Tree Branch Christmas Display @themerrythoughtFor the last few years I’ve always had some kind of branch tree or as I like to call them, Charlie Brown tree displayed during the Christmas season. I blame my love for these kind of trees on my mother, who always tried to get a scraggly tree for our Christmas tree every year; while us kids always went for the biggest & fullest. Now the tables have turned and I’m the one trying to get a scraggly evergreen and my boys want a big, full tree. 😏 So I’ve just made my own little scraggly tree display each year and let the boys have their way with a more traditional tree. I’ve done different diplays over the years; for a couple years I had a large branch hanging above my kitchen table, sometimes I use a smaller branch in a vase or large bottle and I’ve had a more traditional looking “Charlie Brown tree” with some greenery on it. I like to use the branch tree for my favorite vintage ornaments. Last year the boys and I made clay ornaments together and it seemed to be a favorite activity for them, so this year’s branch includes a mix of handmade clay ornaments and vintage ornaments.
These branch trees are also perfect for those that want a smaller, less involved tree display. We made a family trek out to the woods and searched for our perfect “branch”. (Use fallen or dead branches). After a little “trimming” we put our branch in this large vintage glass jug my husband has had for years. (These are a similar style). We added our ornaments and set up a mini display to go with it. The whole experience can be just like going to get a real tree!Tree Branch Christmas Display @themerrythoughtChristmas Candle @themerrythoughtTree Branch Christmas Display @themerrythoughtTree Branch Christmas Display @themerrythoughtChristmas Candles @themerrythoughtAnyone else a fan of the scraggly tree displays? 😉 For more tree inspiration check out our DIY Tree Skirt Alternative, Simple Christmas Tree Display, Minimal Christmas Tree and DIY Plywood Christmas Tree!


Noble Fir Candle c/o Kindred Home Market | Felt Garland c/o West Elm (last year, similar) | Faux Sheepskin Rug – similar | Black Frame – Michaels


DIY Message in a Bottle Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtOne more advent calendar option for you before we officially begin the advent season! This might be my favorite advent calendar to date! Probably because I know that 8 year old me would have been obsessed with this. I remember day dreaming by the lake when I was younger about finding an old message in a bottle on the shore – it usually ended up with me finding treasure or finding my husband… haaaa!

This is an easy calendar to set up even if you just have a tiny space or shelf to display it plus it’s small enough to pack away and save year after year!DIY Message in a Bottle Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtWhat you need:
3″ glass jars (or these)
Number stickers
-Thin string or thick thread

How to make it:
Use the stickers to number each of your jars 1-24. Write your activities on a 2″ piece of paper and roll up. Tie a string around it to hold in place and place inside the jar.
DIY Message in a Bottle Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtDIY Message in a Bottle Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtDIY Message in a Bottle Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtDIY Message in a Bottle Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtDIY Message in a Bottle Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtOur other advent calendars: Craft Stick Advent Calendar, Chalkboard Advent Calendar, Wooden Tree Advent Calendar, Matchbox Advent Calendar. And this post also has some advent activity ideas at the bottom!

xo. Caitlin


Pear Rosemary Spritzer @themerrythoughtLast month while I was making the feta, pear and rosemary crostinis, I was inspired to use some of those ingredients to come up with a mocktail for the holidays! With rosemary being one of our favorite herbs to use in mocktails (and looking so festive for the holidays!), this drink is the perfect addition to Thanksgiving and Christmas menus!Pear Rosemary Spritzer @themerrythoughtPear Rosemary Spritzer

3 tablespoons pear juice
1 teaspoon rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)
2 tablespoons lemon-lime soda
club soda

Fill glass with ice. Add in juice, simple syrup, and lemon-lime soda. Top off with club soda. Garnish with pear slice and sprig of rosemary. Stir before drinking. (If you prefer your drinks less sweet, just leave out the lemon-lime soda).

Rosemary Simple Syrup

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 sprigs of rosemary

Combine water, sugar and rosemary in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let sit for about 10 minutes. Strain out rosemary and let cool completely. Store syrup in a lidded jar or bottle in the refrigerator.Pear Rosemary Spritzer @themerrythoughtPear Rosemary Spritzer @themerrythoughtCheers!

– Manda


DIY Craft Stick Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtSharing an advent calendar post today which means Christmas isn’t too far away. In fact, it’s only 38 days away. Dang! Just another year that I didn’t get ahead on anything I wanted to do or make for the holidays so I’m sure I’m going to be busting my butt for the next few weeks. (As well as maybeee moving into my cousin’s new house finally?!) So to slow things down and be a bit more intentional during the holiday season, I’ve been working on a couple new advent calendars to try out this year!DIY Craft Stick Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtDIY Craft Stick Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtWhat you need:
-Craft sticks
-Faux greens
-Scissors and/or wire snips
-Hot glue gun
-Fine permanent marker
-Washi tape

How to make it:
-Write out your advent day numbers on the bottom of the craft sticks and write in the activities on the backside of the stick.
-Cut your greens to length – about 1″ shorter than the craft stick.
-Use hot glue gun to glue greens in place above the numbers you wrote.
-Cut a string for each stick and attach string to the top of the back side of the sticks using a dab of hot glue.
-Arrange the sticks on the wall and secure each string with a piece of washi tape.DIY Craft Stick Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtDIY Craft Stick Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtDIY Craft Stick Advent Calendar @themerrythoughtHere are a few other advent calendars we’ve shared: Chalkboard Advent Calendar, Wooden Tree Advent Calendar, Matchbox Advent Calendar. And this post also has some advent activity ideas at the bottom!

xo. Caitlin

  • Thursday, November 17, 2016 - 1:35 pm
  • Friday, November 18, 2016 - 10:11 am

    Ivory - Wow, so gorgeous, I love this idea.ReplyCancel

  • Saturday, November 19, 2016 - 4:27 am

    Sarah - This looks so cool! I love that it doesn’t take up all that space (as mine this year – worst idea ever!).

    Also it’s really focussed on activities and not presents – I try to mix that up as well and get both.ReplyCancel


DIY Advent Candle Holders @themerrythoughtI honestly can’t believe that Thanksgiving is next week (whattt?!!) and Christmas will be here before we know it! Even with the blog forcing us to get a jumpstart on Christmas planning & projects, it still seems like it sneaks up on me and that once the holiday season is in full swing, it’s just a blur of activity. I try to always include activities and time for us as a family to enjoy special moments and to teach the boys that there’s more to Christmas than just lots of gifts & goodies. I remember my parents doing a Jesse Tree with us during the Christmas season while we growing up and I love to keep sweet traditions like those (or something similar) going. We’ve shared a few of the different things we do over the last few years, like Advent Calendars, and one of the more recent additions I’ve tried to incorporate are the lighting of Advent Candles on the four Sundays of Advent. Last year, I bought beeswax candles at the Christmas tree farm and Mike made holders out of driftwood for those; I’ve also had a hanging wreath before. This year, I wanted something a little different and was inspired by some of Caitlin’s past geometric projects for these simple candle holders. The plus, you can use these candle holders year round if you’d like!DIY Geometric Advent Candle Holders @themerrythoughtThis year, the first Sunday of Advent is November 27th. I know that typical advent candles, like we have at our church, use specific colored candles, are usually arranged in a circle and include a 5th candle (which I know all have meaning behind those things). But for ours, I wanted to keep it simple, and more in line with our style (which is usually never “traditional”), and this works for what we share/do with our kids. I’m really liking the look of black candles right now and decided to try making my own rolled beeswax candles this year (we’ll be sharing a post soon on how to make your own candles like these). And as we do every year, we’ll be attending our church Christmas service where the 5th candle will be lit, so I didn’t include a 5th candle for ours.DIY Geometric Advent Candle Holders @themerrythoughtFor our family, we light a candle each Sunday of Advent, read a couple scriptures to go along with it, and talk about what it means. Each candle represents a theme of the season and the four things God gave us through His son’s birth: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. I don’t really have a set reading plan, I’ve been on the hunt for a good advent candle reading/devotional for kids, but have yet to find one that I really like, so I just kind of make my own up, keeping it simple and short enough for the boys to understand/get through. If you’ve found one that you like, let me know!DIY Advent Candle Holders @themerrythoughtDIY Advent Candle Holders @themerrythoughtDIY Advent Candle Holders @themerrythoughtGeometric Advent Candle Holders


– block of wood (a 4×8 untreated wood post would work well)
– mitre box
– band saw
– belt sander
– drill with forstner bit
– candles

Directions: With a mitre box, cut your wood to the height that you want it to be; ours were cut at different heights between 2-1/2” – 4”. If needed cut to width. Using a bandsaw, cut the block at varying angles to give it the look you like. Use the belt sander to smooth all of the angled faces and the top of the block. Use a forstner bit to drill a hole big enough for a candle to fit in snugly (size will depend on diameter of your candles), 3/4″ – 1” deep.DIY Advent Candle Holders @themerrythoughtDIY Advent Candle Holders @themerrythoughtDo you have any favorite Christmas traditions you did growing up? Or something you’ve heard of that you’d like to start doing?


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