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Living Space: Holiday decorating made easy: nine quick tips

Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:08 a.m.

Limiting your colors and picking a theme make decorating faster and easier.

By Kathryn Weber

The holidays are a wonderful, magical time. But creating all that magic can be draining and time consuming. Adopting at least a few of these tips will carve precious time off your to-do list, so you can spend more time enjoying the holidays than working to make them shine.

1. Get a good indoor ladder. A 4-foot fiberglass ladder is indispensable around the house. It's lightweight and can handle more weight than an aluminum ladder. Most indoor decorations only go a foot or two beyond your reach, so why haul in a 6- or 8-foot ladder when a small, lightweight model will do?

2.Limit your decorating colors and pick a theme. It goes without saying that decorating is faster, easier and has a more finished look if you stick to just a few elements. This makes shopping easier, too.

3.Donate holiday decorations now. Existing decorations a bad fit with your chosen theme? Donate them to charity. As you sort through those bins and bags of holiday finery, keep a box at hand for items you no longer want. Many charities like to receive holiday decorations when shoppers are looking for them. You'll clean up, get a tax deduction, and help the community all at the same time.

4.Decorate where you want. If your decorations are limited because you don't want to make large holes in the wall, try Monkey Hooks Monkey Mates. These hangers feature large plastic hooks that make securing wreaths and garlands a snap. Using the hangers, you can place decorations almost anywhere, leaving only tiny holes. (http://tinyurl.com/monkeymates

5. Prepare the pantry in advance. It's disappointing when baked goods flop at the holidays because ingredients are out of date. Before you start baking, toss out old baking powder, baking soda, tired spices and yeast, and stock up on fresh replacements. Your goodies will taste better, and, perhaps more importantly, you'll have what you need without having to race out to the store at the last minute.

6. Employ touch technology. Christmas trees lights and other illuminated decorations are often a chore to plug in and unplug, but with this technology, you can switch them on with a touch of a finger. Better still, the long thin cord allows you to discreetly place a decoration where it's most convenient for you. Some touch systems have three-light settings, allowing you to control the light intensity. Find at Amazon.com or search online under Christmas ornament light switch.

7. Buy quality greenery and lights. The two things that look bad and wear out fastest are cheap greenery and lights. Investing in good quality greenery means it will last longer, look better and the lights won't need replacement so often.

8.Create wonderful smells. Even if you can't get all the tinsel up in time, it takes mere seconds to light a candle. Quality candles from Archipelago (archipelago-usa.com) and Tyler are highly fragranced and that full scent creates a wonderful holiday mood.

9.Hire out. If you have too much to do, hire out holiday errands, cleaning, wrapping and decorating. A housekeeping service like Molly Maid can spiff up the house while you bake or wrap. Or hire helpers for odd jobs through services like Task Rabbit or Zaarly (taskrabbit.com; Zaarly.com).

Finds links to these products and services at VictoriaAdvocate.com

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.

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