// blue and white plates //

Can I be a little random today?

I can’t help it.

There is only one week left to post here on the blog before Santa and his boots climb down the chimney.

And I have a LOT to say.

I have stories and a map tree and more decorating and a cookie project and so much merry and bright that we need to discuss.

So today? In an effort to fit everything in before December 25? I’m actually sharing three posts in one.

I have the dining room all set up for Christmas dinner with the CUTEST centerpiece.

And 101 gifts under $10 that will arrive to your house before Christmas.

And a story.


See what I mean?

A little random and a whole lot of Christmas.

Let’s GO.

// blue and white striped table runner // plaid tablecloth // blue and white plates //

You may have to read this post twice.

Because the pictures don’t really match the words (much to my mother’s chagrin).

If you need Christmas table ideas? Look at the pictures.

If you’ve already decorated? Let me entertain you.

And if you are here for the gift ideas? I linked them at the very end of the post.

Let’s get started with one of my favorite Christmas stories I’ve ever written. After all, doesn’t every innkeeper’s wife need a little choreography? 🙂

//plaid tablecloth // cardboard houses //

//plaid tablecloth //

Every Innkeeper’s Wife Needs a Little Choreography

When I was younger, I knew that I knew that I knew….

….I was going to make it onto Star Search.

To me, it wasn’t really a question of if, more of a question of when.

Just a matter of time.

I knew that one day I was going to be discovered singing quietly to myself in aisle four of Wal-Mart.  The notes would dance softly across the polished linoleum floors into the waiting ears of a big Hollywood agent who would immediately and without hesitation approach me on bended knee next to the frozen broccoli and offer to represent me.

And then he would whisk me away to the Star Search stage to a world of fame and fortune and a long and illustrious singing career.

// gold and silver silverware // blue and white striped table runner //plaid tablecloth //

// gold and silver silverware // blue and white striped table runner //plaid tablecloth // blue and white plates //

It was going to be incredible.

I couldn’t wait to see my name in lights.


Except for one, tiny, insignificant, often-overlooked, minuscule detail.

I couldn’t sing.

Not ever.

Not even a note.

Truth? Just between us and the Star Search judges, I wasn’t aware of this fact.  I truly thought I sounded amazing. I would sing in the back of my parent’s station wagon to an un-eager audience of brothers and sisters and when I belted out the high notes it sounded to me like the angels were singing a heavenly chorus.

Or so I told everyone.

And no one ever disagreed.

// blue and white striped table runner //plaid tablecloth // blue and white plates //

// gold and silver silverware ///plaid tablecloth // cardboard houses // blue and white plates //

// blue and white napkin rings //

I can remember trying out for the solo part in “Away in the Manger” for the Christmas program at church when I was in fourth grade.

I sat at the piano in the music room with the choir director as she listened to my enthusiastic over-the-top-complete-with-choreography-totally-off-key rendition of the song.

And after the first verse, she stopped me quickly with an awkward smile and asked me if I was nervous and offered to play the song on the piano for me so I could hear the notes.

//plaid tablecloth // cardboard houses //

// blue and white plates //

I took this as an encouragement.

The next step in the audition process.

So I sang louder and stronger with more gusto and proceeded to act out the entire first verse of the song and finished the rendition with a last note so full of vibrato that it made the chandeliers rattle.  When I finished she simply sat there for a moment without saying a word.  Then, in a sweet and gentle voice, she told me that she loved my dramatic song interpretation—especially the part when the cattle were lowing.

She went on to tell me she thought that I would have made an amazing soloist, but she had decided with moves like that…..

….I would make the perfect innkeeper’s wife.

//plaid tablecloth // cardboard houses //

//plaid tablecloth // cardboard houses // blue and white plates //

And I was.

An amazing non-singing innkeeper’s wife that is.

Just between us?

I was amazing. You’ve never seen anyone act out “there’s no room at the inn” with more enthusiasm. The poor innkeeper had to step aside so I could let Mary and Joseph know what was going on.

I never sang a solo in that children’s choir.

But life went on.

I grew up and got married to a man with perfect pitch who taught me to sing and now I sing in a grown-up choir.

And occasionally even hum next to the broccoli in Walmart.

However, the story doesn’t end there.

// blue and white striped table runner //plaid tablecloth // cardboard houses // blue and white plates //

// blue and white cone trees // Christmas arrangement //

This past weekend, I sat in a church pew and waited with anticipation as my sweet niece stood up at the front of the church with her friends in pink pajamas wearing a bow and a smile the size of Texas and sang one of my favorite Christmas carols….

….Away in the Manger.

Tears streamed down my face as I watched her sing.

Every note in tune.

Every note as clear as a bell.

She finished that long-ago chapter and sang the song that I never could with a voice straight from my heart.

PS  She didn’t add any choreography, but don’t worry I had it covered. 🙂

PPS And you can see 101 gift ideas under $10 that you can get before Christmas here.

disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Love your Christmas table settings…so pretty and festive. FYI. I clicked on your “101 gift ideas under $10” and there was no guide. I was connected to candles at Amazon. ??? Can you please resend that to us sweet lady? Thank you so much❣️

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Debbie, I’m so so sorry! The link is working properly now! Here’s the correct link (affiliate): https://urlgeni.us/amazon/YEavv Happy day! KariAnne

  2. Image for Tracey A Tracey A

    Oh, my gosh! That was so sweet, heartfelt and touching! I can visualize everything, your emotions, your enthusiasm, your "perfectly angelic" performance. Thank you for the delightful story and your wonderful blog. You have a nice way of presenting things. Thank you for sending me out with a smile. Merry Christmas and God bless you and your family. (p.s. My college English professor told me I used too many exclamation marks. Trust me, I wanted to place them at ALL my sentences today. The only thing that held me back was his little voice. Honest, you are a great writer as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! . There, I did it.)

  3. Image for Sherrie Mock Sherrie Mock

    Hello KariAnn, I have always loved your sweet stories. I have not written a note to you lately though. These last few months have been really difficult for me as I was displaced from my job after 15 years…I have been looking and applying to other jobs, but no luck yet. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your sweet story and for making me smile today. I needed that. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Darlene, I’m so so sorry! The link is working properly now! Here’s the correct link (affiliate): https://urlgeni.us/amazon/YEavv Happy day! KariAnne

  4. Image for Barb E Barb E

    Thank you for this very sweet post🥰! I loved looking at all of your beautiful decorations. Who knew Bed Bath and Beyond sold centerpieces…? Can you share where you got those adorable red chargers with the Christmas Tree cutouts? I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!

  5. Image for Pam Pam

    Oh gosh, this was so funny. I read it to my husband and was laughing till tears were running down my face. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas.

  6. Image for Diana Clark Diana Clark

    I got quite a chuckle from your story of auditioning. What a great gentle teacher to guide you to where she thought you would shine . Love that your family let you sing without criticism. Look at how you have found your nitch! You bring joy to us all. Love your decor. I don't think I've seen the blue and white cones in your picture.

  7. Image for Debbie Debbie

    I love your stories, you are such a good storyteller. I could feel the excitement in your voice as you told the story about your childhood dream of being a singer. I’m sure you were disappointed when that dream went by the wayside, but everything in life happens for a reason. God had a wonderful plan for you. You have a wonderful husband and family, as well as a wonderful life. Your dreams of being a singer may not have come true, but from where I’m sitting, you’re living the best dream of all. May you and your family have a very Merry Christmas 🎄

  8. Image for Rizae Rizae

    Love the story. Your niece is a cutie-patootie! How did the charades get together go at your place? Have a great week. I am officially on the Christmas countdown!!! Big Hugs,

  9. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    Such a sweet story. I am so sorry that they were not quite ready for you unique talent. But it all worked. Happy Monday from windy snowy Ohio.

  10. Image for Kim Kim

    I live for your blogs everyday, but mostly at Christmas. They bring me comfort when I am stressed to the max and need to crank out tons of cookies, decorate, and try to find a little bit of peace in between. Thank you for all your comforting words and kindness. Karianne you are the best. Happy holidays to you and your beautiful family. Blessings Kim XOXO

  11. Image for Pam smith Pam smith

    Aww! She's so cute! I'm sure she was amazing and so was your choreography! Love your dining room too. It looks so inviting and cozy! Have a Merry christmas!

  12. Image for Marilyn Marilyn

    What a lovely centerpiece/ Wishing you and yours a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. Joan,Marion and Marilyn

  13. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    AWL! Sweetest story and a sweet smile and a beautiful little girl. WTG, dear niece!!!! And all your pics were awesome. And the links to last minutes. I cannot even believe it is almost 12/19 in 15 minutes. WOW, right? And GUESS WHAT!!! We got a bunch of snow today and it is so pretty and it stuck and it looks so Christmas-y now!!! I guess next week it is supposed to warm up and melt, boo, but today it is awesome.

  14. Image for Beth Minger Beth Minger

    Such a wonderful story and what a very cute niece!!! Sorry if I missed the info but could you give us a hint on where you found the train that is circling your tree and also how the heck it is attached? I looked closely and it looks like it's hanging there by MAGIC!!!!!!

  15. Image for Mary Ellen Mary Ellen

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful heartfelt stories from your past. I laughed so hard! We can all see ourselves in similar ways. I love reading your posts because it's like we're old friends sitting down, having a cup of coffee and good conversation. And of course you're decorating. Ideas are the absolute best! I hope you and your family enjoy the holiday time together. Merry Christmas from my family to yours. 🌲❄️🦌✝️

  16. Image for S. Marie S. Marie

    Hi! What a wonderful story and darling, sweet niece! SO fun at that age! Wonderful dining room. I will be there at 4 PM Christmas Day! ;) Earlier??? All kidding aside-I'm with Beth- The train going around the middle of the tree!? Please explain what it is, where it's from, how it is attached! We MUST KNOW! Merry, Merry, Happy, Happy Christmas! PS. I had the same "singing voice" and was not lucky enough to marry a man who could teach me. His singing voice makes my off-key sound like I have channeled an angel and that's REALLY a s-t-r-e-t-c-h!

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