31 Christmas Hacks To Help You Detangle The Lights, Bake Gingerbread, & Much More

It's the middle of December, and Christmas is a coming. And though the holidays bring about a certain level of cheer, they also cause some serious stress. I’m talking about screaming while you detangle Christmas lights, freaking out over your less-than-perfectly wrapped gift, and crying over some horrifying cookie decorating fails. It’s a difficult time of year but what that could be made easier by a few Christmas life hacks.

Anything that will save you time and money is huge, but it's especially helpful when it comes to the holidays. Between decorating the house, wrapping gifts, and being in the kitchen, this season is full of opportunities for major mishaps. But who needs extra stress? You're already panicking because the Cabbage Patch Doll double stroller is sold out and now your daughter's Christmas is ruined (or maybe that’s just me) To help you out and give you a few less things to stress about, I've compiled 31 of the best Christmas hacks guaranteed to make your holiday season easy, merry, and bright. And the best part? None of them are ridiculous things like using cardboard boxes to make a cheap tree. All of the decor hacks are still gorgeous, the food hacks are still delicious, and the gift wrapping hacks are still perfect for under the tree. Don't let yourself panic a moment longer. And have some eggnog already, girl. It's just Christmas!


Put Icing In A Condiment Bottle

Royal icing makes gorgeous cookies and a terrible mess. To give you more control over the decorating, fill cheap condiment bottles with your icing to have an easy, mess-free way to give your confection holiday flare.


Decorate With Cranberries & Candles

No need to break your back over Pinterest table settings. Simply fill a tray with cranberries and use tea light candles to give a simple, but gorgeous centerpiece.


Use Pictures As Gift Tags

Not only does this add some personality to your present, but it makes it easier for little ones to find their gifts under the tree.


Fill Serving Dishes With Ornaments

Super simple and festive. Just fill your favorite cake plates, serving dishes, or jars with ornaments for a sweet addition to your tablescape.


Fill Out An Artificial Tree With Green Garland

No matter how great your artificial tree is, you may notice a few empty spots. 3 Litttle Greenwoods suggests grabing some green garland to fill in the holes.


Use A Coat Hanger To Keep Lights From Tangling In The Box

When you're undoing your tree, keep a coat hanger nearby for the lights. It's a great way to keep them from knotting around each other and you can hang them up in a closet for storage.


Use An Ice Cream Cone To Make A Tree

Turn an ice cream cone upside down, slap on some green frosting, and boom — you've got an edible Christmas tree.These can be great centerpieces or top a cupcake or cake.


Make Use Of That Tangled Ball Of Lights

If you've got a ball of lights that isn't going to make it back into strands, don't throw them away. Use them inside of a glass jar, a bowl, or even a pot on your front porch as a bright decoration. No assembly required.


Use Tomato Cages As Outdoor Decorations

Yep, your summer vegetable garden essentials can now double as Christmas decorations. Simply follow this tutorial from Two Twenty One and use different sized tomato cages wrapped with garland and topped with a bow as outdoor decorations.


Reserve Your Lights

If your tree is going to be in a corner, skip stringing lights on the back of it. You can save yourself time by looping the lights on the front and sides of the tree only.


Cover Old Pool Noodles To Look Like Winter Logs

Think a pretty stash of logs would look nice wrapped in a gingham bow on your fireplace? This tutorial from Design Dazzle turns pool noodles into gorgeous, fake birch logs to add some winter wonderland ambiance to your home.


Add Height To Your Christmas Tree

This tip from Tottums includes sneaking a few paint cans under the tree stand and then using your tree skirt to hide them. Your tree will look instantly taller.


Use A Paper Towel Holder For Ribbons

Wrapping presents is fun, but trying to find where you placed the ribbon and watching it bounce on to the floor as you tug a piece is a nightmare. Stack all of your ribbon spools up on a paper towel holder. Then you can pull with ease and keep it all neat and tidy.


Put Lights On Each Individual Branch

If you have a fake Christmas tree, there's an easy way to make it sparkle and glow like you want. Another tutorial from Two Twenty One shows you how to wrap lights around each individual branch, rather than the entire tree at once, keeping it bright and making the wires less noticeable.


Crush Up Candy Canes

Throw some candy canes in a blender and go to town. Once they're totally demolished, you'll have yummy peppermint flavoring you can add to everything from hot chocolate to cookies to frosting.


Freeze Whipped Cream For Hot Cocoa

Squeeze out whipped cream on to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and pop in the freezer. You'll have perfect, frozen whipped cream dollops to add to hot cocoa.


Make Your Own Wrapping Paper

Use plain brown paper to wrap gifts and then use stamps, stickers, ribbons, bows, and even buttons to make it pop. It's cheaper than wrapping paper, totally unique, and something your kids will love to do.


Use Washi Tape To Make Decorations

Super simple and sweet, Homey Oh My! has a fun tutorial on making a wall Christmas tree with washi tape. This is great for temporary decorations or to jazz up an office or bedroom.


Use A Potato Peeler For Chocolate Garnishes

Simply slide the peeler down a block of chocolate like you would a vegetable and you have perfect little curls of chocolate to top desserts.


Use A Paperclip To Find The End Of The Tape

There is nothing more aggravating than trying to find the end of your scotch tape and coming up empty-handed. Use a paper clip to hold on to the end so you can find it easily.


Repurpose Your Pumpkins

Still holding on to those uncarved pumpkins on your porch? Pop a Santa hat on one or paint them white, stack them on top of each other, and now you have snowmen.


Use Candy Canes For Table Settings

You can use them as a vase or even glue two candy canes together and use the curves of the canes to hold place card settings. Festive and cheap.


Add Bells To Your Tree

There's not much you can do if your cat wants to jump on your Christmas tree, but you can remain vigilant by adding bells to the lower branches. You'll be able to hear when your cat's starting to paw at the ornaments. (Also works well for toddlers, TBH.)


Have Your Elf Write A Note That They Are Sick

Tired of moving that darn Elf on the Shelf? Have it write a note to your kids telling them that he's not feeling so well, and then they won't harass you every morning about why your lazy Elf didn't find a new place to sit. He's got a bad leg, OK?


Use Graham Crackers To Build A 'Gingerbread' House

Homemade gingerbread is a total pain, and only Martha Stewart can get the edges perfectly neat. Save money and time by using graham crackers to construct your confectionary house. They're already perfect squares, so you can frost them to build the faux-gingerbread house of your dreams.


Use Floss To String Popcorn Or Cranberries

Floss is thicker and sturdier than thread, and it's a lot easier to poke through the eye of a needle. No one needs flimsy when we're making a popcorn or cranberry garland here. Also, if you're not up for draping your tree with cranberries, place it outside on a tree branch for all the sweet birds and little critters to have a Christmas snack.


Use Tissue Paper To Wrap Odd Shaped Gifts

We've all tried to wrap some crazy, oddly shaped gift only to have it look ridiculous under the tree. Next time, set it in the middle of several pieces of tissue paper, pull all of the sides, and tie it with a bow. If you're looking for something more complex, Make Life Lovely has some other great tips on wrapping oddly shaped gifts.


Make Your Ribbons Wrinkle Free

If you have scraps of ribbon that are wrinkled or have kinks throughout them, carefully rub them against a warm light bulb to make them straight again.


Use A Toilet Paper Roll To Keep Wrapping Paper From Unraveling

Cut one side of a toilet paper roll and use it as a cuff around wrapping paper to keep the ends from unfurling and falling off of its tube.


Use Marshmallows Instead Of Frosting

If you're running out of time, there's no need to frost those cupcakes. Put a large marshmallow on top of the cupcake a few minutes before they are done baking, and put them back in the oven. As soon as the marshmallow starts to melt, use the back of the spoon to flatten and spread the marshmallow over the cupcake for a tasty faux-frosting.


Use Premade Cookie Dough As Pie Crust

Pie crusts are time-consuming and can be totally frustrating. Make your pie even more delicious by using a roll of premade cookie dough. Just flatten it into a pie crust and bake for about 15 minutes.

Images: seanlockephotography/Fotolia; Tottums; Homey Oh My!; Two Twenty One; Design Dazzle; Two Twenty One; Make Life Lovely; Dan McKay, Chris Potako, Maegan Tintari, Cliff, Oakley Originals, Frankie Leon, Scott Feldstein, Lori L. Stalteri, Steven Depolo, Chris J, Jo Naylor, RedBoy, fabfotofx, Jeff Djevdet, David Goehring, fly, torbakhopper, John Morgan, Jelene Morris, Steven Depolo, Shimelle Laine/Flickr; Courtesy of Sarah Darby; Giphy