Category Archives: Gifts

Easy BBQ Rub Recipe (a Super Easy Father’s Day Gift Idea!)


T-minus 4 days until Father’s Day, which means we only have a few more days to get a gift for those special men in our lives. This year we decided to step outside our comfort zone and “DIY” a BBQ rub recipe since both of our dads love BBQ-ing this time of year. We haven’t shared a ton of gift ideas recently and this easy idea for Dad (or a hostess gift for your next BBQ) was just too easy not to share.

BUT you guys know that we’re faaaaar from experts in the kitchen, so you’re probably thinking, “why should we trust this recipe… so much so that we’re going to give it to the Grill-masters in our lives?”. Great question (you read our minds)!

We actually borrowed it from the experts at Weber grill and we’re confident that if they give it the seal of approval, our dads will too!   <— and no, this is not a sponsored post, we just think this DIY gift is an idea that can be a great way to get even the littlest kids involved in spoiling their dad.Easy_BBQ_Rub_Recipe-9

Here’s what you’ll need for the DIY BBQ Rub:


  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin



One of the reasons we love this idea is because it’s personalized, functional (dads love functional, don’t they?!) and super simple.
Easy_BBQ_Rub_Recipe-4We measured all of the ingredients into a bowl and then mixed them all up, making sure the brown sugar became as smooth as possible.

Then we took the BBQ rub and funneled into this adorable little mason jar shaker.

We were left with this shaker full of the BBQ rub and quite a bit extra in 5 minutes or less. And the best part of “leftovers” is that you can make a batch of this and still have some leftover for another gift (maybe a hostess gift for a backyard BBQ?).


Free Gift Tag Printable

To wrap it up, we added a gift tag & ribbon and we were done! Easy BBQ Rub
If you want to use this same gift tag, you can download this one right here (print full-page) but any tag could do! We love the idea of pairing this with a gift card, some backyard gadgets (what dad doesn’t love gadgets?) or any “little something” that fits your dad’s personality. With 4 days until the big day, you have plenty of time to whip this up! Casey_bridget_Sig

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Favorite Gift Ideas for Him from our Hubbies


If you’re anything like us, buying the perfect gift for those husbands of ours is never easy! It’s not that they’re picky (not at all actually), but we always want to make sure we choose something that they’ll get a lot of use out of over the entire year.

Heck if we’ve learned anything about the types of gifts that our husbands love, it’s the fact that their all-time favorite gifts are ones that they can USE ….A LOT! Since we needed a few ideas for them and figured you may need some ideas for the important men in your life too, we invited Matt & Finn to share some of their most used and ultimate favorite items from 2016. Hopefully these ideas will help inspire you (and us!!) to find a gift for all the important men in our lives!

So without further ado, here’s a double dose of gift ideas from Finn and Matt. Take it away gentlemen!

Finn’s Favoritesfinns_favorite_things_2016-19-pm

1 Tie & Tie Clip Set // 2. Blazer // 3. Watch 
4. Travel Bag // 5. Boots // 6. No Show Socks
7. Kiehls Men’s Grooming Products // 8. Fleece // 9. Jeans

  1. My favorite place for ties, belts, and tie clips: The Tie Bar is a great affordable way for men to expand their wardrobe and accessories. Plus fun and trendy ties for $19 each? SIGN ME UP! I am a huge proponent of tie bars themselves as it makes any man appear a touch more classy and really cleans up a look. mike-finn-blazer
  2. Blazer: I just got this blazer at Express and it was a great addition to the wardrobe. In general these are ideal for any occasion and come in a tailored, slim fit and are 50% off right now! They also have subtle fashion accents like flip out pocket squares and colored lining – allowing you to branch out with no decision to be made!
  3. Watch: Now I don’t personally have this watch, but it’s a big wink-wink to that wife of mine that this is on my wish list. Having a variety of watches is another great way to add some creativity to the outfit and personally I enjoy buying cheap ones just as much as expensive ones to complete the collection.
  4. Travel Bag: This bag is a great price, great color, and it’s the perfect size. It is ideal for 2-3 night adventures and also comes with an isolated pocket to help keep things organized. It can fit a few pairs of shoes and multiple wardrobes or just a simple change of clothes and toiletries.
  5. Boots: Chicago is wet! Need some rain proof boots that you can wear in the snow. I have learned this the hard way time and time again and I finally bought some protective boots and every morning and night I am thankful.
  6. No Show Socks: I have been wearing no-show socks for a long time (Usually stealing Casey’s little socks and using them) but when I would take my shoes off everyone would laugh at me because they would look like ballerina slippers. (My confidence never wavered.) After a few minutes most would ask what they were and how I got them and next time I saw them – boom they had some version of no-shows! However the fashion world has caught up with me and now makes great styled men’s no-show socks that are not embarrassing to show others.Casey Finn
  7. Grooming Essentials: I have learned recently that as we get older it is important we take care of our skin and grooming. (Somewhere my mom is just laughing at that statement thinking about how it was a struggle to get me to put pants on until I was 5…Love you Mom!) However moisturizing and cleaning is crucial, and many men are also into beards these days. Sadly I lack the genetics to produce a lush fun beard, so I am stuck keeping things neat.  However these products protect my baby face from the toughness of shaving. I recommend a sampler kit to start and see what products fit your style.
  8. Fleece: Yet another fashion trend I have stolen from my brothers (shoes, beards, shades, etc.), these are warm and work with any outfit. I generally get very warm very fast in heavier coats and I love these on those nice sunny winter days when you want to stay bundled.
  9. Jeans: I have never bought nice jeans before, but it is worth it when you wear them hundreds of times. These are so soft and I love the range of colors. I know they’re a little pricey (Casey even mentioned that she doesn’t have jeans this nice…), but they’re just that good!

Matt’s Favorites


1 W Flag (Go Cubs!) // 2. Slim Fit Jeans // 3. TOMS //
4. Wireless Mini Speaker //  5. Born to Run Book // 6. Ray Bans //
7. Yoga Mat // 8. Polka Dot Tie // 9. Glass Food Containers // 10. Slim Fit Slacks

  1. W Flag: 2016 has been a very special year for my beloved Cubbies. The decision was made to bring a new addition to our family…the W flag. Similar to Linus and his Blankie, I have grown quite attached to my “W.”chicago_bridget_fashion_fall-cubs-flags
  2. Slim Fit Jeans: If there is one thing I have little patience for, it’s jeans shopping. However, these babies had my heart from the start. I’m trying to rid myself of the baggy, and embrace the slim fit!xmas-insta
  3. TOMS: These have quickly become a staple in my repertoire. Whether it was attending a summer BBQ, or heading out to the Apple Orchard, these shoes were always part of the party. The perfect combination of comfort and style.
  4. Wireless Mini Speaker: There is nothing I love more than listening to podcasts when fixing up some dinner. The JBL Wireless Speaker makes sure that Pro Wrestling Podcasts are permeating throughout Casa de Matkovich on the daily!
  5. Born to Run Book: “Born To Run”- In the Mount Rushmore of interests, Springsteen is my George Washington. So you’re telling me that this book really offers a firsthand account of The Boss’s life in Asbury Park and beyond? I’m all ears (or eyes in this case).Matt_finn
  6. Ray Bans: You know that saying, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone?” Well, that was all too real this year when my sunglasses were mysteriously misplaced for a few months. When they reappeared in my mother-in-law’s car, I promised I would never take these for granted again.
  7. Yoga Mat: Lately, I’ve been dabbling in some core workouts. This Yoga Mat has been KEY throughout the process.
  8. Polka Dot Tie: Who doesn’t love polka dots? You walk into a room with your head held high, donning a tie sprinkled with polka dots, you’re the poster child of “good time all the time!”
  9. Glass Food ContainersSunday afternoons have turned into the perfect time to prep food for the week. These glass Food Storage Containers let me bring some of my favorite dishes to work every day. Bridget has mastered the art of flooding my culinary abilities with compliments. Am I that good of a cook? Absolutely not. Do these compliments keep me going back to the kitchen? Absolutely. The method to her madness.
  10. Slim Fit Slacks: These dress pants (Express’ Slim Fit Photographers) are a part of my weekly rotation. Whether it is the Grey, Black, or Blue, they will definitely play a lot of innings over the school year!

Now you tell us, do any of your husbands have any favorites that we need to check out in 2017? matt_and_finn_sig

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6 thoughts on “Favorite Gift Ideas for Him from our Hubbies

  1. Erin

    I love how matt says he’s trying to rid himself of baggy jeans! my husband is too!! he’s been slowly doing it over the last couple years. It’s so weird how their tastes evolve and change especially when they realize how much of a bum they look like wearing baggy jeans! hahaha

  2. Trang

    I’ve been wanting to get my husband a blazer that wasn’t too formal, but yet not too casual either. I’m going to give the one Matt suggested from Express a try. Hopefully it fits because there weren’t too many sizes available and I’m not an expert on Men’s sports coat sizes. I’ll keep you posted!


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Holiday Steals & Deals


Happy Black Friday everyone! We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday surrounded by your loved ones. We both ate & drank to our hearts’ content and we’re excited for another day off today! #4dayweekend

christmas socks coffee Neither of us have ever been ones to wake up super early to hit the stores for deals, but instead we both like to do some online shopping from the comfort of our own homes! There’s nothing like sleeping in after Thanksgiving, sitting in your pjs with a cup of coffee, and browsing deals online to get a start on your holiday shopping <—that is our gameplan all morning long!black-friday-christmas-shopping

We kept our eyes peeled all week long to see what steals & deals are out there and BOY OH BOY are there some good ones! Here are some items we have our eyes on and may just scoop up today!


  1. I’ve been wanting this cuff bracelet for some time now #treatyoself
  2. I’m thinking these gloves may be a perfect mother-in-law gift
  3. This fleece may make its way under the tree for Mr. Finn…
  4. I’m loving this personalized doormat and I think it’s a great gift idea for my sister-in-law and her husband in their new home!
  5. Oh em gee, is this not the cutest plate ever?! I think my 1.5 year old godson would love this!
  6. I purchased these Chicago rocks glasses a few years back for my dad & brothers. Such an awesome gift for just about anyone. I may buy a couple of these just in case I need a last-minute gift!
  7. I keep finding things that I want to buy for myself (oops…), but this Nespresso maker is on serious sale right now (almost $100 off!) I’ve always wanted to be able to have lattes at home..
  8. Word on the street, these NMD shoes are a big deal in men’s fashion. My brother, Ryan, is reaaaallly into shoes and has these ones. So I think Mr. Finn may be getting a pair for Christmas as well!
  9. Loving this buffalo check throw from Pottery Barn. My mom is always adding cute accessories to her house, so this just might make the cut!
  10. Every year I get Finn a new bottle of cologne in his favorite scent for his stocking!


  1. This ruffled shirt is simple but can matched with just about everything! I tried it on in store and have been waiting for it to go on sale (today!!) to finally buy it. Because I loved the fit so much, I may it buy it x2 for my sisters. (I hope they’re not reading!)
  2. Love these mittens for just about any of the ladies on my Christmas list
  3. I’ve been eyeing this teepee for awhile (for my nephew) and saw that it’s half off today!! Should I do it or is 6 months old too young for a “toy” like this?! #auntintraining
  4. How adorable is this disco ball “sipper”?! For $8, it’s the perfect stocking stuffer!
  5. Looking for a flannel? I saw that flannels were $15 (!!) this week at H&M.
  6. I know the timing is all wrong, but this hanging planter is on my Christmas list
  7. Although this is more for pre-teens, I’ve heard so much about this book and NEED to read it before the movie comes out. I absolutely LOVE the “choose kind” message and think this could be the perfect (and meaningful gift) for any youngsters in your life.
  8. My sister’s first Christmas as a mom definitely calls for this adorable sweatshirt. #momlife
  9. I got a phone car charger for my birthday and I’m seriously obsessed with this $20 gift, I literally use it everyday!! I know it’s not the most glamorous gift but it’s so practical and it makes my everyday easier. That being said, I think I may buy a few extra as gifts for a few important people on my list.
  10. I’ve been on the look out for flat nude color booties. I haven’t tried these TOMS on but you guys know how much we love TOMS so this pair recently caught my eye. I plan on trying them on next time I’m at Nordstroms and adding them to my Christmas list if they fit (and go on sale!)

Black Friday Savings

  • Nordstrom: Lots of amazing deals on clothes, shoes, coats & accessories…. & FREE SHIPPING!
  • Shopbop: 15%-25% off using code GOBIG16
  • West Elm: Up to 30% Off Everything with code MOREISMORE
  • CB2: 15% OFF and Free Shipping with code SAVE15
  • Land Of Nod: 20% Everything (including furniture!)
  • Amazon: Deals vary depending on the product
  • LOFT: 50% OFF Everything & Free shipping on orders over $125
  • Target: 30% all apparel & accessories, lots of door busters — including our camera!
  • GAP: 50% off everything with code TGIF50; Free Shipping on purchases of $50 or mor
  • Banana Republic: 50% off one regular priced item with code BRFIFTY; 40% off the rest of the purchase with BRFORTY; FREE Shipping on $50+ purchases
  • Express: 50% OFF Everything (excludes gift cards and featured brands)
  • Old Navy: 50% OFF Everything-Ish, no code needed
  • Etsy: Check with individual sellers for individual deals… especially on Monday!
  • Madewell: 25% OFF your purchase with code THATSALE
  • J. Crew: 40% OFF your entire purchase with code HOLIDAY
  • J. Crew Factory Outlet: 50%-60% OFF Everything and free shipping on purchases over $50

Save the Date

You know we’re all about deals here on the DIY Playbook & so we always have our eyes peeled to get the best bang for our buck. We marked our calendars for these upcoming “days to save” and wanted to share these dates with you so you can save too!

  • Today = Black Friday
  • Tomorrow (Nov. 26th): Small Business Saturday
  • Monday (November 28th): Cyber Monday
  • December 16th: Free Shipping Day!!
  • December 18th: Last Day to purchase online, pay standard shipping and receive your gift before Christmas!!

Gift Guide

And if you missed it, make sure you check out this 2016 Blogger Gift Guide because a TON of the items are currently on sale!! All you have to do is hit the middle “CLICK TO READ” button to view the full, shippable gift guide.

neutral_christmas_tree_michaels_makers-19Once the shopping is done, Casey has big plans for the rest of her Black Friday. She is binge watching the new Gilmore Girls (released today!) with her sister, sister-in-law, and mom! It will be a girls day full of snacks, drinks, and our favorite TV show. Anyone else binging GG today too??


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2 thoughts on “Holiday Steals & Deals

  1. Kerri Hansen

    Love the shopping round up! Lots of great gift ideas… for myself😂. That is the challenge for me this time of year…And all these deals are so hard to resist! I just wanted to weigh in on the teepee idea Bridget…as a mom of three AND as someone who has the girlie version of that pillowfort teepee in her house, I say YES! I am so impressed with the teepee, and the price is amazing. It is really well made and so so cute! Your little nephew is a bit young for it yet, but that could be said for just about anything at this stage, really it’s all about the parents at this point! But the teepee is something he will grow into very quickly, and in the meantime, what a cute addition to his happy camper nursery, which BTW you guys knocked out of the Park! Happy Shopping today ladies!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Aw Kerri, you MADE OUR DAY!! Thank you so much for your kind words AND your advice! We really appreciate the feedback!! Hope you find some awesome deals today. Happy Shopping and thanks again for being a part of the DIY Playbook team. We’re so lucky to have you tuning in =)

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5 EASY Ways to Dress up a Gift Card


It’s June 1st, which means two things:

1. Time to share our Michaels Makers challenge for the month. (woo-woo)

2. Chances are the next few months will be jampacked with lots of celebrations for all of us. Graduations, BBQ’s, housewarming parties, showers… summer always seems to be filled with lots of celebrations, which means a lot of FUN…. & A LOT of gift giving.

Summer = parties galore! Can you relate?!

Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makers-15Since our summer really is full of summer celebrations, we were extra excited when Michaels said that the theme of this month’s challenge was putting your own spin on summer celebrations. We ALL seem to be bombarded with these exciting events each year and have even come to look forward to the hectic summer celebration schedules. But we also realize that people are extra busy in the summer and don’t always have the time to be inside shopping for the perfect hostess gift, graduation gift, shower gift, etc.

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably picking up a gift card, throwing it in a card and calling it a day…. right?! <— we’re not the only ones who do this, rrrrriiiigggghhhttttt? #guilty

We know that giving a gift card is SUPER nice, but it may come across as a bit impersonal. And that’s when we started brainstorming how we can make these safe-bet gifts…. a little more personal (without spending a ton of time or money!) And after some experimenting, we realized that with a little creativity, a few supplies from Michaels, and a personal touch, we can still give that gift card, while also showing that special someone a little extra love. Here’s how:


1. Housewarming Gift: Do you know someone who just moved into a new home? Do you have any housewarming parties coming up? This DIY gift card idea may be perfect for that new homeowner (and an easy way to get out of any heavy lifting!).

Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makers-11Supplies Needed:

  • Pre-made box from Michaels (about $1)
  • Box filler from Michaels gift aisle
  • Twine (optional)
  • Washi Tape (optional)
  • Permanent Marker
  • Gift card for the new homeowner

Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makersThis DIY gift card holder took less than 3 minutes… total.


  1. Fold box
  2. Throw in box filler
  3. Add gift card to the box
  4. Slap on some washi tape and label your box however you want
  5. Wrap up in some twine and you’re done! <– It’s seriously that e.a.s.y! Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makers-13

2. Graduation Gift: Summer is such a busy time for graduation parties. And if the graduates are anything like the ones we know, a gift card is a safe bet and one that will give them a little spending money to prepare for the next stage in their lives. We added a HomeGoods/TJ Maxx/Marshall’s gift card to help the graduate we know prepare to decorate her dorm room, but any gift card will work for this super easy project.  Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makers-17

Supplies Needed:

  • Envelope and note card that match the graduate’s school colors (found this black one at Michaels party aisle)
  • Tassel to match the graduate’s school colors (found this package of silver tassels in the same aisle… but there were several colors to choose from)
  • Adjustable Tacks (stamp aisle)
  • Gift Card
  • Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makers-23Instructions:
  1. We would suggest writing your message on the card first, and then add that and the gift card into the envelope BEFORE poking your hole.
  2. Once all the contents of the envelope are in place, use a push-pin to poke a tiny hole in the middle of the envelope.

Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makers-20Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makers-19 3. Feed the back of the tack into that hole.
4. Add the tassel under the tack (wrap around once or twice if you want the tassel to be shorter).
5. Secure tack on the back of the envelope by spread the back of it so it’s “open” and secure.
6. Done! <— again, 3 minutes to create this look.


3. Backyard BBQ: Another summer staple is the good ol’ fashion Backyard BBQ. We love this idea because it’s perfect for foodies, gardeners, or just about anyone! I mean let’s face it, who doesn’t love a new plant… especially when it smells as amazing as this one does.


Supplies Needed: 

  • Pot (found at Michaels) – we kept ours plain, but personalizing the pot could be a fun way to add even more love to this project. <– great way to get the kids involved too!
  • Coffee Filter
  • Mini Envelopes
  • Long Stick
  • Washi Tape (or regular tape)
  • Gift card


  1. Put the coffee filter in the pot to protect the soil from falling out of the bottom when transporting or watering
  2. Add your plant to the pot (we chose to plant rosemary because it smells amazing, but any herb or flower would work too!)
  3. Put your gift card in the mini envelope
  4. Write a message on the front of the envelope
  5. Tape the envelope to one end of the stick
  6. Put the stick into the plant and you’re all set! <—- 10 minutes total, and that includes the planting!


4. Family Fun: Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makers-36Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makers-37Supplies Needed:

  • Popcorn Baggie (gift aisle at Michaels)
  • Yellow/Gold Pom-Poms (Kid’s craft aisle)
  • White Tissue Paper (one piece… could crumble up paper if you don’t have tissue paper)
  • Gift Card
  • Cellophane Wrap & Bow (Optional)



  1. Crumble up one piece of tissue paper and stick it at the bottom of the bag
  2. Sprinkle in the yellow/gold pom-pons and the gift card
  3. For extra credit, wrap it up in cellophane & add a bow!
  4. Family Craft/Game/Movie night all wrapped up in an easy and fun gift card holder that took about 5 minutes to throw together and wrap.


5. Father’s Day or another New Homeowner’s Gift: This SUPER easy gift card holder is perfect for Father’s Day (especially if your dad is Mr. Fix-it) OR as another housewarming/new homeowner gift idea. We think it’s adorable and love that the Mr. Fix-it in your life can reuse this adorable can for coins, decor, office essentials, screws…. just about anything, really! Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makers-30Giftcard_diy_craft_ideas_Michaels_makers-28

Supplies needed:

  • Mini Paint Can (gift aisle at Michaels… about $2)
  • Paint brush
  • Tissue Paper (any color — we bought an assortment in the Michaels gift aisle)
  • Gift card



  1. Cut ONE piece of tissue paper in half and lightly ball each of these small pieces up
  2. Stick them in the paint can
  3. Add in paintbrush and gift card
  4. Celebrate the fact that this adorable set up literally just took 60 seconds

We told you these projects were easy!! All you have to do is pick up a few cheap supplies & we promise in less than 10 minutes you will take that gift card from plain to personalized.   



For even more awesome summer party ideas, be sure to check out all of the other Michaels Makers and their festive craft ideas below. Party on friends!

diy_gift_card_ideasBridget and Casey Signature

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12 thoughts on “5 EASY Ways to Dress up a Gift Card

  1. Trang

    I love the moving box one the best. It’s a mini moving box – how adorable! Back when I was a young girl, this would’ve been great with my Barbies. LOL. Yeah, I know….geek here.

  2. Trang

    I love the moving box one the best. It’s a mini moving box – how adorable! Back when I was a young girl, this would’ve been great with my Barbies. LOL. Yeah, I know….geek here.


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Easy DIY Mother’s Day Gift

harry baby

We know it’s only April 1st, which seems a bit early to be talking already talking about Mother’s Day BUT as far as we’re concerned, it’s never too early to start planning a day to honor our AMAZING moms.

When the Michaels team told us that April’s challenge was to share a Mother’s Day gift idea, we were extra excited to get to work and start thinking of a little something to show the two most amazing women in our lives how lucky we are to have them! We immediately got together and started chatting about what makes each of our moms the most happy in order to create a gift that was personal to each of them. As we chatted about each of our moms, we kept coming back to one thing that both of these ladies love the most in lives…. their families.

jan-baby-harry-meme-arizonaChestnut ClubYou see…we have these amazing, selfless, beautiful, hardworking, compassionate, smart, and positive role models who are the happiest when each of their families are happy. There is nothing these two women love more than spending quality time with their kids (and now grandkid for Janimal!). We are two very lucky girls to have such amazing role models in our lives and women who have shown us the importance of family. They have instilled in us the value of a family, which we both now cherish and hope to pass onto our own families someday.

casey-mike-wedding-jan-family-memeO'Connor Chestnut ClubIt’s this same value that drove our idea for this year’s Mother’s Day DIY gift idea — a DIY snapshot that highlights the special people in each of our moms’ lives…. showing how HAPPY they are because of them.jan-grama-mothers-day-gift


If you have an amazing mom, grandma, aunt, or super special woman in your life who is happiest seeing those around her happy, today’s gift idea may be perfect for her too! And just like we did for our organizing post, we each did a slightly different take on the same idea to show you guys that this gift idea can be adjusted to fit your favorite lady and the people who are most important to her.


As you guys know, we have a new grandchild in the family. In fact, he is the ONLY grandchild in the family. And my mom couldn’t be any happier to don the new title of “Grama.” jan-baby-harry-colorado

In order to celebrate her first Mother’s Day as a Grandmother I wanted to include this little munchkin in her present.

Baby-Harry-Chalkboard-GiftOn our recent trip to AZ, I borrowed my little godson for a photo shoot at my grandma’s house. When my siblings & I did a similar gift a few years ago, I painted a bunch of letters onto poster board. This time, I decided I could just add text later on the computer (way easier!). So I wanted 2 options that little Harry could hold for the photo shoot. I stopped by the local Michaels and picked up an 8×10 canvas as well as a chalkboard.Baby-Harry-Gift-2

Then we went outside around sunset and did a 15-minute photo shoot. We went back and forth about his outfit. Pajamas? Cute little summer clothing? In the end, we kept it simple! A plain little diaper. Adorable & classic!

Then we simply handed him the canvas and his parents jumped up & down behind me to get him to look & smile. I snapped and snapped away as our little “model” stole our hearts.


At first, we tried it on a blank backdrop (the garage.) But ultimately, we decided that green grass looked better. Baby-Harry-Michaels-Canvas

I snapped about a hundred photos in less than 15 minutes, and then we went to the computer and chose 5 of our favorites. Here’s what we came up with…

IMG_8082 (1)IMG_8071IMG_8059 (1)IMG_8054 (1)IMG_8075 (1)

The canvas ended up being easiest for the little guy to hold, so we went with that. But the chalkboard was cute for some alone pictures. You can even write text in that for another unique photo op idea.

Once our favorites were edited, I simply used Picasa (you can download it for free) and added text onto the white canvas board. You can also use PicMonkey to edit your photos. I suggest going with a bold & black font on there so you can read it well when you print the pictures.

Speaking of which, once we had our favorites with text, I sent them to Walgreens and printed out (5) 4×6’s. Then, I headed to Michaels to have a custom frame made for my mom, with the pictures in tow. I chose the size, frame, and mat and worked with the hardworking gal in the framing department to finalize all the little details.

jan-grama-mothers-day-gift2 weeks later, and my custom frame was done and ready for Janimal. Pretty adorable, right?


If Pat had a grandchild running around, I would have TOTALLY done the same exact thing as Casey (I mean how adorable is baby Harry?!). But since Pat’s first grandchild isn’t due until July (!!!), we had to go with Plan B… for now. For those of you who have moms who aren’t grandmas, you can probably relate to our family’s take on this same concept.

mothers_day_photo_gift_oconnor_family-004We definitely could have taken individual photos (like Casey’s) but to show some variety here on the blog, I decided a group shot could be just as fun. I wrangled up the crew last weekend right after we attended Easter morning’s sunrise mass, which explains why we’re bundled up on the beach so early in the morning. After mass, we walked over to the skyline and did a (super quick) photo shoot with our foam boards. (Instead of canvas, I bought large white foam boards from Michaels and cut them each in half). <— Rookie Tip: this is a cheaper option for a large group

mothers_day_photo_gift_oconnor_family-005The “word” you spell out can literally be anything that is special to your family or your mom. We toyed with a few ideas but ended up spelling out “OCON8”.


Long story short, a lot of people call us the “O’Cons”, which is short for our last name O’Connor. Growing up we would joke that we were the “OCON 5” and families would actually address some of our mail or Christmas cards to the O’Con 5.

Well…. fast forward a few years, two weddings and a new pregnancy and the original OCON 5 is more like OCON 8 (original 5 + 2 son-in-laws + a baby on the way). We thought OCON8 was a fun yet meaningful message that not only highlights my mom’s love of her “O’Con” family but also gives a nod to her becoming a Grandma in a few very short months! Crazy how time flies, isn’t it?!

mothers_day_photo_gift_oconnor_family-007mothers_day_photo_gift_oconnor_family-004Once we all decided on the best photo option (so many fun ones to choose from!!), I added the letters on Picasa and got our photo developed (size: 11×14). Then I headed straight to Michaels to pick out the perfect frame for our mom.easy_diy_mothers_day_gift_mom_familyWe presented my mom with the (early) Mother’s Day gift and she was literally in LOVE with it. In true mom style, she didn’t waste any time hanging it up in her house. I’m happy she loves it just as much as we thought she would and am excited to keep this frame updated over the years as we (potentially) add more members to the original OCON5!family_oconnor_diy_gift_idea

For even MORE gift ideas to help show these special women in our lives some extra L-O-V-E, check out and the remaining Michaels Makers Mother’s Day Gift Ideas below:

Bridget and Casey Signaturediy_mothers_day_photo_gift
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5 thoughts on “Easy DIY Mother’s Day Gift

  1. shawnna griffin

    hey girl loved the post! this was so cool. You both look like your Mom’s! Such a great idea! I am also totally blessed I have a wonderful Christian Mom and an awesome Christian Mother in law! Love them both! Have a great weekend ladies!


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2nd Year Wedding Anniversary Gift Ideas

good morning gorgeous pillow dormify

So yesterday I shared how I did LOTS of brainstorming to think of the perfect gift to celebrate my second year anniversary. The tradition is to give something cotton, yet finding the perfect cotton gift was a little harder than I originally anticipated. As my students would say, the struggle is REAL. haha #seriouslytho2nd Year Anniversary Gift Ideas

As I racked my brain for the past few months, I started keeping track of some of the ideas to share with my fellow wives (and husbands!) that may need a little assistance preparing to celebrate year two. Here are some of the ideas I came across (or stole from my clever friends who have already celebrated year #2).

For Him:

2nd Year Anniversary Gifts for  Him Vintage baseball hat // Tie + Tie Clip // Toiletry Bag // Travel Pillow //  Sports Apron // Patagonia Pullover // Colorful Socks 

For Her:

2nd Year Anniversary Gifts for  Her

Beach Towel // Hunter Boots + Sock Inserts // Winter Hat // Monogramed Blanket // Pillow // Cotton Candle // Weekender Bag // Stockings

2nd Year Anniversary Gift IdeasOur Anniversary Gift-Giving Motto: Casey and I enjoy being creative and love to use this creativity to show our amazing hubbies some extra thoughtfulness when it comes anniversary time. HOWEVER, we don’t always think a big price tag automatically means the best gift ever. We are all about using these traditional anniversary themes in a way that is meaningful to each of our relationships, which doesn’t always mean lavish gifts but instead ones that are unique/special to our better halves.

So as much as any of these cotton gifts could totally work, we encourage you to choose something that is SPECIAL to your relationship or pair the cotton gift with another, more meaningful ‘something’. Cotton or not, we know your +1 will be in l-o-v-e with anything you choose, especially when it’s special to your relationship.

Bridget Signature

PS. Do you have an amazing cotton gift idea?! We’d love for you to share it in the comments so that fellow lovebirds can use these to brainstorm too!! 

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6 thoughts on “2nd Year Wedding Anniversary Gift Ideas

  1. Kjaydee

    My husband and I just celebrated our 2 year anniversary. Cotton was hard, because I wanted to get something sentimental but, it’s cotton. Ha. My husband got me a very nice scarf in our wedding colors (yellow and grey) and I got him a shirt and sweater vest in our alma mater’s colors (and monogram). I thought we did ok! This is a great list!

    1. DIY Playbook

      OMG… you did awesome!! Thank you so much for sharing these ideas — I am officially OBSESSED with the idea of incorporating wedding colors into the gift ideas. And your alma maters’ colors?! Genius! I need to recruit you for year three ideas!

  2. Ellie Jackson

    My husband gave me a dreamlines wedding dress sketch, of my dress!!! Oh my goodness girls it was so perfect. I melted when he gave it to me and melt every time I look at it. I just ordered a sketch for a bridal shower. I saw that they have cotton mat frames for their 2 year gift idea. Love it.


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B’s 2nd Anniversary Celebration

Anniversary Cotton Gift Shirt Tie Monogram

Wow… how have I been married for TWO years already?! I feel like our wedding was decades ago but at the same time, I feel like we’ve blinked and it’s been two years. Weird, right?

Bridget Matt 2nd AnniversaryI guess time really does fly when you’re having fun! To celebrate our second year of ‘wedded bliss’, we stuck with the “traditional anniversary gifts by year” theme which states…

first anniversaryYear One: Paper <– A big success!
Year Two: Cotton <– WHAT?!
Year Three: Leather <– Oh boy.
Year Four: Linen/silk or Fruit/Flowers <– conflicting reports?
Year Five: Wood <– DIY, yes please! 

They don’t make it easy on us newlyweds, do they?! Haha…as much as I joke, Matt and I both agreed that this is a fun way to think outside of the box and appreciate each other with a tiny something for this special occasion. But cotton… really?! This was a tough one because I immediately think pillow or something for the house and let’s be honest, if I’m buying something like a pillow… it’s probably not a gift for him but more so for myself. So when my mind defaulted to cute cotton items for the house I had to force myself to keep brainstorming. Brainstorming a cotton gift turned out to be a lot tougher than I imagined but (unfortunately) not as tough as next year. Leather… Yikes! <– let’s not tell Matt about this just yet. He already thinks I’m hard to buy for so leather may really send him over the edge. #eek

Anyways… back to cotton and our 2nd year anniversary celebration. After lots of brainstorming, I went with one of Matt’s all-time favorite “cotton” things and added just a little extra personalization.Anniversary Cotton Gift Shirt Tie MonogramIt may sound lame, but Matt is OB-SESSED with these dress shirts. He wears a shirt and tie to work everyday and literally ONLY wears this specific style (no exceptions). When I really could NOT think of anything cotton-y that he would actually use and appreciate, I finally decided to stick with an item he loved. I ordered one (of the very few) prints that he does not own (waited for it to be on sale of course) and added in a stylish tie. Then, I had the sleeve embroidered with his initials… monogrammed if you will.

Cotton – check!
Super romantic – ughh… not exactly.

Anniversary Cotton Gift Shirt Tie Monogram

I knew he would absolutely love this simple gift, but I wasn’t impressed with just giving him a shirt and tie so I took it just one tiny step further. In the gift box, I added a little note explaining that we were going to dress up and have a fancy date night together, something we rarely (if ever) do. I mean yes, we are always doing things together but we are not ones to dress up and splurge on a fancy night out. I listed instructions for him to be ready by 6:00pm in his handsome new outfit… but we had one small problem. #lifehappens

Anniversary Cotton Gift Shirt Tie MonogramThat day we had a crazy ICE STORM in Chicago, which left us literally stuck INSIDE all day + night because the roads were so bad. We took a “rain (snow) check” for that fancy dinner and instead bundled up in our winter coats and trekked our way across the ice to the grocery store to get some junk food for a cozy night in.

We stocked up on buffalo chicken dip ingredients, lots of chips, cookies, candy and anything else unhealthy we could carry and slip-slided our way back home for a very unexpected, but much welcomed date-night in.  But before we were officially in for the night, we checked another anniversary tradition off of our to-do list: taking photos with our wedding photo booth frame (more details here). We have added year #2 to our collection and are already loving looking back at last year’s photos!

Crazy how quickly the year went!! As I look back on 2015 I feel blessed to be celebrating two happy years of marriage and I am EXTRA grateful that this ice storm came on our second year anniversary and NOT on our wedding day!! And as much as I was excited for our fancy night out together, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was just as excited to be stuck home eating buffalo chicken dip with this handsome fella.

Bridget Signature


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5 thoughts on “B’s 2nd Anniversary Celebration

  1. Ashley Sorrick

    Happy Anniversary!!! Love the gift your found for cotton – super practical and the monogram is so fun!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Thanks Ashley!! After racking my brain so much about what to get, I came up with a ton of other ideas …. after the fact! Stay tuned tomorrow for even more 2nd yr gift ideas. =)

  2. Whitney Shortt

    You guys are so cute! Love the shirt and the date idea to go along with it! Happy anniversary!! We’re coming up on our two year in May and going to start going the traditional gift route. I think it’s so cool and fun!

  3. Delighted Dwelling

    Happy Anniversary!!!! We celebrated year three this year and I did a post on Leather Gift Ideas for Him (feel free to check it out!) I love the idea of the date night out, but the evening you actually had sounds way more fun to me!! Did he get you a cotton gift as well?


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The Boys’ Favorite Things (written by them)


Yesterday, we gave you guys a glimpse into OUR favorite things. But we know you may have some men in your life who you need holiday gifts for (brothers, dads, boyfriends, husbands…), so we figured we needed to share some “manly” gifts too. So today we’re letting those husbands of ours take over the blog to share their favorite items from this past year. Plus, a few things on their holiday wishlist. We’re taking notes boys…Matt and Finn

A consistent attire of sweatpants? Check!
The Griswolds on your television screen? Check!
Bruce Springsteen blaring on the way to work, guaranteeing that Santa Claus will indeed be coming to town? CHECK CHECK!

Who doesn’t love the holiday season? And who doesn’t love the idea of making a list (& checking it twice) of favorite things? You’re cordially invited under the tree of Matt and Finn, as we showcase to you, some of our favorite things that maybe the gentleman in your life would appreciate on Christmas morning too!Matt Finn Guylights

Finn’s FavoritesFinn's Favorite Things 2015

    • These are the best lounge pants ever. I wear them around the house all the time.
    • Nice casual long sleeve for both weekends or workouts.
    • I use these every single day on my commute to work.
    • At work we all battle for the most steps with our fitbits.
    • The only hair product I’ll ever use. It’s so good I typically buy in bulk.
    • This bag is big enough for my laptop, but isn’t too bulky. Plus Tumi’s last forever.
    • Gotta love fun socks like these or these.
    • Veep…my new favorite show. Casey & I binge watched all 4 seasons!
    • This leather watch is great for a more casual look. And you can’t beat that price.
    • You can never have enough barware. #classydrinking

Matt’s Favorites

Matt's Favorite Things 2015

  • I only wear these Shirts to work or when I have to dress up. They can be pricey so try & wait for them to go on sale before you stock up.
  • My go-to during the work day –> Glass Water Bottle
  • 2015 brought more healthy eating to the Matkovich household (much to Bridget’s dismay) and this Juicer was the MVP
  • Look good, feel good, smell good, do good. >> Clinique Happy Cologne
  • I never leave home without my Fitbit. This healthy step tracker has turned into fierce competition for footstep success.
  • I don’t think my gym visits would be as successful without these Wireless Beats
  • Fun Fact: Outside of my day job as a high school guidance counselor, I co-own a public speaking business geared toward motivating youth through positive presentations. So many presentation memories have been documented thanks to these two devices: Canon Rebel T3i + GoPro
  • My fitbits better half –> New Balance
  • These Sunglasses are a staple all year round.
  • It was a BIG year for the Chicago Cubs, but the best is yet to come. I’ll be ready when it’s time, thanks to my fav Chicago Cubs Apparel. #cubbieblue


Shop Finn & Matt’s Favorites

We give you permission to breathe easy this holiday season. Don’t get too annoyed with the co-worker wearing the obnoxious Christmas sweater. Take the long lines at the mall with a grain of salt. Keep telling your aunt that the Christmas Ham is cooked JUST right (even though it’s way too dry).

Happy Holidays, friends! Cheers to treating those special people in your life to a few of their favorite things. matt_and_finn_sig

P.S. Sorry ladies but we think the guys behind the DIY Playbook need more air time around here in 2016. #sharethekeyboard 


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A Few of our Favorite Things

J. Crew Necklace Christmas

Casey’s mom, Jan, hosts a “Favorite Things” party each year where she invites family and friends to come together to eat, drink, and share their ‘favorite thing’ from the year. The party is not only designed to bring family and friends together to enjoy the holidays, but it is also an opportunity to hear from 30+ women about their favorite things this year (and hopefully get some gift ideas for the special people in your life!). Here’s how the party works:

  • Every party attendee figures out what their favorite thing is from the year (we try to stay around the $30-$40 range)
  • You then buy 3 of that item
  • You bring all of those items to the party and “pitch” the group as to why it’s the absolute best item that you cannot live without!
  • Then we draw numbers and everyone slowly goes up and chooses 3 new items to bring home with them

This year’s party did NOT disappoint… we had a BLAST celebrating last weekend (thanks Jan!!). Here are our favorite things that we brought to the party and the three items we each took home!


11-nightstand-books-photo-booth-picturesIt’s always so hard for me to come up with my favorite thing, but this year wasn’t very difficult. I went with the phone case collection by our good friend (& blogger) Laura Trevey! Laura is a watercolor artist and her artwork now appears on a line of amazing iPhone cases. I get so many compliments on my phone (in the above picture), so I figured it was only fitting to showcase my item to the group.

Here’s what I got from the party…

Dior Blush // Kiehl’s Lotion Kit // Body Scrub


J. Crew Necklace Christmas My favorite thing from 2015 is this J. Crew necklace (on sale) that I wear with literally EVERYTHING! And after hearing all of the ladies gush about their favorite things, I went home with these three new items. I can’t wait to give them all a try and hope they quickly join my collection of favorites!

Plaid scarf  // Naked Makeup Palette  // A FRESH and festive pine that I added to my Christmas decor. 

Choosing our ONE favorite thing for this annual tradition is actually a little harder than it sounds! To try and think of one item that is not only our favorite, but would also be enjoyed by a large group of women of all ages/sizes/styles/etc is tough! So as we brainstormed over the past month of our favorite thing, we noted other items we still LOVE but didn’t make the party cut. Here are the items that we are currently loving and would definitely be a part of our collection of “Favorite Things” in 2015.

Bridget:Bridget Favorite Things Mood Board

    • Bad hair day? This is my go-to hat these days.
    • I wear this necklace all the time (work, weekends, our Christmas card… literally all the time!) It beat out the others as my favorite thing!
    • I have a collection of these (super comfortable) flannels on repeat. << love the fit but they seem to run big so make sure you check out the size chart.
    • I get so many compliments on this vest and I love it because it matches with everything! (I got mine online for 50% off so keep those eyes peeled for a good deal)
    • This sweatshirt is so darn comfortable and I love the stripes + collar.
    • These sunglasses are a holiday splurge
    • I bought these super comfortable TOMS gymshoes for both of my sisters’ birthday recently and they love them!
    • This scarf is a repeat favorite thing from last season…. which shows how much I really love, love, LOVE it. It seems to magically match with everything, it’s warm AND it’s super affordable. #winwinwin
    • I’ve come to love (& learn!) my camera even more this year and am looking to add some photography accessories to my wishlist this year. Maybe this camera strap, maybe a new lens… any suggestions from our photographers tuning in? <– I need some advice!!
    • Loving pretty much all the home decor accessories at Target lately (like these gray + gold accent pieces). Can Target ever do wrong?! #notreally
    • Scored 6 of these mid-century inspired dining chairs in our dining room and I am officially OBSESSED with them. They definitely make my favorite things list this year. Now if only I can find counter stools I love this much…
    • As you can tell from my xmas home tour, I’m totally crushing on fresh wreaths this year! We added one to our family room and it looks great, but more importantly, it smells AH-MAZING all the time.

Casey:Casey Favorite Thing Mood Board

    • I get so many compliments on this phone case. That’s why it was my favorite thing for the party!
    • I’m pretty much obsessed with the scent of every single Anthropologie candle.
    • Read this book cover to cover in one night. She is my spirit animal.
    • I have these Sperry boots on my Christmas wishlist. Bridget makes them look so good, so I added them to my Christmas list.
    • My obsession with marble continues. I think this laptop case would keep me extra motivated in 2016.
    • Speaking of being organized in the new year, I hope to find this daily planner under the Christmas tree!
    • My love for Toms shoes runs deep. Gotta add another pair to my closet.
    • Many people on my holiday list will receive this gorgeous throw this year. I love how you can personalize it with a monogram for a few extra bucks!
    • Our vintage bar cart is on its last leg…so I’m thinking this one would be a nice replacement.
    • This undereye concealer is a lifesaver when I don’t get 8-9 hours of zzzzz’s.

So if you were coming to our Favorite Things Party…what would you bring? We always love learning about new-to-us products, so spill!

Bridget and Casey Signature

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15 thoughts on “A Few of our Favorite Things

  1. Anje

    I have a question about the Toms black bootie. I am a comfort fiend and just don’t have time for uncomfortable shoes. Are these super comfy? Why do you love them so much? Dish the details, please 🙂

    1. DIY Playbook

      Anje….they are seriously SO COMFORTABLE!

      Bridget & I both have the gray ones, and I love them so much I want them in every single color. I walk around the city all the time, and I could walk in these all day long without having any issues. Bridget wears hers to school all day, where she is on her feet teaching and never has any issues either.

      Long story short. Toms booties = super comfortable. 🙂


  2. Amanda Risius

    What a fun party idea!!! I want to do this with my friends and family. Looks like you came home with some good loot 🙂 Just got my Styled book last week and love it!


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3 Easy Ways to Personalize Holiday Decor

Christmas dream tree gifts bow

[Disclaimer: We have partnered with Painters to bring you this post. All opinions and photography are our own and are not influenced by Painters. Thank you for supporting the brands that help support this blog]

Now that Thanksgiving is officially behind us, it’s safe to blast that Christmas music, whip out those holiday decorations, and dive into the holiday season head first! A big part of getting into the holiday season is getting that Christmas tree up & we have fiiiinaaalllllllly entered the “safe zone”. Ya know, the time where it’s safe to display your gorgeous tree in the window without fear that your neighbors are secretly judging your extra enthusiasm for the season. #sorrywerenotsorry


Even though we posted about our dream tree awhile ago (yes…this was waaaay back in early November!), we certainly didn’t dive into all of the special touches we added to this holiday look (probably because the “holiday safe zone” was nowhere in sight).

Now that we’re in the much anticipated “safe zone”, we figured it was about time to chat about all of those easy things we did to really take our holiday look to the next level. We’re all about making a big impact without spending a ton of time or money (especially this time of year) and these three simple tricks will help you do just that. IMG_3619

The one and ONLY supply you’ll need for ALL of these mini projects? A paint marker! Invest in a paint marker this season (maybe a few different colors while you’re at it), and we promise you it’ll be a game changer. You can pick up a Painters paint marker at many retailers including Walmart & Meijer.

1. Monogram your gifts

We are pretty obsessed with the monogram gift logos this year… and even MORE obsessed that recreating this look is so darn easy. Forget buying gift tags, all you need is a wrapped gift and a paint marker (we used gold here).


Monogram Instructions: We traced a shot glass with a pencil onto the gift, this helped guide us in drawing a perfect circle. Then we added the letters of each of our monograms, making sure the middle letter was larger and the two side letters were the same size as each other (and a bit smaller than the middle). We traced that pencil design with the paint marker and we were done! It’s a high impact look that literally took us less than 30 seconds each. Plus, it makes the presents under your tree look classy & preppy!

2. Personalize Ornaments 

Ornaments are another perfect way to add personality and decor to your tree. Plus they make great gifts, great accessories for wrapping, and even could be the perfect keepsake. Making sure your ornaments are stylish and personal is key this holiday season, yet these DIY ornaments don’t have to take a ton of time to look high end.

We DIY-ed a lot of the ornaments on Maggie’s tree simply by using a paint marker to draw the design of our choice. Some ornaments were polka dotted, some striped, some had messages, or doodles, and others even Mag’s initials.

We got our hands on some white ornaments (any color ornament would work!) and used silver and gold paint markers to doodle right on there. Literally, each ornament probably took about 1 minute or less and the whole process of doodling and creating the look of the tree’s ornaments from scratch was a fun little challenge!

IMG_3640We think this simple craft could be perfect for your next girl’s night in, the perfect teacher/hairdresser/friend/boss/co-worker/etc. gift, or even just a fun way to get the kids involved in decorating the tree. What mom wouldn’t love handmade scribbles that they could look back on years and years and years later?! DIY ornaments — an absolute must this season!

Dress up your hostess gift

We don’t know about you, but often times our go-to hostess gift for the holidays is a bottle of wine… or 3. It’s easy and everyone loves wine,IMG_3758… especially when it comes with a personalized gift bag. We bought a dozen of these wine bags last year (for super cheap!) and love personalizing them for holiday hosts. A Christmas message, a last name, a super easy monogram (!!), the possibilities are really endless on this one. IMG_3631We used a black paint marker for this one… and outlined the letters in a little silver to make it a little more festive. We added a few bells & a bow and before we knew it, we had a standard bottle that now looked personalized and ten times more thoughtful <– This simple craft can be as time intensive as the message you write, but this one took less than 5 minutes. You can create a few different bags so you have them for all your parties. Heck, maybe THIS is the craft you’ll tackle on your next girl’s night instead. Maybe over a glass of wine… or 3?

IMG_3354So what do you say… is it time to add a paint marker to Santa’s little workshop?! We’d love to hear how you add (or plan to add) personal touches to your holiday decor and gifts this year. And if you’re inspired to craft this holiday season, it’s the last month for the Painters DIY contest where a monthly winner gets a prize valued at $500!

For more details, check out their website and share your creations on social media using #StyleByAisle & #PaintersStyle.

Bridget and Casey Signature

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7 thoughts on “3 Easy Ways to Personalize Holiday Decor

  1. Heather Speed Laureano

    Where did you get the white paper for the gifts that you monogrammed with gold? I love that look, but this pic looks more like fabric than wrapping paper. Thank you!! LOVE your tree too!


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