4 Steps to Decorate a *Decked Out* Themed Christmas Tree (on a budget!)

So, you want to decorate a themed Christmas tree next year?

Thought so!

Over the last few years, my mom and I have been really into decorating one tree with a theme.  She has actually done a lot of themed trees in the past, but for a number of years we just were setting up your typical tree with our whole ornament collection.  

This year, we set up a "sweets and treats" themed dessert tree!  
Cakes, macarons, cupcakes, spatulas, and a chef's hat to top it off. 
Our tree had a major sweet tooth!

It's really not as hard as you think to have a themed tree!  Although I will say, some themes are going to be easier than others.  

Below, I'll try to outline the best steps to take for creating the themed tree of your dreams!

Step One:  Choose your idea.
We've done a Packer green/gold tree, a shoe tree, a silver and blue tree, a
hunt, fish, camp" tree, a 12 Days of Christmas tree...  There are an endless amount of ideas to choose from!  One piece of advice I can give you is not to get super obscure with your idea, unless you don't mind spending a bit more time and money on making your tree fabulous!  For instance, I didn't decide on a macaron tree.  I love macarons and we have quite a few macaron ornaments on our tree this year.  But you have to come up with an idea that is going to have ornaments that are easily accessible.  Broadening the idea to be "desserts" instead of a specific type of desserts made it a lot easier to find enough ornaments to fill it!  

Also, choose a color scheme that will fit in with the theme you have chosen and add at least one metallic (gold, silver, rose gold, etc).  For this one, we chose light pink, white, and other colors that you'd commonly think of with cute desserts, with the metallic accent being gold.  For hunt, fish, camp, we stuck to the more traditional route of red, maroon, dark green, and plaids, also using gold as the metallic accent.  You'll thank me later that you chose a color scheme, because your tree will have a more cohesive look.  Last but not least, consider what types of ornaments/colors you already have a lot of.  Maybe there is a hidden theme sitting in your vast ornament collection right now!

Step Two:  Give yourself enough time.
So, you're thinking that one day about a month ago, we just came up with the grand idea to do a "sweets and treats" Christmas tree, right?  WRONG!  This is where being over-prepared comes in handy.  We came up with the idea at this time last year!  After we had done the hunt, fish, camp tree, it was time for something much girlier.  Right after Christmas, we were able to find everything we needed for at least 50% off (the deals were generally around 60-80% off).  If you want to do this in the most economical way, you MUST start to do your shopping right as the Christmas season ends!  That means coming up with your idea waaaaay in advance (like a year ahead of time), NOT on the day you're setting up your tree!  That doesn't mean you can't pick up finishing touches when you're ready to set the tree up.  Before December even begins, stores are already putting their Christmas decor on sale for 40-50% off.  So if you're looking for something that was out-of-stock at the end of last year, scoop it up this year while you still can!

Step Three:  Shop at the right stores!  
Our favorites for Christmas ornaments include Hobby Lobby, At Home, Joann Fabrics, Walmart, Michael's, Kohl's, and Walgreens. These are great places to start.  But remember, you're starting at the END of the season.  You're going to find a lot of things on clearance/deeply discounted at the end of the season at these stores after December 25th (sometimes before).  This is also where your chosen color scheme will come into play.  Don't focus on only buying the "novelty" ornaments (like my cupcakes, cake slices, etc).  You can purchase plain glass bulb ornaments that are in your color scheme as filler!  

Same goes for your ribbon.  Buy at least 5 spools of big 2-3inch ribbon.  That's a hot tip if you're really ballin on a budget, as you can get it pretty cheap and it really fills the tree.  I usually will grab 1 colored patterned ribbon in my color scheme, 2 spools of plain color, and 2 spools of gold ribbon.  And your "plain" ribbon and gold ribbon don't necessarily have to be plain.  They can have subtle patterns, like gold polka dots on gold ribbon.  Make sure you have a tree skirt with a fitting pattern/color as well!  We didn't so my mom made a donut out of felt.  You don't have to get that crazy, though!  A simple color would be fine.

Step Four:  Decorate!
If your tree is not pre-lit, you'll have to start with the lights.  White lights are always a winner, but we threw on some pink this year in addition to our tree's pre-lit white.  But like, if I was doing a Candyland tree, I'd probably use the multi-colored light strands!  My color scheme would obviously be different though, that's why!

We like to put the tree topper on first, just to know where we can start hanging ornaments.  But that's up to you!

Next, ribbon that baby all up!  I start at the top and then tuck in loops all the way down.  Maybe I'll make a video of how I do this once we take our tree apart!  I would say that each strand of ribbon is about 10 feet long.  I will usually string 10-11 strands on one tree, pretty close together.  You can overlap them too like I did on the hunt, fish, camp tree!  Depending on the tree, you may have to use ornament hooks to keep some parts of the ribbon in place, especially if the tree is sparse in branches in certain areas.  

Next, I'll hang the "anchor" ornaments, which are the novelty ones like the cake, cupcakes, and cookies.  These are your specialty ornaments.  Focus the majority of those ornaments where they will be seen the most on the tree.  Once you've done that, hang up all your filler glass bulb ornaments in your chosen color scheme.

Throw on your tree skirt and surround it with gifts, you're finished!
Congrats, you were really on top of things this year, hey?!

Once you start doing this type of tree decorating, you'll probably end up with a lot of things to use in years to come.  I use a few of the same spools of ribbon every year, especially the metallics.  Same goes for the plain colored glass ornaments!

I hope I've inspired you to get started TODAY on your themed tree for next year!
If you have any questions about the specifics of any of my trees, feel free to ask!

OOTD: A kate spade Winter-Wear Look/Fall Faves Part 5!

-Earmuff with Satin Bow (or there's a less expensive option on SALE here): kate spade
-Dorothy Coat (mine's from last year, but this Bow Tweed Coat is on sale here): kate spade
-Leopard-Print Velvet Bow Sweater (on sale): kate spade
-Black Skater Skirt (mine's old, but this one from Asos is only $19, here!): Target
-Black Cat Eye Deandra Sunglasses (mine are old, but these from Urban Outfitters are the exact shape, only $10, here!): kate spade
-Bow Earrings (VERY old, similar here):  Charlotte Russe

In case it wasn't already obvious, I really like bows.

I like them in my hair, on my clothes, and low and behold...on my earmuffs.

You could make the argument that you CAN be wearing too many bows, but it's not an argument I'm very interested in having with you.  And by the looks of this particular outfit, I clearly don't care.

Another rule of thumb of mine - leopard is a neutral.  I will defend this notion until the very end!  I've been known to mix polka dots and leopard on occasion, because I really do look at them both as neutral patterns.  Same with gingham.  Call me cray.  
Or don't and c'mon, just have some fun with it!

This is one outfit I am willing to bring into the winter with me!  I might throw on some tights underneath, but with these thigh-high boots, you don't really need them.  The boots are from Target, and are surprisingly comfortable!  I especially love wearing them with jeans because they don't fall down at all.  But they stay up pretty well with bare legs too, like I'm wearing them with this outfit.  

Essentially everything else is from kate spade, and right now you can shop with 30% off sale styles with the code EXTRATREAT.  I'm not sure how long that extra percentage will last, so I would advise using it soon if you have your eye on something!  Many of the items I have linked are part of this sale, and the 30% off can really save you a decent amount of money.

You can check out the rest of my kate spade looks from the fall below.
Most of the items included in these outfits are on sale + 30% off (with code EXTRATREAT):

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

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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