There’s stuff like wrapping presents, baking cookies, decorating, and so much more. Take some of the pressure off this holiday season with these helpful tips. Whether it be inspiration for the decor, or simply some time-saving hacks, the following tips will amp up that festive feeling!
A Christmas Tree Made out of Jello Shots
After the kids are in bed, it's time for the adults to have a little bit more fun. If you're building a party that is only for adults, here's a fun thing to try.
Make a tree shape out of Jello shots in small covered containers. You'll need mostly green, but you can also use blue, red, and even white or yellow. Build them up just like in the picture, only in a pyramid shape, and top with items like popcorn, ornaments, pine needles, and something at the very top like a star. It's sure to be a big hit.
The Confident Party Guest
Want to seem like you're less of the neurotic, overly anxious worry-wart that you actually are in real life and actually enjoy the party? For some strange reason, holding your drink at belly button level will make you look more confident.
How could this be? There are a couple of reasons. One is that holding your drink any higher than your sternum is seen as a defensive posture. Another is that having your drink at stomach level makes you suck in that gut and push out your chest. You'll feel more relaxed and look a little taller. That all feeds back into confidence.
Make Any Glassware Good Enough for a Big Meal
Fancy table settings and glassware can be pricey, and these days people are always looking for ways to save a buck here or there. Take some of your old glasses and hit them with your best craft skills.
Just a few markers in sparkling silver or gold can do wonders to a place setting. Each one can be unique, it can be a fun project for kids, and the guests can even get involved by designing their own glasses as they chat before the meal is served. You don't even need new glasses for this – grab some old ones out of the cabinet.
Remember the Gift Cards!
Despite how thoughtless they can sometimes seem, gift cards are presents that aren't going to go away too soon for a variety of reasons. If you receive one, it's a little too easy to put it on top of your dresser and forget about it.
However, most smartphones have the ability to remind you about things when you arrive at certain locations. iPhones have the Reminders app, and you can ask it to remind you at stores you frequent that you have gift cards to use. As long as you keep the cards with you when you're out, you'll never forget them again.
Keep the Tree Base Covered
Having a Christmas tree is usually step one of the holiday decorations, but there's something to remember – sometimes the tree's base doesn't look all that attractive. There are skirts and some other classic options, but here's a new one: get a cardboard box big enough to fit the base and wrap it just like a present, create a hole for the neck of the tree, and tape it back up once the base is inside.
It might confuse some of the kids in the family, but everyone else will appreciate the effort that you went through to make everything look perfect.
Kid Gift Checklist
Kids love getting gifts, and when they know that there are gifts on the way, they might not be able to stop themselves. A few days into December they'll probably have a long list of items they want.
The best way to deal with this is to make a kid gift checklist with a couple of categories. Some options include something they want from their list, something to wear, something you know they'll need, something to read, something for outdoor play, or something artsy. There are plenty of categories to come up with – but every family is going to be a little different.
Hanging Wreaths Doesn't Have to be Difficult
Around Christmas time, there are decorations to fill the yard, but when it comes to entering the home, the wreath is the first piece. From real greenery that is here today but gone tomorrow, to plastic options you can use year after year, they're classic.
If you don't have a hook on your door, however, they can be a hassle. Don't get a drill. Instead, get a sticky hook and put it upside-down, then tie the wreath to a ribbon, hanging it over the top to face the world. It's the kind of thing that will come in handy all year long.
Putting the tree up is a big part of decorating, but the real fun comes from the ornaments. Everyone loves to hang them, so why keep them to the tree? Bring some holiday spirit over the dining room table or the entryway by using a small garland or a piece of ribbon as a place to hang your left-over ornaments.
As long as you don't make the chandelier too heavy, there's no reason not to spread the decorating cheer everywhere you can. With a little bit of thought and some careful planning, you can create spots all around the home that are festive and cheerful.
Keep Christmas Cards Front and Center
Sending out Christmas cards might be hard work, but we all love receiving them in the mail. There are lots of fun ways to show off the cards you get, but this option really lets them shine.
Hang pieces of bright, colorful ribbon from the top of your walls, around cabinet doors, or anywhere else is great. They'll be sure to catch everyone's eyes when they arrive for your party. Choose a mixture of colors to match your decorating style, or go with classic colors like gold or silver.
Candy Cane Card Holders
Once the last month of the calendar appears, it's hard to miss candy canes appearing everywhere. They're treats for the kids, coffee stirring sticks for adults, and much more. Now you can even use them as cardholders for your next holiday gathering.
All you have to do is take three of them, tie their bottoms together, and then turn them over. They'll stay upright on their rounded edges, and you can easily fit cards into the spaces between the canes. Once the party has kicked off and people know where they're sitting, they can then enjoy candy canes the traditional way to make cleanup a little easier.
Make Your Own Menorah
Go for a new take on this classic and traditional holiday piece. Grab some paint, popsicle sticks, and some gold paper to create Hanukkah decorations. Get your kids to help paint and decorate the whole thing and cut golden flames from golden paper.
It's a fun piece of holiday décor that you can use to decorate places that might need a little bit of color. You can make a couple to give kids lots of artistic expression time. Make nine of them, with the middle one being the tallest, and set them up for something special.
Keep Your Tree Stable
If you have a Christmas centerpiece that tends to keep tipping over, grab a couple of free weights and use them to stabilize the tree. This is a great tip for families that have energetic pets and rambunctious kids.
All it takes is a pair of ten or fifteen-pound weights that you need to keep the tree upright and ready for anything. You don't want to have to redecorate over and over, so make sure that the tree doesn't get destroyed. You might have to find something else to use during your workouts, but at least your tree will stay up.
Create Santa's Footprints
The question on a lot of kids' minds on Christmas morning is pretty frequently “Was Santa Claus here?” Give them something to marvel at by creating a set of footprints on your carpet or floor by using glitter, baking soda, and a pair of boots.
Create the mixture in a tray large enough to fit the boots, then spray the bottom of the boots with water, just a little bit. Press the boots into the mixture and create a footprint. Repeat until you've made a path from the fireplace to the tree and back or however you want to do it.
Salt Dough Makes for Easy Decoration
If you need something to decorate the place but you don't want to spend a lot of money on new decorations come Christmas time, try this instead. Create some salt dough out of flour, salt, and water to create a malleable paste that will harden into any shape you give it.
It might not be the tastiest creation that comes out of the kitchen, but kids can shape them into homemade tree ornaments or other items that will look great around the house. Stick them in the oven at 150 degrees, turning frequently, until they're dried out. After that, it's time to paint, and then for hanging them up.
Rustic Burlap Bows
If there's one thing you're going to learn from this list, it's that holiday decorations don't have to be expensive. Bows are a traditional part of Christmas décor, but you don't have to use fancy ribbons. Pick up some burlap, canvas, or jute strips and bunch them together, then use a pin or something similar to keep them in place.
Whether you're a fan of the shabby chic style that has been sweeping the nation for the last few years, or you want to recreate a prairie Christmas, you should be able to whip up plenty of these bows in no time.
Easily Water Your Natural Tree
You don't have to keep your tree alive for a super long time, but you do still need to keep it looking good for a little while. You'll have to water it regularly, but the sharp needles, the lights, and the ornaments all can make it difficult, or even dangerous.
The best way to do this is to take a long funnel and stick it through the boughs of the tree with a piece of tubing at the end to lead through to the dirt that is at the bottom. All you have to do then is pour water into the funnel to keep that tree fresh.
Never Run Out of Baking Powder
Baking up some treats is one of the best parts of the holiday season, but stores can quickly run out of the essentials. If your box of baking powder is empty and you don't have time to hunt around for more, you can instead substitute one teaspoon of baking powder for a fourth of a teaspoon of baking soda and half a teaspoon of cream of tartar.
It changes the proportions a tiny bit, so if you're interested in getting the perfect bake, using baking powder is still better, but in a pinch, this will work just fine. It's time to make that kitchen smell wonderful.
Make Decorating Cleaner Using Condiment Bottles
Decorating cookies and cakes small and large is an important part of the process, but it can be messy. Even if the kids aren't doing it. To make everything simple, grab a couple of condiment bottles like cafes use for ketchup or mustard and pour the icing inside them instead of using the traditional icing bags.
Trust us, it makes it so much easier. There will probably still be some mess – it is icing, after all – but there will be much less. The condiment bottles can safely be put through the dishwasher, and kids can decorate their own cupcakes. How fun is that?
Sharpen Knives the Easy Way
If you need to carve a roast turkey – or cut up anything else – it might be distressing to find dull knives. How will you get stunning plates of food if the food is all shredded?
There are a couple of ways to make knives a little sharper, such as using aluminum foil, but another way is to take a ceramic mug and flip it over. Hone the blade by scraping it against the rough edge of the mug. It's not perfect, and you'll need to be careful, but it's the perfect thing for a pinch as the family is sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner.
Use Hot Glue to Ensure Lights Stay Put
If the strands of lights you have for the exterior of your home refuse to stay hung up, one quick fix is to use some hot glue.
As long as you're careful with where you put the glue – avoiding windows, electronics, or getting the glue on the bulbs themselves – it should be easy to stick the lights to the small dots of glue that will hold them in place. As long as you use gloves to protect yourself from the burning glue, there should be no issues. Decorating takes a lot of time, so why not make it easier?
Decorate the Wrapping in a Snap
These days, a lot of us have jumped online to find the perfect gifts, and we often opt to pay just a few dollars more to get them expertly wrapped. If you're in a time crunch, getting your gifts looking their best can be a big ask.
Here's a way to decorate without needing a whole lot of extra stuff: Wrap it normally, then use a small blade to carefully cut out a shape like a Christmas tree. You only need to cut half of it, because then you can bend it back to make the full tree – or whatever shape you're looking for.
Give Garlands a Boost
Garlands are a nice addition to the décor, but natural ones shed their needles quickly and artificial ones can look a little thin. If you aren't impressed with your wimpy garland, here's something that you can try.
All it takes is a little bit of floral wire, string, or even floss to attach more items to the garland. You can use tree clippings, pieces of other garlands, or even some wild stuff like popcorn, cherries, and more. Just attach it to your garland base and watch it become an unmissable piece of decoration. Customize it to your design choices.
Be a Holiday Travel Hero
Millions of people get into cars, trains, or jets to travel across the country or even international lines. Packed airports can be annoying and aggravating for a lot of people. They have to wait around for hours, and that means drained batteries.
If you want to immediately make new friends and be a helpful person this holiday season, bring a power strip and set up camp next to an outlet. You're bound to meet some friendly faces who are happy for a chance to juice up their devices, whether it's to get in touch with family members about travel info or just to keep kids entertained for a while.
Make Your Tree Sparkle Even More
More lights on a tree are always better. But there are limitations to how many strands of lights you can have hanging in the boughs. Instead of trying to figure out where to plug in that last line of broken bulbs, create reflective elements by gluing hanging wires to small mirrors that will reflect light in every direction.
Experiment with different mirror sizes and shapes to find a set that works best for your tree – each one will need something different. It's pretty simple to do and it can make a dull tree look much brighter. Make your tree unmissable this holiday season.
Keep the Kids Happy Opening Presents
If you have kids (or were one yourself) you're probably familiar with something called clamshell packaging. It's that tough plastic shell that goes around toys or other items, and if you're young and just want to play with your new Christmas truck, it can be pretty frustrating.
When you're wrapping the presents, go the extra mile and take the toys out of the packaging to make sure Christmas morning goes smoothly. As another option, you can make a small opening, for those kids that want to know the toy is new and hasn't been opened, but still don't want to struggle.
Never Run Out of Wrapping Paper
Depending on how many people you have to buy gifts for, you might find yourself running low on wrapping paper before you know it. If you're in a big time-crunch or don't want to go to the store just to find that they too are out of paper, there are a few options you might have lying around.
If there's a seamstress in residence, there could be big enough fabric scraps to help out. You can use the old classic newspaper pages to give people something to read after everything's unwrapped. You could even use an old ugly Christmas sweater for the most hilarious wrapping job they've ever seen!
Play Board Games Together
Board games have become more popular in recent years, with lots of us now having favorites. Most board games have players competing against each other, but there are plenty made to have everyone battling the game itself, such as Castle Panic or Forbidden Island.
There's no denying that stress levels can be high during the holidays, so why make them even higher? Instead of competition, get into the holiday spirit with a shared goal. There are games that are simple and fun to play with kids, and plenty more intricate for when it's just parents left.
Create Your Own Little Tree
Christmas trees are a big part of the decorations for the holiday season. Even those who might not actually celebrate Christmas tend to enjoy the greenery that has been set to sparkle. One tree is good, but two is better, and now you can even make your own small versions.
With something like a vase in the center as the core, break off pieces of the big tree or collect old plastic branches to glue or attach to the core. With a little bit of time and work, you can have a small bit of Christmas spirit that is easy to transport to your desk at work or stick somewhere small in the home.
Banish Stomach Aches
The holidays are a prime time for pounding the goodies like cookies, cake, pie, and candy. All that sugar and extra food might make you feel a little sick, but there's a quick way to alleviate the pain. Get in the shower for fifteen to twenty minutes. This works best with hot water.
Why does this happen? The heat and moisture relax your body, including the lining of your stomach. You can also use a hot bath or a sauna to gain the same effect. This doesn't mean you should just go right back to eating, but it can reduce the discomfort.
The Double Fridge
If you're big into entertaining and throwing parties, then you know that the food material and completed dishes can take up a lot of space you need for your own food. If you have the space in your home, try to set up a second fridge, a small ice chest, or even just a cooler to give yourself more space inside your first refrigerator.
Use it to stow random items before or between parties, and once the guests are there, you can designate it party central and put everything the guests might want inside it. Trust us, you'll be happy with the extra real estate.
Keep the Party Moving
If you have a dinner party schedule, it's important to know that only part of the fun will be the dinner. Guests will be talking in the foyer, the living room, and the kitchen. You don't want them to be around dirty dishes the entire time, so encourage them to move away from the table.
You might feel tempted to start cleaning, but that could hurt the party's mood. Taking the party somewhere else is a good middle ground, and don't worry, those dishes will still be there when the guests have gone home. They'll always be there.
Create Wonderful Drink Treats Using Warmed Honey
The drinks of the holidays include egg nog, hot cocoa, warmed rum...the list goes on. If you're trying to step it up, warm up some honey and coat the rim of mugs.
After that, you can leave powdered sugar, chocolate dust, peppermint shavings, and other options that will draw the eye and bring a smile to anyone who takes a sip. There are lots of options, and the honey will quickly cool to keep the extras in place.
Don't Let Used Wrapping Paper Go to Waste
We all tend to get carried away buying wrapping paper when the season of gifts is upon us. You probably have half-empty rolls stuck in the back of a closet somewhere until they go out of style and you toss them in the trash.
Don't be wasteful – instead, create some amazing holiday decorations that are classy enough for any party. Take pieces of the paper, wrap them into tall cones, and cover them with sparkly paint to make frosted trees. There are lots of different ways to personalize these decorations, so try a few different versions until you find some that are uniquely you.
Make Glue Snowflakes
Snowflakes! They're a herald of good cheer. (Unless you live in the southern hemisphere.) But even if you live there, you can still take part in this fun little craft. All you need is some paper and glue, and you can create snowflake designs to your heart's content.
Adults can do them to go back to the good old days of messy fun, and kids will love being able to join in and make unique snowflakes at the same time. Once the glue has dried, just peel them off the paper and put them anywhere that needs a little bit of winter.
The Best Way to Clean up Broken Glass
This tip might become helpful during the holidays – those parties can get pretty wild – but you might like to know it throughout the year. If someone, kid or adult, breaks a glass, don't reach for the broom or the vacuum cleaner. Instead, grab a slice of bread from the cupboard and press it over the glass.
As long as the bread is relatively moist, the small pieces of glass will stick to the piece of bread. You'll still have to hunt around to make sure you've got all of them (and there's still nothing wrong with giving it a pass using the vacuum) but this is a quick way to make it safe.
Make Sure You Have a Lot of Butter
Seriously, stock up far beforehand. As long as it's refrigerated, butter doesn't go bad very quickly, and if you've done any baking at all you know that a lot of recipes use it, and use a lot of it.
If you're in the middle of a crazy big bake, you don't want to have to run to the crowded store to pick some up – there might not even be any left if you're unlucky. Grab a couple of packages before the holiday season starts in earnest. You might end up needing it, and even if you don't, you won't have to buy some for a while.
Safely Store Ornaments Between Holidays
Once it’s after New Years', and it's time to take the tree down, make sure that the ornaments are safe between seasons. For bigger ornaments, use plastic cups to keep them protected from jostling or from knocking into each other.
Smaller ornaments will find their perfect place in empty egg cartons – why not use something that is already designed to protect fragile cargo? They're easy to stack and don't take up too much space inside larger boxes with all your decorations. Even better, they will not only stay safe but they'll still be organized the next time it's time to put everything up.
Keep Party Food Warm Using a Griddle
Getting all of your food to have the perfect temperature right at the time of serving is a skill that only the most experienced party planners can pull off. To make serving everything piping hot a little easier, keep casserole dishes on an electric griddle with a piece of tinfoil covering them.
Anything kept inside the dishes (casseroles, scrambled eggs, meat, candy canes) will be nice and warm until you're ready to serve. A thermos can keep gravy hot, and slow cookers are great for fitting in two sides. Employing these tricks means everything will be at its best at mealtime.
Double Up on Light Sizes
For most people, the Christmas tree is the centerpiece of the big day in December. Sure, there might be nice smells coming from the kitchen, presents covering the floor under it, and family chatting away, but there are few things that beat a decorated tree on Christmas morning.
If you're looking for a new way to do things, get two strings of fairy lights of differing sizes. This allows you to highlight everything you want and leave some areas with a little less illumination. With a little bit of planning and imagination, it's possible to create a beautifully lit tree with just a few strands of twinkle lights.
Soup in Smaller Pumpkins
A lot of these holiday tips are going to be about December and Christmas, but that doesn't mean all of them. This is the kind of tip that works just as well for November or even October.
Take a small pumpkin, slice off the top, scoop out the insides, and fill it up with something that won't mind a pumpkin flavor. With enough of them, you could give everyone a fun soup bowl. If there aren't enough for that, use them to hold dip, ice, or anything else. Even better – you won't need to wash them. Just dispose of them as normal.
A Unique Cookie Pattern
Maybe you have fond memories of helping to bake treats in the kitchen, or maybe you've just started doing it. One way or the other, it's hard to have the holidays without cookies. Bakers are always looking for a way to make their options unique – but sometimes all you have to do is grab a vase.
Using the base of a vase to stamp your cookies gives them an interesting flair that people won't have seen before. Take a look around your home – you might have something to use without even knowing it. Just make sure to clean whatever you use first, especially if they've been sitting out.
Sweeten up the Champagne
A little bit of bubbly when the time is right is unforgettable. If you're looking for a way to make this traditional drink even more special, first fill the champagne flutes at your party with a healthy dose of cotton candy before adding the drink. It will not only change the champagne's color to an eye-catching pinkish hue, but it will make the sips sweeter, too.
For the kids who think this looks like a great option, simply use a lemon-lime soda like 7-Up to give them something to safely imitate the adults. Everybody will be talking about how good the mixture tastes, and how good it looks.
Fill up Jars
One piece of decoration that has become more common in the last few years is jars filled with baubles. Pieces of candy, rocks, or even ornaments themselves. Sometimes, however, those fillers can be a bit pricey. If you need a way to save a little, stick an empty toilet paper roll into the center, then fill the jar or bottle the rest of the way up.
As long as you cover it completely, no one will be the wiser, and you'll have saved yourself a little bit of scratch. Use this tip whenever you're trying to fill a decorative jar – the toilet paper tube can even be a nifty hiding place!
Use Slow Cookers to Make Meals Easier
If you have a slow cooker in your home, make sure you use it during the holidays. For most of the recipes, all you have to do is cut the food up and throw it in with some water and spices. They almost always turn out delicious, and you can get plenty more done while they're cooking.
You can make soups or stews, hot cocoa or mulled apple cider, and lots more. Make cleanup just as easy by lining the interior of the slow cooker with plastic wrap, so all you have to do is take the plastic wrap out and throw it away.
Make Natural Trees Look Smoother
Proponents of both kinds of Christmas trees – natural or artificial – both have their good points. But you have to admit getting a natural tree is always a bit of a gamble. They're never perfect, and if you're unlucky, you could lose the tree before the big day is even here.
One way to make them look a little better, at least, is to wrap the trunk of the tree with green tinsel. This helps give the tree a smoother, less erratic look, and can hide color problems with the trunk as well. It's a tip you might not need, but one to remember just in case.
To the Party!
You want to make sure all of your party guests arrive at your house, right? Right. So, when you're sending them directions, be it via the post office, email, or social media, include a picture of your house if they've never visited.
It's best if the picture is recent and even better if it's set in the same season, such as having snow on the ground. If it's dark out – and it gets dark out early during the holidays for most people – building numbers can be tough to see. A picture makes it easy for guests to know which house or building they're supposed to arrive at.
Create Whipped Cream Shapes
A healthy dose of whipped cream on top of a mug of hot beverage is a treat like no other. Or is it? Use cookie cutters or other molds to keep the whipped cream in a shape as it freezes, so you can bring them out and surprise guests.
Stars, Christmas trees, angels, and lots more are perfect choices. The best way to do this is to create a large pan of whipped cream, then cut them into the desired shapes. Even better, you can take the chance to fold in chocolate chips, peppermint pieces, or other bits that you think would make the whipped cream even better.
Tomato Cage Christmas Trees
If you have a big yard or you really want to make a special holiday tableau, things can get expensive. One way to make things a little cheaper is to make your own decorations. A tomato cage Christmas tree is a fun family project that only costs about fifteen dollars each.
Bend a circular tomato cage into a tree shape and wrap lights around the wires. Choose some classy white lights for the best addition to any outdoor décor. They're inexpensive, fun, and easy to use year after year. Customize them to look just the way you want, plug them in, and enjoy the look.
If you have an old icebox, you might be wondering if it cut out at any time when you were traveling. Here's a quick trick to make sure your frozen food is still safe to eat.
Fill up a mug with water and place it in the freezer before you go. Once it's frozen, put a coin on top of the ice. If you return home and the coin is inside the ice, you'll know that the freezer stopped working long enough for it to melt, and you should consider throwing away some of your perishable foods. Dairy and meats are the ones to look at the most.