It’s the most wonderful time of the year… and also it’s one of the most chaotic times of the year. It seems like once November starts the calendar quickly fills up, to-do lists grow exponentially, and oftentimes we’re left feeling stressed out and worn thin.
Endless tasks and days of events can leave us feeling like, is this really how it’s supposed to be? How can we enjoy the holidays and our loved ones and leave the stress out of the mix?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received about navigating the busy holiday season is if something is not bringing joy, remove it from your to-do list. (I realize this is usually easier said than done!)
Make it your mission to determine what it is you truly want to celebrate this season. In the meantime, we are happy to share these tips to help make the day to day a little more merry and bright.
14 Holiday Hacks That Will Give You More Time for the Important Stuff
1 – Reusable Cloth Gift Bags Save Hours of Wrapping – And They’re Cute
Reclaim the hours of wrapping for the 12 seconds of ripping and the garbage bags filled with wrapping paper by switching to reusable gift wrappings made from fabric. Either purchase reusable gift sacks or get creative by utilizing fabric and linens you probably already have.
Pillowcases are super easy to dress up with a bow. Old sheets can be cut down into smaller pieces, and old swaddling and receiving blankets also work great. The best part of course is that you can reuse these for years to come.
2 – Set up a Decoy Christmas Tree for Kids to Play With
If you have littles in the toddler and preschool range, consider having a small tree that you can redirect them to so they won’t pull apart your regular tree.
Whether it’s a smaller typical Christmas tree or even a construction paper tree taped up to the wall or fridge, your littles can safely get in the festive atmosphere.
3 – Use Free Weights to Stabilize your Tree and Avoid Tips
Put a handheld weight on your tree stand and tuck out of sight with a tree skirt or swath of fabric. This extra stabilizer is great for families with spunky pets or young kids.
4 – Stick Paper Snowflakes to a Window With a Spritz of Water
Want to dress up a window for a party or gathering? Use the old classic, paper snowflakes. You can easily stick them to windows (or any glass surface) by spritzing them with water. The best part is that clean-up is a cinch: as the water evaporates, the snowflakes will easily peel off and you won’t have tacky bits of scotch tape to contend with.
5 – Water the Tree Easily With a DIY Funnel and Tube
The best way to keep your evergreen green is by making sure it has plenty of water to drink. However, crawling under decorated pine boughs can be prickly and messy.
Instead, while you are setting up a tree run a bit of tubing or hosing down to the base and affix a funnel to it (you can either use an automotive funnel or construct one with supplies easily obtained from any hardware store). Tuck the funnel part out of sight but within arm’s reach and you will have easy access to adding more water as your tree needs it.
6 – Have Your Holiday Food Delivered Directly From Family Fare
Skip a trip to the grocery store by having Fast Lane deliver all your food directly to your car. Added bonus, they will also deliver their premade favorites from the deli and bakery sections thus saving you even more time in the kitchen.
7 – Egg Cartons and Cupcake Liners Make for Upcycled Ornament Storage
Egg cartons work perfectly for protecting smaller, delicate ornaments. If you have larger ones you can use cupcake liners to keep them from bumping into one another, and then layer with pieces of cardboard or cardstock.
8 – Make a Popcorn Garland
A classic holiday craft is stringing popcorn and cranberries into garlands that look great indoors or out. The easiest and cheapest thread to use is something waxed, like dental floss.
Stale popcorn is also easier to poke with a needle so make your popcorn a day or two ahead of time and let it sit out (this will also deter from eating all of it while you work!)
9 – Use Warmed Honey to Rim Mugs With Treats
Elevate your cocoa game by serving up hot chocolate in these fancy mugs. Just warm up a teaspoon or two of honey till it’s very smooth, dunk your rim in, and then dip again into crushed candy canes or peppermints. More of an apple cider crowd? Use a cinnamon sugar rim instead!
10 – Colorful Cupcake Liners Step up the Party Factor
Paper cups can be used to house snacks or even create layers with cupcake liners for combinations of treats (cupcakes liners also make for great lids too).
11 – Use Sharpies to Temporarily Mark Guest’s Mugs and Glasses
This works on glazed ceramics or glassware.Sharpie ink will wipe away easily at the end of the night with a small dab from a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol.
12 – Use a CD envelope to display a decorated sugar cookie.
You can even add festive ribbon or bows if you wish!
13 – Put Store Bought Treats in Your Own Serving Dishes
Presentation is King.
No time to cook or bake? Dress up something store bought and no one has to know you didn’t slave hours away in the kitchen.
Simply transferring baked goods, side dishes, or dips to your own servingware will do. You can also add garnishes and finishing touches like a sprinkle of spice or sugar to complete the look.
14 – Use a Griddle to Keep Party Food Warm
I have yet to master my cooking skills so that I can get all my dishes to finish at the same time (then again nor do I have the oven space!). So the next best thing is finding ways to keep those dishes warm until it’s time to put them on the table. Casseroles can be kept warm by setting them on an electric griddle and tenting them with tinfoil.
Crockpots are obvious, as you can either put large sides in like mashed potatoes, but you can also set one or two serving bowls inside a crockpot as well to keep them warm. A thermos is the perfect thing to keep gravy hot. If your dishwasher has a plate warmer setting, you can also make use of that as well to keep dishes from cooling.
Steph is an explorer of local adventures having honed her skills moving all across the country (thanks to her husband's military service) before settling down in the Grand Rapids area with her ragamuffin boy and giggly girl. When not checking out the latest going-on, she can be found gobbling up books and coffee, planning overly ambitious parties, or napping.