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So, the idea of a wreath belonging only to the Christmas holiday is outdated.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,


Photo credit


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,


Photo Credit: Title Wreath, Gallery


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!



Photo credit:  Handmade, Traditional Wreath, Creative Wreath


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,


Photo courtesies:  wreath, light bulb, athlete


More Time Management Tips for Christmas

by Jake Witham 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,



We live in a crazy busy world, don’t we? Holy smokes, it seems the pace of life, if you let it, picks up steam with every turn! Then, add in Christmas and it’s a recipe for overload and overwhelm.

I’ve got some simple tips today to help. I’ve been spending time talking with my health coach about time management to always leave room for exercise, and some of the things I’m learning there will definitely help around the holidays also. Here we go.

smartphone1.  Turn off the notifications on your phone. Technology is pretty amazing in all the ways it can save us time and help us run our lives more efficiently. But, the notifications for your Facebook, your email, and then text messages, well, they can literally keep you from getting anything done! Decide the best times to check your email and facebook that fit into YOUR schedule, and then turn off the notifications in your settings. I promise you, you’ll be able to catch up with anything you want to.

2.  Speaking of smart phones, make sure you ARE utilizing the time management apps. Keep a calendar and set reminders. Check in the morning, and you’ll be surprised at how few things fall through the cracks! This is INVALUABLE around the holidays!

keep-calm-and-shop-on3.  Order gifts online. The world of e-commerce is here to stay, and we will all save not just time but money when shopping online. Ever wonder why you walk in the store to just get a couple things and you walk out with a couple bags? Yeah, me too! Avoid distractions by shopping online. It’s quick, safe and smart.

And since we are already on the topic of shopping online, do yourself a favor and hop on over to our website and check out the top sellers this week. We’ve got some sweet deals going on.

Til next time,



Photo credit:  Smartphone, Online ordering


Joy to the WorldHello there! We are getting really close to the end of July, a time when most people are enjoying a much deserved vacation or a planned golf trip or some other summery adventure. Not many are thinking about Christmas too much. Okay, most aren’t thinking about it at all. 🙂 But, wait a second, apparently there are exceptions to every rule. If you’ve never met anyone who thinks about Christmas this early, you’ve either never met me OR anyone who handcrafts Bucilla Christmas stockings.

I popped over to our Facebook page and look what I found! This Joy to the World Bucilla stocking was created by one of our customers who was kind enough to take a picture and send it to us. She did a fantastic job, don’t you think? I love this stocking….it captures the true meaning of Christmas with charm and simplicity. Isn’t it just the cutest, and at the same time lovely thing?

The good news is that you won’t pay and arm and a leg for this kit. The list price to begin with is pretty low, but you can get 24% off by ordering it today.  The kit comes complete with everything you need to create this stocking:  beads, felt, embroidery floss, sequins, a needle, and of course a set of easy-to-follow instructions.

We don’t have too many of this Bucilla stocking kit, so if you would like to see this hanging on the mantle for some very special person in your life, head on over and order now.  Don’t wait, these’ll be gone before you know it.


Are you creative? A lot of people have a certain idea about what it means to be a creative person, but what I’ve discovered is that everyone has a creative side to them. In fact, I find that some of the most practical, pragmatic people I know are incredibly creative and definitely resourceful.

Christmas-In-July homemade soapSuch is the case today with a little Christmas-in-July project I found, brought to you by a self-declared practical girl. This little thing we’re going to make is, really, suitable for any time of year, but fits in perfectly with our theme. It’s a gift that you can give today, at Half Christmas, or you can make it today and save to give it on December 25! There are a lot of projects that we feature here on the blog that aren’t like that, they will get stale or moldy or they’re so delicate they might get knocked over. Not this one. And, it’s white! With a little ingenuity with the packaging, we can make this project a lovely gift for now or later.

I bring you home-made soap. Yes, I’m talking about making your own laundry soap! It’s not as hard as you might think, and the people I know who make their own say it is pennies a load. To gather the supplies you will likely not spend more than you would were you to go and buy your favorite ready-made laundry soap, and this one will give you many times over the number of loads. I call that a win-win. And, it saves money to spend on more exciting and fun things!

Three simple ingredients. A little bit of time. And, you’ve got yourself the kind of gift that is not just good for Christmas but for absolutely any time of the year when you want to just bless someone. It’s a beautiful thing.

You can find the instructions here. Merry Christmas in July ~ now and later!

Photo credit:




Christmas in July ~ Melted Snowflakes

by Jake Witham on July 22, 2014

in Christmas in July

melted snowflakesThe dog days of summer are upon us, and  you won’t find too many Minnesotans complaining about it. With heat indexes reaching over 100 degrees yesterday, however, it was a wee bit uncomfortable for a lot of people. From the time we woke up in the morning until we went to bed, a singular message was coming across loud and clear: DRINK YOUR WATER!

Sorry there, didn’t mean to shout, but it is actually very important to stay well hydrated during the really hot and humid days. Even if you don’t drink very much on other days, and maybe more so in that case, don’t be a slacker today on the life giving, life saving properties of H2O. It’s easier than you  might think especially if you get a little creative.

pony tail holdersIf you’re into just plain water, a good system to get all 8-10 glasses of water down is to have something to count and keep track. Some of the ladies can use pony tail bands, or they can join the guys and use pennies. This is how it works: take 10 pony tail holders and put them around one of your wrists.  Every time you drink 1 glass of water, transfer one of the pony tail holders to the other wrist! When using pennies, put them into one pocket and transfer them to the other pocket. If you do it gradually throughout the day, you won’t necessarily be running to the bathroom all the time. And, having the colorful pony tail holders on  your wrist acts as a good reminder to chug away. Plus they look kinda like jewelry. 🙂

refreshing waterIf you want to make your water a bit more interesting, put a little fruit in the bottom. A single strawberry will look so pretty, and the fruit will gently flavor the water. You could do it sangria style too (minus the alcohol of course!), and add frozen berries or cherries or whatever fruit is your favorite. The frozen fruit will not only flavor the water, but it’ll also keep it nice and cold.

Or you can do like one creative person did and just fill a big jug of water with ice and put a sticker on the jug “Melted Snowflakes.” Merry Christmas in July!


Photo credit:  Melted snowflakes,  pony tail holders, strawberry water


One of the things I am loving the most about this crazy mid year holiday called Christmas in July is that it sparks all kinds of very creative ideas, games, parties, y0u name it! Combining the 4th of July with Christmas is just one theme. There is certainly A LOT we can do with just that, and make it last all month long, but why limit ourselves like that?

anytime snowballsToday I ran across these sn sn sno snowballs (it’s just really hard to say in the summer in Minnesota!), and what I would have given to have had these when my boys were little! Or even as they got bigger!

In fact, I may pick up several bags of these and send them for Christmas….they are never too old for a good ol’ fashioned snowball fight, and now its possible any time of year.

These babies are made out of a soft material that the manufacturer says

“feels like snow, no slush, no mess”!

Now, granted, part of the fun IS the slush and mess and being outside, invigorated by the cold. But, think of the smaller kids who get too cold out there. Or in places where it really is too cold to be out for very long. These snowballs make it possible, yes, to enjoy a snowball fight even in the middle of July, but think about the hours of fun (and exercise!) when the weather turns less than desirable. I think these little guys are total winners.

They are washable too. I bet the really handy folks among us could make them pretty easily, no? Here’s a pattern just in case you are inspired!

Photo credit