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.

Lights

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.
Porch.com

 

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.

Local Events: January 2017

Lincoln, NE area local events, January 2017Check out our list of things to do this month:

1/1 – 2/28   Skate The Yard 350 Canopy St Railyard Ice Rink (see website for days and times)

1/7-1/8 (see website for times)  Cabin Fever Antique Show Lancaster Event Center

1/7 9 a.m. – Noon FREE Home Depot Kids Workshop-Crate Toolbox Home Depot

1/8 Noon-4 p.m. The Wedding Fair Lincoln Marriott

1/13 8 p.m. Eric Church Holdin’ My Own Tour Pinnacle Bank Arena

1/14 9:30-10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. – Noon Kids in the Kitchen: New Foods  Williamsburg Hy-Vee

1/14 7 p.m. 31st Annual Chocolate Lover’s Fantasy Pinnacle Bank Arena

1/14 time TBA Jr. First Lego League Festival Lancaster Event Center

1/17 5:30-7:00 p.m. Simple Fix  cooking class at Williamsburg Hy-Vee

1/20-1/22 & 1/26-1/29 (see website for times) Mothers & Sons Lincoln Community Playhouse

1/20 7 p.m. Red Hot Chili Peppers Pinnacle Bank Arena

1/20 – 1/21 7:30-10 p.m. Nebraska Extreme Bull Riding Challenge Lancaster Event Center

1/22 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Husker Toy & Buckle Show Lancaster Event Center

1/27 – 1/29 (see website for times) Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella The Lied Center for Performing Arts

1/28 10 a.m. – Noon Snug-as-a-BUG! Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center

 

Ongoing Museum Exhibits:

Check websites for dates, hours and admission

Ongoing January sporting events:

Check websites

Get away with a staycation

Winter staycation ideas in and around Nebraska.

If winter has you feeling stir crazy, you might be in need of a staycation. What exactly is a staycation? It’s a simple getaway—maybe for just a weekend—that’s just far enough from home to feel like an adventure. We have a list of fun-filled destinations that the whole family can enjoy:

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Any time of year is a great time to visit Mahoney State Park, but winter offers extra fun like skiing, ice skating, and sledding. The park itself is gorgeous for sightseeing, but you can warm up inside too. Mahoney has its own restaurant, cozy lodging, and indoor play area. You can also enjoy their theater productions and arts and crafts center.

Omaha

Omaha is the perfect staycation destination for anyone in Southeast Nebraska (even if you already live in Omaha). The Ramada Plaza is a lovely hotel that houses the Coco Key Water Resort. It’s a booming indoor water park with lazy river tubing, plenty of slides, and a separate pool for the smaller kiddos. Plus your room fee includes entrance to the park. But while you’re in Omaha, make time for some great restaurants, like Joe’s Crab Shack, and the Henry Doorly Zoo, which is open every day except Christmas Day.

Lied Lodge

The Lied Lodge in Nebraska City is perfect for holiday get-togethers and family reunions. And they’re particularly festive during December. Head down now through December 30th and enjoy a holiday mansion tour with an array of vintage Christmas décor. You can also enjoy concerts, trolley car light tours, or a brunch meet-and-greet with Santa himself. Take a look at the dates and details.

Kansas City

Kansas City is the place to be, especially if you have little ones. The Great Wolf Lodge has adorable camping themed rooms, an indoor water park, arcades, and games. But when you’re read to dry off, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in the city. From shopping, to museums, LegoLand, and aquariums, Kansas City has it all, even the Federal Reserve Bank. Enjoy a refreshing vacation with memories that can’t be beat.

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.

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
PopularMechanics.com

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
HGTV.com

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
PioneerSettler.com

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
DIYnetwork.com

Underground

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
WooHome.com

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.

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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.

Pillows

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.

Chairs

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

Frost

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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