before Christmas, and is a time of expectant waiting for the celebration of the birth of Jesus and Christmas Day.

advent calendar

There are often readings that accompany Advent, and many Christian churches light a candle and participate. We are encouraged to couple these things with practices of our own at home, and the Advent Calendar has been one of the practical ways many have adopted.

I think this lovely, handmade Advent Calendar is really wonderful. The little bags that hang are filled with treats, and are a great way to involve children in the anticipation of something more than just the gifts they’ll be receiving.

There are whole books that have been written on the history of Advent and its practice today, and you can find those with a simple google search. Couple the daily treat with a short reading, and this  will instill in both your children’s and your own heart the true meaning of Christmas!

And, of course, the simplicity of this Advent Calendar cannot be beat! Using tension rods that fit the window you’ll hang this in, small muslin bags, and some green felt, you can craft your own Advent Calendar.  Find full instructions for this project here.

Do you practice Advent in your home? It’s a great way to remember the reason for the season.

 

Photo credit:  betterhomesandgardens.com

 

 

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rustic buttonOne of the things my creative mind loves doing the most is finding multiple uses for simple, ordinary things. It is my industrious character trait coupled with creativity and, of course, frugality at work! And, what could be more basic than a button?

I dare say few things are more rudimentary than a button. :) Think about it, we’ve been making buttons to clasp things closed for a very long time, way before we learned to make them in a factory. Wood sticks and loops of twine is just one example!

I think we can take this inexpensive little thing called a button and make some really charming Christmas items. Here are just a few examples:

 

button card

Now isn’t that just about the cutest card you’ve ever seen? It has that minimalist look too that is so popular, and what you see ends up being way more than the sum of its parts.

 

button cookies

How about button cookies? These are simple sugar or butter cookies, too! After you roll out your dough and cut your circle, take a cookie cutter just a little smaller and press lightly for the groove. Then poke 2 holes in the center with a skewer. I think these would be adorable as a table favor at a ladies Christmas party, or a very creative way to bundle up plain sugar cookies for a cookie exchange.

 

button ornament

I LOVE this idea. It involves a package of colored buttons in various shades, some thin wire and ribbon. These can be ornaments for the tree or even gift tags! This is a tag that your sewing friend will definitely not throw away, and will forever think of you as their most creative friend.

While going to the spendy department store for their annual Christmas ornament is a tradition for many, I simply love the idea of crafting one of our own annual ornaments from the staples of life.

 

Photo credit:  Wooden stick, card, cookies, ornament/gift tag

 

 

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One of the things I love the most about Halloween is that it’s a holiday for everyone. The littles get all dressed up, the bigs pull pranks, and even adults get a charge out of finding THE best costume for the annual neighborhood party. Somehow when we dress up in a disguise, we lose our inhibitions and end up having a blast. What’s not to love about that?

halloween wreathMerry Stockings, while primarily a Christmas stocking and decoration website, has got the most adorable Witch’s Brew Bucilla Wreath kit for Halloween. The picture to the left here was actually sent in by a customer who purchased the kit and created the wreath! She did a fantastic job, don’t you think? If you agree, head on over to Facebook and tell her so! You can find the post about D. Copeland on our fan page.

It’s always fun to add a few new decorations to our holiday collections, and this one is really fun. It’s one of Bucilla’s felt applique wreath kits, and just like the other kits they make, comes complete with everything you’ll need to complete it. Hang it in a window or on the door where the trick or treaters will come ‘a knockin’, it’s sure to be a hit!

The wreath measures out to 17″  x 17″ when finished, and the price is only $27.99, 20% off list price! You can grab yours on the Merry Stockings website right now. :)

This will make a perfect early Christmas gift for that person in your life that really loves Halloween.

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Elf-on-the-Shelf-Ideas-09There are some trends that seem to stick around longer than you’d like, but Elf on the Shelf just is NOT one of those! With his innocent, adorable and yet mischievous nature, there is something about this trend that makes nearly everyone smile.

We have shared some very cute ideas with you on how to incorporate this growing tradition, and I just love this one. Hang it from the bathroom light fixture so his cute little greeting will be seen by even the sleepiest eyes. For more ideas just check out the pictures here.

_elf-on-the--the-shelf_v2KOAs you can see, having more than one of these little guys around makes the fun even grander. That’s why I want to share with you the Bucilla Elf on the Shelf Ornament Kit. Hang these on your tree or place in strategic places. It makes for a very fun game because you never know where this red suit is going to show up.

The kit is available on the Merry Stockings website right now, too. Each of the ornaments measures about 5″, and of course just like all the other Bucilla kits, comes with everything you  need to complete your project.

Photo credit

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I have a facebook friend who lives in Alaska, and today she showed a video of the striking, no, breathtaking beauty that is Alaska! Image after image was postcard perfect, creating at least a desire to visit. My friend tells me that it is entirely possible to ride her bike year round too. Say what? Isn’t Alaska the epitome of frigidity, snow and ice? Apparently there’s more to it. I have to say  that tho I can live my life without the cold, there is something so appealing about the rustic feel of Alaska.

outdoor ornamentsSo, this got me thinking about Christmas ornaments that fall into this style….rustic. I have always loved the brushed bronze look, and so it’s no wonder that this very lovely outdoor ornament drew my eye. These are described as outdoor ornaments, but of course they can always be used inside too. I think they are just so pretty!

You won’t believe how utterly simple they are to make either.  In the picture these look, well, ginormous don’t they? When I checked out the details on the purchase page, I learned that apparently we are seeing an illusion. The largest ornament shown is 18″…now that’s pretty big for an ornament, but the picture makes it look 3 feet, right?

I think we can make these! Let’s start small though with regular sized ornaments and just see how it goes before we attempt the really large one. I gotta say tho, I really really want to make the 3 foot version!

Let’s begin with a regular sized glass ball ornament. Using a glue gun, draw whatever design you want on the glass…or even a monogram. Let it dry, then spray paint. Add a bow on the top, and voila, you’re done!

Any ideas what we could use for the super large version? Maybe an exercise ball?

Photo credit

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presentI know I’ve told you all this before, about how my mother considered the wrapping of a gift to actually be a part OF the gift? I have more-or-less adopted her point of view on this, and am always on the look-out for unique ways to dress up my gifts.

What if we could make a gift tag that would fit the unique criteria, but also double as an ornament? Would you be interested in it? What if it was, in true Merry Stockings blog style, simple and affordable to make? Yeah, I thought so…..and what could be simpler, and even a bit primitive, than corn starch and baking soda ingredients? I dare say nothing.

I have seen these types of tags/ornaments before, but what always disappointed me was how they would turn out yellow-ish when done. You could always paint them, but somehow a pure white outcome was always what I was looking for.

gift tags

So, I discovered a way to make these homespun gift tags so that they would indeed come out as white as the snow.

The trick? Air dry them!!  Who knew?! For a speedier result, you can always bake them, but by air drying you retain almost a sparkly, shimmery look! I like that for Christmas especially! To enhance that you can add a little white glitter to the dough, but the effect is really quite lovely without it.

You can get all the step-by-step instructions on how to make these gift tags/ornaments here. I think this’ll be really fun!

Photo credit:  gift, tags

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