getting started with a kids book advent calendar tradition - tips, tricks, and book picks

One of the holiday traditions that I get super excited and all squealy about is our children’s book advent calendar. Since we’re big-time book lovers, it made perfect sense for us to turn our “calendar” into a basket overflowing with books. We do the whole cheap chocolate thing too, but the girls and I absolutely love the excitement of opening up a book each and every night leading up to Christmas, getting under a cozy blanket, and reading by Christmas tree light.

Before I give you a peek at some of the books that are included in our tradition, I thought it might be helpful to give you a few tips. This does not have to be an expensive tradition! I am the Queen of Cheap. I would not run to the nearest bookstore and shell out hundreds of dollars on books that we’ll only read once a year.

How to build a children’s book advent calendar library without going broke

our children's book advent calendar basket

1) Be flexible. The books don’t all have to be about Christmas. I include any wintry books that make us all holly jolly. If there’s snow involved, it can be considered! This makes it much easier to do the next step.

2) Shop your personal library. Comb through your children’s book collection and make a great big pile of books that could work. You might be surprised at what you already have. Depending on how many books you own, you might not even need to go out and purchase more.

3) Get thrifty. If you do need to fill in (we did), don’t head straight to the bookstore. Hit up tag sales, consignment stores, and library sales first. You’d be amazed at how many used books you can grab for a dollar.

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Minted holiday gifts and decor | tree skirts

This post is in partnership with Minted. All gushing (and stray drops of drool) are my own.

Usually when I think of Minted, I think of insanely beautiful invitations and cards.

You know when you’re going through a stack of Christmas cards and one feels so luxurious in your hand that you have to touch it for a little longer than necessary? That can’t be just me, right? Or the ones with designs that kind of make you want to frame them and hang them up on your wall… even if someone else’s family will be staring back at you? Yeah, well those are usually from Minted. And I’m a total sucker for them.

What I didn’t realize is that Minted also offers a variety of holiday gifts and decor that are just as drool worthy. Let’s take a little peek together…

Minted holiday gifts and decor | tree skirts

Who knew tree skirts could be so stinking beautiful? Yes, I’ve seen cute ones before. But these are some other level awesome without looking like someone had a little too much egg nog and vomited pent up holiday spirit under your tree. The graphic prints on these beauties are subtly festive and they get major bonus points for being reversible (kind of like dresses with pockets).

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Ugly Christmas Sweater DIYs | stocking sweater

A few years ago, when I was pregnant with Ellie, my friends and I had an ugly Christmas sweater party. It was hilarious and ridiculous. We had a lot of fun and totally wanted to do it again. Fast forward a year and ugly Christmas sweaters were suddenly outrageously expensive.

I don’t know about you, but I have zero interest in shelling out $25+ to wear something once and laugh at its sheer ugliness. I’m way too cheap for that.

But I do still love the idea of a good ugly Christmas sweater. It just needs to be a cheap one. Like, maybe, a sweatshirt or sweater that I already own and never wear and a few dollar store embellishments. Now that sounds much better to me.

These ugly Christmas sweater DIYs having varying levels of difficulty, but all of them are nice and cheap. Now. Go forth and get ugly!

10 ugly Christmas sweater DIYs

Ugly Christmas Sweater DIYs | stocking sweater

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etsy finds | fun holiday decor

Sometimes I feel like my taste is in a constant battle with itself. I’m absolutely drawn to things that are classic. Audrey Hepburn. Stripes. Clean lines. I really love these things.

But I also really like quirky. Like, a lot. A little pop of color, a little sparkle, a little razzmatazz to catch your attention, possibly confuse you a little, and infuse a bit of fun.

Sometimes these two loves don’t get along. In fact, sometimes they clash pretty hardcore. But then there are the times when classic and quirky meet and the skies clear and angels sing at their perfect marriage. Those are the things I try to hold out for. It doesn’t always work, but it’s fun to try!

I scoured Etsy trying to find a nice mix of classic and quirky holiday decor that works without seeming too clashy. At least I think so. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong in the comments. 😉

etsy finds | fun holiday decor

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DIY date night in gift box

I’m all for handmade and DIY. But sometimes you just procrastinate a little too much and suddenly the gift giving occasion is four days away and you have three days that are exploding with plans and activities. You don’t really have time to sit down and knit a blanket or put together that epic scrapbook you’d been planning.

This, my friends, is the time to go semi homemade.

I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of gift boxes right now. It shouldn’t be surprising since I’m always a fan of themed gifts (I just bought a birthday boy a monster puppet making kit with a monster book to go with it—and you can bet your butt I’m going to wrap it in Monsters U wrapping paper). And gift boxes are the perfect way to go semi homemade.

Themed gift boxes are kind of awesome because you can take a broad idea and make it work for your budget it while tailoring it for the person you’re giving it to.

Take a look at what I mean…

DIY date night in gift box

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