12.15.2017

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party {2017}

Before we had kids Kevin and I used to host an Ugly Sweater Party each December.
But then, life got busy and we stopped throwing the party.
Our friends encouraged us to have it again this year.
Who am I to say no to a party?

Can we talk about my Ugly Sweater (really a sweatshirt)
I mean....was this made for me or what?!?!
I saw it a month ago on some Facebook ad & I had to have it. I knew it would be perfect for our party. Mine is sold out, but HERE are ones just like it!

I had to "ugly" it up, so I wore a Christmas turtleneck from Walmart under it.
I got the light up Reindeer antlers in NYC when we saw the Rockettes.

For the party, I had a bunch of heavy appetizers.
I made my Blue Cheese Bacon Dip {Recipe HERE}
 I made a Veggie Christmas Tree & served it with hummus:
 Brie Cheese & Crackers

Tri Tip Sliders:

 Spinach Dip:

 Pioneer Woman's Artichoke Dip:

 Pesto & Goat Cheese Flat Bread:
 BBQ Pulled Pork Flat Bread:
 It's not a Christmas Party if you don't have Schweddy Balls ;)
 These are actually my Savory Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs. Recipe {HERE}

Drink Station set up in the kitchen.

See that pitcher? It was a Cranberry Spritzer....Cranberry Juice, Diet 7up, Vodka. I garnished it with fresh cranberries. SO good!

No party is complete without a dessert table!

Kate made a rainbow loom Christmas sweater ornament for the Christmas tree on our kitchen table:

For the desserts, I bought some mini bunditinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes:

I made Peanut Butter Ritzies. {Recipe HERE}

Can we talk about how AMAZING these Ugly Sweater cookies turned out?
 I got them HERE
 The Ugly Sweater Party was also a competition!
 There were 4 categories...Best All Around, Funniest Sweater, Most Creative & Best Couple.
 I had medals made for the winners. It says 1st Annual Party because the last Ugly Sweater Party was over 8 years ago, so we are resurrecting the annual party this year.
 I got the medals HERE. The Winners also got a gift card to Total Wine :)

 I am so bummed I didn't get photos of everyone who was at the party & their amazing sweaters, but here are some of them....
 Fragile!
 Meow:
 Our friend Erik wore his mother in laws sweater. Classic!

  Some of the winners...
I am SO bummed I didn't get a photo of our friend Mike who won Best All Around. He dressed up as Buddy the Elf. Full costume including the wig! It was hysterical!

One of my best friends since preschool was in town (she lives in Santa Barbara & they came up here because of all the fires) Loved that she was able to come to our party.
About half the ladies...I was so bad about taking photos at the party, too busy having fun!

It was such a fun night, thanks to all of our friends for getting ugly with us! 
Can't wait for next year's Ugly Sweater Party! 

++++++++++++

A few reminders.....I have a $250 Target Gift Card Giveaway going on! 
Click HERE to enter! Ends tonight!
I am also placing a bulk order of Lash Boost!
It comes with Lash Boost (will last 3-4 months) & a cute travel bag:
 You get the cute travel bag & lash boost for $135.
If you buy TWO of them, you get it for $244....so $122 each! 
 Get one for you & one for your mom, sister, best friend, etc!
This is good for current or new customers! 
Email me to order!
melissa_larson17@yahoo.com

12.13.2017

Our Halls are Decked + Elf on the Shelf

I don't know about you, but decorating my house for Christmas is something I look forward to every year. I just love the way that our home feels during December....twinkling lights, Christmas music playing 24/7, baking cookies, the smell of the Christmas tree...it's just a magical time.
Growing up, the day after Thanksgiving, our family would load up in the car and head to the Santa Cruz mountains to cut down our Christmas tree. It was one of my favorite traditions.
Kevin and I did this the first 5 years of our marriage (before we had kids) And we have have only done it 3 times since having kids. There is nothing like going into the mountains & chopping down your tree. So fun. 
We hadn't gone since 2010, but because of the California drought (and dry trees) and busy schedule we decided to postpone again this year because we were in New York City during Thanksgiving this year. One of these years, I hope to go back to the mountains to get our Christmas tree. Until then, a pre-cut tree from a local Christmas tree lot will do :)
3 years ago, I gave up "control" and let the kids decorate the entire tree by themselves.
Kevin and I put the lights on, but let the kids to all the ornaments.
 It feels good to "let it go" and just let them decorate how they want to. I remember my mom let my sisters and I decorate the tree how we wanted when we were kids. I must say, the kids do a pretty good job at decorating!
 They only broke 1 ornament this year :)
 So, here is a little tour of how our house looks decorated for the holidays!
Christmas cards displayed on the window by our dining room table. I love seeing all my friends beautiful families!



 As you can tell, I love using ornaments as decorations :)
One of my favorite decorations is our Willow Tree Nativity Set that we got for a wedding gift 15 years ago. I love it.
For the kids, we have the Little People Nativity Set. They love playing with it!
Kevin's mom made this Advent Calendar for us when Kate was born. It is all handmade with felt & burlap. All the Larson kids/cousins had these growing up.Nighttime views....because Christmas decorations are so much prettier at night. 
 I love sitting on our couches in here, listening to Christmas music & reading
There is just something so calming about sitting by the Christmas tree.
 We got a couple new ornaments this year.....
 Got these for a couple dollars each at Macy's in NYC on Black Friday. Probably the last Black Friday shopping I will do for another 10 years ;)
 Claire picked out our tree this year in less than 30 seconds of being on the tree lot.
It's a nice wide tree! 
 Stockings...gotta love classic Pottery Barn Kids



Our staircase:

 Other Decorations around our house (I like to keep things very simple because I don't like a lot of clutter!)
In our family room, I just have a glass Christmas tree on a side table: 
 And some JOY letters above our TV:

 In our kitchen, I have a Merry Christmas banner hanging up:
 This year I got a live tabletop tree for my kitchen table:
I love having a fresh tree in our kitchen!
 The kids love eating their meals around a Christmas tree.
 I also have a wreath on my kitchen window.
 I love how this room looks at night.
 In years past, I have put a fresh wreath here, but it dries out so quickly because of the heater in the house, so this year I got this wreath instead.
 This is my view each night when I watch my Hallmark Christmas movies :)
 Front Porch:


Kate made this snowman with her Girl Scout troop last year (the other side is a pilgrim, it's so cute)

Last year, Kevin's mom gave each of the kids mini trees for their rooms.


And, of course..... another main decoration we have in our house during Christmas! Our Elf on the Shelf is named Candle.
For the first 5 years that we had our elf, he arrived on the first Sunday of Advent which is the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
2 years ago, waited until the first Sunday in December because we wanted to have one less week of dealing with the Elf :)  We left this letter for the kids:

(A little background: Marshmallow the Elf is Candle's "sister". A few years ago, Claire wanted us to have a girl elf instead of a boy elf, so I bought an elf skirt at Target. One of the mornings that the Elf arrived, the Elf had the skirt on & a note saying that Candle was sick, but Marshmallow (his sister) would be filling in for a few days. So, since then, Marshmallow makes an appearance 1 or 2 times each December) 

The kids loved the letter (and Kevin & I loved the fact that we delayed the Elf by a week)  so we this letter last year:
So, just like last year our elf left a letter saying he was asked to be a part of the "N.E.W.T" (New Elf Training Program) Our kids thought it was so special our elf was chosen to be a part of it.
 And, I loved that we only had to do the elf for a few weeks instead of a month.
You better believe our elf was asked to be a part of the N.E.W.T again this year.
Here is this year's letter:
Feel free to this idea :)  

Our elf finally showed up this year on December 10th...that means we only have to do the elf for 2 weeks. SCORE!!!!  #parentsoftheyear

 Candle the Elf arrived...He is always in the same spot on day 1....in the bowl of ornaments on the coffee table in the living room.  
Candle the Elf brought them these amazing Lego Advent Calendars. These are SO fun!! First year we have done these...my kids love Legos & they love getting a new lego set each morning. 

Our Elf always brings their Christmas pajamas....Carter's brand are the best...their pj's are so comfy, hold up well and have cute designs. This is the only pj brand my kids wear :)

 The kids were so excited to see that Candle had finally arrived.
 We do Elf on the Shelf slightly different in our house. Our elf does not "watch" the girls and report back to Santa. That is just not our style. Our Elf just likes to move around each night & the girls look forward to finding his new hiding spots. It is the first thing they do each morning.
 And, I don't really do elaborate Elf ideas. Most of the places our Elf hides are simple. Maybe once a week I will do something more elaborate, like a snow angel with flour, fill the sink with marshmallows in their bathroom like the Elf is taking a bath, but mostly we just move him around.

And, because I have forgotten to move him in years past, last year I started setting an alarm on my phone...anyone else have an alarm for their elf? Every night at 10:00 it goes off :)

Now that the girls can read (and sometimes play on my phone, I don't have the reminder set as Move the Elf.....I just put "You've got to move it, move it!" 
Remember that song?!? 
Thanks for taking a peek into our simply decorated house.
 I love the way our home feels during Christmas.
The twinkle lights, the warmth, the anticipation of Christ's birth.
December is just a magical month, don't you agree?

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