Beautiful Thanksgiving table settings

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Monochrome color scheme always works. You can find pheasant feathers online.

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This is a perennial favorite. Runner in the middle and pile pumpkins in the middle, mix some candles in and antlers. Btw, pet stores sell antlers, you’d just have to spray paint them if you want white or gold.

garland centerpiece thanksgiving table setting idea

Country Living

This couldn’t be easier, just add a garland down in the middle, pop some votives around it and you’re done! Oranges, tangerines or pomegranates or even apples and pears would be great dotted on the garland.

And last but not least, some ideas for kiddie tables. I’ve used brown craft paper and taped it to the table and added some crayons for kids to color also. Meaningful Mama has a great idea to have kids write down what they are thankful for.

Thanksgiving Kids' Table Covered in Brown Paper and Full of Kid Activities

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The Frugal Homemaker

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-h

Best sales picks of the week!

It is so cold! I don’t know about you but every time the temps drop below 60 degrees I instantly feel like buying more cashmere sweaters. And there will be snow on Friday!

Take a look at these sales picks for upcoming holiday season. I am finding, now that I am 40, that there are more and more events where I need to look a bit more conservative and less like mommy still got it! I have a corporate party coming up where I am suddenly one of the senior people! No more fun to be had, I’ll just circle and smile and say how wonderful and indeed. Most of my dresses are entirely too fitted for saying Indeed! and I definitely cannot wear my over the knee boots which would look adorable w sweater dresses. Sigh.

I love this shearling topper. Its conservative but still fun. You can wear it over a grey turtleneck and grey jeans or over a fitted black dress. Almost $1000 off, $524.50

Maureen Topper Jacket W/ Shearling Combo

 

How cute is this dress from Nanette Lepore and a total steal at $59.40? Its conservative but still sexy and can be worn pretty much year round.

Floral Lace Sheath Dress

Or you can say heck with it and go all out in this sparkler! It is stunning. Darker gold does look best on darker skin so if you are super pale like yours truly, throw on some self-tanner. I swear by this self-tanner. This dress would amazing for new years but for more formal events I would do an updo or a messy bun, dark eyes and black pumps to balance the sequins.

Janis Mock-Neck Long-Sleeve Body-Con Mini Sequin Cocktail Dress

 

Love the color of this silk top, would look beautiful with some dangly earrings, gold or silver. $113.40

Gathered Silk Blouson Top

Gathered Silk Blouson Top

 

If you don’t have a sweater dress, I really recommend you get one. They are warm and versatile, can be dressed up (high heels, red lip, jewelry) or down (riding boots, tights and booties, scarf). Make sure though that a) its thick enough, some “cashmere” ones are so thin, yes they are technically cashmere but they are basically see through and b) fit, fit, fit. I bought a berry red J Crew red which looked amazing on the model and when I tried it on it ballooned around my hips. It must have been made for an a very exaggerated pear body type and clearly clipped from behind to make it look good for photos. I really wish retailers would quit doing that. Black is a safe option but I love winter white, red, maroon, and green. This is beautiful and has a good fit.

Pacey Ruffle-Hem Ribbed Sweater Dress

And for the Cinderella moment, this pair isn’t cheap at $799 (they have an additional $100 off promotion currently) but it would go equally well w a dress or jeans. Would love this with jeans, white button down and a fitted blazer. Gorgeous. Easy way to dress up any outfit.

Kimiyah Embellished Mesh Pumps, Blue

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-haiku

Quick tips for hosting on Thanksgiving.

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Food: prepare ahead! Make lasagna and freeze, chili or soups, bake or buy some cookies/muffins/croissants. Stock up on chips, salsa, assemble a quick cheese tray, have plenty of wine etc. Find a good deli where you can buy some prepared salads, stuff for sandwiches and buy some pies from local bakery. You do not have to make everything but you should have enough food that lunch or dinner doesn’t stress you out. Eat out at least one meal, your guests really ought to take you out for a dinner. One of my favorite things to get are frozen croissants from Trader Joe’s, they are SO good. Take out night before, lay out to raise and bake the next morning.

Sleeping arrangements: prepare ahead as well. Have their bedrooms/inflatable mattresses/couch prepped as much as possible. Lay out bedding, towels, toiletries.

Entertainment: I’d print out a list of attractions in the area should the guests want to go sightseeing. Plan a trip to the movies or rent something at home. Everyone is thinking of gifts so a trip to outlets wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Dinner time: be it Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hanukkah, involve your guests! Delegate! If they are staying over, have them help out. It creates a more familial, jovial mood. No one enjoys sitting there with a glass of wine when the host and hostess are running around getting everything ready. Easier said than done but it can be as easy as opening a bottle of wine, putting some decorative touches on dishes or folding napkins. If people are coming over, make some recipes that you are familiar with and ask the guests to contribute the rest.

  • purchase flowers, wine, non-perishables several days ahead
  • make casseroles, cranberry sauce, dessert 1-2 days early
  • set the table a day ahead
  • set out serving dishes and I like to put a little sticky notes in them (turkey, green beans etc) along with serving forks so I know what goes where.
  • run a dishwasher before the dinner and empty it
  • make a timetable for the big day: count up from dinner time, figure out what/when something needs to start cooking. Also plan when you can go shower and get dressed!
  • have drinks ready and some small appetizers, just crudite or smth like that
  • take a minute, be thankful to be celebrating with your loved ones and enjoy the rest of the wonderful meal.

This woman hasnt led me wrong yet. Ina Garten’s make ahead thanksgiving feast.

Best gifts for kids – holiday guide!

I remember researching the web last year and thinking man those fingerlings look kind of silly but hey, maybe I’ll pick them up for stocking stuffers but no need to get them now. And next thing I knew they were sold out everywhere, all moms were in full on panic and I got a tip that Toys R Us had a last minute shipment so I raced over asap. And dont even get me started on LOL dolls. LOL on parents – who comes up with this crap? Like who invented shopkins? Why wasn’t it me and also, I need to knock you down. SO if you think any of these look remotely interesting buy now and regift later. Warning this will be girl centric and I apologize to readers overseas, I have no idea whether these gifts would be available where you live.

If your child is dying for a pet, look no further – Scruffaloos

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When buying your Pink Scruff-a-Luv, they arrive as a sad ball of matted fur, but once you bath them, dry them, brush them and love them, you will discover what kind of pet they really are!
Who will you rescue? A Pink Puppy, Kitten or Bunny? Only by saving a Scruff-a-Luv you will find out. In return, they will be your FFF (Furry Friend Forever).Actually already sold out at Target at $17.79 but Walmart has them for $39.98. ouch!

Or get Pomsies, the next Fingerling, sort of a bracelet/stuff animal-robot hybrid. Makes sense, right? $14.82 at Walmart and Target, it comes in different colors. Cute little stocking stuffer. There are of course new Fingerlings out there (Panda!) and new Hatchimals (baby Hatchimals).

pomsies

Another very similar product is Little Live Wrapples for around $13-17 depending on color. Their eyes light up when you pet them, make 50 sounds etc. Cute little stocking stuffer. If you cant choose between these and Pomsies, I say get both now and whatever you dont use as gifts, you can always use later for birthdays.

wrapples

Y’all poop is in. You heard it here first. I don’t get it but then again, I am not their target market. Hasbro has Don’t Step In It, Unicorn game  When it came out it was $19, but Amazon is currently selling it for about $60. Regular version is available for $12.88

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Was your daughter really into LOL dolls? Well, now there’s a LOL surprise house $199 and LOL doll bigger surprise $89.

If your kids enjoyed Scratch Jr app, they maybe into coding. I had to nudge my 9 year old to take a coding class but once there, she loved it! There are several coding toys coming to the market from  coding wands and there’s also good old Osmo. This Bit  coding Robot looks super cool also. $48.99

bit

Start coding Bit screen-free with Color Code markers and stickers. Advance with OzoBlockly visual programming on a computer or tablet. These tools introduce ages 6 and up to basic coding concepts.

One of the hottest lego sets at this years Top Toy Fair was 878 piece Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall kit. Havent seen the price change much but maybe on Black Friday?

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Or get the 801 piece Harry Potter Hogwarts Express lego set. Amazon currently has it on sale for $64.99

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Interactive toys are so big this year. If you are over all the cutesiness of fuzzy fluffy giggly toys, then there’s Grumblies. There’s different kinds, around $17, the more u mess with them the more angrier they get till they have apparently a very funny meltdown.

grumblies Sort of screams Christmas, doesn’t it?

One more Lego idea, it looks super cute. Almost 1000 pieces, rec for 14+ but several reviewers said 10-12 age range did fine with this. Lego Ship Building Kit. $55.99 on Amazon.

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What are the must haves on your Christmas list? Have you started one? I try, realllyyyyy try to get most of these bought and wrapped as early as I can so I can relax and be Christmasing. 🙂

Love

-h

Taking family photos for holidays.

It’s that time of the year to start thinking about Christmas/Hanukkah cards. I have a handful of good tips to share!

  1. I love your children and love seeing how they grow up but I love you too! I love love family photos on holiday cards, seeing all my friends with their children. Get in on the fun! And by fun I mean of course it’ll be more stressful but hey! It’s the season. 🙂
  2. Try to finding a coordinating element to your outfits. And I don’t mean this:cc.jpg

With the younger children try having matching dresses for children and your outfit should have the same colors as their outfits, not identical but in the same color family. Boys could wear scarves, vests, bowties in the same hue. Let’s say they have white sweater dresses with snowflakes, you could do a sweater dress also or off the shoulder knit with chandelier earrings and hubs could wear white shirt, dark jeans and a sports coat. With older children you could each wear something in the same color family.  If you have a family of boys have them and dad wear matching ties in dark colors and you can wear a dress in similar color. If you decide on neutrals, vary textures: tulle, cashmere, fur, angora etc.

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Here, Melanie had gotten out of a hospital for emergency surgery on her neck, so considering this was not half bad. The sweaters are in similar tones so that helps pull the photo together.

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Katie Kinsley Photography

This family chose lighter colors whites and grays for another great photo.

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Lentille Photography

Even the Spanish royal family tries to color coordinate. Purple is not a Christmas color per se but darker colors work better for the season than say hot pink or turquoise.

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3.  Forget about the seasonality. If you have a great family photo you love, use that! You all fishing or camping or cooking – you do you!

4. Have fun with it! I did a sort of a ha-ha card one year and I was amazed how many people asked me if it was staged – yes, yes, it was. I don’t wear pearls/red lipstick and apron casually while my daughters decked to the nines eat cake. But I was more amazed how many people told me how much they loved that card, it’s been a few years and it still comes up! Girls dresses are from Carter’s.

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Katie Kinsley Photography

Love this! I mean who cannot relate? I love seeing dad and mom there also, having fun.

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And if the teenagers really don’t want to take a family holiday photo and husband isn’t thrilled either, this would be perfect.

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5. Last but not least, hire a professional photographer, someone who has experience working with children. Ask to see previous work. The right equipment, right lighting and ability to photoshop and edit the photos later are crucial. Go early in the day when light is best and noone is tired. Try to do it before December as it will be hectic as is and then you need to order the cards, wait for it, get them mailed out etc.

 

Love

-haiku