How to Throw a My Favorite Things Christmas Party

Okay, friends! I've had lots of you ask me how to throw a Favorite Things party after I hosted one last week. You can have a My Favorite Things party any time of the year, but I think it's extra fun at Christmas (however, now my girlfriends want to do a Valentine's Day version as well, which I think would be just as fun!) Just a disclaimer, this is how I throw my parties...not the right way to do it. I've heard of other ways to distribute the gifts, but thought this was the most interactive!


- Friends!
- Send out an invitation (I did one online...Minted has such cute ones). I'll give you the verbiage below.
- Party snacks. I did small bite apps and desserts + wine and sparkling juice.
- Create a questionnaire for friends to fill out upon arrival.
- Paper cut into small rectangles for friends to write their name on when they arrive.
- Music, of course!
- Finally, your Christmas decorations ;) 

YOUR INVITATION: here's what mine said as a sample!

Hi friends! Join us for our second annual My Favorite Things Christmas Party and enjoy apps, desserts, drinks, gifts & friends!

Everyone should come to the party with 3 of the SAME gifts wrapped. Each gift should be around $10. These gifts can be something you love and want to share with others-- something you consider one of your "favorite things". For example, last year I brought 3 Mrs. Meyer soap sets. Other gifts last year were mugs, a Christmas recipe with the ingredients piled into a cute jar, favorite nail polishes, socks, a journal, paints, etc. 

At the party we will exchange gifts and everyone will leave with 3 gifts! Hooray!

* You'll want to make sure the directions are clear in the invitation, since it's important everyone brings their gifts and sticks to whatever price limit you come up with. Of course, you don't have to have everyone bring THREE gifts, I just feel like that's the most fun and still doable. You could have everyone bring 2 gifts that are $15-20 limit. Some people I know set even larger budgets sometimes...just do what you think your guest list is comfortable with. It is amazing what you can get for $10, though!

Okay, so once the party day has come around, here's what you'll do...

As people enter the party, I have them fill out this fun questionnaire. They fill it out, with no name, and then stash it in the bowl to use later at the party.

Next to this bowl is another bowl with small pieces of paper for guests to write their name on 3 times (the number of times they write their name will correlate with the number of gifts each person brings). Throw their names in the bowl for later as well.

Finger foods are always nice at these types of gatherings, especially because our place is small and there's not a bunch of seating for everyone. I grabbed a variety pack of delicious desserts from Trader Joe's that had these waffle cone pieces, almond snaps, chocolate crunch cookies and other fun things. Then I got an order of Nothing Bundt Cake mini's that I cut in half (I find they get eaten more if they're cut in half...shy friends of mine ;)) My friend brought these delicious chocolate, nut and berry bites and another friend brought white chocolate covered pretzels with peppermint.

For apps I got Trader Joe's feta cheese and onion bites (OH MY GOSH, best ever if you haven't had these! Everyone thinks they're homemade, too!) I also put out my go-to app which is a block of cream cheese with pepper jelly poured over it and an assortment of crackers and bread to eat it with. I put out grapes on the same cracker plate and then a friend brought a great, simple veggie tray. That got eaten up quick!

Okay, back to the party! Have all your guests put their three gifts around the tree or wherever they'll fit in the house. And after some mingling, it's time to gather everyone up!

As the host, I start by picking one of the questionnaire's out of the bowl and reading the answers the person chose. My friends are listening and at the end of reading it, they all have to guess WHO those answers belong to! Once the person is identified, that is the person who will first pass out their gifts! They choose 3 names (or however many gifts each person brings) and pass out their gifts. On the count of 3, those with gifts open them and then the gift-giver explains to the group why that's one of their favorite things. Usually at this point, everyone is passing around the gifts to get a better look :)

Now the person who just distributed their gifts reads the next questionnaire. Once people guess who's it is, that person then draws her three names and passes out her gifts. The cycle continues until everyone goes!
 We had some amazing wrap jobs this year! One friend even tied on "a few of my favorite things" on the label. Another of my bff's (who's gifts you can see behind the white ones) did different plaid papers and ribbons with greenery and a carnation tied on top. I mean, WOW!!

Alright, so I bet you're wondering what gifts were given at around a $10 budget! Here's the whole list:

+ Journal + coffee mug with assorted tea bags
+ Famous seasoning she uses on everything + bath bomb + favorite chocolate chip cookies from a local bakery
+ Magnolia Journal + Mrs. Meyers pine hand soap
+ Christmas Cacti
+ Gold triangle earrings
+ Mug + dark chocolate + a Starbucks card
+ Fun socks
+ Mini bottle of champagne + bath salts
+ Journal + favorite candle
+  Beanie + wool socks
+ A copper mug with the ingredients to make a Hot Toddy

+ And I brought my favorite Trader Joe's candle (because I love candles that smell like baking), Ghirardelli milk chocolate and caramel squares (because I'm from the SF Bay Area and that's where Ghirardelli is located!) and of course, a little Beautycounter hand lotion (because it's safe for your body and smells amazing + moisturizes so well!)

I think I answered all of the questions, but let me know if you have any others! It's such a fun time because you get to hang out with girlfriends and get to know them even more. Again, you don't have to have a holiday theme. I've seen these parties be thrown at random times through the year, for different friend groups to get people to know each other more and I've seen a friend host one of these parties for the women in her neighborhood and I thought that was such a fun idea. This group of friends I hosted for were all the girl leaders for the youth group at our church. I've grown close to lots of them over the years, so it's a great time!!

Let me know if you throw a My Favorite Things party and if you have in the past, tell me how you did it!


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Our 2018 Christmas Cards

Happy Monday!! My parent's and I went to Sacramento this weekend to visit my brother and his wife and my grandparents. It was so fun to see where they live, after my brother just moving here from Dallas. I'm so glad it's easier to see them now when I come for a visit. 

Anyways, we sent out our holiday cards last week to family and friends! I love putting together our outfits, picking out the cards, the stamps and stuffing the cards to send out to our people. I also LOVE receiving Christmas cards in the mail. There's nothing like snail mail (and lots of it!) in December!

This year I was so excited to find Paper Culture for our holiday cards. They have so many gorgeous designs (some with foil, some with florals and color and others more minimalistic...there's something for everyone!) They're also such great prices, I couldn't not share with you. In fact, right now the cards are all 40% off! I thought I'd show you some of my favorite options and then reveal which card we went with below :)

Floral accents in gold foil-- so whimsical and dainty!

Triangle Gold Foil- love the simplicity of this one but glitz of the gold foil

Joyful Gold Foil - I love the word and the name "joy", so this word in big gold foil always gets me!

Holly Berry- for some festive and colorful cards, this is adorable!

Handwritten Joy- simply and sweet + lots of pictures!

Floral- this one is precious! The colors of our outfits didn't really go with it, but had they worked this would have been a top contender!

Greenery- can't go wrong with some Christmas greenery!

Okay, so which one do you think we went with?! I think you'll be surprised!

I just loved the simply lines and neutral background of the triangle gold foil card and once we plugged in our photo to try it out, it looked perfect! I've gotten a bunch of texts from friends and family telling us how pretty our card sweet!

I went with the Santa stamps...not my favorite, but out of the few choices this year, I liked them best ;) Do you guys send out Christmas or New Years cards? 


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Thank you to Paper Culture for our beautiful Christmas cards! All opinions are my own. I only recommend products and items that we use and genuinely love! Thank you for supporting companies that keep MND doors open.

Gift Guide: For the Home

Happy Friday! I made it to California yesterday to spend a couple weeks with my family and it's so good to be home and see my parents. This post is up a little late, but better than never! I love putting together a gift guide for the home-- obviously, houses are one of my favorite things so filling it with beautiful things is fun :) 
Shop here: marble coasters / monogram cutting board / Cultivate What Matters power sheets (goal setting journal) / I need Jesus print / gold bookshelf / basket / gray floral pillow / stripe hand towel / christmas trees(sold out, similar here) / metal and gold vase / monogram hook / monogrammed throw blanket / hand soap and lotion set / picture frame / gold jewelry box / gold candle sticks / tic tac toe marble coffee table game
While I'm actually a little bit of a minimalist in decor in our house, I do like special and beautiful pieces that are timeless. The largest piece I'm including for this gift guide is this gorgeous gold etagere. It's so pretty for displaying your favorite items and it doesn't break the bank! I don't think you can ever have too much storage, so pretty woven storage baskets are always a fun gift! I love how this one has a black detail on the bottom and the shape is so unique. A simple yet classic and modern gift would be these hex shaped marble coasters. I'm not sure about you, but I'd be giddy over some new pillow cases and these Studio McGee gray florals (they come in 2 other colors) are gorgeous! 
Candlesticks, a sweet vintage hook for coats, a fun marble tic tac toe game and a metallic vase also made my list. I love personalizing gifts, so a monogram is always a good idea to me and this blanket is so festive for the season, but would also look great all winter. The Cultivate What Matters power sheets journal doesn't seem like a gift for the home at first glance, but the intention behind it is to help you set goals so you can live out what God has created you to do. To me, these goals absolutely will affect your home life! If you want to give something a little more Christmassy, these precious wooden trees are the perfect gift. And if you're anything like me, you'd also appreciate a cute (and delicious citrus smelling!) soap and lotion set. 
Hope these gift ideas are helpful! Have a wonderful Friday,
For the Hostess
For Her
For the Beauty-lover
For Him
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Our 2018 Christmas Porch

I've always wanted to do something with greenery garland on our front porch! Finally I decided this was the year and I think it's pretty cute how it turned out :) The left side of the greenery was a little more sparse, so I've since wired up some more on that side. Whoops! In years past we've put out a small fake tree with lights on it on the porch, but this year I just decided to keep it simple with some lanterns, the greenery and the wreath.

The wreath ribbon is from our tree ribbon a couple years ago and I think it'll always be a favorite of mine! The metallic deer and trees are so pretty. I love the little sparkle it gives against the green. All of our greenery is from Trader Joe's (are you surprised?! ;))

Bless my husband who stood in the freezing temps with me to get the garland up!

I'd LOVE to put poinsettias out on the porch for some color, but they would die in a matter of hours from the cold :( To mimic the greenery down here, we also draped some on our balcony up above and hung a wreath there as well. I think it looks pretty charming!
Do you decorate your porch? I'm so thankful that though we live in an apartment, we still have our own front door and balcony area!
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How to Pick Outfits for Family Photos

Ah, the art of picking out outfits for family photos! So far I've only had to put together outfits for the two of us (well, three of us, if you count Lincoln-- which obviously I do!) but I can imagine it being even harder with every added person (or fur baby). Though challenging sometimes, I actually love putting our outfits together and since it's Christmas card season, I thought I'd give some pointers since we just took our photos and got our cards all ready from Paper Culture. I just love getting Christmas cards in the mail...snail mail is the best! 

For our engagement photos, I wanted us to wear things that were in the palette of our wedding so we could use them for anything regarding the wedding-- save the dates, our wedding website, photos to print for the wedding, etc. 

First I ask myself if I want the photos to be formal or casual, and for this shoot I wanted one set to be more formal and the other to be more casual. Our palette was lavender, blush and navy, with lots of neutrals, so I started with my floral lavender dress and built McCann's outfit around mine. That's usually how it goes ;) I love some contrast, so I had my husband dress in dark gray slacks. I love the depth it adds here.

For our more casual photos, I went with a neutral white dress with cut out details. I love this dress so much and always feel like white photographs so well! I had McCann pull in the navy, but added pattern in the subtle polka dot print of his shirt (which you can barely see in this picture).

For our California engagement photos I also kept within the wedding color palette! I started with my lilac colored sweater, though solid, had a pretty lace detail on the back and texture in the knit. I went dark jeans on the bottom and then put McCann in light pants and a chambray button up. This was also a very casual look. I think it's pretty classic though!

Now for our last year's Christmas card photo I wanted to go bold with some pattern. I found the dress I wanted to wear first (of course ha!) then built McCann's outfit around it. I wanted this to look very "fall" and wanted to play with pattern. One solid pattern combo that never fails is floral + geometric. The thing that makes this fail-proof, though, is the scale of both patterns. My floral pattern dress was very large-scale, so I went with a small-scale geo pattern for my husband in a coordinating color (not matching!) then to make sure it wasn't too crazy, layered with a cool vest. Layering pieces is one of my favorite things-- it just makes the outfits look even more thoughtful! 

I wanted Lincoln to wear a scarf (because #crazydogmom) so I found a fabric that pulled out the blue/green from the leaves in my dress. It had a slight polka dot pattern which was also a small scale, complimenting everyone else's attire.

THIS year for our pictures I also wanted to wear a dress. I already had the perfect one that looked Christmassy and thought layering a fur vest on it would be fun! With my red plaid being pretty bold, I wanted McCann to be in a solid but with some detail, so I found this chunky sweater. And the fur vest definitely helps tone down the pattern of my dress! Of course Lincoln is wearing a bow tie and that is also plaid, but heavier on the black color with a hint of red, so it works perfectly. It's also a smaller scale than my plaid. 

I also found this nice sweater for my hubby, so I had him change for the sitting photos and love how it looks!
All photos by Ashley Slater Photography except our California engagement pictures by The Poffs

I can't wait to show you our Christmas card photos, once everyone on our mailing list gets theirs in the mail! We used Paper Culture this year and I absolutely loved them!! 

A couple quick tips:

- Start with the person's outfit that has pattern and work off of that, pulling coordinating colors from it.
- Remember the scale rule of thumb. If one pattern is large-scale, the other pattern should be smaller-scale. Throw in some solids to break it up.
- Avoid logos or cartoons (unless that's your thing! :))
- When thinking of backgrounds and settings, think of how you want your card to feel. Last year I wanted it to feel very fall so we did an open field in the middle of fall color. This year I wanted a neutral background, so we actually went to a cemetery with a marble building! I love the green trees behind us in that one picture up there! You'd never know where we were.
-  I love dressing up a bit for photos and I love dresses-- it's what I feel most pretty in. So I say, wear a dress! Or whatever you feel best in:)
- Try to avoid "matching" and instead make "coordinating" the goal. For example, you don't all need to wear blue jeans and a white button up. That's really extreme matching. You don't even all need to wear the same SHADE of blue. As long as the blues go together and you see the color repeated in a couple places (if you have a family with a couple kids) then you're good! 
- On that note, remember that repetition creates unity. A quick way to get your photos to feel cohesive is to repeat one or two elements. This is mostly important for photos with 3 or more people in them. For example, in our pictures from last year, we tied in the green/blue color in from my dress to Lincoln's scarf and my husband's vest. 

Do you have any family photo dressing tips?! I'm sure some of my photographer friends have some opinions on this!


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Our 2018 Christmas Tree

This is always such a fun post to share!! Our Christmas tree is up, the halls have been decked and I'm so excited to share it. This year I wanted to switch things up a little and instead of wrapping ribbon around our tree, I decided to cut little ribbons and tie them onto random branches all over the tree. You can't see them super well in pictures, but in person it's really charming! Our Christmas tree topper is also really cute in person, but kind of disappears in these pictures...promise it's there though! ;) It's metal, so it blends into the wall color. Ha!
Without further adieu, our 2018 Christmas tree:

Do you spot a certain doodle above? ;)

There are the little ribbons I knotted on the tree. I love the vintage market vibe:

This tree has quite a few spots where we needed to hang some longer ornaments, so I did have to go out and buy a few more than what we already had. I found these pinecones and loved them!

One of my favorite ornaments my friend Ashley got me last year :)

Another favorite I picked up on last year's trip to Magnolia Market!

I got a couple presents wrapped for tonight's My Favorite Things Party! I will do a post on how to do one of these. This gold tree paper is SO cute!!

Simple greenery and roses sit on our coffee table. I love how the lights look behind it!

I also found some cute little jingle bells to top our gifts...just a fun touch!

I will always love our little red truck pillow :) The gingham pillows are from Hobby Lobby, of course 50% off!
Have you put your tree up yet? Do you do themes each year (my mom and I always did that-- for example, one year we'd do all colorful ball ornaments or all silver and gold...)
Hope you have a wonderful week!
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