Sunday, December 30, 2012

Oprah's Favorite Things Inspired Gift

As a working mom, I never watched the Oprah Winfrey show, but what human being hasn't heard about Oprah's Favorite Things show and all the amazing gifts she gives away to her studio audience? After hearing from a friend of mine about a Christmas gift she received, I decided to put these two "favorite things" ideas together in order to craft a birthday gift for one of my closest friends.

A little Photo Shop magic, and it's no longer an Oprah Magazine cover with Oprah and Ellen, but a personalized magazine cover with my friend's and my face!  I printed this image as the front cover of the birthday card I made to look like a magazine.  Hilarious!
Instead of writing a happy birthday message inside the card, I wanted to stick with the magazine theme. I decided to write a letter to the C&D Magazine subscribers of course mentioning my friend's birthday and how amazing she is. It also gave me a chance to explain the gift.

Just four of the items included.

For the actual gift, I bought 10 items that are some of my friend and my favorite things.  Each of these items was tied with a tag made on my Cricut machine. I tried to keep each item within a budget, so some items were purchased and others were handmade.  For example, my daughter really wanted to make my friend something too, and she decided to color a Little Mermaid picture for her.  I cut out the coloring book page after Ella was done, backed it with card stock, and then added it to the gift. My friend loved it!

Inside the card/magazine, I explained the included items much like Oprah does in her magazine. I did all these pages on Microsoft Word with images from Google.  I cut them to be 10"x7" (my card was 5x7) and folded them in half to place inside the "magazine".  I didn't have a stapler large enough to reach the fold, so I hole punched two small holes on the fold with my mini punch and threaded thin white ribbon through them/tied a knot to secure the book.

I also included some advertisement pages.  I did this mainly to fill up blank spots in the "magazine", but I also thought it would make it seem a bit more authentic. I chose images that I could easily manipulate with text boxes, etc, so that I could personalize them.

I had a lot of fun making this gift, and my friend really got a kick out of it. I wanted to share the idea with my readers in case you are looking for a creative way to present a gift in the future!  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Elf on the Shelf Ideas

We decided to introduce the Elf on the Shelf idea for the first time this year.  Luckily, it is fairly low-key in our house currently and the kids don't expect much, so I have gotten away with doing some fairly simple placements around the house.  I wanted to share a few easy/creative ones in case you are running out of ideas and need a few.

Idea #1:  Have your elf eating a banana.  I hang our bananas, so this worked out perfectly.  I ate half in the morning, and left the rest for "Jake."

Idea #2:  Time to go fishing!  My daughter has a small fish bowl which has a glass fish in it.  I made a fishing pole out of a wooden skewer and some embroidery thread, set Jake on some books, and he went fishing.  My daughter got a kick out of this.

Idea #3:  Lincoln Log fort. I set up a fort/store with my kids Lincoln Logs.  Jake sat on top so he could easily be seen.  I have to keep Jake up high since I have an 18 month year old, so this is why he is on top of our buffet table.

Idea #4:  My kids love to color. I printed out a coloring book-style Elf on the Shelf page on Google Images,  and set Jake up to color himself.  I used a dollhouse chair, some building blocks, and a Frisbee to create the table.

Idea #5:  On the day my mom takes the kids to story time, Jake decided to have story time as well. The book is just cut up typing paper stapled in the middle.

Idea #6:  My daughter loves to play dress up.  Today, Jake decided to play with her!

I'll try to post more Elf ideas that aren't already all over the internet as I do them.  Feel free to share your ideas with me as well!  Would love to steal them!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Black Friday Party

To start off December and get the monthly girls in the holiday spirit, I decided to theme our December dinner after Black Friday.  I wanted to have a holiday theme, but one with a little twist.  This led to the craziness of hosting a Black Monday Madness party (since my dinners are actually on Mondays).  I put in some long hours of prep on this one, but I loved how everything turned out.

Invite:  I designed my invitation to look like a Black Friday advertisement, and printed it on 8.5x11 paper.  The image is a Walmart advertisement I found on Google, that I just added text boxes, etc. so that it revealed all the party details in a creative way.  As you may recall if you read my blog regularly, I have no idea how to use Photo Shop, so everything you see in this post is done on Microsoft Word.

Entry:  Although I didn't really make my guests line up and wait outside like Black Friday, I did set up the outside to look like it.  I used wooden stanchions to create an area for the "line"  A sign on the first stanchion told guests to form a line.  I put a Girls R Us sign on the door as if that was the name of our "store."

Decor:  I set my table with a black tablecloth for Black Friday.  I used a shopping cart filled with small kid toys for a centerpiece as well as my daughter's cash register.

For added fun, I made shopping bags using mini gift bags from Michaels.  I cut out logos of various stores to glue to the fronts and spread these around the table.  I also bought some fake money at the Dollar Store to wrap around green napkins.  Black Friday is all about saving money!

I spent hours making coupon place cards for each guest.  I wanted them to be silly, so I found funny/different photos of each guest to use rather than plain typical looks.  Depending on the photo, I then adapted what was being sold and the description of the "product".  I even found fun logos that went with the pictures to spice it up a bit.  These were a bit hit, and we all got a kick out of seeing the photos and reading the silly descriptions.

I made these simple wine charms to go with my theme.  I had everything from 10% off to 80% off.  The images were found on Google Images, printed on card stock, hole punched, and tied with ribbon around the glass stems.

Menu: I created an advertisement with my menu as well.  These were placed at various spots on the table.  The food was free for the first 10 customers on Black Monday = my number of guests for the evening!  I tried to think of clever titles and descriptions to really pull in my theme.  We started with Saving Lots of "Green" Salad.

The main dish was Blackened Chicken Alfredo Pasta, Zucchini Quarters with Black Pepper, and a Little Extra "Dough" bread sticks.  I found the recipe for the pasta on This Week for Dinner.  I followed the recipe except that I used the grill instead of pan frying/oven.  This dish has a bit of a kick, which I usually can't tolerate, but I actually enjoyed it.  The spice was strong, but not overpowering.

The dessert was Million Dollar Chocolate Pudding Pie with Peppermint.   This is an easy dessert that is great for the holidays. I called it Million Dollar pie to pull in the theme and created dollar signs out of chocolate.  The original recipe made stars.

Favor: The whole purpose of Black Friday is to save money and spend money.  This is why I created a purse favor. I made a rectangular box for the inside and filled it with some black tissue paper and gold chocolate coins I found at the Dollar Store.  The outside is made with card stock, ribbon, and a scrapbooking rhinestone.  I had to purchase sticky Velcro to keep it closed as the coins were too heavy for just scrapbooking glue/tab.  I designed the priceless tag on Microsoft Word.

We had a great time at this party.  Almost all the details were very inexpensive because I made them all myself; it just took time to create each item. I think it was worth it though.  The girls and I had a lot of laughs and enjoyed the night.  As usual...if you would like any of the documents for a future Black Friday party, just send me an email!  Oh, and please comment below.  I love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Shopping!