Hack Your Christmas Decorations & Menu: Tips for an Easier Holiday Season

Though Christmas is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”, it usually ends up being one of the most stressful, especially if you have relatives or friends descending on your home for the celebrations. We have a full gauntlet of tips to make building a fun, holiday-themed menu, while decking out your house at the same time. As a bonus, many of the food ideas double as decorations.

1. Strawberries can easily be turned into Santa. Cut off the leaves to give Santa a flat base, and then slice off the tip to make him a little hat. Use a little white frosting or whipped cream for the middle section, and then replace the hat. If you’re really feeling industrious, you can pipe a little more whipped cream or frosting onto the front of the strawberry to act as buttons, and on the tip, for the fuzzy end of the hat.

2. Make hot chocolate the easy way. Instead of trying to heat up enough water in a kettle to make everyone a glass, make a massive batch of hot chocolate in your slow cooker. It will keep your cocoa at the perfect temperature, and enable you to spend less time boiling water and more time spending time with your guests.

3. Did you know you can make French toast in the oven or slow cooker? Instead of spending most of your Christmas morning trying to flip enough French toast for all of your guests, why don’t you just use a recipe that lets you prepare it the night before and bake it in the oven—or even better, set it in your slow cooker the night before and let it bake overnight.

4. Sugar ice cream cones can become trees. Not only will these be a tasty treat, they can also act as a decoration. Dip pointed ice cream cones (pointy side down), into melted and dyed chocolate. Alternatively, put a few drops of green food coloring into some frosting and frost the cones. Use different colors of candies for ornaments.

5. Stir up your hot cocoa. While plain hot chocolate is great, you can add an additional flair to the drink by creating stir sticks or spoons. One way is to put marshmallows on the end of candy canes. Dipping plastic spoons in melted chocolate is another way to put a twist on this classic drink. Spooning out individual portions of whipped cream and then freezing them will cool down too-hot drinks and make each glass of cocoa easier to prepare.

6. Make Christmas-themed pancakes. Did you know you can use cookie cutters to shape your pancakes? Put the cookie cutters in the pan when you are ready to pour your first pancakes, and then fill them about half way. By the time they are ready to flip (when the bubbles pop and don’t refill themselves) the pancake will be solid enough you can remove the cookie cutter.

7. Build a graham cracker house. If you’re not a fan of gingerbread, or just don’t want to spend all day making it, build your houses out of graham crackers instead. They’re more readily available and make smaller houses. Top them off with candy accents.

8. Use a glass to print shortbread cookies. If you don’t have any shortbread stamps but still want to share this holiday classic with your friends, use the bottom of a fancy glass to stamp each cookie. Find one with a star shape for a true Christmas-y effect.

9. Making a popcorn garland? Use dental floss! Instead of using embroidery floss (which is expensive) or yarn, use dental floss. Popcorn will be less resistant and less prone to breaking if you use the waxed variety, and if you don’t intend on ever eating the popcorn, you can use a mint-flavored brand, to give you tree a unique minty scent.

10. Use a waffle iron to make cinnamon rolls. Making cinnamon rolls or waffles for Christmas can take a long time. If you combine the technology of a waffle iron with the easy of canned cinnamon rolls, you get easy, delicious cinnamon roll waffles that are as easy as putting the rolls into the iron, clamping down, and eating when they are golden brown!

11. Turn powdered sugar donuts into snowmen. A little bit of orange and black frosting will transform powdered donuts into an army of snowmen. Use the black for the eyes and mouth and the orange to make a carrot nose. These are great to make on Christmas Eve and then break out on Christmas morning.

12. Make elf donuts. If your kids (or you) still enjoy leaving cookies out for Santa, why not leave something for his hardworking elves, too? Making elf donuts is as easy as getting a box of cheerios and decorating them with chocolate, sprinkles, and powdered sugar.

13. Egg cartons make great ornament storage. If you have a bunch of people at your house, you’ve probably already stocked up on eggs. Who doesn’t like a hardboiled, scrambled, or fried egg in the morning? But what to do with all those empty cartons? Once the festivities are done, use them to store your ornaments!

Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful. A few preparations beforehand and the holiday will be a breeze! Hack your Christmas menu and decorations with a few of these easy tips and you will be rocking around the Christmas tree in no time. The holidays should be fun, and they can be again!

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