Setting a holiday dinner party table.

This post is sponsored by Staples.

One of my favorite shows on tv is House Hunters.  If you haven’t seen it, the premise is a buyer(s) looks at three houses for sale and buys one at the end. It’s always interesting to listen the prospective buyer’s comments.  9 times out of 10 they talk about what a great entertaining space the living room or dining room would be.  When the Mr. and I were house hunting we said the same thing.  The funny thing is we are so not the entertaining type.  Family life has consumed us.  We’re all concerned about making a comfortable space for our guests that we have over once or twice a year.  I’m curious, how often do you people host a party?

 Even though we’re not the “let’s throw a party” type we do we try and make it special when we actually host guests.
Luckily Staples approached me and asked if I’d like to participate in their holiday hack challenge called #HandmadeHolidays with some items of my choosing from their store .
I was a little skeptical…décor it up from an office supply store? Hmmm?
However, after doing some shopping at their store I could have gone a hundred different directions on making something cool for the holidays.
So I decided to throw our once-a-year party…Staples style!


The first thing I did was cover the table with brown Kraft paper.  Not only does it look cool but it makes a perfect disposable table runner.



Kraft paper is the best supply EVER! I use it for table runners, art paper for my kids, wrapping paper and décor.   I even put it down on the floor as a protector if I have workers in the house doing maintenance.  It’s just so versatile.
If you’re going to use it to wrap presents I would recommend a 40# weight. 30# works but can be just a tad thin for my liking.

Next up: DIY place cards.

pine cone place card

Staples carries these very chic jumbo gold paper clips.
Using my glue gun I attached them to some pine cones I picked up in my yard (feel free to come get some, I’ve got about 500).
Next, I found these cool stencil letters from Staples which were perfect for designating the first letter of the name for where everyone was supposed to sit.


Some of the pine cones sat lop-sided so I put a little dab of hot glue down right under the pine cone then they sat perfectly. You can also put them in a small glass tea-light holder.

For the center pieces I used these mini trees.  The containers weren’t very pretty.  No worries, more Kraft paper to the rescue!

Faux brown bag container

1. Put a large Ziploc baggie around the container so the moisture doesn’t leak.
2. Wrap Kraft paper around the container and tie it up with twine. You can leave it like this however, it took up too much space on the table with the paper wings sticking out.
3. Roll the paper “wings” down and under to mimic the look of a rolled down paper bag.

The holidays about giving.  A special gift left at your guests table setting doubles as table décor.

PicMonkey Collage


I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I can’t stand gift bags, they are so impersonal. No one wraps presents anymore.
Julie Andrews was right on when she sung, “Brown paper packages tied up with string…these are a few of my favorite things.” Mine too sis-tah!

1. I used my favorite Kraft paper to wrap up the gift.
2. I found this Bordette at Staples which teachers often use on their classroom bulletin boards.
3. I cut the scalloped edge off to make a present wrapping accessory.
4. In addition to Kraft paper being one of the most versatile materials ever I will also say that brown twine ranks up there too. I use it for everything.
5. I cut a little sprig of this whatever-bush-it-is from my front yard to garnish my gift and table with.


Another one of my secrets for adding flowers to a table on the cheap…

Bud vase
You can often find grocery store flowers that are really inexpensive. By breaking them up and putting them in small bud vases you can make several small arrangements.



I’m also sold on desert being something de-lish but simple. I found these glass cups of chocolate mousse at a wharehouse grocery store.

I put them at each place setting with dinner…that way people could indulge when they were ready. Plus it wasn’t something major I had to make a big production of after the meal.


Party went off without a hitch.
If you don’t have a Staples store close to where you are you can always order from their online store.

Christmas around our house.

Getting the house Christmas-ified has awakened the decorating beast inside me this past month.
The plan this year was to set up the Christmas tree right in front of the huge picture window in the living room. It looked great in my mind before we set it up. Then when we actually got it up, it threw the whole feng-shui off for the entire room. I lived with it for as long as I could (3 days) then I told the Mr. it had to be moved. You want to see a man’s eyes roll so big they actually fall out of his head and roll down the street tell him the Christmas tree has to be moved to another spot in the room. It took another 3 days of pleading and begging before he gave in.   I’ll spare you all the details but let’s just say it was an engineering feet to slide a fully lit and decorated tree 6 feet to the right.  The Mr. was totally justified in that eye roll.

The tree looks great but it’s new spot made the chaise lounge look like a big gray elephant hanging out in the middle of the room.  So to the basement it went and in came a pair of vintage Milo Baughman-esque chrome lounge chairs.  Cue harps.  Holy moly can we just have a moment of silence for these chairs.  I have been eyeing them for MONTHS at a local mid century furniture store called the Green Ant.
I’ve been back to visit them 5 times.
I sat in them for an embarrassing amount of time in the store.
After dreaming about them forever they finally came home with me.


Similar chairs go for some serious cash on 1st Dibs.

milo baughman on 4men1lady

(From left top going clockwise…1, 2, 3 , 4.)

I hit the lottery because I in no way paid even a fraction of what those babies are selling for.


I don’t love the camel velvet but it’s growing on me. They’re in great condition for being vintage so it will buy me some time until I’m ready to have them reupholstered.

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Here’s how the rest of the living room has shaped up…

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Throw back to last year…check my DIY tutorial for making arrow ornaments out of paint stir sticks:


Making it a White Christmas with Cricut Explore.

We did something very un-Hinckley-like last Sunday…we set up the Christmas tree.
The Christmas spirit doesn’t usually hit our house until well in to December. However, thanks to retailers pushing Christmas down our throats in October my little men have been begging to get the Christmas ball rolling around here.
When in Rome…

I’ve found that my tastes change from year to year when it comes to holiday decorating.  Last year I did touches of gold everywhere…this year not so much.  I’ve been enlisting the help of my Cricut machine to create some personalized holiday decor.  Plus, since I’m participating in Cricut’s Design Star (Team #7 in da hooouuussseee) I thought this would be a great opportunity to get my holiday craft on.

This first project I tackled,  I simply cut out images out of plain old card stock using my Cricut Explore.

       PicMonkey Collage

Check out that precision! This machine cuts like a dream.  I can remember having to put together presentations in college and using a die cut machine that you had to hand crank blocks through.  That seems so ancient now.  The Cricut not only has thousands of objects you can use but you can also upload your own images. Plus it will cut and/draw most anything.

I’ve always loved the classic image of hauling a tree on top of a car.  I found the perfect car hauling a surf board but I cut off the board and replaced it with a tree.  You may remember I did another version here.  I simply put my cut-outs in a white frame to make my own customized art.


I also cut out a snowflake out of cardstock, sandwiched it between two panes of glass and put it in a frame.  Cheapest art I’ve ever made.

The next art piece I tackled was using my Cricut to cut out some images on vinyl.


Then I transfered them on to a gigantic mirror we have above our fireplace mantle.


A personalized holiday greeting that I can remove with damaging my mirror after the holidays.

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For my next project, I wanted to add some holiday decor that didn’t scream “holiday decor”.  One of the great things about Christmas is that pretty much anything goes.  People will put anything on Christmas trees these days.  I love a tree decked out with all the classic trimmings but it’s also fun to decorate a tree that reflects a “year in review” so to speak.  Tribal prints, desert motifs, arrows, feathers…they’re big right now and I love them all.  So why not put them on the tree?


I also go fancy and made some feather garland.


Looks great on my tree but would also look fab for a party or room decor also.


(Read more about my DIY arrows ornaments I made from paint stir sticks).

It’s a White Christmas!

Want to get a Cricut Explore machine of your own?


Refer Santa’s elves here.

Be sure and check out some of my other team member’s projects:

White Christmas Cricut Design Space

Feather Ornaments, Mirror Art, Holiday Art  |  4 Men 1 Lady
Vintage Truck Christmas Pillow  |  The Crafted Sparrow
White Christmas Decor  |  Love the Day

Here are some other projects I’ve made with my Cricut Explore…

PicMonkey Collage

1. Personalized cookie favor bags.
2. Etched plates
3. Personalized iron-on vinyl canvas bags
4. Cookie box

I am part of Cricut’s blogger network.  I am not being directly compensated for these posts however, I may receive winnings if my project(s) are selected to win in any contests.  I am also apart of Cricut’s affiliate network and I use affiliate links.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.