30 November 2012

easy candy christmas countdown [DIY]

Tomorrow is the big day--the countdown to Christmas begins!
(Plus there will be a GIVEAWAY! You won't want to miss it!)

If you don't have time or energy to make the Clothesline Advent Calendar I posted about a few days ago, here's a simple alternative for you. It's the

These were the countdown chains we always had growing up. They were quick to make and also inexpensive. Plus, they were simple enough for children to make, with just a little help.
So, it doubled as an advent calendar and activity! Double score. 

What you'll need: 
plastic wrap
25 pieces of candy
ribbon, bakers twine, raffia, or string

Just follow these 5 easy steps: 

1. Choose your favorite candy. We prefer Lindt chocolate balls around here! (Don't worry, we make a family chain so all the goodness isn't going to any one person.) Cut a very long piece of plastic wrap-about 75 inches long or longer. (Enough for about 3 inches per candy)

2. Lay your candy equally apart on the plastic wrap. 

3.  Fold the bottom edge of the plastic over top your row of candies. 

4. Now do the same thing with the top edge, so it covers the candy completely.

5. Finally, tie off each section with ribbon or string.

Each day, it's one piece of candy closer to Christmas!


If you don't have time or resources for this either, consider sticking to a simple paper chain.
Write an activity on each slip of paper. Attach together to form a chain.
Each day, cut off a slip of paper and do the activities! 

29 November 2012

50 christmas activity ideas for advent calendars

Now that my advent calendar is updated, I'm ready to fill it with holiday activities. If you are like me and  struggle coming up with a new idea for each day, here's a list to help you out. I know, we only need 24-25 ideas, but there are 50 here so you can choose your favorites. And hey, save the rest for next year.

1. Decorate sugar cookies and take them to a neighbor
2. Decorate the Christmas tree
3. Put up Christmas lights
4. Drive to see the Christmas lights in pjs
5. Make gingerbread houses
6. Visit Temple Square
7. Make a countdown to Christmas candy chain
8. Go Christmas shopping
9. Get a picture taken with Santa
10. Go caroling at the hospital
11. Read Christmas stories
12. Sleep out by the Christmas tree
13. Celebrate St. Nicholas Day
14. Watch a Christmas movie
15. Go to a nativity display
16. Make Christmas candy
17. Dip pretzels
18. Do a Sub-4-Santa
19. Drink hot cocoa on the front porch
20. Celebrate Advent
21. Host a Christmas open house
22. Read the nativity story
23. Try a new Christmas recipe
24. Start a Christmas Jar
25. Wrap presents
26. Watch Elf
27. Watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional
28. Build a snowman
29. Drink hot chocolate on the porch with Grasshopper cookies
30. Carol around the neighborhood
31. Write letters to Santa
32. Start a new Christmas tradition
33. Host a Holiday Open House for neighbors and friends
34. Watch Home Alone
35. Go to an outdoor ice skating rink
36. Dance to Christmas music
37. Make a homemade gift
38. Watch Miracle on 34th Street
39. Write and mail Christmas cards
40. Cut down your own Christmas tree
41. Have a Christmas-around-the world night
42. Make a Christmas craft
43. Go to a light parade
44. Go to a free Christmas concert
45. Attend the city's tree lighting ceremony
46. Read the Christmas Carol
47. Read the Scripture Advent each night
48. Do a Christmas card,  ornament, or cookie exchange
49. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
50. String popcorn for the tree

28 November 2012

advent calendar ideas

Are you getting your advent calendars together?
I have two this year. Who says you can only have one?
My first one is a wooden one that I redid. I picked up on clearance for $7. 
I repainted it and put on new numbers. I like the clean, modern look.
This one will be used for our Keeping Christ in Christmas advent. Each box contains a scripture to read and a little treat. 

The second one we have is for our Christmas activities. 

You can make one, too!
All you need: a dollar-store clothesline, clothespins, paper, advent numbers, and contact paper if you want to make it re-usable. The total cost should be around $4 or less if you already have materials at home. 

On the back of each card has a Christmas activity that we will do that day. The contact paper makes it so you can write with a dry-erase marker. Then you can reuse from year-to-year, or if you need to change activities at the last minute, no problem! Holidays require flexibility, you know.

And should you decide to make one, I've made it simple. Click here to download a printable version of the numbers. All you have to do is cut and paste, literally. 

If you make one,  I would love to see it!
Come back tomorrow for more activity ideas than you'll ever need for your new advent calendar!

27 November 2012

christmas is coming!!!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. 
Now that Thanksgiving is over, we can focus on Christmas! 
(My husband is trying to teach me to not be too excited for Christmas that I overlook Thanksgiving.)
I really do love Thanksgiving. But there are just so many festive things to do at Christmas.

I decided to pull all of my Christmas-related posts into this preview guide so that the ideas would be more accessible. I realize that many of you readers were not around when this first started., so I think (hope) it will be helpful. I know it will for me since some ideas get lost in the shuffle.  
And just for your reference, there will be a "Christmas Ideas" link at the top of the site that will have all of these ideas for quick reference, should you ever need to access them again. 
Some of these ideas are from previous posts and a few are posts that will be coming this month. So stay tuned for full details on them--in addition to some new ideas!

As always, I love hearing your traditions, favorite recipes, and ideas. If you would like to share any of your favorite holiday ideas, send an email to sofestive@gmail.com or post them on our Facebook page.  
The more ideas we all have, the merrier! 

Traditions & Activities 
Festive Food & Recipes

Crafts & Decor

Gift Ideas 

Sweet & Simple 12 days of Christmas
Christmas Eve Pajamas

Come back tomorrow for a look at my NEW advent calendars for the year...
and how you can make one of them! 

26 November 2012

simple celebrations: november 26-december 2

This week's simple celebrations:
26-National Cake Day
27-Pins and Needles Day
28-National French Toast Day
29-Newspaper Day
30-Day of Friendship
December 1-So Festive's 3rd Blogiversary! Make sure to come back for an awesome Giveaway!
2-National Fritters Day

Stay tuned this week for all sorts of Christmas ideas. I can't believe the Christmas season is here!

22 November 2012


I hope you have the most wonderful and safe Thanksgiving full of:
family, yummy food, and great memories.

I'm thankful for you loyal readers who love being festive with me!
Happy Thanksgiving.

*image from our pre-Thanksgiving thankful dinner. 

I'll be back next week with to kick off the Christmas season!
I hope you'll join me. 

21 November 2012

thankful tablecloth [tradition]

Since it's my little guy's first Thanksgiving, I wanted to start a tradition that would capture what we were thankful for and the memory of him (and future children) growing up. 

There are a lot of great hand-print turkey crafts out there, but I wanted something that would last.
So this is what I came up with: A Thankful Tablecloth

I combined an idea we got from a wedding gift with this wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
We don't have many Thanksgiving traditions (compared to other holidays), so I'm glad we have a new one!

How to: We simply traced our hands on a white tablecloth. We decorated them like turkeys and wrote a few things that we were thankful for with permanent marker. Each year, we will pull out the tablecloth for our family's thankful dinner and add our hand-print turkeys and gratitude lists.

20 November 2012

So Festive In The City::Thanksgiving Day Parade Survival Guide

Hey there. This is Melissa's sister, Emily, and I am excited to be starting a So Festive- In the City series on this blog. When I first moved to NYC almost 4 years ago, I decided that being festive was going to have to wait until I moved into a house in the suburbs somewhere. I never seemed to have time, craft stores were difficult to find, decorations were pricey, our tiny Central Park apartment had no space to store anything...the list of excuses went on and on.

I quickly realized that being festive isn't about doing everything perfectly. It's about finding what works for you where you live. And no matter what little festive touches you add to your life, it makes everyday that much more special.

So, first up, let's talk Thanksgiving.

While many of our friends leave the city for Thanksgiving, we love being here & have a tradition of going to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. What's not to love about sights like these:

However, we've learned a thing or to over the past 3 years. So, if you ever find yourself in New York City for Thanksgiving, I present for you:

"The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Survival Guide"

1. Plan ahead. The parade starts at 9am, but doesn't finish until nearly 11am & by the time you get out of the crowds and back to your apartment or hotel, it can be close to noon. Plan ahead so you are not stressed with your Thanksgiving Day feast preparations. Make the pies the night before, simplify some of your dishes, or just plan to start your dinner a bit later.

2. Go early. 5am may seem early, but it is worth it. As with most events in the city, the Thanksgiving Day Parade attracts a HUGE crowd. By going early, you avoid having to wander through the thousands of people with a risk of losing half your group. Trust me, it can be miserable. Plus, you score yourself front row seats-making the parade much more enjoyable to watch. Just FYI- the parade starts at 81st Street and gets much more crowded as it gets closer to the ending point at Macy's in Herald Square. 

3. Bundle up! Coats, gloves, hats...you'll want 'em all! The weather has usually started to get chilly by this time of the year. You don't want to be freezing the whole morning long.

4.Take folding chairs & blankets. After all, if you have to wait several hours for the parade to begin, it is that much more comfortable to have a place to sit.

5. Pack yourself breakfast. Now, you may not be hungry for anything at 5am, but the parade doesn't get over until around 11am, so we usually bring breakfast pastries or muffins, fruit, and other snacks along with hot cocoa. Just don't drink too much because you will not be able to leave to find a bathroom until the parade is over!

6. Don't forget your camera. The giant balloons, soaring through the sky next to the tall buildings along Central Park West are an absolutely amazing sight. You will want to be able to capture the moment!

7. The Pre-Parade Party. If you feel like the parade might be a bit too much for you, you can attend the "blowing-up-of-the-balloons-party" the night before. All the balloons are spread out around the block at the Museum of Natural History. Beginning around 5pm, they blow up the balloons so you can walk around and see them up close. Great for kids who may not be able to sit through the entire parade. Just be warned that this also gets crowded the later you go.

And for those of you far from this bustling city, cozy up in your pj's and slippers and flip on the TV to watch the parade from the comfort of your warm home. It's not quite as magical as being there in person, but it is still fun & look for me--I'll be waving!

Happy Thanksgiving from the City!

Stay tuned for more So Festive In The City segments. 

19 November 2012

simple celebrations: november 19-25 and some exciting news!!

This week's simple celebrations:
19-Play Monopoly Day
20-Name your PC Day
21-National Stuffing Day & Thanksgiving-Eve Pie Night!!
23-Put up your Christmas Decorations Day
24-National Cashew Day
25-National Parfait Day

Also, be sure to come back tomorrow for the first post in a new series that will be on So Festive from now on. I'll give you a little hint....

Are you so excited? I am!!

17 November 2012

rainbow jello [recipe]

Rainbow Jello (or 12-layer Jello) is a favorite around our house. My mom was famous for this jello. We only make it for special occasions like Thanksgiving, family parties, or when someone requests it. However, I think it would also be perfect for a summer party, color party, or rainbow party. I'm always in charge of making it when we have Thanksgiving dinner with my husband's family. So, I thought I would share the recipe since Thanksgiving is this week. I can't believe it's already here.

I'll tell you up front, this is not a quick recipe to make. It will be worth every minute you spend, but you'll want to plan on it taking a good chunk of the day to make. It takes a few hours because you have to wait for each layer to set up before adding the next one. The good news is that you can do other things while you are waiting for the layers to set up.

Rainbow Jello
3 oz box of jello in the following flavors: lemon, lime, orange, cherry or raspberry, blueberry, and grape.
1 cup boiling water for each flavor
2 cups sour cream
12 Tbsp cold water
whipped cream or cool whip topping

 Spray 9x13 pan and set aside. To make, just do one layer at a time. Start with lemon. Boil 1 cup water and add it to the lemon jello powder. Stir will.  Then, divide that in half. To one half, add 2 Tbsp. cold water. To the other half, add 1/3 cup sour cream and mix. Pour the lemon with cold water into the pan. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Then pour the lemon jello with sour cream onto the first lemon layer.*Then, you will just repeat for all the layers. You can do them in any order, but I prefer lemon, lime, orange, red, blue, and grape.

To recap:       1st layer: lemon jello with water; refrigerate 20 minutes
                     2nd layer: lemon jello with sour cream; refrigerate 20 minutes
                     3rd layer: lime jello with water; refrigerate 20 minutes
                     4th layer: lime jello with sour cream; refrigerate 20 minutes
                     Repeat for all layers.

Right before serving, top with cool whip or whipped cream.
*Make sure the jello you are adding is cool so that it won't melt the previous layer. To speed up the process, you can make two flavors at a time and let the other one cool while the first one is setting up.

Serve this at your Thanksgiving dinner and I promise it will be a hit!

15 November 2012

thanksgiving-eve pie night [tradition]

One of my absolute favorite traditions that my husband's family does each year is a 
Thanksgiving-Eve Pie Night. 
It's brilliant for lots of reasons.
It ensures that we have pies made before Turkey-day=less stress.
It allows us to actually enjoy the pies because we aren't full from a giant turkey dinner.
Since we switch off which family we eat Thanksgiving dinner with, it means we at least get one night with my husband's family. 

I know what you are thinking. What? You eat pies the night before?  Yes, we do. But that doesn't mean we don't eat them again on Thanksgiving. There are always plenty of leftovers to eat on actual Thanksgiving. This way, we just get to enjoy them more. Twice actually. And no one complains. :)

Does anyone else have this tradition?  

13 November 2012

If You Want To Be Happy [thanksgiving story]

I know I talk about my mom a lot on this blog. But hey, she is the reason I started this blog in the first place. She made holidays so special and meaningful for us growing up. One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions was reading the "If You Want To Be Happy" story with her. She found the story somewhere and cut pictures out of magazines to turn it into a book. I always wanted to make my own version, but since I didn't have a stash of magazines lying around, I used images I found online and created our own copy. 

It is a sweet story and shares a little secret of how we can be happy this holiday season.
Click here or on the title page below for a PDF version that you can print and enjoy again and again.

 *all images in the story are not original.

12 November 2012

simple celebrations: november 12-18

This week's simple celebrations:
12-National Sundae Day
13-World Kindness Day
14-Clean out your Fridge Day
15-America Recycles Day
16-Button Day
17-Homemade Cinnamon Roll Day
18-Mickey Mouse's Birthday

08 November 2012

The Great Soup Search Recipe #2

Another soup recipe has made the cut! Thanks Amanda for your wonderful Beef & Barley soup recipe. 
It was different, hearty, flavorful, and easy to make. 

Beef and Barley Soup

1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp. butter
4 cups beef broth
4 cups water
2 cups chopped roast beef
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
1 cup quick cooking barley
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas (or one small zucchini, chopped)

Saute carrots and onion in butter for about 5 minutes. Then add broth, water, beef, tomatoes, barley, and spices. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and let simmer covered for 20 minutes. Add peas (or zucchini) and let simmer five more minutes uncovered. 

07 November 2012

my thanksgiving mantle

thrifted craft pumpkin :: diy turkey :: thrifted mirror :: mini pumpkins :: metal turkey
leaf garland :: twigs from the local park 

05 November 2012

simple celebrations: november 5-11

This week's simple celebrations:
5-Bonfire Night
6-Basketball Day
7-Magazine Day
8-X-ray Day
9-Go to an Art Museum Day
10-Marine Corps Birthday
11-Veterans Day


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