Brought to you by Open Colleges

Christmas made easy!

by Sinead McDonnell

The year is coming to an end and the countdown to Christmas has finally begun. ’Tis the season for parties, holidays, friends, family and far too much food! Amongst all the festivities, however, it can be difficult to find the extra time and money to make sure the season goes to plan.

Whether it be finding gifts, decorating the house, planning parties and events or entertaining the kids, it’s only natural to feel a little seasonal stress.

Arming yourself with a few clever tips and tricks will ensure you kick stress to the curb this Christmas and get back to enjoying the festive season.

Below we have listed 13 of our top tips to help you save money, make the perfect gifts, decorate your home and throw Christmas parties in style. Enjoy!

1. DIY professional gift wrapping

Want your gift wrapping to look professional but don’t want to spend extra money? Wrapping your gifts with double-sided tape is a great way of creating a seamless and mess-free look.

Simply place double-sided tape on the underside of paper where required, pull the protective sheet off the exposed side of the tape and secure.

It’s just as easy as wrapping gifts the ordinary way except there’s no sign of sticky tape. With this trick up your sleeve your gifts will look even more amazing under the tree this year.

2. Recipe gift jar

For an awesome and cost-effective gift idea, try measuring out all the dry ingredients of your favourite slice, cake or cookie recipe and layering them into an old jar.

Create a festive recipe card by cutting a rectangle from blank cardboard and gluing Christmas paper to one side. Next, punch a hole in the top corner and write out the recipe instructions on the blank side, before threading ribbon through the hole and attaching the card to the jar.

The jar will look super cute when it’s done plus it’s a fun and inventive gift for anyone who loves to cook.

3. Prevent Christmas lights from getting tangled

There is nothing more frustrating than pulling out the Christmas lights and realising that they’ve gotten tangled up again! Thankfully, there is an easy solution. Simply grab an old coat-hanger or piece of cardboard and wrap the lights around them. Goodbye tangles!

4. Glad-Wrap gift boxes

This idea takes creativity to the next level. Start by grabbing an old Glad-Wrap or Aluminium foil box and removing the cardboard cylinder from inside. Next, paint the box with a couple layers of white paint to cover the print underneath.

To decorate the box use some clean sponges to dab red, green and silver paint alternatively for a layered effect onto the outer surface.

Once the paint has dried line the box with a sheet of tissue paper and place a row of cookies inside (make sure cookies are baked or bought to fit).

Add a finishing touch by wrapping a long piece of twine or string around the centre of the box a couple of times and tying the ends into a bow.

5. Cookie cutter decorations

For another great decoration idea grab a handful of Christmas-shaped metal cookie cutters, some bright ribbon and some tape or glue.

Wrap the ribbon around the frame of the cookie cutter until all the metal is covered.

Use double-sided tape or a small amount of hot glue to secure the beginning and end points of the ribbon to the metal.

Once the glue has dried thread some string through the top of each cookie cutter and tie a knot in order to make a loop for hanging.

Place the shapes on your tree for a unique set of Christmas tree baubles.

6. Festive ice cubes

Add some instant festivity to your drinks by sprucing up your ice cubes!

Start by placing approx. 3 – 4 washed cranberries in the base of each cube in your ice-tray. Add 1 – 2 sprigs of rosemary to each.

Fill the remainder with water and allow about two hours to freeze before serving.

For some fun alternatives try combining a single raspberry with 1 – 2 mint leaves, a teaspoon of pomegranate seeds with a pinch of lime zest or a diced strawberry with 1 – 2 basil leaves!

7. Gingerbread man garland

Making gingerbread man cookies this year? Why not make a few extra and use them as decorations. Before putting your gingerbread men in the oven to bake puncture two holes (approx. 1cm apart) in the chest of each cookie using the base of a straw.

After the cookies have baked and cooled weave some bright ribbon through the holes of each gingerbread man and continue until you have the desired amount of men on each garland.

Make sure enough ribbon is left on each end of the garland to ensure it can be hung with ease.

8. Christmas bauble wreath

For a great way to make use of any old or mismatched baubles you may have collected over the years why not try turning them into a wreath?

For the wreath you’ll need one round disposable foil tray or plate, a glue gun and all of those old assorted baubles.

Give the plate a wreath shape by cutting a whole in the centre. Arrange baubles around the plate until you’re happy with their placement and start gluing them on one by one.

Punch a whole at the top of the wreath with a pair of scissors and tie a strong piece of string into a loop in order to hang it from a nail on your door or wall.

9. Personalised Christmas tags

For a meaningful way to label your gifts this Christmas why not try using family pictures?

To do this, have your favourite pictures printed onto white card and then cut them into festive shapes such as a bell, star or Christmas tree.

Write your message on the plain side of the tag and tape it to the gift. It’s a great money saver and adds a beautiful sentiment to all your gifts.

10. Candy cane playdough

Looking for a great gift idea for young children? Simply layer white and red playdough in an old jar and you’ve got candy cane play-dough! This gift will provide endless hours of fun for the kids during the Christmas holidays.

11. Cotton ball Santa beard

If you’re looking for something to entertain the kids why not try a little arts and crafts? All you’ll need is a large piece of white cardboard or thick paper, some cotton balls, craft glue, a hole punch and a piece of elastic.

Start by tracing a beard shape onto the cardboard (this can be done freehand or by printing a stencil from the internet).

Make sure to mark out a hole for the mouth. Cut out the beard and stick the cotton balls on using craft glue. Punch a hole in the top corners of the beard and thread elastic through, securing it with a double knot on each side.

12. Wine glass candle holders

This trick will make your table look classy without spending any extra money. Simply turn your wine glasses upside down and place tea lights on the base for a quick and easy candle display. Using wine glasses of different heights will add interest to the look.

13. Store fragile ornaments in egg cartons

Keep your fragile ornaments protected and organised for next Christmas by placing them into old egg cartons. It’s a great way to keep them safe over the years plus you won’t have to run out to buy new ornaments as often.

So what are you waiting for? A cost-effective, fun-filled and stress-free Christmas is incredibly easy to pull off, all you need is a little know-how and some good ideas up your sleeve.

Why not try your hand at some of these ingenious tips and tricks this Christmas? Not only will they make your life easier but they’ll also have you getting creative and feeling inspired all season long!

Want to change your life in the new year?

Studying a course with Open Colleges will give you the knowledge and skills to launch a brand new career. There are no deadlines and no classes to attend, you just study online at your own pace and in your own time. Find the perfect course for you by clicking here.

Leave a Reply