All of my projects lately have been leading up to next weekend when we celebrate my beautiful niece Hadley's 5th birthday - so this week I'll just show some images to give you an idea what I've been up to. Next week (or maybe the week after) you'll get all the party details!
Practice on 8.5x11 paper
I'm excited to show you how all these projects come together for a fabulous Trolls party!!
Exactly 1 week before Christmas, I realized I was in charge of our Christmas table decor.
I love how it turned out and I'm very proud that it was done entirely with 1. things I had, 2. things I bought at Goodwill and 3. things I made.
Of course I wanted it to go with my Christmas theme of evergreen, plaid and Oh Holy Night.
1. Things I Had
Instead of buying a table cloth, I decided to use a roll of plain brown wrapping paper.
I also used wrapping paper (Michael's dollar bins) as a napkin ring, with a little wooden pine tree (Target Dollar Spot) attached.
Plates, forks, cups, plain white napkins, etc. were also things I had.
2. Things I Bought at Goodwill
I bought three things at Goodwill as possibilities for table centerpieces, because I couldn't decide what I wanted, they were only a few dollars each and I've learned at Goodwill that if you don't buy something when you see it - it'll be gone next time you go.
Ivory tin with greenery
Green wood box filled with pinecones
3 foot greenery
I had a flash of inspiration at the store that the ivory tin might look good in the wooden box (if I could fix the cheesiness of one side of the box). And when I tried it at home I really liked how it looked.
3. Things I Made
I put the napkin rings together
I made placemats with the text Oh Holy Night
I made name cards with my watercolor to digital technique
One element of my Christmas theme this year is "plaid". And I have a lot of throw pillows. And they don't really go with my Christmas decor. And they're pretty necessary, as my couch is on its last legs.
SO I had the idea to make pillow covers for my throw pillows out of plaid shirts that I could find at Goodwill. Making them out of shirts, rather than fabric makes it much easier, because the buttons let you insert the pillow easily. Plus the buttons and pockets add cute details to your pillow.
After a bunch of trips to Goodwill - I found that there aren't many plaid flannel shirts out there - people hang on to their flannel! Plus, I wanted to stick with somewhat traditional Christmas colors.
I have made three pillows so far and I'm still on the lookout for more shirts.
Here are the shirts and pillows I started with:
Turn the shirt inside out and position the pillow where you want it.
Then you can cut off excess shirt or not. Then you start pinning, with the pillow inside. I learned after two pillows it's best to pin tightly against the pillow.
Then, carefully unbutton the inside out shirt and take out the pillow. Then you sew right where your pins are marking, taking them out as you go. You can see the red stitched line in the pic below, if you look closely. Most tutorials I read warned to get a men's large shirt to have plenty of fabric, but this was a small women's shirt and I just used a small pillow and didn't worry about using some of the collar and arms.
The red one turned out ok, even though it had a little extra room in the cover, but I love how this green one turned out!
I made it with my sister and niece and we had a lot of fun.
This year, since I was making it by myself, I wanted to do a fancier version. So I started searching Pinterest for ways to elevate the box kit. I started pinning the ones I loved and here is my inspiration board:
Here are my Top Ten Tips for Making an Impressive Gingerbread House:
1.Add windows out of crushed, melted-down candy.
2.Put a light inside the house, so light shows through the windows.
3.Decorate the pieces when they’re flat.
4.Use your glue gun to glue the house together.
5.Make extra royal icing.
6.Add “landscaping” elements.
7.Add “structural elements.
8.Use an unexpected roofing material.
9.Use candy coated sunflower seeds to look like a string of lights.
10.Make sure you have a cute cake stand to display it on and sift powdered sugar over the whole house to add snow.
#1 - First I cut holes in my pre-baked gingerbread houses for windows. VOICE OF EXPERIENCE MOMENT - MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHERE EACH PIECE GOES BEFORE YOU CUT. (I switched the side pieces and roof pieces and caused myself a lot of grief!) Everything I read said to use butterscotch candy for the windows. I found mine at Dollar Tree (they're not cool enough for Target, apparently). Then put a bunch of candies in a Ziploc and pound them with a hammer until they're crushed down to powder. Then on a parchment paper lined baking sheet make the shape of the windows that you just cut out, out of the crushed powder, being sure it's a bit bigger than each window, so you can glue it on from the back side.
#2 - I found a short light strand that I wanted to use inside my house, so I cut a notch at the bottom of the back side of the house for the cord to go through. You can see the notch I cut here.
#3 - Frost your pieces, decorate them - do all your work while they're flat. If the frosting isn't working, you can always use your glue gun. And then it's a good idea to let them dry and set overnight or at least a few hours.
4. When I went to assemble my house, I realized I had decorated the side pieces as the roof and vice versa. So I had to get creative if I wanted to continue. I found a piece of foam core board and cut it to add to the already decorated pieces to make them the right size. Then I frosted and decorated...the pieces of cardboard! Anyway - the hot glue gun worked amazing to glue cardboard to gingerbread and the whole house together.
I made sure to glue the pieces together on the cute cake stand and to make sure the lights were in place when I was gluing the house together.
This is my house before I added #s 6, 7 and 9 - those steps add so much!
I used the rectangle I cut out for the window as a porch. Also, for the doorknob, I used one of the round candies that came with the kit and used my gold leaf pen on it.
#5 - I used the Wilton royal icing recipe. I kept half white and then mixed in green gel food coloring. It says to add one drop at a time, but I wanted a realistic pine green, so I added a bunch of drops at a time and then mixed, to check the color. #6 - To make the pine trees, you need ice cream cones, green icing, a star tip, coupler and bag. I really had fun with this.
For other "landscaping" elements, I added frosting as snow, around the house and then I pressed rice krispies into frosting, as a path to the front door.
At this point it was the fun decorative/creative part, so I didn't stop and take a lot of pictures.
#7 - By "structural" elements, I mean anything that will add dimension to your house. I used pretzels around my front windows, shutters out of fondant (that was included with my kit) for my side window, a kit cat stick window box, a pretzel rod at the peak of the roof and 4 caramels as a chimney.
#8 - For the roof, I used frosted mini wheat mini bites, which have lots of good texture and built-in snow! Cereal is a good option; necco wafers, sticks of gum, pretzels - you could try anything!
#9 - Candy coated sunflower seeds are SO PERFECT as lights they are colorful and have a pointed end - just like real Christmas lights - make a special trip to Hobby Lobby or make a special order from Amazon - that's how much they add to your house.
#10 - Cute cake stand and then sift powdered sugar. My cake stand is from Target.