Gift Wrapping 101

Wrapping holiday gifts can be a great joy, but also horribly meticulous.  Personally, wrapping to me just seems like more crafting, so I’m always down.  However, for those who are not that detailed oriented, gift wrapping can turn disastrous. See: Duct tape and plastic grocery bags.

Presents can serve as decoration for a tree, so think of wrapping as an extension of your decor.  And remember, nothing says “Hey [Insert family member name here], I’ve got my life soooo together and today definitely is not the third day in a row that I’ve worn these pants” like a beautifully wrapped gift at the holiday.

Impress your parents and friends with your skills and completely put together life with some beautifully wrapped gifts with this easy “How to Gift Wrap” guide!

How to Gift Wrap

Pick a color scheme.

Decide on a theme and stick to it.  Feel free to venture outside the typical red/green/gold/white/silver theme if you want.  Pick up a few different wrapping papers that all seem to go together.  If you want to get super polished, pick a detailed paper, and then a few more accent papers to compliment it.  Bonus points if your wrapping paper matches the theme of your christmas tree.

Add some accents.

Go beyond just wrapping it and slapping a bow on it.  Visit the Christmas section of your local Walmart and pick up some cheap tree ornaments, tiny stockings, fake greenery or other Christmas goodies to add some flare.  Mix the bows with those ornaments, and different colors and textures to make it look impressive. The depth of the accents against the paper will make a huge difference.

Bonus: Keep the more detailed wrapping paper simple with only a few simple accents, but dress up a more simple paper with loads of goodies.  Don’t overload the eyes.  Less is more (unless we’re talking about cookie dough or Chipotle).

If you’re wrapping for under your own tree, or a group of presents all going to the same place, think of them all as a group when you fix them up.  Not every single present needs to be a show-stopper.  Wrap them so they compliment each other, and will be an added decoration.

How to Gift Wrap Like a Professional

How to Gift Wrap Like a Professional

Mix mediums.

If your wrapping paper is glossy, then choose a matte nametag, or ribbon (and vis versa). Glittery accents on something simple like brown paper can make things really pop.

Gift Wrapping Tips from the Professionals

Pinch the Corners

Pinch the corners and run your fingers along the along the edges of a wrapped package, making a crease on all the edges.  This will give the wrapping a more polished look.  I picked this trick up at the Estee Lauder counter a few years ago while shopping for mom.  According to the sales girl, it was taught to them during holiday gift wrapping training.  Who knew, right?

How ’bout ‘dem gifts, huh?

Suck it, family gatherings.  I may not have had time to shower, but damn do my presents sure look good.

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DIY: Cheap and Easy Glitter Christmas Ornaments

Glass bauble Christmas tree ornaments have been a staple on my family’s tree for as long as I can remember.

 I can distinctly remembering opening our box of ornaments each year, staring down at homemade red and green swirled baubles, each slightly different. Though the swirled paint was very classic– and totally my parents’ style– it is definitely not what says Christmas to me.

 However, that exact image of those glass baubles hanging from our tree was exactly what inspired today’s DIY: Glitter Christmas Tree Baubles.

Materials:

Christmas Baubles (I used plastic, but you can use glass too; find them at any craft store)
White School Glue
Water
Disposable cup (or other bowl or cup you are fine with getting dirty)
Super fine glitter in desired colors
DIY Christmas Ornaments
Mix 1 part glue with 2 parts water in disposable cup, making a very liquid-y Mod Podge like substance.  
Pour glue liquid into bauble and swirl around, making sure to coat the entire inside surface.
DIY Christmas Ornaments
Dump excess glue water out (either into the sink, or back into the container, depending on how many baubles you are doing).  If there are bubbles stuck inside, don’t worry about it.  You won’t see them after adding the glitter.
Add desired amounts of glitter inside the bauble.  I mixed red, gold, blue and pink.
DIY Christmas Ornaments
Cover the opening of the bauble and shake profusely, making sure the glitter coats the entire inside.  Add more glitter to the inside if you need.  

DIY Christmas Ornaments
Discard extra glitter from inside the bauble into the garbage (it’ll be gross and glue-covered, don’t reuse it).  Allow bauble to dry for a few hours, and then reattach top.  
Repeat for desired amount of baubles, and then hang them up to admire your work.
DIY Christmas Ornaments

This literally takes less than 10 minutes, and is a stupid-proof project.  If you use plastic baubles (or have super mature kids), this would a great children’s project as well.

If you want, you can even add extra decorations to the outside of the baubles, like writing, or stickers.

Or, stay tuned until next week for a way to add to these baubles and appear even fancier to your family members.

(Tease, tease, tease, tease, tease!)

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DIY: Cheap and Easy “Merry Christmas” Burlap Banner

So apparently burlap is a Thing in decorating.  It’s rustic and chic and ALL over craft stores.

There are also a ton of  pre-cut and dummy-proof craft kits to make decorations with burlap, including table runners, place mats, Christmas ornaments, and… banners.  (Psh, using a kit– how easy and cheating would that be?!)

Easy Homemade Christmas Decorations

Easy and Homemade Christmas Decorations

I originally stumbled upon my inspiration for this banner on Pinterest, but when the link to purchase it turned out to be super out-dated and no longer for sale, and I couldn’t find anything similar, I thought I’d just make my own! That wouldn’t go wrong at all, right?  Right.

MATERIALS:

A roll of Burlap (I got mine at Michael’s craft store, but also saw it at Jo-Ann Fabrics)
Fabrics of your choice — I went with 5 different patterned fabrics in reds, greens and golds
Black fabric for the letters
Twine
Hot glue gun + glue sticks
Iron-on fabric adhesive (hem tape)
Letter stencils, or a computer and printing access to make your own
Mod Podge (or white school and water)
Paint brush
Pencil
Ruler
Scrap paper
Sharp scissors

Optional: Patience, wine, a christmas candle and a vacuum to clean up the burlap strings afterwards.

Homemade Cheap and Easy Christmas Decorations

STEP 1 // Create your burlap and fabric templates using regular paper.  I just used the width of the burlap roll (5 1/2 inches) as a measure for my burlap stencil width, and then eyeballed it for the length.  After I found a burlap stencil I liked, I trimmed a quarter inch off each side to create the fabric stencil.  My final measurements were:

Burlap Stencil: 6 1/2 inches from the top to the bottom point, 5 1/2 inches wide, and the point of the bottom extends 1 1/2 inches down from the bottom corner
Fabric Stencil: 5 1/2 inches from the top, 4 1/2 inches wide, and the point of the bottom extends about 1 1/2 inches down from the bottom corner

**CRAFTING TIP: You will want to double check your products as you move along.  Fabrics move and stretch.  If this happens, you will need to also adjust your fabric stencil.**

Homemade Cheap and Easy Christmas Decorations
STEP 2 // Cut your burlap.  I used two clips to attach my stencil to each side of the burlap to hold it steady while I cut.  Burlap proved difficult, as it’s a lightly woven fabric, so I looked I watched a video on “how to cut burlap” before I cut.  The video has since been removed, but there are a ton more on Youtube. It helped a lot.
Cheap and Homemade Christmas Decorations
If it’s not perfect, don’t fret.  It’s a burlap banner, tiny mistakes make it charming and more rustic. 

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Continue until you have the desired number of pieces.  If you’re doing “Merry Christmas”, that’ll be fourteen pieces.  Not 12.  For some reason I was confused about this.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

STEP 4 // DOUBLE CHECK YOUR STENCILS.  Check your fabric stencil against the actual pieces of burlap you just cut.  My burlap pieces ended up being not as wide as I moved toward the middle of the roll, so my fabric stencil needed to be slightly slimmed down as well.  Not a big deal, but it never hurts to double check as you move along!

STEP 4 AND A HALF // Cut out your fabric using your fabric stencil.  I traced my stencil with pencil on the backside of each fabric.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Continue until you have all of your fabric pieces cut out.  Lay them all out and repeatedly spell out “Merry Christmas” on them to make sure you have enough.  Make sure to take lots of excited pictures of them.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
STEP 5 // Lightly iron your fabric pieces if they have ugly creases in them.
STEP 6 // If you opted for iron-on letters, skip this step and move directly to Step 8.  If not,  take your black fabric and lightly paint it with Mod Podge.  I suggest using a plastic or glass cutting board to do this on, as Mod Podge is water based and will just wash right off after.  The idea here is to stiffen the fabric so it’s easier to trace the letters on and cut them out.  
If you don’t want to spend money on Mod Podge, here’s a helpful hack:  Mix 1 part white school glue with 1 part water.  It’s the exact same thing.  Boom.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

Paint the fabric and allow to dry.  I let mine dry overnight.  If you’re doing this, skip ahead to Step 8 while you wait for your fabric to dry, and then come back to Step 7 after it dries.  Craft Smarter, not harder.

STEP 7 // If you already have a stencil, trace your letters onto the hardened black fabric.  If not, create your own.  I made my own by printing “Merry Christmas” on a word document on the computer, then cutting out the individual letters.  For my sizing purposes, my letters were in size 350 font, except for both letter Ms, which were in 325 to keep them in good proportion with my banner size.

*PRO TIP: Trace your letters backwards (the correct side facing the fabric).  That way, you don’t need to worry about erasing the pencil marks on the side you want showing on front of the letters.  If you f*ck up (like me), fear not.  An eraser will remove the pencil marks, and a damp cloth will remove the light marks the eraser will make.  It’ll look just fine.

(This picture shows the letters traced the OPPOSITE way of what I just told you, so if you’re comparing, don’t freak out.  My tip was what I learned while doing it, allowing you to benefit from my mistakes.  Hence, my handy-dandy tip about removing the pencil marks. You’re welcome.)

Trace your letters on your black fabric with a pencil, and then cut them out.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
STEP 8 // Iron the fabric onto the burlap using heat bond hem tape.  The tape cuts easily with scissors, so you can pick and choose how you want to cut it.  I just cut pieces so that I could adhere it all around the edges.  

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

After you arrange the adhesive and make sure it won’t be showing over the sides of your fabric, apply the iron to the fabric based on the iron directions for the fabric you are choosing.  I simply used the highest heat and just did light continuous circles all over the top, and then flipped it over and did it from the back as well.  It adhered just fine.

Do each piece, and then lay them all back out and giggle at how cute they look.

STEP 9 // Arrange the pieces in the color combo you want. Place each letter on top of the desired fabric to make sure you don’t get confused by your pattern.

STEP 10 // Use your ruler to decide where you want your letters to hit.  Knowing you will be losing roughly 1- 1 1/2 inches from the top, position your letters.  I choose to put mine 1 1/2 inches from the bottom peak.  Measure where you want your letter, and then use your ruler as a straight edge horizontally across the bottom of the fabric to ensure you are applying it straight.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

Attach the letters with hot glue, being careful to only burn yourselves a few times.  Remember to move quickly because it’s probably winter and your glue will harden quickly.  Press hard on the letters while the glue hardens to ensure it sticks and is flat.

STEP 11 // After attaching all your letters, get your twine out.  Grab your first letter, depending on which end of the twine you want to feed your letters on– either start with the end (the “s”) if you are adding your letters from the left, or the beginning (the “M” in “Merry”) if you are adding them from the right.

Measure about 1-1 1/2 inches from the top of the piece of burlap, and then fold it back.  For example, mine was about 6 1/2 inches tall.  I took 1 inch off the top, so then it measured 5 1/2 inches height-wise as a final product.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Flip the piece over and press down, making sure to really crease the fabric.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

Then, fold the top over the piece of twine right where the fabric creases.  Moving quickly, apply hot glue to edge of the burlap and press down, creating a space for the twine to run through the back.  Be careful to ONLY glue the edges, and not the twine, as you want to be able to move the lettered pieces across the twine.

Like this:

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

It should look like this when it’s done:

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Continue until all of the letters are applied.  If you want to be lazy (like me), you can stop measuring from the top of each piece and instead start measuring against the side of the piece before it to make sure they are all uniform in height.  Especially because sometimes cutting things is hard and not every single piece will be exactly the same size.

STEP 12 // Cut the twine, leaving about 18 inches on either side of the sign (for safety).

STEP 13 // Freak the f*ck out and send frantic excited text messages to your friends at 9pm on a Friday night about finishing your Christmas craft before Thanksgiving.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

Because… I mean, really.  Look how adorable:

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

And I’m not just talking about the cat.

BONUS STEP 14 // Hang your banner up with lights and other Christmas delights.  Humbly accept compliments on your amazing crafting skills (“Oh, it was really super easy.  This goregous and hilarious girl with this super fun blog taught me how. It was really nothing.”), while actually doing the “I’m so good at this sh*t” tango in your head whenever someone compliments you on how cute it is.

Good job, you.

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Organizational Tips to Increase Productivity

I’m not the tidiest person, neither in the physical world nor my mental world.

I would like to imagine Kelseyland looks something like the Spongebob Squarepants fine dining episode where all the tiny Spongebobs inside his brain freak out, but with tiny Kelseys instead and there are like 3 slightly more sane tiny Kelseys running around behind them with brooms trying to clean up after them, screaming “Guys, stop it! It’ll be okay!”

With also more pink, glitter, spilled cups of coffee and random bobby pins thrown around on the floor.  Probably.

Forgetting an assignment was due until the day of class, or accidentally misplacing an important document was not uncommon for me in college, and is still a bad habit I am trying to work on today. I am queen of the to-do list, and then promptly forgetting I made said list, or meticulously copying things down into a planner, and then leaving my planner in the car during an important meeting.

Some habits are harder to break than others.

However, I have learned, especially since my life has switched from having a library or a designated “work space” during school, to working from home now, that there are a few key things that can increase productivity when you feel overwhelmed.

And, as I’ve learned the past few months, that all starts with getting organized.

1.  Designate a workspace.

This one is tricky, because if you are like me at the moment, you may not have a standing workspace.  It is my current dream to have a home office space– or even just a desk– that I can set up camp at whenever I need to do CSAC stuff.

If you can, designate a spot that is for work only.  Do not take breaks, watch TV, browse the internet, or do non-work things here.  Let your mind associate this spot as a “It’s time to get sh*t done” space, and ride that wave.  Step away from the spot when you need a break, so when you come back, your mind is wiped fresh and you go right back to getting things done.

Keep this space clear and stocked full of everything you need do your thing.  Keeping it cute is a must, but don’t let the style overpower the actual function of the space either.

2. If you don’t have a specific workspace, create one via the “desk-in-a-bag”


This is my current life hack.  My most-used workspace is my bed, because it is the only place in my Mother’s house that I feel like I am away from everything (her, the animals) and able to concentrate.  This is less than ideal because I do a lot of other things in my bed too, like watch TV, browse the internet, read… basically everything I said not to do in #1.  If I can, I will also use the kitchen table, the floor, a table at Panera bread, or anything else to get things done, but usually it’s my bed.  Sometimes you gotta get crafty.
I have learned to work around this constant change by keeping anything and everything I’ve ever needed for my work in one bag that I can tote with me to wherever I need.  I love my work bag, a black monogramed, convertible tote from a ThirtyOne party I hosted last year (which, for some reason, I cannot find online anywhere! Sorry!!).  It’s the perfect size for me to carry my laptop, chargers, my planner, my notebook, the accordion folder I keep documents in, pens, pencils, stapler, envelopes, stamps, post-its, and anything else I might need.  I keep it pretty stocked with my usual supplies, so that I can set up a desk at wherever I need one.
AKA, your adult back-pack.

3. Keep it clean

Avoid clutter wherever you are working.  Keeping your space organized will cut down on time used for searching for things, and (if you’re like me) cut down on the time where your brain feels like it’s fried and you’re so overwhelmed by everything around you that you can’t think and you just end up clutching the sides of your face in anguish.
Invest in de-cluttering strategies.  I’m a big fan of accordion folders, plastic organizing containers, websites like DropBox to organize virtual storage, and cute little pencil bags to hold things.  If everything has a place, you’ll be more likely to put it back in those places and keep your mind cleared.
And, as always, Pinterest is an amazing resource for DIY hacks to organize everything.  You should definitely go look at mine (subtle self promotion, eh?), because lately desks and office spaces have been an obsession of mine.  Check the “Future Home” section for sure. 

4. Write it all down– before, during, AND after work!

If you are a pen and paper kind of person (like me), or even a tech junkie who prefers the latest app, get into the habit of recording everything.  Pick a go-to notebook or app, and stick with it.
Before you start working, set up whatever note-taking tool you desire, and keep it handy.  
Create a to-do list before you start, and decide what you are going to get done.  But don’t let the list go far, because chances are you’ll come up with new tasks, or new ideas while you’re working.  Then, reevaluate the list when you’re done.  Transfer items to a planner, if applicable, or to a calendar app on your phone. 
Pro Tip: If you are able, copy important things, like syllabus dates if you’re a student, calendars for work, schedules, etc, and not only transfer those dates into your planner of choice, but also stick the actual hard copies all same place in your planner, or other organizational space of choice.  Keeping them all in one place (like… say your desk-in-a-bag!) makes them easy to grab and double check things.
The key is to make sure everything important is recorded in the same place, so you always know where to check back to if need be.  Learn to reference this spot before and after work to make sure you’re not forgetting anything– like your 60-point nutritional assessment project that you forgot about until 1am on the last day of Fall Break, and pulled an all-nighter to finish it, and then drive 5 hours back to school to go to class.  But I’m not talking from experience or anything.
The more organized you are, the more quickly you can get things done, and the sooner you can take a nap (or browse Bloglovin’).  It’s a win-win either way.

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The Budget Binder You Didn’t Know You Needed

For the past few months I have been on a total saving-my-money kick.

And if you don’t count all the Chipotle, clothes, and beauty products I have purchased recently, I’m doing a really good job of it.  (I needed all of those, I swear.)

Around the end of August, I stumbled upon a free printable Budget Binder on Pinterest by the lovely Mique from Thirty Handmade Days (pronounced Mickey).  The pattern was adorable, which immediately enticed me, and I wasted no time.  Using an old binder, the printable, and my online banking, I set down to create a budget for myself and a way to monitor my money. As someone who often lacks organizational skills, this turned out to be the perfect fix for me.

With having two jobs– and now three, as I have recently been voted into the position of Director of Marketing and Media for the CSAC, hold your applause please– and especially one where my primary income is cash (waitressing), my dad wouldn’t shut up about the need for I wanted something more concrete to keep track of my finances.

I fell in love with this printable, as it not only has a weekly and monthly ledger, but also has a month-at-a-glance sheet where you can keep track of bills, and other expenses like groceries, insurance payments, etc, all in one place.  You can budget your money for the month, as well as see how much you are starting with vs. how much you end with.

I’m not going to share my actual binder, as it seems invasive (and stupid) to me to share details about my finances, but I will break down my routine using the printables and how I organize my binder:

The first tab in my binder is Weekly Ledgers.  I enter expenses on this sheet almost daily.  Whenever I spend money, or deposit money, it goes on this ledger.  Withdrawals are left normal, but deposits are highlighted in a blue highlighter I keep in the binder.   Everything gets entered on this ledger, from stopping for coffee, to cash from dog sitting, paying a phone bill, or depositing my cash tips from Applebee’s.  I have also begun to make a habit of slipping receipts (when I remember to save them) and pay stubs into the pocket of the divider at the front of this section, just in case I need to make a return or need to recall something I did.

The second tab is the Monthly Ledger.  As I don’t have many big expenses, other than bills, this has been mainly used to keep track of money coming in vs. money going out.  Each week or so, I write the date, the amount in my accounts, and the difference between the last time I recorded them.  So I tangibly see how much I am spending/bringing in and how it is adding up.  It’s not exactly what the printable was designed to be used for, as I do leave the “D/W” and description box blank, but it serves my purpose well.

The third tab is the Savings information.  I keep track of savings account information here.  Any withdrawals or deposits in my savings account gets entered here.  The end.

The fourth tab is Month-At-A-Glance.  I do follow the format on this one.  At the beginning of each month, I fill out what I can, such as expected expenses: phone bill, car insurance, car payment, credit card payment, expected budget for gas and groceries, etc. etc.  Then I fill in what my savings started at, and how much money I began the month with.  Throughout the month, I fill in some extras under “expenses”.  For example, September had some eye doctor appointments and purchasing new contacts I wasn’t expecting to get, etc. etc.  Then, at the end of the month, I fill out the ending balance for my savings, and the ending balance for the month.

This one may sound redundant, as I am already keeping track of savings vs. expenses in the Monthly Ledger, but seeing the month all splayed like this is SUPER helpful.  Seeing patterns in my spending and saving has allowed me to budget for “play money” as opposed to being in super-saver mode like I had been all summer.  It has also allowed me to be able to plan for unexpected things that may come up in the future.  Thanks to doing this, I know on average how much “surplus” I have each month after paying mandatory expenses, if (G-d forbid) anything were to happen that requires big money, I will know my capacity to handle it.

The website, Thirty Handmade Days, has a ton of other super cute and handy printables that I intend to use in my own life later on, so I recommend going to take a little browse around.  I seriously got an organizational high off of this, and it made me feel like someone who actually had their sh*t together, so I highly suggest checking it out if you need a little nudge too.

Or, if nothing else, just print them off and leave them around so other people (your parents) think you have your life together.  It’s a win-win either way.

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