Merry Christmas

Sending holiday love and cheer to my Simply Sarah Style readers!

- From Me & Mr. P

14 Last Minute Tips for Holiday Entertaining

I love to entertain, but believe you don't have to spend a fortune to wow your guests. Here are 14 super, savvy ideas to help with your holiday entertaining.
  1. Use a roll of festive holiday wrapping paper as a table runner on your dining room table or kitchen island. This small investment ($1-$6) can bring great impact to your tablescape. The best part… You won't feel bad about throwing it away when you're finished!
  2. Search Pinterest for free Christmas printables. Print on white card stock and frame for instant (and free) art! Consider placing your new piece on the mantle or foyer table.
  3. Shop your house for decor. Think of ways you can remix the things you already own. Move a vase from one room to another. Switch up the throw pillows. Move a plant for the window sill to the middle of your holiday table. You get the point. Try to use things you already have while creating a one-of-a-kind holiday look. 
  4. Step outside for fresh decor. Bring the outdoors in by snipping branches or leaves and collecting acorns and pinecones. Place them in a vase or bowl to bring a natural, wintery element to any space.
  5. Add glitz to your dining table. Flip a wine glass upside down and place a round globe ornament on top for a modern take on Christmas. Line glasses of different height down the middle of your table.
  6. Use seasonal candy as decoration. Candy canes or round peppermints look great in a bowl or apothecary jar. Plus, they double as breath fresheners for party guests. Extra hint: Shop the dollar store first.
  7. Spice up everyday dinnerware with holiday napkins. My favorite sources for fabulous napkins are Target, TJ Maxx, Marshall's and Home Goods.
  8. Consider spreading out your presents. Think beyond the base of the tree. Add some to a basket in your entry way. Stack some by the fireplace. Utilize them as elements of decor until the moment of exchange.
  9. Use bells as place card holders. Super cheap, super festive and they're slits are super functional. 
  10. Turn bottles into reindeer. Whether it's beer, root beer, whiskey or water, you might as well make it festive. Grab a glue gun and add a pom pom nose, goggly eyes and pipe cleaner antlers. Boom! You have the cutest little gifts or most adorable beverages.
  11. Drop a colored straw into everyone's glass for an instant splash of color. These days you can find these paper drinking straws anywhere - Target, Hobby Lobby, Etsy, etc. They come in stripes, polka dots and even birch tree patterns.
  12. Spray paint pinecones metallic gold and silver. Use them as place card holders, photo stands or plate decorations. 
  13. Search Pinterest for free place cards. Print the design on card stock and use the cards to label seating arrangements or buffet dishes. 
  14. Still missing items, but not wanting to spend a ton of money? Check your local thrift store for the pieces your are lacking. Helpful hint: On Saturdays, most Goodwills offer 50% off all home goods. 
What's your go-to holiday entertaining trick? I would love to hear from you below!

High School Holiday Dance Styling

With snow officially on the ground and Christmas a few weeks away, it's time for holiday dances! Here are a couple of concepts I put together for a client's daughter who will be attending the high school winter formal. Her daughter loves the one-shoulder look. She also informed me that most people wear short dresses to high school formals these days (which is news to me).

She wanted to spend under $100 on the dress. With that being said, let's proceed to the sample concepts!

Fierce Fuchsia 

Dress ($34.99) | Earrings | Belt | Clutch

Midnight Sparkle

Dress ($57.28) | Earrings | Bracelet | Clutch

Disco Queen

Dress ($75) | Earrings | Ring | Heels

Dazzling Peacock

Drees ($50) | Earrings | Bracelet | Clutch

Which concept is your favorite? To see all the dress I pulled for research, visit my Snowball Pinterest board.

Holiday Gifts Under $25: For Him, Her & the Hostess

If you haven't started your holiday shopping, I have three great resources for you. All gifts are under $25. You can't beat that! Plus, you still have plenty of time to order online.

For Her

1 - Stella & Dot Nancy Dot Stud Earrings

2 - How to Dress for Success

3 - Fabulous Fur Ice Scraper

4 - Chella Highlighter Pencil 

5 - Multi-strand Necklace

6 - Sole Society Fox Scarf

The Chella Highlighter Pencil is oh so fabulous!  

For Him

1 - Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas

2 - Plaid Scarf

3 - Jack Black Body Bar

4 - Lexington Bourbon

5 - Puffer Vest

I'm secretly wishing for the Duck the Halls CD too.

For the Hostess

Happy shopping, my friends!

Dressing Your Family for the Holiday Card Photo

A classic fall tone cape. A pair of leather riding boots. A felt hat. A beautiful little girl. Bring all these things together, incorporate a photog and the results are breathtaking. Repeat the same process except with the older male sibling and you create a fashion shoot fit for the J. CREW CREWCUTS catalog. The cards we send to our loved ones over the holidays should convey a simple message of caring and interest. Nothing more. Nothing less. To display your family well in a festive card is a special skill and the families below are masters of the craft.

First impressions are often expressed and interpreted through our wardrobe. These first impressions say: "I'm stylish. I'm confident. I'm photogenic. I'm personable."

I present to you Little A., Mr. C., Little E. and the Z. boys. The bottom line: These kids and their mothers have great style.

Meet Little A and Mr. C


A Holiday Helper for Hire

Tis' the season! Get ready for shopping marathons, wrapping sessions, holiday cocktail parties and endless entertaining.

Need a helping hand to master it all? Hire Simply Sarah Style to bring pizazz and coordination into your life. Whether it's a three-hour session for yourself or a gift for a loved one, let Simply Sarah Style bring an expert, stylish approach.

Now offering

Stylized Sessions include your choice of the following:

Gift Planning, Purchasing and Wrapping

Wardrobe Consultation

Holiday Home Styling or

Event Styling

Contact Simply Sarah Style to secure a package for yourself or to purchase a gift certificate for that hard-to-buy for person in your life. 

Sweet Piper Lane

I'm a big fan of supporting small businesses. There is something about a product made by hand that makes it extra special. While I enjoy lovely stationery from Target, TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshalls, I love all of the beautiful sets you can find on Etsy.

Ultimately, personalized stationary is one of my favorite gifts to give. There is nothing like pretty paper, especially when it arrives in the mail! My sweet blogger friend, Sara, from Social Sara, opened an Etsy shop - Sweet Piper Lane - this year and has a variety of gorgeous sets. Her choice in envelope liners are to do die for...

I love my cards from Sweet Piper Lane, especially the one with metallic polka dot liner!


Nate Berkus for Target

Nate Berkus never disappoints. Each and every time I head to Target, I find myself browsing the end caps to see if any of the Nate Berkus items have been marked down.

I was a fan of Nate since his first appearance on Oprah. I followed along when he made the move to FOX to host his own show. I would eagerly await the 5 pm hour, so I could tune in for quick tips on home design. I was devastated when his show was cancelled.

Nate - Please come back to TV. You are missed!

Until his return, I will have to get my fix from his Target line. Here's a sneak peak to his newest items...

1 - Stoneware Relic Urn Vases

2 - Brass Frame

3 - Stoneware Drip Vases

4 - Basketweave Comforter Set

5 - Hexagonal Wood Tray

What do you think? Any favorites?

5 Tips for Photo Shoot Perfection

This month marks one year since we had our engagement pictures taken. After seeing how the day went, there are several things I wish I would have done differently. Granted our photographer Sherri Barber is crazy talented and we got some pretty incredible photos out of the session, I think it could have been even better had I taken a couple extra precautions.

Based on my enthusiasm for styling and lessons learned, here are my top five tips...


The Studio: A Creative Meeting Space

I'm lucky to work for a boss who is always ready to take things to the next level. I'm always inspired about the new works she has coming down the pipeline. One of the most recent ventures to come to life was the creation of The Studio, a creative meeting space that operates as an extension of our marketing agency. The space and design process was so inspiring from an interior design standpoint. I knew I had to share it with you.


Christmas Boutique Planning

My aunt, who is a professional shopper in her own right, teamed up with local vendors to host a Mini Christmas Boutique this weekend. They planned the Boutique early to give shoppers an opportunity to get a head start on their Christmas lists.

I told her I would help by designing an invitation as well as generating decor and refreshment ideas. The invitation was my first exploration in Photoshop design. Not too bad. I'm proud to say I even made the chevron pattern from scratch. (You can tell it's all about the little victories!)

Since the event is so early in the season, I thought I would focus on holiday colors without Christmas imagery.


I'm a regular reader of the Jones Design Company blog and love Emily's feature called "currently" that she showcases every so often. At the end of her last edition, she asked us, her readers, what we're currently doing, so here it is...

I figured it was a great opportunity to take inventory of my life. 


Autumn Additions to Your Home

As the weather starts to change and we live for open windows and a crisp breeze, it's time to think about making some changes to freshen your home and welcome the new season. Fall is by far my favorite season. I love the bold colors, pumpkin and spice scents and cozy comforts. Here are some simple ways to switch things up this fall season...

1 - Check out The Southerner's Handbook by the authors of Garden & Gun, a lifestyle magazine.

2 - Frame Jones Design Company's "Autumn Essentials" print. Download for free here.

3 & 4 - Give your couch a quick makeover with bold, patterned throw pillows from C. Wonder

5 - Add some spunk to your walls with a glittery, faux deer head.

6 - Set the scene for fall with this delicious cinnamon-scented fox candle.


Curate Boutique

I recently collaborated with Courtney PeGan from Curate Boutique, a charming shop in Hyde Park Square. Courtney has such a warm personality and after talking to her once, you will feel like you have known her for years.

This past spring, she opened the doors of Curate Boutique. On her "About" page, she talks in detail about the reasoning for and timing of opening the shop. (You must read her story. It seriously brought tears to my eyes.) I truly admire Courtney's motivation for creating Curate and the risk she took to follow her dreams.


Glam Camp with Nora Fink

This past Saturday, I was invited to attend stylist Nora Fink's Glam Camp, an all day event that teaches women how to refine their personal style and improve their makeup and hair skills. Nora, a personal stylist, has a contagious, upbeat personality. She is a joy to chat with and has a knack for providing style tips that are encouraging and not overwhelming. You can't help but to absolutely love this girl!


Retirement Party Design

As I mentioned before, my mom recently retired after 24 years at a university. Earlier this summer, you might remember my post about selecting a special gift for her

I knew I wanted to throw a festive, summer bash to commemorate this big milestone. To celebrate, I tried to focus on all things Diana.... even "Diana" coloring pages for the kids. I thought I would share a few budget-friendly decor and menu planning details from the party. There were other items such as the invitation and guestbook I forgot to capture on film (#bloggerfail). I guess when you're the party hostess, you can't do it all. 


Kilbi Branch Designs

I recently found Kilbi Branch Designs when signing up for a blog contest and fell in love with the precious, Pottery Barn-style wreaths. I even love her logo. It's so adorable and perfectly represents her product. 

Here are some of my favorites: 

Bright and sunny for summer.


Fall Footwear To Try

Fall will soon be knocking on our doorstep, and without a doubt, it is my favorite season! I love the crisp temperatures and crisp temperatures mean a change in footwear (bye, bye, flip flops). It also means an opportunity to spice things up in your wardrobe. If you're looking to make a few investments for your wardrobe and try something new, here are my top picks for fall footwear, all under $150.

What's your favorite fall staple?

Summer Monogram Swap

I love a good blogger swap! Thus far, I have participated in three and have even hosted one - the Fabulous Fall Exchange - last year.  For my very first blogger swap, I was partnered with Sara from Social Sara. We instantly hit it off and have been friends every since. When Sara announced that she was teaming up with Nicole from Probably Polka Dots to host a monogrammed-themed exchange, I definitely couldn't pass it up, especially since I monogram practically everything I own. 


Pretty Party Showcase: Lemonade Stand Birthday

When I saw pictures of this birthday party, I knew I had to share them with you. A long time friend, Jodi, hosted this "lemonade stand" themed party for her little girl, Elle. It was too cute! 

Let's talk school supplies!

Back-to-school time means a renewed excitement in all things desk related. I can't help but be consumed with happiness when items like Sharpies pens and Post-its go on sale. (In fact, I was thrilled to purchase a set of 14 Bic pens for just $4 this week at Target. While they're not Sharpie brand, I figured they'll still do the job.)

I wonder what it is about August that makes us feel like kids again. Is it the fact that back-to-school meant a new start and an opportunity to accomplish new things and meet new people? Regardless of what it is, I still love this time year. I love filling my cart with "office supplies." (Let's call them what they really are since we no longer technically need "school supplies.")

On that note, here are some excellent accessories to add to your desktop collection...

What's your favorite thing about August?

An Inspiring Visit to Cincinnati's Homearama

I attended Homearama for the first time this past weekend! I'm really surprised it has taken me this long to make my way to this annual event. Without a doubt, I would live in this Carriage Hill community, especially since it provides a horse farm atmosphere. Here's a recap for those of you who couldn't make it this weekend or those looking for inspiration. Enjoy!


Stacy Brown Designs

I received the most adorable birthday gift from my aunt last week. This wooden hand painted monogrammed bangle bracelet from Stacy Brown Designs is to die for! Plus, it's not too clunky nor too heavy. (I personally have a hard time wearing chunky bracelets to work. They always seem to get in the way.)


Monogram Favorites for the Home

My home wouldn't be "me" without a monogram here and there. I would say every room has at least one initial item adorning the wall or topping the table. Placing a "personal stamp" on things make them feel more special and more yours.

Getting married presented a new opportunity to outfit our space in new pieces. Here are a couple I have been eyeing. All gorgeous and perfect for different areas of your home.

Whether you're buying for your own home or hunting for the perfect gift, I think you'll find something to add to your "to-buy list."

6 - Williams-Sonoma Monogrammed Glass Pitcher
7 - Mark and Graham Linen Dinner Napkins

Customizing a Retirement Gift

I never thought this day would come, but my mom has retired after 24 years at a local university. I knew I would be throwing her a retirement party, so my budget for a gift would be limited.  

Retirement party decor and menu planning details to come soon!

After serious thought, I decided on a hobby-themed basket. My mom has been telling people that she can't wait do some "flea marketing" and turn trash into treasure. I know she is also looking forward to cleaning out her own home and hosting a couple sales of her own. With that in mind, here's the helpful basket I put together...


Patriotic Sparkle: Outfit Inspiration for the Fourth of July

The husband and I will be heading to his hometown for a Fourth of July parade tomorrow. Because we'll be standing outside for long while in the July heat, I want to make sure I'm comfortable, but cute.  When attending outdoor events like this, I consider three things:

With that in mind, here's what I suggest if you're aiming to stand out in the crowd while having a little patriotic sparkle...

Love these pieces? Check them out here: 

Happy Fourth, my friends!

Wedding Recap

Hello! It's good to see you again. I'm happy to be back after a few months off. Those months were filled to the brim with wedding planning, shower festivities and most importantly, my wedding day. In April, I married the boy I had been crushing on since sociology class our senior year at the University of Kentucky.

Of course, I have been monogramming everything we own. (Isn't that what every southern belle needs to do as soon as a ring arrives on her finger?) I've also busy working with Mary Ellen at Mellen Designs and Jacquelinne at Smitten Blog Designs to launch a new blog design. Mary Ellen drew my adorable Simply Sarah Style character and Jacquelline built the full layout design. A special thanks to both as I am thrilled with the final product!

Now a little "show and tell" time! Here are a couple shots from our day...

I can't express how happy we were with our photographer. If you're from the area or even located out of town and can afford to fly your photographer in, you must consider Sherri Barber. She truly knows her stuff and doesn't mess around with predictable and typical wedding photography. Here's one of my favorite shots. Sherri knew just how to work the lighting to capture the "magic" of the night.

Here are a couple more...

I purchased my dress from Bridal & Formal. My accessories - the belt and veil - were some of my favorite pieces used to complete the look. (More about the veil later.)

The bridesmaids and I got ready at the Cincinnatian Hotel downtown, where we sneaked out briefly for some outside shots before jumping into the limo for our actual photo destination.

Ben and his groomsmen wore Very Wang tuxedoes from Men's Warehouse.

I insisted on having a Barbie-style veil I saw on Pinterest. This was big and ended up being a hassle during pictures, but overall, I loved it.

Considering that cheerleading has been such a large part of my life personally and professionally, my wedding wouldn't be complete with a full "squad" of girls to join me at the alter. I had ten bridesmiad and one flower girl. Four of my bridesmaids ended up being pregnant - one carrying twins and one even went into labor the night of my wedding. 

The Alfred Sung dresses were from Bridal & Formal. They did turn out very different than what I expected though. The skirts were extremely full when the online photos showcased a trim skirt. Most bridesmaids had 8+ inches cut out of each side of their skirts. The unexpected fullness worked out well for those who were expecting mothers.

I won't overload you with too many photos, but overall, it turned out to be a very lovely, memorable day. A very special thanks to our family and friends who helped us with so many details and gave us the emotional support we needed throughout the entire process.

On a Simply Sarah Style note, I look forward to returning to my blogging routine.


So it's official! I'm making a come-back soon.

As many of you know, I took a couple months off to enjoy the remaining wedding planning process. Well, now it's complete. It's done. I am married!

Now that every weeknight and weekend isn't swamped due to wedding obligations. I am happy to be returning to the blogasphere.

Stay tuned!
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