Elf on the Shelf :: A Cautionary Tale {Plus a Free Printable}

Our Elf is usually boring each year (which I am totally fine with after having him for 8 years).
We just move him from spot to spot. 
Last year, I decided to step up my "elf game" one night.
 I had this idea for awhile & I finally executed it last year.
 I made a note for the elf to hold next to some magic elf seeds (starlight mints)
 The kids will plant them in the garden tomorrow and then the next morning our garden will be full of candy canes.
So cute, right?!?!?

Well.....let me tell you how it went down.
 Magic Elf Seeds "A Cautionary Tale"......
So, the Magic Elf Seeds were a huge hit in the morning. 
The kids were so excited when they saw them. 
It was raining when they woke up, so I told them they could plant them in the garden when the rain stopped. Fast forward a few hours (the rain has stopped) Luke was playing with his rescue bots downstairs & the girls were upstairs playing American Girl Dolls and I was putting away laundry. 
10 minutes later, Luke comes up stairs and says "I planted all the magic seeds in the garden" 
We go outside an sure enough, Luke has planted all the seeds by himself. He was so proud. The girls on the other hand, FREAK OUT and start crying & screaming. 
They were so mad he did that without him. The girls start digging in the dirt trying to find them so they can replant them. 
They are getting covered in mud. Luke starts crying because they are digging them up. 
I tell the girls to stop digging them up and that they can water the seeds. 
They are still hysterical, but agree to this. Claire gets the hose and waters half the garden bed. 
Then, she hands the hose to Kate. 
Kate takes the hose, aims it at Luke and sprays it in his face and screams "That's what you get for planting the magic seeds without us" 
Luke starts crying again and chases Kate through the muddy garden. 
All 3 kids were crying & covered in mud. EPIC FAIL. 
All I could do was laugh. It was HYSTERICAL.
The kids got over their fight later that day & all was well.

I call the next part of the story.....Magic Elf Seeds "A Cautionary Tale", Part 2

So, that night Kevin and I got home from a fun dinner out with friends. 
I decided that yes, I would go plant the candy canes because I knew how much joy it would bring my children. I was excited to "plant" the candy canes in the garden that night & hoped that the candy canes in the morning would redeem the epic fail of the Magic Elf Seeds.
My mother in law was at our house because she babysat our kids while we were at dinner. 
I said, "I am going to go plant the candy canes" 
Both her and Kevin said that I needed to unwrap the candy canes because how can candy canes grow with the plastic on them?
I wanted to be lazy and just plant them with the wrappers on and that way if they wanted a candy cane, they could unwrap in the morning & eat one. 
Kevin and my mother in law said they must be unwrapped now because it's more realistic. 
I said fine & they helped me unwrap them. Then I go out in the 30 degree temperature at almost 1am in the morning and plant the candy canes in the garden bed.

Fast forward to the morning. My kids don't even mention the magic elf seeds. Hours go by....it hasn't even crossed their mind that there might be a surprise in the garden. I am annoyed....ungrateful kids. LOL!
Finally at almost noon, Luke looks out his window and says "Our magic seeds grew!!!" 

At this point I was brushing one of the girls hair because her hair is full of knots and I wanted it to look nice for church tonight. 
 I say "No one is going outside to look at the garden until I finish brushing out this hair. We are all going outside together." A few minutes later the hair is shiny, brushed & doesn't look like a rat's nest anymore. We all go outside together & see the amazing Candy Cane Garden.
All 3 kids are excited about the candy canes and they each bend down to grab a few. 
Then, I hear a scream. My lovely daughter whose hair I just spent 20 minutes brushing has a CANDY CANE that is stuck in her hair.
 As she bent over to grab one of the candy canes, they were wet & sticky (since they weren't in their wrappers) and her hair is long that as she bent over to get a candy cane, one got stuck to the front of her hair. Are you kidding me?!?!? She starts crying because now her hair is sticky & she realizes I will have to brush it out again, which she hates. 
I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this point, but I am just glad Kevin & my sister Elyse were here to witness the entire thing. 
The other 2 kids are mad because they say that the candy canes are gross because they are sticky, wet, have dirt stuck on them & they can't eat them. 
I then take the crying child inside, who now has sticky hair &I have to wash her hair to get all the stickiness out. 

Good times!!!!!!

 Moral of the story? 
Just keep the Elf on the damn shelf and don't try and be creative....it will backfire. Haha!

But, if you do want to do this idea, I decided to make the printable available to you as well. 
I did 2 different sayings...Plant in your Garden or Plant in your Yard.
I also left 2 of them blank, so you could make up other notes from your elf if you wanted to.

{Click to download. Right click & then Save.}

Our elf will be bringing these Magic Elf Seeds again this year....we need to redeem ourselves from last year's fiasco! 
 Now there is an additional Moral of the story....If you decide to do these "awesome" Magic Elf Seeds, make sure you keep the candy cane wrappers on when you plant them so that your kids can actually eat the Candy Canes :)



Ugly Christmas Sweater Party {2017}

Before we had kids Kevin and I used to host an Ugly Sweater Party each December.
But then, life got busy and we stopped throwing the party.
Our friends encouraged us to have it again this year.
Who am I to say no to a party?

Can we talk about my Ugly Sweater (really a sweatshirt)
I mean....was this made for me or what?!?!
I saw it a month ago on some Facebook ad & I had to have it. I knew it would be perfect for our party. Mine is sold out, but HERE are ones just like it!

I had to "ugly" it up, so I wore a Christmas turtleneck from Walmart under it.
I got the light up Reindeer antlers in NYC when we saw the Rockettes.

For the party, I had a bunch of heavy appetizers.
I made my Blue Cheese Bacon Dip {Recipe HERE}
 I made a Veggie Christmas Tree & served it with hummus:
 Brie Cheese & Crackers

Tri Tip Sliders:

 Spinach Dip:

 Pioneer Woman's Artichoke Dip:

 Pesto & Goat Cheese Flat Bread:
 BBQ Pulled Pork Flat Bread:
 It's not a Christmas Party if you don't have Schweddy Balls ;)
 These are actually my Savory Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs. Recipe {HERE}

Drink Station set up in the kitchen.

See that pitcher? It was a Cranberry Spritzer....Cranberry Juice, Diet 7up, Vodka. I garnished it with fresh cranberries. SO good!

No party is complete without a dessert table!

Kate made a rainbow loom Christmas sweater ornament for the Christmas tree on our kitchen table:

For the desserts, I bought some mini bunditinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes:

I made Peanut Butter Ritzies. {Recipe HERE}

Can we talk about how AMAZING these Ugly Sweater cookies turned out?
 I got them HERE
 The Ugly Sweater Party was also a competition!
 There were 4 categories...Best All Around, Funniest Sweater, Most Creative & Best Couple.
 I had medals made for the winners. It says 1st Annual Party because the last Ugly Sweater Party was over 8 years ago, so we are resurrecting the annual party this year.
 I got the medals HERE. The Winners also got a gift card to Total Wine :)

 I am so bummed I didn't get photos of everyone who was at the party & their amazing sweaters, but here are some of them....
 Our friend Erik wore his mother in laws sweater. Classic!

  Some of the winners...
I am SO bummed I didn't get a photo of our friend Mike who won Best All Around. He dressed up as Buddy the Elf. Full costume including the wig! It was hysterical!

One of my best friends since preschool was in town (she lives in Santa Barbara & they came up here because of all the fires) Loved that she was able to come to our party.
About half the ladies...I was so bad about taking photos at the party, too busy having fun!

It was such a fun night, thanks to all of our friends for getting ugly with us! 
Can't wait for next year's Ugly Sweater Party! 


A few reminders.....I have a $250 Target Gift Card Giveaway going on! 
Click HERE to enter! Ends tonight!
I am also placing a bulk order of Lash Boost!
It comes with Lash Boost (will last 3-4 months) & a cute travel bag:
 You get the cute travel bag & lash boost for $135.
If you buy TWO of them, you get it for $244....so $122 each! 
 Get one for you & one for your mom, sister, best friend, etc!
This is good for current or new customers! 
Email me to order!


Our Halls are Decked + Elf on the Shelf

I don't know about you, but decorating my house for Christmas is something I look forward to every year. I just love the way that our home feels during December....twinkling lights, Christmas music playing 24/7, baking cookies, the smell of the Christmas tree...it's just a magical time.
Growing up, the day after Thanksgiving, our family would load up in the car and head to the Santa Cruz mountains to cut down our Christmas tree. It was one of my favorite traditions.
Kevin and I did this the first 5 years of our marriage (before we had kids) And we have have only done it 3 times since having kids. There is nothing like going into the mountains & chopping down your tree. So fun. 
We hadn't gone since 2010, but because of the California drought (and dry trees) and busy schedule we decided to postpone again this year because we were in New York City during Thanksgiving this year. One of these years, I hope to go back to the mountains to get our Christmas tree. Until then, a pre-cut tree from a local Christmas tree lot will do :)
3 years ago, I gave up "control" and let the kids decorate the entire tree by themselves.
Kevin and I put the lights on, but let the kids to all the ornaments.
 It feels good to "let it go" and just let them decorate how they want to. I remember my mom let my sisters and I decorate the tree how we wanted when we were kids. I must say, the kids do a pretty good job at decorating!
 They only broke 1 ornament this year :)
 So, here is a little tour of how our house looks decorated for the holidays!
Christmas cards displayed on the window by our dining room table. I love seeing all my friends beautiful families!

 As you can tell, I love using ornaments as decorations :)
One of my favorite decorations is our Willow Tree Nativity Set that we got for a wedding gift 15 years ago. I love it.
For the kids, we have the Little People Nativity Set. They love playing with it!
Kevin's mom made this Advent Calendar for us when Kate was born. It is all handmade with felt & burlap. All the Larson kids/cousins had these growing up.Nighttime views....because Christmas decorations are so much prettier at night. 
 I love sitting on our couches in here, listening to Christmas music & reading
There is just something so calming about sitting by the Christmas tree.
 We got a couple new ornaments this year.....
 Got these for a couple dollars each at Macy's in NYC on Black Friday. Probably the last Black Friday shopping I will do for another 10 years ;)
 Claire picked out our tree this year in less than 30 seconds of being on the tree lot.
It's a nice wide tree! 
 Stockings...gotta love classic Pottery Barn Kids

Our staircase:

 Other Decorations around our house (I like to keep things very simple because I don't like a lot of clutter!)
In our family room, I just have a glass Christmas tree on a side table: 
 And some JOY letters above our TV:

 In our kitchen, I have a Merry Christmas banner hanging up:
 This year I got a live tabletop tree for my kitchen table:
I love having a fresh tree in our kitchen!
 The kids love eating their meals around a Christmas tree.
 I also have a wreath on my kitchen window.
 I love how this room looks at night.
 In years past, I have put a fresh wreath here, but it dries out so quickly because of the heater in the house, so this year I got this wreath instead.
 This is my view each night when I watch my Hallmark Christmas movies :)
 Front Porch:

Kate made this snowman with her Girl Scout troop last year (the other side is a pilgrim, it's so cute)

Last year, Kevin's mom gave each of the kids mini trees for their rooms.

And, of course..... another main decoration we have in our house during Christmas! Our Elf on the Shelf is named Candle.
For the first 5 years that we had our elf, he arrived on the first Sunday of Advent which is the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
2 years ago, waited until the first Sunday in December because we wanted to have one less week of dealing with the Elf :)  We left this letter for the kids:

(A little background: Marshmallow the Elf is Candle's "sister". A few years ago, Claire wanted us to have a girl elf instead of a boy elf, so I bought an elf skirt at Target. One of the mornings that the Elf arrived, the Elf had the skirt on & a note saying that Candle was sick, but Marshmallow (his sister) would be filling in for a few days. So, since then, Marshmallow makes an appearance 1 or 2 times each December) 

The kids loved the letter (and Kevin & I loved the fact that we delayed the Elf by a week)  so we this letter last year:
So, just like last year our elf left a letter saying he was asked to be a part of the "N.E.W.T" (New Elf Training Program) Our kids thought it was so special our elf was chosen to be a part of it.
 And, I loved that we only had to do the elf for a few weeks instead of a month.
You better believe our elf was asked to be a part of the N.E.W.T again this year.
Here is this year's letter:
Feel free to this idea :)  

Our elf finally showed up this year on December 10th...that means we only have to do the elf for 2 weeks. SCORE!!!!  #parentsoftheyear

 Candle the Elf arrived...He is always in the same spot on day 1....in the bowl of ornaments on the coffee table in the living room.  
Candle the Elf brought them these amazing Lego Advent Calendars. These are SO fun!! First year we have done these...my kids love Legos & they love getting a new lego set each morning. 

Our Elf always brings their Christmas pajamas....Carter's brand are the best...their pj's are so comfy, hold up well and have cute designs. This is the only pj brand my kids wear :)

 The kids were so excited to see that Candle had finally arrived.
 We do Elf on the Shelf slightly different in our house. Our elf does not "watch" the girls and report back to Santa. That is just not our style. Our Elf just likes to move around each night & the girls look forward to finding his new hiding spots. It is the first thing they do each morning.
 And, I don't really do elaborate Elf ideas. Most of the places our Elf hides are simple. Maybe once a week I will do something more elaborate, like a snow angel with flour, fill the sink with marshmallows in their bathroom like the Elf is taking a bath, but mostly we just move him around.

And, because I have forgotten to move him in years past, last year I started setting an alarm on my phone...anyone else have an alarm for their elf? Every night at 10:00 it goes off :)

Now that the girls can read (and sometimes play on my phone, I don't have the reminder set as Move the Elf.....I just put "You've got to move it, move it!" 
Remember that song?!? 
Thanks for taking a peek into our simply decorated house.
 I love the way our home feels during Christmas.
The twinkle lights, the warmth, the anticipation of Christ's birth.
December is just a magical month, don't you agree?


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