Category Archives: Holiday

Neutral Buffalo Check Christmas Tree

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I know I’m about a year late, but I’ve recently fallen in L-O-V-E with all things buffalo check. From pillows, to throw blankets, to flannels and scarves, I’ve found myself wanting to buy all things buffalo check lately. There’s just something so cozy about this print.

I think it’s that sense of “cozy meets classic” that inspired me to try to incorporate a little buffalo check into my Christmas tree this year. And when I found the perfect beige buffalo check ribbon at Michaels (not even in the Christmas section!), I instantly knew my plan.
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Our First Tree!

This year is extra exciting because we finally caved and got a new tree, instead of using my mom and dad’s original tree that they gave us when we moved in. We loved that small colorful tree, but something around the base broke last year and it wouldn’t stand up by itself anymore. #RIP

The new tree is a gorgeous pre-lit tree from Michaels and it was SO easy to set up, like less than 15 minutes to bring the tree from the box to lit up in the family room.
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Wrapping Paper Collection

After I had the ribbon and neutral ornaments picked out, I collected the wrapping paper (including more buffalo check!) from HomeGoods. As you guys already know, we’re big fans of choosing 2-5 semi-coordinated wrapping papers and using that collection to wrap all of our gifts under the tree. This little trick allows our presents to play double duty as functional decor under that gorgeous tree!
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Other Tips & Tricks

I added a few flocked branches into the tree to add a layered, full look to our new tree. In person these flocks blend in perfectly but for some reason the camera makes them look way too green. Weird, right?! neutral_christmas_tree_michaels_makers-6I used gold, white, silver, and natural ornaments to add just a hint of glam to this cozy, buffalo-check tree.
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I also bought an extra flock of branches and cut off little pieces of this greenery to add onto some of the gifts. I love the simple look of the greenery paired with the ribbon and twine, such an easy alternative for those of us who aren’t amazing at making bows. (I’m still learning thanks to these instructions from Jan last year!!)
neutral_christmas_tree_michaels_makers-3To “tie” together the look of the tree and some of the gifts, I used some of the leftover ribbon from the tree on the gifts.neutral_christmas_tree_michaels_makers-5

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neutral_christmas_tree_michaels_makers-21Overall, I’m so excited about our first “official” Christmas tree and love how it flows with the decor of the rest of our home. Neutral, cozy, with mix of patterns is totally my jam and the fact that I can incorporate this look for the holidays is a win-win in my playbook!  neutral_christmas_tree_michaels_makers-14neutral_christmas_tree_michaels_makers-15

A HomeGoods Giveaway!

Now, we’d love to hear how you’re decorating for the holidays. What patterns, colors, or trends are you loving? Let us know your favorite holiday trends and enter below for a chance to win $100 to HomeGoods, and a chance to shop for all those holiday favorites!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Looking for more tree inspiration?! Make sure to check out Casey’s pretty & plaid tree heremichaels-christmas-tree-2016-sparkling

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49 thoughts on “Neutral Buffalo Check Christmas Tree

  1. Heather Aivazian

    Your buffalo check is gorgeous! I’m loving eucalyptus wreaths with black and white striped ribbon!!! (And bristle trees;)

    Reply
  2. Trang

    Can you just come and decorate my tree Bridget? I have not even thought about what to do. We just got a kitten this year and I’m afraid of the things that will happen to the tree this year.

    Reply
  3. H Buchanan

    I love the classic red / green / gold decorations! They just warm my house. Both of your tress this year look incredible though!

    Thanks for hosting a giveaway!

    Reply
  4. Emily Dunham

    I am all about plaid, greens, and mercury votives this year! I have been sticking greens everywhere possible, and adding votives for an extra bit of sparkle! I picked up the cutest plaid paper from Hallmark – houndstooth is on the other side so it was a two for one!

    Reply
  5. Shanna Schlabach

    I am loving the vintage pickup trucks with trees in the back I’m seeing as Christmas decor everywhere. I may have bought one to match a wooden pallet sign that I have! It has helped me to incorporate pops of red into my silver and gold Christmas decor.

    Reply
  6. Elizabeth Jones

    Im loving anything wood and galvanized metal this holiday. I swiped up some adorable bark trees from Target and I’m loving them! Im also on the hunt for buffalo check placemats to make throw pillows out of for Christmas!

    Reply
  7. Jody

    I love how you mixed multiple patterns, including the buffalo check (so cute!), but kept it all in a neutral/glam scheme. So festive and inviting!

    Reply
  8. Emily

    I love the tree. Very nice and soothing. I’m still building my Christmas decoration arsenal so this year I decided to add pops of red and white. Maybe I will see if I can find red buffalo check ribbon for my tree!

    Reply
  9. Kara D

    I was fostering a kitten when I pulled out my pre-lit tree. All I did was stick a new tree-topper star from Target on top, and I was going to put on the ornaments after he went to his furever home. But now? I’m really digging the all green, twinkling lights and golden star on top look. I might get some flocked branches to add in, and call it a Christmas!

    Reply
  10. Marguerite Huber

    I am all about the buffalo check pattern! I have been decorating with a vintagey vibe so far. Vintage santas and brush bottle trees are my favorite!

    Reply
  11. Nicole B

    I love the vintage vibe and a little pop of glamour!! Add some vintage decor around the house and my old four square is a warm cozy holiday place!

    Reply
  12. beatrice sullivan

    College girls BEGGED us to wait for them to decorate our tree! We’ll see what they have in mind… on December 13th! but white and red gingham is a granted for our Rocky Mountain Christmas!

    Reply

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Holiday Steals & Deals

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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!

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  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!

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  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!

    Reply
    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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Our Favorites from the 2016 Blogger Gift Guide

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Wow (!!!), let us first start off by saying how BLOWN AWAY we have been by the excitement & support we received this week over the first annual Blogger Gift Guide. Like we said in this post, this project has been a looooonnngggg time in the making and we’re so grateful that you guys love it as much as we do. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

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Although we contributed a few pages of gift ideas, we got a lot of inspiration/gift ideas from the amazing other bloggers who shared their go-to gifts this holiday season. Heck, some of our shopping is already done (and hopefully being delivered soon!) because of the ideas we got from this gift guide.

Blogger Gift Guide

If you missed it on Monday, you can click on the image above and browse through this magazine-style Gift Guide. Each page is dedicated to a specific “category” so that you can find something for just about everyone on your list. And when you click on the item, you will be taken to that product’s exact page so you can get the details and shop for it in the store OR buy it right there online. Either way, we hope this Gift Guide brings you some new ideas & the chance to find that perfect gift for all those special people on your holiday shopping list. The faster you find these perfect gifts, the more you can sit back and relax this special time of year!

And just for fun, we thought we would browse through the Gift Guide together and give you a little glimpse into some our favorites from each page. Heck, it was HARD narrowing it down to just one item per page because we were inspired by so many of the gifts!!

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  • Gifts under $75: This candle is one of Casey’s all-time favorite items. It smells amazing and doubles as an adorable piece of decor. Planter-Gold-Frames-Spring-9
  • “Home” for the Holidays: Love, love, love this sleek gold frame. It’s hard to find gold frames that don’t look cheap so when we saw this one, we were instantly sold!
  • Gifts for the Organizer: If we were filthy rich, we would buy ALL the glass containers in sight so we could store all of our food in them. Could you imagine how amazing your cabinets, drawers and refrigerator would look?! For now though, we’ll settle for buying a few at a time and slowly building up our collection. #someday
  • Gifts for the Fashionista: We had no idea you could buy a Kendra Scott necklace for $50?! Not that $50 is “cheap” but for a statement piece you could wear everyday, it’s a lot more affordable than you might think!3-calendar-day-planner-computer-organized
  • Gifts for the Working Woman: Casey literally lives & swears by this planner… and she’s someone who has tried a lot over the years. If someone you know loves planners as much as we do, this one is our all-time favorite.
  • Gifts for the Guys: We’ve always love Chukka Boots, but we especially loved that Katie called them the “little black dress for guys.” We’ve never thought about these boots as exactly that, but she sold us… and had us literally laughing out loud.
  • Gifts for the Fearless DIY-er: Are you surprised that we want just about everything on this page?! Outside of buying the whole page, we really love the mug and the coloring book as adorable (and very practical) stocking stuffers! casey-yoga-mat-water-bottle
  • Gifts for the Fitness Lover: We’ve heard a lot of hype about Zella work-out gear but never knew a lot about it. We still don’t know a lot about it but when Meghan (a fashionista + fitness guru) added not one but two Zella products to her page, now we really want to give them a try. Maybe these leggings? Has anyone tried Zella? If so, what do you think?!
  • Gifts for the Host: You know we’re not very talented in the kitchen (to put it kindly), but everything on Michael’s page was so gorgeous. This pitcher was especially gorgeous. We love that you could whip up a batch of drinks in it OR use it as a gorgeous vase. <– more our speed
  • Gifts for Mom & Baby: Michelle gifted us these bars of soap when we saw her last and they are seriously heavenly. We didn’t even want to use them because they smelled sooooo darn good. Plus, their packaging is adorable! bathroom-round-mirror
  • Gifts for Pets: Neither of us have pets however we are OBSESSED with these canisters that Kim included. Bridget actually uses these exact containers in her kitchen for coffee and coffee filters. She even bought an extra one to put on the top of the toilet so she can hide an extra roll of toilet paper for guests.
  • Gifts for your Bestie: We are tied between two of our all-time fashion favorites — TOMS wedges + this vest. We’re pretty confident that gifting either one would win you the “friend of the year” award!

So you tell us…2016-DIY-Playbook-Christmas-Card-wrapped-gifts-stacked

After browsing the gift guide, what did YOU add to your wish list or shopping list?! Or better yet, what items would you include in your own gift guide? Any favorites or go-to gifts we should know about?! We’d love to hear!

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2016 Blogger Holiday Gift Guide

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We are SO excited to finally share a SUPER exciting project we’ve been working on behind the scenes for the past few months (yes, months!). The idea to reach out to some of our favorite bloggers and invite them to collaborate on a Holiday Gift Guide was something we’ve been brainstorming for almost a year now.

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In August, we promised ourselves that we would quit daydreaming and actually DO IT… and right then & there the first annual Blogger Holiday Gift Guide was born. We invited bloggers that we love and bloggers that we felt could bring a unique perspective to a specific gift category (i.e. gifts for the fashionista, gifts for the pet lovers, gifts for the fitness lover, the stay-at-home mom, the host, the DIY-er, etc) to share their favorite products in this “category”.

2016-DIY-Playbook-Christmas-Card-wrapped-gifts-black-whiteThis talented group of bloggers did just that. Together, each gift was hand-picked to create a comprehensive gift guide that all of our readers can browse through and hopefully find a perfect gift for the special people on their holiday shopping lists.

Because we were able to pick the brains of a group of people with different talents and passions, we think this Gift Guide has amazing (and affordable!!) ideas for just about everyone on your list (including the boys/men… thanks Katie Bower!). And not only did we want the gift guide to be diverse and affordable, we also wanted it to be straight forward and easy to read/click through.

All you need to do is press the full-screen button (it’s the little 4 corners image) in the bottom right corner of the image above and the Gift Guide will appear as a full-screen, interactive guide like this…

Gift Guide Table of ContentsThen you can flip through the pages (just like a magazine!!) and when you click on the item you love, you will land on the exact website of this product so you can easily get all the details to pick it up later or buy it online right then and there.

We know it’s a bit early for a gift guide but our hope is that providing these gift ideas EARLY will help you find the perfect gift for all those special people on your list. And let’s be honest, the LESS time we spend shopping, the more time we can spend enjoying the holidays with the amazing people in our lives.2016-DIY-Playbook-Christmas-Card-red-plaid

A huge thank you to the ROCK STAR bloggers who have helped make our vision a reality. If you don’t know someone on this list, you HAVE to check them out because these blogs are the ones we read every single day and provide us so much inspiration!!

2016-DIY-Playbook-Christmas-Card-wrapped-gifts-stackedFrom all of us to you, Happy Shopping… let the holiday fun begin!!bridget_and_casey_sig

 

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15 thoughts on “2016 Blogger Holiday Gift Guide

  1. lisa

    what a great compilation! love the lay-out, the photos and links are so helpful. this is done like the pros- you two are pros, thanks for sharing with us! wishing you a happy week–lisa in AZ

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Pretty and Plaid Christmas Tree

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We know, we know…it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet and we’re already showcasing our Christmas tree. But guys….we are so excited to share this year’s Michaels Makers Dream Tree with you that it’s almost making us forget that the holiday season hasn’t even officially started.

Last year, we took our love of neutrals a bit far and did a gold & silver tree that was full of glamorous elements. We loved that look, but were excited to change it up and add some colorful elements to the mix this time around.

Our Pretty and Plaid Dream Treemichaels-christmas-tree-2016-sparkling

This year we decided to infuse some holiday red into the look and we settled on a theme that we’re affectionately calling PRETTY AND PLAID!
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We hit up Michaels and popped just about every white, red, gold, and plaid item into our carts to create this unified look. michaels-christmas-tree-2016-tree-top

But before we dive into details about the holiday accessories and tree decorations, let’s chat about the tree itself. Since Casey has tall ceilings, we decided to go with a 9 foot Willow Tree. When we took it out of the box and put it together (so easy btw), we were amazed at what a pretty and classic tree it was. So slim & tall and full for being smooshed in a box! Plus, the tree is pre-lit so we were very pleasantly surprised to find out that it went from in the box to on display with lights in about 15 minutes! Michaels is having some amazing sales on trees right now (some are 50% off & have free shipping!), so be sure to check out this page if you’re shopping for a new one. Their collection on Michaels.com is also huge this year with colored and flocked trees!

We can’t emphasize enough how much we loved this faux Christmas tree. If you’re looking to upgrade yours this year (and have the correct ceiling height), you won’t be disappointed with this one!

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Okay onto the accessories! We started with a thick red plaid ribbon and wound that all the way around the tree. This added the perfect pop of color and really added the preppy element we wanted.

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Last year, we learned all about flocked branches so you better believe we added plenty to this tree. Not only does it make the tree look even fuller, but these white branches really brighten up the tree and give that pretty snowy effect! The big ones can get a little pricey, so be sure to use your Michaels coupon and stock up. Plus you can use them for years and years…so they’re a worthwhile investment for your holiday decor! Here are some smaller ones we added to the tree too. michaels-christmas-tree-2016-ornamentsWith the ribbon and flocked branches adorning the tree it was time for the ornaments! We kept it simple and glam with white, gold, and silver ball ornaments (you can buy a pack like this one to really keep the look consistent). You really can’t go wrong with a bunch of these on your tree!
michaels-christmas-tree-2016-pretty-plaidThis light box sign is a new favorite of ours and we’ve been using it all.the.time. You may want to consider picking one up to add to your home decor. Bridget used it for her sister’s birthday party, but then keeps it up in her house on an everyday basis displaying cute quotes and words. Such a fun addition to any household!
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Creating a unified present theme is also a great idea for any Christmas tree. Brown paper, red plaid, and cute gold ones were used beneath our dream tree. We are not going to lie…all of these packages are empty (we haven’t started our holiday shopping quite yet…we promise we’re not that on top of things!). But we were able to use these wrapped gifts for our Christmas card this year, which was part of the inspiration for this whole look! We cannot wait to show you those at a more seasonally appropriate time (probably the beginning of December!)michaels-christmas-tree-2016-stockingmichaels-christmas-tree-2016-gold-red-plaidmichaels-christmas-tree-2016-red-plaid-gifts

Overall, we’re soooo happy with how this year’s pretty and plaid dream tree! We’re not gonna lie, we did put up and take the tree down all in 1 day specifically for the post. There’s just no way we could keep this baby up from mid-October until the end of December. But we are kinda excited to get it back up after Thanksgiving because it really is dreamy! michaels-christmas-tree-2016-sparking-tree

Oh and don’t worry…we’re not officially into holiday blog content just yet. We still have lots of fall content and DIY projects to share for the remainder of the month. Then it will be holiday cheer all over The DIY Playbook. And when it is time to put up your Christmas tree, be sure to check in on all of these other Michaels Makers dream trees below, as well as the Michaels’ blog called The Glue String. There’s some magical inspiration out there…
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14 thoughts on “Pretty and Plaid Christmas Tree

  1. shawnna griffin

    Good morning girls. Love this tree! so pretty! Y’all did a great job. Can’t wait to start decorating for Christmas!

    Reply
  2. Abbie DeLaney Zinkan

    OK, I have to know, on the bottom shelf of your built-in is a cube shaped wire decoration, gold and filled with red, gold and silver ornaments. Where did you get that? It’s adorable!! Thanks!

    Reply
  3. bethany vanpelt

    Love this tree! Sometimes I think nuetral Christmas can be over done so this is perfect. 🙂 Also – what really caught my eye is that light up sign! Does it come with letters included, or do you have to buy those separately?

    Reply
    1. DIY Playbook

      Thanks so much Bethany! The sign is from Michaels and yes it does come with the letters. However we’ve purchased extra letters so you can have more variety when it comes to what you want to write!

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A Round-up of Our Favorite Holiday Cards

Christmas Card 2015

We know it’s only October, so don’t be mad at us for diving into a holiday post today. We’ll be saving a majority of our holiday posts for the “real holiday season” (i.e. after Thanksgiving!), but wanted to chat about a holiday task we try to get done before the season even begins.

Planning Ahead

If you guys know us, then you know that we’re both extremely type A. Like hardcore to-do list gals, who plan just about every aspect of their lives. <—wow, we sound fun don’t we? Ha!

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Our Christmas Card – 2014

Okay, we promise we do let loose every once in awhile. But overall we like to plan things well in advance and have a gameplan for the future. So it shouldn’t surprise you that we already took our Christmas card pictures and ordered our cards for this year (we told you we were extreme!).

Christmas Card 2015 FrontOur Christmas Card – 2015

Allow us to defend ourselves. Every year we take a pic for our Christmas card and we always want to wear dresses. Since we usually take our Christmas pictures in November, it’s often pretty darn cold here in Chicago. This year we decided to take our pics in August to avoid that dreaded freezing photo shoot that ends up happening each year. So we planned ahead, our pics were done in August (!!!!), and our cards were ordered and delivered by the end of September. Boom. Christmas Card Display with wreath

Narrowing down our favorites

Now we’re not here to show you those pics and our Christmas cards (those posts will come at a reasonable time…i.e. December), but we did want to show you some of the awesome cards we found online while searching for our 2016 holiday card. There are soooo many good ones out there, and we believe it’s never too early to get those bad boys ordered.

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1. Merry // 2. Holly Jolly // 3. Happiest Holidays // 4. Happiest 2016 // 5. Merriest Christmas // 6.  Merry Christmas 

Just think, if you get your holiday cards ordered and delivered in October…you’re going to have so much more time for holiday shopping! Even taking just one thing off of that looming holiday to-do list is a win in our playbook. Plus, having your photo and design ready in advance gives you plenty of time to wait for a coupon code and save some serious bucks on those holiday staples! #WINWIN

Bridget and Casey Signature

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18 thoughts on “A Round-up of Our Favorite Holiday Cards

  1. Ashley Sorrick

    I am so with y’all on the type A, early planning! I’m already over here trying to figure out and plan Christmas day activities lol! We already have our pictures done but I’m worried if we order cards now, we’ll miss out on a good deal next month! What’s y’alls experience with pricing and getting the best deal?

    Reply
    1. DIY Playbook

      You sound just like us Ashley! ha! Yeah that’s a good question. After Thanksgiving I feel like they often have big sales. But even just finding the card and watching for a sale is a good idea! Our contact at Minted said that mid-October is now the new time they’re seeing people buy their holiday cards, so it seems like those sales are probably getting earlier and earlier

    2. Ashley Sorrick

      Thanks!! That’s great to know! Good idea on knowing what card you want, that way you can jump on post Thanksgiving sales

  2. Ashley Sorrick

    I am so with y’all on the type A, early planning! I’m already over here trying to figure out and plan Christmas day activities lol! We already have our pictures done but I’m worried if we order cards now, we’ll miss out on a good deal next month! What’s y’alls experience with pricing and getting the best deal?

    Reply
    1. DIY Playbook

      You sound just like us Ashley! ha! Yeah that’s a good question. After Thanksgiving I feel like they often have big sales. But even just finding the card and watching for a sale is a good idea! Our contact at Minted said that mid-October is now the new time they’re seeing people buy their holiday cards, so it seems like those sales are probably getting earlier and earlier

    2. Ashley Sorrick

      Thanks!! That’s great to know! Good idea on knowing what card you want, that way you can jump on post Thanksgiving sales

  3. Colleen Bansley

    Oh my goodness I sort of hate you girls- totally kidding, just jealous! This time always creeps up so fast and I end up scrambling to get a picture taken of our family and then don’t get the cards ordered until mid december which literally makes for a Christmas Eve delivery. I get to get on this! Thank you for this great post and reminder!

    Reply
  4. Colleen Bansley

    Oh my goodness I sort of hate you girls- totally kidding, just jealous! This time always creeps up so fast and I end up scrambling to get a picture taken of our family and then don’t get the cards ordered until mid december which literally makes for a Christmas Eve delivery. I get to get on this! Thank you for this great post and reminder!

    Reply

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7 Tips for Grown-Up Family Photos… Just in Time for the Holidays!

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Christmas Card Traditions

My mom has always sent out a Christmas Card for the holidays and 90% of the time that Christmas Card included a family photo (usually just my sisters and me, not my mom and my dad). We used to whine and complain about taking this annual photo and then cringe when we saw the photo she chose to have printed on those annual cards.

Fast forward almost thirty years and now we LOVE looking back at those still cringe-worthy photos and laughing at ourselves. It’s crazy to put them all side-by-side and see how much we changed over the years!

When two sons-in-law joined the group and we were all “grown-up” and moved out, we weren’t sure if the annual Christmas card tradition would continue. I mean, the first year it was easy because my mom used one of the wedding photos as the “group shot” but after that…. we weren’t really sure where to take this now cherished tradition.
O'Connor Chestnut ClubIf we’re being completely honest, it probably is a little weird that we still get together and take these photos. BUT in our defense, if we don’t force ourselves to carve out time for these annual photos, we would go years without documenting our family all together. Don’t get me wrong, we spend a TON of time together as a family, but we never pose for a photo with everyone in it without a specific reason (i.e. graduations, wedding, baptism, etc.).

Keeping this Tradition Alive

So last year we decided that we HAD to keep this tradition alive (no matter how OLD we are). Last year’s picture, above, was the first “not-at-a-formal-event” group photo we took and we learned A LOT from this pretty painless process.

But before we took that photo, I searched Pinterest and the blogosphere for tips and inspiration on family photos. The only thing I could find was insanely adorable photos/inspiration for families with little ones. I could not find any pictures or ideas for families in our stage of life. So that’s where this post idea was born. If you have a group of adults (with or without kids) that is getting together for a family photo, Christmas card, or just because, I hope these tips provide you with some of the info I was never able to find!

And heck, even if you don’t have a group of twenty-somethings in your family, I’m confident these 7 tips can still work for just about any family!

7 Tips for Taking Family Photos with Grown-Up Kids

After learning from our mistakes the first year around, here are my best 7 tips (and this year’s family photos):
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1. Choose a Location

It’s important to think of a location that is big enough (aka wide enough) to hold the entire group. This year we chose an apple orchard because picking apples is one of our favorite fall traditions and there was plenty of room to photograph all of us together. Last year we went to a local park, but we waited until it was December so the trees were pretty barren and the temps were FRIGID (note to self: super cold temps are not good for morale or for outfit selections).

You don’t need anything extravagant … heck, even a plain wall could work… just make sure you choose a place where you can spread out and not be rushed. And if your family is anything like ours, I would suggest going to wherever you are going when the LEAST amount of people are there (less people watching you take these photos will save everyone from feeling awkward).
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2. Choose Outfits Wisely

We learned after last year that it’s hard to read the outfits accurately in the photo when some of  us have on super dark colors (black, dark navy, dark green) and others have on super bright colors (like white). This year I told the family to steer clear of these extremes and I also told them to choose “fall colors”. We definitely didn’t want to match (been there, done that for about 10 years in a row) but we wanted to loosely coordinate. Establishing these flexible guidelines helped keep us in the same “ballpark” without being too matchy-matchy.

I also started a google doc for everyone to type in what they were wearing. I know that sounds crazy (it probably is), but I was able to see the colors and vibe of the outfits before the “big day”. Seeing the outfit plans in advance helped me recognize any problems and also helped me and Matt choose our outfits accordingly. And since I usually set up the photos, I like to wait for everyone to let me know what they’re wearing and then I try to choose outfits for Matt and me that will mesh the whole look together.

Rookie Tip: I know this sounds super scientific but honestly my advice would be… DON’T OVERTHINK IT. You want everyone to feel comfortable and feel very “them” so provide loose guidelines but let each person put their own spin on their clothing from there.

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3. Go Outside!

Remember when I said you should choose a place that you can spread out, maybe even a place that is special to your family? Well there’s a bit more to that story. My BIGGEST piece of advice when choosing a location is to try to do everything you can to take your photo outside because of the natural light. If you’re using a friend to snap a few pics (or a tripod + remote like us), choosing an outdoor space will make sure your photo is well-lit even without a professional photographer.

Overcast skies produce the best light, but if the day is super bright (direct sunlight) try to take your photos in the shade or around dusk to get the best lighting. Having a well-lit photo makes the picture look 100% more professional so try everything you can to choose an outdoor location…or at least an indoor venue that has super large windows.

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4. Have Fun… It Shows!

It’s important to HAVE FUN! Not just so everyone has an enjoyable, stress-free experience that day but also because if you’re having fun while snapping these photos, it will definitely show in the photo! Make jokes, laugh, do a few “fun ones” because these genuine smiles will make the best pictures…and the best memories!

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5. You Only Need One!

Feel free to snap away but don’t forget that you only need ONE photo! If you keep snapping away, I’m confident that at least one of the pics you snapped will be a keeper so try not to stress.

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6. Bring Props

Last year our family held up a DIY Pallet sign, which definitely helped make our pose a lot less awkward and a lot more natural. Remember when we held these poster boards to create a personalized Mother’s Day Gift in preparation for the newest member of the O’Connor family? Both of these experiences have taught us that having props (or something to hold) makes standing and taking a group photo a lot less awkward. I know that’s not always a possibility (like in our photo this year) but it is a tip I wanted to include because it definitely makes a difference.
oconnor-family-christmas-card-photo

7. Imperfect is Perfect When You’re All Together

At the end of the day my BEST piece of advice is to not focus on perfectionism. It really doesn’t matter about the outfits or the lighting or even the location, as long as you all get together and capture this time (as cringeworthy as it may be later on), your family photo will be absolutely PERFECT. Crying babies, laughing siblings, flat hair…. these things are all a part of our stories and as long as this story is captured and frozen in time, your family photo will be just like it’s supposed to be — perfectly imperfect!

For your information, here is our all-time favorite photo equipment & what we use to take all of our pictures (affiliate links used):

  • Our Camera with this lens and this lens is what we started with
  • This lens was a splurge and what we used to take this year’s photos
  • We used a tripod (like this one) for these photos
  • …. and used this clicker! (Can you spot who is carrying the clicker in each photo?)family-photo-tips-for-grown-up-families

Bridget Signature

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22 thoughts on “7 Tips for Grown-Up Family Photos… Just in Time for the Holidays!

  1. Ashley Sorrick

    Such adorable pictures!! Great tips – you reminded me to try to get some pictures with my family for Christmas cards 🙂

    Reply
  2. Ashley Sorrick

    Such adorable pictures!! Great tips – you reminded me to try to get some pictures with my family for Christmas cards 🙂

    Reply
  3. Erin

    hoping to do some family pics this november when the whole family is together (minus the husband) do you recommend hiring someone or just use a camera with tripod?

    Reply
    1. DIY Playbook

      It depends how comfortable you are with a camera. If you like photography (like we do!), then definitely take our own! But if you’re worried about quality, it might be a good idea to hire someone you trust! Good luck Erin!

  4. Erin

    hoping to do some family pics this november when the whole family is together (minus the husband) do you recommend hiring someone or just use a camera with tripod?

    Reply
    1. DIY Playbook

      It depends how comfortable you are with a camera. If you like photography (like we do!), then definitely take our own! But if you’re worried about quality, it might be a good idea to hire someone you trust! Good luck Erin!

  5. Diana @ Bumps Along the Way

    You are definitely not the only ones who still do the big family picture at Christmas. We do it every year with my in-laws for their Christmas card and there are over 50 of us! Suffice it to say, usually getting everyone there at the same time is about as coordinated as it gets…

    Reply
  6. Diana @ Bumps Along the Way

    You are definitely not the only ones who still do the big family picture at Christmas. We do it every year with my in-laws for their Christmas card and there are over 50 of us! Suffice it to say, usually getting everyone there at the same time is about as coordinated as it gets…

    Reply
  7. Nicole B.

    It’s so funny you took the time to write this post… because this summer I, too, searched Pinterest (and google) to find inspiration for a family photo of all adults when there aren’t babies yet and there are basically none! I couldn’t believe it! Like, how do you pose 6 adults? Haha. Long story short- like you said, we all had fun and it shows in the pictures. Now we have really nice memories of our family trip to Cape Cod. Super idea for a post, I bet it will help lots of people 🙂

    Reply
  8. Nicole B.

    It’s so funny you took the time to write this post… because this summer I, too, searched Pinterest (and google) to find inspiration for a family photo of all adults when there aren’t babies yet and there are basically none! I couldn’t believe it! Like, how do you pose 6 adults? Haha. Long story short- like you said, we all had fun and it shows in the pictures. Now we have really nice memories of our family trip to Cape Cod. Super idea for a post, I bet it will help lots of people 🙂

    Reply
  9. Patti Walsh

    Looking for some advice. We want to take a family photo for our Christmas card. All of my adult children (and grandchild) will all be together in Syracuse, NY to celebrate Thanksgiving together and attend a SU football game…yay! Bridget, as you know, my son-in-law, Sean coaches college football and will have a very busy schedule during our visit and a small window of opportunity for a photo shoot. We do not want to be on the football field or in SU swag for the picture. It appears that the photo shoot will not take place outdoors in the daylight but rather in the evening – 6:00ish in Sarah’s home. What ideas/suggestions do you have for an indoor photo? She has a staircase, large foyer, fireplace / mantel, plenty of white wall space…. Appreciate your feedback.

    Reply
    1. DIY Playbook

      How exciting, have so much fun on your trip! Getting EVERYONE together is never easy so just capturing any picture is a “win”. In terms of our advice for getting a picture inside during the evening– we don’t have a ton of experience with this but we would say to turn on any lights so that the house + picture is well-lit. If you’re using a DSLR, try and bring down the shutter speed a bit so that you can keep it a tad bright. And I’ve found that even if it does turn out darker than you had hoped, editing it to be black and white can be hide a lot of those imperfections. HOWEVER the most important part is that everyone is in the picture and as long as you capture that, we think it’s PERFECT. =) Good luck, have so much fun!!

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DIY Ice Cream Pumpkins

diy_ice_cream_pumpkins_michaels-15

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?

ICE CREAM!

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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

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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.

diy_ice_cream_pumpkins_michaels

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!

diy_ice_cream_pumpkins_michaels-15

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!!
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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

pumpkin

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!

diy_ice_cream_pumpkins_michaels-27ice_cream_pumpkin

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

easy_diy_mothers_day_gift_mom_family

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.

 Casey:

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.

Baby-Harry-Gift-1

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…

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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?

Bridget:

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”.

mothers_day_photo_gift_oconnor_family-006

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 Michaels.com 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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