Why We Decided Not to Move

Last week I shared a post where I briefly mentioned that we had considered moving. The decision to stay in our blue house was not an easy one, and it was definitely a decision where we considered multiple factors. Arriving at the decision to take on adding two expensive outdoor features (pool and detached garage) was not easy. In fact, we spent years studying the housing market in our area, crunching numbers, and weighing the pros and cons. Ultimately, we decided that moving was not our best option. I’m sure I’m not the only adult who has faced (or is currently) facing life-altering decisions regarding whether or not to sell, so I thought it might be helpful if I shared a few of the deciding reasons we decided to stay.

Location, Location, Location

Our county is fairly large for our area, and moving to a different location within our county would drastically affect where we live. Currently, we can be to the interstate in 7 minutes. Our county has several interstate on ramps in different areas, and the one we live near gives my husband an extra 40 minutes every single day. That time adds up over the course of a week, month, or year. Not only are we near the interstate, we have an easy drive to the interstate with zero traffic lights. We are also five minutes (or less!) away from Walmart, multiple grocery stores, Hobby Lobby, our favorite movie theater, my gym, restaurants, and multiple family members. In my family, we’re the nearest to my grandmother who was just diagnosed with dementia. Knowing that I can be to her in three minutes is priceless. Our subdivision is also just outside of the city limits, but there is one house within our neighborhood inside the city limits. Because of that one house, our entire subdivision is zoned to receive city services without the higher taxes. In addition to all of the above, we have wonderful neighbors and live in a community where I feel safe. All of the homes in our neighborhood are well maintained with spacious lots. I just can’t imagine finding a better location.

Numbers

There were a lot of numbers that factored into our decision-making process. First, we have a fair bit of equity in our house. This was the trickiest part of the number game to consider. Having equity meant that we could cash in the equity on this house in order to upgrade to a house that met more of our wish list items. (More about our wish list in a moment.) However, equity also meant that we had a safety net and a low monthly mortgage payment. Selling our house and cashing in on the equity was a gamble that I wasn’t willing to take without doing my research first. So, I spent a couple of years watching the market. Housing prices in our county have remained steady – and honestly a little high – for the past few years. Our blue house wasn’t in the best shape when we purchased it, so we bought it for a low price. Finding another low-priced house that met our needs just wasn’t financially feasible. Similarly, purchasing land and building wasn’t fiscally responsible either. Numbers don’t lie, and they were telling me that we needed to stay in our blue house in order to live comfortably within our means.

Flipping?

I should mention that we also considered selling this house, moving into a smaller house, and flipping it for a quick profit. This was not an ideal solution for a number of reasons. First, I don’t want to downsize just to upsize again in a year or so. That would mean storing our furniture or selling it all just to repurchase something similar. Second, neither of us wanted to put in the labor required to flip another house. Getting our house ready to go on the market would take considerable work, and then we’d have to deal with keeping it spotless until it sold. I can’t even imagine having to get our 3 pets out of our house each time someone requested a showing. Then, we’d have to sell things, move, and completely renovate another house while living in it. This is not the quality of life we want for ourselves, so this option was quickly eliminated.

Wish List

No house is perfect. Even a house built just for us would have flaws. When considering moving, we had to take a hard look at our house and the areas in which we wished it could improve. In no particular order, our wish list for this house included:

  1. More garage space.
  2. A larger dining room.
  3. Separate office space for me.
  4. A pool.
  5. A larger laundry room.
  6. A second living room space for gaming and family gatherings.

However, our blue house has so many wonderful features that I have not seen in similar houses in our area, such as:

  1. A very large master suite.
  2. A completely renovated master bathroom that suits our needs and taste.
  3. A gas stove.
  4. A perfect location.
  5. A large, flat corner lot.
  6. A large, fenced-in yard.
  7. A color palette, fixtures, and furnishings that we chose for ourselves.
  8. Just the right amount of square footage.
  9. Potential to grow.

When you compare the lists, there’s obviously more to love about this house than there is to dislike. Plus, we knew we could overcome the majority our house’s shortcomings through renovations. Adding a pool and detached garage would solve numbers 1, 4, and 5 on our list. We could expand our laundry room into our attached garage if we no longer needed that garage closet space directly on the other side of the laundry room. We can gain a second living room space by finishing the bonus room space above our current garage. And, we can swap my office and dining room spaces if we find that we need more space in those areas. The sunroom I use as my office is long and narrow, which would accommodate our dining room table. The current dining room has more wall space that would help me to gain better office storage while also separating my workspace from our living area better. Alternately, I could use some of the bonus room space for a totally separate office space.

When we thought about our home desires, we realized that we already had everything we needed right here. Not only did our house have the potential to meet all of our wish list items, it just makes financial and practical sense to stay here. In our first house, we tackled every project with the resale value in mind. Even the paint choices in our first house were selected with the future buyer in mind. It paid off, but we never totally felt at home there. In our blue house, we made decisions for us, and it feels like home.

New Year’s Eve Favorite Things Brunch

Happy new year! The ladies in my family have started a new tradition of having a favorite things brunch around the holidays where my younger cousin and I host our moms, aunts, and grandmothers at my house for a fun morning of fellowship and gifting. (Click here to read more about the favorite things game.) This year, we had extra helping hands from our cousin’s new wife. (You may remember when we hosted her wedding shower last spring.) Last year, we hosted the brunch a week before Christmas, but this year we decided a New Year’s Eve brunch would work best.

We had a lot of fun setting the table this year! It was a special treat to break out linens and actual dinnerware and treat the ladies of our family to something special. We’re definitely a family that typically uses disposable plates and napkins for family gatherings.

Each place setting had a water glass, linen napkin, mimosa champagne flute with a swizzle stick, favor, party hat, name card, small plate, dinner plate, charger, and utensils. Trust me, we really upped the table setting ante from last year’s brunch.

The party hats were from Target, and almost everyone wore their hat during brunch! It was so much fun to look around the table and see everyone wearing party hats and enjoying themselves. The name cards were a simple DIY using free flower clip art. This helped us identify which mimosas should be mocktails. Plus it was a really sweet touch everyone seemed to appreciate.

We found the Bubbles & Kisses favor idea from Pinterest, and it was a huge hit! All we did was add some Hershey Kisses to an organza favor bag, write “Bubbles & Kisses” on gift tags from Target, and add it to the mini bottles of sparkling cider.

I’m going to get real for a minute and admit that this cake was almost a huge problem. It all started when I ordered a cake topper that didn’t arrive correctly, and then the Etsy seller forgot to send the correct topper. She was really gracious about it and gave me a full refund, but the cake already started with a disadvantage: no topper. Then, when we picked up the cake, it didn’t look at all like it was supposed to look. Instead of being covered in an edible glitter, it had gold sprinkles haphazardly sprinkled all over.

Honestly, we just needed to reset our mental picture of how the cake was supposed to look and instead accept how it actually looked. Once we did that, it became a lot easier to move forward. I found a free clock printable to use as the central topper, and we just used a decorative scalloped circle punch to add some circles to add some something decorative around the clock. This all happened around midnight the night before the brunch. The cake itself was strawberry and delicious.

The rest of the table’s centerpiece featured grocery store flowers in holiday vases, a beaded runner, and the cake on a silver cake plate. There was enough going on with the rest of the table to feel comfortable with a simpler centerpiece.

All of the food was placed on a small buffet table near the main dining table. Unfortunately, the only place to put the buffet table blocked one of the doors into the dining room, so we had to get a little creative blocking the exit. The mix of balloons and the banner ended up being the perfect kitschy, not-so-serious additions to the party decor. The balloons were hung from the door frame with sequined ribbon, so the extra touch of sparkle was really fun.

The food itself was a mix of old and new recipes, and it was all well received by the brunch guests.

Menu:

Happy new year, friends!

Florida Room Inspiration

The weather has finally turned to winter, and I’m dreaming of escaping to the beach for a few days. I’m fortunate to live near enough to Florida to make annual trips. I’m also fortunate enough to be able to visit my dad’s Florida condominium whenever I’m able. While it’s not directly on the beach, it’s located in close proximity to shopping and dining while only being about a 20-minute drive away from the beach. My Dad, Step-Mom, and grandparents make regular use of the condo to visit our Florida family and have furnished the two-bedroom condo to resemble our mountain home here in Tennessee. It truly does feel like we’re at home when we’re inside the comfortably furnished condo.

However, the condo features a screened-in porch, and I can’t help but think this room would be the perfect opportunity to inject some local flavor. This “room” can be used year-round thanks to Florida’s warm weather. When my family purchased the condo, the room was given a good scrub, fresh paint, and new window screens. I think it would be lovely to continue the fresh paint job up to the ceiling with a lovely coat of blue. Benjamin Moore™’s Polar Sky would be the perfect shade of “haint blue” for the ceiling:

Adding an indoor/outdoor rug would provide a nice pop of color, too, while also helping to make the room feel more like an actual room rather than merely a screened-in porch. I think adding a rug would be a key component to ensuring the porch received regular use.

Adding some warmer elements to the rest of the room would help break up the blue ceiling and rug-covered floor. Adding a touch of nautical is always a fun way to bring coastal style to any room. (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

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I also think adding a bar cart with lots of pops of color and fun would be a useful addition to any Florida-inspired room. How gorgeous is that bar cart styled by AM Dolce Vita? (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

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Adding elements of Florida style to the room would allow the space to function in a multitude of ways. A weathered farm table could become the focal point of the room for alfresco Florida dining. Or, a casual seating area could be added to create an outdoor living room suitable for visiting with friends and family to make the most use of Florida’s year-round sunshine.

If you want some more Florida inspiration, be sure to check out my Florida-inspired Pinterest board.

If you’re ready to take your Florida dreams to the next level and own a piece of paradise, check out the  Douglas Elliman Florida Real Estate page.

Star Wars Meets Disney Wedding Shower

Recently I was fortunate enough to co-host a wedding shower for my cousin and his fiance. We loosely based the theme on their wedding colors, her love for all things Disney, and his love for all things Star Wars.

StarWars Disney Wedding Shower at BetweenWeekdays.com2

The photo backdrop was one of the easiest projects we made for the shower and easily one of the most fun details from their shower. All we did was hang Dollar Tree table clothes from a string wound through the ceiling tiles. Easy peasy! The bride liked this idea so much, she took all of the tablecloths with her to possibly use at their wedding reception.

StarWars Disney Wedding Shower at BetweenWeekdays.com3

We included a selfie station with photo props near the backdrop, and we all had a bunch of fun taking photos in front of the decorations.

StarWars Disney Wedding Shower at BetweenWeekdays.com4

We used rented black linens for the food and gift tables, which we positioned around the perimeter of the room. This really helped to define the different functional areas of the shower by grounding the perimeter with a dark color. Plus, the table decorations absolutely popped on top of the black! We placed rows of tables in the middle of the space for guests. These tables were covered with the same purple, Dollar Tree tablecloths used for the photo backdrop. I always prefer to use plastic tablecloths where people eat for easier cleanup.

StarWars Disney Wedding Shower at BetweenWeekdays.com5

We attempted to keep the decor simple and reflective of the bride and groom.

StarWars Disney Wedding Shower at BetweenWeekdays.com6

I custom ordered the invitations from Etsy, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how they turned out. We loved the custom design of the invitations so much that we added it to the cake!

StarWars Disney Wedding Shower at BetweenWeekdays.com

We had planned on 75 guests, and the menu we planned was definitely was fit for a crowd.

Menu:

Cake (half chocolate, half white)
Pulled Barbeque Chicken and Pork with Rolls (5 lbs of each meat from Buddy’s Bar-B-Q)
Chicken Tenders and Buffalo Chicken Tenders
Meatballs
Buffalo Chicken Dip, Sausage Dip, and Salsa with Tortilla Chips
Cream Cheese Pinwheels
Chicken Cheese Ball with Crackers
Cheese Platter
Pasta Salad
Marshmallow Pops
Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Rods
Sweet Tea and Bottled Water

We had planned on 75 guests, and this menu definitely was fit for a crowd.

StarWars Disney Wedding Shower at BetweenWeekdays.com7

This shower was definitely a labor of love for the future Mr. and Mrs., but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Their wedding is now just a few, short weeks away!

p.s. Click here to see a gender-neutral baby shower and here to see a pink and zebra baby shower!

(Linking up to BNOTP.)

2016 Goals

Happy 2016! Last year was a strange one for me, but I still managed to accomplish many of the goals I set. Here’s hoping I can do the same this year.

House Goals

I hope to accomplish much around the house this year. There’s a slight chance we will need to consider moving after I complete graduate school, so as much as I do not enjoy the thought of moving again I would like to be prepared as much as possible. Also, it’s much easier to coordinate home improvements while I’m working from home, which also may change after I have that diploma in hand.

The Blue House at BetweenWeekdays.com

  • Finish painting all of the doors black throughout our home. There’s only three left!
  • Complete the kitchen cabinets. After months of working with a contractor, we are on schedule to complete the kitchen cabinets in the next few weeks.
  • Tile kitchen backsplash.
  • Replace dining room table. We’ve ordered a custom dining set, and we’re just waiting for it to be delivered.
  • Continue to steadily reduce clutter.
  • Update the guest bathroom.
  • Continue the master bedroom closet makeover.
  • Stain the front porch and deck.
  • Add risers to front porch stairs and skirting below the porch.
  • Continue making improvements to the outside of our home. In 2015, we repaired our fence and began working in the landscaping. This year I hope to accomplish a few more items to continue adding curb appeal to our blue house.

In addition to this list, there are several other home-related tasks we will consider adding depending on what our long-term plans look like in a few months.

Personal

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  • Graduate from my graduate program. I am on track to complete courses at the end of the summer and to graduate in December with my MBA.
  • Celebrate our 30th birthdays. We will both turn 30 in May this year.
  • Complete two Advocare 21 day challenges.
  • Blog one time per month.
  • Apply for adjunct professor positions. There’s a new program in our home state of Tennessee that provides a scholarship for high school seniors for two years of free tuition at community and technical colleges. It’s a wonderful program, and I’m hoping the influx of students will create more adjunct professor positions in our area.

And that’s it! This year is really going to be about focusing on schoolwork for me. I may update these goals a bit as the year progresses, but as of right now, my focus is on continuing my education.

End of Year Goal Check In

Did you have a fabulous Christmas holiday? We sure did. Today, I’m checking back in on the goals I set for 2015 back in January and updated in June (see pink below). I experienced some major life changes this year, but I kept many of these goals throughout the year. See my updates below in purple.

Health and Fitness

  1. Continue seeing a chiropractor for migraines/headaches. This is actually a habit I started in 2014. Seeing a chiropractor has already greatly helped my headaches, and I’m hopeful it will continue helping. June update: I’ve continued to see my chiropractor, though not as regularly as before since he’s in another town. However, my headaches are still continuing to improve. I will continue these visits throughout the year. December update: I continued seeing my chiropractor throughout the year, and my migraines are finally under control. Although, a night guard made by my dentist this summer seemed to be the real turning point in migraine control.
  2. Drink more water and less sugary beverages. I’ve begun implementing this, and all I can say is, “I want a Coke. Now.” June update: I completely gave up drinking Coke! I do still have the occasional Dr. Pepper, but I’m definitely drinking more water. December update: my grad school schedule led be back to the sugary dark side. I’m currently drinking Dr. Pepper fairly regularly. However, I’m still drinking more water than I was at the start of this year.
  3. Exercise at least 3 times/week. I joined a gym a few weeks ago, and I’ve been going 3 times a week. I would like to incorporate more exercise into my weekends, though. Plus, there’s a Friday Zumba class I’d like to try! June update: This goal went out the window as soon as I lost my job. The gym membership just didn’t seem as important. I do try to take walks as often as the weather will allow, though. December update: We purchased bicycles in the fall, but the start of grad school was the final nail in the fitness coffin. 
  4. Lose 20 pounds. This won’t be fun. June update: Of course there’s been no progress here since I cancelled my gym membership. Maybe next year? December update: I lost 7 pounds on what I like to call the managerial accounting diet. 
  5. Eat balanced meals. I have two big problems: I don’t eat enough protein, and I really like sweets. June update: Since I’m at home now, I’ve made huge improvements in this area. Plus, we don’t eat out nearly as much as before. When I was working outside of my home, I would eat lunch out at least three times a week and dinner out at least four times. Now we eat at home. Check! December update: Check!

2015 Goal Setting at BetweenWeekdays.com

Personal

  1. Read one book a month. No, not a book where I learn something; a book simply for enjoyment. June update: Do textbooks count? No. Oh well. December update: I continued to add to my list of read textbooks. 
  2. Watch less TV. Except for the Big Bang Theory and Downton Abbey, of course. June update: I’ve improved, but we’re having a major love affair with Netflix this summer. December update:  Grad school was a big help inspiring me to watch less TV. However, over the Christmas break, we’ve binged on Netflix. I feel no shame. 
  3. Blog one time per month. I think I can manage 12 blog posts this year. June update: Check! I’ve exceeded this goal. December update: Check! I managed to blog at least one time each month this year. 
  4. Go outside more. Hello sunshine! June update: Check! I have a hammock on my wish list that will further help with this goal. 😉 December update: Check! I purchased that hammock and even managed to study outside some this fall. 

Financial

  1. Pay off the loan on our truck. We only have 2.6 payments left! June update: This is done! Having the truck paid off is a tremendous financial blessing. December update: Because of this, I’ve been able to pay extra each month on another loan, and we’re on track to have it paid off a full year early!
  2. Begin contributing to a 401K. I’m so excited to finally be eligible to contribute to my company’s 401K program. June update: Well, this didn’t happen. Sad face. December update: No updates. 
  3. Finish saving money for our bathroom renovation. We’re very nearly there! In fact, plans are already in the works. June update: Not only did we finish saving the funds (hello severance package!), we’ve also almost completely finished the bathroom makeover! Read more about it hereherehereherehereherehereherehere, and hereDecember update: I’m so glad we were able to tackle this renovation this year! The severance package I received from being laid off earlier this year went a long way towards helping us reach this goal. 

House

  1. Renovate the master bathroom. Finally! June update: This is basically done! We’ve made a lot of progress since the last photo was taken. December update: Our bathroom still lacks some finishing details (crown molding on cabinets, etc.), but this renovation has completely changed how we function in that space. I love it. 
    Master Bathroom Tile is Done at BetweenWeekdays.com
  2. Finish painting the kitchen cabinets. Finally! June update: It’s too hot to start now. We will have to wait until fall. December update: We hired a contractor back in September to finish this job, however we’ve had a terrible experience. Long story short: our cabinets still aren’t finished. 
  3. Finish painting the doors. Finally! June update: We have two interior and two exterior doors left to paint. Woo hoo! December update: I managed to paint one more door, so we will head into 2016 with only three doors left to paint. 
  4. Reduce clutter. Steadily. June update: Check! I’ll continue to purge throughout the year, but we’ve already participated in 3 yard sales where we made about $500 total. Plus I’ve taken loads of clothes to consignment and sold to Twice (my favorite!) and ThredUP. (Clicking either of those links will earn you and me a $10 credit!) There’s just not much left to purge at this point. Hooray! December update: I’ve continued reducing clutter, and I’m extremely happy with the process. I made an additional $350 from a fall consignment sale. I hope to participate in the same sale next spring. 

Here’s to 2016! Cheers!

Favorite Things Christmas Brunch

Merry week of Christmas! I hosted a Christmas favorite things brunch (ladies only!) over the weekend, and I wanted to share it with you before the holiday passes us by.

Menu:

Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.comFavorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com

Decor:

I added a few new things to my Christmas dining room decor this year, such as my black Christmas tree.

Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com

 

Favorite Things Game:

If you’ve never been to a favorite things party, I highly recommend hosting one. The premise is simple, you bring a pair of your favorite things at a certain price point. The two people who draw your name each receives one of your favorite things. Each person leaves with two, new favorite things!

I set our price point at $15, which was challenging in a fun way. I chose two faux fur blankets as my favorite thing to bring. However the majority of the women in my family chose to bring a snowman as evidenced by the photo below. Ha! I received the trio of snowmen (far right) and one of the largest snowmen made from corn husks (second from the left). The two smallest snowmen below are from an adorable snowman nativity.

Favorite Things Brunch at BetweenWeekdays.com

 

(Linking up to Between Naps on the Porch.)

2015 Goals Update

Since it’s already June, I felt like it would be a good time to check in on the goals I set for 2015 back in January. I think I’ve made some pretty good progress, but the loss of my job threw me for a major loop and caused me to rethink some of my goals.

Health and Fitness

  1. Continue seeing a chiropractor for migraines/headaches. This is actually a habit I started in 2014. Seeing a chiropractor has already greatly helped my headaches, and I’m hopeful it will continue helping. I’ve continued to see my chiropractor, though not as regularly as before since he’s in another town. However, my headaches are still continuing to improve. I will continue these visits throughout the year. 
  2. Drink more water and less sugary beverages. I’ve begun implementing this, and all I can say is, “I want a Coke. Now.” I completely gave up drinking Coke! I do still have the occasional Dr. Pepper, but I’m definitely drinking more water. 
  3. Exercise at least 3 times/week. I joined a gym a few weeks ago, and I’ve been going 3 times a week. I would like to incorporate more exercise into my weekends, though. Plus, there’s a Friday Zumba class I’d like to try! This goal went out the window as soon as I lost my job. The gym membership just didn’t seem as important. I do try to take walks as often as the weather will allow, though. 
  4. Lose 20 pounds. This won’t be fun. Of course there’s been no progress here since I cancelled my gym membership. Maybe next year?
  5. Eat balanced meals. I have two big problems: I don’t eat enough protein, and I really like sweets. Since I’m at home now, I’ve made huge improvements in this area. Plus, we don’t eat out nearly as much as before. When I was working outside of my home, I would eat lunch out at least three times a week and dinner out at least four times. Now we eat at home. Check!

2015 Goal Setting at BetweenWeekdays.com

Personal

  1. Read one book a month. No, not a book where I learn something; a book simply for enjoyment. Do textbooks count? No. Oh well. 
  2. Watch less TV. Except for the Big Bang Theory and Downton Abbey, of course. I’ve improved, but we’re having a major love affair with Netflix this summer. 
  3. Blog one time per month. I think I can manage 12 blog posts this year. Check! I’ve exceeded this goal. 
  4. Go outside more. Hello sunshine! Check! I have a hammock on my wish list that will further help with this goal. 😉

Financial

  1. Pay off the loan on our truck. We only have 2.6 payments left! This is done! Having the truck paid off is a tremendous financial blessing. 
  2. Begin contributing to a 401K. I’m so excited to finally be eligible to contribute to my company’s 401K program. Well, this didn’t happen. Sad face. 
  3. Finish saving money for our bathroom renovation. We’re very nearly there! In fact, plans are already in the works. Not only did we finish saving the funds (hello severance package!), we’ve also almost completely finished the bathroom makeover! Read more about it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.         

House

  1. Renovate the master bathroom. Finally! This is basically done! We’ve made a lot of progress since the last photo was taken.
    Master Bathroom Tile is Done at BetweenWeekdays.com
  2. Finish painting the kitchen cabinets. Finally! It’s too hot to start now. We will have to wait until fall. 
  3. Finish painting the doors. Finally! We have two interior and two exterior doors left to paint. Woo hoo!
  4. Reduce clutter. Steadily. Check! I’ll continue to purge throughout the year, but we’ve already participated in 3 yard sales where we made about $500 total. Plus I’ve taken loads of clothes to consignment and sold to Twice (my favorite!) and ThredUP. (Clicking either of those links will earn you and me a $10 credit!) There’s just not much left to purge at this point. Hooray!

I’m pleased with my progress this year, especially considering the huge life changes that hit me upside the head. However, I’m pleased to report that my professional life is looking up. It’s still too early to set any professional goals for myself, but I’m happy with the direction I’m headed.

Here’s to the rest of 2015!

 

5 Tips for a Simpler Holiday Season

Sometimes it seems like the holiday season is one endless to-do list. While I love to-do lists as much as the next gal, sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy the moment rather than worrying about what the next 15 moments should look like. Today, I’m sharing with you five steps I’m taking towards enjoying a simpler holiday season this year.

1. Purchase Gifts Early

I always begin Christmas shopping as soon as possible. This year, I actually began the day after Christmas LAST YEAR with all of the post-Christmas sales. Click here to read more about how and why I shop early.

Early Purchased Christmas Gifts at BetweenWeekdays.com

 

I’m happy to report that my Christmas shopping is DONE! And, as an added bonus, all of the gifts are already wrapped. I’m so happy to have this checked off of my to-do list for the holiday season.

2. Tried & True Recipes & Meal Planning

If you’re like us, you host multiple holiday meals at your home. The one thing I’ve learned over the years is to only prepare dishes you know. This is not the time to try out that recipe you tore from that magazine two years ago. Trust me: I know.

When it comes to holiday meal prep, I’ve learned that simpler is better. When planning your menu, stick to dishes you’ve cooked before (whether they’re special holiday dishes or everyday staples.) If there’s a new dish you’ve been saving for Christmas, try it out a few weeks in advance. You’ll either love it and add it to your meal, or you’ll be glad you didn’t try to prepare it on a special (and busy) day.

I’ve also learned it’s best to plan your meals well in advance. I like to write out all of the events we have scheduled and then plan dishes accordingly. Having it all planned out ensures that I have all the serving dishes I need on hand for each event and that I don’t forget grocery store ingredients. I add the menu plans and grocery store list to my Christmas binder.

3. Easy Decor

I never stress about decorating my house for the holidays. I have two bins of Christmas decor in addition to what we need to decorate our Christmas tree stored in the attic. I use the same decorations each year, and I use all of our decorations each year. I love our Christmas decorations, but I’m not overwhelmed with more than I can handle; simple is best.

5 Tips for a Simpler Holiday Season

 

Plus, having all black and white Christmas decor, keeps me from over-shopping on extra things I don’t need each year. Finding black and white during a time of red and green is difficult, which makes the items I have even more special since they’re usually one of a kind.

4. Make Clean Up Easy

Let’s face it: hosting holiday parties can be messy from all the food preparing, eating and gift unwrapping. Here’s a few ways I make clean up a breeze:

  1. Ask guest to bring dishes. Hosting a potluck party cuts down on the number of pots and pans you’re left to clean.
  2. Use paper products. Simply throwing away paper plates at the end of a meal is way better than standing at the sink for hours cleaning up plates. We use paper plates, cups and napkins for large get-togethers. However, real utensils are always appreciated by guests.
  3. Keep large trash bags handy for unwrapping gifts. While I’m sure my cat would love endless piles of gift wrap, I’m happier trashing it as soon as possible.

5. Accept That There Will Be Stress

While the holidays are great fun, you must accept that you will experience some stress at some point. I know that we’ll hit the roads at 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve and not return home until 1 or 2 a.m. Christmas morning. I will inevitably forget something, and we will probably be late to at least one event. But, that’s ok.

One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote an article about this very thing: It’s OK if Your Holidays Aren’t Totally Stress Free and Simple.

The holidays are NOT about being perfect, they’re a time to celebrate the love of Christ and family, and that’s precisely what I intend to do this year. How do you keep your holidays simple?

Gender Neutral Sweet Baby Shower Details

I think it’s about time to wrap up the gender neutral baby shower posts, and what better way to do that than with a post all about the details? After all, it’s all the little details that come together to make an event (or anything, really) something extra special.

Table Decorations

Gender Neutral Baby Shower Details at BetweenWeekdays.com

I used mostly vintage table linens purchased at yard sales. Some of them had stains or tears, but by overlapping and layering them, I was able to hide all of the damaged areas. None of the linens “matched,” but I think they all coordinated together perfectly. Plus, the vintage fabrics lent themselves well to the shower’s sweet baby theme. I believe I only used one linen that I already owned, and it was actually used at the couple’s wedding shower I hosted several years ago. #howsweet

The candle holders in the above photo were so, so simple to make. I purchased the glass candle holders at the Dollar Tree. I considered using them as is, but they were just too plain. I cut a piece of scrapbook paper to fit  around the vessel and taped it to the glass. It still looked too plain, so I added the ribbon. (Both the scrapbook paper and ribbon were purchased specifically for the shower.) At this point, I thought it still looked a little too plain, so I tied on the “tweet baby” tags with some ribbon I had on hand. Super simple, super cute.

Gender Neutral Baby Shower Details at BetweenWeekdays.com
I used a lot of different pieces for centerpieces. All of the milk glass vases were found at a yard sale for 50¢ each, and I used parts of a grocery store bouquet for filler. The vases were sprinkled throughout the space. Any paper products, such as the print above or the “tweet baby” tags, were free printables. (Check out my Pinterest board for the printables.) The cute little bird house is actually from Bath and Body Works. It was living in my kitchen, so I pulled it out for the big day. Sometimes shopping your house is a great way to add free decorations for a party.

Gender Neutral Baby Shower Details3 at BetweenWeekdays.com

All of the table centerpieces were no muss, no fuss placed together on the day of the shower. There was, however, some prep work like assembling the candle holders in the top photo and arranging the flowers in the milk glass vases. The table above has mints housed in some more Dollar Tree candle holders.

All of the flowers used at the shower were purchased at the grocery store the day before the shower. I knew I was taking a risk by not preordering flowers, but the cost savings was totally worth the risk. I think we spent around $15 for all of the flowers. That was a lot of bang for my buck, since I was able to get quite a few arrangements out of two bouquets thanks to the small milk glasses. I sent the potted flowers above home with the mom-to-be as a keepsake from her shower.

Simple Decor, Big Impact

While balloons might not be the cheapest option, they do make a large visual impact. The cheapest price I could find on balloons in my small town was $1 per balloon, which didn’t sound too bad at first. Once I realized I needed 40 balloons to make any sort of impact, the numbers started adding up. However, I still think balloons are a fabulous, somewhat low-cost option.

Gender Neutral Baby Shower Details at BetweenWeekdays.com

We used balloons as markers for our driveway — many shower guests didn’t know which house was ours — along with a simple, inexpensive sign. Do I have any pictures of this? Nope. We tied about 10 balloons to a shepherds hook at the end of our driveway and planted a baby shower yard sign beside it, just in case anyone might be confused.

I had planned to use the rest of the balloons to mark a path to the backyard, but it was way too muddy to have guests traipsing around on the ground. Instead, we had guests enter the front door and we used the balloons as shower decor. I’m so glad it worked out that way, because the balloons can be seen in most of the baby shower photos, and they look adorable. I was able to choose custom colors (turquoise and ivory), which made the balloons even more special.

Gender Neutral Baby Shower Details at BetweenWeekdays.com

I whipped up a few tissue paper pom poms for this shower just like I did for the Pretty in Pink [and zebra] baby shower I hosted earlier this year. These were white with pastel polka dots or stripes, and they were oh so sweet.

Gender Neutral Baby Shower Details6 at BetweenWeekdays.com

In the background of the above photo you can see one of the Pinterest-inspired projects I made for this event.

Another project I completed for this event turned out absolutely darling. My grandmother and I tackled making bunting for the cradle. We actually made a couple of different sizes of bunting to be used throughout the space, but the small one on the gift cradle ended up being sufficient.

Gender Neutral Baby Shower Details at BetweenWeekdays.com

The bunting couldn’t have been simpler to make. All we did was create a template, pick coordinating fabrics, cut the fabrics by the template, fold over the top and stitch, string on a line. Easy!

Buffet Table

The buffet tables received similar treatments to the other tables: vintage linens, simple flowers and an assortment of decorations. I think having an extra-long, vintage runner was the perfect linking element for these two tables. The ivory linen below was the one we used at the couple’s wedding shower all those years ago.

Baby Shower Buffet Table from BetweenWeekdays.com

To read more about the menu, click here.

Wishes for Baby

The wishes for baby cards were a huge hit with party guests. Below is my Dad and the dad-to-be filling out the wish cards.

Gender Neutral Baby Shower Details8 at BetweenWeekdays.com

We had so much fun reading all of the wish cards, which was made easier by the sweet display I set up for the completed cards.

Gender Neutral Baby Shower Details9 at BetweenWeekdays.com

All I did was take a collage frame (from Kirkland’s) and run a ribbon through the decorative loops around the edges of the frame. I hung the frame on the garage door with a wreath hanger. Almost every guests made their way over to read the wish cards.

Below the wish card frame, I had a small table with blank wish cards, a pen, instructions and a few other fun items.

Gender Neutral Baby Shower Details10 at BetweenWeekdays.com

The feed the piggy bank was another Pinterest-inspired project. I’m not sure how many guests participated in this game, but I made sure there was enough change to at least rattle around a bit. A decorative bird (shopped from my house), and some mints housed in another piece of milk glass rounded out this functional little table.

And that marks the end of the Gender Neutral Sweet Baby Shower. I hope you can take some inspiration from this event. To read more of the posts relating to this shower, click below.

I’m linking up to TDC’s Before and After Party!

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