Do-It-Yourself Christmas Décor for the Whole Family

It is Christmas time, and we are getting to spend more time with our loved ones. Use this opportunity to help build memories by participating in fun activities featuring creative DIY Christmas décor. Plus, you can let the children join in to make it an all-around fun family activity. Enjoy the spirit of Christmas throughout your home with these five simple DIY Christmas décor ideas:

Ornaments

There are hundreds of fun ways to decorate your tree. You can color-theme your ornaments, add candy canes, pictures, garland, and so much more. Personalize your tree, even more, this year by adding your own bulbs. Get the family together, and have everyone can paint their own bulbs. You can draw cool patterns or funny pictures. This idea is an excellent activity for the whole family. Plus, you will have the memory for years to come.

Mini Wreaths

Mini wreaths are fun, festive décor pieces that you can be used throughout your whole home. Plus, there are hundreds of creative ways in which you can make these wreaths. From rosemary, pinecones, cranberries, marshmallows, and even garland, you can let everyone put their own original spin on their wreaths.

Decorate the Stockings

Decorating your stockings is another excellent way to prepare for the holidays. You can even make stockings for your pets and get creative. Use glitter glue, paint, and other artsy accessories to personalize each stocking! After you are all done, make sure to display them on your fire mantle for everyone to see (and for Santa to find)!

Paper Snowflakes

Are you looking for an expensive do-it-yourself project? Try making paper snowflakes. Simply fold a paper into fourths and cut out a unique design. When you are done, hang your snowflakes around the home with string to make your own Christmas wonderland.

Gingerbread House

Gingerbread men and houses are fun for all ages. Let everyone decorate and create their very own gingerbread man/woman. You can all work together, putting your own touches onto the gingerbread house as well. Display the house and cookies and enjoy eating them after the holiday!

These fun activities can help you start getting into the holiday mindset. Use this time to bond and spend time with your loved ones. These activities are great and fun for the whole family. What are some of your favorite seasonal projects? Let us know below in the comment section and remember to subscribe!

Christmas Tree Care and Maintenance

Christmas is quickly approaching, and it is time to start putting up the festive décor. Of course, what is Christmas décor without the iconic Christmas tree? There something extraordinary about having a real pine for Christmas. Picking out the perfect tree can be fun in and of itself, but maintaining the tree until Christmas comes with a handful of challenges. So if you are planning on having a real Christmas pine this season, it is essential to understand care and maintenance to have it last for the season.

Picking the Tree

When picking a Christmas tree, you need to find a species that can last well into the season without being rooted. Some of the top species of trees are Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, White Pine, and Balsam Fir. If you are planning on planting your tree after the holidays, you will need to understand that the tree cannot last very long inside. Most trees can only be replanted on if they have been in your home for shorter than five days. If you are getting a tree, check to make sure none of the pines easily fall off when you touch the tree. You want a tree as freshly cut as possible to allow it to last the season.

Care and Maintenance

When you purchase your tree, have the stem re-opened so the tree can easily drink water. When you get it home, keep it away from any heat source that can speed up the drying out process. While Christmas trees may look great by the fireplace, they can dry out quicker. You should create the stand and allow the tree to drink up a gallon of water immediately. Your tree will need to be watered daily to last until Christmas. The best water to use is just plain tap water. You will notice if your tree is dehydrated when bristles begin falling off, or your water stand for Christmas tree is empty.

After the Holidays

After Christmas, you can consider cutting your tree into firewood for your home. You can also have it chipped into mulch to use around your house. If you have no use for your tree, you can consider donating it. Many nonprofit organizations have many purposes in which they can repose the tree from creating energy, enriching zoo animal habitats, or even hiking trails in parks.

Let’s be honest; what is Christmas without a tree? If you have only ever had faux trees, consider having a real Christmas tree this holiday season. The authentic nature and pine scent throughout the home is just one more way to add to the festive season.

Holiday Meals for the Entire Family

The holidays are full of memorable events, but nothing brings a family together like food. Sitting down with your loved ones and sharing a meal brings a sense of togetherness and evokes feelings of thankfulness and comfort. It provides the assurance that the people who have gathered with you are full and happy.

Today, cooking a holiday meal that can be eaten by the entire family can be a difficult task. Beliefs, preferences, and allergies can make catering to everyone’s needs frustrating and nearly impossible. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives out there that can be used to make holiday dishes available to almost everyone at your table this year.

Plant-based cooking not only ensures that vegetarians and vegans in your family can enjoy your meal, but it also eliminates dairy, making it okay for anyone who is lactose-intolerant. Plus, it eliminates any type of meat which may be avoided due to someone’s religious beliefs.

While drinks are just as important at the dinner table as the food, you can make sure everyone is catered to this year with an easy to make vegan eggnog.

Vegan Eggnog

Ingredients: 

  • 24 ounces silken tofu (crumbled) 
  • 2 cups of soy milk
  • 2/3 cup turbinado sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup water (cold) 
  • 1 cup rum
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 20 ice cubes 
  • Nutmeg for garnishing

Instructions: 

  • Place the tofu, soy milk, sugar, and salt in a blender and blend until the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into a bowl and whisk in the water, rum, and vanilla extract.
  • You will want to keep the mixture refrigerated until it is ready to be served.
  • When you are ready to serve the eggnog, blend the mix with the ice cubes until frothed 
  • Enjoy! 

A hearty vegan Shepherd’s pie is an excellent way to ensure all your guests are able to enjoy a warm and filling entree this holiday season.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients: 

  • 4 Potatoes 
  • 2 tbsp vegan margarine 
  • ¼ cup unsweetened soy milk 
  • Salt and pepper (to taste) 
  • One onion 
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 1 ½ cups vegan ground beef substitute 
  • 1 ¼ cups vegan gravy 
  • ½ cup green peas 
  • ½ cup of corn 
  • ½ tsp garlic powder 
  • Dash of cayenne pepper 

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F 
  • Dice potatoes and chop onions
  • Boil or microwave potatoes until soft 
  • Drain potatoes and mash with vegan margarine and soy milk 
  • Add salt and pepper to add taste 
  • Saute the chopped onions in the vegetable oil 
  • Combine the onions, beef substitute, vegan gravy, peas, corn, garlic powder, and a dash of cayenne pepper in a large mixing bowl and pour into a pie pan 
  • Spread the mashed potatoes over your vegetable mixture 
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes 
  • Enjoy! 

The holidays are full of wonderful sweets, so give vegan gingerbread cookies a try this holiday season to ensure everyone satiates their sweet tooth.

Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup of vegan margarine 
  • 1 cup of sugar 
  • Egg Replacer for one egg 
  • 1 cup molasses 
  • Two TBSP apple cider vinegar 
  • 5 cups flour 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBSP ginger 
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp cloves 
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Instructions:

  • Beat the margarine and sugar together in a large bowl 
  • Add the egg replace, molasses, and apple cider vinegar to the mixture 
  • In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. 
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients and combine well 
  • Let the dough refrigerate for at least two hours to become firm 
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F 
  • Either roll out your dough and cut it into holiday shapes with cookie cutters or form it into ½ inch balls 
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper 
  • Place your cookies on the sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes until done 
  • Enjoy! 

The holidays bring a lot of different people from separate walks of life together. Plant-based options make sure that you are prepared to cater to anyone this holiday season. Feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite go-to holiday dish and make sure to subscribe!

How to Make Your Home Smell Like Fall

Fall is here, and there are many wonderful smells that the season has to offer. In fact, we love fall! It can be a great season where we get to spend time inside with our loved ones. From cozying on up by the fire to the colorful, warm colors on the trees, fall is a beautiful time year. Plus, it is always fun decorating for the season and having some of these natural fall fragrances around the house. In fact, fall has so many great scents; it can be hard to know how to capture them all in your home. To help, we put together a list of five ways that you can have your home smelling like autumn this season. Let’s take a look!

Apple Spice Air Spray

For bathrooms, consider getting an air spray can. Apple Spice is a beloved fragrance that is always adored by fall enthusiasts. Just be sure to keep it in a spot where guests can easily see it to use it if they desire.

Pumpkin Spice Air Diffuser

Pumpkin Spice is another highly-respected fall scent. Purchase an air diffuser and look for Pumpkin Spice. This fun fragrance will make your whole room feel like an autumn wonderland.

Cinnamon-Scented Pinecones

Are you looking for a centerpiece for your table? Consider a basket of cinnamon-scented pinecones. Not only do they look fantastic, but they smell great as well! Use them on your coffee table, end tables, fire mantle, or dining room table to incorporate fall décor throughout your space.

Maple-Scented Candles

Candles are an excellent way to add warmth and fragrance to the home. Maple-scented candles are a classic sweet-tooth lover’s dream. Add these around your house to infuse your space with the dreamy, sweet scent of sugar.

Fall Simmer Pot

Lastly, consider making a fall simmer pot. Add apples, orange peels, almond extract, cinnamon sticks, vanilla, and more. Add water and let the pot simmer to make your home smell delicious all day long. Continue to add water throughout the day, and do not let the ingredients burn.

Making fall scents can be fun. What are some of your favorite fall scent additions you use in your own home? Let us know below in the comment section.

Tips for Conquering Black Friday

Black Friday is the Friday right after Thanksgiving. It is when many stores have huge sales in preparation for the quickly approaching holiday, Christmas. You can find some of the best deals and bargains this day. Typically, stores and malls may open even at midnight in congested areas. This mayhem can lead to some of the most chaotic and aggressive shoppers. While it is all fun and games, finding great deals can be a game-changer for the holiday season! If you plan on making it out with some good finds, you need to have a game plan. Here are the best ways to conquer the mall of Black Friday:

Search the Sales

Before the night begins, you should know what and where you are searching. Do you want to buy a television, shoes, toolbox, or purses? All these can be found in entirely different areas of the mall. First, look online at the sale prices to be expected this Black Friday. Decide where the best deals are and where you need to shop.

Map out Your Plan of Attack

Prioritize and plan your shopping that night. Big purchases like phones, computers, and televisions will go quickly. Do not postpone these purchases for later in the day. These should be your midnight purchases. Other items like clothing may be more feasible to buy later throughout the day. Find the mall or malls you plan on shopping. Have all the stores you need to stop at planned out before you begin your night. It is essential to stick to your plan to make sure you get everything you set out to buy. There will be many sales that may tempt you. Make a note of them and come back later in the day.

Create Your Army

Perhaps you are going with several friends or family members. Maybe one store is selling a toolbox you want while another store is selling pots and pans you need. It may be wise to break up the group to cover more ground. If all of you wait in one line all night, you may miss other opportunities. Black Friday sales can end by running out of the product. Make sure you invest your time wisely.

Black Friday is a great way to get a gift for the holiday. Just remember to plan and decide what sales you are interested in getting, where they will be, and who you are going with for the day. Make a rendezvous point to meet later in the day, as well. You may want to knock out your big purchases at midnight and come back later in the day for smaller purchases when the midnight rush calms.

Setting Your Table for Thanksgiving

Your table setup matters because it can help create an organized way of dining. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it is time to start preparing for the annual feast. The time where friends and family all come together and give thanks for everything that they are grateful to have. Setting the table the night before the event can help save you time. However, setting the table has a proper and improper way of being executed. Everything has an assigned spot to ensure a uniformed setup. To help you set the table right this year, here is what you should consider:

Casual

One size may not fit all. Perhaps your Thanksgiving dinner is more casual. If you are going for a casual approach, start by setting out placemats if desired. On the center of each placemat, place the main plate, then salad plates go directly on top of your main plate. If you are not eating salad, eliminate this plate altogether. Next, put your fork to the left of the plate, and your knife and spoon will go to the right of your main plate, respectively. Finish off the setup by placing the water glass at the top right corner of the knife and spoon.

Formal

For a more formal setup, start by putting out each placemat. Then place your main plate with your salad plate on top, directly center of the placemat like the casual setup. Place your bread plate to the top left corner. A butter knife is traditionally laid horizontally across your bread plate. Place both your salad and dining forks to the left of the main dining plate. Your knife, followed by your spoon, will go to the right of your plate. You should also place your dessert fork and spoon above the dinner plate horizontally.

With the formal setup, you will be adding three glasses: a water, a red wine glass, and a white wine glass. These three glasses should be placed in a triangle with the water glass closest to your guest. A saucer with a coffee cup will be placed below these three glasses. Place a folded napkin on top of the salad plate and consider adding place cards with each guest’s name at their assigned seats. This name-card goes directly above the dessert spoon.

You can even add a personal touch with your centerpiece, how you fold the napkins, and your placemats. Both these setups will have your guest impressed with your preparation in setting each spot. Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and for more household tricks and tips, make sure to subscribe.

How to Decorate for Fall

Fall is a very festive season with some significant holiday décor. With Halloween being finished, it is time to start decorating for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a very welcoming holiday with décor that will work great the rest of the way through autumn. With its warm, earthy tones and welcoming scents, make people love having Thanksgiving décor in their homes. Here are some simple ways to prepare your house for the season and add some fun Thanksgiving décor:

Halloween

Halloween is a very festive time of the year. Halloween décor has surpassed even Christmas’ sales over the last couple of years. With this holiday quickly growing in popularity, it is not unusual to see some of this décor stay around even into November. While you may not be trying to keep up fake spider webs, a grim reaper statue, and fake tombstones in your yard, it is not uncommon for pumpkins, scarecrows, and hay barrels to remain up for the season.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday based on giving thanks. The traditional and iconic views of the first Thanksgiving dinner involve Pilgrims and Indians feasting together. You can find many Thanksgiving decoration ideas with pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys. These fun trinkets can be spread throughout your house with throw pillows, welcome mats, table cloths, and other pieces of décor. Have fun this autumn, and keep it festive by including some Thanksgiving pride.

Fall

Autumn is usually referred to as the change of the season. It is a very colorful time of the year as the leaves turn vibrant shades of red, yellow, and orange. The trees begin to shed their leaves, and the world begins to take a much more earthy tone in preparation for winter. Likewise, we can use some of these natural tones in our own décor. Consider some earthy tones and plaid textiles involving some fun warm colors like red and yellow.

Fall is time for friends and family, so get your home ready for hosting guests. This can mean fall décor can go from the exterior to the interior of your home. Adding a variety of fall flavor to your home can always be fun. What are some of your favorite fall décor? Let us know below in the comment section!

Delicious Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

We all love the time with our loved ones on Thanksgiving and the time off work. Yet, no one will deny the absolute thrill it is to gorge on many delicious foods and desserts. When going to a Thanksgiving meal, it is always helpful to bring some side dishes to help contribute to the feast. Check with your host to see what foods are available and what they may need. If you get some freedom to choose, here are four absolute great Thanksgiving favorites:

Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese can be a holiday favorite. It works great with all different types of people, ranging in all ages! From the young attenders to the older people at the party, everyone loves to indulge in some cheesy goodness. Plus, Mac & Cheese can be easy to make, and if you are looking for a healthier version, be sure to visit our past blog post here.

Mashed Potatoes

For people looking for a dairy-free, carbohydrate option, consider bringing mashed potatoes! This timeless remedy is perfect for complimenting the turkey dinner. Remember to bring gravy as well. You can be even more prepared by bringing two gravy options so people can choose their favorite topping. Just be sure to use almond milk and dairy-free butter when prepping the mashed potatoes, so that everyone can enjoy them at Thanksgiving.

Buffalo Wings

Most Thanksgiving dinners will have the traditional turkey and ham. You can add another meat as a side dish, as well. Try bringing your own buffalo wings. Buffalo wings are great appetizers before the actual dinner since they are packed in protein and are delicious! Some people cannot tolerate spicy wings, so consider a milder sauce and blue cheese or ranch as a dipping sauce.

Pie

What is a feast without dessert! Pies are a phenomenal option to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner. There are several fantastic and traditional options like apple, pecan, and pumpkin pie. See if any pies may be provided, as well. If so, you can bring many different varieties, including berry, chocolate, or even lemon meringue.

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and appreciate the small things in life. Help contribute to the feast this year by bringing some tasty side dishes! What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes? We would love to hear from you in the comment section.

Three Ways to Incorporate Autumn Colors

Every season offers a different color palette of beauty! Spring has many fun, bright pastel colors, summer is full of vibrant colors, winter has clean, crisp whites, and fall is full of rich, earthy tones. When you think of fall, you probably think of the colors the leaves turn on the trees. You have your reds, oranges, and yellows. However, fall has an extensive color palette to consider. You also have some very earthy tones that compliment the seasons as well, such as browns, beiges, and forest greens. Incorporating these colors into your seasonal design is a great way to take pride in the changing seasons. Here are three key ways to add autumn colors to your home’s design:

Textiles

Decorating your home for the seasons should not take you weeks to complete. Swapping out some textiles in your home is an easy way to adapt to seasonal décor. Consider pillowcases, towels, blankets, and rugs that can help incorporate some of the beautiful colors fall has to offer. Plaid is also a great pattern to consider using with these earthy tones to make a room feel more comforting and fall-oriented.

Exterior Accents

Color can be added externally through many natural remedies. Hay barrels, scarecrows, pumpkins, and cornstalks can all be facilitated to create fall scenery around your entrance. Be creative, but consider your weather. Not everything can stay outdoors during the cooler months. Think of the earthy tones and warm colors fall has to offer. Incorporating these in your exterior design is just one more nod to your seasonal pride!

Holiday Décor

There are two major holidays to consider during the fall season: Halloween and Thanksgiving. Both holidays have very distinct décor you can add to your home. Adding jack o’ lanterns and spooky décor is always fun in October. During November, you may want to incorporate cornucopias as a centerpiece, pilgrim and Indian décor, or cute turkey trinkets around your home. Just remember to enjoy the holiday season through decor, and always express yourself.

There are hundreds of ways to encapsulate the colors of fall. Remember, earthy tones and warm colors help keep the cooler months warmer. Make your home feel like a beautiful fall oasis by keeping the colors flowing throughout. For more ideas on how to decorate for the seasons, make sure to subscribe!

Halloween Safety in the East Valley

Halloween is a great holiday for the kids! They can dress up as their favorite superhero, princess, zombie, or just something plain silly. Kids can get very excited to go out with their group of friends and go door to door asking for candy. However, in all the excitement, it is important to remember safety first. Your children’s enthusiasm can make this way of thinking easily slip their minds. Preplanning ahead can help optimize you and your loved one’s safety this Halloween.

Prepare for Darkness

Halloween is between 5:30 to 9:30 on Thursday, October 31, 2019. Sunset is at 5:37 pm in the Valley, so it is going to be dark. You should equip all your children with flashlights. Not only can a flashlight illuminate their paths while Trick-or-Treating, but it also can make them easier to see. Children can get excited and run ahead of the group. You and traffic shall be able to see them easier when they are carrying a flashlight. You may also want to consider lighter colored costumes or reflective trick-or-treat bags to help see your children easier.

Have a Plan

The younger children should always have an adult with the group. Whether older children choose to separate is up to you; just remember to plan before the evening begins. Everyone should know where the groups will be. Carry cell phones and know everyone’s phone number in each group. Be familiar with the areas you are trick-or-treating. If anyone gets lost, have an emergency plan. Everyone should know how to call 911 or contact the group. Only houses with their porch lights on are participating in the event. When walking, walk against traffic, and make sure you are seen. Always use sidewalks and paths where they are provided.

Sorting Halloween Candy and Goodies

When the night is over, and everyone gets home, be with your children to sort out the candy. Throw away any open or broken sealed goods. You should be hesitant with anything that was homemade or not wrapped. It is always good to be on the side of caution. Allow your kids to enjoy the experience and trade candies with one another. This can add to the experience of the night and leave everyone happy.

Be safe this Halloween and think ahead. Taking simple precautions is key to a safe and fun night. You should also monitor how much candy your children consume that evening and the following days. Do not let them splurge and get sick, but have fun and enjoy it for weeks to come!