I’m always looking for ways to show Beachboy that I actually use all of the dishes I have in boxes.  This year, he was sweet enough to let me “adopt” a table for our church’s Christmas party.  I’ve no doubt that he knew all along that it would be both messy and time consuming (as I tend to do a lot of thinking out loud…in his ear).  Nonetheless, he said, “Sure, honey.  Just don’t buy anything.” 

Right.

That would be great except all of our Christmas dishes are gold, along with NOTHING else we own.  That makes finding a centerpiece a bit of a challenge.  I scavenged through old boxes of decorations and found that, we did, in fact, only have blue and silver decorations. 

So, I called upon my teacher-brain for a cheap backup plan and headed to the backyard armed and dangerous.

Our scrubby tree needed trimming, so I thought, why not?

 

Trees…trees….think…
“…and a partridge in a pear tree!”
Maybe my habit of randomingly singing songs with words I hear isn’t so bad afterall. (Well, OK, it is, but still.)
I decided to make a pear tree for the table, but really, the scrubby tree was quite ugly.  Since the problem was that nothing matched the dishes, I figured a cheap can of spray paint would do the trick. 
  
So, I set to work spraying the branches while my fingers shook from the cold air. 
 
For good measure, I sprayed a few branches I had stripped, as well as a few still clad in leaves and berries. 
(Now, this is the part where I cross my fingers and hope the leaves don’t wither up and fall off before the party since I can’t exactly stick them in water.)
A few old Christmas bulbs from my college years later, and…
 
 
The decorations on the light fixture look like they are in the branches, but you get the idea.
After packing up all of the Christmas dishes, I rushed off to the church only to realize that the tables weren’t wide enough for centerpieces.  What? !
I ended up offsetting the vase so it would fit and everyone could still talk.  Then, it was time to hang the pears and the partridge. 
 
Done. 
Gold may not be my favorite, but it worked out in the end. 

I’m worse than Walmart.  It’s not even Halloween yet, and I’m already I’m planning for Christmas.

Or, maybe the real problem is that I went shopping for Halloween supplies at Walmart last night and walked through the Christmas section to get to where I had to be.  Yes, that’s probably it… 

Either way, I’m thinking of Christmas.

Christmas is THE holiday for my extended family, particularly for my dad.  So, it comes as no surprise to me that I have an internal need to begin a Christmas tradition now that BeachBoy and I (3 Christmases into our marriage this year) are finally feeling settled in our first real home. 

And then I thought….What better way for a baking maniac to celebrate Christmas than with a cookie exchange! 

So, the planned has kicked off, and I wanted to share with you some things I’ve found along the way.

 

Cookie Exchange Ideas

I have to start with Robin’s Cookie Exchange as her rules made me giggle. 

Does that scare you like it scared me?  There is a lighter version of a planning time line at AllRecipes.

OK, I’ll be honest.  When it comes to planning, I prefer to think of the “cute” side of things instead of the logistic.  So, at the moment, my thoughts are of cookie containers and decorations.  Here are a few ideas.

 [Cookie_Exchange.jpg]

 

Mulling Sachets

These mulling spices would make a great favor.

 

Right now, I’m considering making centering the party around an afternoon tea, since that’s what people who actually have cold weather drink in December. 

white and pastel dining room

green and white place setting

Close-up of red white Noel table setting

white hydrangea flower table centerpiece

close up of table with Christmas decorations

candy cane vase

I’d love to do an all white event.

More thoughts to come…

 

Last night was our 2nd annual pumpkin carving party.  Here are a few pictures I snapped while I prepared everything. 

 

Since we’ve had a house guest for the last week and a half, the day of the party was a busy one.  I completed all of the preparations that day, from the cooking to the cleaning.  (I don’t recommend trying it!)  The kitchen was overflowing with supplies.
But, they were all used by the end of the day. 

Each family gets a carving kit, including a bowl for the seeds, carving tools, wipes, a sharpie, and a candle. 

 

This year we set up one table for the food and another table for appetizers, which we placed near the grill so the chef could mingle, too.  The remaining tables were used for both eating and carving. 

Casual Appetizers: Cayenne Cheese Spread and Crackers, Stuffed Jalapenos, Sausage Mummies, Cheese, Vegetables/Dip. 

 

The pumpkin station included sticky notes so guests could select their pumpkins as they arrived.  The kids loved picking out the pumpkins!

See you next year!