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Last-Minute Holiday Hacks

The perfect Christmas doesn’t have to be planned months in advance. It's never too late to create a special, memorable holiday.

Christmas displays have been set up in stores since Halloween, friends have been posting photos of their decorated homes for weeks, and you can’t turn on the television without seeing a holiday special. The pressure to create a Pinterest-worthy holiday is on, and time is short.

Your family’s holiday doesn’t have to generate hundreds of Likes on Facebook. Creating memories, establishing or continuing traditions, and just spending time together celebrating the season with the ones you love is enough. Here are just a few ways to decorate, celebrate, and enjoy the holidays without the stress. 

Keep Decor Simple

  • Forget about the lavishly decorated homes on TV. Use what you have to make your home feel festive. 
  • Swap out the photos you currently have on display with pictures of Christmases past and bring those memories back to life.
  • Hang inexpensive blackboards around the house and use chalk markers to write holiday greetings or the lyrics to a favorite Christmas carol.
  • Display Christmas cards by tacking them to a bulletin board covered with holiday fabric or clipping them to a ribbon to create a garland.
  • Make faux snow globes by pouring a few inches of sugar into the bottom of a canning jar. Set a few smalltoys like a tractor or plastic animals on top, screw on the lid, and add a ribbon.
  • Have the kids gather pinecones and spray-paint them gold or silver if you wish. Stack them in a pretty bowl or add string to make ornaments or garland.
  • String popcorn and cranberries to decorate outdoor trees and bushes. The birds will thank you!
  • Please the nose as well as the eyes. Add cranberries, orange slices, cinnamon sticks,vanilla beans, nutmeg, rosemary, and cloves to a slow cooker, cover with water, and simmer on low.

Stockpile Gifts

Nothing causes more holiday panic than when someone gives you a gift and you don’t have anything for that person. Prepare a few of these items ahead of time, and you’ll be ready to reciprocate or surprise guests with a gift. 

  • Purchase inexpensive holiday oven mitts and fill, stocking-style, with cooking utensils, holiday cookie sprinkles, and a matching dish towel.
  • Share your homemade canned and baked goods. Place a few items in a basket for an instant gift from the heart.
  • Keep a few extra bottles of wine or sparkling cider on hand. Attach a ribbon and your work is done.
  • Fill a pair of work gloves with a bottle of craft beer or barbecue sauce, beef jerky, and a bag of mixed nuts.
  • Turn Christmas mugs into gifts by filling them with single-serve coffee and hot chocolate packs and candy canes.
  • Use baskets or large jars to create kits or themed gifts, like a s’mores kit, family movie night basket, or spa collection.

The Gift of Time

  • No gift is more treasured than quality time spent with loved ones. Carve out some time and put it on the calendar.
  • Gather multiple generations or invite friends over to bake and decorate Christmas cookies. Package the treats and deliver them to neighbors, shut-ins, or your local police or fire station.
  • Have a movie night. Put on your pajamas, pop some popcorn, and snuggle up to watch your favorite Christmas films.
  • Take a drive to town to look at holiday lights. Pack travel mugs of hot chocolate and ask an older friend or relative who no longer drives to join you.
  • Create a family playlist. Have all family members add their favorite holiday songs and listen together while you open presents or drive to Grandma’s.

Give Back Together

Do some good this holiday season by giving back to the community as a family.

  • Visit local nursing homes and deliver cards to residents. Talk to administrators and see if there’s a resident with no family who would benefit from a visit or a special gift.
  • Be a secret Santa. If you know a family in need, deliver groceries and gifts to the porch, ring the bell, and run.
  • Donate gently used clothing, coats, and snow boots to a local charity or school. 
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