Readers Share Creative Holiday Tips and Tricks

I am enjoying the unique holiday tips and tricks readers are sending my way, to be shared with you. Over and again I find myself saying, “Wow! Why didn’t I think that?”

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Just this week, I was boiling mad at myself when I opened boxes marked “Christmas” to find supplies of cards, tags and gift wrap purchased on sale, then promptly forgotten. You can be sure this year I’m going to file all this stuff under “Halloween!” You’ll understand as you read on.

MAKE MEMORIES. Once Christmas is over for another year, I scrapbook all the photos and handmade cards we receive. It’s great to look back over the years at all of our friends and relatives as they grow. So much creativity goes into some of these cards. The scrapbook is with all of my other photo albums, so I don’t have to wait until the Christmas decorations come out of storage to see them. Vicky

CANNED BOWS. I use the large, Christmas popcorn tins (cleaned and dried) to store my Christmas bows. I use one for red, another for green and the other two for gold and mixed colors. I can stack them in storage and my bows stay new looking all year. I reuse these bows for several years. Gwen

TREE SKIRT. I purchased a round Christmas tablecloth at the local thrift store for 25 cents. I laundered it and have been using it for the past three years as a tree skirt. It is large enough that I just fold it in half and wrap it around the tree holder, meeting in the back. It is reusable, beautiful and easy to clean. Darlene

GIFT OF PHOTOGRAPHY. We have wanted family portraits for a long time now, so last summer we told our family members that we were going to make an appointment for a family photo session. The photographer took photos of individuals, small family groups and our large family. We told everyone we would pay for the session and we called it a Christmas gift, but that it was something that we wanted for ourselves. Everyone loved the idea. They were able to purchase any pictures they wanted from the studio. When Christmas rolled around, I still had the urge to give gifts so I simply bought everyone a picture frame. Melissa

FILED UNDER HALLOWEEN. Like many people, I buy my Christmas cards after the holidays when they are on sale. Instead of storing them with my Christmas decorations, I put them with my Halloween decorations. When I open the bin in mid-October, I have at least eight weeks to write a well-considered greeting to each recipient, and still get them mailed on time. Rosemary

GREEN BAG FILLER. It was Christmas Eve and I was frantic to finish wrapping gifts. I use a lot of gift bags, but had run out of tissue. Then I remembered all the Kohls and JCPenneys ads that had run in the newspapers. They were all the right colors: red, green and white. I ran them through my paper shredder and I had free filler for my gift bags. My recipients were very impressed with my “green” wrapping. Jo

ORNAMENT STORAGE. I have lots of small, breakable ornaments that I’ve collected over the years. They easily get lost in tissue and the commercial ornament boxes are too large and bulky. A friend gave me a great idea—egg cartons. I save my egg cartons and put the ornaments in each cup of the carton. They stack nicely in my Christmas storage boxes with my other decorations. Betty

FAMILY TREASURE. My sister-in-law is creating a cookbook for Christmas this year. She’s asked everyone in the family to submit five dessert recipes. Next year it will be a different category. She is compiling the cookbook this year and will only need to print out the new recipes each year in the future. Tracy

TREE HANDLER. We have an artificial Christmas tree, which requires bending out the branches after it is set up to make the tree look bushy. I keep a pair of inexpensive cotton garden gloves in the tree box so handling of the branches is more comfortable for my hands. I also use the gloves to squeeze the branches closed before putting it away. Margie

GIFT OF LAUGHTER. A few years ago, we decided to be creative with Christmas gifts for our two adult sons. We went through boxes of things they’d left behind, gathering some of their old childhood “treasures” like Animaniacs figures, an old neckerchief, metronome, a college mug and prom mementos. We wrap as Christmas presents. One of our sons conveniently left behind a birthday gift in August. He got it again for Christmas.

One year I found school papers from their very early years of school. I put them in three-ring binders and wrapped them up. The boys loved reading their work from second and third grade.

We’ve had more laughs and fun with these “free” gifts, than the gifts we purchase. Leslie

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3 replies
  1. Jule barta says:

    I have collected many decorations over the years and have over 10 totes. Several years ago I bought all red and green totes of inform size so that I can stack theme do easily find them in the rafters. When packing up my decorations, I put then in totes by room or area and label the totes. Such as one tote for the mantle, one for the bathrooms, etc. This way I can open one tote, decorate an area easily, instead of having decorations and half full boxes all over. This allows me to decorate a little each day without getting overwhelmed. I do my favorite areas first so if I don’t get to one, it is no big deal.

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  2. Lorrie Blackburn says:

    When I was a new bride, 35 years ago, our first Christmas found us just starting out and not owning any Christmas decorations. Not so much as a lightbulb . Our budget really did not include buying everything new all at once. Christmas was sparse to say the least. Ever since then, I buy a few extra ornaments after Christmas and put them away to use as wedding gifts . People tend to raise their eyebrows when they open them and see that they’re Christmas ornaments, but I’ve had many a bride tell me years down the road that they think of me every Christmas when they put their tree up.

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  3. Donna Pheneger says:

    Dear Mary – I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this but my hubby and I have come up with a gift that never fails. We call it the Christmas Cookie Club. Four times a year, I make enough cookies that everyone gets two dozen each. White Chocolate Chip with Macadamia nuts, regular chocolate chip, peanut butter with kisses, and one a baker’s choice. Plus, we usually have one or two special times they get cookies – this year it was Halloween spiders. What’s nice about this is the cost is low and it’s spread out through the year. Plus it never goes to waste – unless the baker (me) messes up!

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