How to Throw a Fab "Merry Friendsmas" Celebration! (Hot Chocolate Bar & Favorite Things Exchange Included!)

Friday, December 08, 2017

It's no secret that I love a good holiday celebration.

In fact, I tend to make sure I celebrate every holiday to the fullest extent!

This Christmas season, my friend Leila at Moroccan Olives and I decided to host a little Merry Friendsmas party for some of our closest pals!  Movies, drinks, and a Favorite Things Exchange.  Perfect conditions for a cozy night in!

And no winter soiree is complete without a hot chocolate bar, am I right?

To set up your hot chocolate bar vignette, you'll need to start with the ingredients!

-hot chocolate mix (we chose the classic, Swiss Miss)
-whipped cream (we used the EXTRA creamy Reddi Whip)
-delicious marshmallows (we used Smashmallows, Strawberry and Mint Chocolate Chip flavors)
-drink stirrers (these "Merry Christmas" ones were from Target's Dollar Spot!)
-something to spike it! (we provided the choice of Kahlua and Irish cream)

We had a "Favorite Things Exchange" in lieu of your typical Secret Santa gift swap!

It's a fun idea that I participated in for the first time at the Female Foodie Retreat this past summer.  

Instead of drawing names and buying a gift specific to one person, you buy a set number of YOUR favorite thing.  My "favorite thing" was a box of Sugarfina champagne gummy bears (which you can buy separately for $8.50 at lots of different places!).

Basically, you decide how many gifts each person will purchase (ours was 2, so I bought 2 boxes of gummy bears) and set a spending limit (ours was $10 for each gift).  You can do any number of gifts and any spending limit though!

In our case, we each bought 2 gifts and made sure that the chosen gift was no more than $10 (each).  

Once you come together at your exchange, you draw names.  You must make sure everyone participating has their name in the bowl for however many gifts you are exchanging (so we were each in the bowl twice).  Pass the bowl around and each person draws 2 names.  Whoever you draw, those are the people who receive your gifts!  In the end, everyone ends up with the same number of gifts that they showed up with, and you get to try your friends' favorite things!

You can make this a really cute and inexpensive way to do a gift exchange.  For example, set your limit to $5 and pick up 4 of the same gift, and you've only spent $20!  You'll be getting 4 gifts.  Or go the more expensive route for more elaborate gifts!

In the past, I've seen people bring their favorite snack, their favorite dry shampoo, cute keychains, adult coloring books, and much much more!

To finish out the event, we watched The Grinch (the Jim Carrey version that Leila is terrified of)!  

But what movies do each of us insist on watching every year?  
Here is a list of our top 7 favorite classic Christmas films!  

1. The Holiday (free to watch with Prime, or purchase DVD here)
3. Elf

So I suggest you Amazon Prime the heck out of these so that you can watch them before the big day....Christmas, that is!

But you really don't need much to throw a fabulous Merry Friendsmas.  Some good films, great friends, and tasty food and drink are all it takes!

(There might be wine in here.)

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OOTD: kate spade Fall Faves Part 4!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

This week I will be unveiling for you my last few looks of fall! December begins on Friday, and you know what that means.  From there on out, our lives (or at least mine) will be holiday holiday holiday!

Honestly this one is a look I would bring into the holidays as well.  It's just feathery enough to scream CHRISTMAS PARTY right in your face.  Just how I like things.

Outfit details included below, as always!

Black Feather Top (mine is old, but you can still get the same style in black and white here!): T & J Designs (based in Chicago!)
Leopard Print Cigarette Pants: kate spade new york
Cinda Flats (old, but another great and timeless option HERE): kate spade new york
Holland Hybrid Smart Watch: kate spade new york
Set in Stone Hinged Bangle (white): kate spade new york
Cat Bangle (old): kate spade new york
Dorothy Coat (old, but here's another great bow coat ON SALE): kate spade new york
Earmuff with Satin Bow: kate spade new york
Cameron Street Medium Harmony (customized): kate spade new york

Okay, first let's talk about the elephant in the room - this customized Cameron Street Medium Harmony tote!  I was sort of in the right place at the right time (work) when I found out that Tom Tom and Company (Thomas Ard) would be customizing handbags at the flagship Madison Ave kate spade shop.  He's an amazing artist and I knew I couldn't pass up the chance to have a bag painted by him for no additional charge!  So I ordered the Medium Harmony from afar and chose which version of the leopard design I wanted.  I also got it monogrammed, because they can do that right at the Madison Ave store.  Basically you should follow @tomtomandco on Instagram because 1) his art is amazing and 2) you'll be able to stay updated on the next time he'll be painting on bags.  His Instagram stories give you lots of behind the scenes, like how he dunked the brush in champagne as he was painting these bags!  For extra sparkle, you know.  This bag is now one of my most coveted possessions.  It's just so special and not one is exactly alike!

This top is from T & J Designs, which is a super cool company to support because it's owned by two sisters/bloggers in Chicago.  You may already follow their blogs (@tiffanyish and @redsolesandredwine).  I have for a while, and actually purchased from them before I even knew they owned the shop.  My pink gingham top from this spring was from there as well!

Now who would have thought that leopard pants of any kind would be flattering?  Well, these ones are.  They're v comfortable for "dress pants," and super cute.  If leopard isn't your thing, they also come in black.  If I were to suggest a timeless style of pants to have in your closet, these would be it.

For my winter wear, I opted for the classic kate spade Dorothy coat!  This was one of my grandest purchases last year, and I swear I haven't taken it off since I bought it!  At least during the chilly fall/winter months.  Wear it with a pair of bow earmuffs, and you'll certainly stand out in a crowd!  Whether you like it or not.  I do, clearly.

My accessories for this look were a blend of new and old.  On my wrist were the cat bracelet from last year and the white set in stone bracelet that I wear almost every day.  And the star of the show, the Holland Hybrid Smart Watch.  This is an excellent investment, as it's a beautiful watch that has all the components of a smart watch.  You can track everything through the kate spade app on your phone, but it will still match your look with the classic face!  I want to eventually write an entire post on this watch where I'll include more details about the smart watches.  And then finally, these earrings are some of my faves from the November collection!

Loafers from kate spade are my ultimate faves.  My coworkers and I all swear by them.  They are easy to break in and some of the most comfortable shoes available from kate spade.  Besides glitter Keds, of course!  This pair of Cindas were from last fall, and I love them.  I would highly recommend the Corinas, which I have linked above in the products.

I'm sort of sad autumn is over, since it's my favorite season.  But I'm looking forward to one more fall OOTD post before the holidays hit!  Stay tuned.


My Black Friday Finds + List of the Best Stocking Stuffers of the Weekend!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Happy Small Business Saturday!

Thanksgiving weekend has just about come and gone...  And it was certainly an eventful one (photo from Thursday above)!  The store I work in was THANKFULLY closed on Thanksgiving Day, but I worked the early shift on Black Friday.  I got to the mall at 5:30am and things took off from there.  I actually like to work Black Friday though, it's a long day but it goes by craaaazy fast.  Lots of action!

But at 3pm, I couldn't wait to get out of that mall.  So I decided against checking out the other sales and shopped from the quietness of my computer to get the deals I wanted!
I didn't really buy much this year, but I did purchase what I've been wanting for years.  I obviously didn't completely disregard my signature color...

These ion pink Hunter gloss boots from Nordstrom.  
(They're $89, originally $150, and will be on sale until 11/27!)
I'm going to Portland in February, and I hear it's rainy there.  Plus, I've been wanting a pair forever!  These are packable, which will be great when I travel.

(I got it during yesterday's Black Friday 50% off sale, but it's still 40% off now and a great price.)
It's cool that Express has a petite line, for people under 5'4" like me!  ...We have short arms.

So hopefully I'm happy with these items when they arrive!

I also wanted to give you a couple examples of some great deals to take advantage of TODAY under $40!  Perfect stocking stuffers.  All of these items are still on sale right now, but I wouldn't wait too long.  Next thing you know, they'll be back to regular price.

S'Well 17oz Water Bottle: $26.25 (from $35) at Nordstrom
Runs on Coffee Ornament: $18.75 (from $25) at Nordstrom
Voluspa Mini Candle Gift Set: $26.60 (from $38) at Anthropologie
Sugar Cookie Measuring Cups:  $22.40 (from $32) at Anthropologie
Signature Spade Mini Studs:  $22.40 (from $32) at kate spade
Santa Suit Thermal Mug: $12.60 (from $18) at kate spade
"Shiraz" Tee: $21.90 (from $36.50) at J Crew
Ribbon-Wrapped Hoop Earrings: $14.70 (from $24.50) at J Crew
Chill-y Crew Socks: $5.97 (from $9.95) at Aerie
Mary Caroline Bangle Bracelet (rose gold): $36 (from $45) at Kendra Scott

I'm also hosting a promotion on my Etsy Shop, MidwestMermaidArt!  20% off your purchase of $20 or more.  I have tons of Christmas goodies, as well as other items!  Use the code THANKFUL4U at checkout to redeem discount.  Valid on everything in my shop except custom graduation caps.
This post contains affiliate links.

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