7th House on the Left

When it comes to gift-giving around the holidays, the worst feeling in the world is thinking of a special gift for someone but not having enough time to make it happen. We don’t want that to happen to you! Check our top five favorite thinking-ahead gift ideas…

1. A Piece of Ireland – Nope, not a snow globe with a leprechaun in it. A honest-to-goodness piece of land IN Ireland. Okay, so it’s only 1 square foot of land, and you can’t build on it, but isn’t that an awesome gift? For $49.99 per plot, you can own a piece of the Ireland countryside and help to preserve it for future generations. I did this for Greg our first Christmas and he totally geeked out over it. He’s traveled all over the UK, but he’s never had the chance to go to Ireland! This idea makes it to the “thinking-ahead list” because it takes a few weeks for processing. When you get your packet in the mail, you’ll receive a certificate of ownership, deed of assurance, a photo of your plot (perfect for framing when you give the gift!), as well as directions to your plot if you ever make it to the Emerald Isle.

2. 365 “I Love You”s – This idea is really simple, but it’s something simple that would mean a lot to your special someone. All you need is 365 small pieces of paper, a jar, and a little time. Just write a message on each piece of paper and place them all in a jar. My mom and Aunt did this for my grandparents for their anniversary a few years back. Shortly after, it became a family joke when someone did something for you, they’d say, “Just stick it in the jar!”.

3. A Corner on the World Wide Web – If you have a friend who wants to start their own business or a daughter who is interested in blogging, a domain name is the perfect gift. If you happen to be tech savvy (or know someone who is), you could even go ahead and get them started by setting up a simple website or blog design. If you are looking to do a quick website, we recommend Showit and a template from SiteHouse by Promise Tangeman. Promise is a crazy talented graphic designer, and it shows in her templates. They’re unique, oozing with style, totally customizable, and affordable. For as blog templates, check out The Cutest Blog on the Block or Shabby Blogs.

4. Commissioned Art Piece – For the art-lover in your life, a one-of-a-kind art piece is the ticket! Etsy is full of artists offering commissioned pieces for affordable prices (like the piece above by Kristen Daughtery). To find an artist who will create a custom piece just for you, just put “commissioned art” in the search box on Etsy.

5. DIY – A DIY project might sound like a no-brainer, but for me, Christmas DIY projects always come to mind when the hustle and bustle is well under way and there isn’t much time left for crafting. If you get started now, you can go ahead and start collecting your supplies and maybe even pre-make a few things as well. For a plethora of Christmas projects, just search for “Christmas DIY” over at Pinterest. You’ll be amazed at the amount of high-quality, awesome projects you’ll find – like the Gift Card Snow Globe above. So fun and clever! For more of my “pinned” DIY projects, visit my board here.

Do you have anything to add to the list? Share your ideas with us in the comment section…

…and checking it twice. There are 156 days left until Christmas! That means you’ve let half of the year slip by without planning for the longest holiday season of the year! Okay, so maybe the situation isn’t quite as dire as I make it sound, but now is an excellent time to start checking things off your “to-do list”! Here are a few things we are going to try to do around here in order to make our Christmas season a little more jolly…

1) Start shopping. Spacing out Christmas shopping over the next 6 months will be much easier on your wallet than buying everything between Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Buying about 3 gifts every month will keep budgeting easy and cut down on the usual hustle and bustle of the Christmas shopping season. Every time you buy a gift, put them in a designated area (like the guest room closet). If you tend to have a bad memory (like me) stick a post-it on the item to remind yourself who it’s for.

2) Wrap it up. Go ahead and wrap any presents you buy. Leave the bows off and add them when it’s time to put the gifts under the tree so they’ll look crisp and freshly wrapped. You can find Christmas wrapping paper around this time of year online (Whimsy Press, one of Ash’s favorite paper stores, has all of their holiday paper on sale right now!). Pre-wrapping your presents will save you a ton of time as long as you’re diligent about labeling them as to who they go to and what they are. Otherwise, your presents might be as much a surprise to you as your friends and family!

3) Start preparing the house now. We’re not talking about cleaning, necessarily; just minor repairs and enhancements. Focus on the rooms your guests will spend the most time in, like the guest bedroom(s), the living room and the kitchen. If you’ve got dents, nicks, or scratches to fix, or even minor enhancements you’d like to make to these rooms, now is the time to get them done. Slowly but surely, you can get everything looking picture perfect before they arrive!

4) Be the first to make travel arrangements. Ticket prices aren’t the only reason to make your plans for travel now rather than four months from now. As the holidays approach, you’re going to find it harder and harder to make plans that fit into everyone’s schedules. By scheduling now, you’re sure to be the first person on anybody’s calendar.

5) Make your list. While I’m not typically a big fan of “Christmas lists”, sometimes it’s nice to be able to point to a place where they can check out reasonably and a few not-so-reasonably-priced items (just for fun) on my Christmas wish list. We found MyRegistry.com when we were moving into our house. We had a lot of family members ask us what we wanted/needed for the house. It’s always kinda awkward — you know what I mean? My mom asked us to make a “wish list” and that got us thinking. After a little Google search, we found MyRegistry.com. And I have to say, it’s a pretty cool website. You can add items from any website and make notes about color, quantity, size, etc. or even where you plan on using it in the house. Whenever someone purchases a gift from your list, it automatically updates it as purchased. One major perk about MyRegistry.com is you can put a password on your list so you can share it with family members and close friends only. Ash and I have ended up making our own individual lists for each other to work off of – since she dubbed me the “hardest person to shop for”. It makes shopping a little easier and fun too!

6) What’s Aunt Martha’s new address? This shouldn’t take too much time, but when the Christmas season hits, your time becomes even more valuable. Take an hour or two to make up a Christmas card list and talk to the people on that list to make sure you have their current address. If you’re a bit embarrassed to call your long-lost relatives and tell them you have no idea where they are now or how they got there, just call your mom! She’s a mom and she’s bound to have the down low on where and why. Btw, I don’t have an Aunt Martha.

7) Get the party started. On top of presents and travel, you need to think about Christmas parties! Let’s face it: Parties are expensive. By planning out your Christmas party (or parties) now, you can be on the look out for things that will complete your party theme. Like I said before, you can make budgeting your Christmas season much easier by spreading out the cost of your party over the next 5-6 months. Like the Christmas presents, keep all of your party supplies in a designated area so you don’t loose track of them between now and then.

8 ) Pick a family, any family. Along the same lines as travel, you might want to go ahead and start discussing with your significant other whose family you’re going to spend Christmas with. That way, when your family starts asking who you’re going to spend Christmas with, you’ll have an answer and explanation ready to go!

9) Prepare to deck the halls! Take a little time to do an inventory of your decorations. The sooner you know what you have, the sooner you can start designing your tree and general decor. That way, when you see a cool decoration or ornament, you can grab it up, knowing it’s going to go great with your overall style. Also, while you’ve got a few of the Christmas boxes down from the attic, take a few minutes to make sure the lights work. There’s nothing worse than getting your whole tree or worse, your whole house, covered in lights, then realizing half of them don’t work!

10) Create a Savings plan. As a final tip, try your best to set aside a few dollars every paycheck as a Christmas fund. Vacations, presents, and parties, no matter how well you plan them, can still end up costing more than you’d expect. The best way to rack up credit card debt is spending too much at Christmas time. If you’ve set a few bucks aside, you’ll have less to worry about in the long run and have a credit-free Christmas!

Do you have any helpful tip to add to the list? Share it with us in the comment section…

Santa house photo found here.


posted by Ashley  /  22 Comments

Break out the Christmas music, hang the mistletoe, bake some cookies, put in the “It’s a Wonderful Life” DVD, and get ready to deck the halls because it’s Christmas in July at 7th House on the Left!

Yes, it’s supposed to look like a cheesy, Photoshopped Christmas scene. So don’t hate : )

Over the next few days, we’re going to talk about ways to gear up for the Christmas season. Sure, it’s a little early, but people wait until the last minute every year, and there’s no better way to fight procrastination than a little pre-work and planning. We’re going to talk about thoughtful think ahead gift ideas, do some DIY projects, and generally try to inspire you to plan ahead for a season that should be filled with joy, family, and friends – not stress. We’re hoping that by doing some of these things earlier in the year, we (and you) will be able to take more time to simply enjoy the season.

eclectic christmas tree

When it comes to decorating for Christmas, our first thought is the tree. It’s the focal point of our holiday decor, and it sets the tone for the rest of the house. Ideas for Christmas tree decorations actually start trickling in the back of my mind around this time of year. Early? Absolutely! But I’m a planner, and I love Christmas! Last year, by Christmas time, we were knee-deep in boxes and didn’t get a chance to decorate much, aside from the tree and a wreath on the front door. Even though we aren’t “done” with any of our rooms, the boxes are (mostly) gone, and I’m super excited about decorating for Christmas this year.

eclectic christmas tree

Some people like to change their Christmas tree from year to year, but we’ve used the same decorations for the past three years. Our tree, which is on the eclectic side of things, has a combination of silver, gold, bronze, red and a smidgen of white. And lots of glitter. Lots. When it comes to Christmas tree decorations, the more glitter – the better. I love how the white lights make the glittery decorations shimmer and bounce the light around the room.

Every year, we switch it up a little here and there. A few years ago, we added black and white photos a la Pottery Barn, and it looked pretty cool. This past year, Greg thought it would be cool if we used antique cameras instead…

We liked this addition so much, I think we’re going to bring it back this year. Another thing we’d like to do is add more white to the mix. I think it would really bring out all of the white accents we have going on in the room. Yeah, the Christmas wheels in my brain are warming up now!

Since I was already on the Christmas tree train of thought, I thought I’d put together a few mini-mood boards for different Christmas tree styles. These are just small collections of ornaments and other decorations that might look good together. Hopefully one of these will inspire you to go ahead and get some new ornaments or decorations now (while some are on sale!), rather than waiting ’til the last minute.

jewel tone christmas tree

peacock round glass ornament, silver + gold snowflake, green spike ball, white + silver glitter flower ornamentturquoise teardropfuchsia teardrop, glitter peacock, shiny green glitter scallop glass ornament

natural rustic christmas ornaments

mini brown owl ornament, snow branchgold + silver sunflowerwren feather clip, venetian design ornamentbrown pinecone ornament, birds nest, mistletoe glass ornament

modern whimsy christmas decorations

red ball spray, mirror ball ornament, green snowflake flower ornament, clear snowflakes, whimsical polka dot stocking ornament, circles teardrop ornamentraz red + white ball garland

So what about you? When do you start thinking about the Christmas tree? Do you have go with a theme? Do you use the same ornaments every year or like to change it up? Have any Christmas planning tips? Share them in the comments section… Come back tomorrow for another dose of Christmas in July!