Life Hacks – Tips and Tricks for Making Life Easier: Holiday Gifts

There are countless problems you encounter on a daily basis that can put a little speed bump in your day. Life hacks are those “a-ha moments” where you find the simplest solution to your daily problems often using items immediately at your disposal. Each month, this column will take you through some creative hacks to use in all different areas of your life to make your day to day as simple as possible. For December, we’ll explore hacks for gift giving this holiday season.

Keeping track of your Christmas list can be a chore in itself. You may start it on one sheet of paper and then forget that sheet and start a new one, or put it in your phone and the kids find it while borrowing to it to play games. Download Christmas Gift List on your Android phone. This handy app allows you to password protect your Christmas list; send your lists to other apps, programs or emails; archive your gift list after the new year, so you remember what you bought everyone the year before; budget your gift list; keep track of money spent and total budget; and it even allows you to mark the gifts as purchased and then as wrapped once you finish the final touches.

If you have a space lover on your gift list, you can create an awesome homemade gift this year. Grab some glass or plastic clear tree ornaments (plastic if there are pets or children in the home). Find some pictures online of galaxies, or pick their favorite galaxy if you know it and grab crayons in the closest colors you can find. Chop up the crayons into small pieces and drop in the ornaments. Heat with a hair dryer and turn to spread around the ornament. Add glitter for more sparkle.

Jar gifts are a great idea for co-workers, friends or those with big families. You can assemble several jars for as little or as much as your budget allows. You can even cater your gifts to your recipients’ likes and interests. Mason jars are easy containers to pick up, and you can buy them in bulk. Fill with items that can be themed such as a spa day jar with a nail file, polish, clippers, relaxing scented lotion and a pair of fuzzy socks. If making each gift themed is not possible, then try making homemade candles, sugar scrubs, Christmas décor or even dessert mixes or cocoa mixes they can make later.

This holiday season, make sure you make time to give back to those that aren’t as fortunate as you. Try a reverse advent calendar. Put out a basket or box in your home and, each day, add an item to the basket. On Christmas Eve, donate the contents to your favorite cause. Put some thought into the items you’re donating based on where you’re donating. Many shelters and rescues have wish lists of items they need most. If you have kids at home, this is a great way to teach them that the holidays are also about sharing with others and not just receiving gifts. This is also a great project for your office.

A great co-worker gift is a personalized mug made by you. They’re easy to create, and they will help everyone keep up with their mugs at the office. There are several options to create a mug. You can paint with chalk paint, so they can change out the design or message regularly. You can monogram by grabbing some scrapbook sticker letters and some Sharpie paint pens. Place the sticker on the mug, and use your paint pens to make dots all around the sticker. Once you’ve created a look you like, you remove the sticker and then place your mug on a cookie sheet in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees to make them dishwasher friendly. Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated for this part. Allow to bake for 30 minutes, and then turn off the stove and allow to cool inside the oven.