homemade potpourriThere is something about the smells of the Christmas season that offer up warm fuzzies for anyone who walks through your door. Whether it be something you’re baking, or roasting or boiling up on the stove, the aromas spell holiday magic, warmth and love!

And even tho it almost doesn’t matter what it is, if it has the warmth of cinnamon wafting through the air, you have a winner in everyone’s book. I found this fantastic homemade potpourri mix that is a classic Merry Stockings recipe. Why is it classic Merry Stockings you ask? Well, it’s simple to make, it’s not that expensive, and it really is magic.

What’s even better is that packaging this mix up in a holiday bag makes the perfect gift! You’ll be buying the ingredients already, so there will likely be enough for your own homespun magic and for gifts. That is a complete win-win, yes? Also, you don’t have to make this mix more than once. You just keep adding water to the pan, and this wonderful concoction will last for weeks!

You can find full instructions here. This will be a great use for those cranberries I bought a couple months ago that I stashed in the freezer! I can already smell it!

 

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I don’t think there’s a little boy alive that, at one time or another, hasn’t asked for a drum set. Every year when we asked our boys to make their Christmas lists, a drum set appeared on at least one of those lists. My husband and I would look at each other, slightly grimace, and see what else their little active boy minds were dreaming of!

Christmas Toys WreathI think drums and trains and candy canes are nearly synonymous with Christmas for kids, and of course Bucilla (and Merry Stockings) knew this when they designed this adorable Bucilla Christmas Toys Wreath Kit! We’ve talked before on the blog about how some Christmas decorations are such that you can get by with leaving them up longer than just the Christmas season, but this here wreath is definitely not one of those!

Ice skates, presents, snow flakes, snowman, Santa, trains and candy canes deck out this very fun and sweet wreath, and following the included instructions (in 3 languages no less) will have you secretly smiling while you make it. I mean, it’s pretty hard thinking about these cute and very traditional symbols of childhood and Christmas and not smiling, no?

This Bucilla Christmas Toys Felt Kit comes with everything you’ll need to complete it. The finished size is 16′ x 16″ and will liven up any door…or wall…or banister even! You can feel good about the fact also that this kit, like most other Bucilla kits, is made right here in the United States . . . you’ll be supporting a homeland business. Does it get any better than that?

The price on this wreath kit, like the one we showed you yesterday, is 20% off on the Merry Stockings website and is listed for just $27.99. Order today so that you’ll have a fun project to start just as soon as the kids go back to school in a few weeks!

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We’ve been spending quite a bit of time looking at some pretty cool wreaths over the last several week, not to mention delving into the history of this quintessential Christmas decoration. We also gave some basic instructions on how to make a live wreath, and then filled your brain with pictures of lots of unique wreaths to get your creative juices flowing.  I want to wrap up this mini wreath series and show you a couple of Bucilla kits that we carry on our website, Merry Stockings. I’m not saying we won’t ever talk about wreaths again (of COURSE we will!), but I am really excited to share with you these fun, do-it-yourself kits that have become immensely popular.

cookies wreathFirst up today is the Bucilla Cookies and Candy Wreath Kit! Your eyes are not playing tricks on you, this wreath really is 3 dimensional. What could be sweeter  hanging on your door than candy canes, gingerbread cookies and hard candies? You’ll get all those along with those psychedelic round suckers in this fantastic kit. I am gonna bet my bottom dollar that the kiddos might even be willing to help out with this one.

Do you have a crafty person on your Christmas list, someone who is hard to buy for? This sweet three dimensional felt applique wreath would make a fabulous gift too. Best part? It comes complete with everything you need to complete it. No last minute running to the craft store, it’s ALL included:  stamped felt, cotton floss, sequins and/or beads, needles and even instructions in three languages.

The Cookies and Candy Wreath kit is designed by Maria Stanziani and is made in the good ol’ USA. Finished size is 15″ x 15″. The list price on this fun kit is $34.99 but you won’t pay that at Merry Stockings. Order today and receive 20% off, paying just $27.99.

 

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All this talk recently about wreaths, and I just couldn’t leave out the ever popular Elf on the Shelf theme. This very adorable story has gone viral as they say, and is taking the Christmas world by storm. I did a couple of posts awhile back on the Elf on the Shelf, one on how Elf on the Shelf got it’s start and the other showing the elf hard at work. If you missed them, take a short li’l joy break and check ‘em out. You won’t be sorry. :)

_Elf-on-shelf-5-KOMerry Stockings simply will not be left out of all the hoopla around this great li’l guy, er elf. This is one of the infamous Bucilla kits, and if you aren’t familiar with these little gem projects, let me introduce you. Meet the Elf on the Shelf Wreath Kit; you’ve got your candy canes, your holly, your stars, and then there’s that famous li’l elf just chillin’ out.

Made from felt with beads, embroidery floss, sequins, a needle, and arriving with super easy to follow instructions, you may end up becoming a member of the ever growing Bucilla kit addicts fan club. :)

The finished product is 16″ x 16″, and we’ll ship this kit to you within 5 business days of your order. You’ll have a ball making this, so why not order right now? You can find this Bucilla kit on our website.

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I really am a sucker for all things naturel….reduce something fancy and elaborate down to the least common denominator, down to its simplest form and that’s my happy place. Sounds weird I know, but there is something about that non-embellished look that resonates. Today’s featured wreath is one of those happy moments for me…..it’s a bay leaf and pomegranate garland!

bayleafpomwreathNow you might never guess that this is from real materials, you know the kind you buy at the grocery store instead of the craft store. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some craft store shoppin’ any day, but would you ever in your wildest dreams imagine you could make a lovely garland like this from the lowly bay leaf?

When I first saw this I wondered about the weight of those pomegranates. You too? They are real pomegranates, but they are dried and are light as a feather! Think of the difference between a hard boiled egg and one of those colored easter eggs with the insides blown out of a tiny hole. I really really love this unique garland for any place you wanna drape something. And, even tho it’s green and red, I still think it is most definitely a year round decoration.

Curious how to make it? I was too….so you can find complete instructions here. The best part is that, while you can buy  pomegranates that are dried and preserved, it is very very very simple to dry them yourself. Don’t believe me? Check it out here. If you do decide to dry your own, just get started early as it does take those beautiful poms 2-3 weeks to dry.

Bay leaves and pomegranates. I think I’m in heaven.

Photo courtesy

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One of the wreaths that was pictured in yesterday’s post reminded me {again} that wreaths, well, they aren’t just for Christmas. I know I know, this is how most people think about them, but think about it, haven’t you seen dried flower wreaths that are just lovely also? And, since it is summer here in the U.S., I’d like to talk today about wreaths that can decorate our homes any month of the year. Some are even functional!

wreath 10Like this one ~ this wreath is made using both fresh and dried herbs! Hang this in your kitchen so it’s at your fingertips while you’re cooking. The fresh herbs are rosemary and bay leaf, and the dried herbs are oregano (that has flowered) and sage.

While they are still fresh and supple, snip off what you need and chop as you normally would. Once they are all dried and crumbly, just pinch off what you need and put em in a small mesh bag. Throw it in that pot of soup or atop the pot roast….mmmmm!

Even if you don’t cook with herbs much, the aroma is fantastic! Make one up to take as a gift to a dinner party instead of a bottle of wine. Anyone can pick up a bottle of wine, but a handmade herb wreath? That is a very special gift! You can find instructions here.

wine cork wreathAnd speaking of wine, how about this creative use for all those corks that are just too cool to throw away? This one, clearly is for the Christmas season, but with just a little bit of tweaking it could totally be a year-round decoration.

Do you have friends with which you often enjoy hors d’oeuvre and a glass of wine? This too would make a lovely gift for Christmas. What a memorable way to honor a friendship!

So, the idea of a wreath belonging only to the Christmas holiday is outdated. I just love these fresh and creative ideas. There was another wreath I saw that was made completely out of balls of yarn! No matter the colors, what a perfect gift for the knitter and crocheting friend who is always so hard to buy for!

Dreaming of different wreaths,

Cheryl

Photo credit

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wreath topFor the last couple of days I’ve been talking with you about Christmas wreaths….their history and just exactly how you put one of ‘em together so it looks great. I was thinking last night about my first wreath and how I really had no idea on how it was supposed to look or what theme I wanted.

If this is your first time making your own Christmas wreath, I thought maybe offering some ideas of what others have done might help to get the ol’ creative ball rolling. So without further ado, settle in for some viewing pleasure. :)\

wreath 1

 

 

wreath 2

 

 

wreath 8

 

wreath 3

 

 

wreath 5

 

wreath 4 rosemary

 

wreath 6

 

wreath 7

 

wreath 9

 

wreath 10

 

See, I told you you couldn’t do it wrong. :)

Next time we’ll take a look at some creative wreaths that are made out of materials other than greens. It’s going to be very fun, so don’t miss it!

Until then,

Cheryl

Photo Credit: Title Wreath, Gallery

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handmadeIf you’ve been around the Merry Stockings blog and website for any length of time, you know we’re all about hand crafted projects! There are definitely times when its good to buy something ready-made, and we sell some very fun decorations like this on our website, but also some great do-it-yourself projects. We know, like you do, that when you make something with your own hands, well, it’s just very special, isn’t it?

So, today I want to give you some simple and specific instructions on how to make your own live Christmas wreath. When you see the wreaths already made at the Christmas tree lot, they look like they’d require some serious know-how, but I’m here to tell you that just ain’t true. :) If I can do it, so can you.

Here we go. You’re gonna love how easy it all is once you get some really basic things down. First, materials:KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

  1. A soft touch ring. These are great because if you don’t like how it looks, it’s very easy to adjust. You can find one here.
  2. Greens. Any kind. As many different kinds as you like. Or just one. It’s your wreath!
  3. Special touches. Things like holly berries, pine cones, rubber duckies, anything that you want and think will fit your taste.
  4. Your imagination! There is no reason in the world to make a “normal” wreath. What is that anyway? You certainly can go traditional with this, but if you want to color outside the lines a bit, you have my permission. Which you don’t need. Enough said.

creative wreathNext, follow these simple instructions:

  • Make sure the branches you use are the right size. What’s the right size? Well, that depends on how big you want the wreath to be. If you want some of them to border the rest, make those a little longer. If you want them all to have a meshed-together look, be consistent with the lengths.
  • When adding your branches, make sure you are forming a circle. Unless you want a football shaped wreath, which come to think of it might not be a bad idea for Super Bowl season. :)
  • As you add each branch, make sure the tip covers up where you attached the one just prior for a beauteous look. Or, attach a pine cone in that place or other embellishment.
  • Layer the greens and any additional special touches any which way you want. There is no wrong way to do this.
  • Last thing…..make sure that the bendable pins on the soft touch ring are securely fastened around your branches so they don’t fall out.

And that’s it. Easy. Fun.

To keep your wreath looking nice all season long, spritz it lightly with some water several times a week.  Also, they like to breathe so hanging them in between the door and the screen is probably not the best idea.

Have fun!

Cheryl

 

Photo credit:  Handmade, Traditional Wreath, Creative Wreath

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traditional wreathI made my very first Christmas wreath one year without really even a plan or a thought. What I mean to say is that it was more of an afterthought than something I planned out. You see, we brought home the biggest and best Christmas tree on the farm lot we could find, and just like my husband said before we forked over the cash, it was way too tall for our living room. You can probably guess the rest…..we found ourselves with several inches of tree trunk as well as the accompanying branches laying on the back porch. The tree now fit in the house, but what to do with all this darned mess.

light bulb moment

The men (the huz and the 3 littles) were in the house working on getting the tree to stand up tall and straight, so I headed outside to clean up the mess. There were some really great looking branches, and I realized I could use those to decorate the rest of the house…..the mantle, the table, and the door! Thus, my first handmade wreath was born.

The Christmas wreath is one of the most popular decorations at Christmas. You’ll find them, of course, on people’s front doors as a sign of welcome, but also quite often used as a part of  an Advent celebration or even hanging from the lamp posts in the city.

But, the truth is there is quite a long history for the ol’ wreath. Pagan cultures would have a gathering of wreaths at winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, a day that represented death and rebirth to them. They celebrated the end of the ever-shortening days and welcomed the promise of spring, all with celebrations and wreaths. Some would even add candles, symbolic of the sun.

laurel wreathIn ancient times, wreaths were a symbol of success and importance, and were worn as headbands. Olympic athletes wore them as well as military leaders, signifying victory. In the Christian world, the circle shape with no beginning and no end are thought to mean everlasting life or eternal rebirth.  Even the accouterments added to the wreath have meaning. The holly berries represent immortality and the cedar strength. I don’t know about you, but I find all of this fascinating!

Of course, the common Christmas wreath in our modern day carries much more simplicity for us. Hung on the front door or in the window, it’s like saying “Come in, you are welcome here!” And, that is a beautiful thing.

Tomorrow we’ll go over some basic steps in creating your own wreath, and offer some tips on maintaining it.

Until then,

Cheryl

Photo courtesies:  wreath, light bulb, athlete

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More Time Management Tips for Christmas

by CSweeney on August 2, 2014

in Christmas

timeAfter yesterday’s post, I realized that I was just not going to be able to leave time management to 3 simple steps. There is obviously so much more to say about this topic during the Christmas holiday, but also Thanksgiving, New Years, Hanukkah and any other holiday that’s important to us. What it all means for us and our daily schedules is that a calendar that was already full has just overflowed with family, friends, parties, etc. It’s all good, for sure, if we manage it well.

Right now, if you can believe it, there are 145 more days until Christmas will be here! I’m not the first person to wonder that either since all it took was a simple google search to find the answer! Since we are still pretty far out from Christmas, I think we have a great opportunity to begin practicing these time management skills now so that when we are closer, we’ll have some skills. We’ll have skills!

So here’s a few more time management tips to ponder and practice:

prioritiesSet Priorities. The older I get the more apparent it becomes that I cannot do it all. There are days when that is abundantly clear, and then there are others when I forget that with every day life comes limitations. This means I need to set priorities. We don’t have to go to every party or volunteer at every bake sale benefit or decorate like Martha Stewart. It’s all so much fun, but if we find we can’t manage it all we really sell ourselves (and our loved ones) short. Pick and choose based on what’s most important to you.

Get Started Early. We talk about this a lot around here. I think about it a lot, partly because I write to you every week of the year about preparing for Christmas! We do have an entire year to prepare, not just a the few weeks in December, isn’t that freeing?! While it is true that some things cannot be done this far in advance, we can start making plans on when we CAN begin. Gift buying, gift making, party planning, even some decorating can be started early.

And, nobody will give it a second thought if you string some white lights up or decorate a corner of the room. Perhaps leave the traditional colors of the holiday aside until its closer, but I firmly believe that what brings us joy at Christmas will do the same in the months preceding.  We decided that we really like the look of a short string of white lights around different parts of the house. It doesn’t scream Christmas, just brightness and peace!

listMake A List. Are you a list maker? Holy moly, I have become one! And, do you sometimes put stuff on the list that you already did just so you can cross it off? Me too! It is surprising to me (in such a good way) how much more peaceful my life is when I have my plans down on paper. I know if they are written down, I won’t forget and that means I don’t have to worry about remembering! Make a list of things to buy before the party, a list of the cleaning tasks to be done, etc. Whatever seems to loom in your mind the most and overwhelm you, that’s a good indication that a list would help.

I realize that these are simple, somewhat common sense tips, but I don’t think we can be reminded too much of them. We so often forget the small and simple steps like this. I’ll plan to revisit this topic from time to time, and refer back to it as the days draw nearer.

Let’s make this Christmas the best ever, okay?

Photo credit: Time,  Priorities, To Do List

Til next time,

Cheryl

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