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The 12 hacks of Christmas

It's the same every year. One minute you're clearing up the Halloween cobweb streamers, the next you're being targeted by relatives arranging imminent Christmas visits.

Sure it’s a time to be merry and bright, but it can also get a little stressful. Fear not – we've put together our top Christmas hacks to get you through the festive season with your peace of mind – and wallet – intact.

  1. Request free gift-wrapping

Many shops offer a free gift-wrapping service, though they don't always publicise it. Be sure to ask – it's one less thing for you to worry about.

  1. Find the hidden cashier for swift purchases

Normally, the quieter children's department, or even services desk in clothes stores won't mind ringing items through their till. Always check – it means avoiding never-ending queues to pay for those Disney pyjamas or that pair of slippers for your mum.

  1. Buy ready-made festive trimmings

For many, Christmas dinner’s the most important culinary affair of the year. But it comes with a huge expenditure of effort and energy. Instead of cooking and baking everything by hand this year, save hours of slaving by stocking up on delicious ready-made trimmings from your favourite supermarkets. It gives you a little more time to put your feet up and enjoy a glass of eggnog (buy that ready-made, too?)

  1. Salt and microwave potatoes before roasting

Season your potatoes with salt and give them a spin in the microwave before roasting them. It speeds up roasting time plus the salt penetrates the potato skin, giving it extra flavour.

  1. Use tree trimmings instead of buying a wreath

By tying or knotting cut-offs from your Christmas trees into a star or traditional wreath shape, you can create beautiful home-made wreaths in minutes. No need to spend the extra money.

  1. Use old Christmas cards to make gift tags

Holding onto old Christmas cards may seem pointless, but cutting them up to create gift tags next year gives the kids hours of arts and crafts time – and saves you money. Coerce the kids into writing them too, and save even more time. Pieces of decorations, such as bells or tinsel, add an extra twinkle.

  1. Create a portable wrapping station

We all know the struggle of lugging around rolls of wrapping paper along with tape, scissors, gift cards, ribbon and the rest of the trimmings. Make things easier by popping everything you need for your wrap-a-thon sessions in a large bucket that can be stored in a cupboard when it's not being used.

  1. Sign up to store newsletters

Online Christmas shopping is a great way to avoid the hassle of busy precincts and high streets – we all know that. But go a step further and sign up to online newsletters this season – you'll be kept up to date on all the best Christmas deals. You can always unsubscribe in January to halt the inbox spam.

  1. Do Secret Santa

Cut down on mounds of shopping bags, countless trips to the shops and endless money spent by arranging a Secret Santa between your friends or relatives. With one gift to focus on – imagine the time (and money) you'd save.

  1. Re-gift sweet treats

It's customary to receive festive selections of chocolates and biscuits – and then to stuff them in your kitchen cupboards and forget. Rather than waiting for the kids to get there first, tie a ribbon around them and keep as back-up options to re-gift to guests, relatives or neighbours.

  1. Keep your tree watered

A surprising amount of people forget that trees need water to prevent dehydration, causing the needles to fall off prematurely. Before you decorate your tree, chop a small amount off the stump to allow water to enter, and stand it over a bucket or bowl of water. It should last for weeks now.

  1. Use green tinsel

Dressing your tree with green tinsel, before adding all the other decorations, makes it appear fuller. Christmas trees can be very expensive – don't shy away from a more reasonably-priced tree because it's not as full bodied as the one next to it. Add a little green tinsel and – voilà! A little extra money saved.

HomeServe keeps life moving – whether it's keeping your home cosy, helping your garden grow, or even helping with Christmas.