2017 archive

Best Posts of 2017

I hope you had an amazing Christmas and are looking forward to New Year’s Eve.  I really can’t believe it is over. It feels like you do so much to get ready and then it comes and goes so quickly.  I think it is worth it though to see how happy it makes my family.  I love doing the best posts of the year because I get all geeky and analyze all my data to find your fave posts of 2017.

I get kind of sad when I start to take all the Christmas decor down.  Does that happen to any of you?  I just enjoy turning the lights on every morning and that magical feeling at Christmas time.  BUT, I guess it is nice to get your home back in order to prepare yourself for the new year ahead. So let’s get started and check out 5 of your faves for 2017 and one all time fave.

Plaid Burberry Holiday House Tour
Your fave post for the best posts of 2017. - yourstrulyjenn.com

Your fave posts this year is a Christmas one of course.  The Plaid Burberry Holiday House Tour was my fave as well because it was the first house tour of 2017.  These always tend to do well with you guys. I’m so glad you liked it as much as I did.

Decorating Trends 2017
Decorating Trends 2017- yourstrulyjenn.com


Your second fave was an e- design I did for the Pantone color of the year, showing decor trends for 2017. I love doing e-designs and I’m sure I will do another one for 2018 as well so keep watching for that.

Holiday FAQ

Holiday FAQ Best posts of 2017- yourstrulyjenn.com

Up next is the FAQ.  I had received a lot of buzz in person and on social media so I did a holiday FAQ.  I guess you guys liked it because it made the top 5 list this year.  You can always comment on the bottom of these posts or leave me questions as well and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

How to Deal With December without Going Crazy

How to Deal with December without going Crazy Best of 2017- yourstrulyjenn.com

I’m so glad this post made the top 5 because I think it is so important to try and make December as stress free for the mommas as possible.  You guys do so much for your families that it really does get to be a stressful time. I wanted you to know you are appreciated and I know the effort it takes to pull off an amazing Christmas.

How to Fake A Clean House
How to Fake a Clean House best of 2017- yourstrulyjenn.com

The last post to make it on the list is How to Fake a Clean house.  I think this one is so popular because we all want tips on how to clean up “quickly” for guests and how to make the house look presentable in a hurry no matter what the reason is.

This next post is your fave of all time.  It has the most views of any post.  It’s the Holiday Home Tour of 2015. Yes, you guys love you some Christmas and I think it’s great because those are my speciality.  Heck, I wish I could do Christmas content year round, but then you might leave and never come back because you think I’m crazy.

Holiday Home Tour 2015

Holiday Home Tour 2015- Best posts of 2017- yourstrulyjenn.com

I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane and will come back for the projects I have going on in 2018.  I wish you all the best in the new year and have a safe and Happy New Year’s Eve.

How to Host a Cookie Exchange

The holidays can be so busy with the hustle and bustle of decorating, shopping, wrapping, and family obligations that sometimes I wish I had a little time to enjoy seeing close friends during the holidays. What better way than to get some baking done while enjoying a little “girl’s night”  With your closest buds. To read about ways to deal with December without going crazy, check out that post.  Here are some logistics on how to host a cookie exchange and the things I like to include when I’m hosting.

Host an amazing cookie exchange for your friends at Christmas. yourstrulyjenn.com


I have found inviting 5-7 people makes for enough cookies for everyone, but a small enough group to make it an intimate gathering.  I found some really cute invites on Etsy and Evite that could possibly match your theme.  As you know I don’t do anything without a theme in mind.  Keep in close contact with your guests.  RSVPs are a must for each person to know how many cookies to bring.  Each person will also need to tell you what cookie they are bringing so there aren’t any duplicates.


Let your guests know the amount of people to bake for and how much for each person.  Usually the rule of thumb is to bring 6-12 cookies per person attending and 12 cookies for tasting. You will also want each guest to write out or print a recipe card for each guest.  As a hostess, you should have extra cards out for guests that may have forgotten to bring their recipes.  This helps just in case there is someone who has food sensitivities or dietary restrictions.  I always try to make a clean eating cookie so there is a healthy option.

Host an amazing cookie exchange for your friends at Christmas. yourstrulyjenn.com


Setting up the tasting table is always my favorite part.  Anything dealing with decor really gets my creative juices flowing.   You will want to have cake stands, trays, platters, and apothecary jars of varying heights and sizes.  Then you can bring in colors of linens that go with your theme. Adding small details to your table with give it the look you are going for.

Make sure you have supplies like: bags, tins, boxes, labels, scissors, hole punch, twine, cellophane, baggies, ribbon, and paper plates for guests to pack their cookies to take home.  You can find tons of this stuff at the Dollar Store or on sale after Christmas.

Host an amazing cookie exchange for your friends at Christmas. yourstrulyjenn.com


You will also want to have a beverage station with plenty of options for your guests.  After talking all evening and tasting lots of cookies, your guests will be plenty thirsty.  I like to have coffee, tea, water, soda, wine, and milk.   I also like to put out other appetizers like a veggie tray, fruit, and something else savory to balance out the sweet.

Host an amazing cookie exchange for your friends at Christmas. yourstrulyjenn.com

Don’t forget as a thank you favor you could give out little cookie cutter favors, or whisks and spatulas.  It just adds a nice touch for your guests.  Having a holiday play list going throughout the party is also a nice touch.  I hope you are having a wonderful December.

Yours Truly,


Decorating your Mantel by Layering

While the Christmas tree is usually the show stopper and takes center stage for the holidays, a fireplace or mantel can be a close second.  It is definitely a focal point in your family room and needs to be decorated just as nicely. I like to use the same color scheme as I do in my tree to give my home a cohesive look.

Follow these easy steps to create a beautiful mantel. yourstrulyjenn.com

First, I start with my classic pre-lit garland from Frontgate.  They have so many options for garland, wreaths, and other holiday decor that you just can’t go wrong.  I have had this set on my mantel and staircase for 6 years and it’s still going strong.  I tried a real garland last year,  I loved the look and smell of a real garland, but it was a lot to take care of.  Choose what works best for you.

Adding picks to your garland gives it a much fuller look. yourstrulyjenn.com

Adding picks or florals to your garland will give it a much fuller look. These are ice picks from Michaels.  You can usually find their things Christmas items 40%-50% Off.

Decorating your mantel in the same colors as your theme will give your home a cohesive look. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

My theme this year is the Burberry ribbon and I am pulling in the red, black, and white color scheme

Using the Burberry ribbon in the mantel and your tree gives your home a cohesive look. yourstrulyjenn.com

Adding stockings to your mantel gives it that personal touch. Even if you change your mantel and theme each year your stockings are the constant that will give your family that feeling of tradition. I’m a sucker for creating memories and tradition. The mantel and decor will fade, but the memories are what you will cherish for years to come.

Adding stockings to your mantel gives it a personal touch. yourstrulyjenn.com

My favorite part of this mantel is the red and white striped ribbon.  It really pops against the greenery and lights. I used this ribbon on two of my trees this year.  You can also check out my Christmas tour 2015 to see this ribbon used in a big way.

I hope these few tips will give you a little inspiration for creating a mantel with some drama. Follow me on Instagram so you can see all the holiday pictures I am posting.  Happy decorating.

Yours truly,


Top 3 Christmas Tips That are Game Changers

I have been married for 22 years and have been collecting Christmas decor way before I was married.  I have learned some tips over the years that have really come in handy.  In this post I’m going to share my top 3 Christmas tips that were game changers in my Christmas decorating.  I think you will really benefit from doing these things in your home as well.

Save everything including, pieces of scrap ribbon from year to year. yourstrulyjenn.com

Save Everything

Once I started saving everything it really helped.  I save every piece of ribbon I cut.  I try to keep everything organized.  You may have your own system for how things are organized in your home.  You can check out some of my organizational tips here and more will be coming in January.  I wised up about 2 years ago after getting so frustrated with my attic.  I had so much holiday stuff and decor that I was buying duplicates because I wasn’t able to see what I had anymore. I found a clever way to display the majority of my stuff. Pictures of my attic will be coming in January.

Other things I keep are pieces of my artificial tree and garland that fall off as I’m fluffing it.  I used to just chuck it right in the trash.  Then I found myself buying these exact pieces and picks from Michaels to use in vignettes and holiday trays when I could easily be using the extra pieces that fall out of my arrangements. You never know when you just need one or two of something to make it perfect.  This could mean holly pieces, leaves, berries, pinecones, pieces of fruit, etc….

I try to save ribbon, berries, pinecones and anything else I can think of to use in various decor for Christmas. yourstrulyjenn.com

Ribbon Changes Everything

If you don’t have the money to change your ornaments every year, but you want a different look, I would highly suggest investing in ribbon.  You can think about your theme ahead of time and find some great ribbon on sale.  Right after Christmas you can find designer ribbon on sale at Dillard’s and Macys, and then of course craft stores such as Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and other floral stores.  I invest in neutral colored ornaments like mercury glass, silver, gold, clear, and white then I change out ribbon and I have a completely different look every year.   The goal is to think of using the stuff you have and shop your home first.  Then if you want to go out and purchase a couple nice things to add to your collection every year you will end up with beautiful holiday decor over time.  Just remember it is not something that happens overnight.  I have been married for 22 years and am still enjoying putting together new Christmas themes.

Coastal Christmas tree done in gorgeous blue, green and natural elements. yourstrulyjenn.com

I got this ribbon from Dillard’s at the end of the year sale.  I’ve used it in this coastal themed tree, a peacock tree, and a blue and pink angel tree as well.  Just let your creativity run wild.  You can recycle your supplies to use them in many different ways.  I used to store my ornaments by the tree I was going to use them on.  Then I started storing them by color. This gave me the freedom to change how I was grouping my colors and create new combinations in ways I had never even thought of before.

You Can Alter Things From Their Original State

This one is HUGE.  It took me so long before I realized it was “ok” to alter things.  For example, this year I bought a bundle of greenery from Michaels.  At the time, I wasn’t sure what I was going to use it for, but I thought it was interesting and it might come in handy.  It is literally one of my favorite pieces I used in my tree this year. It was the exact texture I was looking for to pull off the softness in my white tree pictured below. However, I would never have used it as the bundle it came in on a Christmas tree.  It was bulky and would have looked horrible.  I’m so glad I didn’t pass it up due to not being able to see past it in the bunch it was sold in.  I have never once regretted a decision to cut a ribbon or pull a pear off an arrangement to use in another place.  Go with your gut.  You know what your decorating needs are and in all honesty, most pieces can be wired back in or glued.

Lots of texture was used to create the elegant look of this tree. yourstrulyjenn.com

Hopefully these tricks and tips will help you this year when you’re thinking about your decorating.  Look for great sales and continue to collect quality pieces over time.

Yours Truly,



The Best Way to Decorate Your Tree Step-By-Step

Creating a Christmas tree that you love is easier than you think.  It is a labor of love, but you can create one that looks just like the professional trees you see in magazines and on tv shows. You can achieve this look by layering your tree with lots of different textures, ornaments, and ribbon.  I will break this tree down as I decorate to show you the steps I take in decorating my trees.  My trees may look different every year, but the process is always the same.

 Breaking down the steps to decorating this gorgeous Burberry Plaid tree. yourstrulyjenn.com

Start by taking all your boxes out of storage.  You need to be able to see everything you have in order to decorate at your best.  This step is very important. Don’t skip it.

Bring all your Christmas stuff out of storage before you start decorating. yourstrulyjenn.com

I’m lucky to have a walk in attic that gives me quite a lot of storage space.  If you don’t have that space you could use your garage, a closet, a storage locker, or shed if you need more room.  Lay out all your ornaments, sprays, and picks so you can see what you have.

Spread out your ornaments and floral supplies so you can see everything as you decorate. yourstrulyjenn.com

Now it is time to actually put your tree together (if you’re using an artificial one.)  My husband is allergic to real trees so this is what we use. I actually like them, because you can put them up any time you’re ready and they can be manipulated very easily.

Now it's time to put your tree together. yourstrulyjenn.com

Fluffing your tree before you put the ornaments on is the step I hate the most.  I would definitely advise you to wear a long sleeve shirt while doing this.  I learned the hard way. Stringing lights and fluffing trees in short sleeves can leave cuts on your hands and arms for weeks.Adding lights and a stomper make your tree go the extra mile. Yourstrulyjenn.com

If you buy a tree without lights then you need to add them at this point. You usually need 100 lights per foot.  For example, if you have a 9 foot tree, you need 900 lights.  Make sure you buy lights that have a cord that is the same color as your tree.  For example, if you have a green tree then the cord needs to be green.  If you have a flocked tree then your cord should be white.  Also, cut the tags off the cords.  You don’t want those showing through your tree after all the hard work you put in. I felt like my tree didn’t have enough lights so I added a string of lights around the tree and then I put twinkling lights down the center to give it a hint of sparkle for that wow factor.

I make a bag every year of much have supplies. yourstrulyjenn.com

At the end of the season I put away my most used supplies in a bag or box and put that at the top of all my stuff.  I usually include my wire cutters, different colored wire, ornament hooks, scissors, tape, and a couple different pens.

Put the tree topper on before your ornaments. yourstrulyjenn.com

If you use a tree topper I attach it or create it before I start putting anything on the tree.  It usually requires me to be on a ladder so I don’t want things falling off the tree as I’m trying to manipulate the top to get my topper on.

Put your large picks and floral items in before the ornaments. yourstrulyjenn.com

If you are going to add picks and florals to your tree, you need to put those items in next. They are large items that fill in your tree.  They are space fillers and they change the shape of your tree dramatically.  You do not want to try to put these in after you add your delicate glass ornaments. I usually put all the fillers near each other to make a bigger impact.  On this 7 1/2 foot tree you can see that I used 2 types of snowy picks.  I put approximately 20 large snowy picks on the front of my tree.  I do decorate the back of my trees, but not to the extent as the front. I add more picks as final fill ins when I do my vignettes in a later stage.

Now it is time to add the ornaments to the tree. yourstrulyjenn.comNow it is time to add your ornaments. I usually put the bigger ornaments on the bottom with the medium in the middle and the smaller ones on top. You can create depth and add drama by putting ornaments from the inside out.  There are several different ways to add ornaments to a tree. You can add by doing one color at a time to disperse them evenly.  You can group them in sets of 3 to do cluster groupings. You can decorate by creating lots of vignettes all over your tree. This is why setting out all your ornaments in an earlier stage comes in handy so you can see everything.

Create small vignettes all over your tree that you keep repeating until the tree is decorated how you want it. yourstrulyjenn.com

At this stage I like to create small vignettes in 36″ sections around my tree to make it look symmetrical.  It is also a good way to spread your items out instead of using them all in the same area.  It gives you a much more unified look. At this point I like to use a variety of ornaments and use the rest of my picks and berry sprigs.  Some people put ribbon on in the beginning stages, but I like to add it on in the end.

Burberry Plaid Holiday Home Tour - yourstrulyjenn.com

  Try these steps when decorating your tree. I think they will help you achieve the look you’re going for.  I always end up changing things as I get further into the process.  Stepping back and looking at different angles will help you see if there are any spots you missed or if anything needs to be changed.  At the end I always style the bottom even if it is just some ornaments or packages on the skirt.

I hope these tips were helpful in showing you the process of how I do my tree during each stage. I would love to see your trees on Facebook and Instagram.  Please tag me if you share so I can see how wonderful they look.

Yours Truly,



Classic Red and White Holiday Home Tour 2


I’m excited to be posting more of my home in a second holiday home tour.  If you are just joining us for the first time welcome. You can check out my first holiday home tour Burberry Plaid here.

Classic red and white frosted Balsam Hill tree- yourstrulyjenn.com

I have a blast decorating my trees every year.  I like doing several trees.  We always do a family tree where my kids can have full creative control of that tree.  For more explanation of how I decorate, check out FAQ about Christmas.

Decorating in classic red and white this year. yourstrulyjenn.com

Normally I start with my main tree to set the tone of how the theme is going to go and then base all my decor off of that.  This year I started with the mantel.

classic red and white balsam Hill tree- yourstrulyjenn.com

This is my 9′ Frosted Noble Fir Balsam Hill Tree.  I have had it for 4 years and I love it.  It is so fun to decorate.  The white trees are always my favorite.  Balsam Hill trees are so easy to store and put up every year.   If you are looking for an amazing tree this one is for you.  If you are looking for an office tree or one you have to transport somewhere I would advise you to choose one of their other trees. This one tends to be a little messy when putting up and taking it down.

Close up of all the details of this beautiful red and white Balsam Hill tree-yourstrulyjenn.com

I love how the red and white looks on the white tree.  If you don’t have a flocked tree you can make it look flocked by adding snowy picks all over the tree.  This really changes the look of your tree drastically.  I will be doing a detailed post on how I did that on my Burberry Plaid tree next week.

Red and white ornaments adorn this Balsam Hill tree- yourstrulyjenn.com

I like to decorate the bottom of the tree as well.  It gives it a more styled look.  I leave it like this until I am ready to put wrapped gifts under the tree.

Gorgeous 9' frosted Balsam Hill tree decorated with red and white ornaments.

Even though the tree was a flocked white tree, I still used white picks to give the tree the look I wanted to achieve.  Then I went with red berry picks and red and white ornaments.  I love this red ribbon from Michaels.  I’ve had it for a couple of years and I have used it in so many different ways.

Close up of this gorgeous Balsam Hill tree with classic red and white ornaments. yourstrulyjenn.comIf you’re putting ribbon on your tree I would suggest choosing wired ribbon.  It is so much easier to manipulate.  You can curl the bottoms and get it to go where you want it to.

White and clear ornaments were the inspiration for this tree. yourstrulyjenn.com

The inspiration for this tree was completely different.  I wanted a very delicate looking tree.  I wanted everything I put on this tree to have a softer, more romantic feel. I couldn’t find the white bows I wanted so I went on ETSY and found them at a wedding shop. They are actually wedding pew bows.

I added some beautiful decor elements to these lanterns from Pier 1. Yourstrulyjenn.com

These lanterns are from Pier 1.  I have been collecting them for years, but I know they still have them.  I wanted to bring in the same elements from the tree and foyer so I added bows, crystals, and pinecones to the lanterns for a more finished look.

Close up of this classy white tree. Check out all the soft elements on this tree. yourstrulyjenn.com

I used all white and clear ornaments, snowy picks, natural looking textured fillers, white ribbon, white flowers, and crystals to create this look.

White decorated Christmas tree with snowcapped embellishments. yourstrulyjenn.com

I have been collecting these gorgeous boxes for the last 3 years since Sugar Paper has been collaborating with Target.  Check them out in stores or online before they sell out.

Cute foyer decor to accent the all white Christmas tree. yourstrulyjenn.com

Of course the trees are the main event in your decorating, but this sweet little vignette adds so much to my foyer.  It was space that I felt needed something.  Make sure you take advantage of the space in your home where something unique can be created.

Christmas bunny with Joanna Gaines ribbon. yourstrulyjenn.com

I hope you have enjoyed my holiday home tours this season.  I will be breaking down these posts further into how I did my trees and mantel in upcoming posts.  Stay tuned for that.  Please follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter so we can stay in touch.

Yours Truly,




Plaid Burberry Holiday House Tour

Burberry Plaid Holiday House Tour

Happy holidays and welcome to my first house tour of the season.  This is always my favorite post of the year and the one I think about in the middle of the summer.  If you found me through Jennifer Rizzo’s Holiday Housewalk then welcome.  Her home is decorated so nicely and she has tons of homes on her tour that you won’t want to miss.  You are definitely in for a treat.  If you haven’t decorated yet or are just looking for some ideas, I hope you leave today with some inspiration and more importantly, some holiday cheer.

Burberry plaid tree- yourstrulyjenn.com

Welcome to my holiday house tour. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

My theme this year started around a Burberry scarf.  I am very into plaid.  For more plaid ideas check out my Pinterest board “mad about plaid.” I love the Burberry print and I already decided at the end of last year that I was going to use it in my decorating for 2017.  I love knowing my theme early because you can shop year round for items to go with your theme.

Going back to classic red is always fun, but giving it that splash of black brought in that wow factor.  The white dishes are Emma from Pottery Barn and the black dishes are from Joanna Gaines’ new line from Target.

This centerpiece arrangement is from Target.  I also added a Pier 1 garland and some natural elements to give it this final look.

I loved using natural elements this year.  The pinecones were big for me.  You will see them in all the trees, vignettes, and arrangements I did.  I loved using the pomegranates and the baby’s breath to add the finishing touches to this centerpiece.

 It took many layers and textures to create this tree.  This is just a regular store bought  7 1/2 foot tree.  You don’t have to have an expensive tree to get yours looking fabulous.  You can create this look at home.

I love putting wrapped packages and boxes under my tree using coordinating ribbon in my theme color.  You can find some of these boxes on sale at Target from the amazing Sugar Paper team.

This year I added a lot of red berry picks, white picks, pinecones, and anything that gave off an “it just snowed” feel.  I love the final product.  In my next home tour, you will see two more trees that I am obsessed with.  So come back for that later this week.

This red and white ribbon I used in my house tour from 2015.  I purchased the ribbon from Michaels.  I also have it in the black version. I use these all the time.  I even used them for my daughter’s graduation which was teal and black. Try to save your ribbons.  You never know when you will need to reuse them for packages or for your tree like I did here.

Burberry plaid tree- yours truly jenn

I will have a post later in the month explaining how I decorated this tree step by step.  However, if you are looking for more tips on how to decorate your tree, you can check that out  in one of my earlier posts.  Also, if you are a big Youtube fan check out Rebecca Robeson of Robeson Design.  She is amazing.  She has design sessions once a month for $10 where you can learn all kinds of tips to carry over into your own home.

These are our gigantic doors as one little boy told me on Halloween.  I love my Frontgate wreaths and garlands.  I have used these the last 6 years and they are still going strong.  I purchased the red bows this year and I am obsessed with them.  They are so luxurious and you can use them inside or outdoors.  It is hard to find bows and at this price so you need to get them before they sell out.  I may order 8 more in case I decide to do something different outside next year.  That is how much I love them.  I am not sponsored by Frontgate. I just love their stuff.

This is my teacup Maltese, Cupi (rhymes with puppy). She actually let me put a bow on her and she sat nicely on the picnic basket for some pics.  Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  She was actually quite amazing and got lots of treats after.

I have collected these packages and boxes over the years.  I try to save my good things to recycle for other years.  Especially neutral colors like white and black that I know I will use again.  When you are buying entertaining pieces and you don’t want a neutral, think red.  Do you know how many holidays include red? Valentine’s, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Christmas.

I get a lot of questions about Cupi on my Instagram account.  If you’re not following me on my social media I post very frequently there so you can check me out on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. Cupi is 8 years old and weighs 5 pounds.

These are my “bought off a vendor on the road in New York scarves.”  They are the only ones I trust being outside.  But I love them just the same.  The monogrammed rug is from Frontgate.  They also carry a monogrammed everyday version is you don’t want the Christmas one.

In my dining room I used silver and white because it matches the white tree in my foyer.  I will be showing you that tree in my next home tour.  This garland is from Pier 1.  I wanted something a little lighter for this table and I think it turned out nicely.

I love the look of this bow from the Joanna Gaines collection at Target and the Eucalyptus leaves.  It just gives a very soft, elegant look.

All of my glasses and dinnerware were purchased from Home Goods.  I try to shop my home first and see what I have before I purchase anything.  Luckily, I had everything, but the ribbon.

I hope you enjoyed this home tour as much as I enjoyed decorating and putting it together for you.  During the holidays so much can get in the way of the real reason we celebrate.  So this season try to slow down a little and spend time with your loved ones.

For unto you is born

this day in the city of David

a Savior, which is CHRIST the


Luke 2:11


Yours Truly,


How to Deal with December Without Going Crazy

How to Deal with December Without Going Crazy

If you‘re like me you may be a little overwhelmed when mid-November rolls around and you haven’t started thinking about Christmas yet.  The fun countdowns don’t seem so fun anymore.  They seem like they are judging you on the progress you have made so far on the to do list that is a mile long.  Did you make the party menu, shop for your niece and nephew, wrap the gifts for your mother-in-law’s party this weekend?  These tips are designed to get you through the holidays judgement and stress-free.  Let’s do this.

Get organized and decorate early so you’re not overwhelmed

There are so many things moms have to take care of during the holiday season.  I like to start early enough to give myself breathing room. Think about your Christmas cards early.  If you know you are going to need to set up a family photo shoot in early October, then make sure you have set this up in the summer.  Then get your outfit ideas out of the way so it doesn’t sneak up on you.  Check out my Pinterest board for great ideas for photo shoot clothing ideas.  Also, here is an amazing post by a local photographer who did a family photo shoot for my entire family on my grandmother’s 80th birthday.  She gives some great tips on planning for Christmas cards.  I also like to give the house a little spring cleaning in the fall.  When I take down my regular decorations to put up my Christmas decor, I do not want to put it in a filthy mess.  I want clutter free areas that are dust free.  Go through your house and look for areas that can use a little attention before pulling out more stuff.

Get your Christmas cards done early for a stress free December.

Schedule Traditions early on the calendar

Write down all events that you have to attend.  These are your non-negotiables.  If you know every year you do 3 family parties, a special dinner, and Christmas Eve service at church then make sure those get on the calendar in October.  Then as plans come up you may have to say no to some events that just don’t work out or may interfere with the “must do” on your calendar.

Stay on your eating and workout program

Everyone wants to look their best in family photos around the holidays.  But even more importantly, I want to feel my best and have energy to do all the things I need to do around the busiest time of the year.  I want to be healthy, and be at my best for my family.  The best way to do that is try to go to bed and wake up at the same time you normally do.  Sleep habits are so important. I also have noticed when I go on vacation and change my eating habits that I feel horrible.  You are going to indulge a little, but don’t eat from Halloween to New Year’s as if you’re on vacation.  Your body will thank you in January.

Shop early and wrap as you go

I try every year to get my shopping done by the end of November so I can really enjoy December.  I don’t think I’ve every officially made it.  But I try really hard.  Shopping and wrapping takes a lot of physical and mental energy. I love getting people thoughtful and meaningful gifts.  I think it is great to ask the person directly what they want.  If they give me a list I can get them something they really want.  One year I asked my mom to paint my office for Christmas.  It may not have been conventional, but she’s an amazing painter and she was thrilled to do something for me that I really wanted. If you can’t get out to the stores you can still do your shopping from home by shopping online.

Shop early and wrap gifts as you go-yourstrulyjenn.com

Know Your Theme Early

You may think I’m crazy, but I already know the theme for Christmas 2018 and have some ideas for how I will decorate. The reason I do this is for the amazing after Christmas sales and because I shop year- round for good deals.  Here are some items I have bought during the year that become available for better prices at other times.  Keep your eyes open for wrapping paper, lanterns, candles, crystal, dinnerware, placemats, and ribbon.  Plus you may have a certain budget at Christmas since you’re also purchasing Christmas gifts for your family or entertaining.  Spreading it out during the year makes it a little more cost effective.

I hope this was helpful. I want you to enjoy the holidays with friends and family and make December 2017 your best holiday season yet.

Yours Truly,


Holiday FAQ

I recently posted a picture of my tree from last year to prepare for the upcoming holiday season and got some different questions.  I thought I would do a holiday FAQ session and answer those questions that others have asked me in person and across social media.  I would love it if you would share this post with your friends.  They may get some good tips that will help them this season with their holiday decor.

Q.  Do you let your kids help you decorate?

A.  My husband and kids really get into Christmas and the home decor. Sometimes I will say, “well I’m not going to put up that tree this year.” And they really make a fuss. So of course I always change my mind and put up all the trees.  Even though I change things around I try to do the important things they like.  They always do the “family tree” with our Hallmark and homemade ornaments.  You know the ones you made at school when you were little.  I leave the creative process to them on this tree entirely.  I pretty much do the rest of the house with whatever theme I choose for that year.  That way everyone is happy.

Q.How long does it take you to complete a tree?

A.  This is hard to answer.  The bigger the tree the more time it takes me.  The thing that takes me so long is getting all my boxes out, putting them in the right rooms, and then pulling the trees out and fluffing them.  Although, is this not my favorite part of decorating, fluffing your tree is the one thing that will make it look like a whole different tree.

There are some 9’ trees with large diameters that take me a couple days. Between putting it together, fluffing, decorating, and tweaking it, it is a huge job.  But a 6 ½ foot tree would only take me like an hour and a half.  I could whip that little guy out in no time.  I would definitely set aside a couple hours where you could work on it without breaking.  I think you would feel you really made a lot of progress then you could work on it here and there to finish it. Don’t forget to add something cute at the bottom.

Coastal Christmas tree done in blues and greens for a local business.

Q.  Do you decorate before or after Thanksgiving?

A.  This is the big question everyone wants answered. Since I blog, I always put my stuff up before Thanksgiving.  I need time to decorate down to the smallest detail, photograph it all, and edit all my photos to upload on my blog starting at the end of November.  However, I am lucky that my neighborhood is one that on average is filled with early decorators.  I would say if you are hosting Thanksgiving at your home, continue to have some fall items up, but if you’re not hosting then go for it.


Q.  Do you decorate trees for other people?

I decorated this Coastal Christmas tree for a local business.

A.  I do. I mainly decorate for businesses, but have done some for residents that have asked me as well.  Last year, I also worked with an amazing builder, Tara Preston, at her Homearama home.  I helped decorate the Christmas portion of the house.  My tree was showcased in the paper to advertise the event.  That was a huge honor.  I love Christmas decorating.  It makes your home so festive and really makes me happy to do it for my family.

I had so much fun creating this traditional red and gold tree for a local builder for homearama Christmas edition.

Good luck with all your decorating this holiday season.

Happy Holidays

Yours Truly,



Ways To Fake A Clean Home

Spring is here guys and the outdoor chores are soon going to be added to our already full plates.  I love being outside in that gorgeous weather, but then I have to deal with the pool, and the yard work and all the other things that go along with spring and summer.  I bet you guys do a big spring cleaning to get your home and yard ready. If you feel overwhelmed with all this extra work there are several things you can do to fake a clean home.

I decided this year to use my winter months wisely. If you’re like me, You’re kind of cooped up inside and that means you’re looking at everything that needs to be done in the house.  I have been organizing my attic and home this winter so when spring comes I could solely focus on all things outdoors (which to me is kind of fun.) We are currently in the process of building an outdoor kitchen and fire pit area and I am so thrilled to be adding these cool entertaining areas to our back yard (more on this in later posts to come).

So lets get into what things you can do to fake a clean house.  My daughter just attended her boyfriend’s ring dance and the kids came here to take pictures.  Of course I wanted the down stairs to look nice in the areas where they were going to take pictures. So here are some things I did to make sure the house was in great shape.

Clean off your desk area or any cluttered space visible to guests. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

  1.  MAKE SURE THERE IS NOT CLUTTER- Our desk area in the kitchen is a place where papers and little items seem to congregate.  I made sure that each item was either thrown away or was put in its proper place.  Don’t just throw things in the drawers because you will then have to take care of them at another time and things just start to pile up.
  2. USE BASKETS IN YOUR HOME IN HIGH TRAFFIC AREAS-. My kids are older and don’t have toys in our home, but I do have a son that is very into his shoes.  So in our mudroom, I have a large basket for the shoes that stay downstairs.  It looks so much nicer to have the shoes contained in one place.  Everyone can find them easily in the morning and no one is tripping over them in the kitchen anymore.
  3. USE TRAYS TO ORGANIZE YOUR DECORATIONS- Trays are great for keeping all your decorations together and organized on your ottomans and coffee tables.  Plus, there are some really beautiful ones that can really pull your decor and style together. They also limit the amount of things you can place on them so you’re not tempted to over decorate.
  4. HAVE FRESH FLOWERS PLACED AROUND YOUR HOME- Fresh flowers add so much to a room.  They are fragrant and give such a polished elegant look to your home.  You can’t go wrong with fresh flowers.  For a cheaper option, go with store bought flowers and make your own arrangements.
  5. LIGHT A CANDLE- When I go into a hotel or someone’s home that smells fresh or of baked goods, I automatically think it is a clean home and I want to spend more time there.

Use baskets to help keep your home clean. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

I hope some of these tips can help get you through some of your special events or when someone says they’re stopping by in 30 minutes and you need to straighten your home up quickly.  Do you have any tips that could help us?  Leave a comment down below and let us know a tip to create a clean house in a jam.

Yours Truly,




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