Make Your Own Christmas Ornament Projects You Can Gift or Keep

Make Your Own Christmas Ornament Projects You Can Gift or Keep

There’s nothing I love more about Christmas than decorating the tree. When I was little, my family and I would turn on our favorite Mel Torme Christmas cassette, fill a tray with Christmas cookies my mom had baked, pass around the eggnog, and begin merrily untangling the lights and hanging ornaments. The best part was opening the box of ornaments and being reminded of all the wonderful memories attached to each one. And while they all had a special place…

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Homemade Edible Christmas Food Gifts You Can Make in Advance

Homemade Edible Christmas Food Gifts You Can Make in Advance

I’m not the craftiest person in the world, so it goes without saying that DIY Christmas gifts are not my forte. Give me a glue gun or a needle and I’ll probably end up hurting myself rather than creating something impressive. What I can do, however, is cook. One Christmas, fresh out of pastry school with very little money to spend on Christmas gifts, I used my new confectionary skills to make nougatine with rosewater, pistachios, and dried cherries for…

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Homemade Christmas Gifts For In-Laws Who Have Everything

Homemade Christmas Gifts For In-Laws Who Have Everything

Beatrix stared at us from behind my father-in-law’s desk, her webbed feet and orange bill standing out against the dark wood decor. For Christmas, I had painted a picture of my father-in-law’s pet duck, Bea. The painting now hung proudly in his office as we relaxed by the fireplace. I have the best in-laws, but the one time of year they drive me crazy is Christmas. They have pretty much everything they need and are hesitant to ask for anything,…

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The Best Handmade Over the Hill Gag Gift DIYs

The Best Handmade Over the Hill Gag Gift DIYs

The morning of my 30th birthday I got up, took one look in the mirror, and went straight back to bed. I know 30 isn’t that old, but I figured I had finally been around long enough to really deserve that extra 10 minutes of snoozing. I wasn’t over the hill, but I was definitely nearing the peak, and that made me feel just a little more fatigued than usual. Luckily, I was broken out of my barely justified ennui…

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Unique Bridesmaids Gift Ideas on a Budget

Unique Bridesmaids Gift Ideas on a Budget

My wedding day felt like a dream. It was effortless, romantic, and filled with magical moments shared with my husband on our special day. What made it truly incredible, though, was having my nearest and dearest friends beside me, standing with me in their periwinkle bridesmaid dresses as I took my vows. Those wonderful women carried me through that day, just as they had so often in my life. They made me laugh when I was feeling nervous, fixed my…

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DIY Fall Wedding Centerpieces on a Budget

DIY Fall Wedding Centerpieces on a Budget

The aisle of the church was covered with fall leaves, pumpkins were at the altar. But this wasn’t some rustic, abandoned chapel in a field somewhere—it was the location of my wedding. We had done everything we could to bring nature’s autumn artwork inside: the flower girl tossed maple leaves instead of flower petals and my bouquet was filled with deeply colored dried flowers and radiant sheafs of golden wheat. Fall is my favorite season so it made sense for…

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How to Keep in Touch With Friends Over the Summer Vacation

How to Keep in Touch With Friends Over the Summer Vacation

Growing up in a touristy vacation spot, my summer friends were a totally different group than my winter friends. Summer Nina (not to be confused with year-round Nina), Meghan O., and other kids would suddenly move into the neighborhood temporarily, becoming much easier friends to get together with than the ones from school who didn’t live a literal hop, skip, and jump from my front door. But when school started up again, I would inevitably be shocked to learn that…

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16 Creative Sweet Sixteen Birthday Gift Ideas

16 Creative Sweet Sixteen Birthday Gift Ideas

While most of my teenage years are now nothing but a blur, I distinctly remember my sixteenth birthday. I didn’t receive any material gifts from my parents that year. Instead, my mom took me on a trip to New York City. It was just the two of us, strolling arm in arm in Central Park, scurrying to Broadway box offices in hopes of scoring discount tickets, and snacking on salty street pretzels several times a day. I still appreciate how…

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DIY Summer Boredom Busters for Tweens

DIY Summer Boredom Busters for Tweens

My sister Kelsey and I are 8 years apart; when she was heading into her pre-teen tween years, I was still a toddler. My parents did an amazing job of keeping us (and our brother in the middle) entertained during the long, hot summer days by coming up with things that we could all do together. Often, these activities could be separated into four categories and were scattered throughout the days of the week to keep boredom from ensuing. We…

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What to Put in a Beach-Themed Gift Basket or Bag for Her

What to Put in a Beach-Themed Gift Basket or Bag for Her

This beach season, you’re probably looking to add something more to your bag than suntan lotion and the newest teen vampire novel—although you totally want both of those too. You want to rock the sun and sand in style, comfort, with a little decadence, and a lot of goodies. You want, nay need, great beach gear. And so do your girlfriends! This year, why not send a beach-themed gift bag to your sister, girlfriend, wife, or best friend? It’s a…

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DIY Summer Wedding Favors Guests Can Take Home

DIY Summer Wedding Favors Guests Can Take Home

From outdoor receptions under the sun to an ice cream cart for guests and bouquets filled with peonies and lavender, summer weddings fill the air with a refreshing warmth and relaxation. As I daydream about my own wedding, I’ve started to love the idea of DIY summer wedding favors for guests to take home—a tiny tidbit to remind them of the day and to thank them for coming. From foodie favors, like mason jar jams and herbal salts, to nature-inspired…

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DIY Thoughtful Gifts for Your Best Friend to Celebrate Friendship

DIY Thoughtful Gifts for Your Best Friend to Celebrate Friendship

My apartment looks calm and neat at first glance, but I’ve got a deep, dark secret that’s just waiting to burst free. Lurking deep beneath a table in the dining room, hidden behind a curtain, there’s a monster waiting to be let out: my sprawling collection of crafting supplies I’m a firm believer in giving homemade gifts and that means I have supplies on hand for just about everything—paint, fabric, clay; you name it, I’ve probably got it. Recent makes…

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Celebrating National Sugar Cookie Day With Recipes That Kids Can Make

Celebrating National Sugar Cookie Day With Recipes That Kids Can Make

Comedian Gary Gulman said it best when he said, “Every cookie is a sugar cookie. A cookie without sugar is a cracker.” Sugar cookies have a reputation for being a bit basic in the baking world but, for me, they conjure up all sorts of delicious food memories from my childhood. There were the long days spent at my grandma’s house, when my mom would send me over with a box of sprinkles and all the makings for a basic…

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Fun Things for an Only Child to Do Outside This Summer

Fun Things for an Only Child to Do Outside This Summer

I’ll be the first to admit that when I was a kid, my favorite part of summer vacation was holing up in the den, shades drawn, so I could watch cartoons all day while eating popsicles. But I don’t really remember anything about my time spent indoors—other than how awesome the popsicles always were. No, my favorite summer memories are the ones from my time outdoors in the sun. I can still smell the sweetness of the dried grass I…

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The Best Traditional Kwanzaa Gifts to Make and Give

The Best Traditional Kwanzaa Gifts to Make and Give

Kwanzaa has always been one of the world’s most exciting holidays, especially in North America. It is a burst of light and color, of sun and laughter, emerging brightly into the coldest and darkest days of the year. It’s a celebration of heritage, but it isn’t one stuck in the past. It creates a vibrant tapestry of the past, present, and future, looking toward the next day while honoring the last. Kwanzaa is a unique holiday in that it comes…

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DIY Father’s Day Gifts from Daughter: Easy Last Minute Homemade Gift Basket Ideas

DIY Father’s Day Gifts from Daughter: Easy Last Minute Homemade Gift Basket Ideas

  “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person — he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano When I think of my father, there are poignant and particular things that come to mind: There’s the beep of the coffee maker when it’s finished brewing, and his hands pouring the hot coffee into his favorite sunshine yellow mugs from Hawaii; the countless warm San Diego evenings spent on the front patio where he barbecues chicken drumsticks or…

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Creative Hostess Gift Ideas: Easy DIYs Offering Gratitude at Summer Dinner Parties

Creative Hostess Gift Ideas: Easy DIYs Offering Gratitude at Summer Dinner Parties

“I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer—its dust and lowering skies.” – Toni Morrison As the sensations of summer loom on the horizon—the blooming of roses, strawberries making their way to the stands at the farmers’ market, spring sweaters staying put in the closet and being replaced by sundresses—I begin to daydream of summer dinner parties. As with each new season, my favorite part of summer tends to revolve around gatherings, time…

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Last Minute DIY Mother’s Day Gifts: Elegant Breakfast in Bed Ideas for Mom

Last Minute DIY Mother’s Day Gifts: Elegant Breakfast in Bed Ideas for Mom

The smell of coffee, morning sun streaming in through the window, the tang of freshly squeezed orange juice—there’s nothing quite as special as a thoughtfully prepared breakfast in bed to fill a soul up with happy content. The older I get, the more I can comprehend why moms enjoy—and very much deserve—a luxurious sleep-in every so often. They get to stretch out, ignore the alarm clock, and not have to think twice about cracking an egg, flipping a pancake, or…

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DIY Mother’s Day Flower Arrangements Picked Fresh to Surprise Mom with a Classic

DIY Mother’s Day Flower Arrangements Picked Fresh to Surprise Mom with a Classic

“A mother is one who fills your heart in the first place.” Amy Tan Flowers are so naturally and intrinsically linked to Mother’s Day gifts. When I was a kid, I can recall using every last piece of pink and red colored tissue paper in the house to create a special faux flower bouquet for my mom, Nini. One year I tried to perfect the art of piping frosting in the shape of her favorite flower, plumerias, on top of…

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Wondrously Woodsy Birthday Party Favor Gift Bag Ideas for Nature Obsessed Kids

Wondrously Woodsy Birthday Party Favor Gift Bag Ideas for Nature Obsessed Kids

My sister and I never loved the hot weather that comes with summer, so making tree forts in the cool shade of the forest was always our first project over long school vacations. But once we had each claimed our trees and made them feel like home (you can accomplish a surprising amount of interior design with leaves, sticks, twine, and a little imagination), we’d start exploring. We discovered that when you peeled back the bark from a fallen log…

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Talented Fingers, Generous Hearts: Everyday Knitters Gift Yarn, Ideas, and Inspiration

Talented Fingers, Generous Hearts: Everyday Knitters Gift Yarn, Ideas, and Inspiration

As a teenager looking for a creative outlet before the dawn of the internet, I learned how to knit. Sitting by my stepmother’s side, trading needles back and forth as she guided my clumsy hands, I came to appreciate the joy of being “crafty.” Though my knitting career was short-lived, my one and only project—a vibrant, rainbow-colored, shorter-than-most scarf—served me well on many chilly winter days (and was a point of pride). I don’t think I’m alone when I say…

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Eco-Friendly DIY Earth Day Gifts for a Clean and Green Kitchen This Spring

Eco-Friendly DIY Earth Day Gifts for a Clean and Green Kitchen This Spring

For the last few years, my fiancé Nick and I have taken a creative approach to celebrating Earth Day. One year, while living in San Francisco, we crafted a kitchen composter out of a coffee canister. The next year we were hunkered down in Orange County so took a trip to Roger’s Gardens, followed by an afternoon spent planting sunflower seeds in our front yard. Then came our spring in Portland, and a rainy day walk through Forest Park. We…

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The Gifting Garden: Offering Spring’s Bounty as Homemade Gifts and DIY Edible Crafts

The Gifting Garden: Offering Spring’s Bounty as Homemade Gifts and DIY Edible Crafts

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?” “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…” —Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden In the four years that my fiancé Nick and I have been together, we’ve lived inside the flow of many changing seasons. When we first met, it was a cold winter in San Francisco and days were filled with warm cioppino stew and big pots of tortilla soup. Autumns…

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Thank You Note Etiquette: DIY Marbled Handmade Cards to Express Your Gratitude

Thank You Note Etiquette: DIY Marbled Handmade Cards to Express Your Gratitude

The art of the thank you note. Always appreciated but so frequently forgotten. Saying a sincere thanks can absolutely make someone’s day, so why do the ones I send often feel so obligatory, especially around birthdays and the crunch of the holiday season? I’ve been guilty, more often than I would like, of sending out late or lackluster letters that don’t truly capture how grateful I am for the sweet generosity someone sent my way. It’s never out of a…

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