Holiday

Wrapped in Red

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What would Christmas be without packages wrapped with care and laced with love? Well, truthfully, it would still be a lot (we all know the true meaning behind the season); but for me, the magic would be largely lost. This year, it’s been much harder to pull together a cozy holiday atmosphere at home for many reasons (a sanity-testing remodel at my mom’s being reasons numbered 1 – 30). But even with obstacles and tribulations, Santa’s spirit still made it to my house (albeit, a little later than I might have hoped) – and I’m cherishing it more than ever.

To heighten the sense of nostalgia, I thought it best to wrap simply: brown kraft paper tied with baker’s twine, white yarn, and red velvet ribbon. When push came to shove, though, the extreme simplicity struck me as…boring. What came next was a weeklong hunt for package tie-ons with whimsy and charm, only satisfied by one Christmas genre: vintage. Missouri Mouse (Saint Paul) and the antique malls on Hopkins’ Main Street acted as my largest suppliers for the task, offering perfectly sweet baubles and figures that suited the aesthetic quite perfectly. The result? A spread of gifts oozing personality that no big box retailer’s stock could have ever accomplished.

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Decor, Holiday

Wreath Making 101

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By no means do I crown myself an expert, but three hours in a floral studio this past Sunday taught me a lot about the art of wreath making. And you know what? It’s not that hard to do. A lush, organic-looking wreath is hard to come by in retail circles – unless you’re willing to spend a pretty penny. So, why not skip all of that nonsense and have a little fun in the process?

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SUPPLIES:

Short-needled evergreen boughs

2-3 varieties of complimentary greenery or accents (i.e. berries, cedar, etc.)

Pine cones

Pruning snips

Green wire wreath frame – preferably one with four rings

Wire cutters (I got by without these and cut wires with the pruner, but it’s your choice)

Wire easel

Green floral wire:

Package of lighter weight wire (like this)

Package of heavier weight wire (like this)

STEPS:

1. Set your frame on a flat surface and survey the scene. Visualize your finished wreath hanging upon your front door, ever so inviting. What does it look like? Great – now manifest it.

2.  Cut up your base greens (your short-needled boughs) into manageable pieces, but do it strategically. Keep the sections fairly large to minimize the work and to maximize the hearty appearance of your wreath. Make sure each piece will curve to fit the shape of your frame. If it’s not a good fit, snip it into smaller pieces to use for filler at a later stage.

3. Working around the wreath frame in one direction, begin to secure greenery sections –  overlapping significantly as you go. Fold strands of your lightweight wire in half and thread from front to back on either side of a hefty branch. Twist the wire tightly on the back of your frame and make sure you’re capturing a portion of it each time you fasten a branch.  Snip off the excess wire and tuck under as much as possible. Now is not the stage to be stingy. If you want a full wreath shape, pile on the greens.

4. Once you’ve made a complete circle with the base greens, hang your wreath on the wire easel and take a step back. Use smaller pieces of greens to fill in empty spaces and balance the shape.

5. Using your next variety of greens, work around the frame again in one direction. You’ll want to incorporate enough of the new addition to make a visual impact, but not so much that you cover up the work you’ve already done. Take the heavyweight wire and thread through your existing greens to secure the ornamental pieces with a twist at the back of the frame. At this stage, I used “Blueberry Cedar.”

(I found it easiest to keep my wreath on the easel at this point, but play around  to find what works for you.)

6. Follow suit with your next variety. As a contrast to the structured appearance of your base green, use something more willowy.  I used “Incense Cedar,” but something like Leyland Cypress could be a nice option, too.

7. Place your wreath back onto the easel (if it isn’t already). Touch up your work using all three varieties of greens. Use your own judgement and surely keen eye.

8. Now, for the pinecones. Wrap your wire once around the pinecone towards the base, taking care to bury the wire as much as possible so it’s not too visible. Twist to secure the wire to the pinecone before you go any further. Then, thread each of the three pinecones through the greens and secure to the frame at the back with a twist. Cluster in a group of three (odd numbers are best).

9. Voila! You’re a regular Martha Stewart. Only younger and hotter.

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Holiday

14 Valentine’s Day Cards Sent from Cupid

Valentine’s Day is criticized for being commercially driven. I say – who cares! It’s a great excuse to indulge in sweet and lovely paper goods and send them to your friends and loved ones. You needn’t have a special someone to enjoy the holiday when you can channel that loving energy and reach out to your comrades. And if you’re coupled up, more power to you. Within the lively variety of card options below there is sure to be a carrier of correspondence suitable for whatever love you want to express this February 14th.

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Decor, Holiday

Gift Wrap 101

The gifts under your tree can make or break the aesthetics of your holiday landscape at home. A brightly lit tree shining down on poorly coordinated gift wrap?! The horror! Here are a few tips to keep you on track with your elfish duties.

1. Choose a color palette and stick to it.

A red and white scheme is always a win in my opinion. Nothing could say “classic Christmas” more outright.

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Primary colors (especially for kids) are a sweet option.

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You could also consider an icy blue palette with a touch of holiday red.

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2. Mix prints and patterns within your palette.

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3. Vary the materials and trims to add interest.

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4. Use simple gift tags so as not to distract from your wrap.

Too boring for your taste? Add ribbon, greens, or other festive baubles.

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Of course there are exceptions to these rules. You could go crazy with a different print and color scheme for every package and it might turn out to be fantastic. It’s just harder to ‘get it right’ with this strategy.

For example, you could go with three or four completely different prints that are unified by their styling. This combo of Rifle Paper Co. papers could make for a very merry holiday. In this case, the coloring enhances the match, too (with a golden color appearing in each print)…
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You could even add this handmade polka dot kraft paper into the mix. It has the same illustration look which ties it in perfectly with the rest of the happy wrapping family.

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Here’s a little peek of what I’ve conjured up this year. Admittedly, it’s not Martha Stewart quality…but I dig it. And though an iPhone is a wonderful thing, it is not the best device to use to highlight your work.

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Paper is from the Mara Mi collection at Target (available only in stores – not online). Trimmings include red and white bakers twine (found a large roll at TJ Maxx, but its available all over lately – here’s an affordable option), good old regular twine (purchased at Home Depot), and various other ribbons sourced from Michael’s. The gift tags are revved up sale tags made of a thicker card stock. I found mine in the scrapbooking aisle at Michael’s, but you could totally go an even more utilitarian route (and a likely cheaper one) by checking an office supply store for ultra basic sale tags.

I have other ideas that I’m storing away for next year – one being a collabo between simple kraft paper wrap and these rainbow and glitter pom poms from Blick. I haven’t quite worked out the details yet…but I think I’m getting somewhere…somewhere whimsical.

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