5 Must-Haves for A NYE Date Night at Home

Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays with little ones. It is so magical seeing Christmas through the eyes of your tots. But, let's be honest, it is also so exhausting. We just finished up a round of twelve Christmas parties/functions over the last ten days. Twelve! Needless to say, now that New Years Eve is rolling around, the only thing I want to do is veg. Low-key is the idea.

A couple of years ago, David and I concocted up a new tradition: New Years Eve date night at home! Like any other night, we put the kids to bed around 7 PM. But instead of having a normal night crashing in front of the TV or doing chores around the house or passing out immediately (guilty as charged), we rang in the new year with an an at-home date night! It was easy, it was fun and, best of all... it was relaxing.

Here's my list for five things I think you need for the perfect New Years Eve date night at home.

1. A great menu.

This is definitely the number one priority. In 2014, David and I fed the kids an easy dinner (chicken sausage + avocado + apple slices always does the trick) and then, once we got them to bed, we started crafting a grand meal for ourselves. In the photo above, you can see our appetizer from last year- a prosciutto arugula and goat cheese wrap. So delish. Not sure what to cook? I've got a ton of fun food ideas pinned on my Pinterest food board or grab a good cookbook to get you inspired. I absolutely love Annette Joseph's Picture Perfect Parties. I was lucky enough to be gifted this book in person by Annette herself, a fellow Atlanta gal, but this book is definitely worth a trip to the bookstore or a place in your Amazon cart! She's got many different romantic Italian inspired party themes with complete menu ideas and even ideas to help make entertaining easy. I used her book to cook a big anniversary dinner at home for David and I this year- it would be perfect to create a New Years Eve feast at home, too! 

If you're not up to cooking, David and I have also rang in the new year by ordering in from our favorite fancy restaurant. While it's be fun to go out and eat, you don't have much choice if the kiddos are asleep and babysitters are scarce on NYE! To be honest, after all of the Christmas cooking hullabaloo, we may end up ordering a sushi feast from our favorite Japanese restaurant this year!

2. A fun cocktail or nice bottle of wine.

A close second to the must-have good food is a must-have good beverage. Splurge on that fancy bottle of wine you've been eyeing or mix up a fun cocktail like these. If you're not a drinker, make a mocktail! Either way, treat yourself with a festive beverage.

3. A cute but comfy outfit.

You're at home. But it's still New Years Eve. So what do you wear? Comfy but cute. Think, skinny sweatpants and a festive glitter t-shirt. I have these weekend skinny sweats and lovvvvve them. Pair those with this sparkle elbow patch top and you've got an adorable but cozy outfit.

4. A fun board game.

Instead of camping out in front of the TV and watching lame NYE shows, keep the TV off and cuddle up with a warm blanket and your favorite board game. Our family favorites? The classics: Monopoly, Life and Taboo. I would love some other suggestions, though- what are your favorite adult board games?! You could also use the downtime to share New Years resolutions or even fun date night questions with your spouse. My friend Courtney has a great date night series where she lists all kinds of thoughtful questions and talking points to bring up both fun and serious topics.

5. A festive ambiance. 

No, you don't have to go over the top with balloons or glitter confetti. But definitely put the kids to bed, crank up some slow jams and light a fire in the fireplace (assuming our weather ever turns cold!). A date night at home is only special if you make it special, otherwise it's just a regular night at home! Light some candles, put away the toys. Create a space that's just perfect for you and your partner to celebrate ringing in the new year.

Those are just a few ideas that David and I have used in the past to ensure an excellent New Years Eve date night at home. I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions, especially on new board games to try! And a very happy New Years to you! 2016 is going to be a good one, people!

The Dream House: A Black + White Powder Bath

Okay, so now that the cat is out of the bag that we're building a farm house, my little "Dream House" series isn't exactly a total dream! In fact, these design boards are definite and true reflections of some of the rooms we want to create in our new house. Very exciting, right?! 

Downstairs, we hope to have a half/powder bathroom for daily and guest use. Just a toilet and a sink, nothing fancy. Okay, and maybe some retro black and white hexagon tiles, a killer vintage rug and some inky black walls. That will do, don't you think? I want this to be a space that feels homey and classic, but has a somewhat unexpected and funky vibe. I think an acrylic shelf and a wooden leg plat stand would add a modern touch and the black moody walls will give it that wow factor.

Source list:

Stocking Stuffer Holiday Gift Guide for All Ages

I know, right. One more gift guide? Really? But, this is a good one. You've bought all the gifts, checked everyone off of your list. But did you remember the stocking stuffers?! I've got a few ideas for you that might be better than the dollar bin at Target. Although, I'm not knocking the dollar bin at Target. Love me some Dollar Spot. But these stocking stuffer ideas are original, unique and, well, uncommon.

I'm all about endorsing companies that I truly love, value and use and Uncommon Goods is certainly one of those. Straight out of Brooklyn, New York, this company has some really great creds like they employee workers who make 50% more than the minimum wage. Or half of their goods are made by hand. Or even better, over a third of their products are made from recycled products. Amazing right? And oh, by the way, their products are all pretty amazing and I can speak from personal experience. I've been using Uncommon Goods products for years- one of my kids favorite toys to this day is the cone crayons they can put on their fingers! Well-made, quality, innovative products.

So who wouldn't want such great, unique products in their stocking this year?! Thanks to UG's Christmas gift list, which you can check out here, there are a ton of options. A few of my favorites are the avocado tree starter kit found here, the wooden kitchen utensils found here and the unicorn headband found here. By the way, everything I snapped in my board above (with the exception of the super cool beard kit, $40) is less than $25. That's amazing, people! The perfect list of stocking stuffers. For more ideas, head here for women's gifts and here for men's gifts.

So, what's Santa putting in your stocking this year?!

*Thanks to Uncommon Goods for partnering up with me for this post.

Our No-Fuss, Kid Inspired Colorful Christmas Mantel

Christmas mantels are kind of my jam. Every year, I use our fireplace mantel as sort of the piece de resistance for our Christmas decor. It's just my thing. One year, Better Homes and Gardens even featured this mantel on their website! I'm sort of a big deal. Kidding, kidding.

But this year, I decided to retire my self-proclaimed talents and give this season's mantel decor to the kids. Our downstairs here in our rental house has very little wall space to display art and even less surface space to set up little vignettes. The fireplace mantel is just about the prime spot in the house. So, instead of making a fuss this year, I decided to use the mantel to display the kids' adorable Christmas art from this year and years past. And that inspired our absolutely colorful Christmas tree- it's sort of a little random rainbow of fun. Which works because the kids are constantly decorating and undecorating and then decorating and undecorating again... a random theme is just what we need. Speaking of, I promise I'll do a step-by-step tutorial soon on how to hang your ornaments like HDawg- ie. 47 ornaments on one branch. The cluster effect, yeah?  (ps. there is a star on our tree, it's white lights got covered by the bright sunshine!)

This year's mantel is so low-fuss that I almost didn't share it with you guys here on the blog. I mean, anyone can stack a couple of pieces of kiddo art on a mantel and call it decorated, right? But then you guys had so much love earlier this week for this post and my proclamation to love the ordinary this season that I thought hey, why not share. Maybe someone will be inspired to feel less pressure to decorate perfectly and more pressure to decorate for your family. I'm sure next year I'll be inspired to create a beautiful Christmas mantel (especially if we're in our new house by then!) but for this year, I'm enjoying our no-fuss, kid inspired Christmas decor. 

Source list: stockings, reindeer (similar), felt garland, wreath, snow globe

Feel free to check out my previous years' Christmas mantels if you are in the mood for something pretty!

Do-it-Yourself Easy Christmas Project Round Up

I'm so glad you guys loved my Elf Yourself advent calendar! Our kiddos love it and I think it's pretty hilarious to see them dressed as tiny elves, so be sure to get one started this year or bookmark it for next year.

Today, I thought I'd share some of my favorite do-it-yourself Christmas and holiday projects I've done over the years. My theme? Fun, festive, easy. Think you can sign up for that?!

Even though HDawg is officially able to eat dairy now, I'm sure we'll recreate this dairy-free gingerbread man experience from last year.

If you're in to sharing small gifts for advent, check out my rustic paper bag + chalkboard tag advent calendar. You can fill each bag with small goodies throughout December.

My Santa Hat Bugle and sugar cookie chex mix recipe is a big hit at Christmas parties and so easy to make!

On the decorating side of things, another simple craft is this holiday pinwheel garland.

Pinterest loves this super easy (I mean, really easy) Christmas decorating idea: fill a shadowbox with tiny ornaments like I did in this vignette.

Hosting a Christmas cookie party this year? Here are a few ideas from when I hosted mine!

Another favorite decorating holiday project I did was these DIY glitter candles. These could be used for Christmas, New Years or really any special occasion!

For something a little more different and rustic, try this floating pinecone mobile.

Finally, the queen of easy projects- my DIY poinsettia wreath.

Hope that inspires you to get crafting this holiday season!

Last-Minute + Easy Elf Yourself DIY Advent Calendar

I know we're already a couple of days into the advent season (let's be honest, it took me a good few days to get my couch and coffee table cleaned up enough to take this photos, although please note the adorable Little People manger scene which Lu so dearly replaced Snow White for the angel, ha!), but if you're running a bit behind and need a last-minute and easy DIY advent calendar, I've got a good idea for you!

I simply printed this free printable advent calendar (I printed it at my local print shop so it would be high quality color, laminated and cut all for $11!) and then punched holes along the top of each card and strung with red and white bakers twine. Then you've got to create the elf clothespins! To elf yourself, print a photo of you or your kids and cut out the head. Use glitter card stock to create the rest of the elf- funny shoes, hat and silly outfit. Then hot glue the elf pieces to a clothespin. Each day, the kids get to move their elf closer to the end. When the kids get a little older, I plan to write out an advent service each day (donate old toys, bake cookies for a neighbor, sing a carol to a friend, etc.) and simply tape the service note to the back of each calendar square. This little project is so versatile! Our kids have already had so much fun with the elf yoself advent calendar and, now, counting backwards from 24 is our new daily hobby. Yesterday we even counted in Spanish. Veintidos! Not bad for such a last-minute and easy DIY advent!
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