Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

6 Tips for Hosting a Gift Exchange Party

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As a last hurrah before we tore up our main floor, I threw a gift exchange party. It was a rather small group of friends, but just perfect. It’s truly such a joy having some of my favorite people under one roof. 

Since Christmas is a hectic time (for business owners and moms, especially), I threw it on the 28th. I also threw the party mid-day and provided childcare so my friends with little ones at home could still enjoy the party. It was easy to find a babysitter since the school kids were out that week, and I just had her party with the kids downstairs and keep them entertained with food and a movie. 

I kept the party festivities rather simple. I used Paperless Post to send out the invites and manage RSVPs, but I think in the future I may try out Evite instead. I’m curious to see which one is better.

I kept the food fairly simple and somewhat dietary-inclusive. My menu: 

  • Quinoa salad (Gluten-free with avocado, cilantro and chopped chicken on the side)
  • Bananas and oranges
  • Kale salad
  • Various herbal teas as a hot drink
  • Chipotle cheddar biscuits
  • Churros

It was a simple spread, but delicious. The churros were definitely the best part of the food situation. 

I teamed up with San Diablo Churros. They catered the event and provided us with mini filled churros. We had dulce de leche, nutella and salted caramel. Each one was made fresh right there. That was the one special thing I wanted about the party. I feel like when it comes to planning a gathering, it’s best to plan one thing you want to be perfect. Everything else is a bonus. Otherwise, I personally spend the whole time focusing on all the things that didn’t go exactly as planned. 


Tips for hosting a simple and fun holiday gift exchange: 

  • Use a digital invitation service
  • Plan it on a day when not a lot is going on (post holidays, is great)
  • Provide childcare during day-time hours so more friends can come
  • Keep the menu simple and ask for help! Get a friend or two to bring a dish, cater what you don’t have time for
  • Introduce everyone, tell everyone your favorite characteristic about each guest (this is especially helpful if you’re inviting friends from different circles)
  • Do White Elephant gift exchange rules. Stealing good gifts from each other is fun!

Have you hosted a holiday gift exchange before? What are your tips for hosting a good one? 

Bohemian Meets Minimalist Christmas Tree

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This year marks the first in 7 years that I haven’t booked my ticket to Alt Summit. As a result, I’ve decorated for Christmas. And I’ve had fun doing it, too! I’ve been slowly growing my collection of decor items, and I’m at a happy place this year with a grown-up tree that’s dressed to my liking. 

I have a few personal hang-ups with holiday decor. One being that it’s impossible to store the other 12 months of the year and the other is that it takes up too much living space while out that everything feels cramped. 

I found our white, pre-lit, minimalist tree a couple of years ago at Walmart for $80. The closest I could find is this one. But I fell in love with the realistic texture of the branches and the tiny box footprint it takes up when in storage. The problem: it’s really sparse. So I got creative.

I don’t like the look of seeing the metallic pole down the center, so I bought a couple of feather boas and wrapped the center of the tree with them. The feathers added richness and weight to the tree that was lacking. 

Many of the ornaments I’ve had in the past are white and silver, but with the white tree, I felt like it’s too cold to have silver details. So I opted for warmer white and soft pink details with pops of green and dark browns. Since the tree is so obviously fake, I thought some realistic tree picks with flocked pine cones added a nice touch. And the flowers. The flowers really did it for me. 

Eco Flower sent me a wood flower bouquet for styling with my calligraphy work. As a quick shout-out, I wish they’d been around when Chris and I got married. They’re beautiful and last forever!

Chris helped me deconstruct the bouquet and add the beautiful blooms to our tree. Since they’re on wire stems, it was easy to wrap them around the branches and affix in place. In fact, most of the decor is firmly stuck to the tree so it’s quite kid-friendly. The only issue I’ve had with the decorations so far is that Junie likes to open up the presents when I’m not looking. She’s having fun and it’s no big deal to re-wrap those boxes.

In addition to the wood flowers, I got out the bunch of paper flowers I made months back out of coffee filters as a craft night with friends. The bigger, fluffier blossoms fill out the tree nicely, too. 

In lieu of a tree skirt, I got a basket from Tai Pan trading to fit the tree. I still have to cover the ugly stand with presents, but that’s a good excuse to get my gift-game on early to cover it all up. At some point, I hope to DIY a wooden stump into a stand. Maybe next year? There’s always next year. 

I’m just so thrilled with how it all turned out. I’m slowly figuring out my personal style when it comes to holiday decor, and I’m enjoying the process. 

RESOURCES: 

  • Wood flowers: Eco Flower c/0
  • 12 days of Christmas: Land of Nod c/o
  • Pink wrapping paper: Tiny Prints
  • Gold wrapping paper: Tai Pan Trading
  • Basket: Tai Pan Trading
  • Picks: Tai Pan Trading & Walmart
  • Paper flowers: handmade

 

Give Thanks this Christmas

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As promised the 2016 “Thank You” printable is here. It just had to stay under wraps until after Thanksgiving. This year I teamed up with Mormon.org to create a printable in-line with their #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign. Scroll to the bottom if you want to just download the freebie. I’m about to talk religion for a hot second.

I’m a Mormon. I keep it incognito most of the time, but I am a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We’re Christians, and this time of year I feel so much kinship with other Christian religions as we celebrate the core of our faith: Jesus Christ. This is one of the seasons of year where I readjust my focus and try to be just a little bit better. A little bit kinder. A little more Christ-like. Because, baby steps. right?

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I’m passionate about gratitude. I love writing out Thank You cards to friends and family. I love sending out snail mail!! It’s a favorite of mine. So I’ve created a printable Thank You suite for the whole family.

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The first (from left, see above) is a fold-over card for grown ups and longer sentiments. The middle is a guided card for younger writers, giving them only a little bit of space to write something. Even a couple of words. The third (which could be use for a short Thank You) is designed for emerging writers, encouraging a child to just make a mark. A picture or a scribble allows him/her to take ownership of the sentiment.

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Included in the Thank You set is a printable envelope. Print, cut and tape together. It’s pretty quick. If I have time, I’ll send the Silhouette Studio file here so you can cut it with your Silhouette machine.

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Last, but not least, I painted and lettered a phrase from D+C 59:7 (some of our modern scripture). I hope that if you’re not of my same faith, you might find this reminder encouraging to get on your knees and give thanks to Him.

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I hope you use this printable!! It’s a real pleasure to make these designs and publish them out to the world. I love seeing them in real-life situations, too. If you use it, tag me (@melissapher) so I can see how you’ve incorporated it into your Christmas.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Want more Thank You’s to print and download? See this list:

Artwork is free for personal use. Distribution and alteration of files without written consent is prohibited. Contact me if you have any questions of the terms of use.

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Calligraphy-Lover’s Gift Guide

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Happy Cyber Monday! Good grief the year is flying by so quickly. I’ve been meaning to write the reprise to my first gift guide for over a year now. Here it is. If you’ve got a calligraphy/letter lover in your family, hold on to your pants. My online class at Calligraphy.org is 10% off with code CYBER2016 from now until 11/30/2016. Discount available on gifts (hint: gift it to yourself, it’s always a good idea).

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If you yourself are a calligraphile, forward this to your family and friends. Clue them in to the hottest, awesomest stuff to gift this year. I’ve broken it up into 3 price tiers: budget-friendly, mid-range and SPLURGE! All tools are great for all experience levels. They’re tools that I have in my own studio (or ones that I’m lusting after myself). If you have any questions at all, give me a shout-out in the comments below. I’m happy to reply.

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BUDGET FRIENDLY

  • Ruler: This rolling ruler allows you to easily make parallel lines! It’s awesome. I use it constantly.
  • Gold watercolor inks: Add water and apply to the underside of the nib to make gold ink. These come in separate containers that are tiny and portable.
  • Adjustable oblique holder: Your loved one looking to graduate from the speedball universal? This is a fabulous holder that works with a wide range of nibs, even crowquills.
  • Zig twin brushes: These brushes have a foam cone, so they don’t fray or dull. They’re great for beginners, heavy-handed letterers or the busy mom & pop that have mischievous children.
  • Copic Gasenfude: It’s a nylon brush marker that has a springy touch and juicy ink that won’t quit.
  • Copperplate nib sampler: Give your calligrapher the option to explore nibs he/she hasn’t tried before.

 

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MID-RANGE

  • Sakura Koi watercolor set: It’s compact, comes with a fabulous water-brush. The pigments are brilliant and archival. Great for your artist on-the-go.
  • Calligraphy.org Gift Kit: I’m biased, but these kits include one-on-one coaching for brush and pointed pen calligraphy. So if your letter-lover has no idea what he/she is doing, we can help. Or we can push him/her farther with off-script challenges.
  • really nice brush for watercolor: I think everyone should have at least one sable brush in their supplies.
  • A leather blotter: it helps get finer, smoother hairlines to write with a blotter underneath your work. or you can customize it for a little extra splurge. Mike Ward makes the most beautiful signatures.

 

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SPLURGE

Free Printable Christmas Tags

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Oh gosh, it’s that time of year again! I’m loving how it pushes me creatively to come up with new designs and freebies. It’s such a great time to explore my art.

Interesting note: My grandparents for years and years held a Thanksgiving tradition of painting and a sleepover after our Thanksgiving feast. My grandpa carefully set out a canvas, brushes and a palette for each of us. He had a painting for us to work off of, but we could always do our own thing. I love how my family fostered art together.

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Instead of the annual Thank You card, I have a gift tag/place card printable. The Thank You is coming soon. You’ll see it in a few days. And don’t worry (not that any of you do), the candy box is also on its way.

Use this printable as a last-minute place card or punch a hole and use it as a tag for a last-minute hostess gift tag. It comes 4 to a page, so you can use them for all sorts of fancy things! Speaking of gift tags, I’m teaching a gift tag brush lettering class next week on DECEMBER 1st in LEHI, UT! It’ll be at Paper Crush in Lehi. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

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I painted and lettered the graphics. Of course, I couldn’t have done what I did without taking a class from Natalie Malan! A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to go to one of her workshops (a couple of spots opened up and I snatched up it right away). I feel like I really upped my watercolor game after her class. Loved every minute of it.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

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I hope you enjoy and have a wonderful holiday! This printable is free for personal use only. Any alteration or distribution of the artwork without written consent is prohibited.

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