I'm not sure why it surprises me each year, but it does. The holidays always seem to sneak up on me faster than ever. Throughout the year, I remind myself to prep early, get all of the holiday decorating, cards, and gift planning done early on so that I'm not stressed at the end. And then, every year, BOOM: it's suddenly December.
You, too? Am I the only one who feels like this year after year?
We have, so far, gotten into the holiday spirit in a few different ways. We visited three tree farms last weekend searching for the perfect tree. It was an absolutely beautiful, sunny, crisp but dry autumn day – just right for Christmas tree hunting.
The third tree farm we visited was the winner, and we found a beautiful 8-foot Douglas Fir to take home. I know that Nobles are all the rage, but there was something about this tree that called out to us. We all love it !
After the tree-trimming and some house decorating last Sunday, the kids went to bed...and I went into panic mode. It was the eve of December 1st and I hadn't yet created the kids' Advent Calendar!
I whipped together a design and somehow was able to get the Advent Calendar up and ready for the kids by the time they got home from school Monday. Phew! Here's a look at some of the activities in this year's calendar:
Next on the holiday prep list: addressing our Christmas cards.
As a graphic designer, I used to put a lot of thought and effort into designing our holiday cards, but now that the kids are older and our schedules are busier, I don't have the time or the energy to invest in designing cards that match our home decor theme for the year, or cards with really creative design aspects. With all of the options available out there, it's great to know I can still choose from some nice, creative template designs for my holiday cards from a brand I already trust, like Staples.
As a small business owner, Staples is my go-to office supply store for all of my supplies. But did you also know that Staples Copy & Print offers a variety of designs in personalized holiday cards and photo gifts? They do!
That said, I had never ordered cards from them, so I was nervous. What if the cardstock wasn't as thick as I normally like it to be? What if the print quality is off? My fears were put to rest when I received the cards. They were fantastic!
The cards are printed on their standard super thick matte cardstock, which is a really nice quality cardstock, and I chose the custom rounded edges option. The print quality is wonderful, and there were a lot of different design options that even I, the picky graphic designer, could find a few different designs that I liked and suit my family's personal style. Ordering online was a breeze, truly. I'm really happy with the way that these cards turned out!
Custom Photo Gifts
While on the Staples site, I also decided to do some multitasking and work on crossing off a few Christmas gifts off my list as well. Staples has a surprisingly large variety of custom photo gifts from which to choose. Mugs, canvas prints, and pillows are always fun gift options.
I ordered an 8 x 10" canvas of a photo of me and my taken on my press trip to NYC for the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas trip (more on that to come in the new year...can't wait to share, but in the meantime, visit my YouTube channel to see the videos I made!). It turned out beautifully. I'm sharing it here because I am fairly certain my mother doesn't read my blog... or even know where to find it online... so if you know her in real life, please keep this gift hush hush! ;)
Here's a wide shot, plus a close-up shot of the corner so you can see the detail.
Also, I needed something thin that could ship easily to my mother-in-law overseas, so I chose the custom ornament.
Again, I had never ordered a custom photo gift item from Staples before, so I was honestly a little nervous. However, the ordering process was super easy, there were lots of pre-designed template options with shape, color, and font choices, and shipping on the custom ornament was really fast!
The print quality of the ornament is slightly off from what I expected, however the quality of the ornament itself actually somewhat exceeded my expectations. This will make such a nice gift, and the prices are great! Especially with the extra 20% coupon code I have for you at the end of this post ;)
I also ordered a stocking stuffer gift for my husband: a custom luggage tag.
This design is one of the options in the pre-made templates, and it turned out better than I expected as well! The quality of the material and the printing on the tag are both fantastic. Thank you, Staples, for helping me cross of more items on my holiday list.
Now, on to holiday baking, a little more shopping, a whole lot of gift wrapping, and continuing to address and mail out our holiday cards. Oh, and plan Christmas dinner, which we host. :)
What about you? What do you have left on your Holiday To Do List?
If you still have holiday cards to order and/or gifts to purchase, I can definitely recommend looking at the Staples. And to help you save more money (which we can all use this time of year, right?), I have two coupon codes below which you can use.