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There are quite a few things about life as a blogger that cause you to throw caution to the wind and tradition out the window. Decorating for the holidays can often be one of those things…
The month of October is generally the peak season for all things holiday decor and happens to be where real life and life in media, collide. Since I am on the fast track for decorating, and often decorate months in advance, this month brings an interesting mix of Halloween, Christmas and Birthday celebrations as the first round of holidays actually begin to happen. Rather than trying to fight this, I have learned to embrace it and we simply enjoy these moments a tad earlier than most, but with just as much tradition and holiday spirit.
So break out the hot cocoa and put on some holiday music… while it might be 80 degrees outside, we are lighting a fire and settling in to make some ornaments and a popcorn garland. This year is all about the personal touches and handmade pieces.
Since I am a firm believer in coordinating your holiday décor with your everyday décor, it doesn’t really matter which holiday is thrown into the mix at any given time… it all works on some level. But this year, is an extra special year, because I have partnered with Shutterfly and consequently (and coincidentally) made one of my forever dreams come true!
If you are a long time reader of this here blog (thank you!) you might already know that it is my dream to design products. This is something I have dreamed of doing since I was a wee little tadpole. Having this opportunity to put some of my designs to work and make them a reality was a very special thing, indeed. Shutterfly has literally hundreds of items you can personalize in any way you wish and the quality of the end result is astounding – even if you have no prior experience with graphic design or photography. For those of you who aren’t entirely sure you want that much freedom, not to worry, they also have a crazy good selection of prefab layouts that you can easily drag and drop your photos right into. It couldn’t be easier to make your décor look profesh! If you prefer items that aren’t photo-centric, they also have ready-made designer artwork you can use to plug and play, making your pieces look custom and unique! … You can crop, size, rotate and even edit in detail right on their site till everything looks just how you like. It couldn’t be easier - truly…
I entertain pretty regularly from October through January, which makes the ‘design your own’ tabletop décor a fairly important and a much-appreciated addition to my arsenal of serve-ware and tableware. The events I tend to host, range in purpose from birthday to seasonal festivities du jour. Having décor that will work regardless of the holiday, while still be festive and special is at the top of my list.
For most of the glassware, the design process is as simple as typing your last name and choosing your favorite font. For the ‘design your own’ option, it is equally as easy but you have the freedom to type anything you like, which is exactly what I did for the pilsner glasses and growler. I chose a font and alignment, then gave each glass a different series of international salutations – Cin Cin, Cheers, Prost and Salud, Sante, Na Zdrowia. I am hoping this will make it easier for guests to tell which glass is theirs (or mine… always losing track of my glass) and subliminally suggest a happy festive occasion at the same time. I love the matte black option for the growler and gave it an unrelated but equally cute turn of phrase: ‘Fill, Pour, Then Some More’, that would coordinate well with glasses that say ‘Fill, Drink, Repeat’ or 1 Drink, 2 Drink, 3 Drink, Floor’.
No cozy spot by the fire is complete without a snuggly soft throw and a comfy pillow, so naturally I gave in to this need and put my spin on both. I tried to capture the sheen and beauty of these pieces but I’m just not sure it translates on film in quite the same way it does in person. The quality of the pillow is superb and the Sherpa throw is the softest most wonderful thing on the planet. I will be designing one for each of my boys, rather immediately, since they are fighting over it already. Both my babes are lovers of snuggling up under a silky blanket – and I am sure I have mortified their future selves by saying as much (sorry!).
The blanket design is one of my hand drawn pieces and is part of a series of designs I did recently that draws inspiration from a variety of vintage textiles and hand-woven goods. That design in particular is inspired by some of my favorite Moroccan rugs.
The pillow design is from a photograph I took of the sunset that I crafted into the shape of the sun melting into the water. It’s dreamy and reminds me of a special time with my family, which I love. The framed canvas print above the chair is a photo from a trip the hubby and I took for our anniversary last year. I love the naturally neutral colors it adds to the space while celebrating a sentimental moment in time that will work year round.
Hot chocolate is a regular staple in the Turner House during the holidays and the metallic mugs add just the right amount of sparkle to mark the occasion as ‘not just another regular day’. There were several designs they offered that I loved so much, I hardly modified a thing. The fine looking friend above says ‘You’ve Totally Got This’ on the front, so rather than add photos or a design to the back, I simply used the preformatted box (meant to show the year) and added my own text to say – ‘Ya You Do’. It is a chic little semi-hidden message, reaffirming the sentiment on the front. Love it.
I have major heart eyes for the Cupid’s arrow heart on the marble and wood cheeseboard. How adorable would it be for a newlywed couple…? I chose one of my shibori inspired paintings for the glass tray and it turned out both subtle and chic with what looks like a combination of etching and printing. It will make for a gorgeous addition to my table or for corralling various things in my entryway. The table runner design is a digital painting I created, that was inspired by a photo I took during a random moment with my boys. We were standing in line for a ride at a theme park and the leaves and trees were putting on a seriously good show of shadow play and contrast. It was spectacular and the runner turned out even better than I imagined! The color is so well saturated and just as vivid as I remember that moment to be. The design is a definite family favorite already.
Even our tree has personal touches this year and alongside the ornaments my boys helped me make, I hung a smattering of glass ornaments with photos from our travels, to mark some of the highlights of our year. If you are noticing a slightly beachy theme running through many of my designs and photos, you would not be wrong. I am an eternal lover of summer, and even in the midst of cooler weather, all I want is the sun and sand between my toes. I have passed this gene on to both my boys as well, since their proclaimed favorite memories and time together usually revolves around the beach.
I am excited to have some of my photos and digital memories put to print and out on display for all of us to enjoy. I take literally thousands of photos each year and so frequently I upload those images to the cloud and that is precisely where they stay. I know I’m not alone on this one. Having some of my favorite moments printed onto acrylic photo blocks and acrylic plaques is a wonderful and far less stressful way to enjoy these memories, with all of the crazy boy-energy bouncing around in here.
My family thinks I am crazy for only ever displaying art and photos of places, never images of any of us, I think they forget how difficult it can be to capture children moving at the speed of light. I certainly wasn’t going to pass up a chance to showcase a single rare photo that has both my boys actually holding still. It was definitely a miraculous moment in time. Of course I added a tiny bit of artistic flair to the shot of my beauties by removing the background and adding a touch of super power in the form of lasers shooting out of their hands… You can’t quite take the designer out of me, even for these real life moments.
Above is a grid of all the various patterns and pictures I used in designing my pieces. There is only a very slight theme running through the photos, and a bit of repetition with color, but otherwise nothing is too matchy, matchy - which is just the way I like things. The one common thread amongst the designs is that they either show a moment in time that is special, or represent something special to me and were made by my hand with love. All you need is love, amiright? And now you have that song stuck in your head – sorry!
You can see how many of these designs translate when put to product, and hopefully it helps give you a good understanding of how your designs and photos will look when you do the same. I was pleasantly surprised to see many of the items use the natural color of the product in place of white. I was actually worried about this since I wasn’t able to upload images with transparency, but I am over the moon excited to report that it wasn’t an issue and it worked out perfectly.
The large tote with gold details is so very roomy and luxurious that it has been adopted as my slightly smaller and less red version of a Santa Bag. It will be just the thing to load with gifts to bring to my extended family on Christmas morning. And if I’m lucky… might just hold a few special gifts for me – and the boys, of course – on our return. We shall see if I make the ‘Nice’ list this year… it’s always a bit questionable.
Every single thing I ordered and personalized is absolutely wonderful and I am certain I will be ordering more of everything, right away. But the star of the show in my eyes, is undoubtedly the stockings. They are stunning on their own, and with the four variations of one of my designs – I could not love them more.
Now I just need to work on a few additional pieces to coordinate with my existing designs – like napkins, wine glasses and plates (which by the way, Shutterfly offers!). I have obviously gone off the deep end with my excitement and should probably be stopped before I fall entirely into happy, dream fulfilling product design oblivion, but a girl can enjoy a few more moments of bliss before you pull the plug, can she not? What’s the harm…
From my family to yours… Happy Early Holiday Decorating! What are some of your favorite family traditions and favorite décor items for the holidays? Do you use the same pieces for decorating each year or do you go for a new look and do something different each time?