This article, entitled "How to make the holidays magical with less work," comes from partner site SavingsAngel.com.
With the hustle and bustle and stress of the season – the magic of Christmas can get squeezed right out.
But here are 10 ideas for how to make the holidays magical with less work:
Use different gift wraps to identify gifts instead of tags.
Save time by wrapping each child’s gifts in different wrapping paper or even use all the same wrap for identical gifts, such as those for teachers or co-workers. Not needing to tag every gift – or needing to remember which gift goes to whom later on if you forgot to tag or purposely didn’t to keep snoops guessing – saves time and stress.
Use metal cookie cutters to make festive pancakes.
First, fill an empty squeeze bottle with your pancake mix so it’s easy to fill the shapes. Then, dip the cookie cutter bottom lightly in cooking oil and place on your hot pan. The cooking oil will both help keep the pancake from sticking to the cutter and the mix from running out under the cookie cutter. Once the pancake has cooked on one side, remove the cookie cutter with a heat-resistant tool and flip the pancake as usual.
Make one basic cookie dough, then divide and add variations.
Instead of needing the ingredients and time to make different cookie dough recipes, use a basic starter dough recipe but make a lot of it. Then divide the dough into smaller amounts and add variations to create different cookie flavors, such as nuts, candies, flavorings, additional spices, and more.
Ice decorated cookies faster and neater with empty squeeze bottles.
Fill clean squeeze bottles, like those from condiments, with icing thinned just a bit to flow through easily. Then pipe on quickly and neatly. To make even prettier cookies, use the flood method. This method uses a thicker icing piped around the outer edge, and a thinner icing that “floods” the middle. The thicker icing can still be squeezed through a bottle with a slighter wider opening and will keep your thinner icing from dripping off the sides of your cookies. Pipe around the outer edge of your shapes, then flood the middle with icing and smooth it out gently with the tip of a knife or a toothpick.
Make very simple party treats to share.
Pinterest has dozens of ideas for very simple, but cute treat ideas, such as dressing up pre-bought mini donuts. Choosing a festive but simple treat design eases stress and saves time while still maintaining the fun.
Shave a chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler for a decadent topping.
To make small curls, use good chocolate and allow it to get slightly soft, then gently draw the peeler through it. If you have less expensive chocolate, you may find that you need it to be harder to get the curls, so just pop it in the freezer for a couple minutes. Don’t completely freeze it or the chocolate will break rather than curl. After curling, set them in the fridge if you’re not going to use them right away. Impress by placing the curls on top of specialty drinks, desserts, and fresh fruit platters.
Use your slow cooker to make enough hot chocolate for the whole gang.
Instead of making individual cups, make a large batch and keep it warm in your slow cooker.
Make a special breakfast the night before.
There are numerous recipes that can be made ahead and placed in the fridge then popped into the oven in the morning. Appetizing variations include Baked Oatmeal, French Toast, Oven Omelets, and many more. There are even some recipes that use your slow cooker overnight and are ready to enjoy come morning.
Only wrap two-thirds of your Christmas tree in lights.
If your tree sits in a corner, you can save time and electricity by not wrapping your lights all the way around. Instead, zigzag them back and forth across the portions that will be seen. Not only will this save time and money, it can help hide bare spots in your tree by not “backlighting” them.
Find the bulb that doesn’t work on a string of lights with a voltage meter.
Modern light strings can make it easier to tell which bulb isn’t working but what if the whole string goes dark? An inexpensive voltage meter that beeps as it detects running current will stop beeping when it’s near the area where the voltage stops. Pass one along your light string to narrow down your search and get the magic of Christmas lights on again quickly.