6 Photography Resolutions for 2016

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‘Tis the season for new beginnings, and whether you’re just learning photography or you’ve been practicing for years, now is the time to up your game. You don’t need fancy equipment, a college degree, or multiple hours a week to take better pictures. All you need is a passion for clicking that shutter.

Maybe you want to capture fleeting family memories or great pictures of your next vacation. Perhaps you’re looking to take vibrant landscape shots and heartwarming portraits — or maybe you just want to document your life as a visual storyteller. The new year is full of possibilities. Ring in 2016 with a commitment to your craft. Improve your technique, take better photos, and expand your horizons with these six photography resolutions for the new year.

Learn All Your Camera’s SettingsThinkstockPhotos 500019774 6 Photography Resolutions for 2016













Do you find yourself using your camera’s auto setting in every single situation? While it may seem easy to whip out your camera or phone and press just one button to capture what you see, the truth is that with just a bit of effort your photos could be a lot better.

No matter what kind of camera you’re shooting with, you can make use of some advanced settings to add vibrancy, drama, and clarity to your shots. This year, make it a priority to learn exactly what those extra buttons, wheels, and settings on your camera do. Read your manual, check out books from your library, or simply Google the name of your camera, and you’ll find all kinds of information.

Even camera phones come with all kinds of different settings and modes that you can play around with. Once you know your settings, take time to explore them. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but the better you know your camera, the better your photography skills will become.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Practice a New SkillThinkstockPhotos 473170108 6 Photography Resolutions for 2016










Now that you know your camera better, it’s time to practice some new skills and techniques. Have you always admired those magical waterfall shots that you find online? Perhaps you’d like to become more comfortable photographing strangers on the street? Or maybe your indoor shots are always harsh and blurry, and you want to improve them?

Whatever you want to improve on, make it a priority this year. It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting with a camera phone, a point-and-shoot, or a DSLR — you are the key element behind every photo you take. Photography books, websites, and videos can help you on your journey, but the most important thing is to experiment and practice.

Print and Display Your Photos
WhiteRoomCanvas 6 Photography Resolutions for 2016Digital photos that live forever on your computer hard drive will not inspire you to improve your skills. Make this the year that you print those photos and display them for the world to see. Take your best shots and turn them into greeting cards, photo books, or wall art. Send your favorite photos to friends and family. Inspire yourself with large prints of your work – they’ll remind you of how far you’ve come.

Whatever it takes, make sure you can look at your photos every single day. Otherwise, all you’re left with is more digital clutter taking up space.

Wake Up Early or Stay Up Late
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Maybe getting up earlier is one of your New Year’s resolutions anyway, but it can also make you a better photographer — especially if you’re shooting outdoors. The sunlight in the early morning and late evening can turn a humdrum landscape into something magical. It’s also a great tool for shooting portraits, animals, cityscapes, and macro shots.

In fact, unless you’re shooting a mid-day event, the warm light of the rising and setting sun will improve every outdoor shot that you take.

Learn the Rules, and then Break Them
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You’ll find that most photographers have a set of rules that they take pictures by. There are all kinds of parameters surrounding the perfect shot. By reading as much as you can and learning from people who have traveled this path before you, you’ll learn about the rule of thirds, proper exposure, and the perfect aperture setting and white balance.

All of these rules will help you develop your skill, but in the end, you can toss them out the window because your individual style and creativity are what make your photos special.

Join a Community of Photographers
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If you live in a place where you can meet and share with other photographers, fabulous! But even if you don’t, you can join an online community for inspiration. The 365 Project encourages you to post just one picture every day. Instagram has taken the world by storm with millions of users, and ViewBug offers cool challenges and contests to help keep things interesting.

2016 is the year that you take your photography to the next level. You don’t need fancy new gear, you just need a little inspiration and lots of practice. Make these six resolutions a priority, and you’ll be amazed at what your little black box can do.

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A Year in Review: The Top 10 Moments to Capture on Canvas

ThinkstockPhotos 179246821 A Year in Review: The Top 10 Moments to Capture on Canvas

It’s that time of year again. The season when Facebook likes to send you extra memories in your news feed and every day seems to be a “Throwback Thursday.” From weddings to birthday celebrations, to births and the adoption of new pets, 2015 was probably a year worth remembering. And so, without further ado, here are our top 10 favorite photo ideas for remembering your most iconic moments.


1. ‘Tis the Wedding Season

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When wedding bells ring, whether it’s your special day or a friend’s, the cameras are sure to be out and about. Choose your favorite photos from all of the weddings that you attended in 2015 to make a unique canvas wall display.


2. Kids Galore

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Do you have kids? Do you have nieces or nephews? If there are kids in your life, then be sure to transform your favorite digital photos into canvas prints. From fun and goofy to “serious” class photos or the iconic “prom pic,” photographs of your children (or nieces and nephews) have the unique ability to brighten your home throughout the year.


3. Don’t Forget Your Pets

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Did you take a particularly memorable trip to the park, walk on the beach, or hike in the woods with your pet this year? Your favorite prints can be used to make a welcome gallery in the entryway of your home.


4. Remember 2015 as the Year of Landscapes

Landscape A Year in Review: The Top 10 Moments to Capture on Canvas

Every year is a chance to explore new landscapes around us. Sunsets, sunrises, moonlit beaches, a flock of birds in the sky, or the serenity of a favorite lake; no matter what your favorite landscape is, it can be transformed into a beautiful canvas print that can enhance your home decor.


5. Make Your Vacations Front and Center

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Oftentimes when we take vacations we snap hundreds of photographs, create a digital picture album, and promptly forget to ever print out the photographs. With 2016 almost upon us, don’t forget to print out your favorite vacation photos. They should serve as timeless memories of fun trips with your loved ones.


6. Remember the Phrases that Defined Your Life in 2015

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Did a certain phrase define your life in 2015? Perhaps there was an inspiring quote that you kept remembering from time to time? If so, you can create a beautiful canvas print that highlights your “quote of the year.” Be sure to frame your quote with either artwork or relevant photographs.


7. Create a Photo Timeline

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Another year is about to pass and it’s time that you look back and remember all that happened in 2015. For each month of the year, choose your favorite photo, print it out on canvas, and create a photo timeline for your home. This unique idea can quickly become a yearly tradition that helps you to preserve your favorite memories.


8. Fine Art Can Don the Walls of Your Home in 2016

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Do you still have your childhood artwork stored in a box in the attic? Maybe you have kids who have been creating fine works of art in their school classrooms? If so, then choose your favorite works of art and turn your home into an art gallery that prominently displays your childhood or your children’s works of art. This fun trip down memory lane is sure to be a conversation starter throughout 2016.


9. Use Photographs to Make Time Stand Still

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Time tends to pass us by all too quickly. Turn your favorite family photo into a memorable piece of art. Ask your family members to write down their favorite memories from 2015. Next, create conversation text bubbles around your favorite photograph. Finally, print out your newest piece of artwork that will be sure to make time stand still whenever you walk by the canvas print.


10. Pick a Color and Create a Color-inspired Photo Gallery

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Did you take thousands of photos in 2015? Are you having a hard time creating your photographic year in review? If so, choose a color and create a color-inspired photo gallery. For example, you could choose the color blue and print out a landscape, vacation, wedding, family, and even pet photo that highlights the color blue. Display the photographs as a miniature wall gallery.

We hope that you have enjoyed reading our fun photo ideas throughout 2015. Stay tuned in 2016 as we debut new pin-worthy ideas for decorating your home with beautiful canvas prints.

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Customer Art Spotlight: Four Generations Family Portrait

WomenHoldingPhotos Customer Art Spotlight: Four Generations Family Portrait

When I stumbled across this canvas print I immediately did a double take – there had to be a story behind the photo! Sure enough, a few emails later I was on the phone with Jody Panattoni, pictured here in the second image from the center.

From the comfort of her snowy home in Washington state, Jody gave me all the details of how her family captured this incredible photograph spanning four generations of women. Huge thanks to Jody and her family for sharing their photograph with our readers. We hope you enjoy!

The Inspiration

In this day and age, I should not have been surprised when Jody’s daughter Ani revealed the source of this wonderful photo idea: the internet. More specifically: Pinterest, the go-to site for inspirational browsing and general distraction for women everywhere.

When Ani came across a similar multigenerational photo she thought that it “looked cool” and wanted to try it out with her own family. We’re so glad that she did!

The Process

As Jody’s mother and grandmother both live in Montana, it wasn’t until Memorial Day weekend that the family had a chance to recreate the scene. Their hometown is very small, so it took a little searching to find just the right frames and a fitting backdrop. After a little exploration, they decided on a barn right next door to the home of Jody’s mother.

Although Ani and Jody now live in the city, Jody explains that at heart they’re “country folk,” and that her grandmother was “old school country.” For her, the barn backdrop was the perfect fit: “It had to be that. It couldn’t have been something beautiful, it had to be something old.” With the appropriate scenery in place, they snapped a picture on Jody’s iPhone and headed home.

The Finished Product

It isn’t always easy to catch this group smiling on film, so Jody was excited to get a shot of them both with a smile. But her very favorite part, which she confesses is probably her grandmother’s least favorite part, was capturing all the lines in her grandmother’s face. In Jody’s words: “I just…I love that. She hasn’t led an easy life, so all those lines have stories.”

Between the black and white effect, rustic backdrop, and no frills imagery, the family did an incredible job of creating a canvas that represents their unique background and outlook. The realness of the image is something that struck even an outsider like me. Each family member now has a canvas print to enjoy in her home – a little reminder of where she came from.

Your Turn!

Photos can be an amazing means of telling our story and preserving that story for generations to come. With platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Imgur popping up left and right, there’s no shortage of inspiring images to consider. As Ani can attest, a creative new photo idea is just a search bar away.

Jody was able to take this photo and do most of the edits all from her iPhone. Remember: these days you don’t need a professional photographer to create high-quality images, so take a break from Candy Crush and take advantage of the cutting-edge technology at your fingertips.

As you celebrate family time over the holidays, consider this example and other fun family portrait ideas to celebrate the people in your life that matter most. Jody’s family perfectly matched the photo’s style with their personal narrative – be sure to keep that in mind when planning the look and feel of your own photos this season.

Have a unique family portrait idea of your own? Please share below!

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11 Holiday Desserts That Will Wow Your Family and Friends

December is a sweet time of year – full of decadent concoctions and elaborate desserts laced with all manner of sweeteners. In fact, there’s so much culinary extravagance out there that it can be tricky to find those perfect gems in the midst of the mundane. We can help!

These holiday desserts are easy to make, impressive to behold, and incredibly delicious. So grab a cup of tea and settle in, because after exploring all these indulgences you’ll want to head right to the kitchen.


Melted Snowmen Oreo Balls

snowman 91 11 Holiday Desserts That Will Wow Your Family and Friends

Image Credit: The Girl Who Ate Everything; www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com

This first dessert will make you the star of holiday parties, especially those that include kids. Start with homemade Oreo truffles, then decorate them like little snowmen. I’m not going to lie – these do take some extra effort, but you can make the truffles in advance to save time. Get the details from The Girl Who Ate Everything.


Christmas Crunch Funfetti Popcorn

christmas crunch41 11 Holiday Desserts That Will Wow Your Family and Friends

Image Credit: Cooking Classy; www.cookingclassy.com











This next treat is EASY! Like 5 minutes easy. All you need is some popcorn and festive tidbits for decorating. These make great after school snacks or teacher gifts too! Learn how to make them over at Cooking Classy.


Mini Gingerbread Cheesecakes

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Image Credit: Baked by Rachel; www.bakedbyrachel.com



















Looking for a two-bite dessert that’s both elegant and creamy-delicious? Look no further than these scrumptious mini gingerbread cheesecakes. You can whip these beauties up in just 30 minutes, so they’re perfect for last minute get-togethers. Get the details at Baked by Rachel.


Christmas Cranberry Pound Cake

Cranbery Bread 1 11 Holiday Desserts That Will Wow Your Family and Friends

Image Credit: Oh My God Chocolate Desserts; www.omgchocolatedesserts.com























Here’s another easy recipe that could double as a treat for breakfast or afternoon tea. Cranberries are so festive and the white frosting looks like candy-coated snow. Find out how to make the Christmas Cranberry Pound Cake at Oh My God Chocolate Desserts.


Christmas Vanilla Roll Cake

Christmas Vanilla Roll Cake Recipe 1 11 Holiday Desserts That Will Wow Your Family and Friends

Image Credit: Roxana’s Home Baking; www.roxanahomebaking.com





















Have you ever tried to make a roll cake? Don’t be intimidated. This vanilla cake couldn’t be easier to make, and the results are quite stunning (and delicious). Head over to Roxana’s Home Baking to get the whole scoop.


Christmas Meringue Cookies

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Image Credit: Smart School House; www.smartschoolhouse.com

















These adorable tree-shaped meringue cookies will be showstoppers at your next party, and because they’re made with light and fluffy meringue, your guests will have plenty of room to sample the whole buffet. Learn how to make these cute cookies over at Smart School House.


Christmas Tree Rice Krispie Treat Pops

christmas tree rice krispie pop 3 11 Holiday Desserts That Will Wow Your Family and Friends

Image Credit: Positively Splendid; www.positivelysplendid.com













Here’s a new take on an old classic that will make every single kid smile. In fact, you’ll please everyone who was ever a kid with these adorable Rice Krispy Christmas Trees. They make a great presentation for a school party – I mean, who doesn’t love dessert on a stick? Get all the details for this easy recipe at Positively Splendid.


Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Delicious Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies on lilluna.com 1 11 Holiday Desserts That Will Wow Your Family and Friends

Image Credit: Lil’ Luna; www.lilluna.com



















We can’t have a holiday dessert list without some peppermint goodness, and these peppermint chocolate chip cookies are everything a holiday cookie should be – festive, delicious, and super easy to make. Kids and adults alike will snatch these up from the party table. You better make two batches because they’ll be gone in the blink of an eye. Find out how to make them at Lil’ Luna.


Easy Reindeer Cookies

Reindeer Nutter Butters 11 Holiday Desserts That Will Wow Your Family and Friends

Image Credit: Our Best Bites; www.ourbestbites.com

Nothing could be simpler to make than these cute reindeer cookies. Nutter Butters, pretzels, and M&Ms are glued together with frosting. Adorable, delicious, and even kids can make them. Put out supplies at your next Christmas party for an instant success story. Visit Our Best Bites for all the details.


Eggnog Sugar Cookies

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Image Credit: Creme de la Crumb; www.lecremedelacrumb.com



















Another must-have flavor for Christmas – eggnog! These sugar cookies pack an extra punch, with eggnog in the batter and the frosting. Pair it with your favorite eggnog beverage and you’ll be ready to go out caroling as soon as the sun goes down. Whip up these elegant, decadent cookies today for holiday spirit that never ends. Find out how at Creme de la Crumb.


Oreo Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark 11 Holiday Desserts That Will Wow Your Family and Friends

Image Credit: A Pumpkin & A Princess; www.apumpkinandaprincess.com




















Here’s a twist on the classic Christmas peppermint bark, with a little something extra thrown in – Oreos! If your mouth is already starting to water, you should know that these gems are easy to make, and they make the best gifts. Wrap some up for your coworkers, your neighbors, and your kids’ teachers, but don’t forget to save some for yourself. Visit A Pumpkin & A Princess for the recipe, and check out her awesome ideas for wrapping food gifts too.


If you’re stuck in a holiday baking rut, check out these delicious and creative dessert ideas. Make them for your family, or for your next holiday party. You can thank us later.

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10 Winter Photo Ideas That The Whole Family Can Enjoy

10 Winter photo ideas 10 Winter Photo Ideas That The Whole Family Can Enjoy
Winter has arrived! It is the season for hot chocolate with floating marshmallows, ice skating, trips to the mountains, and spending quality family time with the ones you love. For southern state residents, winter is a season for enjoying warm temperatures, trying new family activities, and greeting friends that come for a visit to escape from the cold weather up north. No matter where you live, this festive time of year is a chance to take beautiful winter family photos that will soon become keepsakes!


1. Little kids wearing holiday decorations.
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From strings of lights to tinsel and bows, kids and adults will enjoy setting up for this jolly winter photo. Keep it in mind for your 2015 holiday greeting card!


2. Document the creation of the first winter snowman.
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Instead of taking a picture of the completed snowman, make sure that you capture a few pictures along the way. These captured moments of joy would make a great canvas photo display that could decorate your living room, entryway, or family room!


3. Use marshmallows to create unique artwork.
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When the cold winter wind blows, it’s time to sit by the fire and find new, fun games. Did you know that marshmallows can be used to create unique artwork? These delectable treats can be pulled apart, stuck together, and dyed using food coloring. Once the artwork is complete snap a photo of the artist and their masterpiece for your winter photography collection!


4. Capture a day spent playing with the family pets.
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Whether you have a dog, cat, bird, or rabbit, make sure that your pets are included in your winter photographs. From dressing your pets up in hats, scarves, and gloves, to watching your child turn the family dog into a “sled dog,” make sure that you have your camera ready to capture these merry moments.


5. Don a pair of ice skates and head to the rink.
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Be sure to take before, during, and after ice skating pictures that can easily be turned into festive wall art during the winter season. A word of caution: be careful taking photos while you are actually skating; save the photography for someone who is waiting on the sidelines.


6. Build a sand castle or a snow fort.
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Winter is the time for creating. If you live in the warm weather states (or if you take a vacation to the warm, sunny beaches) be sure to create a sand castle. If you live in a colder, snow environment, then it is the perfect opportunity to build a snow fort. Make sure that you take photos of the sand castle or snow fort with its builders standing proudly by!


7. Who says you have to go outside to create a castle or fort?
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Do you want to spend a day inside with your kids, instead of tromping through the snow? If so, try building an indoor castle or fort with the help of a few chairs, a sofa, throw pillows, and lots of sheets or blankets. Once your kids are inside reading, playing, or maybe sleeping, get your camera out to snap a cute photo that is sure to look great as a canvas print!


8. Walk through the woods searching for icicles.
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Icicles are one of winter’s wonders. Instead of simply photographing the icicles by themselves, try arranging them into unique patterns. Or, if you are quick with your camera, you can capture the exact moment that your family or friends point to the largest icicle in sight. These action shots make for great winter photo keepsakes.


9. Get cozy by the fire pit for great winter photographs.
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The backdrop of the fire, accompanied with smiling, happy faces, will create the perfect setting for a winter-themed outdoor photograph. Don’t forget to capture the moon if it’s shining brightly during your winter fire pit photo shoot.


10. Capture the season’s first ski (or snowboarding) trip with a selfie on the ski lift.
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An iconic ski lift photo is a great way to remember all the adventures of the winter season. Whether you choose to look goofy, smile big, or simply attempt to not drop your gloves during the photo, a ski lift selfie can make for the perfect canvas print.


Are you ready to grab your camera and snap some winter photographs? With these winter photo ideas in mind, we hope that you will have a fun-filled, festive season that brings many new adventures and lots of photo opportunities. Whether you choose to take one photo or decide that hundreds of photographs are more your style, don’t forget to create high-quality canvas prints for your favorite winter shots.

Posted in Canvas Ideas, Holidays, Holidays, Photography | 1 Comment

12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

OrnamentsFinal 12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments
Add a personal touch to the holiday season by handcrafting your own Christmas ornaments. We’ve rounded up a dozen ideas to get you started – each of these delightful ornaments can be completed in well under an hour and adds a touch of handmade to your Christmas tree.

Jingle Scrabble Tiles

Jingle Bells Christmas Ornament Scrabble Pieces 12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Image Credit: Mom4Real; www.mom4real.com
























This fast and easy ornament combines real jingle bells with Scrabble tiles that spell out the word “Jingle”. Whether you purchase a set of tiles designed for crafting or raid an old playing set, you’ll find all the letters you need. This simple but impressive piece can be adapted to a variety of themes, from names (attached to a package for easy giving) to other festive words that use up the rest of your tiles. Glue, ribbon, and bells are all you need to complete this ornament in just a few minutes. Image and complete tutorial via Mom4Real.


Reindeer Thumbprint

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Image Credit: Little Bit Funky; www.littlebitfunky.com

















Quick? Check!
Easy? Check!
Absolutely Adorable? Check!
Complete a whole sleigh’s worth of reindeer ornaments in under an hour – with the help of the kids. This easy piece uses a thumbprint to create a sweet smiling reindeer; just add a few details with paint and your ornament is ready for gifting or hanging on the tree. Get the complete tutorial at Little Bit Funky.


Do You Want to Melt a Snowman?

Melted Snowman Ornament 2 thumb1 12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Image Credit: It All Started with Paint; www.itallstartedwithpaint.com

This easy but delightfully cute snowman ornament craft will have you singing along – it assembles quickly but is guaranteed to make the recipient smile. This project is more assembly than actual crafting, so it is easy to create one or a dozen in a short amount of time. Get the scoop – and a full tutorial at It All Started with Paint.


Bottle Cap Snowmen

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Image Credit: One Artsy Mama; www.oneartsymama.com

Cute snow folk abound – it’s easy to make a whole family of snow people using this clever tutorial. You’ll need some glue, paint, and ribbons to get started; you can speed things up even more by starting with pre-painted white bottle caps. This is also an ideal project for making personalized ornaments – just add favorite colors and names to each snow person. Get the details and full tutorial at One Artsy Mama.


Pom Pom Handmade Christmas Ornaments 2 Ways

DIY Pom Pom Ornament northstory 12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Image Credit: Northstory; www.northstory.ca

Whether you try the fast and easy wreath or the more labor intensive sphere shaped ornament, these whimsical pieces will add a splash of color to any tree. You’ll need a glue gun and some wire to complete this project, and can use a mix of colors (as shown here) or more traditional holiday shades. Get the scoop and complete tutorial from Northstory.


Hot Air Balloon Ornament Hack

HotAirBalloonOrnament1 12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Image Credit: The Cheese Thief; www.thecheesethief.com

Turn a plain ornament into something special by adding a tiny basket – that’s all you need to revamp it into a delightfully cute hot air balloon. You’ll be able to brush up on your paper folding and crafting skills as you tackle this project, which is much easier that it looks. A printable template and fully illustrated instructions make it easy to complete a bunch of these homemade Christmas ornaments in a hurry. Full tutorial via The Cheese Thief.


Mirror Mosaic Ornaments

Do It Yourself Holiday Christmas Tree Ornaments Craft Gift 12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Image Credit: Creme de la Craft; www.cremedelacraft.com

Old CDs are the key to this fast and easy mosaic ornament craft. Since CDs can be cut with scissors you’ll avoid the mess and tools required for a traditional mosaic. Just snip, adhere, and then fill in the blanks with a glittery mortar and you’re ready to glam up your tree with these dazzling beauties! Get the full tutorial at Creme de la Craft.


Holiday Dinosaurs

dino04s 12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Image Credit: Boxy Colonial; www.boxycolonial.com

This is a fun craft for kids to make – and a great way to recycle all those spare animal and dinosaur toys laying around the house. No extra toys? A trip to the dollar store can yield dozens of options. Since you’ll be painting the toys with spray paint, the original color doesn’t matter. Once painted, the toys are easily mounted to eye hooks for easy hanging. Get the scoop at Boxy Colonial.


Origami Diamonds

origami diamond ornaments 12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Image Credit: How About Orange; howaboutorange.blogspot.com


















Learn more about the timeless craft of paper folding – and create some clever dimensional ornaments for your tree at the same time. This craft is ideal for teens and adults, and by varying the paper you can come up with an entire tree’s worth of ornaments in no time.
Folding directions and complete tutorial at How About Orange.


Mini Snowglobes

DIY snow globe ornament fabulouslyfestive NoBiggie.net 1 12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Image Credit: No Biggie; www.nobiggie.net




















These sweet little snow globes look a lot more labor intensive than they actually are. Whip up a bunch of them for easy gifting – you’ll need a small plastic light bulb ornament, tiny flocked tree, and a few embellishments for each. Vary the tree colors, or the items you place inside, to add interest and use up the crafty stuff you have at home. Once you master the technique the possibilities are endless. Get the complete tutorial from No Biggie.


Pinecone Bow Ornaments

IMG 5064 12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Image Credit: Make It & Love It; www.makeit-loveit.com

Combine nature’s bounty with a delightfully bright ribbon and you can quickly whip up a whole tree’s worth of these simple but pretty handmade ornaments. Choose a color scheme that works for you and grab a few basic supplies to create these pinecone beauties, which can also be used to adorn wrapped gifts. Full Tutorial available from Make It & Love It.


DIY Personalized Christmas Ornaments

pizzazzerie.com personalized christmas ornaments 1 12 Fast and Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Image Credit: Pizzazzerie; wwww.pizzazzerie.com

Combine some stickers and glitter along with nifty clear glass ornaments and you can create appealing personalized pieces for everyone in your family. This fast and easy craft takes minutes to complete – just make sure you have enough alphabet stickers for every name you want to use before you start. Tutorial via Pizzazzerie.

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11 Personalized Gifts You Can Make Right Now

The season of light is upon us, and with it comes a bit of magic. It’s a time to celebrate loved ones, revel in late-night festivities, and indulge in the spirit of coming together. For many, the holidays can also be a time of stress – standing in long lines, hustling through crowded malls, and spending too much on gifts that may or may not be appreciated.

These unique gift ideas are a great way to embrace the holiday spirit without spending a fortune. Get in touch with your crafty side this year with these personal, affordable gift ideas you can create yourself!


diy state string art 11 Personalized Gifts You Can Make Right Now

Image Credit: Learning Creating Living; www.learningcreatingliving.com

First up is the perfect gift for loved ones near and far – a tribute to that special place in your heart that can be whipped up in an afternoon. All you need is some string, a few woodworking tools, and a sense of adventure. Check out Learning, Creating, Living for all the details.


DSC06271 11 Personalized Gifts You Can Make Right Now

Image Credit: Rosy Red Buttons; rosyredbuttons.blogspot.com

















This elegant clock is a great way to turn your favorite photo into your favorite timepiece. It’s an excellent gift for parents and grandparents, but you’ll also be tempted to keep one for yourself. Check out this fun tutorial from Rosy Red Buttons.


diy gold leaf paper mache bowls 11 Personalized Gifts You Can Make Right Now

Image Credit: Kelli Murray; www.kellimurray.com





















These elegant gold leaf paper mache bowls are both practical and pretty. Yes, they require some advance planning to account for dry times, but they are well worth the effort and totally fun to make. And really, who can resist gold leaf and polka dots? Find out more at Kelli Murray.


memo animals and gift tag 142 11 Personalized Gifts You Can Make Right Now

Image Credit: Sugar and Cloth; www.sugarandcloth.com




















And while we’re on the topic of gilded gifts, check out these cute gold animal memo holders by Sugar and Cloth. These little guys are great gifts for your favorite entertainer – they’re whimsical, straightforward, and totally one-of-a-kind.


DSCN8087 JPG 11 Personalized Gifts You Can Make Right Now

Image Credit: I Heart Naptime; www.iheartnaptime.net

Have you always wanted to try your hand at making soap? Now is the time, and this tutorial from I Heart Naptime makes it so easy to do so. These little hand-crafted soaps are great stocking stuffers or teacher gifts.


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Image Credit: A Beautiful Mess; www.abeautifulmess.com

Looking for a new and inspiring way to gift your favorite family photos? These beautiful circle frames are super simple, but will really take your wall art to the next level. Get the details over at A Beautiful Mess.



vanilla bath salts 1 11 Personalized Gifts You Can Make Right Now

Image Credit: Simply Designing; www.simplydesigning.net

Every bathing beauty needs these amazing vanilla bath salts under the tree. They will chase away the chill of winter in no time at all. Plus they’re so simple to make – perfect for last minute gifts! A trip to the drug store and an hour are all that you need. Get the recipe at Simply Designing.


DIY Photo Collage Letters 2 11 Personalized Gifts You Can Make Right Now

Image Credit: House on the Way; www.houseontheway.com






















Looking for a way to share precious memories with close friends and family? These collage letters make a fantastic personalized gift for anyone near and dear to your heart, plus they’re a great way to get those photos off your computer and onto the wall where they belong. Learn how to build these eye-catching collage letters over at House on the Way.


Easy DIY Gold Sharpie Candle great holiday gift idea 11 Personalized Gifts You Can Make Right Now

Image Credit: Happiness is Homemade; www.happinessishomemade.net

Here’s another one that can be made with the help of the kids, both toddlers and teens. Great party craft for all ages! Just grab some plain ceramic candle holders, beeswax beads, and permanent markers. You can’t get much easier than that. And the results? Amazing! Get all the details at Happiness is Homemade.


diy necklace 11 11 Personalized Gifts You Can Make Right Now

Image Credit: The lovely Drawer; www.thelovelydrawer.com

























This list wouldn’t be complete without some homemade jewelry to round out your options, and if you’ve been patiently waiting to try your hand at beading, now is the time. These elegant tube beads are made with Fimo, an oven-baked polymer clay that is really fun to use. Learn how to create these pretty beaded necklaces at The Lovely Drawer.


diy radiator perforatedsheets lanterns 11 11 Personalized Gifts You Can Make Right Now

Image Credit: Ruffled; www.ruffledblog.com






















Take a quick trip to your local home improvement store and spend an afternoon creating these beautiful painted lanterns. They’re really quick to make and are the perfect accompaniment to the Christmas or Hanukkah table setting. Get all the details over at Ruffed.

And there you have it – 11 last minute gift ideas that are easy on your wallet, beautifully personalized, and a pleasure to create. Make your list, check it twice, and then get crafting!

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#GivingTuesday: 5 Nonprofits to Support this Season


GivingTuesday #GivingTuesday: 5 Nonprofits to Support this Season

With Thanksgiving under our (growing) belts and Cyber Monday a not-so-distant memory, let’s take a break from the holiday frenzy and focus on giving back. In honor of #GivingTuesday, we sat down with our own BuildASign.com Giving Program to get their take on the best organizations to donate time, money, and resources to this year.

GivingProgram #GivingTuesday: 5 Nonprofits to Support this Season

Meet the BuildASign.com Giving Program!










The Giving Program launched in 2008 as the philanthropic arm of our parent company, BuildASign.com. In just seven years, the program has awarded over 1.3 million dollars in in-kind donations, supporting nonprofits in nearly every U.S. state.

With over 2,700 nonprofits served since its inception, choosing just five nonprofits to highlight was no easy feat. But, after considering community impact and their own personal experience, each Giving Program employee provided a heartfelt recommendation below.


Dorelia Miller, Giving Program Manager

Chosen Nonprofit:
Ronald McDonald House Charities

Nonprofit Mission:
To create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and wellbeing of children.

Dorelia’s Reason for Choice:
When my daughter was 3 months old she had a minor surgery that required an overnight stay at the hospital. Thankfully, it was one night and we were able to stay in her room with her, but that is not the case for many of the families we met during our stay.

Children facing a serious illness or injury spend extended time receiving care. The ability to remain close together is crucial to the well-being of the entire family. The Roland McDonald Home is a “home away from home” that provides a place of rest and stability for families. You can donate money or items on the Family Room Wish List and Most Needed Items.


Meghan Gatewood, National Partner Coordinator

Chosen Nonprofit:
American Cancer Society

Nonprofit Mission:
To eliminate cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service.

Meghan’s Reason for Choice:
While my grandmother was battling cancer, she stayed in one of American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodges. Hope Lodges around the country allow those undergoing treatment away from home a place to stay free of charge. This is a huge help for families going through treatment because sometimes it can take weeks, which could be an expensive hotel bill. My grandmother said it was a place where she could connect with people going through the same thing she did, and being there actually made her feel “normal.” Visit http://www.cancer.org/ and join the fight against cancer.


Amanda Villarreal, Giving Program Associate

Chosen Nonprofit:
Con Mi Madre

Nonprofit Mission:
To empower young Latinas and their mothers through educational and support services that increase preparedness, participation, and success in post-secondary education.

Amanda’s Reason for Choice:
Growing up, I was lucky enough to have support to be successful in receiving a college education, but many of my friends and family members were not. I volunteer with Con Mi Madre in Austin, Texas by advising a high school senior girl and her family through the college application process, which can be very overwhelming and confusing even for people who are experienced with it. I help her stay on top of application deadlines, essay editing and brainstorming, and financial aid navigation.

Con Mi Madre addresses the important cultural considerations to assure academic success for this growing demographic. Donate and get involved at: www.conmimadre.org.


Hannah Lapin, Giving Program Associate

Chosen Nonprofit:
Anti-Defamation League

Nonprofit Mission:
To secure justice and fair treatment to all.

Hannah’s Reason for Choice:
While we have come a long way in progress for tolerance for all, there is still so much hatred in the world. Especially after the recent terrorist attacks in France, it is crucial to support an organization dedicated to combating hate and advocating for equality. The Anti-Defamation League has programs on a global scale committed to taking action against hatred and providing the resources for education and outreach. To learn more about their efforts and to get involved, visit www.adl.org.


Arielle Scherr, Giving Program Administrator

Chosen Nonprofit:
Girls Inc.

Nonprofit Mission:
To inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, providing more than 140,000 girls across the U.S. and Canada with life-changing experiences and solutions to the unique challenges girls face.

Arielle’s Reason for Choice:
Full disclosure, I used to work at Girls Inc., which gave me an inside look into how they implemented their goal of empowering girls to be strong, smart and bold. We taught the girls to stand up for themselves and what they believed in, to understand their emotions, and to build their self-confidence. They learned how to manage money and met professional women working in fields that inspired their own career aspirations.

The girls learned to be critical of the messages the media sends them about girls’ bodies, behavior, and role in society, and created their own television programming focused on girls’ issues. For many of the girls, Girls Inc. was a safe place where they could be themselves, get access to the services they needed and connect with a diverse group of female role models. Visit http://www.girlsinc.org/ to learn more and support the cause.


We hope that you enjoyed these suggestions from the incredible women behind the BuildASign.com Giving Program! If you work with a nonprofit in need of affordable signage or t-shirts, be sure to submit a BuildASign.com Giving Program Request. If your nonprofit is in need of canvas prints, please complete an EasyCanvasPrints.com Giving Program Request. Our team would love to help out!

For other ways to get involved in the global #GivingTuesday event, head on over to http://www.givingtuesday.org/.

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The Six Do’s & Don’ts of Holiday Decorating

6 Dos Donts The Six Dos & Donts of Holiday Decorating
Get your red velvet thinking cap on, it’s time to start putting your best holiday decorating ideas into action. But before you begin hauling boxes full of holiday cheer down from the attic, let our list of decorating do’s and don’ts save you from getting grinchy.


Do Be Safe
unnamed 5 The Six Dos & Donts of Holiday Decorating
Frayed wires on light strings, cords that are trip hazards, or any decor item that blocks your home’s entryways are definitely not some of our favorite things. Check lights for loose bulbs and wires that protrude or appear broken. Follow all manufacturer’s recommendations for use, and limit the number of connected strands. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends plugging no more than three strands into a single extension cord. Also make sure that cords are safely secured and out of reach of any curious four-legged family members.

Reduce the risk of a holiday fire by using only heat-safe candle holders, and remember to extinguish all candles and turn off all lights before leaving the house and at bedtime. In case you still wear a nightcap and live in the 19th century, please don’t decorate your tree with real burning candles.


Don’t Be That Neighbor
unnamed 6 The Six Dos & Donts of Holiday Decorating
Every neighborhood or apartment building has one–that neighbor who leaves their musical light show set to the theme of “Here Comes Santa Claus” blasting and blinking all night long. Yes, it is the season of overindulgence, and your neighbors probably do enjoy the way you decorate with gusto. But be a pal and turn the strobe lights off at a respectable hour. Please.

A 24-hour light show is also a true waste of energy. Even if you can afford the power bill, the environment can’t. You don’t want your holiday home decor to be this year’s biggest contribution to global warming. That’s a one-way ticket to the naughty list, after all.


Do Be Creative
unnamed 4 The Six Dos & Donts of Holiday Decorating
















Who says your Christmas decorations can’t be pink and brown? Display a forest of brown metallic trees throughout your home and accent them with stars covered in pink glitter if it makes you happy. The key to festive decorating isn’t in the color choice, it’s in the repetition of your theme.

Yes, there are traditional colors for the winter holidays, but no rule says you have to follow tradition. Add a splash of yellow to your blue and silver Hanukkah or a punch of puce to your Yule. Your creative spirit might even inspire some new holiday decorating ideas among family and friends.


Don’t Set Yourself Up for Failure
unnamed 3 The Six Dos & Donts of Holiday Decorating
Dreams of the perfect holiday home decor can quickly turn into a nightmare if your expectations are too high. Bulbs break, trees have a bare side, and gingerbread houses crumble. Don’t miss out on the joys of the holiday because ornaments aren’t all facing the right way. Relax, let the kids help and keep in mind that minor disasters sometimes make the fondest holiday memories.


Do Get Fancy
unnamed 2 The Six Dos & Donts of Holiday Decorating
If now isn’t the time for using Grandma’s good china, when is? Whether you’re hosting a family meal or a swanky cocktail party, there’s no need to rack your brain for holiday decorating ideas; look on those high shelves where you store the things you want to keep safe. Skip the paper plates and dust off everything that shines and sparkles.

You don’t have to have Martha Stewart’s resources to set a beautiful table; you don’t even need plates that match. Tie all your treasures together by using coordinated table linens. For example, if your best pieces are a mishmash of colors and patterns, choose elegant white cloth napkins and a matching tablecloth to give the table a cohesive look. On the flipside, if your special occasion dishes are understated, go for bold linens and table decor that will add the holiday glamour you’re looking for.

If some of your favorite items are so precious that you can’t even think about passing them around the table, but you’d still like to display them during the holidays, use them as part of your decor. Imagine the charm of an antique silver chafing dish filled with pinecones or a set of crystal glasses lined up on the mantle, each holding a single red glass ornament. Adorable!


Don’t Commit a Storage Fail
unnamed 8 The Six Dos & Donts of Holiday Decorating
Tangled light strings and boxes of broken ornaments stacked in the garage? Not on our watch! When it’s time to put everything away, do it right. Investing in special storage containers for all of your Christmas decorations helps protect them year after year. Take a few extra minutes to repair anything that broke, make a separate pile of items you no longer want, put things away neatly, and label containers clearly. With a little care, next year’s holiday decorating will be as easy as jingling a bell.

Posted in Decorating Ideas, DIY, Holidays, Holidays, Home Decor | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

9 Fun Family Photo Ideas for Holiday Cards

SnowAngels 9 Fun Family Photo Ideas for Holiday Cards
It might be hard to believe, but the 2015 holiday season is in full swing! Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and countless other winter holidays are right around the corner. If you are considering sending out a family photo holiday card, be sure to check out the following creative options. No matter what holiday you and your family celebrate, we have a holiday greeting card idea that is sure to impress recipients. So get ready to smile, get ready to cheer, and be prepared for the camera’s flash … it’s time to make your holiday cards!


Merry & Bright Christmas Card Photo Ideas
Presents 9 Fun Family Photo Ideas for Holiday Cards


    • 12 Days of Christmas — Take 11 unique photos of your family to create a mock “12 Days of Christmas” calendar. On the final day, write your holiday greeting. This is a fun photo idea that can capture your family in all that they love to do. From poses with the turkey to action shots from a soccer game, the photo options are limitless!
    • Waiting for Santa — Do you celebrate Santa in your household? If so, create a “waiting for Santa” card by taking a picture of your children staring up the chimney. Place a plate of cookies by their side with a note that reads: “For Santa.” This cute holiday card is perfect for children young and old.
    • Tree on a Toddler’s Car — To create this adorable Christmas card, simply place a small Christmas tree on top of your child’s Little Tikes Cozy Coupe or another large toy car. Next, have your child sit at the driver’s seat, and voila you have an adorable Christmas card that can be customized with your chosen holiday message.

Hanukkah is Calling … Time to Create a Festive Holiday Card
Hanukkah 9 Fun Family Photo Ideas for Holiday Cards


    • Gather Around the Menorah — To stage this Hanukkah photo, place candles in your menorah. Next, have your family gather around with long matches in their hands. Set the timer on your camera, quickly light the matches, and have your family place the matches near the candles without lighting them. This beautiful photo will help you celebrate the holiday and create a visually stunning holiday greeting card.
    • Hanukkah Themed Sweater Photo — Instead of attending an “ugly sweater party” this holiday season, don your favorite Hanukkah-themed sweater and take a nice family photo. Whether you choose to stand in front of your home, by the fireplace, or outside in the yard, the background options for this simple, yet festive holiday card are endless!
    • Color-Coordinated Family Photo — Create a Hanukkah card that features the holiday’s colors of blue and white. Ask your family to wear both colors to create a visually stunning photo. Just make sure that similar shades of blue are chosen, so that you can truly have a color-coordinated holiday image.

General Holiday Greeting Cards
BlowingSnow 9 Fun Family Photo Ideas for Holiday Cards


    • Create Giant J-O-Y Letters — Grab your stencils and get ready to create a festive J-O-Y holiday greeting card. Once you have created the letters out of canvas, wood, paper, or another sturdy material, you can begin painting the letters with an unlimited array of colors. Gold, silver, red, blue, and green are all festive holiday colors that can help spread good cheer (and, of course, joy) this holiday season. Once your J-O-Y letters are complete, grab your family, get the camera ready, and proudly display your artwork and heartfelt message for all to admire!
    • Happy Holidays Hanging Letters — Instead of hanging stockings from your mantel, hang a festive “Happy Holidays” message. Gather your family around the fireplace and strike a pose. Whether you choose to all smile or to point up at the sign while laughing, this beautiful holiday greeting card will be well-received amongst family and friends.
    • Blowing Snow — This classic winter photo can be achieved with either real or fake snow. Choose a nice setting outdoors (such as your backyard, front yard, or patio), spread fake snow on the ground (or if real snow has already fallen, make sure that it is spread evenly to cover all of the grass), kneel down in the snow, pick up a handful, and just as the camera is about to take the photo — blow the snow outwards. This photo is fun, festive, and the perfect backdrop for a holiday greeting!

With these fun family photo ideas in mind, you will be ready to create holiday cards for family, friends, and colleagues. Once you have taken your holiday photo, don’t forget to write a heartfelt message and truly make it yours. Before you know it, the holidays will be here and your cards will be hanging from bookcases, mantles, and on refrigerators at your family and friends’ houses. For an extra special addition to your own home, use the photo for a new canvas print!

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