I've hosted Thanksgiving for a few years now, and it's my absolute favorite. I love seeing all my loved ones under my roof, and I think Thanksgiving comes without a lot of the pressure of gifts and overstimulation that Christmas does. Also, give me cranberries and stuffing any day of the week.
A few years ago, I made a little prep guide that I shared on Instagram, but I lost it somehow! I decided to bring it back as a full sized PDF to help you out in your own Thanksgiving prep. Your preparation might look a little different depending on the size of your gathering, or on the amount of cooking you do yourself. I love for everyone to feel like they contributed a little something, so we do ours more potluck-style. Eddie and I handle the turkey, stuffing, and a couple of other things, and we ask family members to bring the dishes we know they make really well.
But either way, I think this checklist covers most of the basics, and I hope it's as helpful to you as it has been to me!
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There are few thing more stress-inducing for a parent than the holiday season. It's a magical, spectacular season, but somewhere in the background, there is likely a mom on the verge of a panic attack. Over the last few years, I've managed to maintain some semblance of sanity during the holiday season by doing a couple things.
The first is to simplify as much as possible. Say "no" to events that you think will be overwhelming for you or your family. Build in downtime. The holidays can be invigorating and fill our hearts, but they can also be over-stimulating and draining. Make sure you are accounting for all the personality traits in your family unit when you make commitments during the next few months, and realize your own limitations, too!
The second is to be as organized as possible! As a photographer and a blogger, the holidays are busy busy busy. I've usually got mini sessions and regular photo sessions, plus collaborations for the blog and social media. I also host Thanksgiving and do most of the gift shopping/decorating/packing for holiday trips in our house. This means that being organized is top priority.
So this holiday season, I'm going to help you by giving you some of the tools I use to stay organized! I'm talking Thanksgiving and Christmas, mostly - and hopefully this will help you feel like you have a grip on everything that's going on!
Thanksgiving (4-6 weeks out)
Christmas (8-10 weeks out)
Did I forget anything? How are you starting to prepare for the holidays?
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I just finished up my shopping for the kids' Easter baskets today, and I thought I'd share some of the things I'm including and a couple of others that I thought might be a cute fit for others' baskets. Check them out below, and for more ideas, check out my Amazon list!
To keep the real reason for Easter at the forefront always, I like to include something that will help the kids grow in their faith. These Mass parts cards help kids understand the order of the mass and anticipate what is coming next. With colorful drawings and color-coded for the parts of the mass, I have a feeling they will really help keep the kids engaged during mass.
A craft like this from Sew Sweet Crafts for older kids or some kind of activity like a sensory bin like these from Rooted Sensory for younger children.
Swimsuits are always included in our kids' Easter baskets because they typically are in need of new ones by the time Easter rolls around! I love these from Lotus & Sun for younger kids.
Something soft and cuddly like these personalized bunnies from GT Stitchery.
What is something you like to include in your kids' Easter baskets? Let me know below!
For more ideas, check out my Amazon List!
Can you believe Valentine's Day is this Sunday already? Eddie and I seldom go out on Valentine's Day, and this year we have even less reason to. Because this year presents different challenges than usual, and because it's a Sunday, we'll likely be celebrating with the kids at home. I'm dropping a few ideas here that you can adapt to your situation and still enjoy Valentine's Day!
1. Valentine's Day Brunch
Set your table, make a beautiful breakfast board, and let everyone dig in. Don't forget the mimosas for the parents! There are also a few restaurants doing special Valentine Brunch specials, so look them up and help support your local small businesses!
2. A Valentine Pizza Party
They've got a "pizza" your heart, so show them with this adorable pizza setup! You can also buy all the ingredients and make it an activity by making the pizzas together!
3. Family Movie Night
One of Caleb's favorite things to do is have family movie night. This is a great option! Some movies to consider: Beauty & the Beast, Gnomeo & Juliet, The Little Rascals, Disney/Pixar's UP, The Princess Diaries, Trolls, The Little Prince (Netflix), Princess & The Frog, Over the Moon (Netflix). Set up a snack board, pop some popcorn, and snuggle up on the sofa!
Pack up a picnic and head to a park or the beach or your yard! If you're somewhere where that isn't really possible, set up in your living room! Eddie and I love picking up stone crabs and a few sides from the deli counter. Pack some sparkling cider for the kids and some wine for yourself, and make an afternoon out of it. Pick up some Pudding Parlor Red Velvet Pudding, Bakey Key Lime Pies, or a smash cake from Divine Sweets & Vicky Bakery.
5. Have a fancy dinner at home
Order in and plate your food, cook yourselves, set your table, turn off the TV, and turn on some smooth music. Give yourselves the full restaurant experience without having to leave the house! Bonus points if you can send the kids to the grandparents house - if not, eat once they go to bed! Check out my table setting below - the placemats are from Chic Tables, the napkin rings are from Plume.
6. Take an online class together
Look up a tutorial on making a cocktail, or making a craft. Sign up for a virtual class to paint at home, do a workout together, or make a meal you've never made before! Virtual wine tastings can be lots of fun, too. Make it a group activity and get some friends to sign up with you.
More Ideas from Readers
I asked for ideas on Instagram and you delivered!
I hope this helps you come up with a fun idea for Valentine's Day this year! If you have more ideas, send them in and I'll add it above!
*Links with an asterisk are affiliate links. This means I may make a small commission off of your purchase, but it does not affect your price at all.
With a little less than a month to go, it's time to start thinking about Valentine's Day gifts. Eddie and I actually don't usually exchange anything big for Valentine's Day, because our anniversary is just a couple weeks later. But these are all things that would be on my list! You can treat yourself or you can not-so-subtly send the link to this in an email to your significant other! (Or maybe do both? lol) A lot of these would also make great gifts for a girlfriend.
Cozy Earth Pajamas* - Hands down, the softest, most comfortable pajamas I've ever worn. The fabric is bamboo-based and the fit, the drape, and comfort is just perfect. They help with temperature regulation and they have helped me sooo much in that department. These are a nice splurge gift, but they are worth it if you can swing it! Use the code ATODDLERANDATOPKNOT40 for 40% off your order.
Taudrey Bracelet Set - Late last year, I partnered with Taudrey again and we re-worked my Have a Little Faith Bracelet Set*. If you haven't snagged your set yet, this would be a great gift (get the bangle engraved with an important date and you're golden!). Use the code topknot10 for 10% off your order!
House of Lilac - Flowers, because who doesn't love flowers for Valentine's Day (or any other day for that matter)! For a gift that goes the extra mile, consider a subscription or a dried flower arrangement that will last! Use the code JeniseVDay2021 for 15% off their Valentine's Collection (both fresh and dried) - available until Valentine's Day or until the collection sells out.
Boho Birch Personalized Planter - This planter is very cute and you can personalize it with any message you'd like! I love that my kids' names are on this one, but you can do it with an important date, your name and your significant other's name, or a sweet message!
Barefoot Dreams Blanket* - If you have someone you love who is always cold or who loves to snuggle up on the sofa, this is the SOFTEST blanket I've ever had. Perfect for an at-home movie night!
Stel Gal No Wrinkles Desert Hat - Dreaming of summer? Make sure they have something to look forward to with this Stel Gal No Wrinkles hat. It will make them feel stylish, but the best thing about it is that it will help protect their skin from that pesky sun damage!
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