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28 Handy Hints to Get You Through the Holidays

From decorating to cooking to organizing, the holidays can be overwhelming. Family Handyman is here to help with our favorite holiday hacks for your home.

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Food Containers for Ornament Storage

Food Containers for Ornament Storage

Empty egg cartons, drink carriers, plastic clamshell boxes from the bakery and other disposable grocery containers are excellent for storing holiday ornaments. They can be stacked neatly inside a larger bin and will keep your ornaments safe while in storage.
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Wreath hanging hack HH handy hint command hookFamily Handyman

Wreath Hanging Hack

Typically, we rely on everything from metal wreath holders to staples, nails and even thumbtacks to hang holiday wreaths on the door, yet each of these familiar methods causes leaves scars on the door. Skip those old methods and try a less damaging tactic by using removable plastic hooks. Place an upside-down Command Hook on the interior side of your door, loop your wreath’s ribbon (or some fishing line) around the hook and drape it over the front of the door. You can also use a wreath hanger for an easier way to hang your wreath.

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Peeling apples power tools

Peel Apples Super-Fast

Peeling apples is a breeze when you put a drill to it. Get your pies made quicker with the power of a drill to help peel.

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crack nuts with a hammer

Crack Nuts with Hand Tools

The holiday season can bring out varieties of nuts for guests to enjoy but what if you don’t have a nutcracker around? Hand tools can help crack nuts. We suggest some pliers to get the job done.

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Lazy Susan Tree Stand for Wood FloorsFamily Handyman

Lazy Susan Tree Stand for Wood Floors

Winding the lights around your Christmas tree can be a pain. Here's a great way to rotate the tree in its stand?without scratching up your hardwood floor. Put a bath rug underneath the tree stand, fabric side down, rubber side up. You can easily turn the tree to string your lights and place your ornaments just where you want them. It makes 'undecorating' the tree a breeze too. Fold the rug under the tree skirt to keep it hidden.
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Holiday Light HangersFamily Handyman

Holiday Light Hangers

Instead of poking nails into aluminum soffits and fascia when you're hanging holiday lights, clip the wires to the bottom lip of the fascia with clothespins. But be careful up on the ladder.
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HH handy hint illuminated holiday jarsFamily Handyman

Illuminated Holiday Jars

Create illuminating holiday jars with cranberries, greenery and floating candles. Place the greenery (we trimmed ours from a bush outside) followed by fresh cranberries in a jar. Fill the jar with water allowing the cranberries and greenery to float. Add a floating candle to the top, and voila–you have a simple and inexpensive centerpiece to add color and light to your holiday table.

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FH12DJA_EASYCL_01Family Handyman

Easy-Clip Tree Ornaments

The wire hooks that come with Christmas tree ornaments can be hard to use and can scratch the ornaments. Instead of wire hangers, use plastic-coated paper clips to hang your ornaments. The paper clips are stronger and easy to use, and best of all, they won’t scratch the ornaments, so you can leave them attached when you pack the ornaments away at the end of each season.

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Make a drill-powered cheese grater.

Drill-Powered Cheese Grater

Maybe you’re preparing a mountain of spaghetti or need to add fresh Parmesan to 100 salads. By simply modifying a run-of-the-mill rotary cheese grater, you grate cheese as fast as you’d like! See how it’s done here.

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Toilet Paper Roll Wrapping Paper Sleeve

Toilet Paper Roll Wrapping Paper Sleeve

This hint will save you from wasting wrapping paper each time you bring it out of storage. Rather than sticking a piece of tape along the loose edge, cut an empty toilet paper tube lengthwise and wrap it around a roll of wrapping paper. Cinch it up and secure the sleeve with a piece of tape. Next time you use the wrapping, you may rip the sleeve when removing it, but your wrapping paper will remain intact.
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Tighten the Tree Stand With a DrillFamily Handyman

Tighten the Tree Stand With a Drill

Tightening tree stand nuts by hand is tiring and takes forever. Here's an alternative: Cut off the little Ls at the end of the tree stand bolts with a hacksaw. ( Be sure the hacksaw blade is installed correctly.) Chuck the ends of the bolts into a variable-speed drill to tighten them into the trunk. You'll be out from under that prickly tree in no time. P.S. It's a fact of Christmas: The tree stand gets overfilled and water stains the carpet or the hardwood floor. To prevent this, a reader suggests placing a plastic water heater tank catch basin between the stand and the floor. Or, you can use a snow saucer.
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How to Add an Outdoor OutletFamily Handyman

How to Add an Outdoor Outlet

Most homes have only two exterior outlets—one in the front and one in the back. That may be OK most of the year, but it’s a real hassle when you’re hanging Christmas lights. It can be dangerous, too. Overloading cords or outlets poses a fire hazard, while crisscrossing your driveway and sidewalk with cords creates tripping hazards. In just a few hours, you can solve these problems forever by adding an outdoor outlet or two.
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Unexpected Hiding Places for Holiday Gifts

Unexpected Hiding Places for Holiday Gifts

You’ve tried the attic, a closet in the master bedroom and even a creepy corner of the basement, but your kids have yet to be stumped on where to find their hidden holiday gifts. Instead of those classic spots, try some unexpected hiding places for holiday gifts.
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Make Cardboard Storage Spools for Your Holiday Light StringsFamily Handyman

Make Cardboard Storage Spools for Your Holiday Light Strings

Next up: How to store Christmas lights. Here's a great way to recycle cardboard and keep your strings of holiday lights from getting tangled when you store them. Just use strips of cardboard and cut out a slot on each end to make a 'spool' to keep the lights from slipping off.
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Dowel Ornament Storage

Dowel Ornament Storage

Use dowels inside a storage bin for organizing your holiday ornaments when the season is over. Measure the length of your bin from one lip to the other; then cut a wooden dowel into two or three pieces of that length.
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Testing Holiday LightsFamily Handyman

Testing Holiday Lights

There’s a way to test (and fix) the entire string of holiday lights without testing each bulb individually. Try the LightKeeper Pro. It’ll identify and oftentimes fix most problems in miniature and icicle light sets (but not the sets of larger lights or LED lights) with a few squeezes of the trigger.
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FH12DJA_524_08_012_041Family Handyman

Better Holiday Light Clips

Make inexpensive, long-lasting holiday light clips from common electrical cable wiring staples. Snip the staple in half and fasten it to your fascia or trim with the remaining nail. These clips hold the wire securely, but it’s still easy to slip the wire behind the clip. If you have metal fascia, use stainless steel screws so they won’t rust.

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holiday lights on a hanger

Store Holiday Lights on a Hanger

Save yourself the stressful task of untangling a messy string of holiday lights by wrapping them around a hanger before putting them in storage. Try to keep the string of lights neat as you wrap it around the hanger, starting on one end and working your way across to the other end, with as little overlap as possible. If your string of lights is quite long, you can continue wrapping a second layer neatly over the first, again with as little overlap as possible. This will help to keep the cord organized and free of tangles when you unwind it for the next holiday season.

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Drill-powered pepper mill.Family Handyman

Add Spices in a Flash

Are you tired of slowly cranking your pepper mill and getting just a few flakes out? Adding a cordless drill to the process speeds things up! All you need is a drill and a socket.

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HH sonotube wrapping paper storage container

Concrete Form Wrapping Paper Storage

Using a 6-ft. cardboard cement form cut in half, I created two wrapping paper storage containers. I cut the cylinder in half and cut pieces of heavy cardboard for the base of each, attaching them with duct tape. Then I spray painted them to look presentable.

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FH13DJA_534_08_015Family Handyman

Make Holiday Light Storage Stands

Storing holiday light strings without wrecking them is tough. Here’s a great idea: Just screw a dowel to each end of a wooden base cut to the size of a large plastic bin. Then wrap your lights around the dowels in a figure eight and place the stand in the bin. You’ll be amazed how many light strings you can wrap around the stands without them getting tangled or damaged.

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Easy Ornament StorageFamily Handyman

Easy Ornament Storage

It's hard to store fragile ornaments without breaking them. Our best tip for how to store Christmas ornaments is this easy solution: Use a plastic storage tub and store each ornament in a separate plastic cup (the 6-oz. party size works great). By using cardboard to separate the layers of cups, you can stack a lot of ornaments in one sturdy tub without any tangling or breaking. You can reuse the same cups and cardboard year after year. Want more? Check out these smart Christmas storage bins for your decorations.
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Hose Reel for Holiday Lights

Hose Reel for Holiday Lights

To keep holiday lights from getting tangled and make it easy to string them around the yard, roll all the strings of lights onto a portable hose reel with wheels and a handle. Check out these other great Christmas light storage ideas.
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FH14JAU_550_08_006 gift wrap pvc pipe storageFamily Handyman

Gift Wrap Rack

Here’s a terrific way to keep rolls of wrapping paper and ribbon handy, dust-free and unwrinkled. Simply glue a bunch of 30-in.-long pieces of 3-in. PVC pipe with all-purpose PVC glue. The rack can sit right on your worktable and you can store it underneath or in a closet.

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HH Brush cleaning drill

Speedy Cleaning Before Houseguests Arrive

To make this drill brush you’ll need: a drill, a washer, a bolt, a long machine screw and a brush head replacement.

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Store Your Artificial Tree in a Tube

Store Your Artificial Tree in a Tube

Now that the holiday is over, what's the best way to store an artificial Christmas tree? Many people like the convenience of an artificial Christmas tree, but storing it can be a pain because it takes up so much space. Here's an idea: Buy two 8-in.-diameter concrete form tubes, wrap each layer of the tree in twine and shove half of the tree layers down each tube. Mark the layer numbers on each tube and slide the tubes up in your garage rafters for a perfect storage solution! Need more more storage space for your tree and other Christmas decorations? Check out these great garage cabinets.
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Rain-X in Snowthrower ChuteFamily Handyman

Rain-X in Snowthrower Chute

Keep your snowthrower at peak performance by spraying Rain-X inside the chute as part of your tune-up routine. That’s what reader John Gossard does! The Rain-X helps to prevent snow and ice from clogging up the chute, so you can move more snow faster.
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Coat Your Snow Shovel with Car WaxFamily Handyman

Coat Your Snow Shovel with Car Wax

Make shoveling snow easier by first coating your metal shovel with car wax. Follow the application instructions on the car wax package. Then the snow and ice will slide right off of the shovel after each scoop.