Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas & Inspiration

I can’t believe Christmas is only a week away!  If feels like everything having to do with the holiday has been a scramble this year, and wrapping presents is no different.  I’ve mentioned before that I love to make gift wrap just as meaningful as the gift I’m giving, so I always put in a lot of time and energy when it comes to wrapping.  I usually find most of my ideas and inspiration on Pinterest (surprise, surprise), which you can see on my board.  There isn’t an extreme about of pins, so here are some examples of presents I’ve wrapped in the past.  Enjoy!

Musical Christmas Gift Wrap

I sometimes like to hint at what could be inside the wrapping, and this present was a CD!  All I did was print out free sheet music of Jingle Bells onto some pretty resume paper I had, then I attached a few small bells to ribbon and tied a bow.  This was one of my favorite wrapping ideas, and I loved how it came out!  You can usually find bells at any craft store, especially during the holidays.

Daniel and I have always loved Disneyland ever since we began dating, and we ended up gravitating towards Minnie and Mickey (as most couples do).  I usually like to throw in something of them when I’m wrapping gifts for Daniel.  I found this brown gift bag at Target and wanted to make it a bit more personal.  So I found this super cute photo of Minnie and Mickey, printed it out on cardstock and made a gift tag!

Minnie and Mickey Mouse Christmas Gift Tag

Disney Christmas Gift Tag

Another year I used the same photo as the main event!

Disney Christmas Wrapping Ideas

Penguin Christmas Wrapping

I often reuse wrapping from packages, such as brown paper from Amazon shipments.  This penguin tissue paper came in a pair of shoes Daniel bought from Penguin clothing company.  I thought it was way too adorable to throw out, and it ended up being the perfect size for a small gift I had!

Sometimes all you need is a variety of ribbons and bows to make standout gift wrapping.  I especially like this basket weave technique because of how clean and modern it looks.

Basket Weave Christmas Ribbon

I made this big bow with some wrapping paper scraps!

DIY Gift Bow

Here are a few more examples of things you can do with ribbons and bows!

Christmas Wrapping Ideas

Blue Christmas Wrapping

Blue Christmas Wrapping

Ideas for Christmas Wrapping

I found this fun plaid wrapping paper at a 99 cent store!  I’ve often found great wrapping and trimmings at discount stores, and Daniel and I always take a trip to Target after Christmas.  The sales can be amazing, we’ve found things as low as 60 cents!  It’s a great way to stock up for next year!

Gift Wrapping Ideas for Christmas

Red Ribbon and Brown Paper Christmas Wrapping

Sometimes I like to choose a theme when wrapping, you can see here I chose brown paper and red ribbon as my theme.  This gave a very nice elegance to my presents, and I thought it could work for both men and women.

I also like to play with different color combinations.  I did green on green here!

Green on Green Christmas Wrapping

I was going for more masculine colors when I did this brown and gold combination.

Brown and Gold Christmas Wrapping

At some point during our relationship, coloring books became a “thing” for us.  One year I was giving Daniel a gift certificate, but I wanted to present it in a meaningful way.  So I decided to make my own envelope using a coloring book page (featuring Minnie and Mickey, of course)!  I used this template and it turned out great, take a look!

DIY Coloring Book Envelope

This would also be great for homemade cards!

Disney Coloring Book Envelope

Well, I’m happy to say that I only have a few gifts left to wrap, and I will hopefully be done before the weekend!  I hope all of you out there are finding time to relax amidst the holiday rush, and hopefully this helped you find some gift wrapping ideas and inspiration!

Places We’ve Been DIY Christmas Gift

I’m sure many of you saw my original post for this project, but I wanted to re-share it with you all, because it would make a great DIY Christmas gift for your girlfriend/boyfriend or wife/husband.  It’s easy, quick, and inexpensive!  But it has so much meaning behind it, I know anyone would love to receive it.  I know Daniel did!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 pieces of Matboard, both at least 12×12 inches
  • Mod Podge (or any glue you prefer)
  • Sharp scissors
  • A heart stencil
  • 12 printed maps
  • 12×12 picture frame
  • Cardstock, or any thick paper (optional)

Obviously this project is all about the maps, so the first thing I did was figure out how I wanted them to look.  I did this DIY right before moving to Portland, so I was working on limited time and a small budget.  Because of that, I personally chose to use Google Maps and print them out at home.  I also chose to use Google Maps because I wanted to control the zoom of each map and what would be seen within the heart.  You could also use an Atlas, Thomas Guide, or look for old maps at a thrift store!

DIY Heart Maps

Because we were about to move from Los Angeles to a new home in Portland, I chose to include a map of the neighborhood we dearly loved but had to leave behind.  You can use any heart stencil you’d like – as for me, I didn’t have one (remember that whole uncrafty crafter thing?).  So I just searched for an image of a heart I liked and printed it out on cardstock, thus making my own stencil!

DIY Heart Maps

I stenciled and cut out each heart, and before I knew it, I had perfect little sentimental maps laid out before me.  This is the moment when I got really excited because I knew the project was going to turn out just as I had imagined it!  At the widest part of the heart it measured 2 1/2″, and from the top point to the bottom point it measured 2 3/4″.  This size worked perfectly for me based on 12 hearts and a 12×12 frame.  You’ll want to adjust the sizes depending on how many hearts you’re planning on using.

Next, I pasted each heart on a piece of matboard with Mod Podge and then cut out each heart again.  The reason I did this is because I wanted the hearts to have a 3D effect.  I used a pair of scissors to do this, and even though they were REALLY dull, it was still fairly easy to cut through the matboard.  With sharp scissors it should be a breeze, but use whatever cutting tool works best for you!

DIY Heart Maps

I tried to get fancy and penciled in a mathematical grid onto the matboard to try and ensure all the hearts would line up perfectly.  It…mostly worked.  The grid was totally wrong, but it still helped me eyeball them into the right placement!

I pasted each heart onto a 12×12 piece of matboard using Mod Podge (you will most likely have to cut your matboard down to size), and weighed it down with heavy books for about 48 hours to make sure the edges wouldn’t curl up.  As for placement, I arranged the maps mainly by how they looked, not by chronological order.  I didn’t want two mostly blue hearts next to each other, same with the green, I also wanted to make sure our neighborhood heart was kind of in the middle, and because a lot of the places we visited were in California and on the East Coast, I tried to vary those from each other as well.

DIY Heart MapsAfter that, all that was left was putting the finished project in a frame!  I really liked the idea of a white picture frame, since almost all the frames in our house are black.  Apparently white frames aren’t very popular.  I searched for a LONG time to find the perfect white 12×12 frame, and still didn’t have that many options.  In the end, I decided to go with this frame, and I am more than pleased with it.  It’s not the highest quality frame I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t look cheap and feels very sturdy.

So, here it is, my completed DIY Places We’ve Been Heart Maps!

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of mine and the original inspiration on Etsy.  What do you think?  I really loved how it turned out.  In total it only cost me about $20, easier on my wallet than $500!

DIY Heart Maps vs. Pinspiration

Bonus:  The Gift Wrap!

Anniversary Gift Wrapping

I love to make gift wrapping just as meaningful as the gift itself, and I thought I’d share what I did in case anyone is looking for some wrapping inspiration.

All I did was take brown packing paper (which came from an Amazon shipment), and with a black Sharpie wrote the lyrics from our song in cursive (in case you’re wondering, our song is “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis Presley).  Simple as that!  This was originally a gift for our anniversary, which is why I chose to use lyrics from our song.  That could also work for Christmas since it’s a romantic gift and a romantic holiday, but you could also write Christmas lyrics to make it more festive.

There you have it!  I hope this tutorial gave you all inspiration to make your own DIY Christmas gift!

Christmas Tree Farm near Portland, Oregon

Oregon Christmas Tree FarmI am so excited to finally say that Daniel and I have our Christmas tree up, and our house is all decorated for the holiday!  It finally feels like Christmas time!  We usually get our trees from a lot near our house, but this year we decided to go to a Christmas tree farm.  I mean, we are in Oregon after all!  I did some quick research and found three farms, all about 20-30 minutes outside of Portland.

One I found was the Sauvie Island Farms, which we decided not to go to because we went to a pumpkin patch on Sauvie Island durin the fall.  We figured it would be fun to go somewhere we haven’t been before.  Our other two options were Quail Creek Ranch and Plumber Pumpkin Patch and Tree Farm.

We chose to go to Quail Creek Ranch because it looked beautiful.  Take a look!

Christmas Tree Farm

Quail Creek Ranch

Daniel and Michele - Quail Creek Ranch

Unlike Plumber Farms, basically everything was free at Quail Creek Ranch (except the trees, of course)!  They provide saws if you want to cut your own tree, but they will also cut them down for you free of charge too.  They also shake, bail, twine, and help tie your tree to your car for free as well!  That was all I really needed to hear to make my decision.  I guess I’m a sucker for the word free!

They also serve complimentary hot chocolate and cider by a big, warm bonfire!

Bonfire at Quail Creek Ranch

Daniel Cutting Down the Christmas TreeWe decided to cut our own tree, since I had never done that before, and Daniel hadn’t in a really long time (ok, maybe Daniel did the cutting).  Plus, now that we’re Oregonians, we wanted to do it the lumberjack way!  There was even some snow on the ground, so it really felt legit!

Quail Creek Ranch has a variety of trees – Douglas Firs ranging from $15-$25, Grand Firs ranging from $20-$35, and Nobles ranging from $50-$100.  We found our tree after searching the farm for about 30 minutes, and we chose a douglas fir this year.  Ours was over 4 feet tall, so it was $25 – not too shabby!  Way better than the $80 we always had to spend in Hollywood!

Daniel & Michele at the Christmas Tree FarmEveryone at the farm was very friendly and helpful.  All the little complimentary touches really added in making our experience wonderful.  If you haven’t gotten your tree yet, I highly recommend visiting Quail Creek Ranch!  And don’t forget to grab a candy cane on your way out!

Tip:  They don’t really have much of a selection of tree stands, so you will want to pick one up before you go.  We got ours at our local Fred Meyer!

Here’s our tree all decorated!

Decorated Christmas Tree

Donut Christmas Tree Ornament


We have a tradition of buying a new ornament each year, and this year it was a donut!  What are some of your traditions?

DIY Date Night Mason Jar

DIY Date Night Mason Jar

I LOVE date nights, but sometimes we have a really hard time deciding what to do.  So when I stumbled upon this Date Night Mason Jar DIY on Pinterest, originally crafted by Life in the Green House, I thought this was an absolutely brilliant idea for us.  Daniel and I tend to be pretty indecisive when it comes to activities, sometimes wasting hours of time trying to decide on a variety of options.  I loved the idea of committing to just pulling a stick out of the jar and boom, there’s our date night with no decision making required!  I also thought it would be a good opportunity to think of more creative or unique dates, so we don’t fall into the same dinner and a movie pattern.  I’ve had this DIY on my list of to dos forever, and I finally finished it!  See below for my modifications and instructions:

Date Night SuppliesHere’s what you need:

  • 1 mason jar
  • Jumbo popsicle sticks
  • Ultra Fine Point Sharpie in black
  • Red acrylic paint
  • White acrylic paint
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Red food coloring (optional)
  • Mod Podge (optional)

Paint MeasurementsHere’s what you do:

The first thing you want to do is decide on your categories and colors, and then come up with some date ideas!  I chose red, dark pink, light pink, and white. One thing I changed from the original DIY was how the sticks are colored.  Instead of spray painting the entire popsicle stick, I decided to just paint the tips, creating a paint dipped effect.  To do this, I simply measure about an inch and a half below the tip and made a pencil marking on both sides.  I used the first completed stick as a template for the rest.

They turned out exactly how I pictured.  I love how clean and modern they look!

Date Night Color Categories

Here’s what I did for color coding and some of my date ideas for inspiration!

Red sticks are mostly nighttime dates out on the town, and they are a little more expensive and take some planning.

  • Sushi dinner
  • Downtown “food hop” (appetizer at one restaurant, dinner at another, and dessert at a different one)
  • Dinner and a movie (a little cliche, but we rarely go out to movies, so I still love this one!)
  • Dinner and drinks on Mississippi Ave.
  • Weekend away
  • A night at the theatre
  • Concert or sports game

Dark pink sticks are also nighttime dates out, but are less expensive.

  • High school mall date (go see a movie and eat at the food court, haha!)
  • Bowling
  • Ice skating
  • Drinks and dessert at a fancy restaurant (great way to try a more expensive restaurant without breaking the bank!)
  • Afternoon matinee and dinner at home
  • 4th Friday free museum night (check out your local museums, many have free nights!)
  • Happy hour and bar games
  • Dinner and beer sampling at a brewery

Light pink sticks are date nights at home.

  • Homemade sushi and movie rentals
  • Matinee out and dinner at home
  • Homemade pizza and board games
  • Fondue dinner and dessert
  • At home wine bar and cheese plates (grab a few different bottles of wine and do your own tastings!)
  • Strip games and drink champagne while taking a bubble bath (this is a great one to spice things up!)
  • Hot oil massages (another spicy date night, great way to connect and a free massage never hurt!)

White sticks are daytime dates.

  • Oregon zoo
  • Wine tasting at vineyards
  • Lunch and beer sampling at a brewery
  • Museum and food carts
  • Rock climbing gym
  • Aquarium
  • Matinee
  • Brunch and a hike or a game of tennis
  • Dim sum and a walk at the nature preserve
  • Baking and puzzle making
  • Ice skating
  • Movie or TV marathon with delivery

I chose to repeat a few of the dates, because a couple of them fit into more than one category.  This was a really fast and easy DIY, I think the longest step was coming up with the date ideas.  Take a look at the finished project!

Date Night Ideas

Date Night Mason Jar

Date Night Jar Close Up

While I don’t think I’ll have a problem remembering the color coding, I did like the idea of a color code key just in case.  The original DIY had a printed label attached to the jar with a ribbon.  I had wanted to paint the lid in chalkboard paint and create a key that way, but the jumbo sticks were a little taller than I initially realized.  So instead, I painted a popsicle stick in chalkboard paint and created a key that way!

Color Code Key

I abbreviated some things to make it easy.  N is for night, D for day, In means at home dates, and the $ signs are for expensive and less expensive.

Date Night JarBonus:  As you can tell from my pictures, my mason jar is red.  I had seen a lot of pins about mason jar tinting around the same time I saw this DIY, and I really loved that look.  So I decided I might as well stick to my red tone theme!  I followed instructions on Momtastic, and I believe I used roughly 20-30 drops of food coloring to get this deep red color.

This was such a fun DIY, I don’t know why I waited so long!  This will be great for our indecisiveness and give us the chance to be more spontaneous!  I’ve even left some room to add new dates as I think of them and when the seasons changed.  What are some of your favorite date nights?

Chili Mac Dinner Recipe

We always keep ingredients for Chili Mac in our cupboard, and it’s often our go to dinner recipe!  Not only is it delicious, but on a busy night it’s a super quick and easy meal to get onto the table.  It’s great if you have a bunch of veggies you need to use up before they spoil.  And there are so many ways to vary the basic recipe it never gets old!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 boxes of mac and cheese
  • 3/4 large white onion, diced
  • 3/4 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can turkey or chicken chili

Here’s what you do:

Prepare the mac and cheese according to the instructions on the box.  In a large skillet, saute onion and pepper in olive oil for about 3 minutes (or until slightly softened).

Onions and Peppers

Sauted VeggiesIf you have any softer veggies, you can add them to the pan and cook for another 3 minutes.  For this batch of chili mac, we had some mushrooms we needed to use up, so in they went!  Add frozen corn and black olives, and cook for another 3 minutes or until the corn has defrosted.

Add spices, garlic, and chili into the pan and cook until heated through.  Add the chili to your prepared mac and cheese, and you’re done!

Ordinary mac and cheese…

Mac and Cheese

Chili mac!

Chili Mac Dinner Recipe

For Daniel and I, this usually lasts about 4-5 dinners if we don’t have a side dish.  We often pair it with a salad though, so it ends up yielding A LOT more.  Bonus:  Chili mac freezes extremely well!  We always have too much to eat and end up freezing about half the pot, which is great for nights we don’t feel like cooking!

Chili MacWe prefer to use either turkey or chicken chili, but you can certainly use any chili you like.  We’ve seen a tofu chili at Trader Joes, which would easily turn this meal into a vegetarian friendly dish!  Some other ingredients we’ve added in the past:  beer, diced canned tomatoes, canned green chilies, extra shredded cheddar cheese, and we’ve substituted regular mac and cheese with white cheddar shells.

We have topped it with bread crumbs and parmesan, and popped it in the oven to turn it into Baked Chili Mac!

Baked Chili Mac

We’ve also added it on top of a hotdog with jalapenos to make a Chili Mac Dog!

Chili Mac Dog

Trust me, you’ve got to try it!