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Etsy Item of the Day: Wooden Fox & Guitar Ornament

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Whether most of your holiday decorations are music-related [like at the Opryland Resort] or you simply love charming illustrations, this wooden fox & guitar ornament would make a sweet addition to your Christmas tree. This handmade ornament features an original illustration stamped onto a wood slice with archival sepia ink. For more cute critters to trim your tree, check out the hipster deer and woodsy bear.
Wooden Fox & Guitar Ornament

Etsy Seller: Pamela Goodman Art

Raymond Around the World: Opryland Resort

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Over the past few years, Raymond and I have travelled the globe some. Together we’ve visited Chicago, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, Brussels, NYC, Japan, among other places. Raymond is a great travel companion, and we always have a blast together—taking in the sights and sampling local vegetarian food.

Last weekend Raymond and I had a little free time, so we decided to pop down to Nashville, Tennessee to check out the elaborate Christmas decorations at the Opryland Resort. It was a certainly a sight to behold, as there are more than 2 million twinkling lights across the entire resort!

Christmas at Opryland Resort
Raymond and I could’ve stared at these gorgeous trees for hours.
Christmas at Opryland Resort
Every single tree was covered in lights.
Christmas at Opryland Resort
Outside the main entrance to the Opryland Resort where there were carriage rides and a firepit.
Christmas at Opryland Resort
Where’s Raymond?
Christmas at Opryland Resort
Oh, there he is! By the HUGE poinsettia tree!

The Opryland Resort is one of the largest hotels in the world, and it features several atriums that house impressive Christmas decorations and thousands of plants. There is even a quarter-mile-long indoor river in the Delta Atrium! Walkways and bridges lead you all around the atriums, and seeing such large-scale holiday displays will leave you feeling jolly. Raymond and I certainly enjoyed wandering along the paths—he drinking some hot cocoa and me sipping a hot toddy.

Christmas at Opryland Resort
Raymond was particularly amused by the banjo-strummin’ snowman.
Christmas at Opryland Resort
The ceiling was quite literally dripping with lights. Our photos don’t do it justice!
Christmas at Opryland Resort
Raymond bonding with a nutcracker.

Aside from the extensive decorations, there are lots of holiday activities going on all season long at the Opryland Resort, such as ice skating, tubing, gingerbread decorating, and more. Maybe sometime Raymond and I will get to go back and experience more of the festivities, but after a couple hours, we had to head back up to the North Pole. [But don't feel sorry for us; you know we have loads of festive fun up here ;) ]

If you want to experience A Country Christmas at the Opryland Resort yourself, head to Nashville anytime between now and 1 January.

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
2800 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN
United States

Where else do you think Raymond went this year? Stay tuned to find out! :D

Etsy Item of the Day: Himmeli Christmas Tree Topper

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Earlier this year, I learned how to make a himmeli mobile using cocktail straws and thread. Since my discovery of this traditional Finnish decoration, I now see himmelis everywhere! It is most common to see a himmeli in the form of a mobile, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when I found this himmeli Christmas tree topper! Made with copper pipe and copper wire, this tree topper has a very modern and minimalist feel to it. If you’re really loving this tree topper, you might also be interested in a matching himmeli wreath.
Himmeli Christmas Tree Topper

Etsy Seller: Morrison Makers

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies

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As I mentioned earlier today, one of my favorite things about Christmas is the lights! Cities and communities all over the world are decorating their towns with holiday decorations and are kicking off the season with a tree lighting ceremony. In many places, you can expect a variety of fun festivities in addition to a grand evergreen, such as Christmas carols or live reindeer. Grab your hats and mittens and take your family to a tree lighting near you!

Austin, TX

Christmas Tree Lighting - Austin, TX
Photo credit: Downtown Austin Alliance

Make your plans to head into downtown Austin this Saturday, December 3rd, to participate in the Holiday Stroll. You’ll want to get there early because there’s much fun to be had! Shop the farmer’s market for holiday gifts at 5pm, then lift your voice and join the holiday sing-a-long at 6pm. Just as you’re getting warmed up, you can see the tree light up at 7!

Dublin, OH (Columbus Area)

The tree in Historic Dublin will be lit tonight! Brace yourself for an enjoyable evening, as kids can see live reindeer and visit with Santa, plus adults will enjoy watching artisans carve an ice sculpture. If that wasn’t enough to entice you, perhaps the free hot chocolate will—yum!

Geneva, IL (Chicago Area)

Christmas Tree Lighting - Geneva, IL
On Friday, December 2nd (tomorrow!) the jolly folks in Geneva, IL are putting on a spectacular holiday celebration. Santa Lucia’s arrival kicks off the festivities at 6pm, followed by Santa Claus himself who will light the tree. Stick around and roast some chestnuts, enjoy music from strolling carolers, or go for a carriage ride with your sweetie.

LEGOLAND California – Carlsbad, CA

Christmas Tree Lighting - LEGOLAND California
LEGO™ lovers in California will want to visit the LEGOLAND resort to see the giant Christmas tree made from thousands and thousands of bricks! Positioned near the entrance to the park, stop by to see this big tree come to life with twinkling lights every day from now until Christmas Day.

Marana, AZ (Tucson Area)

For those of you in the the metro Tucson area, hop in the car and take a short drive over to Marana for their tree lighting ceremony on Saturday, December 3rd. Fun for the whole family, the celebration starts at 3pm with performances by a youth choir, dance troupe, and more. Then at 6:30pm, the much anticipated Christmas light show will begin!

Mt. Pleasant, SC (Charleston Area)

Christmas Tree Lighting - Mt. Pleasant, SC
For 21 years, the folks in Mt. Pleasant, SC have been celebrating Christmas with an annual holiday parade. This year the festivities begin on December 11th at 5:30pm when the town’s Christmas tree will be lit. The tree lighting will be followed by a display of fireworks, and then the holiday parade will proceed through the streets. Want to find a good spectator spot? Click here to find out where exactly the parade will travel.

Philadelphia, PA

Christmas Tree Lighting - Philadelphia, PA
Roasted chestnuts, hot cocoa, and Christmas carols are just some of the fun things you’ll enjoy at this tree lighting ceremony. Rittenhouse Square is home to Philadelphia’s largest Christmas tree, so when the 5,000+ lights start glowing, it’s truly a sight to behold. Clear your schedule, because these festivities are tonight, December 1st!

Trafalgar Square – London

Christmas Tree Lighting - Trafalgar Square
In keeping with tradition, the grand evergreen in Trafalgar Square hails from Norway. Tonight, the Christmas tree will be lit at 6pm by a few folks, including the Norwegian Ambassador. If you miss this evenings’s festivities, you can mark your calendar for the Blessing of the Crib on December 4th or Carol Singing on the Square throughout the month.

Free Wallpaper: Welcome, December!

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It’s December—yay! With only 24 days until Christmas, we are eagerly anticipating the big day and are rather busy up here at the North Pole. One of our favorite things about this time of year are all of the pretty, twinkling lights on Christmas trees and houses. Here’s a cozy digital wallpaper for your screen, so you can enjoy the sight of colorful lights all month long! Click the buttons below to download.

To download the free wallpaper, click on one of the sizes above and then right-click (Windows) or Control+click (Mac) the image and choose “Save Image As…”

Enjoy this cheery Christmas wallpaper from Northpole.com!

Etsy Item of the Day: Hidden Pocket Travel Scarf

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Designed with world travellers in mind, this hidden pocket infinity scarf is perfect for discreetly storing your passport, credit cards, mobile phone, and other small items. Your valuables stay concealed in the scarf’s secret 8-inch zipper pocket, and your neck stays nice and warm. With fun, one-of-a-kind patterns such as Candy Cane [shown below], Do You Suppose She’s a Wildflower, and Tweedle Dee, you’ll want to wear this scarf all winter long—whether or not you’re travelling.
Hidden Pocket Travel Scarf

Etsy Seller: Travel Queen of Scarves

Ending Poverty with Feed The Children

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Feed The Children Let’s stop for a moment and think what it would be like to live without food. Not only would we feel hungry, but it would be difficult to focus at work or school. For children, the effects of hunger are more far-reaching as it stunts their growth and development. Did you know that 1 in 5 children in America face hunger? And that statistic worldwide is 1 in 4! Feed The Children is on a mission to make sure all children are fed.

Poverty is the biggest reason for hunger, and in addition to providing food, Feed The Children aims to end the cycle of poverty. They have programs in the U.S. and around the world that provide education, living essentials, and disaster relief programs.

With donations from folks like you, Feed The Children boxes up food and essential supplies and distributes the boxes to families in need. Food provides nourishment for children’s growing bodies, and things as basic as soap and toothbrushes allow children to go to school clean and confident. When children and families have their basic needs met, they then have the strength, health, and opportunity to be successful!

Wondering how you can help? There are several ways you can get involved with this organization.

Give a Gift in Someone’s Honor

A great way to make a charitable donation and give your family a gift is to buy a present in their honor. To do so, browse Feed The Children’s gift catalog. When you purchase a gift, the item goes to a person in need, and the honorary recipient gets the pleasure of helping someone. Some gift ideas include sending school supplies to a child, providing medicine for 500 children, or supplying a family with chickens that will provide eggs for food and income. If you’re having a hard time choosing a gift, you can always give a gift where it is most needed. Simply click here, and scroll to the bottom of the page until you see the pink stripe that says, “Give a gift to help where needed most…”

Feed The Children

When you give a gift in someone’s honor, you’ll want to give the honorary recipient something, so take advantage of the printable holiday cards Feed The Children has to offer. There are six different holiday cards that are available for you to download for free and print at home. (Click here to view, download, and print.)

Feed the Children Holiday Cards

Volunteer

Whether you live in the U.S. or not, there are several different ways to volunteer. Just a few examples include helping prep and pack boxes in a distribution center or greeting families and passing out boxes at food distribution event. To learn more about volunteering within the U.S., click here.

If you enjoy traveling and want to volunteer on the global front, then you might be interested in volunteering at one of Feed The Children’s offices worldwide. This volunteer experience can last 1–2 weeks, and you’ll be helping Feed The Children’s employees strengthen their communities. To learn more about this volunteer opportunity, click here.

Feed The Children

Simply Donate

You can also make a tax-deductible donation to support Feed The Children.

Feed The Children

Etsy Item of the Day: Gold Magnolia Leaf Wreath

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A lot of silver and gold holiday items have been catching my eye this holiday season, so it’s no wonder why I stopped in my tracks when I saw this lovely gold magnolia leaf wreath. This stunning wreath is handmade in Charlotte, NC, where the maker collects and preserves the leaves prior to painting them. Amazing, right? I love crafting and making things by hand, but this is a whole other level of awesome!
Holiday Gold Magnolia Leaf Wreath

Etsy Seller: The Decor Room

Holiday Indie Craft Fairs

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If you love all of the handcrafted goodies on Etsy as much as I do, then surely you will also have fun at one of these indie Christmas craft fairs, which are essentially Etsy in event form. At these markets you will find a wide variety of wares—clothing, jewelry, baked goods, ceramics, cards, and loads more. By shopping at one of these fairs, not only will you be able to find truly unique Christmas presents for your loved ones, you will also be supporting local small businesses, so it’s a win-win.

Below I’ve highlighted a few of these merry markets, but if you have a favourite local indie craft fair in your area, let me know in the comments!

Holiday Maker Fair – Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Holiday Maker Fair

Frustrated with the lack of indie craft fairs in Philly, Rachel from The Crafted Life decide to host her own! During First Friday, head on over to the Holiday Maker Fair and browse the goodies from a curated selection of local crafters—some of whom even make neato Philadelphia-themed items. While shopping you can also enjoy refreshments or pop into the holiday photo booth.

Holiday Maker Fair
WeWork Northern Liberties
1010 N. Hancock Street

Friday, 2 December
6.30–9pm
Admission: Free!

Holiday No Coast Craft-o-Rama – Minneapolis, MN

No Coast Craft-o-Rama

If you’re in the Twin Cities area, be sure to check out the 12th annual Holiday No Coast Craft-o-Rama. This indie, urban, and modern art & craft show will feature woodworking, ceramics, cards, handcrafted dog toys & treats, and more. And as a twist on the traditional tote bag giveaway, each vendor will be giving away a free No Coast tote with the first sale of the day on both days—no matter how big or small the purchase is.

Holiday No Coast Craft-o-Rama
Midtown Global Market
920 E. Lake Street

Friday, 2 December: 3–8pm
Saturday, 3 December: 9am–5pm
Admission: Free!

City of Craft X: Handmade Decade – Toronto, Canada

City of Craft X

This holiday season you’re invited to a crafty birthday party, as City of Craft turns 10! To celebrate this past decade, they’re hosting a weekend-long party with more than 60 of T-Dot’s best makers, workshops, installations, and giveaways. Whether you go on Friday night for drinks & music or show up bright & early on Saturday morning for one of the limited edition swag bags, you’re sure to have a great time.

City of Craft X: Handmade Decade
The Theatre Centre
1115 Queen Street West
[entrance on Lisgar St.]

Friday, 9 December: 6–10pm
Saturday, 10 December: 11am–6pm
Sunday, 11 December: 11am–5pm
Admission: $3 [Kids 12 & under free]

Porter Flea Holiday Market – Nashville, TN

Porter Flea Holiday Market

Named Best Artisan Market by the Nashville Scene in 2012, Porter Flea Holiday Market is a juried and curated market that focuses on unique, local, and handmade gifts. Here you will find a variety of goods, including children’s toys, enamel pins, home decor, clothing, and holiday cards. You have two options on how to attend: the more intimate, ticketed Preview Market on Friday evening or the free Main Market on Saturday.

Porter Flea Holiday Market
Skyway Studios
3201 Dickerson Pike

Friday, 9 December: 6–9pm [Preview Market]
Admission: $25 [Buy tickets here.]

Saturday, 10 December: 10am–5pm [Main Market]
Admission: Free! [But you can skip the general admission line with a $15 Porter Pass.]

Firefly Handmade Holiday Market – Boulder, CO

Firefly Handmade Holiday Market

Join Firefly Handmade for their first ever outdoor holiday market inside a giant heated tent at the popular Twenty Ninth Street shopping district. This event will feature indie wares from 100 vendors, such as bohemian inspired jewelry, coffee scrubs, paper goods, and craft wines. If that wasn’t enough, there will also be artisan demos, food trucks, live music, AND a vintage VW bus photo booth.

Firefly Handmade Holiday Market
Twenty Ninth Street
1710 29th Street

Saturday, 10 December: 10am–4pm
Sunday: 11 December: 10am–4pm
Admission: Free!

Additional Craft Fairs

While I would love to feature all of the indie Christmas craft markets, I have to get back to my other elfy duties. But, since I really just can’t help myself, after the jump you’ll find info on just a few more craft fairs happening this month.

Etsy Item of the Day: Merry Donut Earrings

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Maybe it’s because of the sugary deals we highlighted earlier today for Cyber Monday, but I’ve had sweet treats on the brain all day. So when perusing Etsy this afternoon, of course this pair of twee donut earrings caught my eye. Handmade using polymer clay, these kawaii earrings feature festive sprinkles and tiny sprigs of holy. These would add a merry dash of sugar to any outfit!
Christmas Donut Earrings

Etsy Seller: Claytive Designs
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