The holidays are fast approaching, and we all want to cozy up our homes (OR, we all want to create the cozy, home-for-the-holidays vibe, OR we all want to turn our homes into a cozy, holiday sanctuary, complete with…) with decorations, gifts, and food. But who has the time or money to make their home look like the cover of a magazine?
Maybe we all do!
After searching the web for the easiest, most beautiful, and most affordable holiday hacks, we’ve made a list of 15 favorites — five for décor, five for food, and five for gifts. With these 15 DIY hacks for the busy and budget-friendly adult, you can make your holidays feel just the way you’ve always wanted them to.
5 Holiday Décor Hacks
#1: The Decorated Chandelier
Are you low on space in your home? No problem! If you have a hanging light fixture, hang ornaments from it using festively-patterned ribbon. If you don’t have a hanging light fixture, no problem! Fill one of your rarely-used bowls with festive ornaments, pinecones, and sparkly balls, and show it off on your mantle or as a table centerpiece. You could also tack holiday cards to the wall in the shape of a tree, snowflake, or menorah.
#2: The Ambient Lighting
Pick up a few boxes of twinkle lights. There are multiple sizes and colors to choose from; make sure they are bright enough for the ambiance you want. Then string the lights back and forth across the top of your room — not just around the edges of the room, but from wall to wall, just below your ceiling. Each evening, shut off your overhead bulbs and bask in the glow of twinkle lights.
#3: The Gingerbread Garland
Instead of buying a pre-made garland, make your own! There are many ways you can do this, from paper snowflakes to garlands made of balloons attached to colored, plastic solo cups. Our favorite is using gingerbread cookies. Poke two side-by-side holes (an inch apart) in the center of each gingerbread person-shaped cookie, and then paint over the cookies with several coats of varnish. String a long, festive ribbon through all the cookies. Hang them from a bookshelf, across the top of a doorway, or over your windows for a beautiful touch.
#4: The Pumpkin Men
Still have leftover Halloween pumpkins? Perfect! Snow or no snow, now you can have snowmen. Find three sizes of pumpkins — large, medium, and small — and cut the stem off the top of each. Then paint each pumpkin white. (You may need to use a couple coats of paint.) Stack them on top of each other with the largest at the bottom and the smallest at the top. Voilá, the pumpkin version of snowmen! Further decorate your pumpkin person with a scarf, buttons, eyes, or whatever else you want to wrap or glue on.
#5: The Scarf Wreath
Instead of buying a pre-made wreath, find a foam form at a craft store, or purchase a second-hand wreath from which you can remove the decorations. Now find a scarf you don’t plan on wearing this holiday season, and wrap it all around the wreath. Find other household items, accessories, or your favorite ribbons for further decoration.
5 Holiday Food Hacks
#6: The Whipped Cream Shapes
Find a large plastic tub, line it with parchment paper, and spread a 1-inch thick layer of whipped cream (or cool whip) over it. Freeze it overnight. The next day, use cookie cutters to cut the frozen whipped cream into shapes — hearts, menorahs, trees, or snowflakes. Make a mug of hot chocolate and top it with the shape of your choice.
Bonus: Use those cookie cutters when you cook pancakes as well, or try to shape your pizza like a snowman. Shapes make everything more festive and fun!
#7: The Crockpot Hot Chocolate
Who needs basic powdered hot chocolate mixed with water? You can easily step up your hot chocolate game with one of the many crockpot hot chocolate recipes online — like this one, or this one. Decadent!
#8: The Cinnamon Roll Waffle
It’s not too much to ask for a fun, delicious, and easy breakfast idea. Pick up a tube of ready-to-bake cinnamon rolls at your local grocery store. But instead of baking them, put them in your waffle maker! Then drizzle the gooey icing on top of the cinnamon-roll-waffles. Delicious.
#9: The Crushed Candy Canes
Looking for a little extra pizzazz or flavor on your holiday desserts and beverages? Crush a box of candy canes in a ziplock bag, and use them as desired. The candy cane powder can spice up hot cocoa and ice cream, decorate the tops of cookies, or even be used on the rim of an adult beverage.
#10: The Hacked Rice Krispie Treats
It’s time for a twist on the tried-and-true rice krispie treat. Try adding green food coloring for some holiday spirit, or add some hot cocoa to the mix. And don’t just use mini marshmallows in the recipe, but also use them on top of the recipe.
5 Holiday Gift Hacks
#11: The Old Box, New Box Trick
Wrapping the gift is just as fun as buying the gift! But with the prices of gift wrap nowadays, it can be more cost-effective — not to mention, more fun! — to create your own. Start saving your empty aluminum foil boxes (without the sharp edge), shoe boxes, and more. Decorate them with wrapping paper, paint, glitter, twine, or even a photo collage with printed pictures of you and the giftee. Who said gift wrapping had to be either boring or expensive?
#12: The Candy Sleigh
Looking for the perfect gift for a teacher, babysitter, or coach? Look no further. Purchase candy canes, ribbon, and several candy bars of different sizes and flavors. You can even buy in bulk to cut costs, if you have several people who need a candy sleigh. Lay two candy canes an inch apart from each other as the sleigh’s “runners,” and then stack the candy (largest at the bottom, smallest at the top) on top of the canes. Tie it all together with ribbon.
#13: The Old Sock Coffee Sleeve
If you have a loved one with a coffee obsession, a fun, easy, and inexpensive gift idea is to take an old wool sock — you know the ones with holes in the toes and heel? — and cut off the top band that usually fits around your calf and ankle. That band makes for a cute, vintage coffee mug sleeve. This can be a great addition to a gift basket or a travel mug.
#14: The Sugar Scrub
Find a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, and fill it with one cup of sugar. Add in five pumps of coconut oil and four drops of your favorite, skin-friendly fragrance. (Essential oils work especially well.) This recipe made of at-home ingredients creates a lovely skin product with your own personal touch.
#15: The Foodie’s Mason Jar
Try putting all the dry ingredients for your favorite soup, cookie, or brownie mix into a mason jar. Write or print the directions needed to finish the recipe, and tie those directions to the jar with ribbon or yarn. Screw on the tightly fitting lid, and voilá — there you have it! Here are just a few of the many recipe ideas you can find online: soup in a jar, brownies in a jar, or cookies in a jar.
These are some of our favorite ways to DIY the holidays on a budget. What about you? What are some of your favorite tips, tricks, and hacks?