Christmas Eve Gift Package

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NorthpoleFun #CollectiveBias

We have a sweet elf, Noel, who resides in our home around Christmastime. I guess Noel has been watching me as much as watching the kids because he graciously volunteered to relieve some stress and take care of our family's Christmas Eve festivities. A whole slew of fun and games from Hallmark Northpole.

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I can just see little Noel, browsing the aisles of the North Pole Walmart for the perfect gifts to entertain his charges. I bet he clapped with glee when he found this display.

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An aisle entirely devoted to elves, polar bears, and snow? Hooray!

I'm not surprised that the majority of the items Noel chose were about elves. Peppermint Fling Rings that are tossed on an elf hat, Bake Like an Elf with recipes for sweet treats and fun-shaped measuring tools, and a book whose main character is…you guessed it…an elf! I think it might be Noel's new favorite book.

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They even have a video of the city of Northpole that's featured in the book.

The last gift, which isn't blatantly elf-like, is a magic snowball that lights up when tossed. This may not seem like a thoughtful gift, but to my kids, this could be the favorite. See, it's the first year in a long time that we may not have snow for Christmas. Little Noel thought ahead and bought a fun way for our kids to have an indoor snowball fight.

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If that weren't enough, he even picked up some instant snow. Too bad he was sneaky and got into it early…

A huge thanks to Noel to for our Christmas Eve plans. Who knew that this little elf, who's only in our home 24 days a year, could bring our family closer together?

DIY Salt Dough Ornaments

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BIC®. All opinions are 100% mine.

I admit. I'm a bit of a marker hoarder. So when I heard about BIC's Month of Merry Marking (eh, see what they did there?), I had to participate. Since I had my gift tags figured out, I looked outside the box for a way to incorporate my marker addiction into the holidays. I think I found the perfect way with my twist on the salt dough ornament.

Prior to this, I was a salt dough virgin. I've made play dough, cinnamon applesauce dough, but no salt dough. It was so darn simple, I can't believe I'd never made it before! I shall now share the secrets of the salt dough ornament with you. Prepare yourself to be amazed by its simplicity.

First off, you need to make your dough. I love recipes I can memorize and this one is easy peasy.

One part salt + one part water + two parts flour.

1 + 1 + 2 = dough

I made mine in my Kitchenaid, but that's solely because I'm lazy. This could easily be mixed with a wooden spoon. The thing is, this dough is sticky with a capital S. So after you have mixed it, turn it onto a floured surface and knead for a long while, adding flour as you go. If you make a small batch like I did, you'll only have to knead for 5 minutes. Larger batch? Longer knead. Just work it until it's no longer sticking to the counter and it's smoothed out.

Once you have your nice, smooth salt dough, you're going to roll 'er out to, oh, 1/8 inch. The thicker the dough, the longer it takes to dry. I'm impatient. Plus, I like the look of a thinner ornament.

Here's where the creativity comes out. You can play it safe and use your cookie cutters now OR you can get a little crazy like I did and pull out some embossing folders.

Since I'm not much of a freehand artist, I used the folders to make my own template to color in. Just press the embossing folders (normally used to emboss paper) into the dough to give it some dimension. Make sure and press down enough so the design really comes through.

Here's how the three I chose turned out. If I were to leave them as-is, each design looks great. But if you decide to color them in after baking, like I did, here's how I'd rank the "ease of coloring" for each pattern.

Now grab your favorite holiday cookie cutters and cut out your designs.

Poke a hole in the top of each ornament for your future string and place them on a baking sheet. 

Pop them in a 200 degree oven for AT LEAST 5 hours, or until those puppies are dried out. Moisture makes them brittle, so the drier the better.

Once they're dry, and cool, grab a BIC Mark-It™ permanent marker. My color of choice? #Sapphire. It's the perfect icy winter blue.

Take your marker and fill in the embossed design.

Really, folks. It's beyond easy. From mixing the dough to coloring with a marker, even a not-so-proficient crafter like myself made it work!

To see more BIC Mark-It™ colors and for other ideas on how to celebrate the holidays, check out the #BICMerryMarking booklet. Just click here to get the booklet of merry marking and a coupon to start marking!

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Easy (yummy-smelling) Hostess Gift

Each year we visit family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And, each year, I'm a lame guest and never bring a "thank you" gift. But not this year! This year I came up with an easy hostess gift as a small token of thanks.

During a last-minute trip to the store before our trip, I picked up a little gift bag, some curling ribbon, a cute ornament and, my favorite, a yummy-smelling candle. I figured that having a few extra people in the house creates a few extra unpleasant smells. What could be better to restore your house to order than a holiday scent?

I chose "Merry Citrus Melody," but there are so many scents to choose from. That's the most difficult part of this gift! Just head down the air care section of the household cleaners aisle and you'll find all the holiday scents you could dream of. The whole aisle #SmellsClean!

Instead of using tissue paper, where I always have leftover I never use, I bought inexpensive curling ribbon, curled the entire roll, and used it to nestle the gifts in the bag. the white reminds me of snow and ice. Perfect for the holidays!

Do you give friends and family a thank-you gift when you stay over? Is this something you'd like to receive?

Acorn sponsored this post with all its fantastic holiday scents.