Is that the sound of sleigh bells in the distance?

Everyone in the studio has been passing around the October issue of Martha Stewart Living featuring our new Holiday Card Collection!

Our newest ad in Martha Stewart Living

Even though winter weather may have not seized the nation, it’s time to start getting your holiday list together and planning your family photo. To help get you in the spirit, take a peek at our new Holiday Card collection at Expressionery. It’s full of boutique designs that are a beautiful way to welcome in the Holidays.

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Etiqutte Tips For Sending Holiday Cards

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Holiday Card Etiquette The holiday season is upon us and it is time to think about preparing and sending out holiday cards. Most families have their own customs as to sending out holiday cards. It seems like a simple task but there are some particular rules to follow when mailing holiday cards. Here are some etiquette tips for sending holiday cards.

Decide on what cards will be sent to which families. Some people like to send generic cards like “Happy Holidays” to everyone on their list. Others like to customize their cards with a note added on the inside of the card. Be sure that you only send cards to people who celebrate Christmas.

In order for cards to be received by mid-December mail them shortly after Thanksgiving. Remember that the post office is busy this time of year and you do not want the cards delivered after Christmas.

Include your return address making it easy for the recipient to know who has sent the card. This insures they have your correct address for mailing out their cards.

Do not send out e-cards instead of traditional holiday cards. Cards should be an act of kindness with a personal touch like a note. Holiday cards are sent as an act of appreciation and friendliness. The idea is to send a gift of blessings and cheer in this joyous time of year.

Business colleague cards should be sent to their office unless you socialize with them. Keep the cards professional with a signed note. It is considered unacceptable to send holiday cards to the homes of business colleagues.

Holiday cards should be sent to the homes of your co-workers which add a personal touch. Holiday cards are a tradition that demands the recipient receive your greetings and good cheer at their door. Take the time to mail these cards.

These are a few etiquette tips for sending your holiday cards this year. Decide who you will be mailing cards to this year, make a list and remember to mail early so they will be received by mid-December.



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Valentine’s Day

Roses are red
Violets are blue
She’s expecting a gift
But a love note will do

Finding the perfect gift for your Valentine can be tricky. Flowers are beautiful, but their splendor wilts. Chocolates taste amazing, but their enjoyment melts. Jewelry is impressive, but doesn’t embrace your budget. What easy, affordable gift can you give on Valentine’s Day that leaves a lasting impression?

Love Notes for Valentines Day

WORDS

Sharing your love with written words is a meaningful gift that any Valentine will adore. Whether you write poetic love letters or simple, honest words, communicating your feelings of love and admiration for your Valentine is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Grab a notecard and let the words flow. Having trouble putting your emotions into words? Try song lyrics (Frank Sinatra), a romantic quote from a movie or play (Romeo and Juliet), or look to the poetic experts for inspiration (Keats). Communicate your love in this timeless way and it’s sure to make your special someone swoon.

What’s your favorite gift to give or receive on Valentine’s Day?

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4th of July Party Decorations

fireworks

Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood that was made up of 2 acre lots. We were about eight minutes away from a large city, and our town was what you’d call “rural.” We didn’t have a post office, and our fire fighters were volunteers. I loved growing up in that neighborhood for so many reasons, but some of the best memories I have growing up “in the country” (we called it) were the July Fourth parties we had.

Since we were away from the city a bit, we could have fireworks in our back yard. The big stuff, not just roman candles, although they were my fave. We lived pretty close to a lake, and there were two fireworks stands near us that we would excitedly look forward to shopping each year for the coolest new firework.

Of course, we also gathered sparklers, Black Cats and those weird snakes that were really just ashes. We ate hot dogs off the grill, helped turn the handle on the ice cream maker and stayed up past our bedtime to shoot and watch fireworks.

The Fourth of July is magical for me, partly because it falls right before my birthday (on the 6th, just in case you’d like to send me a gift!) and partly because I have such fond memories from my childhood. I look forward to this holiday every year, from planning the party to covering almost everything I own with red, white and blue.

I don’t know about you, but Pinterest is one of my favorite places to find inspiration for a party, and I’ve found countless ideas for a Fourth of July celebration. From outfits to games to crafts and party food, there are plenty of totally doable red, white and blue ideas to create the perfect birthday party for America.

Add a few bursts of color to your household and party décor with easy-to-make crafts! Try a flag pick wreath on your front door.

4th of July Party

Or pick up a handful of red, white and blue bandanas and whip up a color-block tablecloth or simply layer them across the center of your table for a no-sew table runner.

4th of July decorations

Easy DIY paper pinwheels and pom pons (that look like fireworks!) pack a big visual Fourth of July punch for pennies. Add them to the potted plants in and around your home or display them centerpiece-style in vases filled with sand.

4th of July pinwheels

You can’t celebrate the Fourth of July without some yummy cookout classics! Hot dogs, burgers, corn on the cob and potato salad are timeless favorites, but it’s easy to add a splash of red, white and blue in your party snacks too.

Dip strawberries in white chocolate, then sugar tinted with blue food coloring or layer on colored icing for a festive treat!

4th of July strawberries

Or add sliced strawberries, bananas and blueberries to skewers to make a patriotic flag fruit platter.

Party treats

No patriotic party is complete without homemade ice cream! We have made this in-the-bag version for a couple years now and it’s PERFECT every time. Jazz it up with colorful blue and red sprinkles.

Ziploc ice cream

Now that you’ve got your food and decorations down, shop for some pieces to coordinate your personal look with the party theme. With nautical styles trending for summer, now is the perfect time to find pieces in red, white and blue for your ensemble.

Navy and white stripes

Nautical stripes

Pair with some red accessories…

Red accessories

Or a custom painted mani can make your Fourth of July look sparkle.

Striped nails

Don’t forget to plan for some fun for after the sun sets. Find yourself a great seat for a local fireworks display or make your own lightshow with DIY glow in the dark fun.

Fireworks in jars

Share your favorite Fourth of July projects, decoration, or food ideas in the comments!

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Our safari animal baby shower

Corina's safari animal baby shower

Corina's safari animal baby shower

If you haven’t noticed from our other parties, we Expressionery.com girls love celebrating! We recently threw a baby shower for our own Corina Murray, and we wanted to share the fun with you.

Corina is expecting a baby girl this month, but she’s not a big fan of pink. Instead of sticking with the traditional pastel pink color palette, we thought it would be fun to spice things up with bright, bold colors. You can’t get much brighter than the animal suite:

Animal baby shower

Animal suite

The four designs are available as invitations, plates and more – plus printables we created for Corina’s shower. (Okay, so we snuck in a little pink here and there, but just as an accent color!)

For our safari animal baby shower, we made sure to include Corina’s favorite animal – giraffes – along with some other cute characters. Giraffe, elephant and crocodile cutouts were designed especially for her, along with a bold “Congrats” banner, and we’re sharing them with you as free printables!

Baby safari animal cutouts

Baby safari animal cutouts & "Congrats" banner

For the banner, just print out the PDF on card stock, then punch holes and tie the triangles together with ribbon.

To make the safari animals, grab some card stock or craft foam in the colors of your choice, print out the PDFs on everyday paper, cut them out and use them as stencils to trace the designs onto your card stock or foam.

Next, cut and glue on embellishments. (Hint: all the animals’ eyes, and the elephant’s toenails, can be created by using a hole punch, so don’t worry about trimming a perfect circle by hand!)

Finally, glue craft sticks onto the back and use your baby safari animals around the refreshment table, or tape them up to the wall.

We couldn’t resist throwing in these two “pregnant” animals we found at a local craft store:

"Pregnant" lion & elephant

"Pregnant" lion & elephant

Once we had enough animals, we tied the colorful shower theme together with tablecloths, place settings and ribbon. You might have noticed how we used green as the base color for the dessert table, then highlighted the animals with contrasting banners made by trimming vinyl tablecloths into strips.

We also found some zebra print ribbon at the craft store and tied it around the napkin holders and cake pop box. How simple and affordable is that?

Finally, we added to the safari theme by creating wild tissue-paper flowers. The blog craft team had a blast with these –

Elegant tissue paper flowers

Elegant tissue paper flowers

For your own party, you can use a single color of tissue paper for a natural look, or go wild by pairing several colors in one flower for a bright, bold safari theme like ours. You can find step-by-step instructions for these elegant flowers on Martha Stewart’s website.

Cake pops & gifts

Cake pops & gifts

Here are a few tips we learned along the way:

  • Pick 3 or 4 colors for your baby shower theme. Repeating several colors instead of just one makes the shower more fun and less frilly.
  • Not all your baby safari animals have to match. Throw in a set of these printables, then mix and match with ones you find at the store – like the adorable baby book Suzanne found (above).
  • Letting everyone in on the theme will help them select gifts that match too! Corina was thrilled that we followed her suggestion to have a giraffe and non-pink theme, since that’s how the nursery is being decorated. Now she has lots of safari themed décor – even a giraffe print diaper bag – which she’ll enjoy for months to come.
Gifts, cookies and the guest of honor

Gifts, cookies and the guest of honor - the stamp on the gift tag is available at Expressionery.com

Free safari animal shower printables

And now, for the best part – free printables for you! The “Congrats” banner, adorable baby animal cutouts, water bottle labels, place cards and hors d’oeuvre flags are yours to print and use at your own special occasion.

Pair them with the matching animal suite from Expressionery.com or mix and match with your own unique style – then don’t forget to share your creativity by posting a link in the comments!

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