The holiday season is here. Whether you can’t believe it’s already time or you’ve been waiting all year, here are 18 hacks to help you get ready.
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1. What to know when buying your Christmas tree
Opting for a beautiful live tree this year? If you’re getting a pre-cut tree, make sure you test its freshness before you buy it — you never know how long it’s been sitting in the lot exposed to the elements. Try these quick tests to find the freshest tree possible.
The Branch Test: Grab a branch firmly between your fingers and gently pull it toward you, then let it go. If lots of needles shake off the tree, it’s not fresh enough; if only a few needles fall, the tree is probably still in decent shape.
The Fragrance Test: Snap a needle in your fingers and give it good whiff — the needle should be moist and deliciously pine-scented. If you don’t get a pungent dose of pine, the tree is likely drying out.
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2. Inexpensive tree food
Did you know that sugar works as a tree food? Simply add some to the water each time you water your tree.
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3. Humidifier for a healthy tree
The heating system in your home can dry out your tree, dulling its color and piney fresh scent. To give your tree a healthy boost of moisture, place a humidifier in the room to counteract the drying heat — it’ll stay fresh, and you can soak up the holiday spirit as long as possible.
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4. Easy way to water your Christmas tree
If you have trouble getting a watering can to reach underneath the lowest bows of your Christmas tree, throw several ice cubes into the base each day to easily keep it watered.
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5. Free tree stand
Instead of buying a stand for your Christmas tree, simply fill a bucket with sand. You can still water it, and you won’t have to deal with the hassle of re-adjusting the stand so the tree isn’t crooked.
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6. Cat danger
Cat lovers, beware! When it’s time to trim the tree, never use tinsel if you have a pet kitty. Cats love to play with tinsel and eat it, and it can be deadly if it gets stuck in their digestive system.
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7. Popcorn garland tip
Making a popcorn garland for the holidays? Use dental floss! It’s stronger than regular string, and less likely to break when you wrap it around the tree.
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8. Save energy this Christmas
Did you know that one strand of traditional Christmas lights running five hours a day for 30 days can add up to $10 to your electricity bill? This Christmas, make sure you use LED lights, which will only run you 12¢ for the same amount of time. LED lights also last much longer!
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9. Keep pine needles from falling
We love the look of pine wreaths and garlands, but hate it when needles get all over the floor. To keep the needles from falling, spritz your holiday greenery with hair spray right after you purchase it. The hair spray will keep the needles moist and where they belong.
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10. Easy way to dust wreaths
You can easily dust your Christmas wreath by using salt. Go outside in the backyard with a large paper grocery bag and half a cup of salt. Pour the salt in the bag, place the wreath inside, and fold the bag closed. Then shake gently for 20 seconds and your wreath will look as good as new.
See Also: Pro Tips for Holiday Pies
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11. Over-the-door wreath hanger
Here’s an easy way to hang a wreath on your door: Grab one self-adhesive wall hook —the 3M brand is perfect — and hang it upside down on the reverse side of your door. Loop the wreath’s hanging ribbon around the hook on the opposite side of the door, then pull it over the top for an over-the-door setup. The wreath should hang securely on the front.
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12. Help your Christmas decor stand out
If you want your home to look super-Christmas-sy, scan your living room for brightly colored objects that aren’t red or green, and move them to invisible or inconspicuous locations for the season. Without the other colors to distract people’s eyes, your red and green Christmas decorations will stand out even more.
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13. Do it with ribbon
Used wisely, a little holiday ribbon can go a long way. Wrap it around just about anything — a vase, throw pillow, staircase banister, lamp shade, curtain, pillar candle, and the list goes on — to create a festive atmosphere at little or no cost.
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14. Wrapping paper wall art
Got lots of Christmas paper left over from gift-wrapping? Reuse it as festive wall art! Cut the paper to fit hanging picture frames, then mount on your wall. Or use holiday cards from past years.
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15. Easy Christmas decorating
Put those unused holiday ornaments to good use by using them for an inexpensive centerpiece. Simply pick your favorites and put them in a clear punch bowl, and add tinsel or pine sprigs around the base. It works great with those solid-colored orbs we always seem to have so many of!
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16. Outdoor Christmas decorations
When pruning your trees and bushes in the spring or summer, make sure to save some branches for later use. Then spray paint them red, white, silver, or gold and you have an instant Christmas decoration! Place them in planters of flowers that are dead for the winter, and add lights or ornaments for extra flair.
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17. Get rid of pinecone sap
Pinecones are a family favorite during Christmastime, whether they’re hanging on the tree or from a stocking, or simply radiating their delicious piney fragrance. But sometimes they’re just too sticky to handle. To remove some of that sticky sap, place the pinecones in the oven at 300 degrees for 10 minutes.
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18. Fun family activity
Count down the days until Christmas with this fun family activity: Pull together all your holiday-themed books and wrap them as individual gifts. Let your children open one gift per night, and read the book together. Save “The Night Before Christmas” for the 24th. The pre-holiday festivities might keep your kids satiated enough to lay off the presents under the tree until Christmas!
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