Gamer gift guide: Travel-friendly games

This past summer, Brian and I spent two weeks in Ireland. Our first week, we were almost entirely on our own, traipsing through Counties Dublin, Offaly, and Galway. The second week was spent with family for an Irish wedding in County Kerry.

During that first week, we spent a lot of time in bars and restaurants as well as hotel lobbies (don’t judge our vacation style!). And as much as we love talking to each other, when you’re spending every second together, you don’t have many extra talking points outside of shared experiences. As Brian and I are gamers to the core, we decided to fill some of our drinking time with a little healthy competition. Our constant companions for the week became the games we could easily throw in our pockets, backpack, or purse.

Chrissy plays games in Ireland

And this leads me to the best stocking stuffer idea I’ve ever had! Pocket games! (Don’t tell Brian, but there may or may not be a few of these games in his stocking this year.)

Now, your mileage may vary depending on the type of gamer you are, as some games are definitely more strategic and detailed than others. But I’ve tried to provide a variety of options whether you’re a party game addict or a strategic game wizard.

In full-disclosure, any purchases made from these affiliate links may result in a tiny commission that help support my board game addiction. It doesn’t cost you anything extra.

Tiny games for international/carry-on travel

Pocket-sized travel-friendly games

When luggage space is tight, size matters. These games are perfect for carry-on luggage, international travel when every ounce makes a difference. These games are also really great to throw in your purse or pocket when you’re going somewhere with a long wait or hanging out in a bar or microbrewery.

Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction

$15. 1-5 Players

Manhattan Project Chain Reaction Card Game

This game is the condensed version of the larger, Manhattan Project, which, in full disclosure, I’ve never played. But Chain Reaction is a favorite of ours, and it plays well with two, three, and four players. It’s a pretty easy resource management card game with a strong randomized luck component, but it plays quickly and enjoyably. Basically, you create uranium using yellow cake and the appropriate workers; then turn that uranium into bombs to earn points.

GEM

$6. 2-4 players

Gem pocket-sized gum pack games pack-o-games

There are sixteen different Pack O Games — small card games in a box no bigger than a classic pack of gum, and I love the concept of these games more than anything else. They’re so tiny, they even fit in those piddly barely-a-pocket pockets that they have started adding to women’s clothing. And GEM is so fun. It’s an auction-style game in which you are bidding on gems in order to have the most valuable collection at the end of the game. Finally, a game I can beat Brian at!

Ultra Tiny Epic Kingdoms

$15. 1-5 players

Ultra Tiny Epic Kingdoms travel game

There is a series of games, known as Tiny Epic Games, by Gamelyn Games. These games pack a full-size strategy game into a relatively small box. But our first adventure with the Tiny Epic brand was their Ultra edition, which we received in a Board Game Bento Box (no longer available, but absolutely one of the best wedding gifts we were given!). This itty bitty game comes in a small box similar to that of Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction, but has a fully functional worker placement game inside. We love it. Brian especially loves it, because he usually wins. Whatever. It’s a fantastic game. We first played Ultra Tiny Epic Kingdoms at a bar at Gen Con, because of its travel-friendly size, and now it goes on every vacation with us.

Fun fact: There may or may not be a second Ultra Tiny Epic game coming out this month. So keep your eyes peeled for Galaxies!

Treasures and Traps

$13. 2-6 players

Treasures and Traps The Adventure Card Game

I played this game at Chicago Toy and Game Fair this year, and it was super fun. It’s a dice rolling game with some nerdy gamer strategy. The art is awesome, which is one of the big things I look at when buying a game. The primary reason I got this one was that it comes with a storytelling element in the expansion pack, The Adventure Story Game. But I also love that the Random Encounters expansion box is big enough to house all of the cards in each expansion (which is pictured below in the Domestic/local travel because it’s a little bit bigger than pocket-sized).

Love Letter

$16. 2-4 players

Love Letter Card Game

This is one of the social deduction games that I really enjoy. We have a slightly different version with Asian-inspired art. The goal is to send a love letter to the princess through one of the many messengers that are closest to her. Of course, you’ll have to pay attention to your opponents because the cards can change the course of the game and your opponents are watching your actions to beat you. It’s a fast game that’s relatively easy to learn if you have played deduction games before. It also comes with a convenient inner velvet bag that you can use to travel even lighter.

Saboteur

$9. 3-10 players

Saboteur game

There are several things I love about this game, not the least of which is that it plays up to 10 players, and the expansion, Saboteur 2 makes that 12 players, which is awesome if your game group gets a little too big for a 4-player game. I also think the concept is fun. Everyone is digging their way to the treasure, but one sneaky saboteur is trying to thwart the squad. Find the saboteur and prevent them from dominating to win.

We Didn’t Playtest This at All

$13. 2-10 players

We didn't playtest this at all game

This might be the silliest game on the list. The rules are simple: Read the cards. Follow the rules. Change the rules. Win the game. Basically, any card can change the rules of the game, create end conditions and win conditions. And other cards can thwart your attempts at winning. It’s a super fast-paced silly game.

Games for domestic/local travel

These games will fit into a tote, duffel bag, or suitcase, especially if you fly Southwest and bags fly free. Some of them are card games that can be repackaged in a smaller container, but all of these games should easily slide into your luggage.

Travel-friendly games

May Cause Side Effects

$25. 4+ players

May Cause Side Effects by Games Adults Play (Goliath Games)

This party game was gifted to me from my friends at Goliath Games is super great for a group of friends looking for an amped-up version of Taboo meets charades. The bottle is hilarious. The game is super fun, especially if you have a larger group of players. You play in teams and compete in a typical game of Taboo (providing clues to guess a word), with one exception. The player is experiencing side effects. So in addition to giving clues for the word, you’ll also have to perform two physical actions, traits, or body movements. For example, you might have to pretend to be a ballerina while whispering to guess the word owl. You have 40 seconds to get your teammates to guess as many words as possible.

Shit Happens

$12. 2+ players

Shit Happens by Games Adults Play (Goliath Games)

This is one of my best friend’s favorite games. She slays at it every single time. It’s super easy to learn and play, and really crazy. This game was also gifted to me by Goliath Games. It plays an unlimited number of players (though I wouldn’t recommend more than 10) Basically, you place the cards in the order you think they belong in based on the misery index one at a time. Each of the 200 cards have been pre-ranked based on surveys and research. Cards include shitty things like root canals, $115 parking ticket, smelling like a fart for the rest of your life, and darker, dirtier things like a ketchup bottle stuck up your ass. (I’m sort of looking forward to the Google searches that lead people here).

Side note: If the darker, dirtier part turned you off…good news! There are PG versions of the game: Stuff Happens and parenting Stuff Happens.

Shifty-Eyed Spies

$16. 4-8 players

Shifty-eyed spies game

I love this silly game. Each player is a spy trying to deliver and receive packages. The goal is to wink at the player to whom you need to deliver a package without anyone noticing. Then that player must tell you where to meet them. The game is super easy to play, and the winking aspect is hilarious.

Okey Dokey

$13. 1-5 players

Okey Dokey game

Okay, so this was on last year’s Tabletop gift guide, but I couldn’t help myself from putting it in again because it’s a nice pocket-sized game! This game is silly and amazing and I love it. Brian hates it. It’s very polarizing. You can play it by yourself in sort of a solitaire type game, or you can work together with your teammates to organize and order the cards properly…without saying a word. I’ve played it by myself and with others, and I really enjoy playing it.

Cthulhu Realms

$18. 2-4 players

Cthulhu Realms game

This is a big game in a little package. It’s one of the smallest boxes for deck builders that I’ve seen, but it’s got more to it than just deckbuilding. It’s an elimination game, and your goal is to make your opponents go insane before you do using the cards in your hand. Because it’s small, I sometimes forget it’s there, but when we play it, it’s always a good time.

LOOT

$12. 2-8 players

Loot Card Game

I randomly found this game at a thrift store years ago, but it is always fun to play. You’re collecting coins from pirate ships by one-upping each other as the bigger better pirate. This is another easy-to-learn game that has lots of replayability. Plus, again with the large player count! Just know that another over 5 is a partnership game, where teams of two compete with each other.

I hope you found this gift guide useful and interesting. Which of these games would you most like to play? Let me know in the comments below! I have a few more coming next week, but if you’re itching for more gift ideas, feel free to check out some of my guides from last year.

Tabletop gaming gift guide
2018 quirky holiday gift guide
Unique holiday gift guide for kids, pets, and grown ups
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Ways to get into the holiday spirit

Happy December, friendos! Because I’m feeling especially festive this year, I’ve got a lot of plans for the holidays here in the quirkyverse. Starting yesterday (on the gram), we’ll be celebrating with 25 days of holiday joy! There will be a few giveaways sprinkled throughout the month over on Instagram (and there’s one live right now!). Festive ideas. Gift guides to help you shop or make your own wishlist. And brightly colored happiness wrapped up in a bow.

To start the month off properly, I’m giving you some easy ideas for jollying up your life this month. You know I’m festive AF every year, so here are some of the ways I get started.

Holiday wearables

“Ugly” Christmas sweaters

Remember when people actually wore ugly Christmas sweaters unironically? And then when other people started thrifting said sweaters and wearing them because it was funny?

Yeah, those days are so gone. If you’re going to wear an “ugly” Christmas sweater, I say make it a super cute one like this Grinchy sweater.

Grinch ugly Christmas sweater

Or a hilarious one, like this National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation sweater.

Shitter's Full ugly Christmas sweater

Or marry the two ideas with this amazing 3D plush dinosaur sweater.

3D plush dinosaur ugly Christmas sweater

My friends at UglyChristmasSweater.com sent me the coolest, funniest, cutest dinosaur holiday sweater to share with you, and I absolutely love it! I sized down on this one to an XL, and I was super glad I did. It fits perfectly for all of my Christmas sweater needs. The dinosaur has velcro to stay on the sweater, and it comes with some industrial sized safety pins to keep him safely secured to your back and torso. The sweater is super cozy too!

I haven’t named my dinosweater yet, and I’m hoping you can help! Leave a comment below with your name idea. Because this dino and I are going to be besties for life.

If you want to try your luck this week, I’ve partnered with UglyChristmasSweater.com, and we’re giving one of these sweaters away over on Instagram.

Festive accessories

I love holiday headbands and slippers and Santa hats. Necklaces and bracelets and ribbons in my hair. I wear them all month long for a festive flair. Jingle all the way, that’s what I always say! Most of my accessories are older or thrifted, but if you’re looking to add to your collection, here are a few items I’ve seen recently that I love.

Christmas fascinator
If you’re crafty, you can probably make your own, but if you’re not, this holiday fascinator is under $15 on Amazon.
Christmas elf slippers
If I didn’t already have a pair of holiday jingle slippers, these Joe Boxer elf slippers would so be on my Christmas list.
Christmas bow necklace set
I may have just ordered this gift bow necklace set for myself. Wanna be twins?

Holiday colors

Want to be festive without the extra flourishes? Pair fun combinations of red and green for super holiday fun. I’m a big fan of color blocking and mixing/matching solid-colored pieces like this green dress, red top, and red leggings (technically, they are paprika, but whatever).

Pro-tip: When I wear a blouse over a dress, I usually tie it in the back with a hair tie so that it cinches my waist.

Chrissy in front of a pink Christmas tree wearing red and green
The top is thrifted, the dress is almost a decade old, and the leggings are from Fabletics, which is where 90% of my colored leggings come from.

You can use accessories to make colors pop if you don’t want to be too bold with the color blocking – like a green belt and scarf with a red t-shirt dress (I wore it over skinny jeans because winter). You can switch up your accessories to be a little less extra, but I always recommend the extra.

Chrissy in front of a Christmas tree wearing red and green
Both the scarf and belt are thrifted and the shirt dress I’ve had for a few years. I tend to buy solid colored belts and scarves when I see them because they make the best Disneybounds and color-blocking.

Decorations

Trim a tree

I have had my Christmas trees up since mid-November. They make me happy. I always have at least one themed Christmas tree and one hodgepodge, family-ornament Christmas tree. This year, I also have a fancy tree (but make it Chrissy).

Mickey Mouse Christmas tree
This is the Mickey and Minnie Mouse tree. I only decorate the top half, because it’s behind the couch.
Pink Christmas tree
This is my obsession. I forgot I bought these ornaments last year for this tree, but omg I am obsessed.

Wintery atmosphere

Garland is key when decorating our house. Whether it’s lighted garland on the banisters or super flowy strings of faux pine needles and holly leaves hanging all over the house, we have garland everywhere. And it looks awesome.

Chrissy wearing maroon and dark green in front of pre-lit garland
This photo is from two years ago (blonde hair), but the garland behind me remains the same. I just haven’t put the garland up yet. (But hey, here’s another way to mix and match some more holiday colors. A maroon dress and a deep green cardigan.

Twinkle lights are also a necessary component. Christmas comes when the nights are longest, and what better way to brighten a room than with twinkle lights everywhere?

Tablescape

I have Christmas dishes. Of course, I have Christmas dishes. When Brian and I moved into our first (and only, actually) apartment together, my mom bought me a few pieces of Pfaltzgraff Winterberry as a housewarming gift. And from there, it’s become an obsession.

Pfaltzgraff tablescape with Christmas dishes and Kate Spade tablecloths
A holiday meal fit for kings. This was a Hello Fresh Spanish one-pan chicken, and it was happiness.

I also went through a Rae Dunn obsessive phase, and I used some of those dishes to make another fun set up for afternoon tea (and cocoa). Rae Dunn can be found at your local TJ Maxx/Marshall’s/Homegoods or on sites like Mercari and Poshmark (if you say quirkychrissy referred you, we each get $5).

Rae Dunn Christmas tablescape with Kate Spade tablecloths
You can do this with any plain dishes too! Colorful tablecloths like this Kate Spade tablecloth and Kate Spade runner complete the look. I couldn’t easily find the green cloth and red runner to share with you, but I was able to find a green runner and a red tablecloth if you’re interested in this color blocking dining tablescape.

So there you have it, friends. Chrissy guide to celebratory holiday fun! Dress festive and decorate festively to enjoy every second of the holiday season. How do you get into the Christmas spirit? Let me know in the comments!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Hunting for Thanksgiving turkey leg(g)s

Brian has started talking in his almost sleep or still kinda asleep stages. This is something I’m personally quite familiar with, as I’m known for talking in my sleep. I’ve even gotten into fights in my sleep. But this is new for Brian. And I fucking love it.

For example, the other morning, Brian woke up and told me how adorable it was.

“What’s adorable, Brian?”

I was waiting for him to say, “You are, Chrissy,” because I was all curled up in a sleepy Chrissy ball. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting.

“The sun. It’s so cute.”

Now I KNOW he was dreaming because:

  1. Brian hates the sun.

And

  1. It was barely shining through the curtains.

My assumption was that it was because the light was so dim, it felt like just a little sun, but who even knows. I just love that Brian dreams about the sun being adorable.

So, last night, as we were falling asleep, Brian said, “There should be a Turkey egg hunt on Thanksgiving.”

And I wholeheartedly agree. And then my mind started whizzing with ideas. How could we make this happen? I love the Easter egg hunt. (Yes, I am an adult, and my mommy still hides eggs for my cousins and me.)

I kept thinking and told Brian it could be a turkey LEG hunt instead.

He was markedly opposed to this for being half asleep.

“That would get very messy, Chrissy.”

But it could be PLASTIC turkey legs. And they could open with snacks and toys inside.

I haven’t worked out all the logistics yet, but I think I’m on to something.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May your day be full of feasting and family. And if you’re like me, and have 3 hours of backseat (shotgun) driving ahead of you, lots of online shopping.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Quirky holiday gift guide

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I love Christmas. To kick off the holiday shopping season, I’ve taken the liberty of curating a super fun list of quirky Christmas gifts from one of my favorite online stores, UncommonGoods. It was hard to narrow it down to ten items, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you.

BTW, I love it when a store I’m obsessed with is kind enough to sponsor a post like this by allowing me to choose a few items from my wishlist to keep! While I may have received free products to write this post, all opinions are my own. 

Quirky Gift Guide - 10 items from UncommonGoods that everyone should have

Gifts for foodies (and cheese lovers)

Gifts for foodies: Boska Portable Cheese Melt Utensil $25

Guys. GUYS. YOU GUYS. This cheese melty raclette device has been on my wishlist since I saw them in a gif last year or the year before. I can’t be trusted to remember these things. Anyways, Brian was too busy buying me a Le Creuset and a magic sparkle skirt last year to pick one of these up for Christmas, but now I have one, and it is everything! Melty cheese for everyone!

Gifts for foodies: serving palette with bowls $35

I also love throwing shindigs. And when I saw this fun palette platter, I knew it had to be mine. Think of all the tiny things you can put in the little bowls! Olives, fig jam, tapenades, fruit spreads, butter, CREAM CHEESE, dips, cheese spreads. God. The possibilities are endless for a kitchen artiste like me — or you, for that matter.

Gifts for foodies: molecular gastronomy kit $49

Another foodie gift on my list from last year, I have been dying to try this molecular gastronomy kit since I saw it on the suggested wishlist items from Draw Names. It comes with 4 different food additives (5 of each) that you can play with to make creative foodie dishes that will at the very least impress your husband because SCIENCE! I can’t wait to show you what I make with it!

Gifts to stock the bar

seven deadly sins glasses $72

I LOVE these glasses. I don’t own them yet, but (ahem, Brian) they are on my Christmas list. The seven deadly sins on rock glasses with fun little cartoon devils. I don’t know why I love these so much, but I do. They’re the most expensive item on this list, but glassware is expensive, you guys. And these are too fun! They also have matching pilsner glasses. Or personalizable sin glasses.

gifts to stock the bar: woven wine tote and glass holder $40

So this summer, my bestie Ally and I went to an Alannis Morissette concert at a park. The park allows you to bring your own food, drinks, etc. It’s like a magical concert picnic of joy. People get super swanky and bring candelabras and stuff. The biggest problem we encountered, though? Not having anything to hold our wine glasses! Which is where this picnic saver comes in handy. Six wine glasses in a caddy that holds your bottle of wine and your glasses. Like magic.

gifts to stock the bar: beer caddy with bottle opener $45

This is on the list of things I’m going to get Brian. He likes to bring a collection of rando ciders when we go to parties, but he never has a six-pack holder to carry them. This super nice wooden crate is perfect for those occasions, and — bonus — it comes with a bottle opener!

Fun gifts and stocking stuffers

UncommonGoods also has a number of super bragworthy smaller gifts perfect for filling stockings or rounding out bigger gifts.

fun gift ideas: balloon dog nightlight $25

These balloon dog nightlights probably won’t fit in a stocking, but they are SO FUN LOOKING. I would love to have or two of these hanging around my house. Because unlike real balloon animals, these will never deflate on you!

fun gift ideas: f bomb paperweight $45

 

This f-bomb paperweight is sure to weigh down someone’s stocking, but you know it’ll be worth it. Come on…you know you want to drop an f-bomb in someone’s stocking. It even looks a little like coal for a double whammy of fun. Fun fact: They also have an A-hole paperweight. You know. For the matched set.

gifts for bookworms: pride and prejudice scarf $48

Scarves are also on my list of things you can never have too many of…especially when they have text from your all-time-favorite novel! I am so thrilled to have this magical Pride and Prejudice scarf in my life, you guys. Anyone who loves a good book and a cozy scarf will probably love one of these too!

stocking stuffers: yogi joes $25

My personal favorite stocking stuffers (hint, hint Brian) are these adorable yoga Joes. Forget tiny army dudes, these yogis are all the rage.

A couple of other fun tidbits about shopping with UncommonGoods: Their mission is to provide a space for artists and creative designers to showcase their products. Half of the items they sell are handmade and 1/3 of the items are created with recycled and/or upcycled materials. Their customer service is top-notch — they’ve received awards for it for the last ten years. Customer service is SO important to me that I will quit a brand I love if their CS isn’t up to snuff when I need it.

So go take a gander at UncommonGoods, and let me know what else is on your list!

Looking for more gift list ideas? Consider one of these bad boys.

Adult Holiday Gift GuideGifts for everyone on your list a holiday gift guideChrissy's quirky wish list gift guide

Unique holiday gift guide for kids, pets, and grown ups2018 quirky holiday gift guide

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Alternatives to making your name plural on a holiday card

Last night, I came across my favorite annual article, just in time for Thanksgiving. You know the article. The one that yells at you to stop adding a fucking apostrophe to your name when you send your Christmas card.

Well, that article is, as it always is, spot on. But it’s not just YOUR name you have to worry about. How are you addressing your recipients’ names on the envelope?

As someone who sent eleventy billion wedding invitations and thank-you cards last year and sends dozens of Christmas cards every year addressed to families and couples galore, I have developed a number of potential solutions for you. You never have to worry about a last name seeming off when it’s pluralized again.

Santa holding an envelope that says alternatives for addressing your Christmas cards

Instead of addressing your adorable photo Christmas card to The Wojs (which is the correct way to address a card to my family), try one of these simple variations.

 

Address Christmas cards using both or all the names

Look, you can try to be fancy and fail miserably with your misguided apostrophe (stop calling us the Woj’s!)…OR you can be super cool and use both of our names. Just because we got married doesn’t mean we’re no longer individuals. If you want to get really fancy with it, you can use our full names. Brian’s name is still Brian. But I suppose you can call me Chrysanthemum if you really feel as if full names are important. If we had kids or dogs, you could add their names too. Sure it would take up a lot of space, but isn’t my pet Ebenezer the Sloth worth it to you?

Postcard addressed to Brian and Chrissy Woj

Address the holiday card card to the whole family

Instead of worrying about accidentally shoving an apostrophe in the last name — because OMG you can’t possibly just put an S after a J — just address the card to a single family unit, like The Woj Family. Sure Brian and I are just two people, but we ARE a family unit. We live in the same house. We argue about toothpaste squeezing procedures. The best part is that it doesn’t matter if there’s two of us or twelve of us. It’s the same three words across the board.

Postcard addressed to The Woj Family instead of attempting a plural with an apostrophe

Address cards to the person you like better

I mean…maybe it’s the person you know better. Or you don’t know their family at all. You might just address the Christmas card to me and say, “Screw Brian. He has his own people.” Or, if you’re feeling extra generous and want Brian to feel the love, you can add him as an afterthought by addressing your card to Chrissy Woj and family. Either way, we’ll know who you really meant to send the card to.

Postcard addressed to Chrissy Woj and family

A superfluous use of apostrophes on the left? Probably. But are they grammatically correct? God, I hope so.

There you have it, folks! Easy alternatives to addressing your Christmas cards to the correct person. If you’d like to receive a Christmas card from Brian and me this year, fill out this Google form with your address and you’ll likely get something in the mail by December 24. I’m nothing if not a procrastinator.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Champagne and Mom Go Hand in Hand

There are many wonderful things I love in this world. Cheese. Brian. Brunch. My mom. Being a godmother. My own godmother. (Don’t worry dad. I love you, too!) And, I promise this is in no particular, highly calculated order or anything.

I’ve always loved Mother’s Day, despite the having-never-been-a-mother thing I’ve got going for me. It’s one of the Big Five holidays in our family–Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother’s Day–as we’re largely a matriarchy with loud, confident women (if I told you I was the quiet one, would you believe me?). Which pretty much means feasting, family, fighting, and fun. Now that Brian and I own our own home, we like to host family gatherings. I’m not going to lie, though, I’m using the term “we” loosely.

Last year, I took over Mother’s Day (and Halloween. And Christmas Day). As I’m the lady of the family without kids, I wanted to make the moms in my life feel special. So I invited my parents and brother, my godmother and her husband, and my cousin, the mother of my godson, and her family over for an early afternoon brunch of joy. I have every intention of doing it again this year, because it was ridiculous amounts of fun.

So, without further ado, I’m going to give you everything you need to create a delightfully magical brunch for your fam.

Sometimes, I like to have a bloody Mary bar when I host brunch, but I thought it would be fancy if I planned a glorious mimosa bar.

Everything you need for a mimosa bar

  • Champagnemy preferred drink of choice. Obviously.
  • Sparkling almond champagne – It’s a little bit sweeter for your guests who prefer a fruitier beverage
  • Peach bellini – Trader Joe’s has a really great bottle of this stuff and it rounds out your set nicely
  • Orange juice – Apparently, people add this to champagne. It’s not my bag, but I offered it anyways
  • Pineapple juice – I promise, this is WAY tastier than OJ, but you do you, my friends
  • Sliced peaches, oranges, and pineapples – Go big or go home, guys. If you’re going to all the trouble of creating a mimosa bar, make sure you’ve got the right accouterments
  • Maraschino cherries and strawberries – who needs a proverbial cherry on top when you can have a real one? And come on. Strawberries and champagne? Did you even see Pretty Woman?

For Mother's Day, I like to host a brunch for my mom, my godmother, and the mother of my godson to celebrate the beautiful and wonderful mothers in my life.

Now that we’ve got the drinks covered, let’s talk about food. In my family, we cook to feed an army. So when I make brunch, I make a lot of brunch. But…I’m also conscientious of my time. And so when I think about things like cinnamon rolls, I buy them from a store. Some call it cheating. I call it ingenuity.

With kids and adults, creative palates and traditional tastes, I like to offer a wide range of options for everyone. Here is my list of top food stuffs to include on my brunch menu.

Brunch ideas for the whole family

  • Eggs – if you’re going for gold, you can make eggs to order (I don’t) or eggs benedict in a chafing pan. Me? I make cheesy eggs and throw them in a crock pot half cooked. By the time everyone is ready to eat, they’re fully cooked. I also like to offer options, so sometimes, I’ll also make an egg casserole or strata or something.

Breakfast Casserole

This delicious beast is eggs, broccoli, cheddar, and ham atop a glorious crescent roll crust.

  • Potatoes – Nothing says brunch like a big ole pan of cheesy potatoes. I like to throw in shredded potatoes, whatever random cheeses I have in the cheese drawer, some onions, and whatever cream condensed soup is hanging out in the cabinet. The last time I made it, I used Campbell’s Creamy Gouda Bisque, and it was amazing.

Cheesy potatoes

Bake until there’s a golden bubble, and then add more cheese. Of course.

  • Meat – You’ve gotta have something meaty and delicious, but since my family is all over the place, I tend to have 2-3 different types of meat. We might have smoked salmon (cold or hot smoked – both are delicious), bacon/sausage and turkey bacon/sausage, because that tends to make everyone happy. One year I made bacon-wrapped dates and turkey bacon-wrapped dates and LOOK OUT world, because Chrissy forgot to take the pits out of the dates. Everyone ate them anyway (and had to get rid of the pits, obvi).
  • Yogurt bar – This is always a hit. Just get some vanilla yogurt (don’t get Greek yogurt. As much as I love it, everyone will think the regular vanilla is FABULOUS), fresh fruit, local honey, and granola. It’s easy, and you don’t have to cook anything!
  • Baked goods – Fruit breads, muffins, cinnamon rolls, slices of bread for toast, English muffins, bagels, etc. There’s no need to bake these yourself when Panera or Peapod will do it for you. Serve with jams, butter and cream cheese.

Cinnamon rolls

Invite guests with style

Now, you’ve got a plan; it’s time to send out invites. While paper invitations are great for, like, weddings and stuff (and only because my mom is making me do it), I’m a fan of the digitation. For your Mother’s Day brunch, you can use Evite to create personalized invitations with easy-to-track guest lists. Boom.

Evite Sample

What are you doing for Mother’s Day? Do you host or go out to eat? 

This post was sponsored by Evite. Some links used in the content may be affiliate links, which will garner me a small commission should you make a purchase. This helps offset the costs of running this little ole blog. As always, all opinions, ideas, etc are my own. 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Hostess’ Guide to the Holiday Madness

Little-known fact: June Cleaver, Martha Stewart, and I swap notes.

I may be a terrible housewife, but I’m a master of feeding people and throwing baller parties. Last year, after moving into our house, we hosted a killer game-themed housewarming party for nearly 60, Second Thanksgiving for 15, Christmas Day for 30, and a small New Year’s Eve with family. This year we hosted a birthday party for 30, Halloween party for 40, and are planning another Christmas Day extravaganza in addition to game nights and dinners throughout the year. I’ve become skilled in the art of hosting parties.

I’ve put together this convenient,  easy-to-follow guide for hosting parties, which is sure to make your holiday merry and bright, your birthday magical and special, and your perfect little dinner party a night to remember.

The hostess' guide to handling holiday madness

2 Months Out

1. Pick a date. This may be easy if you’re hosting on a specific holiday, but with families freaking everywhere, you may host Christmas on the 20th or the 31st. I won’t judge. You do you.

  1. Delay. Put off most of the planning as long as you can. Spend time pinning shit to your Pinterest board, knowing you’re never actually going to do any of that nonsense. Late invites are likely to shrink the number of people who show up.

1 Month Out

3. Start inviting people. Use multiple modes of communication to make it as confusing and hard to track as you can. For extra planning points, recruit your partner/boyfriend/spouse/person/fiancée(God, that word is WEIRD) to invite his family or friends you don’t follow on Facebook. You already know you’re screwed.

2 Weeks Out

4. Secure RSVPs. Wait for no one to respond,  and then start the second round of messaging. Texts, calls, private messages, tags, etc. Leave no communication stone unturned. Just don’t add them to your Jamberry Group.

5. Meal plan. Decide what you’re going to feed all these people you’ve invited to your home. Dole out responsibilities and assignments if you’re potlucking. Get as creative or unoriginal as you want. You’re hosting this fiesta.

6. Start writing to-do lists. Put together a shopping list for groceries, a DIY list for crafty shit you want to do, a cleaning list for your boyfriend/partner/husband to follow while you’re at work or the grocery store (saving him from all the people). You can use Google Drive, a pen and paper, a blank Word document or some fancy pants list you downloaded from a way more organized blogger than me. Me? I have lists everywhere. In e-mail drafts, in notebooks, and on the back of random papers from work. I typically forget them all by the time I head to the grocery store or start cleaning.

7. Decorate your home. Get your holiday decor up whether you’re putting up Christmas tree in every room, creating a disgusting murder scene in the bath tub, or setting up a spider’s den in your bathroom. If it’s not a holiday, make sure you’ve got all your art hung, ordered the right colored table cloth from Amazon, planned for balloons and other decorative touches.

Just hope and pray the balloons don't end up in the updraft of your ceiling fan.

Just hope and pray the balloons don’t end up in the updraft of your ceiling fan.

1 Week Out

8. Keep texting and calling people. We all know half your guest list isn’t going to respond. That’s okay, you love me them anyways.

9. Write new to-do lists. Don’t tell me you know where the originals are. I know you’re lying. Go ahead and make new ones. Even if you forgot the original items on the list, you’ll think of new ones.

10. Start those crafty projects you said you were going to do.  You want to make special scrabble Christmas ornaments for everyone at your holiday party? You know what? Fuck it. Just go to the store and buy some cookies. Then, eat the cookies. Then, continue on with the rest of this list. You don’t need that kind of stress in your life right now.

5 Days Out

11. Shop. Try to get as much grocery shopping out of the way as you can. Stock up on beer, wine, pop, snacks (you’ll need these later), and cream cheese (this is the only necessity with party apps. You can mix anything with cream cheese for a magical creation sure to impress every guest). Hold off on anything you think should be fresh, such as fruit or veggies. No one wants stinky cauliflower.

3 Days Out

12. Procrastinate. It’s time to start heavy duty lifting and really get your ass in gear. But you DEFINITELY need a break first. Perhaps you’ll watch  Kimmy Schmidt or Liz Lemon on Netflix to get you in the spirit of whatever event you’re hosting. There’s a little Kimmy or Liz for everyone, guys.  Pop open one of the bags of chips you were reserving for your event, eat candy for dinner from Dylan’s Candy Bar (OMG) and work on your night cheese. The party is happening whether your floor boards are dusted or not.

1 Day Out

13. Start cleaning. Spend a little time casually wiping counters, cleaning out your fridge, rearranging your collection of board games, video games, movies, CDs, whatever, moving piles from one room to another in an effort to clean. You still have 28 hours before this party is in full gear.

14. Prep as much food as you can. It’s time to make magic happen with the cream cheese, folks. Whip up a few dips while your boyfriend vacuums the floor with your fancy pants Shark vacuum. Cut veggies. Arrange fruit displays. For the love of all things, DO NOT CUT THE CHEESE YET. That is a last-minute priority in order to ensure the best possible cheese flavors.

Prepare your veggie crudite the night before to save time for your uber panic when hosting a party.

Prepare your veggie crudite the night before to save time for your uber panic when hosting a party.

Day of the Party

15. Freak out. You’re not ready. Your house is certainly not ready. You haven’t showered since your Liz Lemon marathon and it’s REALLY time to move it. You know nothing helps a situation more than a serious panic attack. Get ready for it. It’s coming.

16. Quick Clean. You don’t have time to clean the way you want, so start throwing everything out of sight. Throw shoes down into the basement, hide baskets of mail under your buffet table (See why I told you to invest in that floor length table cloth on Amazon, now?), take stakes of clothing/clutter/whatever up to your bedroom or the guest room or the office. Just get it out of here, already.

17. Finish food. Whip together as much of the food as you can before you have to start cleaning up the kitchen. The cheese should be cut about 30 minutes before guests arrive (and you shouldn’t let it sit out for more than four hours, so plan for a second batch if it’s a long party.

Put the cheese out about 30 minutes before the start of a party in order to have the best tasting cheese (room temperature).

18. Beg for reinforcements. Hope and pray you have parents like I do who show up 45 minutes before a party to help with this process. Sure, you won’t remember that your mom threw your keys in the cabinet with the canned goods, but no one else saw them cluttering up your breakfast bar, amiright?

Game Time

19. Relax. Breath a sigh of relief and pour your first of many glasses of wine/champagne/beer/vodka/whatever. Give yourself a pat on the back for only crying three times instead of five like last time. You’re getting better at this game.

Friends, how do you handle the stress of hosting parties? Are you a killer host? What do you try to do whenever you host an event? Tell me your secrets before I pull all my hair out!

This post is brought to you by the fine people at Netflix, without whom I may never procrastinate. While I wasn’t paid in dollars to create this blog post, I did receive a subscription to Netflix and a device on which to watch my favorite shows (hello Liz Lemon – I love you!). As always, you get my opinions and ideas, which I was not paid to change. Obviously.

Netflix Stream Team

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

21 AWESOME Themed Christmas Trees to Decorate Your Home

If you didn’t already know this, I have a Christmas tree problem. I mean…Brian calls it a problem. I think it’s a fun way to celebrate the holidays. Luckily, I’m not alone in my crazy. I certainly didn’t get this way all on my own, and I don’t think Brian’s childhood was completely immune to the idea of a themed Christmas tree – or an overabundance of Christmas in general. But I LOVE themed Christmas trees. I came across an article on Yahoo! DIY that had a variety of unique tree ideas, and it really got me thinking. My people (and Brian’s people) are evil geniuses when it comes to Christmas tree themes. I knew that I had to share the joy. Without further ado, I’d like to present you with my friend-sourcing project for the holidays. Below you’ll find the Christmas trees that we, along with our friends and family, put up for Christmas.

I’ll start with my themed trees. I know that Hallmark isn’t really a “theme” but you know what? I’ve wanted one ever since I saw Katie Kelly’s mom’s Hallmark tree, so you bet your bottom dollar that I planned to have one when I grew up. The family trees pictured belong to myself, my mom, and my aunt (you’ll meet some of their other trees later in this post). Try to guess which one is mine. The bird tree is a tree that I received on my doorstep this year (courtesy of my aunt) with ornaments that belonged to Brian’s mother. It’s my all-time favorite tree. The shoe tree started as a random collection, much like my martini glass collection, and was upgraded from a 3-foot tree to a 4-foot tree last year, and this year has become a full-grown, 6-foot tree. The book tree was upgraded from a 12-inch tree to a 4-foot tree, but she’s got a ways to go before she’ll grow up any further.

Hallmark Ornament Tree

Hallmark Ornament Tree

Heirloom/Family Tree

Heirloom Trees

Bird Tree

Bird tree

Shoe Tree

2014-12-21 21.24.01

Book Tree

Book tree

Chicago Bears Tree

Comic Strips from Christmas past

Comic strips from Christmas past

My mom has her family ornaments strewn out on two separate trees in the family room and the living room/front room. She also has a 5-foot tinsel tree in the front hall. She’s even put lights on a palm tree to remind her of Florida. But the tree that amuses me the most? The Charlie Brown Christmas tree in her family room.

Charlie Brown Tree

Charlie Brown Tree

My aunt, who is one of the most Christmas-loving people I know and the very lovely benefactor of one of our many trees, goes all out for Christmas. I can only hope to have the time and energy to fill my home with as much Christmas joy as she does. The next several trees were all her creations, and I have to admit I’m completely jealous of all of them. I’m working toward a Grinch tree for Brian. My aunt does that one for my cousin who doesn’t seem to love Christmas as much as she and I do.

Grinch Tree

Grinch Tree

Sports Tree

Sports themed Christmas tree

Vintage Tree

 Vintage Ornament Christmas Tree 2

Flocked Santa Tree

Mr and Mrs Flocked Santas

Handmade Ornament Tree

Handmade Ornament Tree

Angel Tree

Angel Tree

Vintage Bone China Tree

Martha Stewart Tree with Vintage Bone China Ornaments

My mom’s best friend who is basically my second mom, has a vast collection of Barbie ornaments from Hallmark. When I was a child, I received many of these from her for Christmas, so I could very well have my own Barbie tree also. Right now, those ornaments live on my Hallmark tree. She has a beautiful pink tree loaded with Barbie, and oh boy is it beautiful!

Pink Barbie Tree

Pink Barbie Tree

One of Brian’s cousins sent me pictures of her stunning Disney-themed Christmas tree as well as her Disney advent calendar tree and S’mores-themed tree (Hey Joules! Lookout!). The Disney tree has 550 ornaments and 2000 LED lights to set a magical atmosphere that makes me wish I was in Lake Buena Vista. I am actually hoping to have a Mickey Mouse Christmas tree one year, and possibly a Disney princess or Disney villain tree as well. So this Disney tree is pretty much amazing. The Disney Advent Calendar tree would fit right in with the advent calendars article I read on Yahoo! DIY , as you can find each day of advent on the tree! The marshmallow tree has S’mores branded ornaments with little S’mores marshmallow men.

Disney Tree

Disney Tree (2)

Disney Advent Tree

 Disney Advent TreeMarshmallow S’mores Tree

Smores tree

My darling best friend on the planet, Katie (of Words for Words fame), with her darling penguin obsession has (obviously) a penguin tree. Which is so full to the brim with penguin ornaments that I stopped buying her penguin ornaments. And occasionally I will buy her penguin-y things…and keep them for myself. Because she has plenty of penguins. And everyone needs a tuxedo bird pal.

Penguin Tree

 Penguin tree

Another friend of ours, Kelly (who also sells amazing soap on Etsy), has a tree that she is absolutely in love with (and I certainly can’t blame her). This stunning peacock tree stands out in her home with teal, green, and blue feathers, magical sparkly ornaments and lots of help from her adorable tiny humans. This tree reminds of our bird tree, only with more sparkles and purples. I’m a huge fan.

Peacock Tree

Peacock Tree

And last, but certainly not least, my friend Joules, over at Pocketful of Joules, has her own really amazing tree that makes me super jealous I didn’t think of it first. She has a Wizard of Oz tree with all the fabulous characters from the beloved movie. With almost twenty-five ornaments, in an ornament collection/obsession that begun with gifts from her grandparents, this tree oozes of delicious joy.

Wizard of Oz Tree

Wizard of Oz Tree

Blog Friends, do you put up a themed Christmas tree? Do you celebrate Christmas? If you DID put up a themed tree, what would you WANT it to be?  Have you been following #YahooDIY for ideas and other fun goodies?

Thank you Yahoo! for sponsoring this post. While this was a sponsored opportunity from Yahoo!, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Welcome to My Nightmare…. I Mean My Holiday Workshop

Greetings Blog Friends!

With Christmas a mere five days away, I’m going to whisk you away on a tour of all things deliciously holiday in our home. If you’re not into Christmas joy, you don’t even need to step away, because interspersed with Christmas decorations, trees, and crafts, you’re going to see all the crazy that I’ve experienced. So you’ll get Santa and the Grinch. I promise. It’s not all spotless dining rooms and fancy-pants trees (but there are those).

Let’s start with my holiday workshop. Now, USUALLY around this time, Christmas cards are sent off, presents are wrapped, and I’m patiently awaiting the arrival of Saint Nick. This year it’s more like the fourth circle of hell in which nothing is going right.

Christmas cards

Even though I think our cards are hysterical what with visual puns and stuff, I had a bazillion problems getting my cards this year, including the photo prints being late, our return address labels not getting printed out, not getting enough envelopes for the aforementioned cards and being short-changed on the number of cards printed. Christmas cards were finally sent off this morning with a few adventures in driving…

Like the person who made a right turn from the LEFT lane on a very busy major street. Or the crazy lady who almost hit me in the post office parking lot because she was flying through like a bat out of hell (and then proceeded to make her middle fingers dance in front of me when I was stuck behind her at a red light).

Holiday Workshop Tools

A little Christmas gift from Office Depot and Office Max to help smooth out my ridiculous holidays

Next year, I’m getting everything done at Office Depot. I’ve never had issues with them, and I hear they do holiday cards too. They were kind enough to send me some helpers for my holiday greeting card checklist, including stickers to seal the envelopes and pens to write out all the addresses. I was even able to slide in some of the thank you notes they sent for people who gave us gifts for our housewarming. (I’m all for the multitasking y’all. Some people got three pieces of correspondence in one envelope.)

Christmas presents

Today, I’ll be locking myself in our soon-to-be guest room, which is currently doubling as my holiday workshop with the rest of my goodies from  my wonderful friends at Office Depot and Office Max. I’m going to make a cup of cocoa, turn up the Holiday Lite (our Christmas radio station), and wrap wrap wrap my little heart out. With  gift tags, ribbon, two rolls of tape, markers and a pair of scissors from OD, and the BAZILLION rolls of wrapping paper that I have from the last few years of clearance shopping, I’ll be able to stick to my ridiculous OCD-tendency need to wrap everyone’s individual presents in different wrapping paper.

My holiday workshop

This is it. In all it’s disastrous glory. Boxes, presents, wrapping tools and ribbons EVERYWHERE…and a tree to set the mood.

What are your Christmas card/present-wrapping habits? Are you finished or still kickin’? Have you even started? What would make your holidays easier?

Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this post, but I did receive some very helpful goodies from Office Depot and Office Max to make my holiday workshop just a little bit less of a stressful place to be. 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Get Your Bathroom Ready for the Holidays

I’m working with my friends at Charmin and Roto-Rooter to show you how I get my bathrooms ready for the holidays.

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Charmin. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

As you probably remember, we just moved into our first (and please for the love of cheese, last) house and instead of one piddly apartment bathroom, we’re now the proud owners of three. Full. Bathrooms. This is one of them. This is actually the upstairs hall bathroom, but I like the tree in this bathroom best. I’ve had it for more than twenty years – It started as my bedroom Christmas tree, and now it’s my bathroom tree. The fancy soap dish and soap were Brian’s mom’s. I’m pretty sure that soap just keeps getting put out and no one uses it. I’m okay with that, because the other soap makes my hands smell like gingerbread cookies.

Bathroom Decorated for Christmas

Thanks to our party-friendly house, we (okay fine, I) volunteered to host Christmas. For 30-40 people. Both Brian’s family and my family will be joining us for one of my absolute favorite holidays as we celebrate, eat, drink and make merry.

People keep asking me, “Are you sure?” as if I volunteered out of obligation, but really, ALL MY GRISWOLD DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE!

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to do this. Of course, knowing me, something is bound to go wrong. Thankfully I’m stocked with Charmin (the brand backed by Rotor-Rooter as a clog-free and septic-safe TP) for the holidays so I won’t have to worry about a clogged toilet, even with 30-some-odd people in our house, and can instead focus on not burning myself, cutting myself or falling down the stairs.

Prep your bathroom for the holidays in six easy steps

Step 1: Stock up on toilet paper  – I usually opt for Charmin since it’s the softest, strongest and comes highly recommended by the plumbers at Roto-Rooter. The partnership between Charmin and Roto-Rooters promises that your toilets will stay clog free this holiday season. Make sure to have a couple extra rolls on hand in case someone runs out in the middle of their business. I can’t store them in the cabinet under the sink, since my laundry chute lives there, so I stock TP behind the mirror in the bathroom.

Bathroom stocked with TP

Step 2: Prepare for hand washing with lots of soap – I try to have festive holiday soap for the season, and always have a backup ready to switch out. I also like to have different scents in each bathroom.

Downstairs Bathroom - snowmen

Step 3: Use clean and dry hand towels or disposable hand towels – If you can splurge on the disposable hand towels, life will be oh-so-much easier, but a supply of cloth towels is great as long as you have extras to switch out regularly. With 30-40 people coming to our home, I’m going to have both.

I haven't gotten new fancy Christmas towels yet - I'll buy them after Christmas when they're 75% off.

I haven’t gotten new fancy Christmas towels yet – I’ll buy them after Christmas when they’re 75% off.

Step 4: Place a trash bin next to the toilet – You’ll be especially grateful if you use the disposable hand towels to have an empty trash container with a disposable liner or grocery bag. (I don’t think you need a picture of my trash bin.)

Step 5: Set up a Christmas tree and decorations – I kept things simple this year and just put up my mini tree, but other years, I’ve had Christmas towels and other decorative accents to really celebrate the season.

Mini Christmas tree in the bathroom

Step 6: Invite everyone over – Get ready for the hap hap happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, my friends, because your bathroom is ready to go. Don’t invite your elf on the shelf though. You never know what kind of trouble she’ll get into.

Meredelf Grey - just hanging around.

Meredelf Grey – just hanging around.

And just for fun, I made a quick video for you! Welcome to my upstairs hall bathroom. Thanks a million to my pal Brookie Banosnapper for coming over to shoot this little vid for me. I can’t even tell you how much flack I got for the way I put the toilet paper on the roll. Apparently, she’s of the toilet paper must be placed over and not under camp. I personally could care less, but she made me change it.

Blog Friends, what do you do to get ready for the holidays? Do you host parties this time of year? What holiday-ready bathroom tips do you swear by? Do you have a toilet paper brand preference? How about over or under?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!