Alice’s Clever Christmas Hacks to Make Life Easier

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@eBay_UK_Alice

Full-time mum, permanently chic and temporary eBay elf, ready to advise about festive gifts for children and the family. Active 9am-6pm. #eBayElves

It’s easy to get swept up in the Christmas madness – getting so hung up on the finer details and overloaded with lists, tasks and present buying, can make the whole experience a living nightmare.

Fear not, my top ten brilliant hacks will make your Christmas a whole lot easier. From creating a chocolate sleigh for your chocoholic best friend to wowing your guests with impressive nibbles, and never having to wrestle with fairy lights again, I’ve got your Christmas needs – and your sanity – covered. Enjoy!

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1. Give Your Champagne Pizzazz


It goes without saying that champagne will always get the party started, but why not take it to another level by adding frozen fruit? Drop in some frozen grapes, add a cocktail stick of frozen cranberries, or make up your own frozen fruit kebab. Not only does look impressive, it also tastes fantastic.

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2. DIY Wreath


Instead of dragging out that dusty old wreath again, simply make your own using a scarf. Wrap the scarf around a wire wreath from the garden centre securing it with safety pins. Finish off by adding a bow made out of ribbon. If you need a bit of bling, customise with baubles, tinsel, clip-on earrings, plastic dinosaurs… the possibilities are endless.

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3. Ditch the Illuminated Reindeer and Create Your Own Festive Lights


You don't have to go full-out grotto to make your neighbours jealous of your Christmas illuminations – all you really need is a tomato cage and some battery operated fairy lights. Just wrap the lights around it, switch on and admire. Or alternatively use the frame of a broken umbrella and hang from a tree.  

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4. Stock Up on Ready-Rolled Pastry


From cinnamon swirls and cheese straws to mince puffs and fruit tarts, the culinary delights of this wonderful cheat can never be underestimated – especially when you suddenly have a houseful of unexpected guests expecting something to soak up that fizz you've just handed them. 

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5. Display Your Cards Creatively


Pick up some garden trellis or old wire plant climbers and add your own touches. Spray them silver or gold, and then glue some tinsel, holly or baubles on the top. Alternatively,  use wooden clothes pegs – also sprayed silver for maximum impact – and a simple piece of string to create a DIY card displayer and attach all your lovely cards. 

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6. Knot-Free Christmas Lights


Oh the man-hours that are wasted every year untangling fairly lights, and yet the solution to this Christmas bugbear is so simple I’m kicking myself for not coming up with it. All you do is wrap lights round either a plastic coat hanger, cable tidy or DIY tidy made out of cardboard. So easy, yet so effective.

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7. Make, Bake... and Present in a Cling Film Box


There are certain people who're notoriously hard to buy for – the ones who have everything and the ones who say they don't need anything – namely your sweet Gran. But no one can resist a box of homemade goodies. Make cookies, coconut ice, boozy truffles, peppermint creams... whatever you like, then present in an empty cling film box covered in wrapping paper and lined with tissue paper.

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8. Simple Christmas Storage Solutions


Make getting your home Christmas ready fast and simple with these clever storage tricks. Stop your wrapping paper unraveling by placing a toilet roll cut down one side over the wrapping paper, then stockpile in a cardboard wine crate.  Prevent baubles smashing by storing in egg boxes or plastic cups.  And store fiddly bits of toys (balls out of hungry hippos, body parts from Operation etc) in the little drawstring bags that you get with washing tablets.

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9. Give Your Christmas Tree Volume


If your tree's a bit spindly give it some body by wrapping artificial pine garlands or green tinsel round the bald spots. It blends seamlessly with the natural branches and unless someone goes in for a close inspection will go unnoticed. If you want to add height, place on top of some paint pots and cover with crepe paper, or even better a frilly skirt.

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10. Candy Canes: the Christmas Must-Haves


Stick them together to make easy place card holders. Use them to make a chocolate sleigh: place two canes on a table (curly bit facing up), add a flat bar like Dairy Milk to form the base, then load up, securing your stash neatly with ribbon. Use them as stirrers for your coffee/tea/hot chocolate. And, of course, you could always just eat them!

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My Top Picks for Brilliant Toys on a Budget

Finding the right toys to make those faces light up on Christmas morning doesn't have to be stupidly expensive. Here are my hot picks for great presents that won't break the bank.
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