12 [Creative] Days of Christmas – Challenge!

Christmas is right around the corner now with just two weeks to go, and I’m looking forward to having some vacation time and a chance to see some family members I don’t get to spend enough time with. And as  you may know from my recent posts, I’m continuing to work on keeping my heart and mind in a good place about the season: not too much hype, not too many unrealistic expectations. It can be difficult!

I recently opened up to a few people about how decorating for Christmas suddenly felt lonely this year. For some reason, decorating as a single person never really bothered me the way it did this time around. The experience reminded me of an article I read around this time last year . . .  so I thought I’d share that here now in case I’m not the only one who’s having some difficult moments:

If This Holiday is Hard, You’re Not Alone

Sidenote: I don’t 100% know if I agree with every single thing in this article, but I’m not trying to dissect it — If you’d like to, please feel free. I was just generally encouraged by the reminder that Jesus knows and can relate to difficult experiences.

And Now For Some Fun . . .

I’m throwing down a challenge! Write or draw something every day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

If you’d like, print out this grid and play along. My grid starts on the 14th and goes through Christmas day, but you can shift and do whatever days work best for you. Post your progress on social media with the hashtag #12creativedays . . . I’ll be doing the same.

If you have any problems with the file below, you can also try downloading it as a PDF from this Google Drive link.

Do you have kids or friends who like to get creative? Get them to do this with you!

If you miss a day, don’t stress — you have enough to worry about. Just skip it or make it up and move on! ChristmasChallenge.jpg


I’m looking forward to seeing if any of you will participate in this challenge. Either way, I think you’re amazing & I’ll be back with more next week.

❤ Nicole


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Design Principles in Everyday Life #1 – Dominance:

In my first year of college, I took a class called Intro to Design. In that class, emphasis was placed on learning 3 basic design principles: Dominance, Balance, & Movement. The Professor stated, repeated, and questioned us about these 3 ideas and required us to create a semester’s worth of projects that showcased each of them in different ways.

At the time, I thought he was investing a wild amount of time and attention for such basic principles.

It’s now been more than 15 years since that class, and I still find myself periodically coming back to think about those lessons. I have to admit that over time I’ve definitely seen their application in the context of my design work and also, unexpectedly, in the context of everyday life.

Repeat After Me: Dominance. Balance. Movement. Dominance. Balance. Movement.

In 2 future posts, I plan to talk a bit more about Balance & Movement.

For today, I want to focus on DOMINANCE. 

In art & design, DOMINANCE creates focal areas, places emphasis, and breaks up monotony. It’s where the action is, where you want the viewer to look. Similar ideas apply in other artistic forms, like music or dance where rhythms or dance moves draw attention in intentional ways. Skill and knowledge allow the artist to use specific tools to pull the viewer’s attention. This is probably common sense.

In our everyday lives, DOMINANCE is created in a similar way — our behaviors and words create focal points and reveal what is prominent in our lives. We choose what we want to emphasize and how we want to break up the monotony — or we allow those areas to be determined by default through inaction or apathy. We somewhat control where our ‘observers’ look when they see our lives, and there are some areas of accidental dominance of which we’d prefer no one took note. This is also probably common sense.


Let’s look at 2 quick examples:

As a simple artistic example, let’s talk about ballerinas:

  • If you paint a stage with a ballerina at a large size in the center, the dancer will naturally be a focal point.
  • If you paint a stage with the same dancer off to the side of the frame at a smaller size, it’s likely to be less of a focal point (unless you use some other tactics to draw attention to it).
  • If you paint 100 identical ballerinas, there will be no obvious focal point & it will be more likely that viewers will disengage more quickly than if you paint 100 dancers of all different colors, textures, and sizes — or 99 identical dancers and 1 unique neon ballerina panda bear.

As a simple human example, let’s talk about education:

  • If I’m passionate about the issue of education and dedicate a large amount of time to volunteering or donating resources to education-based charitable organizations, this is a clear focal point in my life.
  • If I feel strongly about the issue of education but rarely take any action in that area, it’s less of a focal point. I’m not saying this is good or bad, just noting the difference in dominance.
  • If I repeatedly talk about how important education is and provide an endless stream of “facts” about it to anyone within earshot but never put action behind my facts, my story will ring empty & it’s likely people will disengage from my message. My words may be “dominant” but their summary will be tiresome inconsistency.

What’s Your Story?

In your creative life and work, how do you use the principle of dominance? Do you consider this when you’re painting, illustrating, or any other creative outlet? If you’d like to learn more about the principle and ways to apply it artistically, a simple Google search yields dozens of results explaining more.

In your daily life, where do you see the principle of dominance in play? How do the things you say and do create focal points in your life that are observed by family members, co-workers, or friends? How can you continue to grow in wisdom so that your life increasingly reflects the things you most wish to emphasize?

I’d love to hear any thoughts about this that you might be willing to share. If you read this & think it might be of value to anyone you know, would you pass it along?

I’m wishing you a life that draws attention to & celebrates all the things that are most important to you.

❤ Nicole


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Collecting Creativity 4 – Take a Sip!

When I shop, I ignore almost all packaging, picking up the same trusted brands while barely looking at the packaging at all. More often than not, packaging is thrown away almost immediately after purchase.

But as the Manager of a team that designs packaging, it’s my job to push the gap between “ignore” and “adore.”

In this week’s installment of “Collecting Creativity” I’ve gathered some images of eye-catching beverage packaging just for fun. Take a long visual sip of the colors, textures, and illustrations!

What’s your favorite beverage? Favorite package design? I’d love to hear any thoughts in a comment below!


As you may or may not know, my regular schedule is a weekly post every Monday. I’m also sharing bonus content related to creativity in this series called “Collecting Creativity.” If you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you may want to do so by clicking the link in the sidebar!