Dressed Up: Christmas Cocktail Party

I am definitely one of those people who feels tempted to buy something new for every occasion–something that would be just perfect for whatever I’m attending. When it comes to Christmas parties, that “something” is probably a cute red dress that is just right for December, but hangs in my closet for the rest of the year. Over the last few years, I’ve been making a much more concerted effort to stay away from impulse purchases and invest in classic pieces that can be mixed and matched in a hundred different ways. Case in point? My favorite little black dress, and even though it was ironically an impulse buy before an event (I suppose there are exceptions to any rule :)), I find myself pulling it out anytime I’m not sure what to wear. The versatility of an LBD is far from news, but it bears repeating at a time when I’m tempted by red and gold party dresses–with a few sparkly accessories (and a bright red lip, of course), this look is just as festive!

Christmas cocktail party outfitPearl tassel necklaceEssie Forever YummySparkly hair clipSparkly gold heelsCheers Y'all napkinsDress, pearl tassel necklace, link bracelet (similar here and here), gold heels, hair clip, red lipstick, red nail polish

Dressed Up: Christmas Shopping

Christmas is only ten days away!! With all of the events and to-dos packed into the next week and a half, I’ve decided to share five festive outfits leading up to Christmas that will get you through every occasion on your calendar. Putting together this many style posts has been a little outside of my comfort zone, but it has been so much fun and I hope you like them! First up, a cozy outfit for Christmas shopping–I always try to wear a warm sweater so I can leave my coat in the car (thankfully, an option in NC!), rather than carry it around the mall. Wearing my hair up keeps it off my face while browsing through shelves, and my riding boots (which are only $52 right now!) help my feet last for a whole day of walking around and checking people off my list.

What to wear Christmas shopping

Christmas lamp post

What to wear Christmas shopping

Christmas list

Tortoiseshell statement necklace

J. Crew olive pantsCableknit sweater (similar here), tortoiseshell statement necklace, sunglasses, olive green pants, purse, boots (only $52!), red lipstick, Essie “Forever Yummy” nail polish

My Favorite Gifts to Give

I love Christmas shopping–everything from hunting down the perfect gift to tying it up with a bow (always!) is so much fun. Giving gifts is a love language for a reason, and while they are far from the most important thing about Christmas, I love the opportunity to show someone how well I know them and how much I appreciate them through a sweet, thoughtful present!

In general, my favorite gifts to give are special “extras” and accessories that I know someone will love, but wouldn’t necessarily treat themselves to–a gorgeous scarf, a completely fabulous statement necklace, or a fun desk accessory, for example. My number one go-to gift, though, is something personalized or monogrammed. This is an easy way to show that you put a little extra thought into a gift, since it’s something just for them. Don’t have time to get something monogrammed? Look for pieces marked with an initial, or choose something with another sentimental identifier on it (like their home state)–they’re often available in stores, or for much quicker shipping times online! Here are a few of my favorites:

Personalized GiftsSquare tray | Cocktail napkins | Initial pendant | Gold mug | Coordinates cuff bracelet (choose from NYC, LA, London, and Paris) | Ring bowl | Blackwatch scarf | Canvas and leather pouch (purchases benefit GiGi’s Playhouse!) | Luggage tag | Stationery

A few more gifting guidelines I try to follow:

When giving clothes/accessories (which I try to only give to people I know really well), I like to either go with a super classic staple, or a fun piece that I know they want, but wouldn’t splurge on.

I shy away from home decor that is meant to be “on display” all the time, in case it doesn’t quite match the recipient’s style or blend well with other pieces in their home. When it comes to home goods, I like to stick to small kitchen accessories or things that are meant to be switched out (like table runners, cocktail accessories, or a cake stand).

Another no-fail gift? Books! A novel you love and think the recipient will too, a beautiful coffee table book (I love this one, this one, and this one), or a favorite cookbook are all great options.

I’m always looking for more ideas, so I’d love to hear–what are your favorite gifts to give?

December Inspirations

My favorite thing about December is the fact that as soon as I turn my calendar to the last page of the year, I’m filled with motivation to live the way I really should be living all year long–savoring traditions, making the effort to show people how much I care about them, and spending more intentional quiet time with God. There are only 25 days to squeeze in everything I look forward to about Christmas, so there’s not a day to waste! Does anyone else feel that way? As I start to think about what I want 2015, and my first year of marriage, to look like, I’m praying for the grace to “honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.” Did I mention one of my favorite traditions is watching “A Christmas Carol” with my family on Christmas Eve? :)

December InspirationsWear: Like I mentioned on Instagram yesterday, the only time red is my favorite color is when it comes to lipstick or Christmas decorations, and as a result, my favorite red lipstick (Sephora’s The Red 04) is permanently on my bathroom counter this month. I love this festive, monochromatic look! (Photo via The Everygirl)

Eat: These peppermint cream puffs might literally be the cutest Christmas dessert I’ve ever seen! I have never made anything like a cream puff before, but I think these may be worth giving it a shot. (Photo via Best Friends for Frosting)

Live: This living room has two of my favorite features: 1. It’s primarily neutral, making it the perfect blank canvas for styling differently every season, and 2. The decor is classic and traditional, but far from boring. How fun are the wreaths on the windows? (Photo via Better Homes and Gardens)

Decorate: Especially in an apartment, I’m not ready to invest in any big decor that I have no space to store for 11 months out of the year. The solution? A big red bow wherever appropriate. :) (Photo source unknown)

Celebrate: My family makes a huge breakfast on Christmas morning right after opening presents, and it is one of the best parts of the day. This bar cart-turned-coffee station is as cute as can be, and rolled into the dining room, it would lend itself perfectly to a hearty morning meal where everyone stays at the table long after the plates have been cleared. (Photo by Buff Strickland via Camille Styles)

Shop: My sisters and I are crazy about Essie nail polishes, so we often coordinate which colors we buy so that we can all share when we’re together. The problem with the winter 2014 collection, though, is that I want to add every single one of these to my collection! (P.S. It also comes in a mini four-pack, perfect for a stocking stuffer!)

Your turn! What are you wearing, eating, decorating with, celebrating, or shopping for this month?

LJO to LJK: Five Months to Go!

The fact that it is already time for another wedding planning update blows my mind–we started our engagement with 17 1/2 months till our wedding date, and while it felt like forever at the time, I can hardly believe how quickly it is going. I think the holidays are going to make this month speed right on by, and I get butterflies just thinking of putting up my 2015 calendar! I’m pretty happy with how much I accomplished this month, the major task being making a huge list of EVERY thing we need to do before May. Even though it’s pushing 120 items long, having it all organized and in one place is a huge relief!

striped bouquet ribbonSpindle Photography via Southern Weddings–one of my favorite recent weddings!

Completed in November:

  • I wrote our master to-do list and Dave organized it in a handy spreadsheet
  • We received our wedding monogram and invitation proofs!
  • I talked with my sister about bridal shower inspiration
  • We went on our church Engaged Retreat
  • I bought a few fun details and bridesmaid gifts, thanks to Black Friday sales!
  • We placed our lighting/draping order
  • We visited the venue for my Syracuse bridal shower
  • Mrs. Kirk bought her dress
  • My dad and Mr. Kirk bought their suits
  • I amped up my pre-wedding workout routine

On our list in December:

  • Go try on our wedding rings!!
  • Book our wedding night hotel
  • Book honeymoon hotels (we’ve booked one of four so far!)
  • Finish reading the book of possible ceremony readings from our church with Dave and choose the ones that mean the most to us
  • Order supplies for a DIY project
  • Work with our stationer on our invitations
  • Continue to collect small details (a few are on my Christmas list!)
  • Continue to work out regularly and eat healthily, even through the holidays
  • Schedule a big planning meeting with Fearrington for January