The holidays are an absolutely insane time of year. I'm sure you've browsed all over the internet from Buzzfeed to that deep web forum streaming live out of your grandmother's basement, and a lot of holiday hacks are much more complicated or expensive than they should be. Here are some holiday hacks that are simple, cheap, and to the point. Have a happy holiday!
Gift Shopping Hacks
Shopping for gifts is something that is on your mind for at least six months before Christmas. There never seems to be such a thing as "finally done all of the shopping," even up until a couple of days after Christmas. Consider these tips when shopping:
1. Gift Cards and Ca$h Money make awesome gifts. Purchasing a Gift Card for someone can often times be misunderstood as impersonal, but let's be honest, Gift Cards are awesome for both the giver and the receiver. Gift Cards allow for people to buy someone a gift they will actually like via proxy. Seriously, for the college student you know, he/she will rejoice at having some extra spending money.
2. Buzzfeed and Pinterest are great aggregators for Gift Lists. They have categories and lists for every single person on your list. Don't be afraid to give them a scroll. You can also utilize these sites to make gifts. Don't spend more money on DIY projects than you would on the actual purchased item, but sometimes it's fun to make a gift with a personal touch. Pinterest has an endless amount of ideas. Pinterest will even notify you if an item that you pinned as a "buyable item" drops in price.
3. KEEP IT SIMPLE. More often than not, simple and useful gifts are pretty spectacular ones. If you feel that you don't know someone enough, or that someone has everything, you can probably just do something simple.
4. Timing is everything. Shop on weekdays. This way stores aren't as zany and crowded. If you find yourself shopping on the weekend, go really early in the morning.
5. I'm a really big Dollar Tree supporter. Go there. You can find everything you need to wrap this year: really cute wrapping paper, boxes, gift bags, gift tags, tissue paper, tape, scissors, etc.
6. BUDGET! Come up with a "Nice List" of people that you plan on buying for this year. Then, come up with a budget. How much can you afford to spend on gifts this year? Then divide it up amongst the people on your list.
7. Buy cards! If you aren't doing gifts this year, and even if you are, get cards for the special people in your life. Everyone likes a card, and it will make them feel like you were thinking of them.
8. Free shipping is the best kind of shipping. Shop at websites like Redneck Couture, Mod Cloth, Amazon, Apple and even Target. Some websites require minimum purchase amounts to qualify for free shipping (like Apple), but more often than not, you're already going to be spending that minimum anyway. Also, stores like Walmart and Target allow for you to pick the items up in stores--so you don't have to pay for shipping. Want free shipping from anywhere you buy online? Shop on DECEMBER 16TH for it's Free Shipping Day.
9. Organize your gifts. I'm the type of person that keeps her life in Excel sheets. Be organized when it comes to your shopping, because it will keep you on budget and on time. Make sure you know how much you're spending, where you're spending it, and what/who you are spending it on.
10. Keep every receipt. Again, I do this for everything in general, but for the holidays I keep an envelope of receipts from my holiday shopping. This allows you to figure out when and where you bought stuff, and makes returns simpler. Put gift receipts in the gift boxes. This is especially true if you purchase clothing for someone.
Check out this list from Rather Be Shopping to figure out when the best days to do your shopping are! It's recommended that you finish up all of your shopping by December 19th.
1. Come up with what budgets you should be monitoring such as gifts, decorations, party, food, wardrobe, etc.
2. Shop wholesale. Whenever you can, try and buy from retailers such as Costco or BJ's for toys, gadgets, food, clothing, etc. These shops really do cut the prices down--and more often than not offer free membership for the first month up to three months if you just want to try it out for the holidays.
3. DIY what you can! Come up with a DIY budget. Again, more often than not after you buy all of the supplies to DIY the thing you could have just bought, you end up spending a lot more money. Come up with a DIY budget that you can be comfortable and productive with.
1. Your bathroom probably smells. Buy some Poo-Pourri spray, or you can dab a bit of essential oil or vanilla extract into the inside of your toilet paper roll for a simple and easy air freshener.
2. Going off of the same idea, want your whole house to smell nice when the party starts? Cook some food! When you're reheating or cooking, make sure you take the lid off or keep the oven open intermittently. You can also take a baking sheet and a piece of aluminum foil, drip and spread some vanilla (or I prefer almond) extract on it, bake it at 350 for 30 minutes and your home will smell like something fresh out of the oven.
3. Buy. A. Fake. Tree. Seriously it will be the best investment you ever make. A fake tree allows you to save hundreds of dollars in the future because you're not buying a new tree every year. By year three the tree has paid itself off. Fake trees are more often than not a lot easier when it comes to maintenance and clean up, plus you are in complete control as to when you can put up your tree! Don't pay more than $80 for a tree. There are a ton of places to get one.
4. Recycle! During all of your shopping, it's likely that you will procure a ton of boxes and bags. Reuse them for around the house! Wine boxes are especially useful to store wrapping paper in, while all of the bags you now have stuffed somewhere are perfect to store the paper in after it is ripped off of the present.
5. Does your tree seem a bit sparse? Don't sweat it. Go to Dollar Tree, Walmart, or even a quick Amazon click, and find an evergreen garland. This way you can wrap it around the tree, or even cut it up into pieces to fill in the patches.
6. Keep your ornaments inside of an egg carton not only for protection, but for organization as well.
7. Wrap your lights around a hanger to keep them from getting tangled. You will thank yourself next year.
1. If you don't have to make it, don't make it. This applies to two different types of situations. Situation one: you can just buy an absolutely delicious Panetonne cake at Walmart for $5.25 instead of spending $25.00 on the ingredients and then destroying your kitchen in the process of making it. If you can simply purchase the food from a store for a better price, and it's something that you just want to have, buy it. Situation two: contributing to a party or dinner you are attending. Buy a tray of cookies, bring a bottle of wine, or go out and get some really nice rolls.
2. Dips are your friend. Seriously. You can make a dip out of almost anything, and very few people aren't into dip.
3. Make cooking an event! Want some help in the kitchen? Kids might be little monsters for most of the holiday season, but they are splendid when it comes to doing cooking tasks. Get the girls together for some wine and cookie baking too. Getting people together to make the large amount of food, snacking intermittently during the cooking will make the whole process not only a lot easier, but it will be more fun for those involved.
4. Pot lucks are the best idea ever. Are you hosting Christmas for the first time? On a budget? Ask your guests to bring designated food items or anything they want! This way everyone has something to contribute to the dinner, and you have a huge worry lifted from your shoulders.
5. Tired of slaving over making hundreds of Christmas cookies just to have them taste like burnt cardboard after being boxed up for two weeks until the big day? I'm sure everyone is. Place a piece of bread in the container with the cookies and it will keep the cookies moist and fresh! Seriously, it's magical. Change out the piece of bread if you keep it in there for more than three days.
6. Freeze whipped cream in fun shapes to use in hot chocolate. Setting up a hot chocolate bar at a party is a lot of fun, and it's pretty simple. However, it's also nice to just drop a cute heart or snowman Cool Whip cube into some piping hot cocoa on a snowy day.
7. Recycle aluminum foil or wax paper boxes as cookie containers. Transform them with a quick coat of paint or wrapping paper. You can put them out as serving boxes (and then toss them when the party is over, no clean up), or give them as cute gifts!
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