Category Archives: Birthday Gift

Happy Birthday Casey!

gift present
Q: Guess what today is?! 
A: If you guessed Casey’s birthday… you’re right! 
My favorite blogging best friend is blowing out the candles today, and may I add, for the last time as a single lady. #cheerstothat

As you all probably figured out by now, Casey is one talented, motivated & hard-working 20-somethin’ lady. But for those of you who may not know, Casey is also the main reason the DIY Playbook was born.  Yea, yea… technically we are 50% owners of DIY Playbook, LLC & always try hard to split up the work 50/50, but Casey is hands-down the reason we are where we are today. Don’t believe me?

Q: Who cooked up the idea of starting a DIY blog anyway?
A: Casey
 
Q: Who spent a whole summer convincing me to jump on board & follow through with this crazy idea?
A: Casey
 
Q: Who spearheaded all of our coding & HTML mysteries to actually make our behind the scenes ideas a reality in the form of a LIVE BLOG?!
A: Yup, Casey again
 
Q: Who is always motivating me to work harder, be better, and achieve the unthinkable regardless of other’s expectations?
A:  That’s Casey
 
Q: Do you see a pattern here?
A: Casey, the answer is Casey!
To symbolize how much Casey motivates me to be BETTER, work HARDER, and NEVER give up, I decided to give her this charming birthday gift.

Alright, I guess it’s not as self-explanatory as I thought. Allow me to explain…

When Casey & I started DIY Playbook, Casey dove right in and bought a DSLR camera (aka a super nice camera) and taught herself how to use it. Are you surprised?! #Imnot

She was dedicated to learning how to shoot manually and bring our blog’s photos to the next level. All the while her Playbook Partner (aka ME) was s.l.a.c.k.i.n.g. I had no fancy camera, no knowledge of photography and a whole lot of excuses why I couldn’t get into “real” blog photography just yet. While Casey was honing her photog skills, I was weighing down the team and started to dread taking blog pics with my dinosaur of a camera.

Q: Guess what Casey did during this time?
A: Encouraged me, supported me, and accepted that I wasn’t ready to make the plunge.

Fast forward a year… I am proud to say that I now own a DSLR camera (woo-woo), I am learning to shoot in manual (keyword: learning) & am no longer weighing down this partnership (well, at least not in the photography department). And the most important update- the new camera has introduced me to my LOVE for taking pictures. A task I used to dread is now possibly one of my favorite parts of this blog journey. Who would have guessed?

Q: Guess who I owe this new passion to?
A: Casey…. AGAIN!

To me, this photography strap is so much more than just a cute strap for her fancy camera. It’s that too, but so much more. This colorful strap is also a symbol of how much she has done for me as a friend, business partner and, most importantly, as a person. Like I said before, Casey is hands-down one of the most hardworking, motivated & dedicated people I know. She will put her all into her work and not come up for air until she has reached her goal (Finn, am I right?). At that point, she will sleep, drink some coffee, & get up the next day to work even harder- repeating this over & over again until…. Well, we haven’t gotten there yet. I’ll let you know when she stops…

To say that she pushes me to work hard, be better, and challenge myself to learn new things just by her example is quite the understatement. I hope this simple gift is a constant reminder to her of how much she inspires me and all of those around her.

Cheers to Casey and a year of great things ahead of her! You better believe that I’ll be by your side, camera in hand, ready to capture these priceless moments…
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Organizing Gift Bags for FREE

Giftbag organization
You just can’t run away from any and all types of organizing this month. January just seems to have that magic touch of kicking us all in gear and making us feel like we’re slobs that shove everything into hidden places and hope they disappear. One of those items that really does seem to hide in those deep dark closet places when I really need them? Gift bags.
When I receive a gift in a gift bag, if the bag is still in great shape (which it usually is), you can bet that this Rookie stashes it away with full intention to use that sucker again. Call me cheap, call me crazy, just don’t call me to buy a new gift bag- ain’t happenin’ here! Thanks to January, I’m saying NO to those hiding gift bags and I’m getting them ORGANIZED, so they can get in that gift rotation once again.
Organizing Giftbags
This project can be done in probably 5 minutes, and I would even bet my paycheck to say that 99% of you have the necessary supplies to recreate this DIY in your place right.this.minute. Five minutes, FREE supplies, and a chance to tell that looming January guilt to get lost?! What are we waiting for… let’s do this!
How to organize giftbags
You will need- a large retail bag and an old hanger. That.is.it.
Rookie Tip: I would recommend using the retail bag that is the most sturdy…. the thicker the better.
giftbag organizing
Now, peel all of those old gift bags out of those deep dark closets and gather them into one neat pile.
What to do with old gift bags
If you have any more large retail bags laying around with no real place to call “home”, you can get those out and put them in a nice pile as well.
giftbags organized
Now all you have to do is take both piles and place them neatly into the large retail bag that you started with. (It’s okay if they’re larger than the bag and peeking out the top, that’s normal).
bag organization
I also added in some gift boxes that I have received and plan to reuse. As long as all of my gift bags are in one place, why not include the gift boxes too?
bag hanger
Take the handles of the large retail bag that is holding all of your gift bags and wrap them around the neck of the hanger.
hang in a closet
Hang that hanger o’ gift bags somewhere in your closet, coat closet, laundry room, or storage room and you are DONE organizing those extra gift bags that always seemed to be hiding when you needed them. When it comes time to wrap a new gift, all you have to do is take down your hanging bag, pick out your favorite one and hang the rest back up! #it’sthateasy
organizing giftbags
If you really want to get crazy, you can even put a package of tissue paper into your new gift bag organizer and this will be a one-stop-shopping wrapping station!
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3 thoughts on “Organizing Gift Bags for FREE

  1. Meredith

    Great idea!! My shopping and gift bags always end up stashed in random places and end up getting nicked and disformed so that I can’t use them again, as planned. This will help! Thanks

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3 thoughts on “Organizing Gift Bags for FREE

  1. Meredith

    Great idea!! My shopping and gift bags always end up stashed in random places and end up getting nicked and disformed so that I can’t use them again, as planned. This will help! Thanks

    Reply

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Happy Birthday Casey!!

Our birthday girl is a talented writer, avid reader, and extremely hardworking & humble professional. She would never, ever talk about her work, so please… allow me.  
As a journalism major from University of Notre Dame, Casey has been a TV reporter, news anchor, video producer, on-camera host, and now, a blogger! Within all of these job titles, Casey has worked hard, both on camera and off, to bring her viewers the “story”. Breaking news, special reports, entertaining interviews, Casey’s got the story and is dedicated to sharing it with honesty, dedication and authentic enthusiasm. Although each of these stories make up a part of Casey’s life, there are other stories that define my best friend far more accurately.  
 Like her storybook romance to her high school sweetheart, Mr. Finn.

Or the many stories about Casey growing up as the baby sister of 3 fabulous siblings
Or maybe the stories of her moving up to a cold little town in Wisconsin to follow her dream
Regardless of which story it is, each one has helped build the positive, grateful, hardworking, and compassionate woman she is today.
Casey is one-in-a-million, and I’m so lucky & grateful to be a tiny little part of her amazing story.

Cheers to my favorite rookie. May this twenty-somethin’ chapter be full of love, laughter and lots of happiness. And in honor of Casey’s special day, we’re celebrating with a gift for YOU, our wonderful readers. Click here for your own FREE printable to give to the “Casey” in your  life!

As much as I’m so happy to be a part of Casey’s story, I’m equally thankful that she’s a part of my story. Download and print a copy of this free printable by clicking Here! Either of these printables paired with a great book can be a thoughtful little gift for a teacher, mom (mother’s day is coming up) or that someone special in your life.

Happy Birthday to one heck-of-a-teammate!!

Love,

PS. Tune in around 2:00 PM for another reason to celebrate! Can you guess what it is?
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3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Casey!!

  1. Mom

    Happy Birthday to my baby! Enjoy this day knowing how much you are loved!
    This is a beautiful birthday gift, Bridget. You and Casey are lucky to have each other as BFFs!

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3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Casey!!

  1. Mom

    Happy Birthday to my baby! Enjoy this day knowing how much you are loved!
    This is a beautiful birthday gift, Bridget. You and Casey are lucky to have each other as BFFs!

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A Sweet Celebration

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In honor of my older sister’s birthday and to celebrate her new home and soon-to-be new family, I attended a very sweet, very creative holiday celebration. This celebration was my oldest sister (Katie) and her fiance’s (Joe) first official “dinner party” and they rocked it out of the park!

She and Joe invited my family and Joe’s family over to eat, drink, and…. build gingerbread houses! It was a brilliant concept that allowed new families to bond over a sweet task while gossiping about all things wedding. How could she go wrong?

Katie would never admit that she enjoys anything that involves crafts, home decor, or being creative, but if you ask me, I think she’s scamming us because she has definitely become quite the undercover Martha Stewart lately. Check out this creative set-up we were welcomed with…

Maybe it was just me, but I was super excited to roll up my sleeves and get sticky in the name of decorating! Family, holiday tunes and a craft…. what more could a girl ask for on a Saturday night?!

We mingled, explored the holiday changes to their brand new home, and ate a delicious meal prepared by our fabulous future brother-in-law.
Here’s a new addition to Katie’s holiday decor compliments of her favorite little sister (sorry, Maggie). It’s a Wonderful Life is Katie’s all time favorite movie, so it was a no-brainer that I had to think of some way to incorporate this classic into her holiday decor.
Here’s a picture of my dad and the hostess checking out Katie’s first Christmas Village in her new house. The village has always been Dad and Katie’s Christmas “thing”. They spent countless hours setting up this same village (on a much larger scale) in our parent’s house so it was fun watching my dad have a wow-you’re-on-your-own-and-I’m-so-proud-of-you moment.
DIY Village
After the sentimental train left the station, we sat down for dinner. The group’s My anticipation for the gingerbread decorating was mounting, but dinner was the perfect distraction.
 
And after a delicious dinner, the time had come! We partnered up, got our supplies and got to work. Because we were instructed to wear ugly sweaters, we didn’t need aprons. But I would recommend providing your guests with aprons if they are wearing anything but an ugly sweater.
Wilton gingerbread Kit
Each partnership received a pizza tray to build on (compliments of a local pizza parlor), a Wilton Gingerbread Kit, and extra frosting for construction purposes.  I would highly recommend the Wilton Kit because it provided enough frosting. Plus the frosting did what it was supposed to: hold the house together. The kit also came with a piping bag, a decorating tip, and plenty of candy. You can pick up these kits at any local JoAnn Fabric Store.
Gingerbread decorating
Our organized hosts provided even more candy for us all to share, which was the perfect touch! With all these supplies ready… we had no choice but to get to work.
Wilton Gingerbread
Gingerbread decorating Party
We built and decorated the houses all in one step. If you wanted more reliable construction, I would recommend pre-building the houses to ensure the icing is nice and dry.
My mom had an unfair advantage that she failed to tell the soon-to-be in laws. As a former bake shop manager, her piping skills were far beyond rookie status.
Decorating Party
I think Ms. Martha Stewart did a little research/practicing before hosting this party. Her house was far from beginner level decorating and ironically, her house was the only one pre-built. Hmmm… 
Wilton Decorating Party
Our little sister is a full time culinary teacher, so I think she also had quite an advantage. I’m suspicious that she reviewed Gingerbread decorating techniques this week in Baking 101. Check out her master piece… 
DIY Gingerbread
I love this little photo-op. The future Mr. and Mrs. Smith getting some valuable advice from the more experienced Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Newlywed Gingerbread
Overall, the night was a blast! Although we don’t have any little ones running around, we all still loved the childish tradition. Here are some close-ups of the final products… you be the judge.
Decorating Party
Candy Decorating
Here’s a model of the “barn” Joe and Katie will be getting married in this summer. See what I mean about the bake shop piping skills?
Gingerbread Wedding
Candy Decorating
And here is why it may be important to build and let dry before decorating…
What not to do when decorating gingerbread houses
Wilton Decorating Party
I think Gingerbread Decorating Parties can be perfect for any age group and any holiday party! Whether it be a birthday party, new home celebration, family get together, date night, couples challenge, or just the icing on top of an ugly sweater extravaganza… you can’t go wrong with gingerbread. All ages, skill levels, and creative minds welcome.
If you are participating in a “sweet celebration” like this, I will leave you with a few key tips that I learned…
1. Plan ahead – I think I would be far more proud of my little house if I had an idea of what I wanted to do before I started decorating. On the other hand, the randomness of this project makes it fun too!
2. Be different – between the green frosting and the wedding tribute, the unique touches are what made these houses a success.
3. Don’t be afraid to get sticky! (And if you’re hosting… don’t be afraid if your kitchen gets sticky)
4. Mix up your teams. We partnered up with our +1’s, but for a party like this, I think it could be fun to mix up the couples and draw random partners. This would spice up the crowd and allow each of you to learn a little bit more about someone else in the crowd.
5. Have fun – take advantage of the time you have crafting with people that may not love crafts as much as you do. You may be able to recruit a few new DIY-ers along the way!
Based on the outcome of my little house, I still have a lot to learn about DIY Gingerbread between now and next Christmas. Thank goodness I have a lot of time to research and practice! How do you perfect your Gingerbread house? What tips do you have for me? What are your gingerbread traditions?
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Unique Birthday Gift

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Back in October, our own Miss Bridget celebrated a big birthday! 25 years baby!

Typically, we try not to do too much for birthdays. Maybe a nice card or picture frame, nothing too pricey or time consuming. But this year I wanted to do something special for her big day.
I’m not gonna lie, I probably should have saved this present until her 26th birthday (duh!) But I didn’t want the idea to fade and decided that I could make it work even though she was only turning 25.
I bought a pack of alphabet flash cards (only about $3 at Target)
Since there are 26 letters in the alphabet, I thought it would be cool to do a play on each letter of the alphabet with 1 extra for good luck! So, I came up with an adjective for each letter (Ex. A for Artsy, B for Beautiful…) and then wrote a paragraph with a memory or funny story about Bridget’s character and why that adjective fit her so well.
Now, if any of you have had the pleasure to meet Bridge then you’re a lucky duck! She is quite possibly the most fantastic girl ever (and I swear I’m not just saying that because she is my BFF). So, with that being said, it was incredibly easy to come up with adjectives to describe the wonderful young lady.
I wrote out all of my 26 “Bridget descriptions” and printed them out on colorful paper.  On the front was the adjective, and on the back was a small paragraph with an explanation.
Disregard the yucky handwriting in “Joyful”. I had just broken my pinkie finger and my penmanship still wasn’t up to birthday gift standards!
I think it turned out to be a pretty neat gift. At first Bridget, gave me a strange look as to why I gave her  alphabet flash cards. But after opening them up, I think she was really touched.
I think this would be a fabulous birthday gift or maybe even a gift your child could make a favorite teacher!
So, break out the glue stick and scissors and start crafting like you’re in elementary school.

 

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