Michael’s Christmas Tree–Dream Tree Challenge


*This is a sponsored post for Michael’s.

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Michael’s and asked if I was interested in participating in the Michael’s Dream Tree Challenge…ummm…yes please!  Of course I said yes!  Christmas is one of my favorite Holidays and our current Christmas tree was in sad shape.  We had already re-strung the lights twice over it’s 10 year lifetime.


We were sent this lovely 7 foot tree and given the challenge to decorate it using items from Michael’s.  I decided to go with a gold, silver and white tree…which really isn’t that big of a surprise to you probably.  Have you noticed my inability to boldly decorate with a lot of color?  I realize this is a problem…but I am not sure how to fix this about myself!


I also decided to forego the traditional tree skirt and used a tin bucket instead…and you know what?  I kind of LOVE it!  I was going to build a crate for the tree to stand in but decided to take the crate in different direction which I will share with you a bit later.


Here are some close-ups of little details on the tree and some of the different items I used.  Don’t you just love the sparkly gold and silver next to each other?


I picked up some twigs and flowers in the floral section and added them to the tree as well.  I am loving the extra dimension and texture it gives to the overall tree.



I also wrapped this lovely and classy burlap ribbon (found in the wedding aisle) around the tree from top to bottom.  I love that it gives it a bit of a natural element along with the shimmery glitter.


And since I put the tree up before Halloween, I thought…why take this and run with it…might as well deck out the entire room for Christmas!!  My kids were slightly confused when they came home from school last week!


I love the ambiance of Christmas lights and candles…don’t you?

If you are interested in the Vintage Crate and the gift bags you can find the tutorials for them here:

DIY Vintage Crate

Creative Gift Bags


I love how it turned out…but perhaps my favorite part is that most of my Christmas decorating is finished now.  Did I get a few strange looks from Trick-Or-Treaters who spied it in the other room when they came to our door? You bet!


My kids then insisted that we turn the lights off…at least for Halloween night!  Stay tuned for a project that I have made for the Michael’s Dream Tree Challenge!  I am really excited to share it with you!



  • Michaels has a large selection of pre-lit high-tip count artificial trees ranging in size from 4 ft. to 7.5 ft. and all the way up to 9 ft. They even come in different shapes, from skinny to full and in-between with some smaller trees coming in different color options
  • Each tree purchased at Michaels comes with a 5 year tree warranty and a 2 year warranty on the lights
  • Stop by your local Michaels November 3 through November 9 for a special tree event

*This is a sponsored post for Michael’s.  I did receive a tree and a gift card to cover my expenses.  However all opinions and statements are mine.


Christmas Tree Memories

One of the ways we try to spread holiday cheer with our décor is by building a Christmas tree full of memories.  When I was growing up my parents started a tradition of giving each of us kids a new Christmas tree ornament every year.  My parents tried to find ornaments that represented something we had done or accomplished that year.


As the years passed our tree became fuller and fuller.  Each new Christmas season we loved pulling out the ornaments when it was time to decorate the tree and find all of our special ornaments.  The first Christmas my husband I were married, my parents wrapped up all of my Christmas ornaments and gave them to us to start our own Christmas tree.


We have continued this tradition with our own children.  And my kids look forward to receiving their ornament each Christmas Eve as well.  It has been so fun to look at the tree and all of the various ornaments and get a snapshot of what our life has been full of.


Now I’d love to know, how do you spread real cheer with your holiday decorating? Show me with your photos! Click “Add me” in the Cheer Tree below to upload your holiday decorating photos and share them with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends. Be sure to click on “Special Offers” to unwrap the hidden coupons and deals exclusively from Sears. Keep checking throughout the holidays–new deals are unlocked every day! For all your holiday decorating needs and solutions, don’t forget to visit Sears and discover real deals, real cheer!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sears. The opinions and text are all mine.

Magic Reindeer Food

*Update 12.10.13–I have a newer version of the Magic Reindeer Feed with a printable if you are interested in seeing or using it.  To see the newer version click here: Magic Reindeer Feed

A few years ago my daughter came home from her Pre-school class with some magic reindeer food. She was instructed to sprinkle it on the front lawn on Christmas Eve so that Santa and his reindeer could find her home.  She was so excited and my other kids wished they had some reindeer food too.  It worked just like magic. Santa definitely came! We have continued the tradition every year since to ensure that Santa can find his way to our house.



The food has special “glow in the dark” crystals that are illuminated by the moon and as my daughter pointed out today, Rudolph’s Red Nose! I wish she would have said that before I got them all printed out :). That is so much more fun than being illuminated by the moon. (I will have to change it for next year as I have already made ours up).

This would be so fun to make for your kids friends as a small, inexpensive gift, an elementary school party, your neighbor’s kids or your grandkids!  Be sure to make it edible so that the birds don’t eat something that is not good for them…like glitter.

Here is our simple recipe.

Reindeer Food

1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup red or green sugar crystals (for cake decorating)

**I have seen some recipes that call for glitter, but I have heard that it can be dangerous for any birds who might eat it, so we just use colored sugar. Colored sugar can be made so easily. Just take some sugar and drop a few drops of food coloring in the sugar. Then take a fork and stir it until the sugar is colored evenly and there are no lumps.

Here is a fun poem that you can give along with the reindeer food to let people know what it is and how to use it.

Sprinkle on the lawn at night
The moon (Rudolph’s Nose) will make it sparkle bright
As Santa’s reindeer fly and roam
This will guide them to your home.

I filled a cellophane treat bag (6 in. x 3.75 in.) with the reindeer food and attached a label by stapling it to the top. The writing on the label is upside down so when you fold it,the writing will be right side up.


There are two different downloads if you are interested.  I would love to know if you end up making some!  I love to see the projects my readers are enjoying and making for themselves.

Reindeer Food 2



Graham Cracker "Gingerbread" Houses

One of our advent calendar activities is to make graham cracker gingerbread houses. I have hosted a “cousins” party at my house for the last 4 years (including this year). I make the houses the night before (one for each kid) by gluing graham crackers into a house shape with hot glue. Yes…you heard me…Hot Glue!


This ensures that the houses are STURDY so little hands can frost and place candy on it without it crashing down. The kids know this and do not eat the graham crackers or glue when they are finished. But they can still pick off the candy and eat it. I place each house on a paper plate with their name on it. My older children help me make them by getting the crackers ready and putting the cousins names on the plates while I do the gluing. There are 19 cousins to make houses for now!

My sisters and sister-in-laws each bring a couple of different types of candy to decorate the houses with or the frosting (we use Royal Icing). We decide before hand who will bring what. When all arrive, we divide up the candy so that they each have their own little cup of candy to use on their house. We also fill small plastic baggies with their own frosting and cut the corner of the bag so they can spread the frosting easily. They each are given their own plastic knife so they aren’t licking and sharing :)!


It is so fun to see each of their individual personalities as they decorate their houses. Some pile globs of frosting and candy together and call it good. While others spend the entire time carefully decorating with precise candy placement and color patterns. It is a lot of fun, and a little messy, but so worth it. The cousins look forward to it every year and so do I! (The pictures are from last year’s party).

**editRoyal Icing Recipe:

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, or more to thicken icing
1 lemon, juiced

Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar and lemon juice; beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

*You can substitute 5 tablespoons meringue powder and 1/3 cup water for raw eggs.

Christmas Advent Calendar

Each year, starting on December 1, we start our Christmas (or Kwanza, Chanaukka, St. Nicholas Day, Boxing Day, St. Lucia Day, etc.) countdown with an Christmans Advent Activities Calendar like many of you.

I have seen all sorts of advent calendars around. Here is our version!  I am also sharing a list of some Christmas Advent Activities to help you come up with some of your own.


I make a list of several activities we can do together as a family. Then each day the kids take turns opening the little door for the day and reading what activity we get to do together. At our house, the holiday season can be pretty busy and somedays are unpredictable. So instead of just cutting up the strips and distributing them into the calendar, I do not put the activity in until I have an idea of what activity is actually feasible that day. I keep a pre-typed list up in the cupboard and then before the kids get home from school, I pick an activity, cut the word strip out and place it behind the little door.

This way each day I control what we are realistically able to participate in. Plus the kids aren’t able to find out what we are doing until that exact moment.

Here is a list of some of the things we have included in our advent calendar in years past.

1. Decorate the Christmas tree.
2. Write letters to Santa.
3. Build a snowman.
4. Have a snowball fight.
5. Make Christmas cookies and surprise a neighbor or two with a plate.
6. Sing Christmas Carols together.
7. Write Christmas letters to relatives we will not see for Christmas.
8. Watch a Christmas movie.
9. Visit Santa at the Mall.
10. Take a drive to see the Christmas Lights.
11. Clean out old toys and donate to Goodwill.
12. Make a gift for kids teachers.
13. Make some Christmas Candy.
14. Play a game in front of the fire.
15. Watch The Grinch.
16. Learn more about Jesus.
17. Sleep under the Christmas Tree.
18. Do a secret service for someone in the family or a neighbor.
19. Make a gingerbread house.
20. Read an extra Christmas story.
21. Make some reindeer food for Christmas Eve (recipe here).
22. Read the Christmas story in Luke Chapter 2 and other scriptures.
23. Act out the nativity scene.
24. Listen to Christmas music.
25. Set out cookies and reindeer food for Santa and his reindeers.
26. Read the notes in our love socks (more to come on this later).
27. Watch a Christmas special on television.
28. Go sledding!

You can use some of these ideas, or come up with your own that will meet the needs of your family and the specific holiday you may celebrate.

What are some ideas you would add to the list?


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