5 Things to Do with Leftover Wrapping Paper

It’s Christmas, so you know what that means! Plenty of togetherness, a bunch of good cheer and lots and lots and lots of leftover wrapping paper! Of course, you could save it all for next year, but if you’re looking for a project to sustain you through the new year, we recommend one of the pretty little crafts below. From custom envelopes to homemade confetti, scrap wrapping papers offers up a whole lot of DIY opportunity! Here are five of our favorites!

tiny envelopes
Via PoppyTalk

Handmade Envelopes

Is your New Year’s resolution to reconnect with old friends? There’s nothing more intimate than a handwritten letter to rekindle a neglected relationship! Give your correspondence that extra personalized flair using this handmade envelope tutorial. Just look at those darling little letters! They’re as artful as they are resourceful!

Christmas Confetti

The best thing about Christmas ending? We’re only a hop, skip and a jump away from New Year’s Eve. Which makes this DIY perfect for continuing the festivities! Sparkly, colorful shredded wrapping paper makes the perfect confetti for wringing in the new year. Of course, it will get everywhere, but that’s a problem for next year-you! You can also use it in place of packing peanuts in case you design to just move out instead of cleaning.

Christmas medallions
Via The Elli Blog

Next Year’s Ornaments

Christmas may be ending soon, but it’ll be back again before you know it! These pretty, delicate origami ornaments are super simple to make, once you know how. But they look like a million dollars. And you can look forward to hanging them all year long!

Last Minute Gift Wrap Bows

Have a few presents you still need to wrap? Don’t brave the stores for expensive handmade bows when you can make yourself and be home sipping hot cocoa the whole time! This tutorial teaches you how to craft professional-looking gift bows—all made from leftover wrapping paper. DIY? More like D-I-why-not?

paper book covers

Via Eighteen25

Custom Book Covers

Whether it’s next semester’s textbooks or that new collectible set of novels you just got for Christmas, paper book covers can do a lot to extend the life of your books. And when book covers meet leftover wrapping paper, [LINK TO: http://eighteen25.com/2014/08/wrapping-paper-book-covers/] the end result is useful and pretty! Now there’s one way to start the year off right!

The Ultimate Gift Guide for Home Improvement Addicts

There are HGTV fans, and then there are HGTV superfans. If you know someone with the devotion of self-proclaimed Fixer Upper fan Jenna Bush Hager, then you’re going to need something a little bit more unique than a few gift certificates to Home Depot! Luckily, there are plenty of presents here to choose from! From decorative planters to art subscription boxes, decor gifts are the ultimate in taste—and show that you’ve been paying attention to your friends’ aesthetics. Here are a few items that should be on every decor addict’s list.

stylish white living room

An Artisan Subscription Box

These days, there’s a subscription box for every interest, so why not have one for the home decor-obsessed? GlobeIn’s Artisan Box is a box for people who can’t get enough of handmade homegoods. Each themed box contains handmade goods from artisans and entrepreneurs around the world. From woven boxes to hand-thrown pottery, there’s enough here to keep any Anthropologie devotee busy for months upon months.

A Must-Have Picture-Hanging Tool

Art is a fast way to get a decor makeover. But hanging pictures all the time—at least, with any degree of precision—is annoying, to say the least. The hang-o-matic picture hanging tool can help with that. It has a ruler and a level, and includes a small anchor that you can use to mark your place. The only thing you have to provide is the pictures!

#Shiplap Tee Shirt

Anyone who’s watched a few episodes of Fixer Upper (or looked around on Pinterest for a hot minute) knows that decor addicts are in a love affair with shiplap. And even though everyone’s favorite couple-based DIY show has ended (tears!), their obsession with shiplap can live on and on with this emblazoned Shiplap shirt that will keep their aesthetic front and center—even when they’re away from home!

Living Wall Starter Set

The botanical trend isn’t likely to end anytime soon, which is exactly why we’re so in love with this hanging plant starter kit. Even black thumbs will enjoy hanging and planting with this modular vertical system. It comes complete with a drip tray to avoid any messes—which means their home can always looks like the pages of an interior design magazine.

Floating Nightstand

Speaking of things that hang on the wall, this floating bedside table is an absolute joy, especially in tiny spaces. Made from solid white oak and finished with Danish oil, this will definitely get your off your friend’s naughty list for life!

The “Peace on Earth” Guide to Holiday Decoration Safety

Nothing puts you in the holiday spirit faster than a yard full of twinkling lights. But decorations come with their risks too! String lights can become a fire hazard if they’re not properly hung. And meanwhile, rooftop decorations pose some dangers of their own, especially if you’re not being safe when you put them up. Here’s how to avoid the threats when you put up the seasonal decor for a worry-free holiday!

hanging ornaments

 

  • Buy a fire-resistant artificial tree. Sorry, Christmas tree purists. The real thing just can’t match the fire protection of a verified fire-resistant artificial tree. Look for a label that indicates the tree is fire-retardant.
  • If you must go for a real tree, look for a fresh one. The fresher the tree, the lower your chances of your living room catching on fire. For maximum safety, purchase a live tree from a Christmas tree farm. Otherwise, look for pre-cut trees with bouncy, springy needles that stay on the branches when shaken.
  • Water real trees often. To keep your tree from drying out over the holiday, make sure to water it frequently. It will also keep it looking pretty and fresh too!
  • Display trees in a safe location. Christmas tree fires caused an estimated $14.8 million in property damage between 2011 and 2015. The lesson here is to put your tree up in the safest way possible. That means keeping it away from radiators, heating vents and fireplaces.

cat mesmerized by lights

  • Protect pets from holiday decor. Cats and Christmas trees are sort of like oil and water. That is, if one desperately wanted to attack the other. Keep kitties and all species of pets safe by anchoring your tree to the wall. And leave tinsel off the tree this year. Cats love to chew on it.
  • Check lights for safety. Before you hang any lights anywhere, check for fraying wires, cracked sockets and any other damage. Discard broken lights in favor of new ones.
  • Don’t overload extension cords. Don’t plug more than three sets of lights into the same extension cord. In other words, don’t pull a Clark Griswold.
  • Use heat-free LED candles as an alternative to the real thing. An open flame beside your Christmas tree or curtains? You’re pretty much asking for disaster. Instead, invest in flame-free LED candles for maximum safety. No one driving by will never know the difference!
  • Never climb on the roof to hang decorations. Use a ladder and keep two feet on it at all times. Nothing will ruin the holidays faster than putting your foot through the attic ceiling.

There you have it: everything you need for the most peaceful holiday yet. Now if only there was a guide like this for surviving your relatives!

Find Art for Your Home Without Blowing Your Budget

Whether you’ve just moved into a new home or are just looking to change up your pad’s decor, art can have a huge impact. Nothing makes a home feel cozier or communicates that “lived-in” feeling quite like a wall full of carefully selected and curated pieces.

But unless you have an artist in the family, finding art to hang on the walls can be challenging—and pretty tough on the wallet too. Large pieces regularly go for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And that’s just not affordable when you need to fill up a lot of blank wall space in your home. Here are a couple of ideas you can use to score super-cheap wall art with tons of personality to spare.

Gallery Wall
Via DIY Joy

Make Your Own

Sure, not everyone has a budding Picasso in the house. But everyone can make something worthy of hanging on the wall. DIYing your own art doesn’t mean you have to spend years learning how to paint. It can be as straightforward as this easy wall stencil art or as simple as these do-it-yourself leaf silhouettes. Or try making one of these artistic world maps or these beautiful abstract pieces made with ink, alcohol and fire—yep, fire. It’s as much fun to make as it is to look at afterwards.

Dress Up a Thrift Store Painting

Thrift stores and garage sales can be a great source of cheap art—if you can find that diamond in the rough, that is. But more often than not, you’re left sorting through tacky knockoffs that look more like low-rent hotel decor than something you’d want to hang in your home. Dress up a less-than-stellar find with this DIY paint-by-numbers project or transform it into a background to display your favorite song lyrics. Now that looks good!

Turn Found Objects into a Wall Collage

Speaking of thrift stores, they’re the best spot to pick up a few unique finds—unusual kitchenware, instruments, antique machinery parts or vintage household items all make great ensembles for a wall collage. You can even pair them with framed pictures or photos for an eye-catching way to cover blank walls. Learn the basics of hanging collage gallery walls here.

Frame Pieces of Fabric or Wallpaper Scraps

You don’t necessarily need something flashy on the walls, though. Patterned fabrics or wallpaper can be lovely in their own right—especially when you pair contrasting styles of designs. Placed in a frame or stapled to a board, these can quickly fill a statement wall with cheap, budget-friendly hangings. They look super cute framed with embroidery hoops, too!

Hang One of These Free Printables

If you’ve got access to a home printer or print shop, you’ve got a free or next-to-free source of art in your home. Thanks to the generous folks in the online printables community, you can score tons of printable patterns and art—almost all of it for free. To start, check out these 35 printables, which cover everything from abstracts to typography and anything in between.

Get a Subscription

Let’s face it: sometimes you don’t have time for an elaborate DIY or a long shopping trip. But even busy people deserve to have some art in their homes! Art in a Box is a subscription service for your walls, offering monthly deliveries of decor from artists working in the Oakland, California area. Subscriptions start at $40 a month and run for three to twelve months. That’s a lot of art for a pretty small asking price! And you’ll be helping artists in the process—all while finally getting some color on your walls.

Winter Storm Preparedness Guide

It’s 24 hours before the big storm is supposed to strike—is your home ready for the weather? Winter storms can bring extended power outages, and of course, may keep you homebound for a few days. And naturally, wind and ice pose a threat to your home and physical safety as well. Here’s what you need to do when ice, snow and sleet are in the forecast to make sure you’re covered before the first snowflake falls.

a lonely house covered with snow

Make Sure You Have the Necessary Supplies

If you live in an area where snow is commonplace, then you probably already have a lot of these in your garage or shed. But for those of us who are new to this whole snow thing, a freak storm can seriously catch you offguard. At a minimum, you’ll need the following:

  • A snow shovel for digging out your car and your sidewalks.
  • Rock salt and sand for walkways and stairs. Make sure it’s petsafe if you have critters or young kiddos running around!
  • An ice scraper for your car windshield. (Don’t be like this guy!)

You also might want to have a few things to keep yourself comfortable in case the power goes out or in the event that you’re trapped at home for a few days. That means:

  • Non-perishable food
  • Firewood or another independent heat source
  • Flashlights
  • Candles and matches
  • Warm clothing and blankets
  • Bottled water

snowy houses in the sunshine

Get Your Home Ready

Okay, now that you’ve braved the lines at the grocery store, it’s time to get your house ready for the deep freeze ahead. A couple of tasks you might want to consider:

  • Install storm windows outside or place insulating plastic film over the interiors of windows.
  • Trim dead branches that could pose a hazard in the wind.
  • Wind up hoses and bring in outdoor chairs and toys.
  • Cover your houseplants or bring them inside.
  • Turn your faucets to a slow drip to prevent your pipes from bursting.
  • Make sure pets are inside before precipitation starts to fall.
  • Park your car in the garage if hail or sleet may be an issue.

It’s not a bad idea to have your roof and heating system inspected this time of year, as well. This will help you avoid leaks and heating loss during extreme weather events. If you have time, clean your gutters, as well, since they provide vital leak protection by funneling runoff and snow melt off your roof and down to the ground.

cozy slippered feet by the fire

Stay Safe During the Storm

A lot of these suggestions seem obvious, but it never hurts to repeat them, since every year someone ignores common sense and gets themselves into serious trouble. For one thing, stay off the roads if they’re not safe to travel on. The local news can help you stay updated on road conditions in your area, but if you can avoid leaving home, do it.

Also remember not to overdo it when you’re outside shoveling. Clearing snow by hand is exhausting, draining work, especially when the weather outside is frightful, and it can be easy to overexert yourself or hurt your back. So go easy with the shoveling. Do it in shifts if you have to.

When you do go outside, make sure to wear several layers of warm, dry clothing, including mittens or gloves and a water-repellent outer layer.

For more tips on winter storm safety, Ready.gov has a huge checklist of safety guidelines. Stay warm and keep safe everyone!

Everything You Need for a Picture-Perfect Home Bar

Love to get a few drinks out but hate the noise at your local sports bar? You’re not alone. Not every town is blessed with a genuine cocktail bar, but serious mixologists can get the experience all on their own with a custom home bar. Whether you want a classic cocktail experience, or just a nice place to sip a few drinks with some friends, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ll run through the basics of designing and stocking an at-home bar—because nothing tastes as good as a hand-mixed nightcap!

Colorful drinks sitting on a bar

Decide on Your Layout

Most people prefer a bar-rail setup—This Old House has helpfully provided some building plans and details if you want to DIY your own. This plan is a take on the classic bar layout, with a rail, paneling, shelf and stiles. To elevate the plan, the bar is finished with an oak facade, moulding and foot rail.

However, if you’re pressed for space, there are other designs, like a wall-mounted murphy bar, standing bar cabinets and portable rolling bar carts. Whatever your constraints, there’s a plan that fits your needs!

You’ll also need to make a few decisions about how functional you want your bar. Many people will advise you to start small, but if you’re going to go to all the trouble of building a home bar, you might as well make sure it has all the features you’d like.

  • Wet Bar Versus Dry Bar: A “wet bar” just means that your bar has water—preferably in the form of a sink. Of course, adding plumbing to your bar is a serious undertaking, so at that point you’ll probably need to hire a professional remodeler to help you do some of the work.
  • To Refrigerate or Not? On the other hand, if you like the occasional chilled drink, you can get it fairly easily by installing a mini fridge under the bar. This plan, for instance, includes extra cabinet space specifically designed for a refrigerator or wine cooler.

A dog lying on the floor near a bar

Must-Have Tools of the Trade

It’s not just about the plans, of course. You’ll also need the right equipment and glassware to get your mixology on. Here’s what you need to get started.

  • A Good Cocktail Book. Some great back-to-basics beginners guides include the Mr. Boston: Official Bartender’s Guide, The 12 Bottle Bar and The PDT Cocktail Book.
  • The Right Barware. You’ll also want to get the right barware. At a minimum, that includes a jigger, a shaker (preferably a cobbler-style shaker with a built-in strainer), a separate strainer, a muddler, a bar spoon, a citrus peeler and a hand held citrus press.
  • Ample Glassware. You can’t serve a highball in a pint glass! For a well-rounded bar, you’ll want a set of martini glasses, rocks glasses, red and white wine glasses, highball glasses, and either beer mugs or pint glasses.

Colorful drinks sitting on a bar A satisfied bartender

Buying Your Basic Spirits

Of course, when push comes to shove, it all about the drinks! A well-stocked bar needs a selection of basic liquors, liqueurs—and the mixers and garnishes to complete the whole thing.

  • Liquor. Everybody has their favorites, of course, but if you plan on serving guests, you should have at least one of the following: vodka, gin, tequila, light and dark rum, bourbon, scotch, cognac.
  • Liqueurs. As for liqueurs, it all depends on what you like to drink. Dry and sweet vermouth, Cointreau, Disaronno and Campari will help you make some of the more classic cocktails, but who’s to stop you if you want a good White Russian either (in which case, you’ll need a coffee liqueur)?
  • Mixers. Ah, mixers: the refuge for drinkers like myself, who hate the taste of straight liquor. Simple syrup, bitters, club soda, tonic water, cola and ginger ale will help you make most cocktails, although you may want to include cranberry and orange juice as well.
  • Garnishes. If you want a great drink, you’ve got to top it all off with the right garnish! Limes, lemons, maraschino cherries, as well as cocktail olives, sugar, salt and Tabasco will all give your drinks a dash of something extra.

Learning to bartend is a lifelong hobby, so your bar will probably grow as you develop your skills and dry more exotic drinks. So don’t limit yourself—go wherever your tastes lead you. Cheers to that!

Winter Pest Removal the Humane Way

The internet has really changed how we view our fellow critters. After all, once you’ve seen a mouse having a tea party or shed real, honest-to-goodness tears over the story of these battle-scarred ants, you just can’t really treat them as hostile foes any more.

Of course, you can’t exactly invite them into your home for dinner, either. Mice, for instance, can chew holes through cords, wood and insulation—and the sound of those little feet going pitter patter all night will drive you crazy. And insects and other wildlife can spread diseases, create messes, get into your food, and just generally aren’t the best roommates.

But you don’t necessarily want to treat these little invaders with poison—for all the cuteness reasons mentioned above, and because poison is sometimes just as harmful to your family and your pets as it is to the pests it’s targeting. Well, maybe not just as harmful. But some evidence shows that using indoor pesticides can affect your health. On the more benign side of the equation, it can cause dizziness, headaches, or cause asthma flare ups. In more extreme cases? Kidney damage, liver problems, and issues with the endocrine and nervous systems! Yikes!

Those findings make an awful strong case for humane, pesticide-free treatments. Presented below are some of the safest remedies—so you won’t have to feel guilty next time you enjoy an adorable meme like this.

a mouse nibbling on peanuts

Mice and Rats

Mice and rats don’t appear out of thin air. They get in through holes in your walls and foundation. So the first order of business is seeking out their entryways and sealing them up. Then you need to take care of any rodents that are still stuck in your house. Use a non-lethal plastic or metal box trap to catch and release any stragglers. Or just do the easy thing and get a really aggressive house cat!

Ants

Everybody’s kitchen gets a little messy every now and then. The first way to approach ant control is to clean up your kitchen, pantry, and anywhere else there might be loose food hanging around. If that doesn’t fix the issue, try sprinkling cream of tartar, cinnamon, coffee grinds, chili pepper, paprika, cloves, or dried peppermint leaves near the ants’ entryway. You’ll get them right at the source!

Roaches

Finding even a single cockroach in your home is enough to give you a serious case of the creepy crawlies. And besides being gross, a roach infestation can be a frustrating uphill battle—especially if you want to go the humane route. However, there are some things you can try before calling the exterminator. For instance, clean your kitchen, cabinets, stove and pantry and make sure all food sources are eliminated. Put loose food bags and boxes in airtight plastic containers, and treat any pipe leaks that may be attracting the roaches. Just remember: you can beat those roaches at their game!

Fruit Flies

Okay, we know flies don’t live that long anyway, but in case you don’t want any fruit fly blood on your hands, you can make a humane fly trap by cutting a small hole in a plastic container and placing a straw through the top. Place a slice of fruit inside the container and put the lid on. The flies will be lured into the container by the smell of the fruit, but won’t be able to get out afterwards. Then you can just take them outside and let them out. No fruit flies harmed in the process!

5 Wall Coverings that Aren’t Wallpaper

Wallpaper has come a long way, but it still has its drawbacks. It goes out of style quickly, is hard to hang by yourself and difficult to repair when damaged. On the other hand, it can be a useful way to hide imperfections in your walls. After all, there are some blemishes that paint will only exaggerate.

But some of us are just not wallpaper people. Just thinking about that sticky paper makes you feel frustrated. If you identify with that last statement, you’ll be happy to hear that you have plenty of options. Enough alternative wall coverings exist to suit any taste. From cork tiles to DIY map wallpaper, there’s something for everyone, so read on to find your next look!

a map as wallpaper
Via dustymars.net

Bamboo Paneling

It’s not just for the tiki bar anymore! When done right, bamboo paneling can make for a chic and sophisticated statement wall—or any kind of wall, really. And bamboo is especially forgiving on uneven walls and damaged surfaces. You can also use engineered bamboo planks (read: bamboo flooring) for walls as well, which allows for any number of stains, dyes and patterns. And because bamboo grows quickly, it’s a lot more eco-friendly than wood!

Cork Tiles

Of course, when you decide not to use conventional wall coverings, you’re probably looking for something just a little bit quirky. Cork wall tiles have beautiful, warm geometric patterns that allow you to appreciate the beauty of natural wood. And like bamboo, they’re much gentler on the world’s forests than wood planks. Try them in a room that could use some soundproofing—the soft texture of cork gives it great insulating qualities.

Maps

A space shouldn’t just feel comfortable—ideally, it should be an expression of who you are as a person. And there’s nothing more personal than your travel memories—whether they’re ones from past trips or ones you hope to make in the future! This tutorial from Yankee Magazine teaches you everything you need to know to DIY your own.

Book Pages

If you’re more into armchair traveling than anything that requires actually leaving your home, you might appreciate this next idea. Buy an extra copy of your favorite book, and use the pages to paper your walls. It works just like the map idea—except you’ll get read an excerpt of your favorite novel every night before drifting off to bed. Try with an older book for that extra vintage look.

Starched Fabric

Every browsed through a fabric store and thought, “gee, I really wish I could have that on my walls”? Well, now you can. Liquid starch and fabric is a great solution for getting any lightweight cotton fabric on the walls—Apartment Therapy walks you through the full technique here. Best of all, it’s a lot less permanent than wallpaper. In fact, you can remove it just by wetting the wall and peeling the fabric off. It’s basically commitment-free! Decorating won’t have you climbing the walls anymore!

5 Important Water Heater Maintenance Steps You Might Have Missed

We all do a little bit better with some love and attention—and your water heater is no different! Water heaters perform a lot better with regular maintenance, but there may be some steps you’ve been overlooking. For instance, did you know you can reduce corrosion in your pipes just by turning the water temperature down a few degrees? For more information on that—and other money-saving water heater projects—keep reading below!

Turn the Water Temperature Down

Accidentally scalded yourself in the shower? You may need to adjust the temperature on your hot water heater! Most manufacturers set the default temperature on their products to 140 degrees—which is way hotter than it needs to be. The Department of Energy says a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit is safe to use in your home and can knock up to $400 off your annual energy bills. And it will extend the lifespan of your water pipes, as well. Learn how to adjust yours with this video from the Department of Energy.

Give Your Water Heater Some Space

Water heaters prefer their personal space—it’s one of their most relatable qualities, actually. But tucked away in your basement or utility room, it’s easy to accidentally pile all kinds of clutter up around them. Unfortunately, that’s a potential fire hazard. And it can reduce gas-powered heater’s efficiency, too, by reducing the flow of oxygen. Not to mention, you’re a lot less likely to catch a leak in time. So take a moment to clear out the junk around yours today.

Test the T&P Valve

The temperature and pressure, or T&P valve, is one of the most important parts of your unit. The reason? This valve is a critical safety feature that senses built-up pressure and opens to slowly let it out. That function can help you avoid a water heater explosion, so it’s a pretty important little valve. That’s why manufacturers recommend testing the T&P valve once a year. Find out how to do it here, with this video from RotoRooter.

Drain the Tank at Least Once a Year

Another important spot to familiarize yourself with is the drain valve. Once a year, locate the valve and drain a few gallons out into a bucket. Check the water that you drain—if it’s dark or full of sediment, you may need a full flush, which you can learn how to do here, courtesy of Rheem. Otherwise, you should be all set for another year!

Add Insulation

Want to really improve your water heater’s performance? Consider getting it insulated. Adding an insulating blanket to the hot water tank can save you between 7%-16% annually on your energy bills, and it’s not too difficult to do—this video from the DOE will teach you how. For extra savings, consider adding foam insulation to the hot water pipes as well.

And that’s all you need to keep yourself in hot water for another year!

6 Household Hacks That Will Get Your Home Squared Away for the Holidays

Now that you’ve fixed enough turkey sandwiches for another year, it’s time to start thinking about the one holiday that really matters: Christmas. The pre-Christmas countdown is so intense, it’s essentially an extreme sport.

There’s decorating to do, presents to buy and household chores to get done—all before the next round of relatives makes its way to your front door. And since there’s less than a full month until Christmas is in full swing, we’d thought we’d find you some of the best home hacks for a stress-free holiday season. Read on to get started.

wrapping Christmas gifts

Dress Up Sandwich Cookies for Quick Gift Bags

There’s no doubt that homemade Christmas cookies made a tasty handmade gift, but with all you have to do to get ready for the holidays, who has time to bake? Try this shortcut instead: whip up a batch of these no-bake cookies and stick them in these custom-wrapped gift boxes made from old aluminum foil packages. Seriously, mint oreos dunked in chocolate beat your standard sugar cookie any day!

Hang Wreaths with Command Hooks

The only thing worse than the decorating crunch is going to all the trouble of hanging wreaths on your front door only to have them fall off every time you close it. Instead, hand them with outdoor command hooks—they even come in sophisticated colors, like brushed nickel and and slate. What a pretty way to celebrate the season!

Have an Extra Gift Lying Around for Impromptu Parties and Guests

This time of year, your social calendar can become really unpredictable—you never know what kinds of parties you’ll be asked to attend or what unexpected house guests you’ll have to host on a few days’ notice. And of course, you’ll feel obligated to bring wine or to exchange gifts with your house guests. Don’t get thrown by a last-minute party! When you shop for Christmas presents, buy an extra bottle of wine, gift cards, or generic housewarming-type gifts that you can hand over on the spur of the moment.

Take Some Time to Weed Out the Kids’ Toy Collections

Most likely your kids are going to get plenty of toys come Christmas day, so you’ll set yourself up for a stress-free New Year if you do a little housekeeping now. But let’s face it: getting kids to pare down is tough. All the sudden your eight-year-old remembers how much they love to play with those blocks they haven’t touched in three years. Some ideas to take the sting out of decluttering: turn it into an opportunity to teach your kiddo about sharing and donate the toys. Emphasize how much more room they’ll have to play, and that it will be easier than ever to find their favorite toys. And turn the task into a game: have your kids play “garage sale” and pick the toys they want to “sell.” You can “pay” for the toys with Hershey’s kisses!

Set a Good Example and Declutter Your Stuff Too

Speaking of stuff, you’re probably going to get plenty of gifts of your own. So be the role model your kids deserve and do a little decluttering of your own stuff. Go through old decorations, your closet, and of course, the “junk” room, and give it all a good sorting—after all, you’re going to need that space for when the relatives visit! Check out our guidelines for what goes where.

tree decorating guidelines
Via Buzzfeed

Get Tree Decorating Right

Not sure how many strings of lights you need for your freshly-bought 15 foot mega tree? Refer to this guide and you’ll have it all shored away in no time. If you’re not a visual person, though, the magical equation is 100 lights plus nine feet of garland plus 20 ornaments for every foot of tree height. Tree decorating in no time—Christmas, do your worst!