We’ve Moved!

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013

Holidays for Busy People has been consolidated with the other blogs in the Smart Solutions for Busy People family. No new posts will appear on this blog! Please continue to follow Holidays for Busy People at its new home!


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Valentine’s Day Countdown

Posted by on Jan 28, 2013

Who can believe that January is nearly over, and our next holiday is just two weeks away? Never fear … with just one task or two a day beginning February 1, you’ll sail through Valentine’s Day on Cupid’s wings.

Here’s your day-by-day countdown to keep on track over the next two weeks. Be sure to add the tasks to your planner.

1 – Add a few touches of Valentine’s Day around the house: a wreath on front door, a collection of red and pink and white candles on a sideboard, or a heart-shaped dish full of fragrant potpourri on your night stand are just a few ideas. The “LOVE” votives shown above are surprisingly easy and oh-so-affordable.

2 – Make a list of the Valentines you wish to send. Purchase greeting cards and children’s Valentines to hand out at school, or use an online service like or Plaxo to send your cards for you.

3 – Not sending greeting cards this year? Schedule e-cards today for delivery on the 14th.

4 – Read Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, each a perfectly crafted romance. No time to read? Download an audiobook on sites like iTunes and and listen during your commute or on the treadmill.

5 – Make heart-smart snack mix. Combine 1/3 c. each of three kinds of dried fruits (dried cranberries, diced dried apricots, raisins, or dried cherries, etc.) and 2/3 c. each of roasted nuts and seeds (try a mix of almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds). Package 1/3 c. portions in snack-sized zipper bags and stash in your desk, your tote and the kids’ backpacks.

6 – Plan your Valentine’s Day menu and make your shopping list. Purchase non-perishable items today, and the perishables on the 13th. Dining out on the big day? Finalize plans and make reservations.

7 – Plan the table decorations for your Valentine’s Day dinner. Layer red table runners or placemats with silver charger plates, your favorite china, red roses grouped in a small silver bowl and plenty of candles. (Tip: Tie clear votive cups with pink or red organza ribbons and use unscented candles so the scent of your delicious dinner won’t be overpowered.)

8 – Mail Valentine cards. (Remember that first class postage went up a penny on January 28, 2013.)

9 – Purchase chocolates to surprise your co-workers or friends. Indulge in a piece or two of dark chocolate yourself!

10 – Enjoy a bubble bath surrounded by candlelight, perhaps with a glass of wine or Champagne (pink of course!). Or, add an ounce of Chambord® raspberry liqueur to a flute before topping off with bubbly.

11 – Have kids sign their Valentines for distribution at school.

12 – Make heart-shaped mini cakes or Valentine’s Day cookies. Or, try these crisped rice heart treats!

13 – Shop for perishable food items for tomorrow’s meal.

14 – Spend time with your Valentine or host a chocolate tasting party with your girlfriends. A viewing of Pride and Prejudice is likewise in order!

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Making a Festive Centerpiece for Any Occasion

Posted by on Jan 6, 2013

Several friends asked about the floral arrangement I made for New Year’s Eve after I posted a photo of my table on Facebook, so I thought I’d share how I made it. The technique may be adapted for any number of holidays or occasions, from baby showers to Easter.

1. Start with a large, clear cylindrical vessel about 7 inches high and 6.5 inches wide. I used the small Bosphorus Bowl from Pottery Barn.

2. Add about 1 inch of base material; here I used kosher salt to mimic snow.

3. Insert a jar, about 2 to 2.5 inches wide at the top and just lower than the edge of the outer vessel. I snagged a gravy jar from the recycling bin.

4. Fill the space between the jar and the vessel with small glass ball ornaments or other filler.

5. Add water to the jar almost to the top. Arrange a dozen roses (these are from the grocery store) in the jar. Be sure to cut the stems at an angle with a sharp pair of scissors and remove any greenery and wilting outer petals.

6. Fill in the arrangement with greenery. I picked up the evergreens shown at the grocery store, but any evergreens will work.

7. I completed the arrangement with a few noisemakers tucked in here and there for a bit of interest.

All in all, it took about 15 to 20 minutes to make this arrangement. I like it so well, I think I’ll try it for Easter with artificial grass as the base material and jelly beans for the filler. Baby’s breath or statice could substitute for the evergreens with pink roses or tulips. Hmmm. I’ve just inspired myself!

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10 Halloween Bathroom Updates Under $10 Each

Posted by on Oct 25, 2012

This year I wanted to bring some Halloween style to my powder room, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money–redoing the room earlier in the year ate up plenty of my house budget!

I was inspired by some black and white floral gift wrap that I had leftover from an event. That plus a similarly-patterned votive holder were the foundation of this transformation. Everything is budget-friendly and easy enough for even the un-craftiest home decorator. I used these ideas in the bathroom, but many of them translate easily into others areas of the home.

1. Stash existing artwork and replace it with BOO plaques ($9.50 each). See below for instructions.

2. Change out candles for an orange hue – about $1 each. Use existing candle holders or update plain votive holders with ribbon or scrapbook paper.

3. Change the rug for a black bath rug such as the Room Essentials 20″x3″ rug ($9.99) from Target.

4. Swap the everyday photo to a graveyard pic from vacation – free! (Yes, I like to visit old cemeteries.)

5. Spray paint a shapely bottle with black spray paint (about $7 at home improvement centers) to use as a vase. I used a salad dressing bottle, emptied and washed of course, and Krylon Fusion® spray paint in gloss black.

6. Add orange lilies ($1.50 per stem) to the new vase!

7.  Embellish the mirror with glittery adhesive flourishes ($4.99 for a pack of 30) from Michaels craft store.

8. Trade out the hand towel for a black or Halloween embellished hand towel ($5 to $12) from retailers like Target, Home Goods, or Kohls.

9. Cover existing soap and lotion dispensers with black card stock (secured with double-sided tape) and a sticker with a Halloween-themed new name like “Claw Cleaner” and “Hand Potion.” (2.5 inch round vellum printable labels, $5.95 for 60 at

10. Add black and white printed guest towels (about $5), found at retailers such as Party City and Bed, Bath and Beyond.  

To make the BOO plaques

Remove the backing, mat and glass from an inexpensive black frame (about $4). Wrap the backing with black and white printed gift wrapping paper, securing with tape. Place the backing into the frame (save the mat and glass for later). Paint a pre-primed letter ($3 each at craft stores) with two or three coats of orange craft paint and allow to dry. Glue the letter to the plaque with hot glue. Embellish with a rhinestone flourish ($1 each) if desired.

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Light Up Your Love

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012

This year I looked at the craft supplies I have on hand and came up with 3 unique ways to add some Valentine flair to everyday items. With ribbon, lace, paper and some felt stickers, I’m very happy with the results.

Love Letters

The LOVE letter votives are inspired by a high end look — $39 for a set of four! — that I saw at one of my favorite stores, but knew I could create a similar look for less. All you need is computer and printer, parchment paper and straight-sided votive cups.

Use a word processing program and a font of your choice (100-point size) to spell out L-O-V-E, one letter per line. Add a piece of clipart behind the letters, like this swirly, romantic graphic. Print on parchment paper using the color setting. Measure the height of the votive holders and cut the letters into horizontal strips to fit, using a paper cutter for a straight edge. Wrap one letter band around each cup, trimming the ends if necessary and secure with double-sided tape. Download the template to get the look shown by clicking here: LOVE candles (Tip: Use this technique to create custom candlelight for any occasion or holiday!)

Lace Lights

Lace is one of the iconic symbols of Valentine’s Day, dating back to Victorian times when ladies’ handkerchiefs trimmed in handmade lace inspired candy boxes and greeting cards.

For this look, I looked through my sewing supplies and found some pretty bits of lace that happened to be the same width as my clear votive cups. Wrapped in lace, secured with a bit of double-sided tape and tied with thin satin ribbon, these candles evoke a romantic spirit — perfect for a Valentine’s table. (And talk about a fast craft project!) If you don’t have (or can’t find) lace in the perfect width, simply stack the lace in bands around the votive glass. This technique would also dress up a simple glass vase, making it rose-ready!

Embellished Jar

Jar candles are a great way to bring a lot of fragrance to your home, with the added bonus of a long burn time. But, they’re plain and the labels aren’t so decorative.

Peel off the label (remove any residue with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol) and wrap the jar with a variety of ribbons in Valentine’s Day hues. Trim to about a ¼ inch overlap and secure with double-sided tape. In the look shown, the ribbon choices were inspired by the felt heart stickers (Michael’s craft store, $4). Because jar candles tend to be relatively small in circumference, you don’t need a lot of ribbon. In fact, the black ribbon used in this project was saved from a gift box and the others are leftovers from other projects, making this a very inexpensive project!

Why not take a rummage through your craft supplies, paper box, sewing basket, ribbon stash — even buttons and stickers? Look at what you already have with a fresh eye towards embellishing something plain into something sweet for your home.

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Last Minute Christmas Centerpieces

Posted by on Dec 20, 2011

If you’ve been busy shopping for gifts and food, wrapping gifts, sending cards and planning a holiday meal menu, maybe you haven’t stopped to think about how to dress your holiday table this year. No worries! Here are four easy centerpiece ideas that you can pull together with items in your home or the grocery store.

Christmas floral – With a low vessel, such as a classic silverplate bowl, and a piece of floral oasis foam, you can create a beautiful, modern centerpiece from a mixed floral bouquet from the grocery store. Soak the foam as directed on the package, then separate the bouquet into groups by color and type of flower. Starting with the largest flower, cut the stem long enough to fit in the floral foam, but short enough to keep the flower head at a low profile. Then add the next largest flowers, distributing them around the arrangement. Fill in with smaller flowers, then greenery and berries, and finally a bit of sparkle. Perhaps the arrangement came with a few sparkly twigs, or you can add a few pieces of wire star garland for a festive touch.

Candle snowscape – Fill the bottom of a large glass sphere or fish bowl with a thick layer of kosher salt for a snow effect. Add a jar candle in the center of the snow and fill in with snips from a pine tree, cranberries, pine cones or even small glass ball ornaments. (Note: Be sure that the pine cuttings are well away from the candle flame. Do not leave burning candles unattended.)

Ornament centerpiece – This one is so easy and so colorful. Place a variety of glass ornaments, mixing their color and size, in a pedestal bowl or glass vase. Lay real or faux pine garlands down the center of the table and add in a few ornaments down the length of the table.

Figurines – Place a runner down the center of the table, or create a runner effect by running two or three parallel lengths of Christmas ribbon (plaid, organza, etc.) down the table with a 5 or 6 inch gap between them. In this gap, place Christmas themed figurines from a favorite collection, such as Santas, winter birds or nutcrackers all along the center of the table. In between the figurines, add votive candles, small potted poinsettias, or small evergreen cuttings.

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