18 cheap and easy holiday DIY projects to decorate your whole house
"Bring an animated look to your Christmas tree with ornaments that appear like snowcaps straight out of the classic movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Give the impression that your pretty Christmas tree ornaments have been left out in the cold with a coating of glass beads for a delicately frosted effect." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Recreate the coveted look of vintage mercury glass with silver, sparkle and shine." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Metallic trim in various styles arranged in fun designs lends Christmas ornaments a playful, tactile quality." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"To achieve a retro feel, decorate with bold stripes in bright colours of different thicknesses to shiny gold ornaments." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Whether adorned with iconic festive images or personalized with names, these beautiful Christmas ornaments made with simple freehand drawings offer character and charm." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Add these adorable felt ornaments to your Christmas tree." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Add this festive winter wreath to your holiday decor." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Add a festive flair to your home with these easy-to-make felt garlands." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Learn how to make your own felt pinecone ornaments, perfect for the holidays." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Dense enough to keep its shape yet flexible enough to manipulate, felt is ideal for this holiday DIY project. Though the ruffle technique used to cover the Styrofoam cone looks quite complicated, it’s actually very easy to do. And despite the amount of cutting involved, the stunning result is well worth the time and effort." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"This year, create your very own hanging advent calendar." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Managing editor and resident crafter Catherine Therrien modernizes your grandmother's doilies by placing them in embroidery hoops. The resulting wall hangings highlight the delicate snowflake like patterns." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"A cone-shaped Christmas stocking inspired by the Victorian period is both glamorous and cozy. Although this project requires a sewing machine, it’s still simple to make. A pompom fringe and a grosgrain ribbon are all that are needed to make this stocking worthy of receiving gifts." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"A simple napkin ring fashioned out of a strip of felt and a decorative button brings a homespun feel to an elegant place setting. This project is easy to create – your sewing skills won’t be put to the test here – and requires the use of very little fabric. It will take you less than an hour to create a set of napkin rings for six place settings." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Whether you're hosting a cocktail party or a sit-down dinner, your guests will always appreciate walking away with these personalized cake party favours." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Treat your guests to a cute and colourful party favour with a refreshing surprise." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
"Try this spin on decorative and festive candy loot bags." For instructions on this holiday DIY click here.
How to: Plan the perfect holiday party
Whether it's an ugly sweater office party or your annual turkey curry buffet, every savvy hostess knows that planning ahead is the key to a successful holiday party. Use the handy to-do list below to stay organized.
1 Make a party planner timeline
One month before
Make master list of everything that needs to be done before the party
Pick, purchase and post invitations
Hire any caterers and bartenders
Two weeks before
Write out grocery lists
Make sure you have all necessary dishware, glassware and servingware
Seven days before
Pick up liquor
Rent or borrow any dishware
Three or four days before
Grocery shop (except for meat, fish and other perishables that need to remain fresh)
One or two days before
Purchase and set out flowers
One day before
Make list of what you’re cooking, breaking every dish down into specific tasks
Grocery shop for meat, fish and other perishables
Do any advance cooking and food prep, like baking make-ahead desserts
Tidy up any small last-minute messes
Budget tip: Just have the caterer drop off the food and serve it yourself.
MEDIUM: Bartenders and Servers
Do the cooking and prep work yourself, and then have someone serve the food and drinks and clear the dirty dishes.
Budget tip: Pay a young family member or neighbour to help serve.
LOW: Dish rentals
Cut down on cleanup duty by renting dishware. Plus, you won't have to worry about running out of glassware or cutlery.
3 Calculate quantities
ALCOHOL: 1 drink per person per hour
Look online for a calculator to figure out the percentages of beer, wine or spirits you’ll need.
HORS D’OEUVRES: 3 per person per hour
Have a mix of sweet and savoury, and keep it simple.
ICE: 1 pound per guest
Set out tubs of ice and bottled drinks so guests can help themselves.
BARTENDERS: 1 per 50 people
Paying for a bartender is worth it. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck mixing drinks all night.
SERVERS: 1 per 15 guests
Ask the servers to dress in a way that suits the event – they should blend into the party.
4 Clean the house
DURING THE PARTY
For more fab holiday hosting tips, check out our Ultimate savvy hostess guide!
Buying guide: The truth about thread count
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
What is thread count, really?
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
What to look for when buying sheets
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
What to avoid when buying sheets
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
What do you prefer?
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
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