A Few Tips and Tricks as Christmas Approaches

I'm in the middle of so many Christmas Projects that it looks like Santa's sleigh exploded in my living room. I have to admit, the chaos looks pretty nice, actually. I have some quick miscellaneous tips and suggestions that may help with your holiday planning -- and hopefully with less mess than I've gotten myself into:

Wrap Your Presents with Fabric

Consider wrapping some presents in fabric this year. Festive cotton fabrics are available for as little as $2 a yard. With a pair of pinking shears (to help eliminate raveling) you can cut custom sized fabric pieces for wrapping with double sided tape and ribbon. For family gift giving, you can use the fabric from year to year and avoid adding all that paper wrap to your nearest overflowing landfill. This year there may be some expense involved in making the changeover, but next year and the year after the shift will be pretty painless. The bigger your stockpile of cut fabrics, the less you'll waste on paper wrap. If you want a nice crease when wrapping with fabric, just eyeball where the fold will be and use the edge of your scissors to pre-crease a line.

Your presents will look pretty and unique, and the process will be more eco-friendly. (Yes, cotton production uses more pesticides than almost any other crop, but you'll save some trees by using fabric as wrapping, eliminate waste and show your kids you care about the environment.)

Scent Your Pinecones, Decorative Logs and Cloth Ornaments

Those amazing cinnamon scented pinecones that cost a fortune make for an easy DIY project. Better yet, you can scent infuse just about anything that will absorb essential oil. From decorative hearth logs to plush display toys and rustic ornaments, just brush or spritz on some cinnamon, clove, pine, or vanilla essential oil on them and you'll have instant Christmas cheer -- from a bottle.

You can find essential oils (with directions for use) in most craft stores and many variety stores, and they'll be a lot less expensive than buying scented holiday accessories every year. Oh, and if you have scented accessories from last year that have lost their olfactory oomph, just re-charge them with a little oil. Scent is one of the most memory-evocative of the senses, so make your Christmas smell amazing with essential oil.

Travel Bug Safe

Bed bugs are rampant in hotels across the country. If you're concerned about bringing bed bugs home from your travels this holiday season, essential oils can help. Spray your luggage with diluted lavender essential oil to make your belongings less appealing to bed bugs. After you get back home, place you luggage in the bathtub for 24 hours. Check at night by turning on the light in the darkened bathroom. If you see any bugs scurrying around the bottom of the tub (the tub sides are so slippery they can't get out), you have a problem. Remove your luggage to the outdoors for further treatment, and wash the visible critters down the drain. If you're concerned about being bitten while traveling, try spraying your nightclothes with lavender water. You'll be a less appealing target for a quick meal.

I'm off to bake a batch of oatmeal scotchies -- and probably eat a few. Have a great evening.

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