Decorate With Grocery Store Items
Cereal Place Settings
After the 5 a.m. unwrapping frenzy, your in-laws will get a chuckle from a Christmas surprise awaiting them on the breakfast table: “place cards” consisting of their first initials writ in Cheerios. The night before, get the kids to mold florist wire into initials and thread on the O’s.
In the song, it’s brown paper packages tied up with strings, but see if this white version doesn’t become the new favorite. Tie up gift or bakery boxes with cooking twine and bows of farfalle pasta, and mass several on a mantel―another take on the white-box montage, courtesy of your local supermarket.
At your next cocktail party or Secret Santa gift swap, set out clear tumblers of nuts, dressed up for the season with ribbon and a snip from your tree.
A bed of beans in a hurricane or other wide glass vase will secure a pillar candle even through Uncle Pete’s rowdiest rendition of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” Try lima beans, as shown here, or red kidney beans with white candles.
For a string of minilights that takes the (cup)cake, poke the pointy bulbs through foil cupcake liners. Use them for the tree or around your little girl’s bedroom mirror to make her feel like a holiday star.
Edible Place Cards
Surprise dinner guests with place cards good enough to eat. With a tube of cake-decorating icing, write a name on an Italian biscuit cookie. Extra credit: Set the cookie on parchment tied to a linen napkin with red-and-white baker’s string.
Cookie-Cutter Sun Catchers
When you just can’t bake another batch of holiday cookies, turn the tin cutters―angels, bells, stars―into sun catchers. Mix shapes and sizes, string them with various lengths and colors of ribbon, and tack the ribbons to the window casing.
Muffin Tin Candle Holder
A centerpiece of mini muffin tins filled with tea candles turns a simple dinner into a special occasion. Mix in a few Christmas balls that have lost their caps to add splashes of shiny color.
Save cranberries for sauce. Make a whimsical garland by stringing penne pasta with twine, tying bows between pieces. Attach it to a staircase banister or your tree with ribbon and a big bow here and there.
Repurpose mini alphabet cookie cutters as monogramming tools for pillar candles. Hold the candle steady, position the letter, and tap it lightly with a hammer. Do just an initial or go wild and spell out Joyeux Noel or Happy Hanukkah.
You could bake and decorate some of those dough tree ornaments. Or you could open a bag of loopy pretzels and hang some from branches with colorful ribbon. Six of one…
Whether you're roasting chestnuts on an open fire or warming carolers' frostbitten feet, you'll need matches to get the party started. Keep the long stick version handy in a glass jar atop the mantel, loosely gathered in ribbon.