Every year peopple make a big deal about stores putting out Christmas decorations out as soon as Halloween ends. I have to admit, I kind of love it. I would totally have my tree up the first week in November if my husband didn’t ask me to wait. He wants to enjoy Thanksgiving first, he says, but I just want to bake cookies and open presents.

Still, I want to respect his wishes so we don’t put the tree up until the day after Christmas. BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t add subtle hints of Christmas into my daily routine once Halloween is over. If you’re like me and you simply can’t wait to start celebrating, here are a few simple ways to incorporate Christmas before turkey day.

Candles. The warm glow of a candle always reminds me of the Christmas season. And there are so many amazing scents that will transport you to the most magical season. I love this one from Candelles and keep it on my nightstand so that I can go to sleep with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.

Music. Did you know that Hallmark has their own satellite music station? All Christmas music! I LOVE getting in the car in the morning to take the girls to school and listening to the classics. I also have a Spotify playlist of holiday hits. Christmas music just makes me smile.

Mugs. You can never have enough mugs in my opinion and Christmas mugs are like adding instant cheer. And it’s a low key way to create a festive atomosphere. If you’ve got a coffee bar at home, add in some Christmas mugs, marshmallows and hot cocoa and you’re ready to go caroling.

Trees. Ok I said no Christmas tree, but I didn’t say anything about bottle brush trees. And little ones can be mixed in with your regular decor without anyone noticing. Just hide the trail of glitter.

Twinkle lights. Ok so this one might get a little attention from the hubs, but I think he’ll like the romance that twinkle lights add to the house on those dark and dreary fall nights. And you can put them anywhere!

And then once you’ve had your fill of turkey and mashed potatoes you can bust out the rest of the decorations and watch Elf on repeat! Happy Holidays!

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Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of year. The excitement starts right after Halloween and I slowly start to bring out the decorations. By doing it that way I can sneak in more than if I did it all in one day. My husband doesn’t really notice the little things, but he’d for sure notice a giant Christmas tree in the living room on November 1st!

Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving too. November and December are just part of the holiday season for me. A time when we get to see family and friends more often, we make an effort to create magical memories for the kids, and we celebrate togetherness and gratitude.

I can still remember the excitement I felt as a kid when Christmas was near. I loved everything about it. The music. The shopping. Wrapping. Making gingerbread houses and baking cookies. It’s funny how the memories you have a child become the traditions you create for your own family.

My girls are just as obsessed with this time of year as I am. They love decorating the house and have now each asked to decorate their rooms as well. It’s been so fun sharing the excitement with their little sister too. They can’t wait to introduce her to Jingly the Elf. And I have to admit, having older kids who can carry on that tradition is pretty amazing. I was terrible at remembering to move that darn elf!

One of my favorite things to do each year is look back at photos from last Christmas. I’m so thankful to have a tool that allows me to capture moments and freeze them in time so that we can relive and remember them. We tell the stories behind each photo too. A camera is really the greatest gift because it gives us something we can never get back – time.

The hardest part about this time of year is trying to fit everything in. There’s always so much going on it can be overwhelming to try and capture it all. Before you know it, it’s Christmas morning and you haven’t taken one photo! I think I can help.

Introducing a brand new online course …

Capturing the Magic of Christmas is an online course to help you document your family traditions in a way that is simple and stress free. You’ll learn tips and tricks about lighting and composition that you can use with any camera. I’ve created a holiday photo bucket list you can use as inspiration for what to capture as well as 24 advent activities you can do with your kids. The same ones we do as a family!

I wanted this course to be fun and educational. I came up with a 7 day holiday photo challenge you can do with family and/or friends. Wait until you see it! It’s bananas! You’ll get a list of our favorite must-see Christmas movies, Instagram accounts to follow for holiday inspiration, my favorite places to print photos, how I edit photos on my phone, and behind the scenes videos too.

Want a little sneak peek inside the course?

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, sign up here to be notified when registration opens. We launch on Black Friday with a special deal!

I’d love to create a community of fellow Christmas crazies so come follow me on Instagram here. I can’t wait to see you there!!

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Please tell me I’m not the only one who hasn’t taken our annual Christmas card photo yet? Ugh! Why can’t I ever be the organized mom who gets things done ahead of time in stead of always waiting until the last minute? If you’re like me and have no clue where to begin, here are a few of my best DIY Christmas card tips for you.

1. TIMING IS EVERYTHING. If you’re headed outdoors, pick a time where the light will work to your advantage. Either early morning or late in the afternoon about 2 hours before the sun sets. Make sure that you’re either placing your kids in the shade or the sun is at their back. It’s also important to choose a time when your kids are happiest. Avoid naptime and don’t cram a photo shoot into a day that’s already packed with sports and activities. 

2. SHOOT FOR THE CARD. Browse through sites like Tiny Prints or Minted and choose a card you love. Then, set up a shot that coordinates with the card. Think about the colors on the card when you’re choosing outfits. Also, keep in mind the orientation of the images. If the card features horizontal shots, make sure yours are too. It won’t look good if you’re trying to put a vertical shot in a horizontal space. 

3. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don’t go into the attic and pull out every single holiday decoration you have. If you want to include props, choose items that are classic like a teddy bear, a red wagon, an ornament, or even a festive blanket. Other fun things like a candy cane, fake snow, milk and cookies, or wooden letters work too. If you have little ones, giving them something hold might help keep them in one place for a few minutes. It’s also important to keep your background clear and uncluttered. Use a location without too many distractions. Steer clear of busy parks or streets lined with cars. The kids should be the focus!

4. START A TRADITION. Think of something that you can photograph the same way every year. If you vacation at the beach every summer, have the kids put on a Santa hat and sit in the sand. Maybe you visit the same tree farm every Christmas. Why not use that as your backdrop? Or perhaps you dress them your kids all in the same holiday pj’s. Make that the front of your card this year. Your family and friends will love seeing how your kids grow and change each year. And when you look back, you’ll remember those traditions as well. Capture a cherished family tradition/activity.

5. USE YOUR DSLR. Cell phone shots just won’t cut it this time of year. Don’t spend all that money on a card and then slap a low quality image on it. Using your digital camera will allow you to get better quality photos and also help make your subject stand out.

Bonus Tip – Go with the flow. Have a little fun and don’t take yourselves to seriously. If your kids refuse the wear the outfits you picked or someone is making a funny face, just go with it. I bet it’ll end up being your favorite card.

If you liked these tips and want to know more about how you can document the heart of the holiday season, keep an eye out for my new online course, “Capturing the Magic of Christmas.” It’s going to be filled with practical tips and festive ideas to help you celebrate the season with the people you love.

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I can’t decide if the best part of Halloween is the candy or dressing up. Either way, it’s one of my favorite holidays. Oh, who am I kidding, I love every holiday!

Halloween is extra fun because of the costumes though. The kids have a blast picking out their favorite character and I love taking pictures of them all dressed up. Over the years, I’ve learned a few things to make taking photos less stressful and more fun. Here are 5 tips for the best Halloween costume photos.

1. Don’t wait until Halloween. This one will save you lots of stress, I promise. Take the kids out a few days before and make it fun! Have them get into character and they’ll love it! Plus, you’ll have time to try again if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

2. Think about light. Light is the most important element in photography. It can make or break a photo. The best time of day to shoot is either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The sun is low in the sky so you won’t have to worry about harsh shadows or super bright sun. I shot these pictures about an hour before the sun set after it had rained all day. The sky was so pretty! If you have to shoot indoors, get your child close to a big window and open the blinds. You need to let in as much light as possible.

3. Choose a location that is clutter free. Whether you’re shooting indoors or out, you want to make the costume the star of the show, not the mess in the background. Just do a quick clean up or choose an angle where you don’t see the clutter.

4. Get in close. There are usually a lot of fun accessories with a Halloween costume. Don’t forget to capture them! Get in nice and close and grab some detail shots. I love the headband from my daughter’s costume. So cute! And don’t be afraid to try some interesting compositions. Shoot close, far away, from above, from below. Be creative!

5. Include a few props. As long as it makes sense for the costume. Is your child dressing up as Snow White? How about including a basket of apples! Do you have a Star Wars fan? I bet your child would love showing off his/her lightsaber moves. Olivia is a toddler on the go so I knew she wouldn’t sit for a photo unless she had something to play with. We brought along R2D2 and it worked great.

If you’re feeling a little ambitious you could try taking a few short video clips and making a slideshow. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You could use your iPhone! Just another fun way to capture Halloween! I took this a few years ago when my middle daughter was Wonder Woman for Halloween.

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I LOVE Halloween. Like, seriously love it. If I didn’t have a mortgage to pay or mouths to feed, I might spend all of my money on decorations for the holidays. It’s a problem.

Since that’s not really practical (or nice), I have to show a lot of restraint when it comes to decorating. One really cute way I’ve discovered to add big impact for very little money is to use digital art.

There are so many things you can do with printables. Here are just a few!

Fill frames already in your house.

Choose art with color that compliments your decor and make sure it’s the same size as your frame. When the holiday is over, just pop the photo back in and store the printable in a folder to re-use next year. I love the way Aurelie from @aurelie.erikson framed the Ghouls Rule prints from @indyandpippa.co in her living room alongside photos of her babies.

Decorate your child’s play space/bedroom.

The kids would have a blast helping with this. Use some festive washi tape to secure the prints to the wall or get creative and place them on chalkboards or mirrors. Courtney with @lifeofcoco_ used prints from @oliveandeveco as decor in her daughter’s play kitchen area.

Shakira from @occasions.byshakira mixed in prints with her daughter’s art work in their playroom.

Amanda with @woodenthatbesomething created a banner using her own digital prints.

Spruce up the kitchen.

This is actually a shelf in my own little kitchen area. The frame with chicken wire had a bunch of random pictures on it – a photo booth strip with my girls before Olivia was born, Olivia’s ultrasound picture, quotes, etc. I swapped out those things and added Halloween goodies. The mini prints are from Hayden and North and Olive and Eve Co. You could do something similar or add them to the fridge or your cabinets for some holiday fun!

Include them in your party prep.

Hosting a Halloween party? Use these mini prints from Hayden and North as decor on tables, snack trays, bar carts, or in goody bags.

Do you have any other ideas? What’s one way that you decorate for Halloween that’s super simple and inexpensive?

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