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.

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.

Warm up your yard with a fire pit

DIY fire pit ideas to enjoy all year long.Here in the Midwest where we know what the winter brings, it can be tempting to hibernate inside until the first signs of spring. But you can resist that urge and still get a breath of fresh air by incorporating a fire pit into your outdoor decorations. If DIY is your style, we’ve got some simple and functional ideas that will turn your fire pit into a gathering place all year long.

Consult the Experts

For straightforward and thorough instructions, Popular Mechanics can’t be beat. They’ve put together a great guide to building large and safe fire pit that will be roasting marshmallows in no time.

Large DIY fire pit from Popular Mechanics

Circle of Love

This design has enough seating for your entire family and then some. After all, there’s no point in having a fire pit if you can’t share it with some great friends. Just imagine the lively conversation that will happen around this fire pit

Large seating around fire pit

Keep the Circle Going

Not only does this fire pit look incredibly safe, but also it’s going to save you mowing time in the summer. We love the contrast between the circle of bricks against the green grass, and the white picket fence in the background isn’t a bad touch either.

Brick circle fire pit in lawn

Make it Your Own

How ever you decide to incorporate a fire pit, don’t forget to put your own personal touch on it. Feast your eyes on this bit of vintage metal that completely takes this fire pit to the next level. Do some salvage and searching until you find just the right piece to add, and then simply enjoy!

Iron decoration around fire pit


Burn off a few calories by taking your fire pit underground. It adds a level of safety, but also just looks incredible.

In-ground fire pit

Let your creativity run wild as you install your very own fire pit. Just don’t forget to enjoy some s’mores and hot chocolate while sitting around it when you’re done.


Decorating for Fall

Saying goodbye to summer doesn’t have to be so sad. Especially when fall, and decorating for fall, is as fun as these ideas. From the front porch to inside the home, these creative tips will have you forgetting all about those delightful dog days of summer.

The Mantle

For starters, get your fireplace in the mood for autumn. After all, you’ll be spending an awful lot of time here (hopefully with hot chocolate) when the weather turns colder. If choosing colors isn’t your thing, consider this easy monochrome look. The white pumpkins really stand out, especially with those little pops of color.

fall leaf mantle

No worries if you don’t have a fireplace. You can still decorate like you do. A shelf looks just as lovely as a mantel. And a little chalkboard paint can go a long way if you’re really dreaming of that fireplace look.

Chalkboard paint fireplace with shelf

The Porch

If you’re just itching to get your front door and porch in the autumn mood, we’ve got you covered. Think beyond the standard jack-o-lantern and door wreath. Instead, swap out the wreath for something a little more…juicy. This apple display will do the trick, and you can even let the apple theme flow indoors as well.

apple door

Leaves make a great door decoration, plus there’s no raking required. Leaf garland is stunning, especially when contrasted with a more rustic look. And strategically placed mums are an absolute must for fall–we just love how this look comes together:

fall door

The Pumpkins

Lastly we couldn’t forget pumpkins, but we love the idea of branching out with the pumpkin creativity. These white pumpkins with glitter letters (yes, glitter!) are just too fun to pass up. Use the monogram of your last name, or let each kid pick a glitter color and represent the whole family.

White pumpkin with glitter monogram

And because we love being resourceful, that chalkboard paint for your fireplace project doubles as an essential item in this pumpkin project. Coat a pumpkin in the paint and then change up your design whenever the mood strikes. Check out the full set of instructions here.

chalkboard paint pumpkins

It’s pumpkin season—fun, food, frills

pumpkin patchIt’s officially fall, and what better way to celebrate than to enjoy all that pumpkins have to offer. From visiting a pumpkin patch, to delicious treats, and even some decorating—there’s really no limit to what you can with a great pumpkin. We have a few ideas to get you started ringing in autumn.

Pumpkin Patches

Vala’s Pumpkin Patch

Even if you don’t have small children, a pumpkin patch visit is practically a fall necessity. Luckily, there are plenty to choose from around Nebraska, and for every budget.  Vala’s Pumpkin Patch is large and filled with live shows, a corn maze, shopping, and of course, plenty of pumpkins. Visit on a Monday thru Thursday for discounted ticket prices, otherwise pricing ranges from $13.99 to $17.99.

Roca Berry Farm

Roca Berry farm is a short and beautiful drive only 15 minutes from Lincoln. They even offer season passes for $23.99. If you love Halloween, you might want to splurge for the Sinister Circus Psychopath Haunted Manor tickets. They run $19.99, and it is sure to be memorable experience.

Nielsen Kids U-Pick Pumpkin Patch

If you love pumpkins and you also love the honor system, then Nielsen Kids U-Pick Pumpkin Patch is definitely for you. You’ll enjoy the complete lack of sticker shock, and the acres of pumpkins and gourds in every variety and color. You’ll have to drive to Minden to get there, but a short road trip through Nebraska in the fall? It doesn’t get much better than that.


pumpkin tiramisu
MyRecipes.com Photographer: Alison Miksch

So you’ve stocked up on pumpkins, now what? If you’re the ambitious type, use a pie pumpkin for your recipes. But we love the ease of opening up a can of pumpkin, too. Whichever way you choose to enjoy the savory flavor, this Pumpkin-Espresso Tiramisu is probably a must!


pumpkin vase

Lining your front porch with jack-o-lanterns is a time-honored tradition. But don’t just stop there. There are plenty of creative—and simple—ways to decorate with pumpkins this season. Try starting out with this elegant and festive flower arrangement. You can browse Reader’s Digest for the rest of their crafty ideas.


5 ways to decorate with green

Are you currently enthralled with Pantone’s 2016 colors of the year? So are we. Rose Quartz and Serenity are nothing if not tranquility in a paint can, but we’ve got something else on our minds: spring! And nothing brings out the seasonal newness of spring like a little green around your home. Try these tips to spruce up your living quarters with the glorious (and endless) shades of green.

Pick Your Shade:

Before you panic at the plethora of shades to choose from, find some zen in these words from Elle Décor:

“Make it minty, or go with a deep, dark, brooding forest-green—either way, you’ll end up with a refreshing statement that reflects one of the natural world’s most abundant colors. It’s green design in the most literal sense.”

Worried that green is too bold, too eye-popping, too distracting? Don’t be, instead consider the options and these words of advice from Sabina Vavra, an A&E series designer:

“The trick is not avoiding shades of green, but knowing how to use them properly and what to mix them with.”

But it’s not all about the paint can. You can throw green in any room with subtle or even eccentric accents that will warm your mood even if the weather doesn’t.


Seed Starters:

For the gardener in all of us, think about using your seed starters as a focal point in your kitchen or living room. They’re green, they’re spring, and there’s no painting required. A few eggshells are an environmentally green way to start any sized garden, and the kids will get a kick out of seeing them grow each day.



But if you are in it to win it with painting, Country Living has 44 excellent ideas blooming in their Decorating with Green slide show. Pick one room; any bathroom, office, bedroom, living room, kitchen, will do, and relish in the warmth of greenery.



Succulents are the hipsters of indoor plants. They are vivaciously quirky, but simultaneously down-to-earth. Even better, they plant easily in just about anything your imagination can conjure up. Saving up wine corks for a Pinterest project? Consider your project done after you pop a few succulents in those corks and adorning your walls. Find more succulent ideas here:


Start Small:

Pick a wall, any wall. If painting an entire room is too daunting for your schedule and budget, then feast your eyes on the power of the accent wall. Better Homes and Gardens reminds us that even picking a portion of a wall for an accent is absolutely gorgeous. Plus, you’ll be done with enough time to go outside and enjoy some real green, that is, if spring ever gets here.


7 ways to give your home a winter makeover

So you can’t throw open the windows with Cinderella enthusiasm and invite the fresh air to motivate your spring cleaning … yet. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few fun, easy, and—dare we say cheap—makeover ideas you can do this winter to spruce up your living space. During these dreary months, a few subtle changes can do wonders to speed up your countdown to spring.

Consider Your Fireplace:

Think of salvaging (read: cheap). Anything old and rustic will tell a story on your mantle that is nothing short of soothing. Old barn wood, window panes, even mix them with modern and colorful pieces for an eclectic look (like this one from Country Living).

Rustic FireplaceLook closely at this fireplace, notice the subtle owls nesting inside? Country Living boasts these as flee market finds, but visit your own Goodwill or antique shop for accessories that represent your own style. Remember, it’s the tiny accents that can make the most dramatic impact.

Fireplace OwlsFurniture

The cheapest way to make over your home this winter only requires a little elbow grease. Try rearranging a few pieces of furniture. You don’t have to arrange an entire room to have a renewed look. Change the direction or focal point of the room or add a new area rug. Want a room to look just a little larger? Try hanging a mirror on the wall. The added depth can do wonders in tricking the eye into seeing a larger room.


Who can get enough of throw pillows? Colorful, round, chevron; mix and match them and the possibilities are endless. Toss them on a boring bedspread, add them to a bench, or make your sofa extra inviting with the fluff of a great pillow.


If you want to update some existing furniture, but lack the time and follow-through, there’s an easy solution! Take an old chair laying around, or an inexpensive used set that you can get a great bargain on and only paint the legs. The pop of color is just what your winter décor needs, and the time commitment is minimal. Read more about it here.

painted chair legsLight

  1. Perhaps the more important element to a winter season makeover is light. It’s dark when you wake up, it’s dark when you go to sleep, but during the day—let there be light! There might not be a trendier way to light those dark corners of your house than with Edison lightbulbs. A little pricier than normal bulbs, but so aesthetically worth it. Just check out these gorgeous examples at Pottery Barn.

Edison Bulbs


And if you’re going to give your house a winter face lift, it’s almost essential that you include the kiddos in on the fun. This is a small project that is quick, fun, and totally reversible. Add some artificial frost to your windows. Create a pattern, use stencils, or simply make it as realistic as possible.

frosted windowsIf you want to take your creativity beyond the windows, Sheknows.com offers several ideas to get your frost on.

The most important thing to remember is little changes go a long way. Winter can seem endless, but it’s those subtle changes that can spruce up your home just enough to get you through the long days until the sun shines brightly again in spring. So keep shining, DIY decorators, those tiny bits of newness and cheer will light your way.

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