The holiday season should be joyful, a time when we make beautiful memories with family and friends. But all too often, the holidays are characterized by panic and stress: Did you remember everyone on your shopping list? Did you buy all the ingredients you’ll need for the big holiday dinner?
Sound familiar? If so, take a deep breath and read on. These holiday hacks will help alleviate some of these stresses, making your holiday one to remember.
Ah, the Christmas tree! It’s beautiful when it’s up and decorated, but it’s the getting it up and decorated part that’s, well, not so beautiful. How many strands of lights should you buy? How many ornaments will you need? And oops! That strand of garland isn’t going to wrap around the whole tree!
If you find yourself in tree-induced panic mode, take a look at this useful chart, which tells you exactly what you’ll need based on the height of your tree. Once you’ve got your lights and baubles at the ready and you’ve finished decorating, don’t forget to water the tree. Avoid spills (and electrocution!) with this neat trick.
Live in a tiny home or just want to forgo a live tree altogether? Check out these beautiful DIY alternatives.
When they’re plugged in and all aglow, it’s easy to feel warm and fuzzy about Christmas lights. That’s not the case, though, when you’re untangling strands or testing bulbs to see which ones work and which ones have burned out.
If you have a string of lights that’s gone dead or is too tangled to save, give them new life by turning them into a science project. (Just make sure an adult’s around for safety’s sake!). If your lights are perfectly fine but you’re bored with the same old look, gather the family around for a project that will result in a totally new light show.
We know, we know: Your decorations are a cluttered mess, shoved into a plastic bin and put into the garage of storage for 11 months out of the year. When you pull them out and get ready to decorate, that mess can put a serious damper on the holiday spirit. Take time this season to develop a system that will improve your organization. The good news is, while you may have to invest some time in this project, you won’t have to invest much — if any!— money in it; you’ve got plenty of tools at your disposal to start containing the chaos.
Speaking of expenses, Christmas and other winter holidays can get awfully spendy, awfully fast. Control costs by using what’s on hand. Natural outdoor greenery and other found objects can make great Christmas swag, and you’ll have fun bonding with the family while you create together. Other ideas include no-sew stockings, salt dough ornaments, decorations made from avocado pits, and tree twig crafts, which can double as great gifts for teachers!
If you couldn’t resist that sale on candy and you find yourself with a surplus of, say, peppermints, impress friends and family with this incredible homemade peppermint serving platter (it’s a fun project for kids, too!). Find yourself with too many candy canes? Turn them into placeholders for your upcoming dinner!
Your kids won’t let you get through the holidays without turning out your annual cookie quota, but don’t make the tradition hard on yourself. Destress cookie-making with this recipe for four unique cookie flavors from one base dough.
If you’ve ever found yourself entertaining unexpected visitors who pop by to say hi during the holiday season, you know how stressful it can be to be hospitable when your fridge is empty. Keep some Avocados from Mexico always at the ready and you can offer any number of quick and gracious dishes for guests, from freshly-made guacamole to stuffed avocados. Check out some of our favorite recipes here.
Finally, if you need a last minute gift, these hot cocoa mix kits are fun, easy, affordable, and really hit the sweet spot.
It’s time to wrap! If you’re one of those folks who needs four more arms to keep all the rolls of wrapping paper from bursting out of the closet, it’s time for a different approach. These simple organizational hacks that use empty beer cartons or clean trashcans will make your life so much easier!
Don’t buy more supplies! Rather than purchase gift bags, put your crafty skills to the test by making them from the wrapping paper you already have.
Instead of buying gift bags, use this simple design for making your own using scrap fabric.
Out of wrapping paper at the last minute? Don’t worry, you have lots of options!
At the end of a long day, use a few items from around the house to make everything smell great, or take what little free time you might have during busy holidays to relax in the bath or shower with these soothing DIY vapors.
Finally, take a deep breath and remember why you celebrate the holidays. Centering the family around a table for an evening meal, sharing reasons why you’re grateful for each other and your lives, can be the most effective stress reliever of all.