Best holiday countdown site
The Organizing Homelife blog has compiled a holiday central of sorts that offers up a trove of tips to get you through the holidays. Youll find everything from unusual and age-appropriate stocking-stuffer ideas to printable gift tags and Christmas letter templates, cookie recipes and ideas for teacher gifts. Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/crkel7o
Best procrastinator freebie
If you havent wrapped up your holiday shopping yet, dont panic. Theres still time to order gifts online and get them delivered in time for Christmas. Monday is national Free Shipping Day, when more than 1,000 retailers offer free shipping and other discounts to consumers with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. Visit freeshippingday.com/ to get details and see a list of participating retailers.
Best do-it-yourself wreath
Raleigh reader Kari Raynor decided she needed a little holiday pizazz in her newly renovated kitchen. She also wanted a fun craft to do with her friends. She found the perfect solution in an easy, do-it-yourself holiday wreath craft on the Womans Day website. Weve excerpted the steps here.
• 6-inch flat floral and craft ring (can be found at craft stores)
• 1 sheet of white paper
• Hot-glue gun and glue sticks
• 1 box of 144-count paper straws
• Scrap ribbon
How to make it:
1 Trace the floral ring onto the paper and cut out. Glue the paper shape to the front of the floral ring.
2 Trim 49 straws to 6 1/2-inch length (long); 49 to 5 1/2-inch length (medium); and cut 25 in half to get 50 3 7/8-inch (short) pieces.
3 Apply a dime-size dot of glue near center of ring. Adhere a long straw so one end is flush with the inner ring. Add long straws one by one, flush with the inner ring and evenly spaced at the outer edge, until the ring is covered.
4 Apply a dime-size dot of glue near center of ring, in the crevice between two of the long straws. Adhere a medium straw so one end is flush with the inner ring. Continue to add medium straws flush with the inner ring, evenly spaced between the longest straws.
5 Repeat with short straws, spacing them between the medium straws. Let dry completely.
6 Glue a small loop of ribbon to the back for hanging.
See the original at http://tinyurl.com/dxh9psy.
Best drive-by decor
As you are driving around downtown Raleigh and taking in the holiday sights, dont miss the historic Polk house at 537 Blount St. The Victorian-era home has been decorated by the Raleigh Garden Club.
The Midwest Living blog suggests a natural-looking way to bundle branches and greenery for decking hallway banisters this season.
Natural birch branches form the backbone of this project (but you could use redtwig dogwood or other branches). For added drama, cut the branches longer so theyre taller than your banister, or include more bunches. Use thin florists wire to lash them to the banister posts along with evergreens and twigs of bright red winterberries. Matte and glossy chartreuse ornaments add another dimension. Tie it all back with a velvet chartreuse ribbon.
As shown on the blog, the vertical bundles are tied on every fifth banister post, creating a series of swag-like displays that draw your eye up the staircase.
See the look at http://tinyurl.com/bdzkcro
Durham reader Carol Chelette shares a shortcut for saving time and money in the kitchen. When a recipe calls for a small amount of a vegetable that usually comes in larger sizes (example, 1/2 cup of celery), I go to the salad bar in the grocery store and get that amount, therefore not wasting the unused portion.
The As Long as its Fancy blog offers up a simple yet elegant way to set the table for dinner parties and entertaining. Simply invert a pair of wine classes and fill the cavity with seasonal items such as small ornaments, then place votive candles on top. Voila, a centerpiece worthy of taking center stage!
See an example at http://tinyurl.com/bvfcyrs
Best of the tube
Platinum Christmas: One family gets quite a Christmas gift with an expansion and update of their dark and outdated family room. Designers remake the room by expanding and resurfacing an off-center fireplace to make it the star of the room. A skylight is added to bring natural light; carpet is replaced with maple hardwood flooring and built-in storage and seating are added to accommodate a family gathering of 20-plus. Large custom upholstered loveseats in platinum velvet and two-tone blue walls create an unexpected backdrop for the holidays. Room Crashers airs at 1 p.m. Monday.
Ho, Ho, Home for the holidays: Its a race to the finish as Jon and Terry are inundated with holiday handyman jobs. They hang lights, trim trees and even install Santa and reindeer on a roof to spread holiday cheer. Brothers on Call airs at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
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