Holiday Entertaining Tips to Help You Thrive Not Just Survive & A Cricut Explore Giveaway

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hey there! I'm monica 

I pride myself on making amazing style and design accessible for everyone, regardless of location, budget, or ability! My design philosophy is rooted in authenticity + attainability - If I can do it, you can too! My work has been featured in countless publications, but I take the most pride in homeowners that have been personally inspired by my DIY ideas and have tried something in their own homes!

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Holiday Entertaining…

Those two words usually bring about one of two emotions- excitement or anxiety.

Well, love it or hate it, the 2014 holiday season is about to begin!  Eric and I love to entertain and host all kinds of events at our house, so Cricut asked me if I’d share a few tips to help you THRIVE and not just Survive this holiday season!  I have tons of tips and lessons learned, but these are focused on decorating and serving.  Maybe another time I’ll write tips for surviving time with wacko relatives!

How To survive the holidays

Holiday Entertaining Tip #1

Don’t hate on disposable items.  I know we see a lot of beautiful images in our favorite magazines and on Pinterest, but as much as I love pretty things, I love having people over even more!  Guess what?  We use paper products pretty often! GASP! Umm she’s a blogger, everything should be crazy fancy right?!?  Nope.  Even crazier- our guests don’t mind!

Holiday Entertaining Tips 1

Now, I’m all for the Red Solo Cup (except for that stupid country song.  Lame with a capital L I tell ya), but if you want to use disposable items for a bit more fancy occasion, consider fancying them up a bit.  The options are endless, but for these Thanksgiving cups, I worked with my kiddos and cut a simple leaf shape using my Cricut Explore, rubbed it on a brown ink pad, and taped it on using fabric tape.  Simple, cute, and disposable! Remember that entertaining is about spending time with friends and family, not impressing them.  These crafty embellishments are fun, but even if you go with the Red Solo Cup everyone will still love being together!


Holiday Entertaining Tip #2

 I love DIY projects, but want to know a secret? Seasonal decorating isn’t really my jam.  Nope, I mean I do it, but I know it’s super temporary, so sometimes I get a little salty about it.  Here’s my trick- I double dip as much as possible, especially when it comes to my fall-winter transition.

Holiday Entertaining Tips 2

I try and use a bunch of decor items that will work for Thanksgiving and then easily move into Christmas.  This brown felt, bell garland from Balsam Hill is part of my Christmas decor, but I made some crazy cute paper peonies and just pinned them onto the garland.  It’ll be on my Thanksgiving table in a few weeks and then I’ll pop off the peonies and use it on my tree.

This was my first time trying my hand at making paper flowers.  I’ve seen some amazing ones lately during the Cricut Design Space Star competition, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.07.32 PM

It’s amazing how cute a flower made from paper can be.  The 3-D floral home decor image sets in the design space are insane!  I love how adding the salmon colored flowers to the brown garland works great for Thanksgiving.  The moral of the story here is to check out your decor and try and look at it in a new way- you just might be able to double dip as well!

DIY Paper Flower Decor

Holiday Entertaining Tip #3

This is an oldie, but a goodie!  Guests generally want to lend a hand, but sometimes aren’t sure how they can help or if you’d rather them not get all up in your business.  Make it crystal clear that they can help, by creating stations that clue them in.  Back in 2012 our leftover station idea was featured in HGTV Mag and we still love it!  Basically, have bags, containers and labels all ready for your guests to pack up their own takeout bags!  You can purchase containers, but this year I plan on saving some money and just making my own- plus, then I can fully customize them!

Holiday Entertaining Tips 3

I haven’t made my takeout containers yet, but I’m planning on using some of the incredible geometric  boxes from the Pretty Packages Image set in the Cricut Design Space.  My very favorite feature is the scoring tool- I love that even a hexagon box shape that looks complicated is so simple to put together.  You literally just bend on the scores- add a little adhesive and you’re done!

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 9.39.34 AM

My only word of advice is to make sure that you pack up some leftovers for yourself if you want them! One year, I forgot and it was a very sad moment when we realized there would be no turkey sandwiches for us!  Hostess Fail!


Holiday Entertaining Tip #4

Customize your everyday dinnerware and serving items for entertaining.  I know some people have loads of fancy dishes and serving platters, but I guess being a mom of 4 kids, I just really hate extra stuff.  We have stuff everywhere, so I tend to keep things simple and streamlined on my end.  And okay, if my husband was reading this, he’d burst out laughing, because I also have one of the messiest bedrooms on the planet. Dishes= simple & streamlined Bedroom= disaster of war zone quality.

Holiday Entertaining Tips 4

About a year ago, I bought two big packs of IKEA white dinnerware- Best.Decision.Ever!  It’s neutral, so it goes with whatever style I’m fancying and I can customize it like I did for this cookie plate.  All I did was use my Cricut to cut out a phase of thanksgiving (what can I say, I LOVE cookies and my guests do too) from vinyl and apply it directly to the plate.  It took me about 4 minutes total and is perfect for entertaining.  This is a great way to label unique food items, or to customize plates for guests instead of place cards.  Really, if you work with your neutral dinnerware and a circuit, you can create some epic projects.  Now, no, I can’t wash this in the dishwasher etc, but I have used it multiple times.  I just hand wash the plate and only slightly wipe the vinyl.  The thing is that it’s such an easy thing to do, that I can customize it again in under 5 minutes if I want to!

DIY Custom Plate

Hopefully these simple tips help you thrive, not just survive this holiday season.  It’s my favorite time of year, so if you’re down in the dumps and stressed, shoot me an email and I’ll give you a pep talk!


My friends at Cricut also want to help you get ready to entertain this season, so we’re doing an epic giveaway!  Check this out- it’s everything you’ll need to have a simple, stress-free, and styled holiday season!  Everything you’ll win is listed below, but I wanted to mention that it includes the flower and package image sets I used for my projects!  Score!!


Good Luck- we’re giving it away to FOUR winners- so we’re gonna have some happy blog readers!!


Cricut GIVEAWAY Holiday Entertaining Bundle 1

Click Here to Enter- It’s a one click entry! 

Four winners will each receive a Cricut Holiday Entertaining Bundle. And one lucky winner will receive the Holiday Entertaining Bundle PLUS a Cricut Explore® Machine!

Holiday Entertaining Bundle contents include:

Black and Gold Cricut® Iron-on 
Brown, Olive, Silver, and Gold Cricut® Vinyl
Cricut® Tools Basic Set
Cricut® Color Metallic Pen Set
Cricut® 12×12 Cardstock, Southwest
Cricut® Printable Vinyl
Cricut® Printable Sticker Paper
Digital Access to Pretty Packages
Digital Access to 3D Floral Home Décor

Enter now through midnight MST on Wednesday, November 19
Also, the always talented Alison Deyette put together a cute video with Thanksgiving ideas- Check it out!

The comments +

  1. Melissa Gabriel says:

    I would love to win this bundle!!!! Fingers crossed, making family Tshirts would be so cute with this!

  2. Mindy says:

    I was literally just thinking that I want a Cricut today. Your decorations look great- especially the poppies.

  3. LaTanya says:

    There are so many cute things you make for the holidays with the Cricut.

    • Diana Trotter says:

      Hi LaTanya,

      It’s nice to have this machine, makes the holidays a little easier! Thanks for stopping by, glad you loved what Monica did.

  4. Courtney Beavers says:

    How do you enter? When I click on the link it goes to fb.

    • Diana Trotter says:

      Hi Courtney,

      Yes the giveaway entry page is linked to Cricut’s facebook contest page. Like their page and you should be able to enter. Good luck!

  5. Cyndee says:

    I really like the simple gold-looking design on the cookie plate. This Cricut stuff is new to me, but is the vinyl easy to remove from dinnerware? I may try this for different holidays.

    • Monica says:

      Hi Cyndee- The vinyl is super easy to remove and I love that it doesn’t leave any hard to remove sticky residue. Give it a try!

  6. Cyndee says:

    who are the lucky winners of the Cricut Holiday Entertaining Bundle ?

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