Easy Ways to Store Christmas Decorations

Easy ways to store Christmas decorations.We all love decorating for the holidays: it’s cheerful, nostalgic, and just plain fun. But the aftermath? That can be a little less enthralling. This year take a few extra steps when storing your decorations after Christmas, and your sanity will thank you next year when it’s time to get them out again. These easy ideas will make holiday cleanup a breeze:

The Christmas Tree

It’s the focal point of all your decorating, but how do you store an artificial tree to ensure it lasts for years to come? First, saran wrap. Wrap the tree securely to keep dust off year-round. Then choose its storage place wisely. Try to make space for it on the same level of the house that you use it, instead of risking damage by hauling it up or down stairs or squeezing it into a tight attic space. No one will mind it in a guest bedroom or even an office.


Nothing can halt holiday cheer quite as quickly as tangled Christmas lights. Stop the frustration before it starts by wrapping strands on paper towel rolls. Or utilize an extra plastic hanger or two, then, simply hang them in a closet or storage room until next year. Plus, it doesn’t take any extra time than it does to roll them into the knot you’ll have to deal with next year. Take a look:

Use a plastic coat hanger to keep Christmas light strands tangle free.


Tree Ornaments

Before you splurge on the pricey products promising to keep your ornaments safe, consider a more frugal option. We’ve always loved the versatility of hanging shoe organizers, so why not use them for holiday décor? They’ll store ornaments neatly in a closet, but you can grab a few extra and use them to organize small gift bags, bows, ribbons, and gift tags.

Wrapping paper

It’s so easy and satisfying to stock up on wrapping paper once it hits the clearance rack after Christmas. But once the roll is opened, it can quickly become unrolled—turning that beautiful paper into a wrinkled disaster. Save some empty toilet paper rolls, and with one cut down the middle you can wrap them around wrapping paper tubes. A little tape will keep it secure and won’t harm the paper.

Utilize Totes

Lastly, do a little extra work and feel like an organizing guru. With the right tools, installing hanging tote organizers in the garage is an easy weekend project. Just keep the original boxes for the rest of your decorations, stack in a plastic tote, and hang them up with satisfaction until the next holiday season rolls around.

How to host your first holiday dinner

How to host your first holiday dinner.

First-time homeowners, unite! This is your year for finally hosting a holiday dinner. It’s a rite of passage, an honor, and also? Just a whole lot of fun. Don’t worry about stressing, just use these basic steps to turn your holiday hosting into an appetite-pleasing, perfectly decorated event that everyone can enjoy.

Start with a list.

You’ll need lists, lots of them. For starters, create a guest list. Then once you decide on a direction for the meal, make a grocery list. But don’t forget to keep a non-food list as well—you’ll want to include things like napkins and decorations (or even extra Tupperware). You can minimalize list stress by using an invitation service like www.evites.com. Electronically send invitations and then manage RSVPs.

Choose a style.

Your style is your own, and it should suit the guests you’re inviting as well. You can go five-star formal, or opt for a more low-key buffet style meal. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s something you’re comfortable with. If you have a huge gathering, there’s no shame in disposable plates to help with the cleanup. From five-star to buffet, a buffet warmer is staple that will serve your household for years to come. Consider your options here.

Buffet Warmer - great for hosting your first holiday dinner.

Self-Serve Drinks

Empower your guests by setting up a self-serve bar for drinks. It only takes a few kitchen staples and ingredients, and it allows you to focus on food and socializing and not refilling glasses. Plus, you can throw in a few decorations to make it an eye appealing focal point. Think of it like the office water cooler, a nice gathering place for guests.

Self-Serve Bar for Drinks - Holiday Hosting Idea


Don’t fret, decorating for your holiday meal doesn’t need to be a stressful event. A few things here and there will do plenty to set the mood. Remember holiday colors, and don’t forget the power of a few seasonal items like pine cones and tinsel. We happen to think that place cards are a delightful way to make your guests feel special, and this place card idea gives cranberries a fantastic use.

Holiday Place Holders - great for hosting holiday dinner

Most importantly, have fun! This is your home, your people, your meal. You have everything to enjoy, right in front of you. After dinner, switch on the fireplace or a good movie, and simply relish in a job well done.


Make holidays less stressful with a pre-Christmas cleanup

Make holidays less stressful with a pre-Christmas cleanup

The last thing you want to do during the holiday season is add yet another item to your list of things to do. But giving your home a solid declutter before Christmas will actually make the holidays less stressful. Everything runs better in a clean environment, so use this guide to tackle a few areas each day, and by the time Christmas Day is here you’ll be ready to relish in your accomplishments.

  • Start low. Under the bed is the perfect storage place for wrapping paper and other small items, so tidy it up now before it’s time to start storing.
  • Whether you’re traveling near or far for the holidays, a clean car will make commuting merrier. Clean out trash and give it a quick swipe with the vacuum. Keep it clean by hanging bags on the back of chairs for future trash.
  • Manage your coat closet for snow days by purging little-used or too-small outerwear. Put lighter jackets on one side and heavy coats on the other for easy grabbing.
  • Then head to the rest of your closets. It doesn’t need to be an all-day project, but do get rid of anything you haven’t worn in a few months. Consider an inexpensive organizer for shoes or even socks.
  • You’ll be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, so make it an enjoyable place to be by decluttering the fridge. Make space for your favorite dishes in the fridge, and clean up the storage bins and shelving.
  • Next, tackle the junk drawer. It’s easy to close the drawer and ignore the mess, but it’s even easier to clean it once and organize it for life with silverware trays. This might be the least fun task, but trust us, it’s worth it.
  • Tupperware is a holiday staple if you want to send guests home with leftovers, or take Tupperware with you for your own leftovers. Organize your Tupperware stash and finally toss those extra lids. Then find a good sale on a new Tupperware sets to permanently “loan” to hungry friends and family.
  • While the kids are home from school, clean out their backpacks and start fresh in January. Take a few extra minutes to clean out purses and wallets too.
  • Christmas break is a great time to cuddle and watch movies, so make sure yours are organized. Get each DVD back in its original case, and weed out any movies you don’t watch anymore.
  • Take a deep breath … and then tackle the toy room. Purging is absolutely necessary before the kids bring in their haul of new Christmas toys. Chances are they won’t even notice what’s gone.
  • Finally, the key to a good declutter is giving back. Don’t just toss your hard work in the trash; donate it to a good cause. You can enjoy your clean home, and others will enjoy your generosity.

Home selling tips for the holidays

Home Selling Tips for the HolidaysFor many, the holiday season isn’t always the ideal time to list a house. But don’t let the hustle and bustle deter you from calling an agent and getting that “for sale” sign in the front yard. The housing market keeps going even if there’s snow on the ground—and yes—even during the Christmas season. If now is your time to move, then simply use some of these tips to maintain your sanity and sell your house during this busy season.

  1. Keep decorations to a minimum. We know, it sounds like something The Grinch would say. But limiting all of the holiday extras in your house will help stage your home for potential buyers. The extra decorations make it harder for a buyer to visualize the home as their own, and they create extra packing work for you when your closing rolls around.
  2. Keep the sidewalks and driveway clear. It’s a task you do anyway during the winter months, but putting in a little extra work and planning ahead for weather will save you from scrambling on the snowy morning of a showing. Buyers and agents will appreciate a clear walkway, and there’s nothing like a great first impression.
  3. You can also strike up a bargain to limit the amount of new toys entering the home. Try asking the kids if they’d like a mini-vacation instead of the usual pile of toys. You’ll create new memories and keep the house clutter-free at the same time. It might even become a welcomed tradition for years to come. But that doesn’t mean nothing under your Christmas tree: just try sticking to the magical rule of three. Buy the little ones one thing they need, one thing they want, and one thing to wear or read.
  4. Say no to hosting. This is the one time you have a really valid excuse. Ask a family member to trade with you if it’s “your year” to host, and in exchange you can bring a couple extra side dishes to help out. The last thing you need when you’re worried about keeping the house “showing ready” is extra guests and messes.
  5. Make your home extra appealing with a little extra heat. Remember that buyers will be coming in from the cold, so keep their comfort in mind by cranking up the heat a few extra notches. A cold house won’t feel inviting, and they won’t be encouraged to stay and look around. A nice, toasty home will be a haven from the snow that they just might not want to leave.
  6. Don’t forget to use your resources. Your Realtor will be the best source of information about finding the right buyers, pricing to sell, as well as keeping an occupied or vacant home show ready. Write down a list of questions (and your agent’s answers!) and relax this holiday season.

Live Christmas Tree Tips

Live Christmas Tree Tips

Every year between 25-30 million people take the plunge and purchase a live Christmas tree for their festive décor. If that sounds like a lot of trees, consider that there are currently 350 million Christmas trees growing in the United States. Crazy, right? So, let’s take a look at how to properly care for your live Christmas tree; you’ll get your money’s worth by enjoying its beauty all month long.

  • Start with the buying process. Choose a reputable nursery or tree farm. If you see needles scattered around the floor, try a different store. The Farmer’s Almanac reports that the most popular types of Christmas trees sold are Scotch pine, Douglas fir, white pine, and balsam fir. Ask a store associate if you have questions about which kind is right for you.
  • Before you start decorating, take a few inches off the trunk with a saw, and after the tree is secured in a tree stand, let the watering begin! A freshly cut tree can down nearly a gallon of water in the first 24 hours. We’ve all seen Christmas Vacation; don’t let the tree dry out! A watered tree is a beautiful tree, so treat it like an extra pet this month.
  • For safety reasons, keep your tree away from any sources of heat. A tree might look breathtaking next to a fireplace, but it’s just not worth the risk. The same rule applies to heaters and direct sunlight. Sunlight won’t be a safety concern, but trees kept at a lower temperature are less likely to dry out and drop needles—your vacuum will thank you!
  •  Avoid adding anything to the water you give your tree. Additives and old wives’ tales like honey or aspirin can be tempting to add, but they aren’t necessary and won’t prolong the life of your tree. Instead, you simply need to feel the needles on your tree for dryness to determine if you should add more water.
  • Lastly, when the season is over and you’re ready to dispose of your tree, you can get crafty or simply recycle it. Holmes Lake offers an annual Christmas tree drop-off in January where discarded trees are turned into mulch. You can also consider cutting the tree for your own firewood, using the trunk as a perch for birds to feed, or using the branches as DIY mulch.

Must-See Holiday Lights in and around Lincoln

Must-See Holiday Lights in Lincoln, NEPiling the entire family in the car, armed with hot chocolate and the best Christmas tunes, is a time-honored holiday tradition. The goal, of course, is to drive around town to see the best holiday light displays. With all the hustle and bustle of every holiday season, this tradition is one of the best ways to just relax and enjoy the family. To make the most of your holiday light sightseeing, be sure and use this handy list to guide your tour around town:

Start Close to Home

The Lincoln Journal Star shares their list of must-see light displays from 2015, so it’s a great idea to check back at these locations to see how they’ve outdone themselves this year. But on your way there, don’t forget to check out your neighborhood. After you’ve decorated your own home, of course, take a drive around to see the creativity of your neighbors.

Nativity Scenes

Many churches offer a drive-through nativity scene in their parking lot. It’s a warm way to get into the holiday spirit. There are plenty around town to choose from, but you can start with the Journey to Bethlehem at Piedmont Park Seventh Day Adventist Church or the living nativity scene that Southern Heights Presbyterian Church hosts from December 15-16.

Lincoln’s Capitol

For an indoor display, you have to include the Christmas tree displayed inside of the Capitol building. The tree arrives each year during the first week of December, and it’s even decorated to represent each of the 93 counties in Nebraska. There’s plenty of history and learning involved, and the building is open to visitors every day except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Stuhr Museum

Grand Island is the perfect destination for Christmas tree enthusiasts. The Stuhr Museum has dozens of trees on display until January 4th. You’ll find the admission prices hard to turn down: ages five and under get in free, and tickets range from $4-$6 depending on age. The Stuhr hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you can check out more details on their website.


Whether you’re from Omaha or not, you can’t pass up all that the Old Market has to offer, especially during the Christmas season. There are endless restaurants and coffee shops to choose from for a quick snack or elaborate meal, and the mood is set perfectly with the light displays brightening up downtown. See other Omaha lighting displays from our sister company, CBSHOME.

Lincoln Children’s Zoo

Lastly, you can please everyone in the family, including the little ones, with a trip to the Lincoln Children’s Zoo to see Santa. The zoo offers The North Pole Express on December 1-4, 9-11, and 16-18. The zoo is decorated for the season and with a train ride, hot chocolate, elves, and Santa himself, you can’t go wrong. Learn more about times and ticket prices on their website.

Things to Do in the Lincoln Area: December 2016

Lincoln, NE area events: December 2016Check out our list of area events this month:

12/1-12/2 10 am – 8 pm Holiday of Trees 2110 Sheridan Blvd

12/1-12/4 (see website for times) The Wickedly Sensational Songs From Oz The TADA Theatre

12/1-12/24 LUX Center for the Arts Presents Gifted

12/2 5-8 pm FREE First Friday Art Walk downtown and at various galleries, Lincoln

12/2 5 pm-Midnight Railyard Ice Rink Grand Opening

12/2-3 7:30 pm Santaland Diaries Haymarket Theatre

12/3-12/22 Candy House Funshop Lincoln Children’s Museum (see website for times)

12/3 3-7 pm Christmas on 84th St

12/3 12-4 pm Critter Corner & Archery Fun Shoot

12/3 11 am-noon & 1-2 pm Gateway Mall presents Sounds of The Season

12/3 11 am-6 pm Haymarket Unwrapped

12/3 9 am-4 pm FREE admission Gifts & Giving Arts & Crafts Show Lancaster Event Center

12/3 7-10 pm Hyde Observatory Free Programs south side of Holmes Lake

12/3 10 am – noon Mrs. Claus Story Time at The Railyard

12/4 Holiday Open House Free 1-4 pm Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center

12/4 3 pm Nebraska Brass Concert Series presents A Nebraska Brass Christmas Traditional Holiday Favorites Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church

12/4 10 am – 2 pm FREE 2nd Holiday Harvest Farmers Market

12/4 2 pm & 6 pm Lincoln Symphony Orchestra: Deck the Halls Lied Center

12/5 7:30 pm Lorie Line: A Merry Little Christmas 2016 Holiday Tour Rococo Theatre

12/5 7 pm Stevie Nicks & Pretenders Pinnacle Bank

12/5 7:30 pm Rhapsody in Black Carson Theater

12/6-12/8 Free (see website for times) Nebraska Power Farming Show Lancaster Event Center

12/8 4-9 pm Lincoln Holiday Craftacular Embassy Suites

12/8, 12/15, 12/22, 12/29 7 pm FREE Holiday Movie Series in the Railyard (check website for schedule)

12/8-12/10 A Christmas Wizard of Oz (see website for times)

12/9-12/11 Christmas Cabaret with Judy Anderson & Friends James Arthur Vineyards(see website for times)

12/9 7:30 pm Brian Regan Lied Center

12/9 4-8 pm Mrs. Claus at Scheels

12/9-12/11, & 12/16-18 Elf Jr. Lincoln Community Playhouse (see website for times)

12/9-12/10 8 pm Winter Laser Shows: Morrill Hall

12/10 7:30 pm Canadian Brass Christmas Lied Center

12/11 1pm building opens FREE State Capitol Tree Ceremony

12/11 7:30 pm Cornhusker Marching Band Highlights Concert Lied Center

12/17-12/18 Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company Presents: The Nutcracker Lied Center (see website for times)

12/20 3 & 7:30 pm Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis Lied Center

12/29 FREE 10 am-Noon, Christmas Bird Count for Kids Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center

12/29-12/31 Nebraska Kart Shootout Lancaster Event Center

12/31 6-8:30 Make Believe Midnight Lincoln Children’s Museum

12/31 8pm Rock & Soul New Year’s Eve featuring Soul Dawg & Wheezetones Rococo Theatre


Santa Sightings

Dec 1-24 (see website for times) Santa. Is. Here. Gateway Mall

Dec 1 -24 (see website for times) The Santa Station SouthPointe Pavilions Shopping Center

Dec 1-4, Dec 9-11, Dec 16-18, North Pole Express (see website for times)

Dec 1 6-8 pm Santa. Paws. Gateway Mall

Dec 2 5-8 pm Holiday Spectacular Lincoln Children’s Museum

Dec 2, Dec 9, Dec 16, 6-9 pm Holidays in The Haymarket (Santa will be strolling in the area)

Dec 3 8-11 am Breakfast with Santa & Holidays in the Haymarket


Ongoing December sporting events: Check websites

University of Nebraska Sports Schedule

Nebraska Wesleyan University Sports Schedule

Union College Sports Schedule

Lincoln Stars Hockey Schedule




Thanksgiving Fun at the Kids’ Table

Thanksgiving Fun at the Kids' Table

Most of us have memories at the kids’ table during Thanksgiving and holidays. It can seem like an exclusion from all the adult festivities, but with these fun and creative ideas, the kids’ table doesn’t have to be a banishment. Incorporate some of these concepts into your Thanksgiving table for little ones, and even your adult guests will want to join in the fun.

Elbows Off the Table, Crayons On

If the best part of eating at Macaroni Grill was getting to color on the table, then this idea is for you. A large roll of white paper (or orange to keep it festive) is all you need to add creativity to Thanksgiving. Cover your own kids’ table in paper, provide plenty of crayons, and let the kids’ imaginations go wild. Show them how to turn their handprint into Thanksgiving turkeys for extra fun.

Corn Husk Friends

If you’re a Little House on the Prairie fan, you might remember this concept. Use corn cobs or corn husks to create pilgrim dolls, and watch your Thanksgiving table decorations double as interactive play for all the kiddos. Martha Stewart outlines how here.

Corn Husk Dolls

Timeless Pilgrim Decorations

Martha also gets credit for this simple yet oh-so-appealing table decoration. You don’t even need to be a master crafter to pull off this look. It’s a simple “less is more” design that still incorporates a nice history lesson into your Thanksgiving meal. Throw in some Thanksgiving trivia questions to get the conversation flowing. Use this link for directions and free printables.

Pilgrim Centerpiece

Activity Book

Double the use of your tablecloth crayons by giving each child a Thanksgiving coloring and activity book. The book is free to download and print and can keep kids of all ages occupied for hours … or at least until the pie is served.

Thanksgiving coloring pages

Centerpiece with a Surprise

We can’t get enough of this paper bag turkey centerpiece. But the best part is the surprise snack inside. You can show off your creativity and impeccable taste in snacking, but the best part is how easy this craft is to pull off.

Paper Bag Turkey

A Healthy Dessert

We know, we know, it’s not quite pie (We really encourage you to serve that, too.) but you just can’t go wrong with these cute and healthy fruit cornucopias. Plus, we all know the easiest way to get kids to eat healthy is to make it eye appealing. This healthy after-dinner snack only comes with one catch—make enough for the adults, too, because these are just too difficult to pass up.

fruit cornucopias

Focus on Thankfulness with these 5 Tips

5 Tips to Focus on ThankfulnessThanksgiving is upon us! The season of food, family, and football is fast approaching, and our to-do lists are growing to prove it. While we don’t recommend that you ignore that to-do list completely, there is a healthy balance of planning for the holidays and enjoying them at the say time. So instead of rushing through Thanksgiving and feeling accomplished when every chore on your list is checked off, take a moment to slow down and really consider how to be grateful this Thanksgiving.

1. Volunteer.

We don’t all have the extra cash to donate to our favorite causes, especially around the holidays. But your time is just valuable as your wallet. There are no shortages of programs to which to give a few hours of your time, and you might find that once you start volunteering, it becomes a welcomed habit in your life. Animal shelters, retirement homes, hospitals, food banks—they all rely on the helping hands of volunteers. But if you do find yourself with some extra funds, use them! Keep money handy in your wallet for every time you pass a bell ringer. Hand out gift cards to the homeless. Or when a checkout clerk asks the standard, “Would you like to donate a dollar to…” proudly say, “Yes!” Whatever it is you have to give, a little goes a long way when we all give together.

2. Be Mindful of Being Thankful.

When the Thanksgiving meal is over and the turkey coma is just starting to set in, don’t rush from the table to the couch just yet. Give everyone a chance to first say something they are thankful for. Acknowledging what makes us grateful is the perfect way to make sure we don’t forget it. You can also use the coming year to prepare for your next Thanksgiving by keeping track of the thankfulness you feel every day. Keep a jar of colorful notes for yourself, reminding you and the whole family what you’re thankful for. Next Thanksgiving, open the jar and relive each special moment by reading it out loud.

3. Plan Ahead.

Whether you’re an organized go-getter or a procrastinator who needs a little nudge, this journal is for you. It’s a planner that’s geared towards you reaching success and helps breakdown those giant goals into feasible pieces that you can conquer at your own pace. Start one now, and you’ll be surprised how good you feel at the start of 2017 when you can measure your progress instead of lamenting over which New Year’s resolutions are right for you.

4. Put Yourself First.

We know, it doesn’t seem like the usual order of operations. But to truly be thankful, mindful, and give back to others, you must take care of yourself first. It doesn’t have to be expensive either, unless you’ve saved a little extra cash and can’t get that thought of a spa day out of your mind. An exercise class, book club, evening walk, or just taking time to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee each day all fall into the category of self-care. If you can’t decide, our favorite starting point is a little extra sleep. Nothing says you value yourself like granting your body some extra shut eye.

5. Love the Ones You’re With.

One of the best parts of the holidays? Being with friends and family, of course. Often the holiday season is one of the only times all year we can get the whole family together. So, enjoy it! According to The Huffington Post, surrounding ourselves with the ones we love is one of the 7 Habits of Grateful People. Use this time to make sure friends and family know just how much they mean to you because:

 “Thankful people know they didn’t get to where they are by themselves — and they make it a habit to spend time with those people who matter most.” And it might just be a habit you want to continue all year long.

Make-ahead recipes for your Thanksgiving feast

According to History.com, in 2011 the United States was expected to produce nearly 750 million pounds of cranberries. Which, seems like a lot, unless you’re the first person to say “please pass the cranberry sauce” at Thanksgiving dinner. Couple that with the 235 million turkeys we eat annually (a fifth of which are consumed on Thanksgiving), and you’ve almost got a Thanksgiving feast.

But if your palate is craving a little bit more, browse through these ideas. The best part is that all of these recipes can be prepared ahead of time, leaving you more family and football time.


Speaking of all of those cranberries, maybe you’d like something a little more appealing than the gelatin out of a can. Real Simple shares this recipe that can be made up to four days in advance. Get ready for real texture and real flavor (and plenty of real, delicious cranberries) that almost look too pretty to eat.


Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes almost always seem to find their way to our Thanksgiving table. But why not make this healthy and tasty spud into finger food? The sweet potatoes can be cut and prepped in advance, leaving you with one job: toss them in the oven. Eat them plain or with your favorite dipping sauce, and you’ve just invited a traditional side dish into 2016.

sweet potato wedges

Mashed potatoes

If you’ve ever tried to make mashed potatoes ahead of time, you were probably more than a little disappointed. Luckily, The Kitchn offers some helpful tips and a recipe for potatoes that actually tastes better when it is made in advance and stored in the fridge. For starters, they urge the right type of potato (russet) and equipment (don’t use anything you have to plug in). Finish off the perfection by using whole milk, and slowly warm it up on Thanksgiving Day.

mashed potatoes

Apple pie

If there’s anything as American as Thanksgiving, it’s apple pie. But a homemade apple pie is both tedious and time consuming. The Food Network encourages preparing this deep dish apple pie recipe in advance. Not only does this classic dessert look mouthwatering, The Food Network advises storing it in the fridge (preferably the night before the big feast) until you’re ready to bake.

apple pie


Lastly, the centerpiece of every Thanksgiving meal is, of course, the turkey. But there’s even a way to save you holiday stress and prepare this staple early. Two words: smoked turkey. This requires a couple of days of prep. First, you’ll want to dry brine the turkey two days before your feast, but don’t worry, the recipe explains how. Then, the day before, let the turkey enjoy the warmth of a smoker. Store the smoked meat in the refrigerator until you’re ready to heat and serve.

smoked turkey

We can’t promise that preparing your Thanksgiving meal in advance will save you from all of the holiday stress, but it does give you plenty of extra time to enjoy every minute of the day and be thankful.


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