25 Fun Ways to Prep for the Holidays

HGTV Magazine has tons of merry ideas (some to DIY, some to buy) to get you all set for the season.

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Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Photo By: Ben Goldstein/Studio D

Photo By: Ben Goldstein

Craft a Striped Piñata

Start with 3-D papier-mâché numbers. Using a crafts knife, remove part of the back, fill with candy and patch with masking tape. Snip foil and crepe paper streamers with fringe scissors and attach to the numbers with a glue stick. Screw an eye hook into each top and hang. Break open on Christmas!

Numbers: Darice 12"-tall papier-mâché numbers, $5 each, JoAnn stores; Streamers: Shindigz Metallic 2"-wide foil streamers in green and red, $8.50 per roll, and Fun Express Crepe 2"-wide paper streamers in white, $9 per roll, all amazon.com

Roll Out a Holiday Doormat

This coir mat is extra-wide for max impact — and there’s plenty of room to stomp snow off your boots.

Tag Winter Wishes 18" x 40" coir doormat, $45, amazon.com

Trim a Mini Tree with Pom-Poms

Use a pom-pom maker and various colors of yarn to make small pom-poms. Attach an ornament cap to each one by squeezing the cap’s prongs together and pushing them into the pom-pom, then hang.

Pom-Pom Maker: Clover Small pom-pom maker, $6.50 for a mixed set of 2, michaels.com; Ornament Caps: 6½-millimeter tin ornament caps in silver, $11 for 20, bluewhalearts.etsy.com; Tree: 24"-tall white balsam pine mini artificial tree, $8, christmascentral.com; Planter: African Mudcloth 6"H x 6"-diameter cotton and plastic planter in black, $39, nomadcloth.etsy.com

Wrap Wine in No Time

Buy a case of wine and a dozen of these linen bags — now you’re ready for unexpected gift exchanges.

From left: Itsy Belle Studio Brushed Chevron wine bag in forest, $10, and Snow and Ivy Mod Hatch wine bag in strawberry, $10, both minted.com

Hang a Rainbow Wreath

Won’t shed needles. Goes with any color scheme. Sold!

Geometric 15"-diameter paper wreath, $35, store.moma.org

Whip up Peppermint Bark


  • 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 6-inch candy canes, chopped


Line a 15 ½-inch-by-10 ½-inch jelly roll pan with nonstick foil or parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the bittersweet chocolate on high, stirring every 20 seconds, until smooth (about 80 seconds total). Spread it into the prepared pan. In another microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate on high, stirring every 20 seconds, until smooth (about 60 seconds total). Drop small spoonfuls onto the bittersweet chocolate and use a skewer to swirl the white chocolate through the dark. Let the chocolate set for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the candy canes on top, then refrigerate until it’s set, about 30 minutes. Break into pieces before wrapping and gifting.

Put Out an Adorable Cookie Jar

There’s more to this one than the cute gnome factor — the lid has a grippy seal to keep treats fresh.

Gnome: 6½"W x 7½"D x 11¼"H ceramic cookie jar, $40, harryanddavid.com

Decorate Your Breakfast

Dust powdered sugar over a plate with a sifter. Serve up a stack of pancakes, lay a snowflake stencil on top, and sift on more powdered sugar.

Stencil: Snowflake 100 4"-diameter Mylar stencil, $4, jbcookiecutters.com

Replace Wrapping Paper With Fabric

A few yards of this thin Mexican fabric is inexpensive and as easy to work with as gift wrap — just fold and secure with double-stick tape. The giftee can use it again!

Fabric: Mexican acrylic fabric in floral blue and tribal embroidered pink, $9 per yard, mesachicparties.com

DIY a Mobile Forest

Click here to download tree shapes in three different sizes. Cut out the templates and trace onto sheets of wood veneer. Cut out the trees using a crafts knife and a ruler. Paint half of them different shades of green, leaving the other half unpainted. Let dry. Make a hole at the top of each with a small nail, then thread monofilament string through each tree. Paint the inside of a basket hoop green, let dry, and hang the trees from the hoop.

Wood Veneer: 12" x 12" wood veneer sheets in cherry, walnut, and maple finishes, from $10 each for a pack of 3, rockler.com; Hoop: ¾"H x 10"-diameter wood hoop, $6, basketmakers catalog.com; Paint: Classic Green and Bright Green, both by FolkArt; Snow Pea by Martha Stewart

Create a Snowy Scene in a Card

Put a flat white note card inside a clear cellophane envelope. Sprinkle glitter inside, seal, and attach the entire thing to the front of a plain white folded note card with double-sided tape. Use an embossing tape label maker to make a message, and stick labels to the front of the card.

Clear Envelopes: CB_46 5" x 6¾" cellophane bags, $16 for 100, paperpresentation.com; Glitter: Recollections Signature Chunky glitter and Tinsel glitter sets, both $14 for a mixed set of 12, michaels.com; Label tape: DYMO 3D 3/8"-wide plastic embossing labels in neon, $11 for a mixed set of three 10' rolls, amazon.com

Make Gift Tags That Double as Key Chains

Poke holes in leather rounds with a punch meant for leather. For the XO tag, place letter stickers on top and paint over them with crafts paint. Remove the stickers with tweezers while the paint is still wet; let dry. For the S tag, make a reverse stencil from the sticker sheet. Peel off the S and place the remaining outline on the tag. Fill in with crafts paint. Remove while the paint is still wet; let dry. Trim a chain and add to each tag.

Leather: 2"-diameter leather circles, $10 for 25, springfieldleather.etsy.com; Paint: Snow Pea and Party Streamer, both by Martha Stewart; Chains: Dog Tag Surplus Ball 2½-millimeter stainless steel chains in pink and green, $4 per 30 inches, amazon.com

Swap Everyday Soap for a Wintry Scent

This crisp smell will transport you to a snowy forest each time you lather up.

8.3-ounce hand soap in iced blue sage scent, $7.50, bathandbodyworks.com

Dress up Hot Chocolate

Buy a bag of flat marshmallows — look for the term stackers or s’mores on the packaging — or slice the top ½ inch off jumbo marshmallows. Cut out stars with a mini cookie cutter. Perch stars on mugs.

Cookie Cutter: M66 1¼"-tall tinplate steel cookie cutter, $1.50, cookiecutter.com; Mug: Mugsrus Stripe Classic 11-ounce ceramic mug in emerald green and white, $17, zazzle.com

Holiday-ize a Throw Pillow

Stick adhesive-backed varsity letters on a premade pillow to spell out something cheerful. Iron them on to make them permanent, or peel them off at the end of the season and use the pillow year-round.

Pillow: Zoe Wodarz Winter Cabin Plaid 14" x 23" polyester pillow, $49, denydesigns.com; Letters: Horizon Iron-It-Out Varsity 4"-tall polyester and nylon letters in white, $3.50 each, Michaels stores

String Adorable “Lights”

These crocheted holiday bulbs will never burn out, and a strand is the perfect length to dangle across a mantel.

Christmas Lights: 4'-long acrylic yarn garland, $30, eringlezcrochet.etsy.com

Add Sparkle to a Paper Village

Buy paper houses and assemble according to the package instructions. Paint each roof with crafts paint that matches the color of glitter you’re going to use. Let dry, apply a thin layer of white glue with a flat paintbrush, and shake on glitter.

Houses DIY: Putz Christmas Village bristol board 3-house ornament kit, $36, holidayspiritsdecor.etsy.com; Paint: Peacock Feather, Habañero and Beach Glass, all by Martha Stewart; Glitter: German Glass 0.5-ounce glitter set, $11 for a mixed set of 3, ginderellas.etsy.com

Prep Bulbs and Pots for Hostess Presents

Plant bulbs in early December so the stalk has time to sprout before you give it as a gift that will continue to grow and bloom. Before planting, paint the rims of the pots and saucers a bright color — wrap a piece of painter’s tape or washi tape just below the edge to get a straight line.

Pots: Ingefära 5½"H x 4¾"-diameter terra-cotta pots with saucers, $3 each, IKEA stores; Paint: (from left) Party Streamer and Beach Glass, both by Martha Stewart

Deck Your Halls With Downloadable Art

Print and frame faster than flying reindeer! You can tape an add-on to the art, like we did with the pom-pom nose.

Art: Deer Silhouette on Green Buffalo Check 8" x 10" unframed digital print, $5, eensyava.etsy.com; Frame: Archival 8" x 10" wood frame in white, $20, aifriedman.com; Pom-Pom Creatology 1"-diameter acrylic pom-poms, $1 for 16, michaels.com

Use an Oven Mitt Fit for the Season

It’s cookie-swapping time! Keep hands cool in a toasty-looking mitt.

Fred Mitten silicone oven mitt, $16, wayfair.com

Display Cards on Homemade Stands

Bend colored aluminum wire around tree-shaped cookie cutters, leaving about 10 extra inches on each end. Bend one end of the extra wire up into the center of the tree and back down to make a thin loop. Join the ends and twist together. Drill a single hole through a wood block, stick a tree “trunk” into the hole, trim any extra wire from the bottom with wire cutters, and slide in a card.

Wire: 2-millimeter aluminum wire in light green and cerise, $4 for 18 feet, jewelrytoolbox.com; Blocks: 2"W x 2"D x 2"H unfinished wood blocks, $36 for 24, craftsupplyhouse.etsy.com

Shake up Your Windowsill With a Snow Globe

The scene doesn’t have to be old-school kitschy — go for a cherry-red gnome, for example!

Gnome 5"-tall glass and resin snow globe, $49, hudsongracesf.com

Top Presents With DIY Decorations

This pineapple is made with a pinecone. Spray-paint it yellow, and let dry. Cut leaves out of green crepe paper and glue them together to form a crown, then glue to the base. Attach to a present with hot glue.

Spray Paint: Sun Yellow by Krylon; Crepe Paper: Premium Colored crepe paper in forest green, $2 for a 19" x 8.2' roll, papermart.com

Sew Shibori-Style Stockings

Start with four cotton shibori napkins (you’ll need two per stocking). Iron fusible webbing onto the back of each. Click here to download the stocking template. Place on the napkin so the top of the template lines up with the hemmed edge of the napkin. Cut out the stocking shape. Repeat on another napkin to make the back. Sew the two pieces together using a blanket stitch (click here for details). Sew a ribbon loop to the top.

Napkins: Indigo Shibori cotton napkins, $24 for a mixed set of 4, mudders milkshop.etsy.com; Yarn: Koigu Wool Designs KPM-1153 wool yarn, $15 for 175 yards, purlsoho.com; Ribbon: Satin 5/8"-wide ribbon in shocking pink, $1.50 for 5 yards, ribbonandbowsohmy.com

Treat Your Tree to a Fun New Ornament

These felt ones are retro-cool and unbreakable.

Sequin Word felt ornaments, $12 for a mixed set of 4 (largest is 7" wide), target.com

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