Holiday Gifting Schemes

Holiday gift shopping wishlistI don't know about you, but it's starting to feel like the holidays around my house—and I love it! We may not have our decorations up yet, but you can bet I've already starting casually mentioning to my husband that I think we could put our tree up any weekend now and it really wouldn't be that big of a deal. No, it's not too soon, honey, I swear!

One thing I am starting early this year is my holiday gift shopping list. I am lucky to have lots of amazing, inspiring, and supportive loved ones in my life, and they are fun to shop for! We teamed up with our good friends and supporters at ModCloth for this fun holiday gift wishlist. I love trying to find unique, quirky gifts for all my close friends that say something about their personality or interests. xo. Emma

P.S. In case you missed it, I did a little interview for ModCloth's blog about a week ago!

Gift Wishlist: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

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Prosecco and Cranberry Mimosa

Prosecco and Cranberry MimosasLast year for Friendsgiving I made Cranberry Jello Shots, and I decided to keep the cranberry tradition running for this year's cocktail. 

Prosecco Cranberry Mimosa, serves one.

Prosecco
cranberry juice 
thyme
fresh cranberries 

There is much debate on the proper proportions for a mimosa. I believe half Champagne, half juice is technically correct. In my opinion, the 2 parts Champagne (and in this case, Prosecco) to 1 part juice is the best version. It's less sweet and deeeelicious. 

Prosecco and Cranberry Mimosas  Garnish with a few pieces of thyme inside the glass and a few cranberries on a stick. 

Prosecco and Cranberry Mimosas     Prosecco and Cranberry Mimosas Need a mocktail version? I've got you covered. 

Choose between sparkling juice (I used peach) and ginger ale to replace the Champagne or Prosecco. These are great alternatives that still create a sparkling drink. Ginger ale is sweeter. 

Prosecco and Cranberry Mimosas       I always make the cocktail for our family Thanksgiving too. It's so fun. I try a different one each year, and I like recipes like this that allow guests to serve themselves. Do you make cocktails for your Thanksgiving celebration? If so, share your traditions! I'd love to hear. 

Cheers!! xo. Elsie 

Credits// Author and photography: Elsie Larson. Photos edited with Stella of  The Signature Collection and Imogen of The Folk Collection

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Casual Friday Vol. 18

Casual Friday vol. 18            Happy Friday! As you can see, we are making use of our leftover Halloween skull decorations and educating them on what good music sounds like (I can only assume he's listening to Katy Perry, but I can't tell for sure).

We have had quite the busy past month here at ABM trying to get ready for our new shop launch, but we took some time this week to celebrate our annual tradition of Friendsgiving, and boy, was it a delicious feast! Emma does all the cooking (because she likes that part), and we do all the eating (because we like that part), so it works out well for everyone. We will show you all the yummy details in the next few days. 

Casual Friday vol. 18            Casual Friday vol. 18            Casual Friday vol. 18            Casual Friday vol. 18            Casual Friday vol. 18            We made Josh carve the turkey, so we thought it was only fair that he get the giant turkey leg. Sarah challenged him to break the wishbone with her, but we aren't sure who won since the middle broke off and hit Josh in the face! Does that mean he wins or loses??

Casual Friday vol. 18
Casual Friday vol. 18           Casual Friday vol. 18           Casual Friday vol. 18           We have been drinking lots of extra hot coffee and breaking out all our thick sweaters since the weather in Missouri went from the 70s to the 30s overnight. Lattes all around!

Casual Friday vol. 18           Casual Friday vol. 18                     As you can see, Elsie is just about ready for her office tour. It could maybe use a light dusting, but otherwise it's almost complete...

Casual Friday vol. 18           Casual Friday vol. 18       Casual Friday vol. 18       As you can see, sometimes being a hand model gets you into some interesting situations. Ahh, the perils of blog life! Have a great weekend, everyone! xo. Laura

Credits// Author: Laura Gummerman. Photos: Sarah Rhodes and Janae Hardy. Photos edited with the A Beautiful Mess Actions.

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Try This: Flavored Butter Party Favors

Compound buttersFor Friendsgiving this year I wanted to create something that my coworkers could take home with them afterwards. But I also was prepping an entire meal, so I didn't want to try anything too complicated or time-consuming. 

I decided to make a few different flavored butters, also sometimes called compound butters. These are quick and inexpensive to make, and guests can use them during the dinner party as well as take their favorite flavor home after. 

Honey butterI made honey butter by combining 2 cups softened butter with 1/2 cup honey and a big pinch of cinnamon. You can blend this in a food processor or by hand. Spoon into clean glass jars to store. 

I love honey butter because it was something that was always served at my great aunt Ina's house during Thanksgiving when I was growing up. So not only is it totally delicious, it also reminds me of getting to spend holidays with my entire extended family on my father's side. Lots of folding card tables were involved. :)

Chipotle butterI also made a chipotle butter, inspired by my husband Trey. He loves chipotle anything. :) For this I combined 2 cups softened butter, 3 chipotle peppers, and a couple teaspoons of adobo sauce (all from a can). Blend in a food processor. Or you can blend by hand; just chop up the peppers first. Spoon into clean jars to store.

Honey butterI like to make these a few days before my event for two reasons. One, then I don't need to worry about them as I prep for everything else. And second, the flavors will mingle and intensify over a couple days, making them even more delicious. 

Compound butter party favorsI highly recommend adding handmade labels to the tops of the jars so guests know which is which (even though the color will likely give it away too). If you don't have a big sister with awesome handwriting like I do, you could also use letter stamps or stickers for the labels. 

Honey butter party favorsFlavored butters as party favorsFlavored buttersA few other flavor combinations you could try include pesto, cinnamon sugar, lemon, lime with salt, lavender, or pumpkin spice. You probably already have some great flavor options in your cupboard or refrigerator right now, so feel free to get creative. :) xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Emma Chapman and Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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Giant Snowflake Light-Up Marquee

Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)            Okay, okay, unless you're the type of person who puts up her Christmas tree the day after Halloween (Elsie!!), you may feel it's still a little early for Christmas decor. My husband Todd is a bit of a Grinch and puts up a big fuss if he hears or sees Christmas-related items before Thanksgiving. But I'm a planner by nature, so it's hard for me not to think of projects I want to do months in advance. So, regardless of when you choose to break out all your holiday decor, if you decide to make this project, I think it will be one of your favorites.

Do you remember those "choose your own adventure" books where the story varies based on what choices you make? Well, this is kind of a choose your own adventure light-up sign. You can make a version of this sign out of foam core that will be faster and more inexpensive (but will probably only last you one year), or you can make a wood version that will take a little more time and money (but you can keep it for several holiday seasons to come). I like the idea of being able to use my Christmas decor for more than one year (I will for sure be using this light-up sign from last year again!), so I chose to go the wood route. To bring this sign to life, we're teaming up with Martha Stewart Living and their holiday collection at The Home Depot. Also, be sure to check out Martha's light-up sign in her how-to series. Ready to brighten up your holiday decor?? 

Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)              General supplies:
-Martha Stewart Living Battery-Operated LED lights
-snowflake template (right click to download)
-drill and drill bits (or paddle drill bits)
-duct tape

Additional supplies for wood version:
-wood board big enough for your desired sign size (thickness is up to you; mine is 1/2" thick)
-jigsaw

Additional supplies for foam core version:
-large foam core boards big enough for your desired sign size
-X-Acto knife, metal ruler, and cutting mat

Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)Step One: TRACE. First you'll want to trace your snowflake design onto your material. I would suggest taking your downloaded snowflake file to a place like Kinkos or Staples and have it printed on their blueprint printer as large as you want. I wanted a big statement, so I made mine 40" wide. It should only cost around $5-$8 and you can just cut it out, place it on your piece of wood or foam core, and trace around it to transfer your design. If you are a lucky duck and have access to a projector, you can also print your snowflake on a transparency to trace it with the projector instead. I added the dots on the printout to mark where the lights should be based on where I ended up drilling mine, so make sure to mark those dots when you are tracing as well. 

Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)Step Two: CUT. Okay, here's one part of the process where you can go either the less or more time-consuming route. If you want to use foam core for your marquee, you can just use an X-Acto knife and metal ruler to cut out your snowflake. For a thicker foam core sign, cut out more than one and glue them together. If you choose to use wood for this project instead, you'll need a jigsaw, but if you don't already have one the good news is that they are under $50, easy to use, and you'll have a whole new range of wood DIYs you can tackle from now on. Totally worth it. 

If you choose to use a jigsaw, clamp your wood (or have someone hold it) so that the portion of the wood you are cutting hangs over the side of a table or workbench that's about waist high. Keep the flat metal bottom of the jigsaw close against the top of the wood as you cut into the board, and use the metal guide on the front of the saw to follow your outline. Don't force the saw forward too fast or it won't give you as clean of a cut, so just let the saw go at its own pace. Make all the cuts that you can get to from the outside of the snowflake, and I'll show you how to do the cutouts near the inside.

Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)
Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)To make a cutout that you can't get to as easily from the outside edge, you'll need to make yourself an opening near the lines that you want to cut. You can see in the photos above that I drilled holes a bit bigger than the width of my jigsaw blade near the lines that were hard to get to so that way I could start the saw from those holes and go in either direction I needed to from there. 

Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)     Once your snowflake is cut, you can take a piece of fine sandpaper and smooth any rough edges.

Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)     Step Three: DRILL. To make your light holes, use a drill bit or a paddle bit that makes a hole big enough to fit your lights through (my bit was 1/2"). A regular drill bit will work just fine for either wood or foam core, but paddle bits tend to give the cleanest holes in wood if you have access to one. Just drill with the paddle bit until the tip just goes through the other side, and then flip the wood and finish drilling the hole from the back. 

Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)     Step Four: PAINT. You guys know how to do this step. Choose whatever color you like (spray painting is an option too) or add a glitter coat with Mod Podge so the lights have extra sparkle.

Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)     Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)          Step Five: ADD LIGHTS. I love these Martha Stewart LED lights because they run on battery packs and you don't have to worry about cords hanging down or having to be near an outlet. They are also great because the front bulb cover can be removed and you can just stick the bulb through from the back and reattach the cover from the front. And the larger bulb really just works for the look I'm going for here. There's not really a right or wrong place to start adding the lights in from the back, so just pick a spot and start adding! It's also okay if you have to skip a bulb to make it to the next hole if the spacing is too far apart on some. I think light-up signs actually look better when they have a few lights behind the sign, as they give it an extra glow against the wall. Use duct tape on the back of the sign to secure any loose lights or wires that might dangle in sight and to secure the battery packs.

Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)          Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)          Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)          Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)          Have to make this! Giant snowflake marquee (click through for tutorial)          Marquee signs really are the best in my book. Can't you image being cuddled up under this sign with a blanket and hot chocolate this winter? It's the perfect dose of quirky fun to add to your holiday decor, and since the snowflake is also a general winter icon, you can totally leave it up until spring has sprung. Are you up for making a holiday marquee this year? Would you choose the wood or foam core version? xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman. Photos by: Laura Gummerman and Josh Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.
 
SAFETY TIPS: We spoke with our local fire department to double check the safety of this type of project. It's no less safe than a lit Christmas tree, as you'd probably guess. Just be sure to follow these guidelines (if you plan to recreate this project):

-Before purchasing your lights, check for a label of an independent testing laboratory (most commercially sold Christmas lights will have this). Some lights are specially made for indoor or outdoor use; be sure to use lights made for indoor use.

 -Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose/broken lights.

 -Your finished project should not have any exposed bundles of cords or wires, only the final cord or extension cord so it can safely reach an outlet if you use lights that are plugged in.

 -Just as you would with your house decorations or your Christmas tree, always turn off lights before leaving your home or going to bed.

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