Her Hacks: Holiday hacks to help your home and hearth

Does anyone else feel uneasy about the angle of that mug? PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

When your hot cocoa game is this strong, who needs friends? PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Does anyone else feel uneasy about the angle of that mug? PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

When your hot cocoa game is this strong, who needs friends? PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Does anyone else feel uneasy about the angle of that mug? PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

When your hot cocoa game is this strong, who needs friends? PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

The holidays are looking a little bit different this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the warm glow of the season.

But before we get to that warm glow — whether it’s coming from a roasting bird in the oven or a stocking-bedecked fireplace — let’s dive into the warm, snuggly glow of fresh hacks.

There’s nothing quite like the peppermint-y smell of holiday hacks in the morning.

Let’s start our festive tour off the right way: With Nutella and warm milk. Real Simple has a list with a few tips that probably are better suited to nonpandemic times, but the rest of the list is golden. Chief among those tips is a simple, delicious hot chocolate recipe consisting of Nutella and warm milk. Let me repeat: Nutella and warm milk.

If you want to step away from the article right now, the Her Hacks team would like to assure you we’ll still be here when you get back.

Also, don’t miss out on using hot glue to affix holiday lights to brick. It’s a great way to get lights up and down with a minimum of fuss. Hot glue legitimately could be called the duct tape of crafts, and this is just one more reason to make sure you always have some sticks on hand.

Next up, take a look at Red Tricycle, a website and blog on parenting that also has a lot of fun stuff even for those sans wee ones. Check it out at tinyurl.com/y2l5yq3u.

Top of the list, figuratively and literally, is using the base of a (clean) crystal vase to make some very classy looking cookies. Depending on your vase situation, it also might open your eyes to the wide world of cookie stamps (tinyurl.com/yxtf5mb6).

One that’s definitely a treat for the kiddos is creating some exciting Santa footprints leading to the presents. And, depending on the credulity of your significant other, it could make for a magical Christmas morning all around.

And, under the category of treats for adults, there’s a little bit of pink champagne for those looking for an extra fancy bit of the bubbly. Just be careful if you decide to turn it into a science experiment: tinyurl.com/y4fgq4pu.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the ol’ standby Mental Floss and its list of hacks to make your holiday easier at tinyurl.com/yysqk7u8.

It’s not No. 1 on the list, but the hack that should be is perhaps the most useful one on the list: Stock up on butter.

Next up — and almost as fun — is the fun but simple craft project of turning a Mason jar (or non-Mason jar, we won’t judge) into a snow globe.

Finally, the list is full of tech and tech-adjacent ideas, but one of our favorites is the Santa’s Bag app. It’s one of those tools that makes so much sense you’ll wonder why the term “There’s an app for that!” has fallen out of the lexicon.

If you’re an Android user — Santa’s Bag is iPhone exclusive — there are plenty of options in the Google Play store, too. Christmas Gift List (tinyurl.com/y545ylyj) has a lot of the same functionality.

One of the greatest parts of these apps is budgeting features, something that will be in at your fingertips even when you run into an unexpected gift at the pretzel hut but aren’t sure how much you’ve got left in the coffers.

Nifty, by way of BuzzFeed, has some hacks for you, and even went to the trouble of testing them out. Read the article at tinyurl.com/y6pd4qex.

First up, is the lesson that there are more fun things to float in hot cocoa than just marshmallows. It’s a hard lesson but everyone has to learn it sometime.

Chief among those floaters is frozen cool whip cut into shapes using cookie cutters. As long as you’ve got the extra freezer space (and doing this on a smaller scale with just a plate of cool whip is a possibility) and the cocoa, you’re one spatula away from fun floaters.

Our next favorite hack (though there are a lot more on the list) is simmering fruit and spices on the stove to create some pleasant holiday aromatics.

The article makes a great point in that, even if you become accustomed to the smell, others will almost certainly comment on the holiday-theme your air has taken on.

And, that’s it for this year in hacks.

The Her Hacks team is looking forward to the next year, not just because of the possibility of a return to normalcy but because we’re aiming for it’s a whole new year of stewing up ways to make your life easier in the Her Hacks Test Kitchen.

Happy holidays, and we’ll see you next year.

Anthony Frenzel writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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