Ever since I posted the video of Mazzy baking Betty Crocker cookies as my new go-to holiday hack (baking Betty Crocker from a pouch is still a good hack even if you can’t get your kid to bake them for you), I have been combing through all your responses describing the sneaky little things you do to save time and money over the holidays— like Chrissy, who submitted the photo up top with the caption, “Gifts for the entire class for under $5!”
I like to think everyone submitted their favorite hacks in the true spirit of the season— to help fellow moms avoid unnecessary holiday stress. But I suspect it also had something to do with the chance of winning a $500 Amazon gift card and a slew of Betty Crocker products.
Shopping online, by the way, was probably the most repeated holiday hack. Shopping for gifts directly from your couch is much easier than getting into a brawl at the toy store in the mall over the last Cabbage Patch Kid, like our parents did when we were little.
A lot of people echoed my feelings about using the Betty Crocker shortcut for all their holiday cookie exchanges. Some people even suggested holding cookie decorating parties or splitting the work with a friend and swapping cookies for more variety. If you’re like me and like to turn baking into a family affair, check out Betty Crocker’s Top 10 Holiday Cookies for Kids.
Other popular hacks include using gift bags instead of wrapping (saving them year to year is popular too), putting your tree in a corner so you only have to decorate half of it and buying egg nog straight from the liquor store.
I also found it funny that some people think hosting Christmas is a hack because everyone comes directly to them, while others thinking traveling for Christmas is a hack because then they don’t have to decorate. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. (Personally, I find traveling easier than hosting.)
Another popular hack is keeping track of everything people say they want throughout the year, buying the items whenever they go on sale, and wrapping them as soon as they arrive, so come Christmas Eve, you’re all set.
That’s not really a hack. That’s just being a superior human being. I BOW TO YOU.
Here are 33 holiday hacks I just might add to my own traditions:
1) I lure my mom over with cookies and watch in delight as she wraps all the presents. – Nina
2) My holiday hack is using different wrapping paper for each kid. Even if the kid can’t read, they know which gifts are theirs. Also saves on gift tags!! – Lori
3) To keep the toddlers away from the tree, I fill different size boxes with some books, wrap the boxes like Xmas gifts and use them as a “fence” around the tree. Festive and it works!! – Corinne
4) My holiday hack involves lights, which are always a nightmare. Take an old oatmeal tube, remove the cap and bottom, and cut small slits up the sides on top & bottom about 1in long. Put one end of the lights in one slit, then roll your lights around the tube up to the other side, and secure the other end of the lights. No more tangled lights!!!! – Lia
5) We plug our tree into an outlet that’s connected to a light switch. – Sally
6) I use whatever boxes I have instead of wasting money on actual gift boxes— cereal boxes, pop tart boxes, Krispy Kreme boxes, old shoe boxes, etc. It saves money, plus the look on everyone’s face when they pull off the paper to find a spaghetti box is priceless! – Dara
7) My holiday hack is shopping online and having everything delivered to my mother’s house. That’s where we go for Christmas, so I don’t have to hide the presents. Plus, she has them all wrapped by the time we get there! – Cherie
8) This year I purchased a few Hanukah gifts with multiple pieces to spread out over several nights. For example, we got my 3 1/2 year old a set of princess dolls with seven different dolls. Instead of giving it to her all at once (and really going for shock value), we’re giving her one or two each night. I’m doing the same with a pack of books. BAM. Tons of presents, no overload, not breaking the bank. – Rachel
9) Is getting drunk on mimosas on Christmas morning a hack? If it is, then I’ve got that one down! – Stephanie
10) I have a box of used ribbons and name tags— some that have been in use for at least 13 years. It is handy to have tags with names already on them and ribbon that is already cut. Plus, it is nostalgic to see a present with a favorite tag on it. – Amanda
11) We pack a roll of blue masking tape to take with us as we travel to multiple relatives/friends non-baby-proofed houses. We use it to cover any electrical outlets that draw our toddler’s attention. – Kelly
12) Instead of using gift tags, I cut the holiday pictures out of the cards we received last year and write the recipients name on the back. – Jennifer
13) I have Santa’s number stored in my phone, with his picture saved to it. All I have to do when my daughter starts misbehaving this time of year, is whip out my phone and go to ‘Santa’ in my contacts. She takes one look at that phone, and immediately stops acting like the devil. – Brittany
14) When making sides for Thanksgiving dinner, I double the recipe and freeze one batch. Then when Christmas comes, I can pull out the frozen batches and there’s less prep work!– Gail
15) I use a pre-lit fake tree and allow my almost 2 year-old to hang the ornaments. That way, when it looks terrible, I can say, “The baby did it!” People are impressed by her skills and by my Type A personality allowing her to take control. – Gina
16) I use photos taken throughout the course of the year and make a collage for the card. I’m so over THE BIG HOLIDAY PICTURE PHOTO SHOOT. – Lisa
17) I sneak a present or two away from the kids Christmas morning to save for birthday presents for other kids during the next year. Santa gives them a ton and they generally gravitate toward a few favorites. Then the other, not-as-big-a-hit presents just kind of disappear. My kids are 6, 5 and 2. No one has noticed yet. – Cara
18) My holiday hack is offering to have Christmas dinner at our house, knowing full well my mother-in-law will still bring over all the staples AND insist on doing the dishes. It’s shameful, I know. – Ashley
19) My holiday hack is ordering my holiday cards all year long when I get those “10 free cards!” email offers from online stationery companies. Then when it comes time for Christmas, I have an assortment of photo cards with pictures of my daughter throughout the year, for only the cost of shipping. – Katie
20) I take my kids to the Dollarstore to pick gifts for my husband, their siblings and teachers. Because it is a Dollarstore with tons of variety but low cost, we never have to say “No” to their choices. The best part is we record their reason for the gifts, then write them on the card. This results in some gems that range from hilarious such as a vase “for Mommy to drink wine from” (??!!!???) to the sweetest compliment I ever received in my life, a mirror “for Mommy to see how beautiful she is”. – Kande
21) I wrapped boxes a couple years ago with crazy nice wrapping paper. I taped it to the boxes, used a bunch of different sizes and paper and left them all at my parents’ house, where we celebrate Christmas. For years, it’s been great to come home, grab a box, throw the gift in, throw it on the mantle and voila, gifts are done! – Maz
22) I throw all of our stuff (toys, papers, bags, vacuum, etc.) into the office and close the door when people come over for Hanukkah and Christmas. Voila! Clean living room! I have a mini heart attack anytime someone reaches for that door thinking it’s the bathroom door. – Sarah
23) I prepare a breakfast bake casserole the evening before Christmas. That way we can pop it in the oven right when we wake up and it’s done when we are finished with gifts. – Becca
24) In our house, stockings are hung outside the bedroom doors— it buys me at least a half hour to sleep in! – Katy
25) To avoid meltdowns at the store with my 4 year-old all year long, whenever she finds a toy she MUST have, I take a picture so I can send straight to Santa. When we get home, I add the item to a secret Amazon wish list for my family. – Devin
26) I collect various small projects my children have made over the years to use as Christmas tree ornaments. I label each with their name, age and date of when it was made. I also collect a small toy each year for each child that represents something he is currently into and save it as an ornament (i.e. Lego Star Wars minifigure). Decorating the tree every year is the funnest trip down memory lane and I save a bundle on ornaments. Plus, our tree is filled with playable toys, not breakable glass. – Piete
27) I do a Christmas Eve box with PJ’s, a movie, popcorn, bath toys and a book. I give them out after Christmas Eve dinner and it keeps them occupied till bedtime. It encourages the bedtime ritual of snack, bath, book, and bed, plus, it buys mom a bunch of extra prep time for the big day. – Stephany
28) We buy big red bags to put all the Santa gifts in, so we don’t have to wrap all the gifts. – Christy
29) My holiday hack is buying food for my holiday parties from restaurants, and putting it in my own dishes. – Jill
30) I convince as many groups of people as possible that we should do a Secret Santa exchange. (“Aren’t those SO fun?! YES!!!!”) Then you only have to get a gift for one of person per group. Bonus points if you convince someone else to organize the exchange. – Christin
31) I have a 18×30 framed chalkboard in my family room that you see upon entry to our house. I just keep some chalk on hand and change the drawing/message on the board for whatever holiday/season it is. This way, if I’ve done no other decorating, it still looks festive and like I’ve put some thought into it! – Katie
32) I take the presents out of the packaging before wrapping so we don’t spend hours Christmas morning trying to hack Barbie out of her plastic fortress of doom. – Kayley
33) My favorite holiday “hack” isn’t really a hack at all. It’s just a reminder to myself that Christmas is ALREADY a magical time for my kids without Elf on the Shelf shenanigans, powdered sugar Santa footprints, and elaborate Advent calendars. A tree, a few twinkling lights, Christmas music and hot chocolate (from a packet, of course) are plenty magical for them. I’m often tempted to do so much at this time of year but in the end, my kids are happy to just hang out in their pajamas, reading books and coloring. They don’t need all that other stuff and I’m a better mother when I don’t pressure myself to be the all-achieving mom. – Anne
One winner was selected at random to win a $500 Amazon gift card and a portfolio of products from Betty Cocker to make the holiday baking season that much easier.
Congratulations to Katie!
“I wrap presents for the grandparents in brown paper and let the kids decorate with stickers and markers. Keeps them entertained while I wrap.”
Thanks to everyone for making my holidays easier! And thanks to Betty Crocker for making Mazzy the happiest little baker on earth. We’ll be testing out their Holiday Tree Cookie Stacks next.
Right after I teach Mazzy how to make latkes for Hanukah this year!
This post was sponsored by Betty Crocker, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Be sure to check out their Kid’s Cookie Cornerfor some really fun baking ideas easy enough for your kiddos.