DIY Custom Props for Family Christmas Pictures

Grab some chipboard and your Cricut Maker and make your own custom props for family Christmas pictures this year!

DIY custom props for family Christmas pictures.png

Don and I have had the greatest joy this year of sponsoring five Plebes (freshmen) at the Naval Academy. The kids stay with us almost every weekend and have taken over our lives in the craziest, best ways possible. They refer to each other as sister and brother and have built a bond we couldn’t be prouder of. We went from a family of two to a family of seven almost overnight (plus - of course - Baloo) - so we decided to celebrate with a family photo shoot just in time for Christmas! And yes - Don and I are 100% going to send these out as our actual Christmas cards. :)


This project was so fun to make - the kids even helped me paint the letters before the photo shoot. What a great way to have the whole family involved in the process!

The possibilities for these are endless. Create your own custom words and phrases props for family reunions, weddings, birthday parties and more.


  • Cricut Maker

  • Cricut Knife Blade

  • Cricut Strong Grip Mat - 12x12 or 12x24

  • Cricut Chipboard (you will need one sheet for each letter)

  • painter’s tape

  • paint (I used FolkArt Acrylic paint in Titanium White)

  • foam brush


1. Type your word (I used the Martha Stewart - Mirror Droplet font but you can use any font you like).

2. Ungroup the word then select all of the letters and adjust the height to 10.5 (why this doesn’t work before you ungroup I’m not sure!). Check each letter and make sure none of them are wider than 10.5. Larger letters like W or M will need to be adjusted to fit. Once you have sized all the letters you are ready to cut!

DIY Custom Props for Family Christmas Pictures - Kingston Crafts

3. Tape down your chipboard before you begin. Don’t forget to move your star rollers all the way to the right if you haven’t already! NOTE - I used a 12x24 Strong Grip Mat so I could make the process go a little bit faster because I was able to tape down two pieces of chipboard at once, then just flip the mat to cut the next letter.

DIY Custom Props for Family Christmas Pictures

Cut one letter per piece of chipboard then remove any tape as necessary.

DIY Custom Props for Family Christmas Pictures - Kingston Crafts

Paint each letter as desired.

Gather the family and start creating fun memories!


White Walls Wednesday - Customizing with Cricut and Washi Tape

White Walls Wednesday is baaaaacck - and today I'm sharing a project that I've been thinking about for YEARS but kept putting off until I got a great little tip about applying intricate vinyl using washi tape. Yep! Washi tape! 

So many military families have a wall hanging similar to this one - a record of all the places you've lived with new duty stations lovingly added along the way. I get mine from WordBoards on Etsy - I love to support other military wives in their small businesses!

The only issue? Unless you wait to buy your boards until after you've left a location you don't have the dates on them! This one hangs prominently in our kitchen and every time we have a new friend over we get the "when did you live in Hawaii?" or "how long did you live in Georgia?" questions - and truth be told, my memory is too terrible to remember! With my Cricut Explore Air, some gold vinyl that washi tape idea I was able to customize my sign in about 30 minutes. I'm just sorry I waited so long!

Ha! I didn't notice until I had this post all ready to go that Bizzy Bee is poking her head around the corner in the photo below. That sweet girl is like Where's Waldo! :)

Cricut Explore Air and Design Space
Cricut Standard Grip cutting mat
Cricut Tools Craft Basic Set
Cricut Vinyl (I used Gold)
light colored washi tape

Measure the space you've got on your project where you want to put your dates, then select a font in Design Space and type out the dates, sizing to fit. TIP: use a "plain" font, because these are SO small that you will spend a hundred years weeding them if you try to pick something fancy. TRUST me. ;) 

Cut the dates from the vinyl, then use the weeder from the tool kit to weed the excess vinyl from the backing so only the dates remain. Instead of applying transfer tape to the dates - apply washi tape! It is smaller, easier to use, and semi-sheer so you can still see your images to set them in place. WASHI TAPE! Who woulda thought?

Once the washi tape has been applied, cut the dates in to individual sections.

Use the scraper from the tool kit to apply your dates to your project.

And voila! Working on this project brought back so many memories of beautiful places, houses that felt like home, and the incredible people we've met along the way. Luckiest, luckiest, luckiest girl in the world. 

Looking for more great inspiration from military spouses? Check out these amazing projects!

The Gift of Giving - Year Two

Those of you who have been with us for a while know this story - how we came to be involved with a homeless veterans shelter in Louisville, KY. Last year was such a gift - so when we were fortunate enough to be asked back this year we knew we wanted to bring you along for the ride with us once again.

We put out the call for cards from you in mid-November, and right away we were happily overwhelmed by messages from people who had done it last year and were thrilled to participate again, teachers with classrooms full of children who were happy to help - I have never been more tickled to go to my mailbox than I have the last few weeks!

We also put a call out for donations from our friends and family (and so many of you were wonderful to send donations with your cards!) and were BLOWN AWAY by the response this year. More donations meant more goodies for the boxes - so we called in reinforcements! The Kingstons are always looking for a reason to have people over - so we had a "boxing party" and invited our friends and neighbors over for drinks and snacks and an assembly line of packing boxes. 

Here's a tip. When you are married to the most competitive man in America the boxing "party" will turn in to a boxing "race" and your idea of a nice leisurely afternoon will turn in to a frenzy of glitter and tissue paper! We literally could not get the boxes ready fast enough and the guys thought that was HILARIOUS. And then drank bourbon in the kitchen while the ladies finished up the pile of full boxes they had created. :)

When the night of the dinner arrived we were excited, but also a little nervous. I think I told you that last year at the dinner Don and I hid in the kitchen all night because we were a little anxious about being there. Hit too close to home, weren't sure guys would want to talk to other military people, etc. This year Don stayed in the kitchen for a good part of the night...he thinks he has better ideas for running a kitchen than the 20+ women who were there. Ha!

I took a big step out of my comfort zone and hung out in the dining room for a bit, but then slipped out in to the hallway to just try to stay out of the way for a while. I was REALLY struggling, because this year a majority of the guys were young. Like - Don's soldiers young. Don and I have always worried that we don't do enough, or miss the signs that some of his guys might be having a hard time, so to actually see kids who HAD fallen through the cracks was hard to bear. As it turns out though, the hallway I was hiding out in was right near the bathroom and before I knew it there was a line of guys waiting.  Because nothing is more comfortable than a strange woman chatting you up while you are waiting in line for the bathroom I decided to just get over myself and start talking. And you know what happened? Laughter. And stories. Bathroom jokes. Duty stations we had in common. How far along they were on their journey to recovery. All the good things that were going on in their lives. Happiness. Gratitude. Joy. THAT'S what happened.

The dinner itself was just as fabulous as last year. The food was delicious, the entertainment was great (two of the young guys gave an AMAZING acoustic guitar performance) and the vibe was warm and inviting. The women of the Okalona Womens Club are as loving and generous and they are welcoming - and it showed throughout the entire night. 

As the evening drew to a close Iva (our friend who organizes the event) was thanking the people who cooked, the entertainment, the decorating committee, etc and when she thanked us for the boxes and gifts she mentioned that Don was active duty Army (which brought some cheers and applause and - of course - good natured joking). But then she told them that we had mobilized our friends and military family from across the globe to pitch in to make the night special - and the guys went WILD. It was so amazing, just THE BEST feeling in the world and we wish we could find a way to bottle it up and share it with you. YOU did this. These guys left that dinner knowing people all over the world remember them and honor their service and Don and I are so humbled to be the stewards of your love - we just don't have the words. The Kingstons are not great with their feelings, but I hope you know that our hearts are overflowing. This is what it is all about. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

When we left the dinner, two things happened that once again reminded us how many lives you have touched this Christmas.

As Don and I were heading home we stopped for a cup of coffee (yes - at nine oclock at night) and ran in to these two Louisville police officers. I casually asked them if they had any use for some new gloves and hats and toiletries because we had a few extra bags and boxes in the car. They took a trunk full and were so appreciative - think of how many small kind gestures they will be able to make in their community this holiday season because of YOU.

The next morning when I called the shelter director to arrange for the rest of the donation, she told me the guys had had such a good time talking to Don (once Iva told them he was in the Army they couldn't wait to talk to him and swap stories) that they wanted to invite us and any of our military friends to join them for their Christmas lunch next week. So Don and I and the guys Don works with are heading over there on Wednesday for round two of this Christmas celebration - and we will be bringing with us almost $1000 worth of brand new mattresses. Thanks to you not only will these men have a brighter Christmas, your gifts will have a long lasting impact for the shelter and the men who live there. None of this would have happened without you - and we are grateful.  So as our 12th Day of Christmas Giveaway Don and I want to send a little love back out in to the world for you.

Please leave a comment here with the link to an organization or group or story that YOU feel passionate about - and Don and I are going to gift TWO of them with $100 donations. These will be totally selected at random - if I clicked on all the links I would probably be curled up on the couch crying - and I will announce who has been selected tomorrow on my Facebook Page.

Once again Don and I have been made better people by your example. Thank you for your friendship and your kindness and your generosity and your trust. We know how incredibly fortunate we are to be a small part of your lives and we will never take that for granted. You have brought us so much joy this holiday season - we wish the same for you. Merry Merry Merry Christmas. <3



12 Days of Christmas Giveaways {day twelve} - the Gift of Giving

It's the last day of our 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways...and I have a little anxiety about this post. Lemme just put that out there.

A few years ago Don and I and our friend Rocco were fortunate enough to be part of something that was a genuine, bonafide Christmas miracle. Life changing in fact. Rocco was SO touched by it that he posted his thoughts on Facebook, and I shared it because he had perfectly captured what we were all feeling. Someone saw it and shared it as an example of "people who don't do anything all year who like to brag about how they help poor people at Christmas". It was...ummm...terrible. Curled up on our couch on Christmas Eve bawling my eyes out terrible. So we went quiet.

But here's the thing. When we moved to Kentucky this summer I met a group of women from the Okalona Woman's Club who adopt a local homeless Veterans' shelter every Christmas...and I knew we wanted to get involved. And we asked YOU to join us. We asked our friends for money. We asked my crafty peeps for cards. We rounded up folks to shop and fill boxes and donate clothing. And you did it all and more. SO MUCH MORE. So today I'm posting this (even though I'm skeered of mean people) because we want to be good stewards of your gifts and your time and your money. We want you to know what you did. How much joy you brought. We want to say THANK YOU. So here goes.

The club puts on a wonderful Christmas celebration (home cooked food, Christmas carols, gifts, etc) and every year each man who attends receives a new pair of gloves, socks and a hat (which you guys donated SO many of). This year - thanks to YOU - they also received a festive gift box filled to the brim with practical items (deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, chapstick, handwarmers, etc), snacks (beef jerky, breakfast bar, peanuts, etc), and some Christmas goodies (candy cane, chocolates). Don and I were so fortunate to be able to hand out the boxes at the end of the night - and I'll just say this. If Don Kingston was smiling ear to know it had to be good. :)  It was ALL the feels.

We also wanted to do something for the shelter - something that would have a longer lasting impact. They said their biggest need was zippered mattress covers (they have to replace them each time someone leaves before a new man can come in - which makes so much sense but had never occurred to us). You guys were so generous that we were able to gift them with 25 MATTRESS COVERS. That is 25 men who won't have to wait for a bed an extra few days. 25 times the shelter won't have to dip in to their limited funds. YOU did that. What an incredible gift.

And the cards! OH THE CARDS! From gorgeous handmade works of art from crafters to folded construction paper lovingly drawn on by children. Store bought cards with personal and touching words of thanks inside. Cards signed by entire neighborhoods. Entire classrooms. Our goal had been for each veteran to get one card. Instead? They got a handful. A HANDFUL of wishes for a Merry Christmas and prayers for their success and thanks for their service. A handful of reminders that people all over the country are remembering them this holiday season. It was an absolute joy to behold.

In fact, if I could only use one word to describe the night -  it would be JOYFUL. I admit I had been worried. I was afraid it might be sad. I couldn't have been more wrong. There was laughter and great conversation and good-hearted inter-service joking. There was loud and joyful Christmas carol singing. There was the vet who asked the musical entertainment if he could play and KILLED it on the guitar and received a standing ovation from the entire room. There was this incredible sense of brotherhood and pride - these men, who vary in age and experiences and health issues, look out for one another and love each other and lift one another up in their journey to recovery. Most of all though, there was hope. These men are not broken or defeated or poor souls to be pitied. These are men who have lived through their darkest days and come out the other side stronger and more resilient and ready to take on the world. The whole night was filled with stories about how they are finding their way - looking for jobs or places to live or reconnecting with family - all while having each other and the shelter as a place of safety and comfort. It was just such an amazing night - and YOU made it happen. You brought a little extra joy in to the world this Christmas.

So our twelfth (and last) day of the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways is all about the gift of Giving. Once again Don and I have been made better people thanks to YOU - and we aren't quite ready for this feeling to end.  So please leave a comment here with the link to an organization or group or story that YOU feel passionate about - and Don and I are going to gift TWO of them with $100 donations. These will be totally selected at random - if I clicked on all the links I would probably be curled up on the couch crying again - and I will announce who has been selected tomorrow on my Facebook Page.

Thank you, thank you, thank you...for your friendship and your kindness and your generosity and your trust. Thank you for letting us bring to life this community that we are so blessed to be a part of. We know how incredibly fortunate we are to be a small part of your lives and we will never take that for granted. We wish you as much joy as you have brought to us this holiday season. Merry Merry Merry Christmas. <3

--Beth and Don Kingston