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 “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!

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!

Turkey Day Scramble: How to Clean Up Fast Before the Big Day

This is it: your last weekend to clean up before boatloads of relatives begin squeezing themselves into your kitchen, setting platters on every available inch of countertop and using enough toilet paper to cover a small army.

In essence, you’re going to need to clean house before the horde descends. After all, you have enough to worry about without Aunt Edna’s cracks about your housekeeping techniques. Here’s what you need to do to get your home in hosting shape—pronto.

Thanksgiving place setting

Speed Clean the Spare Bedroom

Is your spare bedroom more of a spare junk room? Then it’s going to need a cleanup, stat. Unfortunately, there’s no better way to do this than to put on your sweats and get down to it. But a little music will help you get into the groove—and of course, the looming pressure of Thanksgiving, which is drawing nearer every minute! To get yourself going, start with the stuff you know you’re going to toss and get rid of it. Be ruthless. It’s the only way you’ll make it through Thanksgiving with a few minutes to yourself.

Toss Anything You Don’t Need in the Fridge

It’s time for your refrigerator to go on a serious diet—otherwise, you’ll never be able to find a spot for all those leftovers! This is any everything-must-go situation, so seriously, unless it’s going in your belly next week, it needs to get gone pronto. Afterwards, give the shelves a quick wipe with a rag dunked in a mixture of vinegar and water. Make sure to swipe the bottoms of any condiment bottles and jars before replacing them as well.

Scrub the Guest Bathroom

We get that you’re on a tight schedule here—but if there’s anywhere you can afford to take your time, it’s in the restrooms. Besides the normal sweeping and scrubbing, try wiping counters and tiles with a microfiber cloth to pick up extra germs and dirt. For an extra-clean toilet, use damp pumice stone or scouring stick to remove scale and soap scum from the sides. And use cleaners to your advantage: spray them and let them sit for a few minutes before you start sponging off surfaces. It will save time scrubbing.

Wrangle the Coat Closet

Unless you’re a “lay coats on the bed” kind of household, you’re going to need some room in your shared closet space. This probably means tossing some junk you’ve been keeping in there for too long. But if you’re anything like we are, the process of deciding what stays and what goes can take a while—too long when you’re pressed for time. Instead, get rid of whatever you can now: outerwear the kids have outgrown, that broken vacuum cleaner. Cart everything else up to the attic or garage so you can deal with it later.

Quick Clean the Living Room

In short order, a lot of people are going to be hanging out in your living room, which means it’s got to be spic and span. Take all the clutter and throw it into a laundry basket for sorting at a later point (probably the next time you need to do the laundry). Use a microfiber cloth and dry broom to dust and sweep the floors with minimal effort, and then vacuum the couch and fluff the pillows. Make sure you have enough coasters to keep your furniture protected, too! Now, if only you could find a way to speed-roast a turkey!

Project Thanksgiving: 6 Tips to Get Yourself Ready for Turkey Day Guests

Can you believe Thanksgiving is already just around the corner? Pretty soon your home will be infiltrated with guests, relatives and that one aunt who always has something to say about how you keep house!

And there’s plenty to do before then. Besides food shopping and turning out dinner for 15, you’ll have to make sure the house is in great shape—and maybe even clean enough to give Aunt Ruth a reason to bite her tongue! Here’s what you can do now for a peaceful Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving feast

Turn Down the Guestroom Bed

If you have guests staying in the spare bedroom, you’ll want to make sure they’ll have everything they need for a comfortable visit. Wash bedding, towels and washcloths, remaking the bed when you’re finished. Spritz the sheets with linen spray and stock the guest bathroom with soap, toilet paper, toothpaste and any other necessities you think your visitors might want.

Sharpen Kitchen Knives

Your cutlery is going to be seeing a lot of use soon, and dull blades can be dangerous—especially when cutting through tough vegetables like sweet potatoes. Sharpen your knives using a whetstone, diamond stone or honing rod for a smooth, safer cut.

Clean Silverware and Plates

If you’re using a special set of dishes for the evening, make sure to wash them thoroughly before the big day. If you have silver cutlery, give them a good shine beforehand with baking soda and aluminum foil. It sounds weird, but it really works!

Childproof the House

There’s nothing like the sound of children’s laughter for the holidays, which is why, if you have little ones coming over, you’ll want to do everything to make your home safe and comfortable for guests of all ages. Buy gates to keep kids off stairs and plug covers to keep little hands from wandering where they shouldn’t.

Clean out the Coat Closet

The hallway coat closet can get jammed with day-to-day storage like vacuum cleaners, extra coats and the like. But you’re going to need that space when guests come, so move it to the garage or a bedroom temporarily. Or purchase a freestanding coat rack if you need a little extra room.

Get Your Drains in Check

Animal fat, potato peels and more can easily clog your garbage disposal and make for an unhappy cleanup after the evening meal. So if your sink is already draining a little slow, it may not be a bad idea to schedule a plumber to come snake it out. Same thing for your bathroom sinks and toilets too. After all, the holidays are stressful enough! No need to leave anything up to chance!