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Christmas Central - Merry Tips

 Cheery Christmas Decor

  • Arrange a couple of poinsettias in a bare corner and tie big, bright bows around the pots.

  • Decorate a guest bath: Wrap the tissue box like a gift, tie ribbons to the shower curtain rings and set out small fragrant flower arrangements.

  • Put out a potpourri of pine needles, orange rinds and cinnamon sticks.

  • Sew small brass jingle bells along the hem of a tablecloth.

  • Boost the effect of votive candles by placing them on squares of mirrored glass.

  • Tie a festive scarf around a stuffed bear and set him up in a chair.

 Festive Christmas Ideas

  • Christmas Firecrackers - Cut up paper towel roll, insert small gifts, then cover in red or green tissue paper. Tie the ends with ribbon and decorate. Glue on gold and red stripes or colored bands of fancy-edged paper. Or punch out contrasting trees and glue all over. If desired, shred ends with pinking shears.

  • Simply fill a platter with nuts, insert a large round candle and place poinsettia blooms around the nuts for a perfect holiday table accent.

  • Try draping a length of beaded garland on a lampshade to add holiday flair. You can even use a strand of beads as a curtain tie-back.

  • A few days before you decorate your Christmas tree, put your tinsel in the freezer. It'll be static-free and easier to drape on the tree. 

  • Here's a unique way for children to have fun in the snow: fill some squirt bottles with water and a bit of food coloring, then let the kid's squirt colorful designs in the snow.

  • If your fine crystal stemware is stained or discolored, fill each glass with water and drop in a a denture-cleaning tablet. The effervescent action will get the glasses crystal clear.

  • Keep little ones safe - create an alarm system that will keep small children or pets safe and out of trouble around the Christmas tree: Attach small bells to the ends of the lower branches. If little hands or paws get too close to the tree, your warning bells will ring!

  • To hold candles more firmly in their holders, use miniature cupcake liners. They fit into most candles holders and can be purchased in pretty silver and gold tones.

  • Give your table a decorative dimension by placing a paper doily over fabric place mats - or over a tablecloth - at each place setting.

  • Spray your precious table linens with a fabric protector a few days before you plan to use them. Then the inevitable spills will be less likely to stain.

  •  Switch a lampshade to one in a dark solid hue for an intimate ambience. 

  • Arrange candles in front of a mirror to double the magical glow.

  • Pile colorful mittens, mufflers and knitted caps in a big basket by the back door for a bright room accent.

  • For a great holiday scent, buy a small fragrant topiary-such as rosemary- for a kitchen windowsill.

  •  Buy fragrant soaps, wrap them in colorful tissue and place them in a basket in the guest bathroom.

  •  Tie ribbons around the the base of candlesticks for extra decor.

  • Arrange a group of candles -both votive and tapers-on a pretty mirror or tray. Even unlit, they'll look festive.

  • Tuck wooden toys or antique dolls among pin boughs on a mantelpiece for an old-fashioned flair.

  • Fill glass pitchers or vases with Christmas balls and sprigs of holly.

  • Invert a plastic berry basket over a bow when mailing a package to prevent the bow from getting crushed.

  • Don't toss that turkey or chicken wishbone, save them. Wash and dry thoroughly and spray-paint it a bright holiday color, like red or green. Attach and ribbon and use it as a package decoration. Kids will jump at the chance to make a special Christmas wish.

  • Run errands for an elderly or homebound person. This is especially needy for those states which have snow as many elderly people cannot or will not drive when it snows

  • Write Christmas greetings on red and green balloons and deliver them to a nursing home or hospital patients.

  • Give an anonymous gift of money to someone who has hit some hard times or has been laid off from their jobs.

  • Learn the history of one holiday tradition-mistletoe, the Christmas tree, reindeer, etc. - and share it with your family as you eat your Christmas Cookies.

  • Try to put your troubles on hold. It's okay to postpone worrying about your child's report care until after Christmas. Allow yourself the give of joy!

  • Forgive someone. There is no serenity like peace in your life.

  • If you are planning to give money (to a teen who's hard to buy for, for example) stop at a bank and get new bills and shiny coins. Put the cash in a unique piggy bank.

  • Do you holiday shopping in a store or even a city you don't normally frequent. The change may inspire new ideas.

  • Tie kids packages with decorative shoe laces or hair ribbon instead of paper or plastic ribbon. Fun to wear after the holidays!

  • For a lovely scent, tie two cinnamon sticks together with bright red or green ribbon, then hook on tree. Put several of these around the tree and in different areas of the house for an extra good scent.

  • Fill your home with the scent of Christmas. Place orange rind, cloves, cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Let mixture simmer on low heat. 

  • Save the inner sleeves that light bulbs come in. They are perfect for storing your precious delicate Christmas ornaments.

  • Use a hair dryer on price stickers that won't come off.  Wave it across the sticker for a minute or so and when the glue gets warm, the sticker will come right off. 

  • Keep a tin of pirouette cookies on hand to serve with fresh fruit salad. Or tuck them into scoops of ice cream for an instant upgrade.

  • Add elegance to even the simplest desserts by serving it in stemmed glasses.

  • Chocolate leaves: Brush melted chocolate on undersides of clean, nonpoisonous leaves, such as mint or rose leaves. Let set, then carefully peel off. Refrigerate chocolate leaves in an airtight container and they'll keep for months. Use them to decorate cakes or creamy desserts.

  • Keep a sugar shaker filled with confectioner's sugar and ready in the kitchen. A snowy dusting of white sugar is the fastest way to give a pretty finish to cakes, pies or cookies-- any dessert that has a dry surface.

  • Cut snowflake shapes out of paper doilies and arrange them on unfrosted dark cake (such as chocolate or gingerbread). Sift confectioner's sugar over the cake, then carefully lift off the doilies.

  • Do as pastry chefs do and lightly sift confectioner's sugar over the food and the rim of the plate. For special occasions, sprinkle a light trail of cocoa around the edge of the plate before dusting with sugar. 

  • Clever gift wrapping: Make your gift wrap functional and it becomes a part of the present. For example, use a pretty scarf, cloth napkin or tea towel to wrap the gift. Then decorate the package with hair accessories or dried flowers.

  •  Spatter tissue paper with metallic paint. Let dry well. Wrap with ribbon close to shade of metallic paint.

  • Wrap a small present in a colorful scarf or bandana and tie with twine.

  • Line a berry basket with tissue and tuck in a gift.

 Holiday Accents

  • Dress up the table with a cascade of sugar dusted fruit. Simply brush fruit with  lightly beaten egg white, dip in granulated sugar and air-dry on rack. Display on fine china or a 2 Tiered display.

  • Add a string of Christmas lights to a large potted plant.

  • Tuck sprigs of holly into the soil around potted plants.

  • Fill tin cookie cutters with cranberries and popcorn and display them, with sprigs of holly, on a pretty platter.

  • Create a glitzy display of golden jingle bells in a crystal bow. Add a snippet of green and a red ribbon for the traditional cheer.

  • In a bowl, place some greens from a pine tree tied in a green or red bow. Place a lemon and two limes (or vice versa) pegged with cloves. 

  • Place a bunch of pine cones, walnuts and a few pieces of greenery in a sterling silver bowl. Accent by throwing in a few pieces of metallic silver ribbons.

  • Place some fruit in a low lying bowl and put some garland of silver bead all around the fruit and the inside of the bowl. Place the bowl on a mat make of pine tree trimmings.

  • In a decorative bowl, place a few small, wrapped presents in the bowl surrounded by small ornaments with colors to accent the presents. 

  • Pierce an orange with whole cloves until the entire fruit is covered. Repeat with apples. Place the scented arrangement in a decorative bowl for a fragrant centerpiece.

  • Fill your home with the scent of a pleasant potpourri. Place orange rind, cloves, cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Let mixture simmer on low heat. Watch carefully so water does not boil away. 

 Just for Kids

  • Design Christmas window scenes: Cover window with glass wax; allow it to dry. Let your children draw a scene with their fingers. 

  • Cover your kitchen table with butcher paper and let the kids red and green designs all over it. Use it as a tablecloth.

  • Make a Spackle sculpture wreath. Mix 1 cup of water and 1 cup of Spackle to for the consistency of whipped cream. Mix in green food coloring. Spoon onto waxed paper and mold into a wreath shape. Let dry and add bows and small ornaments with hot glue.

  • Bread Bears - thaw frozen bread dough (one small loaf makes two small bears). Divide and form dough. One larger piece for the bear's mid section and 5 smaller pieces, one for the head and 4 for the arms and legs. Pinch body parts together. Use raisins as the eyes and mouth and on the tummy for buttons. Bake following directions on the bread dough package. Cool for about 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool the bears completely.

  • Make yarn snowflakes. Dip a 36" piece of yarn on a piece of waxed paper. When dry, peel it away from the paper. Sprinkle with glitter.

  • Create a Christmas tree for the birds. String popcorn, cranberries and raisins on a fishing line. Hang outdoors but remember to remove the fishing when empty (this is very important). 

  • Make place mats from old greeting cards. Cut pictures from the cards and place on a piece of poster board cut to resemble a placemat. Glue or tape pictures to hold place and cover both sides with clear contact paper.

 Stocking Stuffer Ideas

  • Delight a child with sets of stickers, funny sneaker laces, mini-animals, crayons and paints.

  • Surprise a gardener with seed packets, bulbs, gloves or a gardening hat.

  • Offer a coffee lover exotic beans, a mug

  • Give a sewer a silver thimble, fancy buttons

  • Give a sports fan baseball cards, tennis balls

  • Start a tradition of giving a small child a small blown glass animal each year and watch their collection grow.

  • Kids love crayons and small coloring books.

  • Holiday earrings and watches are wonderful stocking stuffers

  • Lottery tickets are fun way to start the holiday!

  • Stuff the stockings with socks! Everyone needs socks, buy holiday socks, panty-hose, knee-highs, running socks and footsie socks.

 Eat Less with These Party Tips

  • Get decked for the halls in something slinky. In a tight dress or belt, you'll feel every every overindulgence. and a quick mirror check will remind you of the figure you want to keep.

  • Don't arrive anywhere hungry or you'll be more likely to overdo it. Have a filling low-cal snack a half hour before you hit the party circuit.

  • If an especially tempting tray is making the rounds, hit the ladies room. Apply lipstick or gloss and pop a mint, nothing goes good  with a mint so things won't seem as tempting.

  • Denying yourself a favorite food could lead to a binge later on. Better to allow yourself a bit of you want.

  • Drinking may loosen your inhibitions and lead to overeating. Have a maximum of two drinks per party, spaced at least an hour apart; sip seltzer in between.

  • If you use a small plate to hold your appetizers and snacks; you'll fill it up with less but looks like more.

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