DIY Family Photo Heirloom Ornaments

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Find the tutorial e-book here.

I mentioned about a month ago that I sent in my 23andMe kit and that I was anxiously awaiting the results. (see the post here if you missed it!) Well, I got my reports back and I want to share my findings with you. The 23andMe DNA service makes the most amazing Christmas gifts if you’re still struggling to find the perfect thing! I got these for my parents, and they absolutely loved them!

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

If you’re new to 23andMe, it is a service that helps you understand more about your DNA. It allows you to see which regions your ancestors come from and how your DNA can influence facial features, taste, smell and other traits. In other words, it provides some amazing insight into who you are! Some of which proved to be very surprising for me. Just receiving the email with the word “results” in the subject was cause for nerves. What was I going to find out! Give me something spicy, please!

I’ve been a long-time fan of family history, ever since discovering a 7-inch thick family tree book. I would spend hours flipping through it looking at every name and location. I found it fascinating. Now that it’s so much easier to know EXACTLY where our ancestors are from and how much of them lives in us (isn’t that a crazy thought!). Well, the results I’m in and I’m…

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

…100% European. Ha! I wasn’t super surprised there, although it’s always a fun idea to think that there’s something out of the blue in my background. Nope! I’m 65% British/Irish. I’d LOVE to find out exactly what that means because my grandmother is from Ireland but I’m sure with a name like Watson, it’s a mix of Scottish and English too.

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

I had hoped I’d be a bit more Scandinavian than I am. I’m 15% percent. I had gifted these tests to both my parents in the past and I knew that theirs was also slightly lower than expected so I was prepared for something lower than I thought. So, right on point!

My husband also took the 23andMe test, and surprisingly he is somehow only 22% Scandinavian? Yup. I don’t quite know what happened there, but he’s 26% French/German, which is a lot stronger than I thought. His mom is from Canada, so we had assumed that there would be some French there, but I didn’t realize it would be that much.

As I mentioned in my last post, using the 23andMe service has gotten me even more interested in my family history and past relatives. This time of year always tends to be a bit nostalgic and I wanted to create something by my recent findings concerning my ancestry. These Heirloom Family Photo Ornaments were the result. I collected some photos of my family members, including great-grandparents, parents, and even Jasper as it would be his first official ornament! Then we figured out an awesome way to transfer images onto fabric. I wanted a little something extra on the ornaments and I’ve been spotting the technique of adding embroidery onto photos so we decided to try it out on these plush ornaments. I absolutely love how they turned out! It’s literally…a family tree!

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

On a more sentimental note, I love that the ornaments serve as a reminder of those I love throughout the holiday season! These are perfect heirlooms to pass down each generation, and I’m planning on making new additions each year.

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

My Christmas tree becomes a literal family tree, decorated with all my ancestors!

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

Family Photo Heirloom Ornaments tutorial

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

If you haven’t tried 23andMe yet, be sure to check out their kits! Go to 23andMe.com/HouseLarsBuilt to learn more about their Holiday promotion! They make wonderful Christmas Gifts, are easy to use, and the results are so fascinating and make great conversation starters! My family and I end up talking about our reports for hours on end! Just the type of thing you want for holiday gatherings.  

Family Photo Heirloom Ornament

You can find the tutorial for this project as an e-book in our shop here.

This post was sponsored by 23andMe. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Lars thriving!

Photography by Jane Merritt

DIY Gingerbread house gift boxes

Gingerbread house gift boxes

You know I love getting creative with my wrapping paper–it’s part of the fun of gift giving! We were challenged by Painters to use our imagination with their markers and so we came up with these adorable gingerbread house gift boxes, which just might induce more squeals than the actual gift box itself. And no need to fear, they require just three materials. Easy squeezy!

Painters is hosting the Style by Aisle Painters Contest for all you looking to get creative this month. Through December, they are giving a winner a prize valued at $500 to someone creating something in the Party and Seasonal Decor category. You and your other talented DIY friends/family can submit your homemade creations to elmers.com/painters. On the website, you can even download a coupon for Painters products so you can add more colors or tips to your DIY/crafting collection.  You can take advantage of the coupon even if you don’t enter the contest. Go to the website to learn more!

Gingerbread house gift box tutorialGingerbread house gift box tutorial

See below for the full Gingerbread house gift box tutorial! 

DIY Christmas Bulb Advent Calendar

advent with wreath

I had the honor of contributing this DIY Christmas bulb advent calendar to the holiday issue of Sister Mag magazine, a German publication from some of my favorite ladies. I’ve contributed before (here (my hair!!!!) and here) and this time I was in the company of a few other artists from around the world with an advent calendar idea.

This one is super easy to make, especially if you have a craft cutting machine, and I love hanging it in our office right now.advent-calendar-light-bulb-7advent-calendar-light-bulb-12

See below for the full tutorial! 

Guide to napkin folding for Thanksgiving

The complete guide to folding napkins for Thanksgiving

Table settings are an essential part of any dinner gathering, particularly the most anticipated meal of the season: Thanksgiving! With all the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls, pies, etc., things are bound to get a little messy. Needless to say, napkins are  necessary. Especially for one who always seems to end up with a jam smear on her blouse… what’s a girl to do? Anyways, it is time to step up our napkin game and (attempt) to banish all spills and splotches! We’ve chosen six festive designs to DIY: 1) Boat, 2) Maple leaf, 3) Turkey, 4) Crown, 5) Leaf, and 6) Pumpkin.  These will put the finishing touch on your Thanksgiving spread and even impress your mother-in-law with the ever-critical eye!

Our favorite napkin colors for this project are linked HERE!

Oversized Holly and Berry Garland Video

oversized-holly-and-berry-paper-garlandTis’ the season for mistletoe, berries, and holly leaves! This is one of our favorite projects here at Lars, and it seems to be one of yours too! This oversized holly and berry garland was originally created to spice up my Mom’s holiday decorations and few years back (you can find the tutorial here). However, the end result was more than I could have hoped for. We made this video to take you step-by-step through the process, so you too can deck the halls with beautiful boughs of oversized holly!

Oversized berry and holly garland tutorial

Last year I made these holly and berry garlands for my parents house when I went home to visit. My mom was totally over decorating the house for the holidays so she let me do whatever I wanted–my favorite words to hear. I chose to do paper so that she could just trash it afterward (recycle please!).
I’ve received a lot of emails asking for a tutorial so here it is! It’s SO easy and anyone could do it. See below for the full tutorial.

See full tutorial below

The success of the holly shape is based on the seamless backdrop paper used by photographers. It comes in a roll so that when it’s bent it makes a lovely curl. You can find this in various sizes. You can find them anywhere from 26″ wide to 53″ wide. I bought the 53″ wide so I could get more out of my paper.

Materials: Full supplies list linked here

  • seamless backdrop paper in shades of greens (here are some paper suggestions: green, smaller green
  • cardstock in shades of reds
  • scissors
  • butcher paper
  • wire or chenille stems (pipe cleaners)
  • glue gun
  • Template

The trick to making these holly and berry garlands is in the paper choice. I used seamless paper roll backdrops, which photographers use on sets. You can order yours from here. There are a ton of colors to choose from and it’s MUCH cheaper and efficient than buying other types of paper.
To make the holly:

Step 1: I chose to use a light green and a dark green paper for my holly. Trace and cut out your holly (here’s a template). Mine was about 15″ long.
Step 2: Fold the piece of holly lengthwise so it gets creased in the middle. Because the paper comes on a roll it should automatically create that 3D effect.
Step 3: Cut out all the holly to fit the length of the garland you want to create.
Step 4: To create the form of the garland I used butcher paper and twisted it to form the swag. I attached it to my staircase with chenille wire stems.
Step 5: Start at one end and glue the tip of the holly onto the butcher paper angled one way.
Step 6: Layer the next piece of holly going the other way and glue in place to the butcher paper. Continue alternating angles and colors of the holly.

To make the berries:
I used two shades of red seamless paper in the same way.

Step 1: Cut strips of paper about 1″ wide and 1′ long.
Step 2: Glue one strip of paper together as if you’re making a paper chain.
Step 3: Glue another strip around the first strip. Glue the two papers to eachother so they stick together.
Step 4: Continue gluing more strips to each other forming a globe. Make sure they all stick to at least one other strip so they are secure.
Step 5: Cover all the holes that may form.
Step 6: Glue these “berries” onto the the garlands in groups of 2s or 3s where the swag peaks.

That’s it!

Happy holly making! Let me know if you have any questions or if I can clarify anything!

Paper Candle Christmas Tree Ornament

Paper Candle Christmas Tree Ornament

As a girl, I loved helping to decorate the tree each year for Christmas. I would carefully unwrap each ornament and place it on the tree. My favorites were always the vintage clip-on candles and birds from my Grandma. Recently I’ve seen a resurgence of this type of ornament and I love it! I decided I could make a pretty similar rendition using paper and it would be a lot cheaper too.  It’s a very common Scandinavian tradition to decorate your tree with candles, so this Paper Candle Christmas Tree Ornament is a little homage to my roots! All you need is small baking liners, paper, and glitter and you’ll have a tree all aglow in no time!

Paper Candle Christmas Tree Ornament

Check out the step by step photos to create your own paper candle ornaments!

Oversized holly & berry paper garland

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Though I’m right in the thick of my Valentine’s Day posting, I thought I’d take you a few weeks back to a time when sugarplums dance in our heads. And because of the nature of Pinterest, I’m hoping that my tardiness in posting doesn’t mean that the project will get lost in no man’s blog land, so please pin for next year!
I created this oversized holly and berry paper garland for my parent’s house when we went to visit them over the holidays. My mom is the most clever decorator you will ever meet, but was really over Christmas decorations this year. I think it’s because she never does the same thing twice–I  am my mother’s daughter. So, she asked if I wanted to make something and I obliged. Or begged. I can’t remember. I’ll do a tutorial on it when Christmas gets closer, but let these pictures suffice for now. 
See that painting below? That’s my mom as painted by my uncle. As it’s placed right by the entry of the house, it reminds us not to get into any shenanigans. 

Again, stay tuned for a full tutorial closer to the holidays on this oversized holly and berries paper garland. I’m sure you’ll be waiting at the edge of your seats.

UPDATED: You can find the tutorial here.

Thank you to my awesome brother-in-law, Walker Boyes, for taking the photos! He’s the best!

Holiday Swag with Vistaprint

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This post is sponsored by Vistaprint. We love our sponsors who allow us to create beautiful, original content for you. Use code LARSHOLIDAY to get up to 50% off holiday cards, wall calendars, and photo gifts!

One of my very favorite family traditions has been our yearly Christmas card. It’s that rare time of year when I can get Paul in front of the camera to document our family’s growth. Pre-photo generally tends to be a little stressful: organizing outfits, finding a location yadda yadda, then there’s the actual time in front of the camera which usually looks something like us bribing Jasper with some type of treat to get the shot (zoom in!). But man oh man the joy of looking through those photos once Jane (our in-house photographer) sends them back to us is twelvefold.

How to Dye Bottlebrush Trees

Bottlebrush Trees

What’s not to love about Bottlebrush trees? They are sweet, come in all sorts of colors and sizes, and look great in just about every setting! The downside is, they tend to be a little pricey and you can’t always find the exact palette you want. So of course, the only option we were left with was to dye our own! And you know what? It’s incredibly easy! We are already making plans for more. All you need are some natural sisal trees, which we found online, and basic liquid or powder dyes. We chose a jewel tone palette for this round, but I’m already dreaming up a pastel wonderland to try next. I love how these look sitting atop a mantel or in big glass cloches to look like oversized snowglobes. Bottlebrush Trees

Take a look at how to dye your own Bottlebrush Trees

Oversized Paper Christmas Stars

Oversized Paper Christmas Stars

With winter in full swing, I was searching for something to warm up my home during the dark, cold months. These Oversized Paper Christmas Stars were the perfect solution. These magical stars have are a common sight during the Christmas season in Scandinavian countries and have recently gained popularity in the United States and Canada. Traditionally hung in the window and filled with string lights, the stars would welcome visitors during the long and dark winters. We used our Cricut machine to create a small version to use as a tree topper a few weeks ago, so make sure you check out that post for a handful of Swedish-inspired Christmas decorations! These stars use the same templates, we just enlarged the size for an oversized result.

Learn how to make your own Oversized Paper Christmas Stars to welcome visitors this season! 

Paper Poinsettia Flowers

DIY Paper Poinsettia Flower

I used to think Poinsettia flowers were one of the lesser flowers on my “favorites list”. I felt like Christmas deserved a much lovelier blossom to represent its magical qualities. That was until I realized that poinsettias were more than just the gold cellophane wrapped arrangements at the grocery store or the tacky silk ones at the craft store. Poinsettias can be found in the most stunning colors and varieties! There are speckled versions, bright pink varieties, and much more. After this revelation, I knew it was time to make some Paper Poinsettia Flowers. It’s one that has been requested over and over by readers throughout the years.

Crepe paper is the perfect medium to add some texture to the petals and have some fun with color. From speckles to brush strokes, these poinsettias will give their real counterparts a run for their money! We teamed up with Cricut so you can easily download the SVG files and your Cricut Maker will cut out all the pieces in no time! Yes, the new Cricut Maker cuts crepe paper! It’s a Christmas Miracle!

Paper Poinsettia Flower

Find out how to make your own paper poinsettia flowers after the jump!