Thank you for all of the love and support this little corner of the internet has received over the past several years. As friends and family members were getting married, their weddings fueled the inspiration for this blog. But as seasons of life change, my focus, along with those nearest and dearest, shifted away from the wedding planning stage and I began to neglect this blog.

I have decided to indefinitely retire Calligraphy by Shannon in an effort to pour my attention into my lifestyle blog The Scribble Pad where I will be merging past and future inspiration boards and parties. You will still be able to place orders for calligraphy, custom invitations, and hand stamped items through my etsy shop. And as always, you can stay in touch with me under my moniker, The Scribble Pad on my blog, etsy shop, facebook, and even twitter! I look forward to sharing this new adventure with you.

11th Day of Christmas

You didn’t think my 12 days of Christmas would stop at 10 did you? The next two posts will be the post Christmas wrap up, guiding you though the days following the whirlwind holiday (or wedding) weekend.

How do you recover from the holidays with etiquette and poise? The first thing you need to do is make a list (before you forget any important details). Write down each gift, who it was from, and why you like or appreciate it. My best intention is to keep a list while I am receiving gifts, but this is not always easy so I make a routine of jotting thoughts down as I put things away. New socks, thank you mother-in-law. Delicious coffee and homemade peppermint brownies, thank you Aunt Robin and Uncle Bobby.

Now let’s tackle the task of writing the thank you note, and all the questions that come with it! First, remember that everyone has written a thank you note at some point or another, so you are not alone. Things to remember before you start:

- The thank you note is about expressing thanks, so remember to emphasize this
- The thank you note should be about the gift giver, not you. (try to limit the use of “I” or “we”)
- Be sure to mention why the gift is special and/or how you will use it
- All thank you’s should be hand written and hand addressed. No short cuts allowed for this gesture. And no e-mail thank you’s allowed!
- A thank you note need not be long, only thoughtful.

Who should you write a thank you note for?
Everyone. Anyone who gives you a gift, or opens their home as a host to you during the holidays should receive a gift. The one exception: there is no need to send a thank you for a thank you. For example, you are hosting Christmas dinner, and a guest show up with a bottle of wine. This hostess gift is an expression of gratitude and you should not send a thank you.

How long do you have after receiving a gift to send your thank you note?
The rules for this vary, but the sooner the better. I try to get my Christmas thank you note done the weekend after new years. A month is a good guide, but do not fret, a late note is always better than no note at all.
Wedding Tip: I took the week after my honeymoon off from work. This time helped me get established in our new home and also provided ample time to write my thank you notes almost immediately.

How do you get through a long list of thank you’s to write?
It is best to break up your thank you note writing into a few sessions, particularly if you have more than 10 notes to write. You want to be sure that each note is heartfelt and that your words do not get stale. Schedule a few different days to write your notes, and provide yourself an incentive to get each batch done. Here is a tip from Emily Post: “Take the time to yourself for writing out thank-you notes: don’t try and wedge it in between laundry, a TV show and extra work from the office. You’ll be able to think more clearly and your focus will translate to the page. Above all, try to enjoy yourself. Giving thanks shouldn’t be a chore—and doesn’t have to be if you make the effort to keep it interesting.”

A Thank you note has six parts. Follow these steps and you should get through your thank you notes with poise and etiquette in no time.

1. Greeting:
Be sure to write “Dear__(insert name)______,” This is really the only greeting line format you should use, all other formats are too informal for a thank you.

2. Say Thank You:
The first two words in the body of your note should be “Thank you…”
For example: Thank you so much for the slippers. Thank you for opening your home and hosting Christmas Dinner.

Beware: Never directly mention money. Instead of saying, ‘Thank you for the hundred bucks’ write, ‘Thank you for your generosity.’

Other useful phrases:
Thank you for your kindness.
Thank you for your hospitality.
Your generosity is greatly appreciated.
You were so thoughtful. (notice the emphasis on the gift giver/the person who you will be sending this thank you note to)

3. Explain why the gift is great or how it will be used:
Say something nice about the item and how you will use it. “The slippers are so comfortable, I wear them all the time.” If the gift was monetary, discuss how it might be used. “We look forward to putting your gift towards a new DVD player.”
Beware: Do Not Lie
Even if you do not care for a gift, you must be thankful for it. Find the one thing about them that’s nice and discuss it—but don’t get carried away.
For example: “Thank you for the sweater, it will certainly be warm for the winter.” Is more honest than, “Thank you for the sweater; I cannot wait to wear it.”

4. Focus on the Gift Giver
For example, “It was great to see you over the holidays, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.” Or “We missed seeing you for Christmas; perhaps we could get together this spring.”
Or if there are someone you will not likely see for a while mention that you think about them, “You are in my thoughts and I hope you are well.” Or, “We wish you the best in the coming year.”

5. Say Thank You (yes, again!)
Thanks again for your gift.
It’s not overkill to say thanks again. So say it.

6. Close the Letter
Here are some useful phrases for your closing:
Warm wishes,
Yours truly,
With love,
Warm regards,

Then sign your name and you’re done. Just be sure to use a closing that is an appropriate representation of your relationship with the gift giver. (Tip: Don’t use “love” or “yours truly” for co-workers)
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10th Day of Christmas

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9th Day of Christmas

Christmas doesn't always have to be red and green. Here are three wonderfully crafted inspiration boards from Snippet & Ink, a wedding inspiration blog I frequently get lost in! You can click on the images to be brought to Kathryn's site with all the details of her inspiration and where she lists all the details. Enjoy this winter wedding eye candy!

I love that this spring/summer blue can be turned into a winter wonderland with just a few small touches. The monogrammed ties are terrific groomsman gifts!

Does this have to be a wedding? Because if you could just make my house look like this inspiration board, I would be happy all year long! This wedding theme could be very easily eco-friendly as well.

The warm peach tones in this inspiration board create a glowing effect. This wedding could be equally laid back and regal with these elements.
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8th Day of Christmas

How do the holidays become something we need to manage or get through? Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. Take stock of what the holidays mean to you and what your goals are you just might find the joy of the season.

What do the holidays mean to you?
Jot down a few words that describe your ideal holiday season. Words that describe what the holidays can be like for your family when there is no additional baggage. Here are some words that came to my mind: celebrating Christ, prayer, relaxing, enjoying time together, fun

What do you need to do?
And I mean really need to do? Have realistic expectations for yourself and then sit down with your calendar and make sure all your obligations are penciled in, not carve out a bit of time for the things that are on your to-do list. (It may even help to do this daily). Putting everything down on paper will free to you think about the task at hand and enjoy the moment rather than worry what you might be forgetting. Keep the calendar and list either with you or in a central spot like the fridge. I need to: wrap two more presents, finish my Christmas cards, and be sure to take it all in stride when there are lots of people in the house.

What are your priorities?
Now make a list of things you’d like to do over the next few days (rather than just the have-to-dos). Are there traditions or memories you want to be certain to continue?

Once you write them down, make sure that these items become a priority! Make them happen. Some things on my list: Christmas eve service at the church Mark and I got married in, family picture Christmas morning on the front steps (if we don’t do this right away, it never happens), make baklava, drive around and look at all the pretty lights, watch a cheesy Christmas movie, play board games, and sleep (sometimes I forget to do this when there is so much going on – and that is not good for anybody!)

Keep things in perspective by remembering the true meaning of the season. Don’t fill the next week with obligations and commercialism, but enjoy the time that you have with family (even those you are glad to see only once a year!) Don’t sweat the small stuff. The holidays will be over before you know it, so enjoy them while you can.
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Calligraphy by Shannon developed as both a hobby and a passion. Shannon has always enjoyed the art of writing and holds fond memories of mimicking her Aunt’s calligraphy as a child. While Shannon takes great care in her penmanship and letter writing, she only seriously considered perfecting her calligraphy for weddings and special occasions when it came time for her own wedding. It was such a joy for Shannon to calligraphy the envelopes for each invited guest that she decided to launch a business bringing joy both to her work and her clients.

Shannon graduated from Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts with a degree in International Relations. Shannon and her husband reside in Washington DC on Capitol Hill. Originally drawn to DC because of their love of politics, they now marvel at all the history and culture our Capitol City has to offer. When not busy writing or blogging, Shannon enjoys playing lacrosse, photography, biking, playing board games and watching football.

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7th Day of Christmas

During this holiday season, I have received requests to address (but not necessarily calligraphy) batches of invitations. Here are a few that I did on red envelopes. I experimented with both gold and black ink in simple handwriting with just a bit of flair. Here are a few samples:

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6th Day of Christmas: Gifts

Gift Giving in Recession (oh the ugly "R" word - I know we don't want to think about it, but budgets dictate that we must!)

Here are a slew of clever ideas that may help you finish strong during these last few days of holiday shopping without busting your budget or looking like you went cheap this year:

For the Eco-Chic:

Buy them David Bach's book, "Go Green, Live Rich" and supply them with their very first Smart Strip, a power strip that helps save energy/money by limiting circuit flow when items are not in use. (The Smart Strip was mentioned in the book and one of the 50 ways to save money while saving the planet.)

For your Global Warrior:

Visit Ten Thousand Villages. There is really no better way to explain this site than to send you there and have you browse! (hint: they do wedding registries too!)

For your Luxury-Lovers:

Check out Red Envelope's "Gifts under $50" or Pottery Barn's "Gifts Under $25" Two of my favorite picks from these lists are the Channel-Quilted Cosmetic Bags (PB) and Monogrammed Tumblers (RE)
(hint: they both do wedding registries!)

For the Coffee-Fiend:

Try Starbucks from Costco! Who knew right? But you can get loads of "designer" coffee for practically half the price.

You can also try a wide variety of Fair Trade Coffees from local shops near you. Click here to find who sells Fair Trade Coffee near you!

For the Musically Inclined:

Compile a great playlist and burn it to a CD. It could be themed (a holiday collection, perhaps) or it could reflect the personality of the person for whom it is intended (indie rock, boy bands, hard-to-find live performances). This doesn’t have to be boring. Check out this HP program to print creative labels and customized album cases to give this gift a real bit of flair!

For the Talented and Sentimental:

Nothing says personalized like a homemade gift. If you can knit, sew, crochet, decoupage, paint, frame, or woodwork, consider using that talent to produce a few gifts for your friends or family. A scarf might be a rather boring gift under normal circumstances, but that completely changes when you tell them that you made it specifically for them. This could also be a great opportunity for you to try something new, like a new stitch or artistic technique that you’ve always wanted to try.

If you aren't so crafty but are giving to someone who is, check out the growing handmade/homemade gifts movement at Buy Handmade. Another great resource for uniquely made gifts: Etsy. Or maybe even do a bit of browsing on Etsy to get your creative juices flowing!

For the Super Chef:

Check out Sur La Table's ultimate Gift Shops for every category of cook or kitchen. If you a buying a gift for me, I will accept anything and everything from here, in case you were wondering. (hint: they do wedding registries too!)

For the Practical:

It might seem like a holdover from your youth, but a stack of IOUs or "love coupons" is a wonderful gift idea. Guaranteeing that you will help someone tackle a distasteful task or one they don’t feel equipped to handle can be a real pick-me-up in the busy holiday season. Or it can be something more simple like a coffee date or back rub. For more creative love coupon ideas click: here!
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5th Day of Christmas

Tree Toppers are hard to come by but here are a few favorites that may serve the top of your tree well. These simple ornaments often carry great meaning and tradition within families. Do you wait until Christmas Eve to top the tree? Is there a certain family member who has the designation of placing that topper on the tree? Traditionally these toppers are either a star or an angle representing the Start of Bethlehem from the story of the birth of Jesus. All this to say, since starting my own home and creating new traditions with my husband (this is our third Christmas as a married couple) we have yet to find a Christmas Tree Topper. Here are some toppers I have found in my searches:

Red Envelope
Personalized Star Topper

Touch of Class

Do you have any family traditions, or beautiful toppers to share?
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Giveaway Love: Twelve Days of Christmas

Design Mom is sharing the love and hosting 12 giveaways in honor of the 12 days of Christmas! Check it out fast because you can only enter between now and Monday!
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4th Day of Christmas: Cards

What on earth do you do with all those Christmas cards? Well, there are plenty of fun ways to display them. These ideas also work well for engagement and wedding cards. (or save the dates if this is a crazy wedding year for you!) Here are a few of my favorites:

(click on the images to go to the websites)

Copy this board idea found in Domino Mag

Pottery Barn Tree
(PB also has a cute curly cue card holder you should check out!)

If you are the sentimental type (me) you could create a scrap book of Christmas photos. Growing up my mom saved all the photo cards. Each family would get a page in a photo album and their most recent card could go on top. It was always fun to look back at our friends pictures over the years and update their page with their new card! You could also make an album each year like this one I found on Flickr:

VGK Chick on Flickr

Or if you are not in the spirit of saving, be sure to find a good use for your cards other than a landfill. You can recycle most Christmas cards or better yet, box them up and send them to St. Jude's Ranch. Click: here to learn more, or simply mail them to:

St. Jude's Card Recycling
100 St. Jude Street
P.O. Box 60100
Boulder City, NV 89006

Happy Holiday Card Crafting!
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Giveaway Love

Almost Frugal is having a giveaway for a wonderful Giftybox! Swing by her site to check it out! (click: here)

Hurry on over because the contest ends soon:
Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 12 noon GMT
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3rd Day of Christmas: Wedding of the Month

Bridget and Steve had a wonderful and decidedly Christmas wedding celebration. Don't forget to check out more of the details in my previous post!Bridget's Mom and Sister help her get ready. Note the gorgeous detail on her dress and the bright bold red they incorporated.

I love how these sepia pictures capture Bridget's soft curves against the rustic wood. It is amazing what an old barn can do!

The simple use of color creates a stunning look against the raw nature.
Bridget's sister was her Maid of Honor and only bridesmaid for this small family affair.

Again, it is wonderful how much the red "pops."

The groom and his three sons.
Both of Bridget's parents walked her down the aisle.

More lovely details. I love the shot of Bridget with the Grooms Daughter.

I wish I could share with you the wonderful pictures of this family of 6 dancing at the reception. They truly made a stunning picture on the wedding day and they make an incredible family now!
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2nd Day of Christmas

How to decorate your wedding with "Chirstmas" (and a sneak peek at a Real Wedding of the Month!)

Bridget and Steve held a December 22nd Wedding, so there was no way to avoid Christmas. They heartily embraced all the beauty of the season to create an elegant affair that was truly spectacular.

They held their reception at a historic town hall. Due to the season, the town hall boasted a huge tree in the middle of the entry way. Steve and Bridget cleverly used the tree to hold the guest's place cards, which we actually Christmas ornaments. Our place card from this weeding proudly hangs on our tree each year reminding us of this wonderful couple.

Cranberries, Roses, Sparklers, Greens and Ribbons tied together the look for this wedding. All of these items can be acquired at a low cost, but together make a tremendous impact! My favorite tip from this wedding came from the bride's roommate Caroline - she created the centerpieces with grocery store items: glass bowls, fresh cranberries, and simple flowers. Put together these centerpieces make a strong statement. The best part is they are both easy on the wallet and an easy DIY!

Stop by tomorrow to see more pictured from this fabulous Christmas Wedding!

Correction: Bridget and Steve actually brought their own Christmas tree to fill the foyer of the town hall!
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Giveaway Love

Simple Mom is hosting a jewelry giveaway. Click here to read more about the details of her contest. You can win jewelry from one of these fabulous ladies:

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1st Day of Christmas: Gifts for the Bride and Groom

Winter weddings present a unique opportunity for Christmas "themed" gifts. These work well for wedding gifts, engagement gifts, and even 1st anniversary gifts. Helping a new couple make their home cozy for the holidays can be a treat for you and a joy for them. With all the expenses associated with a new home, Christmas decor can be pretty sparse. So here are some ideas to help a young couple out:

1. Monogrammed and Embroidered Gifts:

Photos from Pottery Barn

Monogrammed Stockings, Tree Skirts, and don't forget the stocking holders all make wonderful and memorable gifts to a new couple. Pottery Barn has some wonderful ideas but make other stoes can meet your monogramming needs!

2. Greens:

Photo from RedEnvelope.com

Adorn their home with a beautiful wreath to welcome them back from their honeymoon! This idea only works really well if the timing is right. But another spin would be to host a wreath making party in their honor. This is a lot of fun and can serve as a terrific Jack and Jill shower to include all the family and friends in the holiday season!

3. A Box of Ornaments:

One of the best gifts my husband and I got was a big box of ornaments. Our tree would have certainly been channeling Charlie Brown if it wasn't for this wonderful gift. The best part is we get to remember our wedding and the special people who gave us our ornaments each year when we decorate our tree!

Enjoy your holiday wedding gift giving!
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12 Days of Christmas

For the next month, I will be quite busy filling holiday requests and preparing for my own holiday adventures. In this holiday spirit, the blog will have a few changes from the typical posts:

1. More Wedding Pictures - because winter weddings are stuning

2. No giveaways - because you all have enough gifts to worry about

3. Special Feature: The 12 Days of Christmas - keep your eyes peeled for 12 great ideas!
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