Tis the season to spend too much time and money on little details and mishaps. Here are tried-and-true tips and tricks to make your holidays a bit easier…

Cleaning Tricks

Fallen pine needles. If you don’t want to lug out the vacuum, wrap a piece of duct tape around your hand and pat to pick up pine needles.

Dried candle drips. Set your blow-dryer with a nozzle on a high setting. Direct the heat over drippings, and hold for 20 seconds or until the wax melts. Wipe immediately with a paper towel. For Hanukkah candleholders: Remove the melted wax with Q-tips.

Cranberry sauce stains. Remove any remains with a butter knife. Rinse with cold water. Place a clean paper towel or cloth under the stain to prevent “bleeding.” Douse with aerosol hair spray to loosen the stain. Blot with a clean cloth or paper towel. Launder per care instructions.

Carpet indents. Place a damp cloth on the indent, and hold a steam iron at least four inches above it for 30 seconds. The steam helps the carpet fibers return to their original upright position. Next, use the edge of a coin to work out the dent by rubbing it back and forth until the carpet is fluffy again.


Fill glass vases with candy, pinecones, ornaments or fruit. Rather than buy floral centerpieces that can cost $40 (or more) each, fill cylinder vases you’ve collected from flower deliveries (or you can buy them cheaply at a dollar store) with candy canes, peppermint swirls ($5 for about three pounds) or red and green Hershey Kisses. Or use pinecones, ornamental balls or fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes or apples.

Use decorative cupcake liners for individual snacks. Fill with items such as mixed nuts, small pretzels or trail mix so that guests can chomp and toss.

Dab incandescent lightbulbs with peppermint oil. The scent will be “activated” when the lights are turned on, warming the oil and adding a fresh holiday scent. Make sure that the bulbs are off and cold before adding the oil.

Make a ribbon dispenser out of a shoebox. Cut a hole at each end of the shoebox wide enough to put a ­paper towel tube through it. Trim the tube to fit. Place spools of ribbon on the tube, and insert it into the holes. On the long side of the shoebox, cut half-inch slits to thread ribbon from each spool. Pull each ribbon through its slit. Do not seal the ends where the tube is inserted so that you can restock the spool.

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