Easy Holiday Tips for Non-Martha-Stewart Types

holiday tips holiday tips

Social media has really upped the ante for moms at Christmas time. For moms with craft-esque abilities, Pinterest and Instagram are an endless source of inspiration. But for moms who aren’t packing heat (hot glue guns, people!), the pressure to create magical holiday memories while also creating actual things (oh — and maintaining a tastefully festive home) is REAL. Whether you lack time or the Martha Stewart gene, we have some tips to make you look like one crafty mother this holiday season.

1) Go wild with green.

Wanna know the secret to all those Instagram-worthy holiday home shots? It’s fresh greens — errywhere. Drape ‘em over doorways (Command Hooks make it easy), on the mantel, and stick a few sprigs in oversized glass jugs. Honestly, though, if you don’t want to deal with the mess of fresh pine boughs and branches (they can get sticky and will most definitely drop a bajillion needles after a few weeks) there are plenty of decent artificial options you can shove in a box and pull out again next year. Then you can fake that festive fresh-greens smell with this amazing Iowa Pine candle (warning: you’ll want one in every room).

2) Red-and-white baker’s twine = your new BFF.

If you want something — even a box of not-quite-homemade Christmas cookies — to look homemade, wrap it in red-and-white baker’s twine. Want to make a table setting more Pinterest-y? Red-and-white twine around the flatware. Need to dress up a boring gift bag? Tie on a gift tag with red-and-white twine. Think you can’t make things? Put a big-old sewing needle on a few feet of red-and-white twine, and feed it through popcorn or cotton balls. Congratulations, Mama; you’re doing it.

3) Fake it like you baked it.

Whose terrible idea was it to make baking a holiday tradition? As if there isn’t already enough to do (and eat) this time of year, jeez. But honestly, the best part of “baking” Christmas cookies is decorating them, so skip right over the sifting and scooping and get to the fun part already. You can either buy plain sugar or gingerbread cookies, or start with a roll of frozen dough (you the best, Pillsbury Doughboy). Set out the cookies with some icing (FROM A CAN, of course) and let your kids go wild with sprinkles, red and green sugar, whatever. They’ll be so proud of their creations, they’ll even tell everyone how much fun they had “making” them. What a great mom you are!

4) Stamp it out.

Roll out some butcher or easel paper and keep everyone occupied creating custom family gift wrap festive using rubber stamp sets (including alphabet sets, which kids love). You’ll look like a domestic goddess when your seasonal sweatshop churns out Christmas cards and personalized gift tags, too. And don’t worry about it looking any certain way. Anything made by kids is automatically adorable, and that earnest, imperfect look is totally in right now, so just go with it!

5) The Nose Knows.

Okay, this one is definitely NOT for the kids, but if you want to make your house smell ah-mazing (you do) while also enjoying some holiday cheer, make mulled wine! Just pour a bottle of red (cheap is fine) into a slowcooker or large pot set on the stove’s lowest heat. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, and orange slices, then sweeten it to taste with sugar or simple syrup. It’s really hard to mess up, and while it will be ready in 20 or 30 minutes, you can let it keep simmering for hours. That festive aroma will stick around for a while, even once you’ve polished off the wine.

Like what you see? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

Emily Farris lives in Kansas City, MO with her burly husband, toddler son, and two rowdy rescue mutts. She's written for Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and The Cut. When not busy cleaning up somebody's pee, she's posting about drinks and home decor on Instagram @thatemilyfarris.