Here are some simple ideas for decorating and gifts that should help you glide into an enjoyable holiday.

Effortless touches can look extravagant without much fuss. Tea lights put into clean jars and bottles with colorful ribbon tied around the top can make a lovely and inexpensive table centerpiece or mantle piece. Add a festive touch to the dining room with colorful balls hanging from ribbon on the chandelier. Or place glass ornaments in a bowl for a quick splash of color in any room.

Look outside for interesting bits of branches with dried berries or an array of little acorns. Make it a scavenger hunt with the kids for an entertaining afternoon. Then spray paint your finds with gold and silver and intersperse them with greenery for an eye-catching mantle display.
Have fun adding to a collection you may not have realized you had of holiday decorations. Group together Santas, snowmen or angels to liven up the corner of a room; once you get started gathering you may be surprised by how many you have. Also, adding to someone else’s holiday collection can make a thoughtful gift.

Take some flower pots and spray paint them green, red, gold and silver. For an added touch, stencil on a tree or holly leaves. Then put fresh plants like poinsettias or amaryllis for a welcoming holiday display by the front door. It would also make a lovely hostess gift.
A fun family project could be baking sugar cookies to decorate and hang on a wreath or put into bags decorated with holiday stickers to give to friends and family.

Don’t despair if you are still racking your brain for a few last minute gifts. Try these effortless ideas:

Go green with reusable glass water bottles in bright colors or give a subscription to a junk mail reduction service. Charitable donations are thoughtful, eco-friendly gifts that give twice.

For a super quick way to shop try giftzip, a clearinghouse of sorts for gift cards from hundreds of retailers. It is a free service and can save shoppers the effort of going to multiple locations to pick up the cards. It can also be a good way of getting ideas as you browse the handy categories, like kids, tech and gourmet. Put the cards in small gift bags filled with candy.

Gift baskets can be easy and relatively inexpensive gifts. A collection of pasta and gourmet sauces or chips and unusual salsas in a basket with pretty tea towel make a nice present; walk through a bookstore and pick an assortment of books to put into a vivid fabric book bag; or for the relative with a green thumb pick up seed packets, gardening tools and a new pair of work gloves to put in a flower pot. Homemade gift cards tied with fabric ribbon are also a nice touch.

Disposable cameras and little photo albums make fantastic stocking stuffers for kids and teens. Let them have fun catching the festivities of Christmas day and then put the pictures in the album after they are developed for an amusing look back on a special day.

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