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13 Dec 2016

Don’t’ Lick this House – Decorating a Mini Paper Mache Holiday House

My son brought home an assignment the other day asking about a tradition we share as a family during the holiday.  We always decorate our living room blasting music and this year’s CD of choice was James Brown (my 7 year old’s latest obsession).  We really had a fun, rowdy time trimming our tree to “It’s a Funky Christmas”.


Another tradition we love is making a gingerbread house.  It is usually a big sugary mess because the kids eat half the frosting.  All amped up, they leave it semi-abandoned once the gumdrop supply is depleted.  Don’t get me wrong, our yearly attempts are joyful, but the results are not pretty!  This year I thought I’d experiment with a less sugary approach and add in some natural elements to the project.


My daughter found these paper mache houses at our local craft store AC Moore.  The tops lift off so you can put a light inside.  We loved the idea of lighting it and adding it to our mantle collection of holiday tchotchkes.

I made a deal with the kids that I would buy SOME candy for this project but the rest of the materials, they had to forage for outdoors.  I had some gold glitter spray paint on hand to add some holiday sparkle to the materials. Giovanna invited her friend Renee to come join our project and the girls headed to the backyard to hunt for woodsy components.  Once they brought everything in the house and planned out what they wanted to use, they spray painted some of their finds.


With everything finally gathered on the table, I brought out the edibles. I had done some research on Pinterest and saw some inspirational uses of pretzels for facades, and Big Red gum for rooftops. The girls spied some cinnamon sticks in the pantry, and loved how those smelled, so we added all of these to the material mix.  I had to make good on my candy promise, so out came the candy canes and marshmallows to much fanfare.


I put some cider donuts on the table in the hope that they wouldn’t eat every last candy cane before any made it onto the houses.

Ingredients we used for this craft:

  • Paper mache house
  • Gathered foliage: such as bark, pine cones, acorns and moss
  • Gold glitter spray paint
  • Pretzels rods and pretzel sticks
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Candy Canes
  • Marshmallows
  • Big Red Gum
  • Scissors
  • Serrated knife
  • Glue gun
  • Newspaper or cardboard for work space

Giovanna and Renee started working and I pretty much stayed out of their way. They used scissors to cut the gum into shingles and a serrated knife to trim the pretzels down in size.


They worked, worked, worked away until they covered most of the paper mache house. I just love what they did!


Giovanna made an impressive entrance with curb appeal. Renee did some intricate latticework combining pretzels and licorice.


I helped Wilton with his house, but he did more licking than making. These nature-clad Holiday Houses were so sweet!

I hope you find some inspiration in this project.  It was really fun to mix up the materials for our family house-making tradition.  Wishing you a crafty holiday of togetherness!


26 Nov 2016

Sand Art Holiday Terrariums

Snow Globes are always a fun holiday décor idea, but I wanted to give the concept a fresh spin. As a designer I’m always on the look-out for trends + ideas…so when I came across these succulent terrariums

…my holiday DIY idea was born.  Why not merge the beautiful + simple craft of sand art with the holiday magic of bottle-brush trees and sprinkles of glittery snow?

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The simple ingredients to create this holiday décor with your littles:

–        Glass vessels (you can pull from vases and jars you already have at home)

–        Colorful sand (you can find this at a local craft or hobby shop or easily purchase online)

–        Bottle-brush trees or small ornaments of gingerbread houses or snowmen (I found some hand-dyed bottle-brush trees from artists on Etsy, but you can easily find them this time of year at a variety of stores, or pull from your ornament collection)

–        Faux snow (another easy find at any craft store)

So let the holiday crafting begin. Check-out my DIY tutorial to see just how easy this holiday project can be…

17 Nov 2016

Jeweled Napkin Rings, Holiday Craft

As much as I love cooking during the holidays, I love decorating even more.  This time of year, you’ll find me in the kitchen baking pies with my son and scheming decorations with my daughter. I am always looking for that inconspicuous “teachable moment” when work seems like play, and the kids are creating and learning without realizing it. Bliss!

I was in holiday prep mode when I recently attended the Country Living Fair in Atlanta to present a show called “Embellishment DIY – Trim Alchemy”.  One of the DIY’s I did was a jeweled upcycled napkin rings craft using ribbons and brooches, perfect for a holiday tablescape. Here is an edited video of the Facebook Live event that Country Living Magazine posted on their Facebook page.

The day after my video went live, I got “tagged” by my friend Jessica that her daughter Charlotte had watched it and was so inspired that she created her own Jeweled Napkin Ring Collection.  She posted this photo on Facebook.


Charlotte’s creations: a master-crafter at 7 years old!

I couldn’t wait to call and ask Jessica about Charlotte’s work.  Although Jessica and I connected on Facebook often, we had not spoken in a long time and we had a lot to catch up on. We talked about the importance of kids crafting, how it develops fine motor skills, problem solving, imagination, and cooperation.  I agreed with Jessica that we need to challenge our kids more. It takes effort to do so but the payoff is big.  She observes “Kids are capable of so much more than we give them credit for, I am always amazed at what they come up with.”

Jeweled Napkin Ring Supplies:

  •  Paper towel rolls cut to 2” sections
  • Ribbon (approx. ½ yard per ring) for wrapping
  • Ribbon – small piece for attaching the jewelry (velvet works well)
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue (use with parental supervision)
  • Brooches, buttons or any type of jewelry
Charlotte cuts down a paper towel roll and wraps it with ribbon for the base of her napkin ring design.

Charlotte cuts down a paper towel roll and wraps it with ribbon for the base of her napkin ring design.

Jessica herself is a very creative mom, raising three children while running a kids’ educational enrichment business called Fairy Tale Inc.  After she posted Charlotte’s work, friends clamored to buy them.  Charlotte has been busy creating more, enlisting her siblings Joe and Violette to help for a true family effort.  You can find her work here at the link above.


Jessica says “I always encourage my kids to get involved in all Holiday preparations. When they make something, whether food or crafts, they take more pride and ownership in the day.”


Charlotte and Violette help set the table with the napkin rings they made.


Close up of the girls’ jeweled napkin ring designs.

Close up of the girls’ jeweled napkin ring designs.

This craft is easy yet elegant, with impact, because even the adults at the table will use these and admire the children’s creativity and accomplishment.

Whether you clear the dining table to craft or converge in the kitchen to cook this holiday, I hope you will be inspired to incorporate creative “teachable moments” and make lasting memories in the process.

If you make these please tag me, I’d love to share #TrimAlchemy

The crafty Mauceri-Gabor family: Violette, Charlotte, Jessica and Joe

The crafty Mauceri-Gabor family: Violette, Charlotte, Jessica and Joe