Holiday Centerpieces [on a budget]

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I had the pleasure of hosting a casual family get together over Thanksgiving. Nothing too fancy- chili, macaroni and cheese and some spirits. No need for place settings but I wanted to have the house feel like the holidays without having to decorate for Christmas just yet. I’m like Nordstrom: you will not see Christmas here until Thanksgiving. Obviously due to the holiday I had time restrictions and I’m always looking to be budget friendly. So I scoured the grocery store earlier in the week for a little inspiration.

What I got:

4 bags of cranberries at $1.50 each

2 large naval oranges at 99 cents a pound

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I started by finding some of my favorite vases with broad or straight sides. And of course my favorite mason jar. Then I thinly sliced the oranges (a mandolin is helpful here if you aren’t a great slicer) and discarded the smaller slices and the ones without the star burst pattern. I set them aside to make a little pot of stove top scent (Psst: Toss orange slices, 5 whole cloves, a splash of vanilla and a couple of cinnamon sticks in with 2 cups of water and simmer for a holiday scent that fills the house and lasts all day!).

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I lined the sides of my vases with the orange slices and filled them with cranberries. Then I filled each vase with water until the cranberries were just slightly afloat.

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I placed each vase around the house and had intended to run to get fresh white flowers (hydrangeas? roses?) to completely the centerpiece vibe. But I really liked how simple and cheery they were without flowers so I saved myself the trip and left them as they were. I grabbed a little beverage chalkboard I had and made a quick “Give Thanks” sign.

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These were complimented all night! I especially like that they are appropriate for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas and New Years. Oh, and the fact that I made 5 centerpieces for less than $8 is pretty awesome too.

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Easy, inexpensive and quite darling if I may say.

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Per family tradition, we spent some of the weekend decorating for Christmas, putting up the tree, making gingerbread houses, baking blue berry muffins and listening to the Michael Buble Holiday Pandora station. Here’s a peak:

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We rearranged the family room to accommodate for a tree in the window. O had a ball hanging ornaments all over however she pleased. She would occasionally step back and say “It looks beautiful!”

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We made a batch of my famous “Real Blueberry Muffins” from scratch. O has become quite enthusiastic about baking and insists on helping in almost every kitchen activity. Aprons are her new favorite “dress up”.

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I got a Wilton Gingerbread house on sale at Michael’s the other day for $9. Total impulse purchase but O has been asking to make it every single day since we bought it. I finally caved… she was so excited (below is her actual “excited” face). Mom note: this was a great excuse to use extra Halloween candy or undesirable candies left over.

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While I’m at it… I have to tell you a life changing secret that I only discovered a few years ago. Bold and italic there, friends. Truly a life saver. It saves tons of time and even more stress if you assemble the  gingerbread house frame using hot glue rather than the icing provided in the kit.

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I use mine on high but I think any setting will do. I just put hot glue on the seams that I want to attach and hold in place for a few seconds. Repeat for all the sides and do the roof pieces last. Hot glue… what can’t it do?

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Then O and I developed a little rhythm. I’d make a “blob”, she’d choose a candy to place there. Almost all of the design choices here are hers. I did make the door, windows, wreath and bow. But she made the roof with me, sidewalk, sides of the house and all. I just kept piping icing and she kept sticking candy there. You know, between stuffing her face with m&m’s. I cheated and did the bow and Dum Dum trees with hot glue as well.

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