Here’s an idea for avoiding the holiday mall crowds or stressing over shopping: make homemade gifts this year instead. You could save some money and your gifts will have a charming personal touch. Buy all of your supplies in bulk and make one of these holiday gifts for everyone on your list. That means no shopping stress and more time for enjoying those special holiday moments. Any of these gift ideas would also make fabulous wedding favors!
Relax and unwind from holiday stress with some homemade bath and beauty products. Some of these ideas use products you may have around the house anyway and you can have fun with creating different colors and scents for each recipient.
Check out this tutorial for making your own bath salts.
Elaborate weddings are not for everyone. Some brides want a private, romantic ceremony with only their closest family and friends present. And some couples even choose to elope, not wanting the the expense or pressure of a traditional wedding.
Finding a venue for an intimate wedding can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you’re not set on a courthouse or formal setting. But some venues are catering to busy, non-traditional couples who still want a special celebration.
Le Chatelet–located about 90 minutes from New York City and Philadelphia–specializes in “elegant elopements” and small weddings. Nestled in 16 acres of the Delaware Valley, the scenic French manor is available for intimate and personalized celebrations whether you’re looking for a cozy indoor, garden or outdoor wedding.
Begin the day outside with vows in the Victoria gazebo and garden and terrace with an arbor. Then head indoors for cocktails in the parlor or music room and dinner on fine china and crystal on the stone porch overlooking the woods.
Their all-inclusive packages include wedding invitations, a dressing suite for the bride, boutonnieres, photography and a personalized ceremony for up to 25 guests. Catering includes an hors d’oeuvres reception, sparkling toast, after-dinner coffee and tea and a wedding cake.
For a mid-week elopement, the venue will gladly accommodate short, private ceremonies in the evenings Monday to Thursday with ceremonies for two (plus two witnesses), photography, sparkling toast and a small wedding cake.
The owners of Le Chatelet eloped themselves and they understand that some couples want an affordable, stress-free wedding option with minimal planning. Their officiants will customize your ceremony to your religious, secular or traditional personal beliefs.
Le Chatelet also offers eco-friendly weddings for nature lovers with green and vegan options, as well as products from local farmers and wineries. So if you want to start your “happily ever after” as soon as possible, check out Le Chatelet for affordable small wedding and elopement options.
DIY gingerbread cookies in-a-jar are a cinch to make and easy on the pocketbook too! We’ve even included some free printable tags to add even more charm to your handmade gifts. Download tags here.
Gingerbread Cookies-in-a-Jar (Adapted from Allrecipes.com)
To decorate the jar you will need:
For jar contents you will need:
If you want to give these cookies a trial run before giving them as gifts, you will also need:
Planning their Idaho wedding from Virginia, Jenny and Donovan used Pinterest as inspiration and booked everything through e-mail. Even though everything was planned remotely, the day unfolded without a hitch.
Their ceremony and reception took place at a golf course and included their closest family members.
The intimate wedding was captured by Ashlea Terhune Photography.
Jenny & Donovan
Wedding Date: September 15, 2012
Number of Guests: 61
Wedding Cost: $15,000
Wedding Ceremony Location: Stoneridge Golf Course Event Center (outside)
Wedding Reception Location: Stoneridge Golf Course Event Center (inside)
A few weeks ago, Darin and I had the opportunity to participate in the Lenox Wedding Tour, hosted by Destination Bride’s Lisa Light and numerous Lenox wedding vendors. Amazing! (You’ll hear all about the incredible venues in the Berkshires that we toured in an upcoming blog post.)
One of the highlights of the tour was the Tablescape Challenge, which required each participant to create a tablescape at Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club based an an invitation by New York stationer The Pink Orange.
I chose the lovely Beyond the Bramble design as my inspiration:
To be honest, I do plenty of DIY projects, but I’ve never had to create a tablescape – so this challenge required me to stretch. (Okay, so I freaked out a little – especially when I found out we’d have to design our own floral bouquets.) I decided to go with shades of green, pink and amethyst as the color scheme.
Since I love the look of vintage bottles, I grouped a few of them together and added a single rose to each one. (These bottles were all found at flea markets and garage sales. The total cost was well under $20.)
To add a rustic feel to the table, I used a burlap table runner (compliments of Classical Tents and Party Goods, which also supplied the farm tabletop, glassware and dishes) and a lace doily that I brought from home. I included a couple of amethyst geodes (I scoffed them from my daughter’s bedroom) and some votives to add sparkle to the table. A couple of vintage metal birds (also found at a garage sale) added a touch of whimsy to the table.
To add to the vintage theme, I included a couple of old books which I stacked beneath a few of the bottles. Dried lavender from my garden was wrapped in jute and placed on each napkin.
The biggest challenge, by far, was the floral arranging. Other than a few informal garden bouquets that I’ve whipped up for my own dinner table, I am a complete novice at floral arranging. Thankfully, a kind lady named Margaret Roach from Seagroatt Riccardi (the company that supplied the flowers for the challenge) saw the trepidation in my eyes and helped me pick out the flowers for my table. She offered me some tips on arranging the flowers (the arrangement should be twice the height of the container; use greens to fill the holes etc.) but the arranging was up to little old me. So, there I was frantically jamming stems into my vase, asking my husband every five minutes how it looked, utterly frustrated by his glazed over eyes.
In the end, I was pleased with how it turned out given my level of experience.
Although the tablescape challenge was a wee stressful, I believe that pushing your own boundaries is a good thing. And looking back, it was one of the most memorable parts of our trip to the Berkshires.
Thanks so much to Massachusetts photographer Michelle Girard for snapping (and sharing) the lovely photos!
Photos: All photos except last photo taken by Michelle Girard.