Top Tips for Everything you Need This Christmas

by - Friday, December 20, 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year... But even the most organised among us need a little extra help from time to time.

To make your festive frivolities run a little more smoothly, here is a selection of clever Christmas tips to get you through the season, from last-minute gift-wrap ideas to fun ways to keep the kids entertained on Christmas eve.

I hope you all enjoy these tips, and wish you all a verry merry start to the holidays!

Gifts, Cards and Wrapping

Use inexpensive brown paper, jute string or ribbon and festive embellishments for wrapping gifts. The results are stunning and it costs far less than store-bought paper!

Photo credit: Lorna Watt, via Flickr.

Pretty Christmas tree decorations make great gifts for teachers: each year they will remember your child when they hang the decoration on their tree.

Photo credit: Brian Fagan, via Flickr
Removing cable ties and other hindrances, plus adding batteries if required, saves time and reduces stress. It also means children can play with their new toys right away.

Photo credit: meddygarnet, via Flickr

Wrap and label gifts as you buy them to save time (and stress!) closer to the big day.

Photo credit: pedhapti, via Flickr

Buy a few extra gifts to wrap and keep under the tree, such as soaps, chocolates and sweets. Then if you are faced with unexpected guests, you will have an instant gift, ready-wrapped, to offer.

Image by Soapylovedeb, via Flickr

The average family needs 6 rolls of wrapping paper to get the job done. Still not sure? Err on the side of caution: it's better to have too much (which you can always save for next year's wrapping) rather than dashing to the nearest petrol station on Christmas eve in the hopes there is still a tatty roll available.

Photo credit: torbakhopper, via Flickr

Wrap gifts for babies and young children in tissue paper - they will be able to tear open their gifts more easily (and will probably enjoy the sensory experience too!).

Photo credit: stevendepolo, via Flickr

Recycle last year's Christmas cards to make inexpensive, decorative gift tags.

Image credit: amy.gizienski, via Flickr

Or cut festive shapes from paint swatch cards as a simple, stylish alternative.

Via Fair Share

Christmas decoration

Don't know how much garland you'll need to decorate your tree? A good rule of thumb is 3 feet of garland per foot of tree height. So if your tree is 6ft tall, you'll need 18 feet of garland. Simple!

Photo credit: Nicola since 1972, via Flickr

Souvenirs from vacations and other happy events make wonderful Christmas tree decorations. You'll remember those happy times each year when you decorate your home for the holidays.

Photo credit: JasonCorey, via Flickr

Use wooden trellis to display your Christmas cards and other trinkets for a fabulous display.

Photo credit: Creative Breathing

Personalise Christmas crackers for your guests by opening one end and adding a small trinket, such as vintage ornaments from thrift stores or inexpensive gifts. 

Photo credit: net_efekt, via Flickr

Here's a pretty (and thrifty) decoration idea for your mantelpiece or Christmas table. Place a few coordinating baubles inside an upturned wine glass and top with a candle for instant glamour!

Via Savvy Housekeeping

Need extra Christmas stockings this year? Make your own stylish Christmas stockings by upcycling old jumpers! While the jumper is intact, turn it inside out and draw around a stocking or paper template, using the jumper hem for the top of the stocking. Stitch around your outline, then cut out your stocking. Turn right-side out and it's ready to hang for Christmas eve!

Via Imperfect Homemaking

Make elegant Christmas decorations from your old paperback books! It's easier than you think following this tutorial from Kayla Aimee.

Food and catering

Buy Brussels sprouts on a stalk from a farmers market or greengrocer - they will keep for up to two weeks (far longer than cut sprouts) and can be stored in your shed or conservatory to save valuable space in your fridge.

Photo credit: H. Michael Arrighi, via Flickr

Save yourself time and energy on Christmas Eve by cooking a stew in your slow-cooker. This will free you up to run errands or visit loved ones, and your meal will be ready to eat once you get home.

Photo credit: LizMarie_AK, via Flickr

Christmas morning can be chaotic, so prepare a simple breakfast the night before. Fruit and pastries are excellent choices, and help avoid the temptation to fill up on gifted candy.

Photo credit: Joe Osterloh, via Flickr
Put coloured icing in condiment bottles for icing cookies - so much less mess than piping with a bag!

Via Patricia Nice Recipe Blog

Build a Gingerbread House using Graham Crackers for a fast and easy treat.
Via Kelley Moore Bag

If you've overcooked your turkey, it can be rescued by soaking in a pan of warm chicken stock. Use a skewer or narrow blade to pierce the flesh, and place it breast down in a pan of warm chicken stock before the turkey cools. After a few minutes, remove and cover with aluminium foil and leave to rest so the juices can be absorbed by the meat. The turkey won't be perfect, but will still taste delicious and can be carved at the table.

Photo credit: stepnout, via Flickr

Organisation and clearing up

Wrap a large cardboard box in which to place all discarded gift wrap on Christmas morning. It looks far better than trash bags in photos, and the whole thing can be sent to the recycling centre after the holidays.

Via Chica and Joe

Store your Christmas wreath in a dry-cleaning garment bag to stop it getting squashed or dusty.

Via Good Housekeeping.

Use a lint-roller to pick up glitter.

Via Real Simple

A genius idea found on Pinterest.

Re-purpose an old hamper as a gift-wrap station.

Via Home Made Simple

Wrap Christmas tree lights around a sheet or cardboard to prevent them getting tangled up. These can be stored as layers in crates.

Via Martha Stewart

Store wrapping paper in garment bags and hang to minimise storage space.

Via Practically Martha

Everything else

Sending greetings cards is a great way to get to know your neighbours if you've recently moved house. Jut sign your names and write the first line of your address inside. Write "Merry Christmas" on the front if you don't know your neighbour's names. If you receive cards in return, you will know your neighbours' names and they will know yours!

Photo by a.has, via Flickr

On Christmas morning, have a pencil and envelope handy. Swipe up gift tags as children unwrap their gifts (making a note on the tag of what it is from) to make and keep in the envelope. This makes writing thank you cards much easier later on as during the chaos of unwrapping gifts it's easy for children to forget who gifts were from.

Photo by Jonathan_W, via Flickr

Keep prying eyes away from your gifts by storing in a locked suitcase until they are ready to be wrapped.

Photo by The Vintage Nest Blog, via Pinterest

Create a free personalised letter from Santa to print for your little loved ones as a Christmas Eve treat...

...Or keep them occupied while you tend to last-minute preparations by tracking Santa's progress around the world with Norad Tracker.

What are your favourite tips for Christmas?

These are just some of my favourite holiday tips and tricks. I'm sure you must have many ideas of your own! Please feel free to share by leaving your comments below - I'd love to include reader tips in a future post!

Photo credit (post banner): Kevin Dooley, via Flickr

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