Ideas to make decorating merry, bright and easy

12/14/2013 12:00 AM

12/13/2013 11:53 AM

Zip ties and Christmas decorations? It may seem like an unlikely match, but it’s one of the tips to make your holiday go up (and come down) much easier.

The experts at the Family Handyman magazine came up with a list of quick, inexpensive ideas and tips that will make your holiday decorating merry and bright. Among them:

• Measure, measure, measure: Whether it’s a too-tall tree or too-short string of lights, measure first and you’ll save yourself time and grief. Bring a flexible metal tape measure with you when tree shopping – after you measured the height of your ceiling, width of your door and the spot to display that tree. (Also measure your car trunk, so you know how you’ll get that tree home.)

• Keep tree green: To make sure that fresh tree stays that way, cut an inch off the trunk before putting it in a tree stand. That will help it absorb water. Then, remember to keep fresh water in the stand. To keep the saucer from overflowing (and staining the floor), put a plastic snow saucer under the tree stand. (To prevent scratches, use a carpet remnant under the snow saucer.) To prevent fires, keep the tree away from candles, fireplaces, heaters or other heat sources. Turn off the tree lights at bedtime.

• Hose reel for holiday lights: To keep all the lights from getting tangled and make it easy to string them around your yard, roll the strings of lights onto a portable hose reel that has wheels and a handle. You’ll be able to pull this convenient caddy around your yard and roll off as many lights as you need. This also makes a great way to store the lights for next year; they’ll be ready to roll when you’re ready to hang.

• Spool center: Keep tape, twine and ribbon spools neat and ready to use. Screw a paper towel holder to window trim or other convenient spot and slide rolls of the things you use most often onto the holder. You’ll know right where everything is and you can pull off the amount you need with ease.

• Zip-tie decorations: Plastic zip ties are a simple way to string holiday lights on banisters and fences without marring the railing with nail marks. After the holidays, simply snip the ties off with scissors to take the decorations down quickly.

For more ideas, click on Or download Family Handyman’s new DIY app at

– Debbie Arrington

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