Advent Calendars You'll Love for Years To Come

One of the dates that my girls look forward to every year is December 1st - the date that they get to open that first door on their advent calendars and begin the countdown to Christmas! 
I'm right there with them in their excitement - seriously, what's not to love about a month where you get a special treat every single day?!  You can pick up a standard cardboard advent calendar with chocolates for as little as $1, but I love the idea of spending a few more bucks on an advent calendar that can hold little trinkets, notes, & treats, be used year after year, and be a beautiful part of your home's holiday decorations.

As you may have figured out by reading my blog, I'm all about options!  So, we'll go down the high road ($$$), the middle road ($$), and the low-down, dirt cheap road ($) and find the perfect advent calendar for you!  Let's start with the high road - this is the big bucks road for you lucky girls who have some dough to invest in an amazing advent calendar that will become part of your family's holiday tradition and your home's holiday decor for years to come.  My favorite advent calendars in this category are the Advent Calendar Elves sold by Garnet Hill.  You have your choice of the girl elf (hanging on the wall) or boy elf (hanging out on the bench).  Each elf has numbered pockets to store tiny gifts and treats (and they are so cute as part of this home's holiday decor!!).  They regularly sell for $88 each but are currently on sale for $69 each.
Garnet Hill Advent Calendar Elves
Another great choice for an advent calendar that would be a big hit with the kids is Pottery Barn Kids' Plush Snowman Advent Calendar.  This guy is regularly $99 but he is currently on sale for $79. 
Pottery Barn Kids Snowman Advent Calendar
Pottery Barn Kids also sell a more traditional advent calendar with 24 small felt stockings in which you can tuck a daily surprise.  The calendar is $89 with an additional $7 if you choose to personalize it with your family's name. 
Pottery Barn Kids Stocking Advent Calendar
Etsy.com also has several amazing handmade advent calendars like this one sold by Polka Stripe Studio for $69
etsy.com - Polka Stripe Studio
Christmas Traditions U-fill Advent Calendar with Drawers
Now let's head down that middle road for some advent calendars in the $10-$30 range.  My favorite advent calendars in this price range are both at Target.  I love this natural, rustic house with it's numbered doors hiding cubbies for those special surprises!  It is regularly $29.99 but at the time of this post it was on sale for $25 (in stores only).
Target's Classic Tidings Tabletop Advent Calendar
Target's other advent calendar on my list is more contemporary but equally as decorative and fun!  It is regularly $24.99 but is currently on sale (in stores only) for $22.49.
Target's Classic Tidings Tabletop Wood Advent Calendar
My final advent calendar down that middle road is IKEA's YRSNO Advent Calendar.  This guy is made of cardboard so he's not exactly heirloom quality but he sure is cute!  He has 24 numbered drawers that you can pull out and fill with small presents. For $9.99 he is a great bang for your buck!
IKEA YRSNO Advent Calendar
Now let's travel along the low-down, dirt cheap advent calendar road.  This path requires you to put in some time and craftiness, but you will end up with an advent calendar that is just as beautiful as the expensive versions but with more special meaning for your family.  Etsy.com is a great place to go when you are thinking about a DIY calendar - they provide the creative idea and give you everything you need to do it yourself!  For example, Wants & Wishes Design has the cutest Printable Paper Present Advent Calendar - for $5 they will e-mail you a PDF with 25 "presents" in five wrapping styles - simply print and cut the presents out, fold and glue them together (instructions provided), punch a hole in the top and voila - you have your own handmade advent calendar!  You can fill each numbered package with a special surprise and hang them on your Christmas tree or string them together as a garland.
Wants & Wishes Design's Printable Paper Present Advent Calendar
For lots of other great DIY advent calendar ideas, there are tons of tutorials around the blogosphere, including these and many more: 

Add numbers to mini galvanized buckets, fill them with little trinkets or treats, and hang them on your Christmas tree for an easy, instant advent calendar. Go to {this post} for the full tutorial:
{Driven by Décor}
Martha Stewart gives you the easy peasy instructions for making this Baby Sock Advent Calendar:
Martha Stewart's Baby Sock Advent Calendar
Centsational Girl gives you all the details on how to make her fabulous Manzanita Advent Tree
Centsational Girl's Manzanita Advent Tree
And finally, check out Just A Girl's blog on how to create a Christmas Advent Jar - gorgeous!  If you missed my post on apothecary jars a few weeks ago, check it out to see where to find them for less.

Christmas Advent Jar
Have fun shopping (or crafting!) for this year's advent calendar.  Better do it quick... it's almost time to open that first door! 
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Love Restoration Hardware But Don't Love The Price Tags?

If you love Restoration Hardware's furniture but not their prices, I have the perfect store for you - well, perfect nine stores actually!  They go by one of three names: Southeastern Salvage Home Emporium, Southeastern Salvage, or Home Emporium but are all owned by the same parent company and all have amazing furniture and home decor deals.  The stores are located in the Midwest, South, and East Coast including the towns of Birmingham, Columbia, Knoxville, Mobile, Nashville, Shreveport, Chattanooga, Chesapeake, and Cincinnati (see their website for more info on locations).  They have the craziest assortment of items - where else can you get a toilet, jewelry, Pella windows, a tiki hut, and fabulous furniture all in one place??  Check out some of the furniture pieces I found on my recent visit to the Cincinnati store and see how they compare in looks and price to Restoration Hardware's furniture.

This nailhead chair was one of the first things that caught my eye - I love the lines of the chair and the large nailheads around the base.  I also love the price - $169.
Home Emporium (Cincinnati)
Compare it to Restoration Hardware's Nailhead Upholstered Chair, which has a starting price of $399:
Restoration Hardware's Nailhead Upholstered Chair
Then I came across this guy selling for $398.  Does he look familiar to you?
Home Emporium (Cincinnati)
It may be because you just saw him in Restoration Hardware, but at $1025 - over double Home Emporium's price!  It doesn't just look the same - according to Home Emporium, it is the same. Yep, the identical item from the same manufacturer that makes it for Restoration Hardware.
Restoration Hardware's Mayfair Steamer Cube with Drawers
Are you a fan of tufted leather?  Check out Home Emporium's tufted leather couch ($1698) 
Home Emporium (Cincinnati)
and chair ($888):
Home Emporium (Cincinnati)
While they aren't cheap, they are a steal when you compare them to Restoration Hardware's comparably sized 76" Kensington Leather Sofa for $3495
Restoration Hardware's 76" Kensington Leather Sofa
or their  Kensington Leather Chair, which is $2395.
Restoration Hardware's Kensington Leather Chair
Another great find at Home Emporium was this gal, who had a price tag of $699
Home Emporium (Cincinnati)
While Restoration Hardware doesn't have an identical match to this table, they do carry a table in the same size and finish but with bulkier legs with a much higher $1245 price tag:
Restoration Hardware's 76" 17th C. Monastery Dining Table
Looking for a large wood coffee table?  I forgot to write down the price of this big guy at Home Emporium 
Home Emporium (Cincinnati)
but I'm sure he's cheaper than his kissing cousin at Restoration Hardware that will cost you $1595 or $1925 depending upon the size:
Restoration Hardware's Balustrade Salvaged Wood Coffee Table
Home Emporium also carries a ton of mirrors, including this one for $198 
Home Emporium (Cincinnati)
who looks very much like this one at Restoration Hardware for $325
Restoration Hardware's Trumeau Mirror
Home Emporium also has tons of other great furniture pieces that aren't Restoration Hardware knock-offs but are still amazing.  Here are some of my favorite pieces:
Home Emporium (Cincinnati)
Home Emporium (Cincinnati)
Home Emporium (Cincinnati)
If you live anywhere near a Southeastern Salvage Home Emporium, Southeastern Salvage, or Home Emporium or are traveling nearby for the holidays, it is definitely worth a trip!  
Have a great Monday!

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Get Thinking About Next Year's Thanksgiving Now!

Did you brave the crowds of people to get in some Black Friday shopping??  
photo by upi.com
This is the first Black Friday that I haven't had to work in 10+ years so it was a real treat for me to be able to be part of the shopping action this year!  I was definitely not one of those people waiting in lines for hours (or days) - there is no deal big enough to get me to be part of that craziness.  However, I was out hitting the stores from 7:30pm to 3am and got lots of great stuff - wish I could show it to you, but most of my great buys were Christmas gifts for friends and family who read my blog.  Here's the one thing I bought myself though - a new winter coat at Express at 50% off - it has a very flattering silhouette (and the back of it is super cute!). 
Express Wool Blend Fit and Flare Coat
I'm planning on heading back out today to focus more on some home decor deals since none of my typical haunts (Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, etc.) were open during the hours I was out last night.  Now is a great time to think ahead to next year's Thanksgiving and load up on Thanksgiving home decor items that have gone on sale.  Here are my favorites: 

Pottery Barn's Bird Salad Plates (set of 4) are on sale for $39.00.  I love the traditional designs and muted color palette of these plates.  They would be beautiful on a Thanksgiving table paired with solid colored white or brown dinner plates and would also look great displayed on a plate rack or easels. 
Pottery Barn Thanskgiving Bird Salad Plates
Crate and Barrel's Vine Pumpkins and Gourds would be perfect for creating a table centerpiece or for decorating a mantle, sideboard, or chest.  They are available in store and online (except for the large pumpkin - that big guy is already sold out online but you may be able to find him in a store).  Choose from the small pumpkin ($2.95), large pumpkin ($7.95), small gourd ($4.95), & large gourd ($9.95).  The pumpkins and gourds are eligible for free shipping when you over $99 on eligible items online.
Crate and Barrel's Vine Pumpkins
Crate and Barrel's Vine Gourds
I love Crate and Barrel's Rona Amber Runner, which has also gone on sale.  It is 14" wide and comes in three lengths: 60" ($29.95), 90" ($39.95), and 120" ($44.95).  There are also placemats in this same design that are on sale for $7.95 each.  Like the vine pumpkins and gourds, they are eligible for free shipping if you spend over $99.
Crate and Barrel Rona Amber Runner
Do you have young kids??  Pottery Barn Kids has an adorable Thanksgiving tablecloth on sale for $49.99 that would be great for next year's Thanksgiving feast!
Pottery Barn Kids Thanksgiving Tablecloth
Sur la Table has some cute twig turkeys at half price (they are cuter in person than in this grainy picture!) that are made with twigs, pinecones, yarn, and wood.  The large turkey is $19.99 and the medium is $9.99.  These cute guys would look great with the Crate and Barrel vine pumpkins and gourds! 
Sur la table Large Twig Turkey
West Elm's Sesame Letterpress porcelain "Give Thanks" Platter is a favorite of mine - it is very neutral so would go well with any dinnerware that you have and the flowing script lettering would add a nice touch sophistication to any Thanksgiving table.  The platter is on sale for $14.99 and you can get it shipped to you for free!
West Elm Sesame Letterpress Give Thanks Platter
The Thanksgiving sale items are selling fast, so if you like any of my favorites or if you have other Thanksgiving home decor items that you've been eyeing - get out there and get them!  Have a great long weekend!
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My Black Friday Home Decor Picks

Black Friday is just around the corner - are you starting to figure out your Black Friday shopping strategy?  While appliances, electronics, and toys top most people's shopping lists, I'm going to show you a few home decor picks that you might want to add on to your list!

Target has several doorbuster deals (doors open at midnight Thursday night) that are available while supplies last.  One that I'd like to get my hands on is this chunky chenille throw - it is regularly $34 but can be yours for $20 if you get to Target before they're gone.  I love the throw in grey but there are also several other colors to choose from.
Target's Chunky Chenille Throw

Target also has some great sheet sets as doorbuster deals.  If you love flannel sheets as much as I do, you may want to grab one of Target's Holiday Flannel Sheet Sets.  Twin and full sheet sets, which are regularly $24.99, will be $16.99 on Black Friday.  King and queen sizes are also going to be on sale.  There are seven patterns to choose from - my favorite is the red fair isle: 

Target's Holiday Flannel Sheet Set
Target also has T-shirt Soft Jersey Sheet Sets for the same doorbuster prices.  Choose my favorite pattern (turquoise snowflakes) or one of their ten other color/pattern options.  
Target's Jersey Sheet Set
Michaels has some great coupons that you can get out of their Black Friday flyer or print out from online.  Michaels will be open from 4-10pm on Thanksgiving day and they have a coupon for 30% off your entire purchase that day, including sale items!  There are also coupons for 50% off a single item during certain hours on Friday and Saturday.  Michaels is a great place for frames, baskets, and holiday decor.  If you are interested in any of Michaels' apothecary jars that I featured in my Apothecary Jar Posting, now's your chance to get them at a steal! 
Michaels Apothecary Jars
Lowe's Black Friday deals are understandably focused on appliances and tools, but they did throw in a few home decor items.  One great deal is Allen + Roth's Leaning Ladder Shelving.  This guy is regularly $130 but he can be yours for $65 if you buy him Thursday online or Friday through Monday online or in stores.    

Lowe's Allen + Roth 5-Tier Leaning Ladder Shelf
IKEA has a few 3-day Black Friday deals and kids eat free (kids combo meal) all weekend.  Their best deal is on the EXPEDIT Shelving Unit - it regularly sells for $39.99 but is being offered at a special price of $19.99 on Sunday only.  It is sold in black-brown, birch effect, and white. 

IKEA's EXPEDIT Shelving Unit

I know - it doesn't look interesting enough to make you want to rush out and buy it, does it?  This next pic may change your mind - look at what happens when you put two of the EXPEDIT units together and style it with books, bins, and magazine files:

World Market has several deals on Black Friday, including 50% off luxe faux fur throws and BOGO deals on several items, including tabletop frames.  Some stores are also providing free coffee and breakfast treats on Friday morning!  If you're liking the idea of some hot coffee after having snagged your new TV at Wal-mart and you like any of these tabletop frames, you might want to add a stop to World Market to your strategic shopping plan!
World Market's Grigio Frames
$12.99 to $14.99 
World Market's Metallic Broken Bangle Frames
$7.99 to $14.99
Are you looking at all of these Black Friday deals and thinking that they are great and all but there is no way you are fighting the crowds on Friday?  Then, my final home decor pick is for you - Home Decorators Collection has an online "12 Days of Deals" that began on Nov. 17th and continues through Nov. 28th.  Each day they offer savings of 30-50% off a certain category of home decor.  For example, a friend of mine scored a set of Keys End Tables for her guest room.  They are regularly $139 each but on Monday the daily deal was 30% off all tables so she paid only $97.30.
Home Decorators Collection Keys End Table
The deals are only revealed one day at a time, so check in at homedecorators.com on Thursday and Friday to see if there is a deal on anything you have been eyeing.  They have had 30% and 40% off deals but haven't yet had a 50% off deal - my bet is that they are saving that for Black Friday or possibly Cyber Monday.

That wraps up my Black Friday home decor deals post.  Do you know of any other great online or in-store bargains? If so, post a comment to let us in on your find!  Happy shopping and, more importantly, have a happy Thanksgiving!

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