Home Decor Sewing School | How to Sew Half-Square Triangles

Even though everyone (likely) has Christmas on the brain right now, I wanted to pop in with my next Home Decor Sewing School tutorial! I’ve actually been blown away how popular these tutorials have been in recent months, and I am so excited to hear that I’ve motivated and encouraged some of you to actually tackle some simple sewing projects. I’ve said it each time, so I’ll just repeat it again: I’m not an expert sewer (by any stretch!); but over the years, I have learned and “mastered” some basic sewing techniques that allow me to not only make things for our own homes, but others’ as well! These are projects that people may look at and think “I could never do that.” But once you see how truly easy they are, hopefully you’ll be more inclined to give them a try. So far, we’ve covered how to sew piping, pillow shams, and boxed corners. Today, we are dipping our toe into quilting, and I am going to show you how to sew half-square triangles.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

What Is a Half-Square Triangle?

The “half-square triangle” or HST is a term you may or may not have heard before; but I guarantee you’ve seen them (even if you are just a casual quilt admirer). When put together into larger patterns, they can create some pretty spectacular effects; but in isolation, they are exactly as the title suggests: two triangles that come together to form a square.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

I love the HST for so many reasons. First and foremost, as you will soon see, they are so stinkin’ fast and easy to make! If you need to whip together an amazing quilt in short order, the HST is your very best friend. And second, they are the foundation to some of the most spectacular quilt patterns. The squares can be rotated and combined to create a variety of effects. In fact, I’ve used HSTs to make two very different quilts already shown here on the blog:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

HERRINGBONE QUILTWILD GREEN QUILT

Do you see the HSTs in the above quilts? Sometimes they can be tricky to pick out depending on how the colors are used and the optical illusion the fabrics create. The picture below might help:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

And these two are just the tip of the iceberg! The HST can be used in countless ways. Here are just some quick examples, but check out HERE for loads of ideas!

Half-Square Triangle Quilt Ideas

If you look at some quilts you love and focus in on the basic element, you might find they are indeed just HSTs put together in a really cool way!

What You Need

Hopefully, I now have you convinced that the HST is a quilt technique worth learning and mastering. Now I’m going to show you how easy they are to sew together! Here is what you need to sew HSTs:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

*affiliate links used

  1. Self-healing cutting mat
  2. Cutting ruler
  3. Square ruler (optional, but SO handy)
  4. Rotary cutter
  5. 1/4″ quilting foot for your sewing machine (optional, but SO handy)
  6. Fabric pen
  7. Thread
  8. Fabric

Just a quick note on #5, the 1/4″ quilting foot for your sewing machine. In quilting, a majority of seams are 1/4″. You can certainly sew these seams with a careful eye and a regular presser foot. However, once my Mom gave me the 1/4″ foot, I was amazed at how much easier it was to get consistent seams on my quilt blocks. Your’s may not look like this (each machine’s feet have a different look), but most (I think) will have a guide that is perfectly measured at 1/4″.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Here’s the foot on my machine. The red lines on either side of the guide are exactly 1/4″ out, meaning I can use this foot to sew on either side/direction! Check the manual to your specific sewing machine to learn more about your 1/4″ foot. They are usually just a couple dollars and are worth investing in!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Before you can sew up the HSTs, you need to cut your fabric down into squares. What size squares you need to cut are outlined in the two different tutorials below. At this time, I am not going to go into the various patterns/effects you can create with different fabrics. You can use the images above to decide a pattern you like (or Google “Half-Square Triangle Quilt Patterns”) and figure out how to lay out your squares from there. Just note that each HST is made out of two different fabrics. So if you want a red and white finished HST, start with one red square and one white square.

TIP! I find it easiest to do all these steps (cut, then sew, then cut, then iron, etc) in batches, so take the time to cut down all your fabric(s) into squares before moving on.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half-Square Triangle – Method 1 (Yields 2 HSTs)

There are lots of different ways to make HSTs, but all of them are based on sewing squares together and cutting them apart in different ways. This first method sews two squares together to yield 2 identical HSTs. To help you determine what size to cut your starting squares, use this handy chart:

Half-Square Triangle Measurements - Method 1

To get really precise measurements, I recommend using a rotary cutter, mat and ruler.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

For one set of HSTs: start with two squares cut to the exact same size (mine were cut to 8″ for ease) and place them on your work surface with RIGHT sides facing each other.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

On the top square (which should have the WRONG side facing up), draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner using a fabric pen.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Next, sew a line 1/4″ away on BOTH sides of the line you just drew through both squares of fabric.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

To do this, line up the guidelines on your 1/4″ foot with the pen line and stitch down the full diagonal of the squares.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

If you look carefully at the images below, you will see a line of white stitching on BOTH sides of the drawn pen line.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Next, use a ruler and rotary cutter to cut along that same pen line.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once cut, you should be able to flip open the squares along the seams you sewed to reveal two HSTs…each made with half triangles of your two fabrics! Neat, huh?

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half-Square Triangle – Method 2 (Yields 4 HSTs)

This next method also makes HSTs. But instead of creating 2 identical HSTs, it creates 4 identical HSTs…although the four are a bit smaller. Use the following chart as a general guide to determine your final square measurement using this method. (NOTE: This method doesn’t create “simple” sized HSTs; but once they are squared off, you can create the more “workable” sizes as shown.)

Half-Square Triangle Measurements - Method 2

Like above, start by trimming down the fabric to  your desired starting-sized squares. The squares used in this example are the same as above: 8″.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Also like before, place your squares right-sides-together…

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

This time however, instead of sewing on diagonal, sew the two squares together along all 4 edges (again, using a 1/4″ seam allowance).

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

This time, I used the outside guide of my 1/4″ foot along the edge of the fabric to get the correct measurement.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

With all four edges sewn shut, you will cut along BOTH diagonals this time to create the HSTs.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Just like before, once you flip each one open along the sewn seams, you will end up with four identical HSTs! How easy is that!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Pressing the Seams

With your squares sewn and cut, there are still a few more steps you need to take before they can be assembled into a quilt. The first step is to press the seams to one side and press the whole HST flat.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Start with your triangle pointing to the left. For each HST of the same patterns, make sure the same fabric is on top (so all the seams are pressed the same way). For these grey/blue squares, I started with the blue chevron on top every time.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

First, iron the seam with the triangle shut (below left). This “sets” the seam, which essentially allows you to easily pull the top open (below right) while keeping the seam in place.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once pulled open, iron the center seam flat.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Repeat for all the HSTs, ensuring your seams are all pointing the same direction.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Trimming Off Tails & Squaring Off

There is one final and very important step you need to take before the squares can be sewn into a quilt. If you look closely at each and every HST, they have little “tails” at the corners where they were sewn/cut. If these aren’t trimmed off, it makes for very tricky matching of seams AND bumps in your final quilt because of bulk. We need to trim those off!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

You can certainly take a scissors and just trim them all off, but this is also a good opportunity to “square off” your HSTs. If your seams or cutting went wonky along the way, this is where you can compensate for it and make everything nice and square and identical from square to square.

You don’t HAVE to use one, but having a square ruler makes this part so much easier. Simply line up the diagonal line on the ruler with the diagonal seam on your quilt block…

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

…and then use a rotary cutter to not only trim off the tails, but trim the entire square down to your “finished square” size.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

See? No tails and a perfectly symmetrical 7.5″ square all ready to be assembled into a quilt!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Here is a quick example of how the two methods differ a bit. Both the red/white and blue/grey started as 8″ squares. Method 1 yields 2 larger HSTs, while Method 2 yields 4 smaller squares.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once you’ve tried and mastered this basic sewing concept, you’ll be whipping up HSTs (and ultimately quilt blocks!) in no time! These really do come together so fast. In fact, it took me less time than the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album to sew together and cut down all these squares into HSTs!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

With your squares all sewn, cut, and ironed, you are ready to start assembling your quilt. But this tutorial is long enough, so I’m going cut it off here for now. I’ll be busy working away on Baby’s quilt over the next few weeks and will have the second half of this installment (“How to Assemble a Basic Quilt”) for you next month! For now, here is where I am headed!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

What has become very easy and “second nature” to me is sometimes a bit tricky to explain in step-by-step instructions like this. If something is unclear, please let me know and I’ll help you as best I can. If you’ve always wanted to try sewing a quilt…this is a great place to start. Grab some fabric (don’t worry about colors or patterns) and cut it into some squares (don’t fret over the size) and just start whipping up some HSTs. By the time you’ve got it down, I’ll be back to show you how to put it together!

Also, in the meantime, be sure to check out the other tutorials in this series by clicking on the picture!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

I have a long running list of other sewing tutorials that have been requested and I want to do. If there is something you’re dying to learn, be sure to let me know in the comments!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Hope your week is off to a great start. Later this week, I’ll be sharing a look at our simple yet festive indoor holiday decor! See you soon!

Megan Signature

Classic Christmas Porch Decor | Our 2016 Holiday Porch

I am so excited to be closing out this week with a look at our very first holiday decor of this season AND in this house! Getting the holiday decor up has been a little slow going around here for a few reasons (baby on the way, sick kiddo, and general post-move fatigue); but as usual, once I finally get myself going, I tend to really get into it despite my commitments to “keep it low key” (which I promise myself year after year after year)! What typically holds me back from getting started with our holiday decor is deciding on what direction to go. Since I participated in several holiday home tours a few years back , my Christmas stash is borderline excessive and embarrassing; but that also means I can pull off a variety of looks without having to run to the store. You guys know that decorating with red isn’t one of my preferred colors; but around the holidays, I just can’t seem to get enough of it. So, I decided to embrace the red for our outdoor porch decor and went for a very classic yet fresh take on our porch display!

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

Greg spent all last weekend hanging lights along our roofline while I stayed cozied up with a sick Henry on the couch. Greg really loves to hang lights, but our first year in a new house is always a bit tedious as we figure out the best arrangement, buy new lights to meet the new requirements, and determine how to hang everything on our new digs. I’m thankful Greg genuinely enjoys that part so I can turn my attention to the craftier projects. With the lights looking so wonderful, I really wanted to pull together a front porch display to match. However, our front door is tucked back into a “vestibule” of sorts so I didn’t want to clutter it up with a bunch of stuff that either wouldn’t be seen and/or crowd our walking path. I turned to a bunch of things we already had on hand and my tried-and-true combo of a green wreath and green mini tree to pull together one charming vignette!

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it;” and that sentiment couldn’t be more true for our wreath. Years ago, I shared my 15-minute ornament wreath here on the blog. It worked so well then that I have literally turned to the same technique every year since (just swapping out different colors and bows to achieve different looks!)

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

I always start with a fresh green wreath (this oversized one is from The Home Depot) and tie on ornaments in clusters of three with floral wire (you can see the full tutorial HERE). I think what really makes this a winner is the textural combination of the greenery, pinecones, and metallic ornaments. The fact that it comes together in a matter of minutes also helps 😉

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

The holidays are a great time to get a little whimsical, so I didn’t pull myself back when I wanted to combine two of my favorite ribbons (a buffalo check and a stripe) into a single massive bow. It’s finished off with a sparkly branch, and I am kind of obsessed with how it turned out!

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

Not only do we have some empty space to the right of the door (where I did have a porch plant until this week), but we were also looking for a way to hide all the plugs, timers, and cords from all the various strands of lights we have about. As I was considering all my different planter options, it occurred to me that my Fall apple cart would be the perfect addition to our holiday porch!

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

After sanding off the apple seeds on the wheel, I loaded in a table-stop pine tree…

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

…and topped it off with another patterned bow.

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

A remnant of faux fur always comes in handy this time of year; and since we don’t get much rain here in southern California, it became the perfect way to conceal those cords as well as the tree base.

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

The vinyl “Merry Christmas” was a last-minute decision (as I said, when I get rolling, I tend to really get rolling!) and brings the whole display together nicely!

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

A jute rug and some white lanterns (both from Marshalls/HomeGoods ages ago) ground the whole display! I am so glad I followed my instincts and went with the classic red this year. Combined with our steel blue door and white house, the arrangement couldn’t be more perfect, and it’s really gone a long way in getting me into the holiday spirit.

Looking for a classic take on your Christmas decor this year? Check out this holiday porch decked out in classic red, white, and black for a charming display!

If you’re just getting started with your decor, I hope this quick little display gives you some ideas for your home. This weekend, we do the inside of the house, so look for that update sometime next week (hopefully!). I also have another sewing tutorial coming up for you, as well as some more fun Cricut Christmas crafts! See you back here next week!

Megan Signature

P.S. While I’ve got some fun things in the works for you guys, I did want to mention (as you might be able to tell from some sporadic posting in recent weeks) that I’m starting to get bit behind. Between holiday commitments, preparing for baby, and just plain being exhausted, I can’t get as much done in a day as I used to. I so appreciate you all coming around here each week to see what I’m up to and please know I’m trying my hardest to keep up. The best way to stay up-to-date on new posts hitting the blog AND if Baby Boy has made his entrance yet is to follow me on Instagram. Of all the social media outlets, that’s my fav (and easiest!) to update! Have a great weekend, friends!

DIY Hidden Holiday Message Advent Calendar

There is something about the arrival of the holiday season that makes me want to get crafty. Even though there are about one hundred other things I should probably be doing with my time these days, all I wanted to do this past weekend was play with some pretty papers and make a fun holiday craft! Henry is already (constantly!) asking how many days there are until Christmas; and since he is now at an age where he understands the concept of an Advent Calendar, I thought it was the perfect craft to satisfy my crafting urge while getting our holiday season off and running. After waaaaay too much Pinterest surfing and brainstorming, I’m thrilled with what I pulled together for this year. There is a bit of time before December 1st, so I’m breaking it all down today should you want to make your own version too!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

As I was researching various options for a countdown calendar, I came across so many great ideas. From Lego-building projects to bible versus, holiday activities to scavenger hunts, there are so many fun ways to count down the days until Christmas. However, since we are officially entering “Baby Watch” time, I didn’t want to load more things onto our plate and stress our family out with more fuss and stuff. I wanted something that would be fun and engaging for Henry but easy enough to maintain no matter what the next few weeks hold. Here is what I came up with:

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Using my Cricut Explore, I made 24 paper presents, each tucked inside a cute little paper envelope. Each envelope has a number that corresponds to the first 24 days of December.

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

The paper presents are tacked up onto a bulletin board in a very specific arrangement.

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Why such a special arrangement? Because inside each paper envelop is a letter. Each day of December, all we have to do is slide off each paper envelope to reveal the letter underneath…

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

By Christmas Eve, the letters come together to create a “secret” holiday message!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Can you figure out the message yet? If not, here you go!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Henry is very much into words, letters, sounds, and spelling…so I am pretty certain this will be a big hit with him. However, he is ALSO very much into the jokes on popsicle sticks (even when he doesn’t understand them!) so I thought I would add a fun little addition to the back of each paper present as well! Besides revealing a letter, each paper present also has a kid-friendly Christmas-themed joke printed on the back. Not only is a letter and a joke per day totally manageable for our household right now, but it’s just SO Henry!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Admittedly, these little paper presents (with cute little paper bows) were a bit time intensive (lots of little pieces). But they were exactly what this Mama needed to keep her hands busy while she relaxed on the couch after a long holiday weekend!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

This same “hidden message” concept could be adapted to any size/shape, but I really love that the presents are attached to the board and we just slide off each white envelop. Now that it’s made, its execution couldn’t be any easier!

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

What You Need

To make a Hidden Message Advent Calendar as shown, you will need:

  • Red cardstock (3 12×12″ sheets)
  • Blue cardstock (3 12×12″ sheets)
  • Green cardstock (3 12×12″ sheets)
  • White cardsticj (6 12×12″ sheets)
  • Photo paper or sticker paper (4 sheets)
  • Cork board
  • 24 mini clothespins
  • 24 thumbtacks
  • Tools: Scissors/paper trimmer, 2″ circle punch, Cricut Explore, craft glue, hot glue gun/glue sticks

I’ll show you specifically how this whole project comes together; but if you are going to do something similar, I can’t recommend enough getting everything cut at once and planning out your colors, numbers, jokes (or whatever you’re including) and phrase before starting to assemble anything. With lots of a little parts to keep track of (including spelling out a phrase!), assembly will go much quicker if you don’t have to stop and think through it all!

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Okay! Are you ready to see how cute Advent Calendar comes together? For a single paper present, here is what you’ll need: Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

  1. Paper present*
  2. 2″ scalloped circle*
  3. Number tag
  4. Ribbon tie*
  5. Ribbon loops*
  6. Paper letter*
  7. Printed paper joke
  8. Paper envelop that fits #1*

*These images can be found in the Cricut Design Space library. If you’re interested in creating this project exactly as you see it, you can access my file here!

Making the Printed Numbers and Jokes

There are a variety of ways to number your little envelopes (including number stickers, numbers cut from paper or vinyl, etc). I found the easiest way was to create some circles in a computer software program and fill them with fun patterns, numbers, and jokes (you can find the kid-friendly Christmas jokes I used HERE.) Once you have your files as you like them, print out all the circles onto photo paper for a glossy and professional finish OR sticker paper to make application quick and easy!

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

To trim the circles down to size, use a paper trimmer to slice the paper into strips, then cut each circle out with a 2″ punch. This print-then-punch method is a much quicker solution for numbering the envelopes than cutting a bunch of circles and numbers with the Cricut and gluing everything together individually.

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Making the Envelopes

With the numbers printed and punched, you can start assembling each daily present! Let’s start with the envelopes.

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

The envelope is really just a rectangle with some tabs and a fold line. Fold everything along the score lines and then secure it shut with some craft glue…

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Use more glue to layer the printed number and scalloped circle onto the front of the envelope.

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Continue with all the envelopes and numbers until you have 24!

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Making the Lettered Paper Presents

On the front of each present, secure a letter with craft glue, and then attach a joke (or bible verse, activity, etc) to the back. Make sure you pay attention to your spelling (if you’re doing a phrase) and color pattern as you go!

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

To create the 3D paper bows, fold the longer bow loops as shown below left. While keeping the two ends together, fold the ribbon tie around the middle of the bow and attach with craft glue.

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

Secure the bow to the front of each paper present with more glue for a fun 3D effect!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Load each letter present into the corresponding envelope to conceal your hidden message or other countdown surprises!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Securing the Envelopes

With the envelopes all made and the message hidden within, it’s time to figure out how you want to display them! You could tape them to a wall or refrigerator or load them into a basket or jar. I found securing them to my old cork board gave me the visual display I was craving while also keeping it super easy for Henry’s little hands!

To hang up our envelopes, I hot glued some thumbtacks to the backs of some mini clothespins I snagged from the Target Dollar Spot ages ago…

Use the Cricut Explore to create a fun and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, pull down an envelop to reveal a letter in a hidden holiday message!

I then clipped up each envelop and pushed them right into the cork board in the formation that worked best with my hidden message.

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

This project was admittedly a little tedious because of all the paper pieces, but I’m so thrilled with the result and I know Henry will enjoy using it to countdown the days until Christmas. I also love how flexible this project is! You can use any paper shape/envelopes (even pre-cut ones available at craft stores or in the Target Dollar Spot!) and spell out any phrases or words you wish!

Henry hasn’t seen it yet, but I’ll be sure to update you on how it’s working out in my next coffee break post!

Count down the days until Christmas with this easy and kid-friendly DIY Advent Calendar. Each day, reveal a letter to a secret hidden holiday message!

I’d love to hear how your family counts down until Christmas! Do you use some sort of countdown calendar? Do you do special activities or stick to chocolate? Am I the only one who gets an urge to craft this time of year? Feel free to share in the comments!

I’ll be back here on Thursday with a look at our holiday porch! See you then!

Megan Signature

The Pros and Cons of Decorating on a Deadline

Two weeks ago today, I wrapped up my very first round participating in the One Room Challenge (ORC) – an online home decor design challenge where bloggers from across the web commit to decorating an entire room from start to finish in the span of 6 weeks AND document it in “real time” on their blogs. The ORC is something I have seen and followed along with for many years, but never felt compelled to participate in myself. I decided to play along this time around for a variety of reasons, but primarily used the challenge to motivate myself to get the baby’s nursery not only started but completely finished. Now that the dust has settled and my energy has (mostly!) recouped, I thought I’d take a minute to share a few thoughts on the experience as a whole and weigh in on some of the pros and cons of decorating on a deadline!

Decorate a room from start to finish or let it develop naturally? Click through to read the The Pros and Cons of Decorating on a Deadline

First…how about a quick tale of two different rooms!

Our NC Home Office

Years ago (about 3.5 to a be a bit more precise), I remember deciding (and declaring here on the blog) that I was going to makeover our North Carolina home office/craft room while my husband was away on a short-term deployment. I thought the hot summer combined with the clear deadline of his return would motivate me to finally put a design in place after waffling in the space for a good two years. At first, I was able to make some fantastic progress on the office side of the room with a few projects that were already at the top of my To-Do List. While I made fast progress on one half of the room, I stalled out big time with ideas and a solid creative direction for the craft side of the room. Instead of walking away and waiting for inspiration to strike, I forced more projects for the sake of progress and being able to call the room “done.” This ultimately resulted in re-doing certain aspects of the room (even several times over) throughout the following year; and I was actually unable to bring the room to a well-designed finish I was truly satisfied with before we had to move. At that time, I remember thinking to myself that I would never force a room design just to meet a “deadline” again…because it simply led to too much wasted time and money and a whole lot of frustration!

craft-room-office-reveal-007  craft-room-office-reveal-026

Henry’s “Big Boy” Room

About a year later (when Henry was about 3), he was ready to transition out of his crib, and I was (more than) ready to finally move on from his owl-themed nursery decor. I picked some fabrics I loved and built a design plan around them. I certainly didn’t intend to do the room from start-to-finish and didn’t put a strict deadline in place. However, this room came together rather efficiently, probably in about a month or so. In this instance, I had a solid design in place and simply worked from one project to the next in a very linear fashion.  To date, it’s still one of my all-time favorite spaces, and often I reflect on how easy of a room it was to design. However, it’s always stuck with me that I got some feedback from readers that they found it a bit boring to follow one space from week-to-week. By the time the room was done, so were my readers!

henrys-big-boy-room-reveal-020

I share these two anecdotes to shed some light on my perspective coming into the ORC. While I have successfully designed rooms from start-to-finish on a condensed timeline; more often than not, my room transformations unfold more like the first story. I have learned over the years (and waaaaayyy too many re-done/un-done projects or replaced items) that I create better spaces when I pursue the projects and decisions that feel really right and walk away when I am stalled, frustrated, bored, or unsatisfied. Additionally, having watched several previous ORC participants share that it was not only a really stressful experience, but that they also regretted some of the decisions they made because of the strict deadlines and pressure to deliver…the experience never felt like a good fit for me, the blog, or my readers!

So Why Did I Participate?

For a few reasons, actually! Each time the ORC has rolled around in the past, we have either been getting ready to move,  just moving in, or all our rooms were done. This time around, the timing was perfect. We were settled enough after our move that it didn’t feel disruptive, and I was super antsy to get working on some more creative projects (rather than just the tedious moving in stuff!). The other big reason was Baby! I know he won’t be in his room at the get go, but the timing of the ORC and my due date couldn’t have been more perfect. I was chomping at the bit to work on baby items, and the nudge of the challenge was just enough to get me started. As I’ve shared a few times here and there, I have also been feeling a bit directionless and hopeless about the state of this house, and thought a full-on room makeover would be the perfect thing to get my creative juices flowing again. Lastly, I was honestly curious about what all the blog “hype” was really about. I was interested to see what kind of traffic, new readers, and opportunities participating in the challenge would bring!

And Was It Worth It?

In some ways, yes…and in others, nope! The biggest perk is that we have a fully finished nursery that I am completely smitten with. I have a bunch of back-logged posts/projects that I am hoping to share once baby gets here to help ease the load of my posting schedule. And it feels so wonderful to have one room in this house that feels like me. The rest of the house may be a chaotic, undecorated mess. But this room…this room is how I like things to look, function, and feel.

We transformed this boring bedroom into a Super Hero Nursery for our Baby Boy in just 6 weeks as part of the One Room Challenge. Click through to see all the DIY nursery details!

Thankfully, the nursery room came together much like Henry’s big boy room did. I started with a solid plan (both design-wise and time management-wise) and executed the entire plan in a very linear fashion. From paint color and fabrics to art and storage, I had a very crystal clear plan of what I wanted to do, and the challenge was the perfect motivation to force me to execute it all. Participating in the challenge also encouraged me to make some decisions I would have potentially held back from (i.e., the wallpaper and the closet built-in), which in the end, turned out to be two of my favorite elements in the entire space.

We transformed this boring bedroom into a Super Hero Nursery for our Baby Boy in just 6 weeks as part of the One Room Challenge. Click through to see all the DIY nursery details!

However, there were some aspects I didn’t quite enjoy. For one, I try very hard (although it might not always appear that way) to vary my content from week to week. I realize some of you guys come here for decorating ideas or organizing ideas or military content, etc. Keeping the topics changing from week-to-week (hopefully!) keeps you guys from getting too bored or saturated with a specific topic. 6+ weeks of nursery content may have been boring if nursery decor isn’t something you’re “in to” right now. Also, posting in real time felt very unnatural for how I typically do things around here. I like to show you guys all the projects in a space across isolated posts and then do a final reveal post once everything is done. Even though the room is done and you all have seen it, there are some things I want to re-visit in more detail, and I hope it doesn’t feel too redundant for you. Lastly, even though I had a good plan in place (and I committed to myself that I wouldn’t do this), I too found myself doing some last-minute running all over town for the “perfect” finishing touches just to meet the reveal deadline. In all honestly, I am quite happy with every last basket, diaper pail, hamper, crate, and accessory, but I don’t think I really needed to stress myself out trying to find those things last minute just to meet a self-imposed deadline.

We transformed this boring bedroom into a Super Hero Nursery for our Baby Boy in just 6 weeks as part of the One Room Challenge. Click through to see all the DIY nursery details!

(Pssst – You can catch up on the One Room Challenge posts below:

WEEK 1: DESIGN PLANS | WEEK 2: PAINT AND BUILT-IN | WEEK 3: WALLPAPER| WEEK 4: FABRIC PROJECTS | WEEK 5: ORGANIZATION | Week 6: Final Reveal

In Summary

Whether you’re a blogger/designer or not, I do think “designing on a deadline” has its time and place. If your faced with the need or desire to pull a space together quickly, consider these pros and cons before you get started!

PROS 

  • A Deadline Gets the Room Done! As I said above, the best part of participating in this specific design challenge was that the nursery is 100% done. It is decorated, stocked, organized and literally ready to go. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be saying that right now without the ORC deadline. If you are just so sick and tired of looking at a room in its current state, a deadline will indeed motivate you get it done!
  • Motivation to Follow Through on Already-Made Decisions. In the few rooms I’ve worked on that have come together quickly and easily, I started out with very good and solid design plans. There was not a single element that I was waffling on or worrying over. From the wallpaper to the shelves and everything in between, I had all the large nursery elements planned out before the clock even started running. A good design plan combined with a deadline is a sure fire way to get yourself to actually take the plunge and follow through on specific ideas and products. I had been talking about painting the ceiling for weeks. Without the deadline, who knows how long it would have taken us to get it done (which had to be finished before we could do anything else in the room). If you know what you want to do in a space and just can’t find the motivation to start, set a deadline!
  • Focus. While I prefer to work on projects across various spaces as inspiration strikes, that approach can admittedly lead to a serious lack of focus. I am very guilty of floating from room to room and project to project (or even having several projects going at once), which can make a house feel un-done and constantly messy. Focusing on the nursery and the nursery only allowed all of my creative energies to stay fixed in one spot (as well as the mess, the tools, etc.) There were indeed times when I didn’t really want to work on the nursery because I was suddenly feeling inspired to work on something else. The deadline forced me to keep my eye on the nursery and follow through until it was done.

CONS

  • A Deadline Can Lead to Hasty or Poor Decisions. I think this is the biggest con and carries more weight than the others. When you have a deadline, real or self-imposed, it can cause you to make decisions you wouldn’t normally make just for the sake of calling a room “done.” Whether it’s choosing a rug you don’t love or agreeing to pay a price for something that you know will eventually go on sale, deadlines can force your hand when it’s just not necessary. If you find a deadline will help you get a room moving, commit to yourself that you won’t buy or pay for something you don’t truly love or can realistically afford.
  • A Deadline Makes Things Stressful. There were definitely a few occasions when I didn’t have the time or energy to work on a certain aspect of the room; but because of the deadline, I had to keep rolling so that other projects wouldn’t get off track. We stayed home a few weekends in a row to accomplish projects I needed Greg’s help with, and I flat out wore myself out hanging that darn wallpaper by myself. Imposing a deadline can add another layer of stress on projects that may already be a bit stressful (ahem, the ceiling), and they can certainly steel some of the joy and fun of DIY (which are notorious for going wrong somewhere along the way anyway). If you have a lot of DIYs in the space you’re trying to complete, maybe a loose deadline is a better way to proceed in order to keep stress levels in check!
  • A Deadline Doesn’t Guarantee a Room You’ll Love. I can speak from a lot of experience on this one. Setting a deadline, in hopes that it forces you to design a room and finally make some decisions, even if they aren’t the right ones, can lead to disappointment and a lot of wasted time and money. If I was told I could only participate in the ORC if I decorated our family room, I wouldn’t have participated. I currently have NO idea what I want to do in there. No direction, no inspiration, no concrete vision. Sure, a deadline for that room would force me to get thinking about it and start researching ideas more seriously. But the stress of a deadline could also result in design paralysis by over-analysis. A deadline might also cause me to settle on a design prematurely; I typically don’t start on a room until I know for sure what direction I’m going in. I think creating a from room start-to-finish on a deadline is best accomplished when you already have a clear vision of what you want, you just need to motivation to follow through.

I can’t say that I’ll never work on a room from start-to-finish again. As I said, I think self-imposed design deadlines have their place. Over the past 2 years, I’ve gotten SO in the habit of working on the house as a whole that it was actually a nice change of pace just to work and focus on one space at a time. While I do prefer to make decisions a little more organically, there is something so wonderful about having a completed room in such a short time span. Of course I can say that because I love how the room turned out!

We transformed this boring bedroom into a Super Hero Nursery for our Baby Boy in just 6 weeks as part of the One Room Challenge. Click through to see all the DIY nursery details!

I would really love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you like to work on a single room all at once, or make adjustments to your home whenever inspiration strikes? Can you think of any other pros or cons to design deadlines that I didn’t cover here? As a reader, did you enjoy the week-to-week updates or would you prefer makeover posts to be a little more spread out?

Megan Signature

Why I Can’t Quit Meal Planning

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

For those of you that have been around here for a while (and especially since the “very beginning,”) you likely know that I am somewhat of a meal planning junkie. In fact, one of my very first posts to ever go viral was my Magnetic Menu Board; and despite very little work on my part, it is still one of my most popular and shared posts almost 6 years later! While I still love and believe in that monthly meal-planning system, somewhere along the way it stopped working for me. I’m a pretty big believer in adjusting our organization methods to meet our needs (or else we won’t stick to them!), so I simplified our system about 2 years ago and have pretty much stuck to it ever since. Fast forward to this year and, for some reason, I have been in a meal planning, shopping and prepping rut! Planning out our family meals, and even more so, shopping for them, has become one of my least favorite (and most procrastinated!) home responsibilities. Since that’s usually a big ol’ red flag that I need to change something, I set about to re-vamp our system yet again. Today, I thought I’d chat a bit about all the various things I’ve tried over the last year to get our meal planning system back on track and share why, despite all my failed attempts, I still can’t quit meal planning (even if I really want to!)!

The Magnetic Menu Board System

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

As I mentioned above, my first attempt to reign in our meal planning was a project I called the Magnetic Menu Board. Henry was a brand new baby, and I was not enjoying my weekly meal planning sessions at all, so I decided to adopt a one-month-at-a-time system. At the start of each month, I sat down for a few hours and hashed out all of our outside-the-home meal commitments, new recipes I wanted to try, and other events, and then filled in the rest of the calendar with a well-balanced variety of meals and sides. The monthly planning session did require quite a bit of time, but I really liked that I only had to sit down and plan once a month. And while I continued to shop for perishable items weekly, having the entire month planned out allowed me to take advantage of sales and bulk offers on certain shelf/freezer-safe items. I actually stuck to this monthly system for several years. There were certainly times that I moved meals around or strayed from the calendar entirely. But overall, the single month system worked really well…until Greg left on deployment…and then the whole system seemed too much for a single person.

Planning from a Recipe Log

When the monthly menu board became too much, I wanted an easier version of the same system. Besides planning out one month at a time, the other “trademark” of the above system was how I organized my recipes: by protein source. For some reason, this method of organizing and dispersing recipes across a week made the most sense to me (so much that I haven’t changed this particular part of my meal planning ever since!) I find these 6 categories are enough to keep things separate, distinct, and organized, but aren’t too many to keep track of or understand.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

Instead of relying on my magnets, I transferred all my recipes to a log sheet...still organized into these 6 groups…

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I then used my Recipe Log to plan out my meals weekly in my planner…

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

When Greg came back from deployment, I stuck to this weekly planning from my Recipe Log but displayed meals on a dry-erase board in the kitchen so he could see too.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I found the weekly meal plan was quicker and easier to manage (meaning I was more willing to actually do it) compared to the monthly version. However, planning one week at at time didn’t quite guarantee a strong recipe rotation, use of freezer stock, or bulk shopping the way the monthly system did. Still…it got the job done for about another 2ish years.

No System!

Then this past Spring, my willingness to meal plan came to a screeching halt. Not only was I “over” planning out our weekly meals (and shopping for them), but I was really, really tired of our usual recipes. I decided to halt all my planning and try the “just wing it” system. I eased off on following recipes (which were feeling really burdensome to pull together) and instead stuck to more of a protein + side + salad combination. Surprisingly (or perhaps, not surprisingly), this approach proved even harder and more frustrating for me. Without a list of recipes (or at the very least, loosely planned out meals), my shopping list became difficult to fill out. This caused me to spend more time and money at the grocery store just filling my cart with things I “might” use or need. More over, without a plan, pulling together evening meals became an even bigger chore. I would stand looking at the pantry and fridge and become increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t make basic meals because I was missing one thing or another. What I thought would liberate me from my meal planning boredom and frustration actually led to an even greater disdain for the entire task.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

Meal Planning with Relish!

When we moved into our house here in California, I knew I needed to get our meal planning back on track. The “no system” I was using before, during and right after our move was increasingly making me frustrated and caused me to dread grocery shopping and meal time even more. For some reason, my previous systems felt too cumbersome to return to so I began the hunt for a fresh approach. This research lead me to the digital meal planning service: Relish! This very reasonably priced service did everything I didn’t want to do: pour through/select recipes and generate a grocery list…and I was more than ready to give something new a try!

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

Once logged on, all I had to do was drag-and-drop the meals that appealed to me into The Weekly Menu and set the serving size. I loved that it showed me which meals were crockpot-,  freezer-, and kid-friendly and that I also had the ability to browse their full recipe library (rather than being restricted to certain meals for the week). Each meal also came with a pre-designated side dish, but it was super easy to go in and change out anything that didn’t appeal to us!

Relish Online Meal Planning Program

But my absolute favorite part? Once your meal plan was done, it automatically generated a printable grocery shopping list pre-populated with all of the items needed for that week’s recipes (in the correct quantities!).

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

In just a few minutes, I was able to pick all of our recipes for the week, and print out a grocery list as well as all the corresponding recipes. Not only did this cut my meal preparation time down dramatically, but it also was super efficient when it came time to prepare the meals. The recipes, when printed, included both the main dish and all the corresponding sides on a single sheet of paper. Each night, I just had to grab the next sheet and get to work.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I honestly thought I had found my ultimate meal planning solution. I loved Relish’s online platform; the pre-populated grocery lists were pretty much the best thing ever; and the meals were super tasty and easy to make. It took away so much of the effort and brainpower behind meal planning and prep and really got me out of my meal planning funk. Unfortunately, it only took a few weeks for me to grow tired of this system as well. Why? Well, for one, I found that I was buying lots of random ingredients to make very specific recipes. This left me with higher-than-usual grocery bills and lots of leftover ingredients. Second, I again grew weary of making a recipe every single night and didn’t enjoy feeling like a “slave” to the system. Third, I was having a hard time working in my “usual” recipes, pantry staples, and family favorites on both the meal plan and the grocery list. I don’t like to duplicate my my efforts or use two systems to accomplish the same task, and it was taking me a lot of time and effort to adapt/merge the online system with my family-specific needs. Finally, as nice as it was to have a pre-populated grocery list, it didn’t match up with how I shop our store(s) and organize my own lists. I was constantly missing items as I was shopping because the list wasn’t organized the same way, making my trips longer and more tedious.

What I’m Doing Now

After my experience with Relish!, I was feeling a bit defeated. I was so hopeful I had found a perfect system (so much that I was planning a whole post to tell you all about it!), and was frustrated when it turned out to be too cumbersome for my needs. I waffled around a bit more with not planning at all, planning a month at a time, and even thought about digging my dry-erase board back out of the garage. While I brainstormed and worked through my options, I decided to print out a bunch of  my Weekly Planners and Grocery Lists as a “for now” solution. About 2 months later, I’m still using my printable worksheets and am LOVING the simplicity of it all.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I printed out a bunch of both my the weekly planner and grocery lists printables and have them clipped to the side of the fridge. I sit down every Monday morning with one of each and plan out that week’s activity and meals on the same sheet and then fill out our grocery list to match. I’ve eased off on forcing a consistent spread of protein sources and recipes and instead try to pick recipes that are easy to make, satisfying to the whole family, and work with our schedule (crockpot versus freezer versus fresh). It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s no fuss. And what’s most important: I’m sticking to it!

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

So you might be thinking to yourself, “Gosh Megan, if you’ve struggled so much, maybe meal planning isn’t your thing!” But it is. If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself in the last few year of my meal planning is that I need it. If I don’t use some sort of meal plan, grocery shopping and meal preparations becomes infinitely harder; our grocery bills go up; we constantly face an empty pantry and refrigerator; and we eat out more often. I don’t LOVE meal planning, but I’ve learned that, for our family at least, it’s a necessary evil!

While my simple two-page printable system (shown above) is working pretty well, my experiences with all of these different meal planning systems have taught me a lot about what works and doesn’t work when it comes to meal planning. As such, I have identified a variety of new systems that will truly make meal planning a more efficient (and maybe even pleasant!) experience. I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few months brainstorming and creating a whole series of printables to take the hassle out of meal planning, grocery shopping and meal preparation! I am so excited about what I’m putting together and think you guys will love it too. I’m not quite ready to spill all the beans just yet, but here is a sneak peek!

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

These printables and SOOO much more will be ready in the New Year. To make sure you stay up to date on what and when everything is available (and to get more sneak peeks and freebies!), make sure you are subscribed to my mailing list. If you aren’t already, you can sign up below:

I’ve learned a lot over the years, but I’d love to hear from you! Is there anything specific you need from a meal planning system?  What do you currently use? What kind of system works best for you? What is something you really need from a meal planning system that you can’t find elsewhere? You guys always have the best ideas, so be sure to share in the comments!

This week is Thanksgiving in the United States (so Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!), but I will be back here on Thursday nonetheless with the post that was supposed to hit last week (when I took a very much needed break!). I’ll see you then!

Megan Signature

I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Relish! did provide three free months of their meal planning service for me to try. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!