Inspiring Celebrations Since 2006

It’s New Years Eve… Make it Sparkle!

new years eve party decorations

There are tons of ways to decorate for New Year’s Eve, but shimmery gold and silver will always seem especially appropriate. Here are a few simple, sparkly ideas from Martha Stewart…It’s not too late to pull any of these ideas together tonight or tomorrow during the day before your festivities begin!

Pictured above: Countdown Decor (gather up all your clocks, hit the discount stores, or borrow from friends!), Sparkling Centerpiece (glass vases filled with shiny ball ornaments leftover from Christmas), and Countdown Champagne Flutes. Pictured below: A Metallic Serving Tray and DIY Shimmering Streamers are created from festive gift wrap.

new years eve party decorations

Sometimes I get so caught up browsing all the fantastic ideas ’round the web that I forget to mention the ideas from right here at HWTM… For example, our Gold & Silver Shimmer party theme, which is full of plenty of sparkle for a New Year’s Eve bash!

new years eve party decorations

And for something sparkly to sip or munch on, try a bubbly Ritz 75 or a Glitzy Chocolate Pudding!

Check out our New Year’s Eve section for more NYE party themes & ideas!

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Host a London Staycation Party!

London Staycation Party

Can’t get away on a fancy trip this holiday? Why not bring the destination to you?! This is the concept behind the “Staycation!” feature in People magazine’s special Holiday 2008 Extra issue, which included  3 “dream destination” vacation spots – Aspen, London, and The Caribbean – and I was super excited to be asked to create the London theme!

I think the issue only went out in the mail, but you can click here to view a jpeg of the full spread at a legible size – or check it out online at people.com (although most of the images are only in the print version).

London Staycation Party

I also designed some printable invitations to go with this party theme, which are pictured in the top image. You can download them below for free (pdf format). There are 2 versions – the first is exactly like the version pictured in the article and says “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” at the top – and the second says “YOU’RE INVITED” instead of “Happy Holidays” so that it can be used anytime of year…

Get the links to download both invites – and additional British-themed tabletop & party decor ideas – after the jump! (more…)

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Champagne Desserts for New Year’s Eve

champagne desserts for new year's eve

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! I took a much-needed break from the computer for a few days, which was the best Christmas present ever – it’s amazing how different the world can look after a few good nights of sleep! Speaking of which… catch some extra zzz’s tonight and tomorrow night if you can – because we all have a good excuse to skimp on them again come Wednesday!

For the next few days we’ll be focusing on some fun ideas for ringing in the new year… starting with a few dessert recipes featuring one of the key ingredients for new year’s eve celebrations: champagne, of course!

champagne desserts for new year's eve

Champagne Dessert Recipes:

1. White Peach, Cassis, and Champagne Floatsa super-easy & refreshing dessert that’s part Kir Royale, part peach parfait, and looks absolutely gorgeous!

2. Pink Grapefruit, Strawberry, and Champagne Granita with Sugared Strawberries – This granita recipe garnered rave reviews at Epicurious!

3. Champagne, Darling? Freezesfeatures lemon sorbet, champagne, and citrus vodka or limoncello…a true dessert cocktail!

4. Jelled Champagne DessertThis glass of bubbly is served with a spoon!

(more…)

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White {Chocolate} Christmas

white chocolate recipes

There’s something so inviting and “wintery” about the look of white chocolate, which makes it perfect for holiday treats! Here are a few yummy recipes links for all my fellow sweet tooth friends out there…ENJOY!

Pictured above, clockwise from top left:
White Chocolate Truffle and Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake
White Chocolate Tiramisu Trifle with Spiced Pears
White Chocolate Cheesecake with White Chocolate Brandy Sauce
White Chocolate Amaretto Cake

white chocolate recipes

(more…)

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New Year’s Greetings + 20% Off!

hostess

If you’re like one of the gazillions of people that got swamped with all the holiday craziness this month and didn’t quite get to that “Send out Christmas Cards” line item on your to-do list, you’re definitely not alone! I was talking to some of my friends about this recently, and every single one of us had noticed a major scale-back in the holiday mailbox greetings this year, which we concluded was probably due in part to 2 things: 1) cutbacks in holiday budgets, and 2) the fact that Christmas was so close to Thanksgiving this year, which meant it crept up on us quicker than usual.

Some good news though – if you still want to send out holiday well-wishes, it’s really not too late… because you can always opt for a “Happy New Year” message, which is actually a great way to kick off the new year on a positive note!  (more…)

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Bakerella’s Snow Globe Cupcakes

bakerella coke snow globe cupcakes

There are some people that are creative with food, and then there are others that are just PURE GENIUS! Bakerella easily falls into the latter category – just take these ridiculously clever “Snow Globe Coca-Cola Cupcakes” for example, which she made from upside-down mini coke bottles, red baking cups, and lots of sweet stuff.  I bet the folks at Coca-Cola are even impressed!  Learn how to make them here.

bakerella coke snow globe cupcakes

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Inspire Me – Contest WINNERS!

holiday entertaining contest winners

Thank you so much to everyone who both entered and voted in the Inspire Me! Holiday Entertaining Contest! More than 900 of you cast your votes(!)… and here’s who you picked as your winners:

1ST PRIZE: Whimsical Christmas by Kendall Shiffler
Prize includes: $1250 Crate and Barrel Gift Card, $250 Entertaining Essentials Prize Pack, one year’s supply of VIVA® paper towels, and more!

holiday entertaining contest winners

2nd PRIZE: Girls’ Night Cocoa Party by Tiffany, Lynne & Dacia (Rexburg, ID)
Prize includes: $500 Crate and Barrel Gift Card, $250 Entertaining Essentials Prize Pack, one year’s supply of VIVA® paper towels, and more!

holiday entertaining contest winners

3rd PRIZE: Retro Christmas DIY Favor / Place Card by Erin Godbey (Greenville, SC)
Kendall’s prize includes: $250 Entertaining Essentials Prize Pack, one year’s supply of VIVA® paper towels, and more!

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A big congrats to the winners and to ALL the finalists – and a heartfelt thank you to everyone to entered – and to VIVA Diva Café for generously sponsoring the contest!

{Update 12/22: Additional contest entries + new giveaways will be featured on the blog soon. Things are a little crazy with the holidays + family stuff + traveling, but they’re definitely still on the post schedule for this month…thanks for your patience!}

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“Inspire Me” Holiday Entertaining Contest Finalists – VOTE for Your Favorite!

holiday entertaining contest

First things first – I’d like to sincerely thank every single person that entered the Inspire Me! Holiday Entertaining Contest or passed the word on to friends and family – your efforts are truly appreciated!

Narrowing the entries down proved to be extremely difficult, so thank goodness for the talented & creative minds that graciously signed on to help with the process: Robyn Bomar from Mix Mingle Glow, Amy Belle Isle from Stem Parties, and Jen Berson from Jeneration PR. The 10 finalists are based on which entries had the most overlap from amongst the judges – but I’ll also be featuring the individual lists soon so that you can see who everyone picked…as there was definitely a great mix in the overall group!

For now, though – let’s focus on just the TOP 10 FINALISTS, which are listed below in no particular order.You can vote for YOUR favorites at the bottom of this post! (More details on the entries be found over in the flickr gallery(more…)

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Inspire Me! Contest – Voting Update

retro holiday DIY placecard

So… we had a flood of last-minute submissions for the holiday contest yesterday – hooray! The only problem? You people are way too talented and I’m pulling my hair out trying to narrow this down to 10 finalists… it honestly feels like the impossible task!

There are 463 photo entries total – and if you haven’t checked them out – definitely take a minute to browse the flickr gallery – it should help put you into “holiday mode”! You can even post comments on your favorite entries to give them some much-deserved kudos if you’re feeling especially “spirited”… (more…)

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SURPRISE GIVEAWAY: Sacred Charms

sacred charms yoga jewelry

We have another fun Surprise Giveaway for you today… the first of THREE coming this week! This giveaway comes from Sacred Charms – which is a jewelry company with twist. Their designs feature “a variety of symbols and charms combined with beautiful gemstones and pearls, all carefully designed to enhance and inspire the beauty within and around us.”

sacred charms yoga jewelry

Today, Sacred Charms is offering up $100 Shopping Sprees on their website to TWO lucky HWTM readers, so you’ve got double the chances to win!  Perfect timing for holiday gifts for your favorite jewelry lovers or yoga fanatics!

Click here to enter the giveaway – and check out a COUPON CODE for everyone!

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Dreaming of a Pink Christmas…

pink Christmas decorations

Pink may not be one of the colors you’d usually consider for your holiday party decor, but one look at this fabulous “Pretty-in-Pink” gallery from BHG.com just might change your mind! These ideas would also be lovely for a holiday-set wedding, bridal shower, or girlie-girl birthday celebration.

pink Christmas decorations

And of course every pink party requires matching pink treats, right?! How about this Pink Martini and Pretty in Pink Pretzels recipe for starters:

(more…)

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Simple Chic Holiday Florals

hostess

I’m loving these non-traditional – and super chic – red, white, & green floral arrangements for an elegant holiday party. The white stones and monochromatic blooms create such a serene, modern minimalist vibe…

The top and lower left images are from Pottery Barn and originally intended to showcase these platinum vases (which do happen to be on sale!), but you could also achieve the look of these vases – “economy style” with standard glass cylinder vases and some metallic gift wrap.

hostess

The right side of the image above shows a cluster of ruby breadseed poppies displayed in a pewter vase…casual elegance! {via brides.com}

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All That Glitters…

glitter holiday decorations

Make your holiday decor sparkle with a healthy dose of glitter! Here are a few shimmery project ideas from Martha’s gallery of Glittered Holiday Crafts

Pictured at top: Glittered Bird Centerpiece featuring glitter-dusted birds and tinsel-wrapped branches.

glitter holiday decorations

Pictured above: Snowy Balloon Ornaments.  There are detailed instructions on how to make these here – but I’m thinking you could also achieve a similar look the “short-cut route” by spray painting and/or glittering spun rattan balls or wicker balls.

(more…)

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Inspire Me! Holiday Contest: Hurry – Only 2 Days Left to Enter!

hwtm holiday entertaining contest

{“Holiday in the City” dinner party}

There are only 2 days left to enter the Inspire Me! Holiday Entertaining Contest – the cut off is TOMORROW night (December 16th) at midnight EST! Remember that you can submit both inspiration boards or actual pictures… here’s a link to all the contest details.

Pictured above & below are a few examples of the current contest entries – which include everything from elegant dinner parties to festive cocktail parties to fun ideas for kids!

hwtm holiday entertaining contest

{“A Pink & Silver Christmas” inspiration board}

A recap of the prizes up for grabs: $1250 (first place) & $500 (2nd place) gift cards to Crate & Barrel, plus the $250 Modern Entertaining Essentials Prize pack, a year’s supply of VIVA® paper towels, and more for all 3 winners! {Prizes generously sponsored by VIVA® Diva Cafe}

hwtm holiday entertaining contest

{DIY Martini Glass Charms for a “Swanky Snowflake Soiree}

hwtm holiday entertaining contest

{Polar Express Cake}

(More entries after the jump…) (more…)

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A Very Merry Baby Shower

holiday baby shower

Here are a few images from a “holiday” themed baby shower I hosted over the weekend, and the rest of the pics can be seen in the Holiday Baby Shower photo album over on the HWTM Facebook Page. Mom-to-be is having a girl, so I just added some pink ornaments & papers to our regular red & silver holiday decorations to turn them “baby girl appropriate” for the day…

holiday baby shower

Acrylic pacifiers, pink-labeled baby lotion & baby oil, baby socks, and “snow bunnies” were mixed into the decorations to give them a “baby shower” feel.

holiday baby shower

The tables looked full, but were decked out with mainly inexpensive details: the “table runners” were made from gift wrap, paper napkins were embellished with ribbon & gift tag “napkin rings”, and the red foil charger plates were $6.99/set of 4 at Target.

(more…)

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Simply Stated: Hot Cocktails for Winter

hot holiday cocktails

Today on Simply Stated: celebrate the season with these delicious, hot cocktails… CHEERS!

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Super-cute Snowmen Treats

snowmen treats

These fun snowmen-themed treats from BHG make me happy just looking at them…did you ever think a glass of milk could be even remotely this cute?! (top left image)

Pictured above, clockwise from top left: “Look at Frosty Go” milk glasses (yes – those are powdered donut hole heads!), “Before I Melt Away” white chocolate ice cream cups, “Frosty” eggnog, and “Snowman Face” cupcakes.

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Deck the Halls, Tree & Table… for 50% Off

silver and red holiday decorating ideas

I’ve been on the lookout for some cool new red & silver decor since we’re switching our color palette up a bit this year, so I was excited to stumble on these fabulous “Swirl Christmas Ornaments” by Martha Stewart for Macy’s (image #1, above).  Even better – they’re on sale for over 50% off!  Seeing as we use ornaments for everything from trimming the tree to filling vases to overhead ceiling displays… this is definitely, as Martha would say, “a good thing”!

Another good thing: there’s actually an entire “50% Off Holiday Decor” section full of tons of great finds for all sorts of different color palettes. Here are a few sparkly, shiny, and on-sale favorites for fans of 1) Red/Silver, 2) Gold/White, and 3) Silver/”Ice” palettes:

Collection 1: SILVER & METALLIC RED

(more…)

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SURPRISE GIVEAWAY + Home Bar Tips from The Nest!

The Nest Home Design Book

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Build a Bar at Home (Warning: Hangovers Ahead!)

Hi! I’m Carley from TheNest.com, the spin-off home site from the folks at TheKnot.com (every bride’s wedding obsession). We recently came out with The Nest Home Design Handbook, a cool 101 on everything casa-related. I’m thrilled to be guest-blogging on HWTM about building a bar at home—because c’mon, how many more times can you drag yourself to a hot, crowded bar and wait twenty minutes for your gin and tonic? Consider this your very own VIP lounge.

The Nest Home Design Book

{photo by: Mark Lund}

Hook Up Your Cart

Okay, if you don’t mind plunking down a bit of cash, we love this sleek bar cart from Restoration Hardware. It keeps everything in one handy zone and can be rolled anywhere in the house.

Budget-conscious? Skip the cart and set up your bar on a side table. Another way to save is to skip a lot of pricey liquors and stick to just vodka. It’ll give you the biggest bang for your buck since it can be mixed with OJ, cranberry, Bloody Mary mix, and more. Download our Stocking the Bar checklist on TheNest.com and toss it in your purse so you don’t get amnesia at the liquor store.

***** (more…)

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Enchanted Fairy Birthday: Photo Album + “Toadstool” Bites

enchanted fairy birthday party

The rest of the pictures from the Enchanted Fairy Birthday Party (see Sneak Peek from yesterday) are now up on the HWTM Facebook Page! Complete details on how to recreate this theme will also be up in the Party Themes section before the end of the year, but in the meantime feel free to ask any questions you might have either here or over at the photo album.

Also – while browsing for some inspiration on Flickr, I came across this ridiculously clever themed appetizer idea that is definitely worth sharing:

enchanted fairy birthday party

Little “Toadstools” made out of hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, and feta sprinkles…ADORABLE!
{via _dai_}

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Simply Stated: Hot Pink & Green Holiday

pink and green holiday decor

Today over at Simply Stated – brighten things up with a festive Hot Pink & Green Color Palette for the holidays!

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Sneak Peek: Enchanted Fairy Birthday Party

enchanted fairy first birthday party

Update: All the pics for this theme are up on Facebook now! View them here.

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Remember that “Woodland Fairy Birthday Party” that I asked for some help with a couple weeks ago? Here’s a sneak peek of how it turned out – many thanks to HWTM readers and all the fantastic ideas that you posted!

More pics of this party will be available soon, but I just got them back and couldn’t resist posting a little sneak peek right away…starting off with the most ridiculously cute pic of them all – the fairy princess herself! {above}

enchanted fairy first birthday party

After really diving into the details of this party, I realized that there are tons of routes you can take with a fairy theme… and tons of ways to bring it to life! This party ended up looking more “enchanted” than “woodland” style to me, so I’ve renamed it from the original post, but I still think it would be fun to explore the woodland-style version in the future and really play up the ivy, wood/branches, old-fashioned lanterns, fireflies, and other “Peter Pan” type elements.

enchanted fairy first birthday party

Inexpensive details like sheer ribbon, metallic pipe cleaners, and paper stars added a touch of whimsy to the place settings… (more…)

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SURPRISE GIVEAWAY: LilyGirl

Update 11/26: This giveaway is now closed. Thanks so much to everyone that entered – your sweet comments really meant a lot to Lori & Denise at LilyGirl!  And the randomly drawn winners are: First Prize: Commenter #122: Molly and 2nd Prize: Commenter #79: Noel. Congrats to both of you! And for everyone else – there are 3 new giveaways coming up this week!! ;)

lilygirl jewelry - home jewelry parties

I’m super excited about today’s Surprise Giveaway, because it comes from one of my very favorite jewelry companies (trust me..the proof is hanging in my closet!!). LilyGirl is owned & operated by sisters Lori and Denise – who create gorgeous, handmade jewelry right here in San Diego County. This week, they’re offering up shopping sprees on shoplilygirl.com to TWO lucky HWTM readers! $150 to the first name drawn and $50 to the second!

lilygirl jewelry - home jewelry parties

Pictured above are a few of the many options in the LilyGirl “Jewelry Bar” – where you can mix and match your favorite elements to create your own look – pick a pendant, a silk, leather or chain, add a bauble or leave it plain…HAVE FUN!

Pictured below, a few favorites from the Holiday Jewelry collection. Oh…and all these cool wire pendants and shapes you see everywhere? Those are all twisted by hand! Pretty cool, huh?

(See more designs & details for HOW TO ENTER after the jump…) (more…)

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5 Fabulous Cake Recipes

holiday cake recipes

Today in Entertaining 101 – check out a few scrumptious cake recipes – from bundt cakes to cheesecake and more! So grab a pan and spread some holiday cheer!

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Entertaining Essentials Prize Pack Details!

modern 2-tier server

Happy Monday! Let’s start the week off on a fun note with a peek at the Modern Entertaining Essentials Prize Pack that’s up for grabs in our Inspire Me! Holiday Entertaining Contest, which is going on right now!

Thanks to our generous contest sponsor – VIVA® Diva Café – all 3 of the contest winners will receive this Prize Pack full of stylish entertaining essentials – which includes everything you see in this post and is valued at just over $250! You’ll find a detailed breakdown with product links at the bottom of the post. And of course – in addition to this Prize Pack, the first and 2nd place winners will also receive gift cards to Crate & Barrel in the values of $1250 (First Place) and $500 (2nd Place).

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The MODERN ENTERTAINING ESSENTIALS Prize Pack includes:

Versatile, contemporary SERVEWARE…(pictured at top and below)

modern serveware

Stylish DRINKWARE…

modern serveware

Sleek BAR TOOLS & ACCESSORIES…

modern serveware

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MODERN ENTERTAINING ESSENTIALS Prize Pack breakdown:

1. Cambridge Two-Tier Server with Plates – Stretch your counter space AND make the buffet look prettier!
2.
Large Rectangular Platter and Small Rectangular Platter – Contemporary white serving platters that coordinate with pretty much any party palette.
3. Square Appetizer Plates (Set of 12)Twelve white porcelain rimmed squares, sized for modern entertaining.
4. Serving Utensils SetChic serving essentials with a smooth mirror finish.
5. 6 Gala 16-oz Wine Glasses Open up a bottle of your favorite red, white, or blush… this pretty, versatile stemware pairs perfectly with them all.
6. 6 Dizzy Cocktail Glasses – With its sculpted, rounded foot and wide V shape, this modern glass really rocks—and is equally stylish for cocktails straight up! (Chocolate Raspberry Martinis, anyone?)
7. 4 Irish Coffee Mugs
– Baby, it’s cold outside… and the perfect time of year for sipping Hot Cocoa, Irish Coffee, Hot Raspberry Cider, and Peppermint Patties with friends!
8. Bar Tools Set
All the bar basics – tongs, strainer, spoon, jigger and bottle opener – elegantly contained in a coordinating ice bucket.
9. Cocktail ShakerSleek cocktail chic. High-polished stainless steel base and knob stand in cool contrast to the matte lid.
10. Corkscrew – Before filling those new Gala Wine Glasses with your favorite Shiraz, chances are good that you’re going to need one of these!

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INSPIRED to enter yet? Hope so! Click here for complete entry details. Hurry – contest submission period ends December 16th at 11:59 pm EST!

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Glassy Modern + Fabulous Finials

modern finial ornaments

These curvy & contemporary glass ornaments make for a truly fabulous decorative holiday display! I’m especially loving the Finial designs… and one of the best things about these translucent decorations is that you can tailor them to ANY color scheme! ($1.95 – $5.95 each at cb2)

modern finial ornaments

Also pictured above: Whirly Hanging Candleholder ($3.95) and Teardrop Diamond Hanging Vase ($4.95)

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Simply Stated: Fabulous Reindeer Finds

reindeer holiday decorations

Today over at Simply Stated: Celebrations, check out a list of 10 Fabulous Reindeer Finds – like this adorable Red-Nosed Rudolph Pop-Up Card, reindeer-themed hostess gifts, sparkly white “snow reindeer” figures and more!

reindeer holiday decorations

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Baby Shower Theme: Big Top Baby

big top circus baby shower

This “Big Top Baby Shower” is another one of the baby shower ideas that I worked on for Parents.com – and it’s also the one that I’m dying to actually try out the most! Chicken fingers and cotton candy at a baby shower? Why not?! You can still make the shower look chic… it’s all about the presentation – and it’s always fun to throw something unexpected at your guests!

There are tons of fun ways to play up a circus theme in general, as well as ways to make it even more “baby shower specific”. For example, add some super-cute plush lions, monkeys, and elephants (which can double as gifts for baby after the party) or mix in some themed baby items like circus-print onesies or this fun Circus Pals Table Feeding Set by Skip Hop.

For more details, check out the full article on Parents.com – and feel free to add more ideas here!

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12 Days of Indie Holiday Shopping

indie fixx

Jen from Indie Fixx is having a fun event over at her blog right now, but there are only 3 days left! I meant to give you all a heads up on it last week in the “weekly round-up”, but with the Thanksgiving holiday things got a little hectic and last week’s round-up never happened :0

Anyways, for 12 days, Jen is featuring a different indie shop each day and giving away a fabulous prize from that shop. All you have to do to enter the sweepstakes is leave a comment on the post of the day! Click here to check it out and get in on the action for the next few days!

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Celebrity Holiday Cards for Charity

celebrity holiday cards charity

How many people can say that the host of Dancing with the Stars or “Valerie” from (the original) 90210 designed their holiday cards? Well, now that tiny prints has teamed up with celebrities like Samantha Harris and Tiffani Thiessen to create a line of holiday cards benefitting their favorite charity, that could just be the case!

My personal favorite of the celebrity designs are Melissa Joan Hart‘s “Blossoming Cheer” (pictured below) and “Heartfelt Holiday” (pictured at top) – both of which benefit Friends of the Family.

celebrity holiday cards charity

Elisabeth Rohm‘s “Growing Green” design is super cute too… (more…)

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