Category Archives: Holiday

DIY Ice Cream Pumpkins


We know, we know…it’s isn’t even Labor Day and we’re already chatting about PUMPKINS! But we just can’t help ourselves. Fall is going to be here before we know it, and we want to be prepped for one of our favorite seasons.

diy_ice_cream_pumpkins_michaels-4Last year, Michaels challenged us to come up with a creative idea using their craft pumpkins, and we created these adorable DIY donut pumpkins. Michaels has craft pumpkins in so many shapes, sizes, and even colors this year (like blue!)… the possibilities are seriously endless!

DIY Donut Pumpkin milkIs anyone else craving a donut right now?! Us too!

This year, we decided to keep the SWEETNESS going with our Michaels Makers pumpkin craft. And what do we love just as much donuts?



Just like last year’s pumpkin craft, these ice-cream pumpkins are super easy to execute (READ: NO CARVING REQUIRED!!) <— Not to mention creating a DIY Ice Cream Pumpkin takes about 15 minutes to create. 

Pumpkin Ice Cream Cone – SUPPLIES

  • Acrylic Paint in a variety of colors
  • Paint Brush
  • Craft pumpkins
  • Cardboard cones <— Available for about $1 in the cardboard/papier-masche aisle in Michaels
  • Sharpie marker

We built a cone holder so that the pumpkins could sit right in their cones on the counter or porch. Here’s what you’ll need if you want to re-create that look:

  • Wood (cut to size)
  • Nail Gun
  • Corner Brackets (options)
  • Hole Saw + Drill to cut perfect circles
  • Stain


Pumpkin Ice Cream Cone – STEPS

1. Instead of going with the orange craft pumpkins, we opted for the white ones. This made it a lot easier to paint on our ice cream “flavors.” We used a light green for the mint chocolate chip base, a pink for strawberry, and left one pumpkin completely blank for vanilla! We needed about 2 good coats of paint for each one, but it dries fast. Each pumpkin took us about 5-10 minutes to paint, then each coat dried within 20 minutes so we were able to complete each pumpkin pretty quickly.

2. With the base flavor dry, it’s time to add the “chocolate chips” and “hot fudge.” We used dark brown paint to create the fudge on top of the white ice cream cone. And simply used a sharpie to draw on the chocolate chips on the mint chocolate chip pumpkin!

3. Finally, it’s time to add the cherry on top, which may just be the easiest part of this entire project. Just paint the top portion of the pumpkin (the stem) with bright red paint and you’re good to go.


4. We opted to design our pumpkins using some of our favorite flavors, but feel free to use your favorites when designing your ice cream cone pumpkins. Heck, you could even stack two pumpkins on top of each other for a double scoop of deliciousness!


5. Once the pumpkins are completely dry, all you have to do is set it on top of these pre-made cardboard cones and you’re all set! It’s seriously that easy!! But BEWARE: if you’re anything like us, every time you look at these adorable pumpkins you’ll immediately crave an ice-cream cone!!

Extra Credit

We built this basic “cone holder” so that each of the pumpkins could sit freely on their cones all season long. Surprisingly building this basic “box” was a lot easier than we anticipated. All we had to do was pick up some wood and get it cut to size (2 pieces that were 9 inches long + 2 pieces that were around 24 inches).

We attached the pieces using a nail gun and stained the box to create a more “rustic” look, but painting this a bright color or a stainless steel color could look great too!

Then we added corner brackets, mostly for the “look” but they did add a bit of stability too.

diy_ice_cream_pumpkins_michaels-18And last but certainly not least, we used a hole saw on our drill (like this one!) and simply drilled three 1.5″ holes into the top of the box in order to hold the cones.
ice_cream_pumpkinOnce the cones are placed inside of the holes you drilled, you can simply place a pumpkin right on top each cone and they should sit perfectly to be displayed for all your trick-or-treaters to drool over. #literally


Cool off with a Pumpkin Cone

So what do you say, do you think you will give these no-carve pumpkins a try? If you do… we would LOVE to see what flavors you choose and how you put your spin on these delicious looking treats!


For even more DIY pumpkin inspiration (hopefully ideas that don’t make you crave an ice-cream cone so early in the morning), check out these pumpkin projects from the other Michaels Makers:

 Bridget and Casey Signature


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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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Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Christmas Card Display with wreath

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! May your day be filled with lots & lots of love and laughter. Before we unplug for the weekend to enjoy this special time,  we want to first say THANK YOU. We are beyond grateful for your support and love sharing our story here on the DIY Playbook because of y-o-u.
Christmas Card 2015 RookiesFrom the bottom of our hearts, Merry Christmas to you and yours! Thank you for allowing us to be a small part of your day…. we are truly honored and very grateful.

With Love,Bridget and Casey Signature

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Christmas anthropology mug

Merry Christmas Eve! We can hardly believe that Christmas is one sleep away (Ahh!!). Are you ready?!!

diy playbook holiday instagramToday our agendas are jampacked with family visits and celebrations galore, but we wanted to pop in with a quick recap of all the festive cheer we shared on our instagram this past month. It’s no secret that we love instagram and thought today would be the perfect chance to do what we rarely do around here — share some of our social media pics right here on the Playbook.

Plus, sharing our holiday hashtag recap is becoming a little tradition here on the blog. We posted our #diyplaybookholiday recap last year after the holidays and loved looking back at it this year to reference the projects, memories and holiday fun we had last year. Why not do it all again this season?

Using the hashtag #diyplaybookholiday, here’s a look into our December 2015 instagram feed aka our holiday memories one pretty square photo at a time.

Thank you for following along this holiday season on Instagram, here on the DIY Playbook, and on all of our social media outlets. We are so lucky to have you as a part of the DIY Playbook team and wish you a busy day filled with your favorite Christmas Eve traditions!

Bridget and Casey Signature

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Festive Frames in the Hallway

4christmas ornament kate sp

I’m a little delayed in the delivery of today’s post, but first let me start off by saying that I owe you all a big ol’ thank you!

THANK YOU all for the ideas on what I should fill my hallway frames with! Back when I asked your opinion in this post or on Instagram, you guys offered such awesome/unique/affordable/personalized ideas…. I was blown away (& eager to get started filling the hallway frames!)
Bridget Frames Hallway Board and BattenFrom travel photos to vintage maps to calendar prints, none of these ideas are off limits and I’m still scheming for what I am going to put in these frames after Christmas. For now though, I have filled the frames throughout our hallway with my own Christmas photography.Frames Hallway Board and BattenIt’s definitely temporary, but for the holiday season I added photos that I have taken over the last couple of years. I sent the images to and was able to pick up 11×14″ prints about an hour later. Usually this size print cost $10.99 (which can get pretty expensive x 9 frames), but I waited for them to go on sale and got them all for 50% off! So filling all of the frames throughout the entire hallway cost me about $50 total. <– I can handle $6 a frame!

These are the exact 9 pictures that I had printed (they are displayed here in the exact order they are displayed down the hallway). I loved the colorful detail and the Christmas theme, but most of all, I love that I took these photos and am able to link each one to memories around our home.

Christmas FramesIronically, it was hard for me to get good pictures of every frame with the glare in the hallway. Here are the few frames that were cooperating and not reflecting so much light that you couldn’t even tell what was in the frame. #rookieproblems Christmas Frames Christmas FramesMy plan is to eventually fill the frames with something that can stay up the other 11 months of the year. BUT I will be keeping these photos behind whatever art/photography I decide after Christmas. That way, next December I will just swap them out and the frames will be ready for the holidays once again. Maybe at the time I’ll swap out a few of the Christmas photos for some updated ones…. but maybe not too? I’m not sure.
Hallway Dining Room Long term Christmas hallway plan: My dad has always talked about wanting to display old family Christmas photos around the holidays. He talks about how cool it would be to have “Christmas through the years” displayed year after year, adding to it little by little so that the family can track kids growing up in relation to Christmas. I know this isn’t exactly what I did so far, but that’s where my idea was born. ANDDD I like his idea for the long-term future of this project. Maybe fifteen years from I’ll be able to look back at the photos stuffed on top of each other in the frames and remember holidays present & past.

But let’s not get a head of ourselves here… it’s only year ONE! For our first attempt at photos, a few pretty and festive photos is just perfect!

Bridget Signature

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4 thoughts on “Festive Frames in the Hallway

  1. Elise Laney

    I love this idea!!! – Your photos look great… glare is no joke. I am always having to be mindful of my photos reflecting my HUGE umbrella lights. #notwhatImgoingfor 🙂


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10 Things to do in Chicago for the Holidays

chicago christmas tree wrigley building

You know that song…”There’s no place like home for the holidays“?

Chicago Theatre for ChristmasWell to us, that lyric definitely rings true. We absolutely love being in Chicago around Christmastime. The city is just such a magical place filled with twinkling lights, crisp air, and holiday tradition.

chicago christmas tree wrigley buildingTo celebrate our love of Chicago and the holiday season, we decided to combine them both into a post outlining our favorite things to do around here this time of the year.Chicago Lions Art Institute

So if you’re from Chicago or plan to visit Chicago someday soon, we hope this list helps guide your activities when in our home sweet home. Here are 10 things to do in Chicago for the holidays.Things to do for Christmas in Chicago

1. Ice Skate at Millenium ParkChicago Bean and Ice Rink

casey ice skating millenium parkRight underneath “The Bean” you’ll find a small ice skating rink in Millenium Park. It’s a cute little spot filled with families, couples, and anyone looking to enjoy this holiday activity. We suggest going at an off-time (i.e. not a weekend), so you don’t have to wait in long lines to skate. If you have your own skates, bring them! You’ll skip the rental line and be able to get out on the ice much faster. Check out the City of Chicago website for more information.Chicago Ice Rink Bean Tree

2. Ride the Holiday Train

Each year during the holiday season, the CTA has a holiday train that runs around the city.  The train is covered in lights, the inside of each train car is decorated from top to bottom, and they blast Christmas music. It’s amazing and makes commuting around town waaay better. The holiday train runs a certain schedule (you can find this year’s here), and you can try your best to find it on that particular day. When Finn & I moved back to Chicago a couple years ago, we made it our mission to find the holiday train one random Saturday. After running around to different train stops, we finally found it! And here’s my big grin from that day…casey holiday train christmas

It’s so funny because last year I was heading home from work on a random day, and to my surprise my train home was the holiday train! So sometimes it will show up when you least expect it to brighten your boring routine.

3. Visit Christkindlmarket Chicago

This is a German market in Chicago’s loop. Every year they set up a little village of food, drink, and shopping vendors and it has become one of the most popular winter attractions in the city. You can walk around with a beer stein and get some of your holiday shopping done! But (like #1) it can get suuuuper crowded. So try to visit on an off-night to bypass the crowds. You can find more info here.

4. Check out the ZooLights

Zoo Lights-chicago

Image via Lincoln Park Zoo

This is such an amazing activity, especially because it is F-R-E-E. Yep, the Lincoln Park Zoo is free all year round, and it remains that way even during the holiday season. The entire zoo is illuminated in lights and they also have fun activities like ice carving and carousel rides. A family-friendly favorite! You can find more info here.

5. Shop on Michigan Avenue & State Street

chicago-christmas-tree Sure we love to online shop like no other, but there’s just something about shopping on the iconic Magnificent Mile for your holiday gifts. Even if you just window shop the designer stores while sipping on your hot cocoa, it’s still a fun place to be around the holidays.

6. See the Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker

When I (Casey) was a little girl, every year my mom would take me and a friend downtown to see The Nutcracker. We’d get all dressed up, have a nice ladies lunch, and then hit a matinee. I looked forward to it every.single.year. I don’t get to a show every year these days, but I look forward to the day when I can bring my own daughter to this gorgeous ballet.tribune tower chicago christmas holiday

7. Have a beer pint at Butch McGuire’s

For the last 45 years, this Irish pub has been decorated from top to bottom with Christmas decorations each holiday season. This iconic spot even has a double-decker model train that zooms around the entire restaurant. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Chicago during the holiday season.

8. Check out the windows and iconic tree at Macy’s (previously Marshall Field’s)

Chicago Macy's on State StreetFor the holidays, the windows along Macy’s on State Street are dressed up for the holidays. If you walk window by window you can follow the “storyline” and enjoy a staple Chicago Christmas tradition. When you’re too cold to stay outside a minute longer, hop inside the historic 9-story Macy’s (!!) to enjoy dinner under the iconic (and HUGE!) Christmas tree in the Walnut Room. You may want to go early or stop in to put your name on the list for the evening, because this Chicago staple fills up quickly around the holidays.Walnut Room Chicago Macy's Chicago Macy's Walnut RoomChicago Macy's State Street

9. Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Music Box Theatre

I don’t know about you guys but I (Bridget), along with my family, are huge fans of the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  If you heart George Bailey and Bedford Falls as much as we do then you don’t want to miss seeing this iconic movie on the big screen! Throughout the month of December, The Music Box Theatre, an adorable old-fashioned movie theatre, plays this movie. And to make the experience even better, a dressed-up Santa Claus comes out during the previews and hosts a Christmas carol sing along. Oh and if you do decide to go to this one-of-a-kind event, don’t forget to bring some bells. You fellow fans know what happens every time a bell rings…. 😉

10. Take a Carriage RideChicago Water Tower ChristmasChristmas-chicago-wreath

If you’re looking for a magical way to explore the busy streets of Chicago, a Christmas carriage ride may be right up your alley. You can hop on a private carriage ride with your honey (or family!)  right around the old water tower on Michigan Avenue. Pick up some hot chocolate on the way, bundle up, and enjoy the gorgeous lights and holiday hustle and bustle up and down the Mag Mile.

Chicago Bean WinterLooking for more Chicago posts? Check out this list of Chicago activities and this one featuring our favorite photos spots.Things to do for Christmas in Chicago Bridget and Casey Signature



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5 thoughts on “10 Things to do in Chicago for the Holidays

  1. Ana

    Great ideas ladies! I knew about the holiday El train, but I didn’t realize there was a holiday bus! I need to look for it the next time I’m in town.

  2. Summer Hogan

    I’m DYING to come visit! Surely there is some sort of collab we can work out to get this southern gal in the city right?


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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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Displaying Sentimental Decor for the Holidays

Christmas Santa Mug

When the very talented blogger behind the blog withHeart, Mrs. Jennifer Stagg, invited us to be a part of her “withHeart Holiday” blog hop, we eagerly jumped on board! Not only are we always excited to collaborate with a group of creative individuals, but when we heard that her blog hop was all about sharing SENTIMENTAL holiday decor (aka holiday items that tell a story and/or carry on a tradition) we were S-O-L-D. Heck, it’s no secret that we are all about personalizing our homes with decor that is meaningful to us here on the DIY Playbook and as far as we’re concerned, Christmas is no exception to this rule.

If you’re just coming over from Sita Montgomery Interiors, welcome!


Here is a look at some of the Christmas decor that is meaningful to me this holiday season and helps shape what the holidays are all about here in our house:

Christmas Tree Ceramic1. Decor from my Childhood: There are just certain Christmas decorations that instantly take me back to my childhood. They immediately remind me of my parent’s house during the holidays and the priceless memories I had growing up there. This tiny tree is one of them. My mom actually painted this tree when my sisters and I were very young and it has grown to be one of my fav holiday decorations. Our family had several of these (in a few different sizes — this is a small one) scattered throughout our home growing up and when my mom offered to give me one for my house, I was BEYOND excited!! Every time I look at it now I am reminded of my amazing family, our quirky Christmas traditions, and how lucky I am for all of the blessings I have in my life. It may not always be “on-trend” but I see it as the ultimate classic piece, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

IMG_6352-0012. Santa’s Homemade Mug: This is another item that grew up with my sisters and me and another one that takes me straight back to my childhood. My mom painted this mug and it was our “go-to” mug that we filled with milk and left out for Santa. When we woke up on Christmas morning and ran to see if Santa came (!!!!!), we would always find this mug tipped over, milk spilled everywhere, and cookie crumbs all over the place (that Santa was a messy eater!). Next to the mess, Santa usually scribbled a thoughtful note and took our reindeer food as a carry-out meal for his crew. Haha… oh Santa. Sadly, we haven’t left out any milk or cookies for Santa lately…. but I do try to use the mug as much as I can throughout December.

Hopefully one day my kids can leave “grandma’s” mug out for Santa to enjoy once again. For now though, I’m perfectly okay enjoying some hot chocolate and thinking about the good ol’ days. IMG_6338Christmas Stockings 3. Not just any stockings, these are our stockings: I know this is wrong, but as a blogger I sometimes feel “pressure” to make everything look perfect and most importantly, DIFFERENT than it did last time I shared it…. especially for the holidays. How boring would it be for readers to tune into my holiday tour only to see the exact same stuff I shared last Christmas?!

Don’t get me wrong, I do like the challenge of changing it up (especially on a budget), but I also LOVE some of my holiday decor and really want to continue to use it over and over again … even if it means repetitive looks. These stockings are a great example of this. As much as I want to change-up the look, I also want to start building traditions in our house and these stockings are doing just that. When Matt and I first bought our house, we scored these stockings after Christmas on super sale. We both picked them out individually and vowed to keep these as our annual stockings. They may hang in different places each year, but they are not just decorative stockings…. they’re our stockings and some of the first decorations we bought as a new little family. For that, I’m proud to say that they’ll be on repeat for years and years and years to come. IMG_62724. Displaying Christmas Cards from our family and friends: Receiving Christmas cards is one of my all-time favorite holiday traditions and displaying them for guests to see is just as fun to me! This year we chose to display them with clothes pins in a wire frame. We hung a fresh wreath on there this year (a little different from last year) and can’t wait to surround it with even more holiday snail mail. But the christmas card fun doesn’t just stop there…. IMG_6108-001Christmas Card Collection5. Saving that year’s Christmas Cards to display for years to come: I like to SAVE these cards to look back on year after year. I have been doing this since we moved into our house and I love, love, LOVE looking back at how much the people in our lives have changed throughout the years. You can get the full tutorial on how I save my cards here, but in short… all I do is hole-punch all of the cards at the end of the year and clip them together. Then I bring these “booklets” out and put them on my coffee table for guests to flip through & enjoy around the holidays. So simple!!christmas cards

Hallway Dining Room 6. Framing art that is meaningful: I figured out what to add to my frames in the hallway… finally!! For the time being, I have framed Christmas photos that I have taken and I’m pretty obsessed with the new look. I’m working on a full post to share all of the details, but in short… I took a bunch of my Christmas photographs & got them blew them up to fit in the hallway frames. I plan to bring these prints out (and maybe even add to them) each year around Christmas.

7. Our version of “Elf on the Shelf”: Don’t judge us, but we (as in me AND casey) have a confession to make.

christmas elf on the shelfConfession: No, we do not have children…. but yes, we do our own version of Elf on the shelf with our hubbies. And in honor of full disclosure….. it’s just as hilarious/awesome/fun/creative/ridiculous as it sounds. We both loved the idea of elf on the shelf but didn’t want to invest in the “real thing” before having kids and enjoying it with them.

elf on the shelf ChristmasOur solution? Knock-off elves we found at local craft stores (we spent maybe $3 on our knock-off versions). We both named our elves (yes, with the help of our supportive and fully participant hubbies) and are entering our second year of elf-shenanigans. We know we’re huge nerds, but it does bring A LOT of entertainment during the month of December. We both take turns with our husbands to hide the elf each day and boy do our elves get in some interesting situations. Usually we are sharing these photos with each other, our families and anyone else who cares to follow along with the pure ridiculousness. Seriously, if you don’t have kids but still want a good laugh each day…. we highly recommend a knock-off elf on the shelf. #youwontbesorry


 // For our whole holiday house tour, check out this post //

So there you have it…. 7 ways I incorporate meaningful decor into my holiday home! As you can see, holiday decor doesn’t have to be about big price tags, following trends or staying with a “theme.” Instead displaying items and traditions that are important to YOU is the most important part. We would LOVE to hear how you inject your family’s story into your home this holiday season.   New traditions, old traditions… we want to hear all about it!! <— or at the very least, please tell us we are not the only crazy couples who enjoy elf-on-the-shelf without kids. #yikes

Thanks for allowing us to share our Holiday withHeart! Now, we’re excited to head over to  Kristen at Studio 7 Interior Design to check out what traditions she injects into her holiday decor. See you guys Monday for B’s dining room REVEAL!! 

PS. Did you miss “Holidays withHeart” this week? Catch up here….

withHeart // A Thoughtful Place // Bliss at Home // Sunny Side Up // Simply Grove // White & Gold Designs // SG Style // Sarah M. Dorsey // Style House Interiors // Cuckoo 4 Design // Simply Organized // The White Buffalo Styling Co. // Sita Montgomery // DIY Playbook (you are here!) // Studio 7 // The Chronicles of Home

Bridget Signature

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8 thoughts on “Displaying Sentimental Decor for the Holidays

  1. Julia @cuckoo4design

    Gosh your mom is good, I can’t believe she painted those things. So sweet.
    And I love that you have an elf even without having kids 😉

    1. DIY Playbook

      She IS good, I’m lucky to have her!! Thanks Julia, you are always so sweet and supportive and we are so grateful. Thank YOU and Happy Holidays to you and your family. =)

  2. Diana

    We had a very similar painted lit Christmas tree too! I love the decor that last been around since my childhood. I am completely behind reusing most of the same things year after year. Who wants to spend the money and dedicate the storage space to switch things every year?? I buy a few new things most years and change how things are displayed but I don’t buy anything unless I’m going to like it enough to be used every year! Appreciate posts like this for sharing that!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Thank YOU for your support and your kind words. I completely agree about buying new xmas decor… only if I’m obsessed with it!! <– I need to channel this philosophy all.year.long a little better! =)

  3. Jennifer Stagg

    I loved this so much! I had mugs just like that growing up and I love them too! And the elf kills me! Thank you so much for joining in, ladies! It means so much. xx

    1. DIY Playbook

      Thank YOU! We are so honored to be included and really had a great time reflecting on some of the traditions that are important to us around the holidays. Thank you for thinking of us, we hope to team up again soon!

      Have a wonderful holiday in the new house! xo, B&C

  4. Elise Laney

    I love that you keep it real and don’t buy all new decor every year! It is more realistic to invest in some great pieces that you love and I like seeing how you use the same things in different ways every year. Fist bump.


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How to Tie the Perfect Bow for Gifts

Christmas gifts bow

Wrapping gifts. It’s just a part of the holiday season isn’t it? We’re definitely guilty of just plopping our gifts into the appropriately themed gift bag, and calling it a day. Because sometimes wrapping your present and creating a bow is just so darn hard and time consuming.

how to wrap the perfect gift with a bowBut this year we decided that it was finally time to step up our gift wrap game, and learn how to wrap beautiful presents that could act as holiday decor under our own trees. Like the gifts featured under Maggie’s gold & glam tree...

…gorgeously wrapped with poufy bows galore! But we can’t take credit for these perfectly crafted packages. Nope. Instead, we turned to the best bow maker we know to help us make these masterpieces for the photo shoot. 3-jan-tutorial-how-to-tie-perfect-bow-christmas-holidayCasey’s mom, Jan (sometimes referred to as Janimal). She is the MASTER BOW MAKER, and you’re in luck because she agreed to share her bow making secrets with all of you!

So take it away Janimal!

Jan: I think I became interested in making bows by watching my good friend, Denise, make bows for her flower shop.  She would grab a bunch of ribbon and before you knew it, she would have the most gorgeous bows ready to decorate a flower arrangement or a gift.  She didn’t know it at the time, but I watched her closely and practiced whenever I had a chance.  Over time, my bows became better and better but I still believe Denise deserves the master bow maker title.  So, thanks Denise!!  You were a great teacher!

Christmas gifts bowThe reason I love making my own bows is because it dresses up my gifts and makes them look gorgeous and inviting.  Even if I have  an unoriginal, boring gift inside the box, once it’s dressed up with beautiful wrap and ribbon the recipient of my gift is usually pretty excited to open it up!  And, believe it or not, wrapping gifts this way is much less expensive than buying pre-made bows.

2-holiday-ribbon-giftI would suggest buying big spools of ribbon from Costco.  They carry ribbon all year long, in various widths and colors.  Each spool holds 50 yards, so for $6.99 you get 150 feet of heavy weight, beautiful ribbon.

Rookie Tip: The ribbon with wire along the edges is much easier to work with, especially for a beginner.  It holds its shape better and it is easier to “fluff”.  I would suggest starting your bow making experience using this type of ribbon if you can find it.

Here are the supplies you need to get started:


  • Craft Paper or Wrapping Paper
  • Assorted Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Clear Tape
  • Gift Tag
  • Decorative Accessories (Optional)


Once your package is wrapped (we won’t go into the actual wrapping…instead today is all about bows!), you will want to wrap the ribbon around the package and tie it in a knot. Thank you Thanks Sprinkles I just unroll some of the ribbon from the spool and wrap it around the gift to get an idea of how much I will need before I cut it.  Make sure to pull the ribbon from back to front and front to back.  (You will be wrapping the ribbon around the package both horizontally and vertically.)

To get an idea of how much ribbon a normal sized shirt box requires for this step, I measured it and it was about 7 feet long.  Usually, I don’t measure the ribbon.  Instead, I just eyeball it and it works, but do whatever feels right to you.


So, go ahead and cut the ribbon and push the spool aside.

 Now, you will flip the package over, top down, and slide the long strand of ribbon under it.  Pull on the ends to make sure that they are equal in length. Now, bring the ribbon ends toward one another and criss cross it.  Flip the package back over so that the top is up and bring the ribbon together and simply tie it in a knot, leaving ends that are relatively long.  IMG_5936-001The “base” of the package is done and now you are ready for the bow.


Unwind a bunch of the ribbon from the spool and start by making “loops” on each side and pinching the ribbon together in the middle.  Pinch it tight and keep adding same sized loops to each side.  I like to have four loops on each side to make a nice, big, poufy bow.

IMG_5956Once you have yours to your liking, go ahead and cut the ribbon off the spool.


Now you can set this down in the middle of your package, take the long ends of the “base” and tie them into a knot in the middle of the package. Then snip the ends of your base ribbon (I like to cut on an angle so they don’t unravel, plus it looks nice!) so they’re not too long.

 (Once again, I measured the amount of ribbon I used for a medium sized shirt box bow and it was about 7 feet.  So, the total amount of ribbon I used was 7 feet for the base and 7 feet for the bow — 14 feet total.)  The Costco ribbon is $6.99 for 150 feet.  That means I can wrap about 11 shirt sized boxes with one spool of ribbon, for a total of $.65 per package!  What??  Now, that’s a price that makes me smile!


Rookie tip:  It’s tough to keep the ribbon pinched in the middle and tie a knot around it all at the same time and all by yourself.  After all, you only have two hands!  So, if you are a novice you might want to ask a helper to tie the knot around the ribbon while you keep the middle pinched nice and tight.  I promise, that with some practice you will soon be able to do it all by yourself, so don’t be discouraged if you need a little help in the beginning!

IMG_5971Now it’s time to fluff!!  This is the fun part, if you ask me, and the more you “fluff”, the prettier the bow!  You will want to grab each individual loop and pull it out away from the middle.  Start at the bottom and pull the bottom loops to each side.  Next, take the loop on top of the bottom one and pull it to the other side.  Keep going until all of the loops are pulled away from one another and the bow looks fluffy, poufy and gorgeous.  You can keep fluffing and tweaking until you are happy with your creation.


At this point, you may want to add some embellishment, like the little gold balls that adorn some of Maggie’s packages.  You can wrap the long wire ends of the little balls around the base of your bows and tuck them under so they don’t show.  Get creative here! There are so many pretty little “extras” you can find that will personalize your gift and make it extra special.IMG_3852

So, there you go!  I hope my directions are clear but if not, I would suggest you just grab a package, a roll of ribbon and start experimenting.  When I first tried this, my bows were a hot mess but eventually they started looking pretty darn amazing!  All it takes is practice, practice, practice!!!  By Christmas, the gifts under your tree will be the envy of the family!!  And don’t be surprised if they look so inviting that some of your recipients try to get a “sneak peek” of what’s inside!IMG_3830

A big thanks to Jan for taking the time to share her bow making tips on the blog today! We certainly have a lot of practice ahead for us, but we can’t wait to improve our bow making skills. We suppose it’s time to say bye to those gift bags for good…how to wrap the perfect gift with a bow

Bridget and Casey Signature

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9 thoughts on “How to Tie the Perfect Bow for Gifts

  1. Amanda Risius

    I’ve always wondered how people tie those big beautiful bows! Janimal sure is talented 🙂


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