These clever hacks will take the stress out of the anticipation, prep, and list-checking of the holidays

The holidays are just around the corner! Soon you’ll be breaking out those Christmas decorations, writing letters to Santa, crafting sweet Christmas cookies, and shopping ‘til you drop. To help you sleigh this season, we’ve gathered our favorite holiday hacks and tips for making unique decor, keeping your house clean, saving on gifts, and even creative ways to use twinkle lights.

Supply Melted Snowman Water

Even water can be festive during the holiday season. Instead of those boring water bottle labels, use printables to create these amazing add-ons that are guaranteed to make you the hit of the classroom holiday party.

Make Hot Chocolate in a Slow Cooker

Andrik Langfield via Unsplash

Winter is the ultimate season for breaking out the slow cooker. But, this amazing invention is also great for brewing scrumptious hot chocolate. Head over to How Sweet Eats for all details on making hot chocolate everyone will love. 

Make Gorgeous Cookie Boxes

how to gift wrap a box of cookies
Amanda Evanston via Aunt Peaches

Show off your fam’s holiday cookie recipe with these gorgeous cookie boxes. Give your friends and neighbors a yummy gift they’ll love. Find out how to create these beautiful boxes from our friend Aunt Peaches.

Create Your Own Festive Plates

christmas-chalk-tape2 via Krazy Coupon Lady
The Krazy Coupon Lady

Save money on expensive holiday table decor by crafting your own with a little help from The Krazy Coupon Lady. Grab a roll of chalkboard tape and a chalk pen to add holiday flare to any plate, platter or mug.

Use Gift Wrap to Dress Up Candles

Holiday Hack: use wrapping paper to dress up candles
Today's Creative Life

These DIY paper-wrapped candles make the perfect gift or centerpiece for any holiday party. Pick up some winter wonderland gift wrap and dollar store sanctuary candles, and head over to Today's Creative Life for all the details.

Pick Up Broken Glass

Holiday Hack: pick up a broken ornament by using a slice of bread.
Freestocks via Unsplash

Whether you’re throwing a holiday party or just decorating the tree, you need to be ready to deal with broken glass. Instead of sweeping or vacuuming, we recommend reaching for a slice of bread. Press the bread over the glass and watch as all those tiny shards disappear in seconds.

DIY Santa Cups

DIY Santa Cups
Homemade Parties

Make our drinks extra festive with these adorable Santa Cups from Monica at Homemade Parties. Consider using them for holiday gifts for teachers: one of these full of candy, bath salts or handmade cookies is cute and hassle-free!

Related: Behind Every Magical Holiday Moment Is an Exhausted Mom

Wrap Tinsel Around the Center of Your Tree

Nighthawk Shoots on Unsplash

Getting your Christmas tree is always fun, but since they’re natural, they aren’t always perfect. Now they can be. Take green tinsel and wrap it around the center of the tree to give it an extra fluffy look.

Keep Your Chocolate Melted

Monica Matheny via The Yummy Life

Creating the gooey goodness of melted chocolate is a must for decorating your favorite holiday treats. To keep the chocolate perfectly melty, make sure it stays in a water bath in your slow cooker. You can also use The Yummy Life technique to melt peanut butter chips, milk, and white chocolate to give your kiddos tons of decorating options.

Use a Vase as a Cookie Stamp

Ana Lu and Ana Di

Whether you’re giving cookies to friends and teachers, or just making yummy treats for the fam, it’s always fun to make them a little fancy. Using the base of a crystal vase, it’s super easy to stamp out a unique cookie dough design everyone will love.

Use a Goldfish Box or Juice Carton to Make a Gingerbread House

Randalyn Hill via Unsplash

Prevent a massive mess when your kiddos are constructing their awesome gingerbread houses by building the structure around a large goldfish container or juice container (either one cut in half). The box is a perfect size, and the sturdy cardboard is perfect for attaching graham crackers or even gingerbread from your favorite kit. See our other favorite gingerbread hacks here. 

Make Santa’s Footprints

a cute holiday hack: make Santa footprints
Little Hiccups

Make Santa’s visit even more magical by creating footprints that lead your kiddos right to the tree. Little Hiccups has all the info you need to make your good little boys and girls extra excited on Christmas morning.

Hang Ornaments from the Chandelier

Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

Wreaths are cool, but if you want to bring wreath vibes into your dining room, try handing ornaments from your chandelier or classic dining room light fixture! Using ribbon, tie your favorite Christmas ornaments to the fixture at different heights to create a cool piece of decor you can enjoy all season long.

Make Twinkling Trees for Your Lawn

17 Apart

Decorating your lawn for the holidays can be expensive and a little complicated. But not anymore! With these helpful tips from Mary & Tim of 17 Apart, you can create your very own trees to give your lawn a little extra twinkle.

Candy Canes as Card Holders

candy-cane-place-cards via Krazy Coupon Lady
The Krazy Coupon Lady

Turn those extra candy canes into cardholders with this awesome idea from The Krazy Coupon Lady. Tie a pair of them with a ribbon, and you’ve got a festive card holder! Bonus: They are also the perfect party favor or dessert!

Use Squeeze Bottles for Icing

using squeeze bottle for icing is a good holiday hack

Frosted sugar cookies are a holiday staple, but decorating them can be super messy. In order to keep the crazy contained, use clear condiment bottles to create intricate designs and keep everything clean(er).

Related: 14 Creative Gingerbread House Hacks You Need to Try

Use Photos Instead of Gift Tags

Our Suburban Farm

Instead of using those tiny gift tags, follow Our Suburban Farm’s lead and use your favorite photos from the past year. Print and paste the pics on each gift to add an artistic and unique touch.

Freeze Whipped Cream in Shapes

An Italian in My Kitchen

You can make any mug of hot chocolate extra festive with this brilliant holiday hack. Try freezing your whipped cream to make fun shapes with cookie cutters. Get the recipe and some helpful tips on An Italian in My Kitchen.

Make DIY Cookie Holders

holiday hack: make cookie baskets out paper plates
It's Always Autumn

If you’re looking for a cute and simple way to deliver your delicious holiday treats without breaking a single one, try this cool method from It’s Always Autumn. With a paper plate and a few adorable embellishments, you’ll have one sweet cookie holder.

Make Wine in Your Instant Pot

red wine in a glass
Irene Kredenets via Unsplash

If you’ve discovered the joy of cooking with an Instant Pot, then you’ll know this little beauty can do just about anything, including turning grape juice into wine. With a little help from David Murphy, all you need to do is grab some grape juice and leave the pot on its yogurt setting, and you’ll have your very own wine in a matter of hours!

Decorate Your Pumpkins for The Holidays

Jamie Scott

Do you still have Halloween pumpkins hanging around? Follow this cool tutorial from Nola Girl at Heart to create your very own snowman with painted pumpkins.

Festive Trash Bin for Gift Wrap

Chica and Jo

Unwrapping presents is one of the most magical and messy parts of the holiday season. Chica & Jo came up with a brilliant idea to wrap a large box with an open top in wrapping paper and use it as a trash bin on the big day. When it’s all over, it’s as simple as carrying it out the door.

The LightKeeper Pro

House decorated with Christmas lights
Juliana Malta via Unsplash

Twinkle lights make your house feel like a winter wonderland, but one faulty bulb means tossing out the whole string. That’s why one of our must-have gadgets for the season is The LightKeeper Pro. This handy little tool fixes broken bulbs in seconds and is guaranteed to save you some serious cash.

Bag Clip on Tape Edge

using a bag clip on your tape is a good holiday hack
Allison Sutcliffe

When you’re wrapping all those presents, losing the tape edge is every parent’s worst nightmare. But, we’ve got a holiday hack that will change your life. All you need to do is put a bag clip at the end of the roll to hold your place.

Related: 41 Life-Changing Baking Hacks to Save Your Holidays

Make a Sleigh with Halloween Candy

Ellyn’s Place

Don’t let your leftover Halloween candy go to waste! Use those yummy treats to create perfect gifts for teachers, neighbors and friends. Learn more about how to turn two candy canes and a KitKat into a totally adorable sleigh over at Ellyn’s Place.

Use Hot Glue on Your Gingerbread House

You can do anything with hot glue, including building an amazing gingerbread house. It might sound kinda wacky, but using hot glue will actually make your gingerbread house last way longer. Head over My Little Poppies for more details on how to create the ultimate gingerbread masterpiece.

Snow Dough

Adventures in Wunderland

Whether you’re bracing for the polar vortex or looking forward to a sunny holiday season, kiddos love playing with snow. Try creating your very own snow dough with this awesome recipe from Adventures in Wunderland. The best part, all you have to do is add water, and you’ve got instant dough!

Color Code the Wrapping Paper by Kid

using the same wrapping paper for each kid is a good holiday hack
Freestocks via Unsplash

Color coding your gifts is an easy way for your non-readers to pass out presents and figure out which gifts are theirs. Assign each family member a color or wrapping paper pattern and forget all of those pesky gift tags.

Store Ornaments in Cups

Nico Ismaili on Unsplash

Everyone wants to keep their ornaments organized, and it turns out all you need is a bin and a stack of plastic cups to make sure each ornament stays perfectly packed until next year. Head over to eHow for a fun video tutorial.

Wrap Your Tree Before You Toss It

wrapping your tree in a garbage bag is a genius holiday hack

The big day is over and you need to take your tree to the curb, but how do you make that happen without getting pine needles all over your house? We recommend wrapping garbage bags around both ends to minimize the mess. Simply remove and re-use the bags after (most city tree pickups require the trees to be unwrapped). You can also do the same thing with an old sheet unless your tree is extra long. 

—additional reporting by Taylor Clifton and Jennifer Massoni Pardini


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