Your Guide To A Carefree Holiday Season

I don’t know about all of y’all but I can’t believe that it is already November. Christmas is in full swing at stores, media and I suppose here on 30 Shades of Stephanie. The holidays can be the most stressful time of the year, but only if you let it. A few years ago, the holiday season became too much for me and it was miserable. I’ve never hated the holiday season as much as that year and I knew something had to give in order for me to enjoy my favorite time of the year, so the following year I made a few changes that immensely helped. So here are a few things I do in order to actually enjoy the holiday season and make the best of it.

Plan Holiday Travels, Outings and Make Reservations 

Now is the time to book your plane tickets and hotel rooms. It will be much cheaper now and you will actually be able to get a flight or room. Since it is November you can now start making reservations for any holiday dinners out especially on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day because those reservations tend to fill up fast. Living in a tourist town, trust me, book any December special event dinners now. Also go ahead and try to buy tickets now to any holiday events like the ballet, concerts or light festivals. You can generally get them cheaper now, get better times or seats and of course they aren’t sold out yet!

Make Your Christmas Cards

I don’t know how many times I have planned to take the perfect Christmas card photo and make those cute custom photo Christmas cards or buy the perfect witty and festive card to tuck the photos inside. I either never have enough time to take the photos, let alone make the cute photo cards or buy cards. Don’t even get me started on the actual mailing of the cards. Sometimes they get sent a few days before Christmas or they don’t get sent at all. Right now is the perfect time to get on the ball with this. Plenty of time to take the pictures and get the perfect picture picked out. Plenty of time to make those cheesy custom cards or buy cards and print out the photos. Plus if you by now you don’t have to be left with the unwanted card selections! Also now is the time to make sure you have everyone’s correct addresses and make a list of all the people you want to send cards to. You don’t want to leave anyone out. And last but not least, buy your stamps now. The lines aren’t as long and you can easily slip them in to your mailbox once you have everything filled out. Now who doesn’t love some snail mail, especially festive snail mail?!

Start Thinking About Meal Planning

So not only do you have to plan for Thanksgiving meals and Christmas meals but you are going to be busy, busy during the holiday season. I know I tend to work longer days and have more social events filling my free time that the last thing I want to think about is making dinner. I like to start looking for easy and quick recipes that are perfect for the long days I seem to have during the holiday season. I like to look for crock-pot recipes and one pan dishes on Pinterest and make note of those recipes for the season. But I have also recently discovered Seeds of Change thanks to Influenster, which makes dinners at home a breeze. Seeds of Change offers rices and sauce packs that are not only healthy but extremely easy. Win, win. I received a complimentary Sweet and Sour sauce pack and made an awesome stir fry packed with veggies and protein. The best part, it took hardly no time to make. I stir fried garlic, mushrooms, onions, green beans, asparagus, chicken and the sweet and sour sauce and served over rice. It was a hit in my house and I will be purchasing more of these sauce packets to make during the busy season. The full range of Seeds of Change products are available at Target!

****This product was sent to me to test and review. All thoughts and ideas are my own.****

Start Planning Now 

One of the things I learned from the year I knew I was starting to despise Christmas was because I wasn’t using a calendar or planner. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but to me it’s a huge deal and it is for a lot of people. For me, if it isn’t written down or planned in advance it generally isn’t happening. I remember that year I lost the holiday spirit, the biggest bummer was double planning two events in one night (twice). One was an early Christmas present (the ballet, which I hadn’t seen since I was a child) and then a social media event. I got a message on the way to the ballet asking where I was for something I was supposed to be co-hosting. I remember yelling, crying, making up an excuse and not paying attention during the ballet worried I had let a few people down. Ohhhh and something similar happened the following week. Now I write down everything. Work, social events, blog post and social media schedules, dinners, freelance meetings and even when I am wanting to go and do certain Christmas events. I also like to write down a list of things I want to do like going to the ballet, seeing Christmas lights, Christmas at Biltmore,  the gingerbread competition at the Grove Park Inn or art events so I can prioritize and plan out those “Christmas Bucket List” things so I can actually do them. I’m telling you it makes a world of difference. So use the calendar on your phone, a standard calendar or a full blown planner to get it together. Plus you won’t miss out on the things you really want to do if you plan accordingly.

I have recently found this little holiday planner from One Swell Studio which is adorable for the holidays and perfect for keeping it together. The design is so chic and I love the large daily layout. It doesn’t start until December but perfect for the craziest month. This one is super unique because it acts as a keepsake of the holiday as well. Not only does it have a to do list for every day, but also spots for special moments from the day and a spot to write what you are thankful for. It also includes portions for budgeting, spending and gift tracking. I will use this in conjunction with my regular planner, this one as my to-do list and holiday memory keeper. How cute would it be to add a Polaroid picture to each page for each day?! Seriously considering this.

Block Off Downtime and Be Okay With Doing Less

Though I like to plan hardcore for the holidays I have also started to make sure that I have time where I haven’t packed the entire day with festive activities. During the holiday season you really need to focus on self-care more to avoid getting depressed or despising the holiday. Also if you can’t do everything, that’s ok. It’s fine to not do every festive activity in your town or go to every social event. If it doesn’t all get done, everyone around you and yourself will be fine. I like to pick a few days where I just do things I like, generally by myself, like getting my nails done or getting a massage. You deserve it girlfriend! Plus I will be sharing tons of self-care ideas here on the blog and on Instagram throughout the holiday season.

 

 

Your Guide To The Holiday Season

It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year!! Now I know you think I’m crazy because it’s only November 1st but let’s face it, I’ve been planning holiday posts since early October. Plus we all know the moment the clock strikes midnight after Halloween it is full force Christmas. Now mind you my pumpkins are going to stay put for a few more days but I’m ready to dive head first in to the holidays here with all of you.

Now I’ve been in a creative rut for both fashion and the blog lately. I know I’ve said that before but this time it’s a little different in the fact that I’m not seeing or feeling enough diversity in the blogging world. I feel like we are constantly seeing the same things over and over and over again. To the point where I get tired of seeing the same sweater styled essentially the same way by 15 different bloggers. And the holidays are no different. It’s the same decor, the same wrapping paper, the same items in the gift guides, the same necklace to spice up a holiday outfit, the same sales and the same Christmas dresses. So I want to make my mark for something different. Something we may not have seen a million times (okay over exaggeration) over.

So here’s what to expect: unique gift guides leading up to Black Friday, unique and affordable home decor ideas, DIY ideas, style and outfit inspo, traditions, self care ideas, Asheville happenings and so much more. These sound like a million blog posts you have already read around the holidays. But I promise you I have tried to make mine a little different. Also social media is going to play a bigger role this holiday season (thank the phone lords for that new phone this year). I’m wanting to do “special segments” on Instagram Stories like how to shop locally, gifts I love to give, shopping for Secret Santa gifts, day in the life Christmas edition and maybe even trying all the insane peppermint flavored product. Even though I have a bunch of ideas scratched out I love hearing from you! What would you like to see on 30 Shades of Stephanie for the holidays?

My goal is to have 30 Shades of Stephanie be on the top of the list of websites you visit during the holiday season. I want you to feel inspired, feel the Christmas spirit and included! The world is in shambles lately, a lot of negativity going on, and the holiday season is a time of happiness, cheer and unity for me. So I want us all to feel that and share it.

Gift Guide: For the Fashionista

Gift Guide: For the Fashionista

Ahhhh! Finally the first gift guide of the season. Shopping for the #fashionista in your life can be hard. She seems like she always looks flawless so you want your gift to be just as great. So I have rounded up my top 9 picks under $75.00 and under that are the perfect gift besides her typical clothing gifts.

  1. Moon & Stars EarringsBaubleBar has some of the best statement pieces for any style! Plus the affordability is perfect for gift giving. I love these earrings and could be styled numerous different ways. Could be edgy, dark or glam! I have officially added these to my Black Friday shopping list 😉
  2. Cosmetic Bag– What girl doesn’t love to see designer leather underneath the Christmas tree, especially a #fashionista? To make a big impact but on a smaller budget, this Coach cosmetic bag is a perfect gift idea. We girls have a ton of stuff in our bags, so it even works for the #fashionista who keeps her make up of the day minimal! I also love picking out a black leather option as it goes with everything.
  3. Quay Sunglasses– Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the shades get put away with the tank tops! I love Quay sunglasses and most of the shapes are funky yet flattering on most face shapes.
  4. Fashion Illustration– When you are at a loss for what to get your fashionista gal pal or family member because you are afraid you might get something that isn’t her particular style, fashion illustrations are great! Fashion in it’s self is art, so a fashionable piece of art is a great gift! You can find fashion illustrations anywhere online, in a ton of different styles and price ranges. Plus it will look great on her Instagram!
  5. Robe– The best part about a fashionista’s look is the actual process in putting it together. The best part is the creating process in the way she styles everything and creates the look she wants the world to see. Some of the time it’s a lengthy process. Robes make a great gift because the getting ready process is a fun process and she should still feel stylish during the process.
  6. R + CO Outer Space Hair Spray– I have been wanting to try out this product for a really long time and at my recent hair appointment I was finally able too. The entire R+CO line is dreamy but this hairspray is out of this world (no pun intended). It has a great hold without that crunchy, sticky feeling. It also smells amazing. Any girl who fixes her hair on a daily basis needs to try this at least once. It’s a bit pricey for hairspray (but oh so worth it) so if your fashionista may not splurge on an item like this for herself, gift it to her; she will be forever thankful!
  7. Kat Von D Eye Shadow Palette– Kat Von D eyeshadows (any of her make up for that matter) goes on like a dream. Extremely blendable and a perfect starter kit. Great for the pro or someone wanted to expand her make up techniques. Plus the entire Kat Von D beauty line is creulty free and great for sensitive skin! I got this specific palette for my birthday and think it was the best choice I’ve ever made.
  8. Colour Pop Lip Products– Colour Pop has a wide range of lip products for any beauty loving girl. Whether she likes glossy lips or matte lips, Colour Pop has an option. Plus their color selection is out of this world; from nudes, to pretty pinks to the darkest berries and funky colors! Most of their lip products are cruelty free!
  9. Furry Clutch– This Who What Wear Collection collection is #goals! I love it and it’s amazing in both the blush and black color! Perfect present to add a little extra luxe or funk to any fashion girl’s #ootd. Also this is a perfect alternative to a sparkly clutch for NYE!

 

 

Turkey Day Outfit

Turkey Day OutfitTurkey Day OutfitTurkey Day OutfitTurkey Day OutfitTurkey Day OutfitTurkey Day OutfitTurkey Day OutfitTurkey Day Outfit

Top // Jeans // Booties (similar) // Earrings // Hair Clip (in stores only at Versona)

I honestly can’t believe next Thursday is Thanksgiving! How is this even possible?

So I start thinking about the holidays and how my wardrobe will work for the holidays early on. Probably when Fall fashion starts hitting the shelves. I’m not the hugest sparkle fan (even though you will be seeing a fun skirt soon) so it’s ok for me to start looking early. A few things come to mind. First off I want to be stylish because I’m known as the fashion blogger in the family and because I know pictures are going to be taken if I’m not planning on them. But then there are a few other things to keep in mind but mainly is it comfortable. I mean there is a lot of cooking, a lot of relaxing, a lot of running around and then there is a lot of eating.

So when I saw this blouse at Target I knew it was the perfect thing to wear to Thanksgiving dinner! It screams fall, the color is perfect for Thanksgiving, it’s flowy and it has some awesome detailing. I was sold! I’ve decided to pair it with distressed denim and booties for a casual, comfortable yet chic look. I’m going to go ahead and call this my sophisticated pilgrim #ootd.

Artistically Wrapped Presents

It’s officially that time of year y’all! The holidays. I’m currently listening to Christmas music as I’m writing this and I have already put up my Christmas tree. I’ve even got some presents bought. What else can I say? I’m actually in the spirit this year, for the first time in a while (probably because I’m not stressing about finals and registering for new classes). So this year for my tree and present theme I am going for black, red, metallics and craft paper. But y’all, it’s hard to find a fun red and black wrapping paper that isn’t buffalo plaid (which I did pick up). So I decided to get creative. And make my own abstract paper.

So to make your own paper you will need:

Packaging paper or craft paper

Paint of your choices

Paint brush

Cup of Water

Bowl, plate, palette paper for your paint

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Also you are going to want to do this outside because it might just get messy.

You want to thin down your paint if you are doing an abstract splatter version like I did.

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Then just do whatever you would like. I’m actually wrapping up a painting so I channeled my inner Jackson Pollock and did a splatter design. I just get watered down paint on the brush and tap the brush for splatter designs.

My end version looked like this:

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You are going to want to let this dry for a while until the paint is completely dry to the touch. You can use a hairdryer to speed up the process if you wish. You can also let it sit over night before using it to wrap your gift with. I recommend cutting off the size you will need for your gift.

For the wrapping you will need:

Scissors

Tape

Festive ribbon

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And here is the final result!

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I think presentation is almost as important as the actual gift you are giving. This look would also be really cute done with stamps as well. This is time consuming but like I just stated it’s all about the presentation. Plus there is now some personality to the package! Happy wrapping!

 

Feminine Lumberjack

Feminine Lumberjack Feminine Lumberjack Feminine Lumberjack Feminine Lumberjack Feminine Lumberjack Feminine Lumberjack Feminine Lumberjack

Flannel // Skirt (similar) // Tights // Booties (similar) // Necklace (similar) // Lip Color // Eyeshadow

I grew up in the 90’s and lived in a small country, farm town. So I love flannel, I love plaid. When I moved to Asheville I thought I would be wearing plaids and flannels all the time, but little did I know I would fall in a rut with both the print and fabric. Asheville weather is well, Asheville weather. It can be warm one part of the week and snowing by the end of the week. Also elevation changes are intense here so it may be semi warm in downtown then up the mountain you are freezing. So it was hard to wear them because if you wear a real flannel you know you are burning up. Plus when I turned 21 and was in to being at a bar in beer city almost every night, wearing plaid or flannel made you look like that hipster lumberjack wannabe. So I retired them. But recently have brought them back because now I know how to wear a flannel and plaid without either looking like a total lumberjack or burning up in them.

Dressing them up! That’s the answer. Paired with a skirt or dress and they are instantly more feminine. I paired this dreamy buffalo plaid flannel from Old Navy (only $14.00 currently) with an old black lacey skater skirt and went a step further with the statement necklace for a pop of glam. As far as burning up, either layer or go up a size in a flannel so it isn’t so tight to your body. Also if you go up a size you have plenty of other layering options for the flannel.

I love this look! It’s actually perfect for the upcoming holiday season and screams Fall! If you are leary of plaid or flannel (which at this point it’s everywhere so you shouldn’t) try a scarf in the print which can go with just about anything or layer a cozy sweater over your flannel so only the hems, collar and sleeves are showing.

 

Laid Back Style + Last Minute Sales

Laid Back Style + Last Minute SalesLaid Back Style + Last Minute SalesLaid Back Style + Last Minute SalesLaid Back Style + Last Minute Sales

Happy Black Friday and the official start to the holiday season! Since it’s since a busy, hectic and a day after indulging I wanted to go with something extremely comfortable and casual. Did I say stretchy as well? This #ootd is perfect for lounging or running errands. Did I say hitting up the Black Friday sales?

If you read my post yesterday I shared a post about the sales I wouldn’t want to miss and they are still running today. Here are those listed. Most of the sales I posted can also be purchases for the same online so you can be comfy, eat left overs and not deal with people.

But here are a few more sales I have come across.

Shop at Bed Bath and Beyond in store from 6am to noon for 20% off your entire purchase.

Pet Smart- 50% off holiday themed toys for animals

40% off entire purchase of Michael Todd with code BFMT40

Forever 21 has items up to 70% off both in store and online

AC Moore has a 40% off entire regular price purchase

Charlotte Russe has the entire store $20.00 or less!

H&M has great sales and items starting at $4.99

 

Black Friday Shopping Outfit + Black Friday Tips

Black Friday Shopping Outfit + Black Friday TipsBlack Friday Shopping Outfit + Black Friday TipsBlack Friday Shopping Outfit + Black Friday Tips

The biggest shopping extravaganza of the year is officially a week away. Stores begin opening at 4PM on Thanksgiving and sales are running throughout the entire weekend. I don’t know about you, but the whole shopping experience is exciting and thrilling (even though I work in retail). Before Black Friday (or Thanksgiving Sales) I like to do a lot of planning to save my sanity and bank account. I not only put a lot of thought in to the stores and my list but also my outfit. When thinking about this busy, hectic, shopping weekend I know I want to be as comfortable as possible yet not walk out of my house in my pajamas (and even though you are loosing sleep please for the love of all things holy, wear real clothes). My go to for a long day of shopping is leggings and a dress or tunic. Leggings are extremely comfortable (and you can try on bottoms over them) and allow a lot of movement. A dress or tunic is perfect for layering and also it’s really easy to be taken off, I go with this because I can easily try on cardigans or coats with out going in to a fitting room. If you are going to be trying on clothes I recommend boots because they are easy to slip on and off, and if you are trying on clothes go minimal on the make up. No one likes to find something on the rack covered in foundation stains. A light jacket or cardigan is perfect for the colder temps but if you are somewhere will it will be cold and you will be standing in a line dress according to the weather. The most important part of your Black Friday/Thanksgiving Sale #ootd is your bag. Pick something that is comfortable on the shoulder, easy to carry, roomy, and easy to keep close to you to avoid theft or forgetfulness. Pick a roomy bag so you can keep a small first aid kit (band-aids, medicine and hand sanitizer), snacks (you will get hungry and I have witnessed people pass out), your wallet, extra phone charger and even a bottle of water.

Now, on to planning your perfect shopping trip! First things first, it’s a good idea to make out a Christmas list of who you are buying for. Then you can decide if these things can be bought on Thanksgiving/Black Friday. Then write down a list of things you are wanting to pick up, highest priority first. Then scope out the sales and finalize your list of items you want to buy. You can wait until Thursday to get the sales fliers or you can check at blackfriday.com to see most sales ads already posted. From here you can write down which places you will be visiting in what order. On a finalized draft, I like to list what I’m intending on buying in each store. This helps with getting in and out as quickly as possible and it helps to avoid over spending. Check around on the ads to see who has the better deal on something, but also remember do you want to spend the entire night in one store for one thing because most stores will price match on these days. It’s great to plan ahead for this big shopping day!

Stay tuned to the blog for the next week for some helpful gift guides and sales for Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday.

Happy Shopping!

XOXO

Stephanie.

Holiday Prepping + Sunday Casual Wear

Holiday Prepping + Sunday Casual WearHoliday Prepping + Sunday Casual WearHoliday Prepping + Sunday Casual WearHoliday Prepping + Sunday Casual WearHoliday Prepping + Sunday Casual Wear

Sundays are either the best or the worst day. They are the most relaxing days, they can be extremely productive or they can be stressful with the upcoming week. To help ease some of the stress of the upcoming week I really like to take a little time out of my Sunday to actually sit down and plan out my week. I like to plan my blogging schedule, dinner plans, school assignments, work schedule and any other type of activities I have going on in the week. It really helps me stay on track and feel a little less stressed.

I either do this at home, while some Netflix is playing in the background or I’m listening to “Hello” on repeat or I head to a coffee shop to feel a little more “free”. Free from distractions and everything. Simplicity and being comfortable is key to my Sunday wear, especially when I’m trying to prep for the following week. So this swing dress and leggings from Target are perfect. I threw on a scarf to feel a little more pulled together and for warmth. It was surprisingly cold in Asheville on Sunday.

Speaking of prepping! If you haven’t already started prepping, I would say now is the best time to begin prepping for your holidays. It’s 16 days until Thanksgiving, 17 until Black Friday and 46 days until Christmas! Why prep? I like to semi-plan (I’m not one of those people who has to have everything planned to a t) for the holidays to have a heads up of what I’m expecting out of the holidays to avoid stress. Or at least keep the stress level at a minimum. When I’m prepping for the holidays I like to create a budget for gifts, write down what I intend to buy for everyone and stick with this list. This helps to avoid over spending for me. I also like to search Pinterest for what I would like to attempt to make for the holiday season. I write down the recipes and then write down the ingredients, which creates a shopping list all in one. I like to put in my calendar when Amazon orders (or other orders) need to be made so they are delivered on time. I like to mark in my calendar when Christmas pictures are going to be taken and if cards are mailed out, when they need to be mailed out. Any upcoming holiday parties that I am already aware of get written down in the calendar and I also write down if I need to bring a gift or bring food. I also write down important things I don’t want to miss out on during the holiday season; I write down when specific movies are playing, when light festivals starts and when other holiday festivals start.

Here is a great tool for planning out your holidays that I’m using!

Stay tuned because I will be posting how to prep and what to wear for Black Friday!.

Affordable Gifts For Her

Last Minute Gift Guide For Her

I can not for the life of me believe there are only 17 days until Christmas. Hopefully you all are having a great start to the holidays. I have rounded up some of my favorite things that would be perfect for any lady in your life, plus everything is $50.00 and under. These picks are all things I love or would love to receive so hopefully you will too. Remember if you are shopping online it is best to get your orders done by the 10th so you will receive them in time!!

1. Marquee SignsMichaels has some really cute signs from $25.00-50.00!

2. Lipstick Queen’s Hall of Fame II– These lipsticks are amazing on every skin tone and are build-able. It is a splurge gift from Ulta of $48.00 but any lady would love this!

3. “YES Please” by Amy Poehler– This book has great reviews and who doesn’t love Amy Poehler?!? $16.00 online.

4. Sugar Paper Gold 2015 Planner– This planner is a girly girl’s dream to stay organized and for $8.00 it’s a win win!

5. Furry Blanket– This blanket from Target is heaven and it is on sale this week for $20.00!

6. Faux Fur Scarf– Target has the greatest accessories, and since fur is a big deal this season, I think this scarf/snood would make a perfect gift, especially since it’s $20.00!

7. Jamberry Nails– Jamberry nails are my newest obsession! For $15.00 you can get two manicures and two pedicures from one sheet! There are so many designs that will fit everyone’s style. But remember you need to order by the 10th!

8. The Great Gatsby– No matter whom she is, she will love this DVD, and you can get a collectors addition for $18.00 at Target, or the regular for $10.00.

9. Target Soy Blend Candles– These candles are amazing! They smell great, burn great and are $10.00 for the large candle! The Cozy Nights and Pumpkin Cheesecake smells great!

10. Williams-Sonoma Hot Chocolate– These are a little pricey coming in at $18.00, but are so delicious. The salted caramel is the best!

11. Viva La Jewels Sweatshirt– I love this graphic sweat shirt and it would be perfect for any fashionista in your life. This sweatshirt is only $35.00!!!! Plus you can receive 10% off your purchase by using code:stephanierep!!

12. Threshold White Deer Head– Target has some really great home decor! This is a Christmas decoration but would be great for all year on a dresser, night stand or vanity. I also think this would make a cute and unique necklace holder for $25.00!

13. Merona Bag– This bag looks expensive, and sits perfect on the body for only $35.00!

14. Starbucks Water Color Mug– The Starbucks holiday coffee mug collection this year is on point! All the cups are so cute and only $11.00!

15. Ashkal Rings– I’ve said it plenty of times that I love this company! I wear my ring every single day! This size ring is only $20.00, and these fit every style of woman! Hurry and try to order this week to get it by Christmas!

16. UP MOVE– This is the newest in a fitness tracker. This one is a clip so it doesn’t have to cramp your style and has more features as far as food monitoring. This tracker comes in at $50.00 and would be perfect for any lady who is a fitness junkie or someone who is wanting to get in better shape!

17. Sam and Libby Weekender Bag– The moment I saw this bag, I fell in love. The bag is a mixture of gold and silver and would be great for a travel lover or a student (I think this would be great for a school bag)! For a brand collaboration with Target, this bag is really affordable at $50.00!

DON’T FORGET YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO ENTER MY AWESOME GIVEAWAY!

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