13 Holiday Hacks from Persephone

Today, in the spirit of the holiday season, I thought it was time for more fun and “why didn’t I think of that” life hacks. Life hacks can be anything from the technical to the way you prepare a dish to our subject for the day. This time around its Holiday Hacks — just in time for your holiday prep frenzy. I do profusely apologize to my Jewish and non-Christmas celebrating friends. This is a full-on Christmas explosion and I could only find one cool Hanukkah hack for the list, so in addition to that, today’s Cooking for Joan recipe is an easy hack for a Hanukkah dinner.

I've tried some of these hacks, while others were utilized by friends, so all have been Persephone-tested. I usually give you 12 hacks but for the holiday, I’m throwing in an extra one. And today, for a change, no long drawn out introduction to the subject. So, let’s get this holiday hack party started! 

Time to Begin!

Easy Way to Re-Pack Your Storage Boxes 

When you open a big box of decorations, take a picture of what's inside so you can quickly remember how to put everything back. (I usually do this, but forgot this year — and last year’s pack job was perfect — ugh!) 

Hanukkah Prep 

Is your menorah caked with wax from last year’s celebration? Try this hack. Put the menorah on a foiled baking sheet and put it in the oven at 225 F or so (just a low temperature will do.) The wax will come right off!

Here’s the link.

Lighting Trick for the Tree

This is something I’ve done for many years and it’s always a great enhancement to my tree. Starting at the bottom, string white or colored lights around the trunk to the top. Then string colored or white lights as usual on the branches. The effect makes your tree glow from within. Lovely!

Glitter Up Your Clear Glass Ornaments 

I came across this in my research and thought, “what a cool idea, I need to try this!” All you need is a clear round ornament, some glitter (color of your choosing), a cotton swab, and Pledge with Future Shine Floor Wax…oh, and a funnel of some kind. The hack? The glitter's on the inside!

Here are the instructions.

Unsticky Your Hands

If you are putting up a live Christmas tree, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get sap on your hands. If not when you put the tree up (smart folks wear gloves), then during the decoration phase of the process. When you’re washing up, grab some toothpaste and use it to remove the sap. Easy clean-up!

Check out this link.

What’s Silver, Shiny, and the Perfect Gift Wrap? 

I’m a decent present wrapper, but not a great one. For the life of me, I can’t cut a straight line, even with a ruler. Here’s an easy way to wrap a small to medium size gift without any cutting. 

Carefully open a big bag of chips, Doritos, or some form of fried or baked chip goodness. Either consume them on the spot — yikes, my stomach hurts just thinking about it. Or better yet, store them in a baggie or container for later. Thoroughly clean out the bag and turn it inside out. The inner lining is silver (or sometimes white) and shiny, making it perfect for gift wrap. Just put the gift in the bag, tie a ribbon around the top and you’re ready to go.

Check here for the visual.

For the Cookie Gifter 

Check out this cool way to wrap up your homemade (or store bought) cookies. Use a large Saran Wrap or aluminum foil box, line it with wax or parchment paper (or pretty tissue paper), fill it with cookies and wrap the box. 

Here’s the link.

Another cookie wrapping trick is to use a clean Pringles can. You can stack those delicious cookies, them wrap the cylinder, slap on a bow and call it a day.

Here’s the link.

Time to Entertain!

Don’t Have Any Place Card Holders?

If you’d like to put place cards on the table or use them on the buffet to tell people what they’re eating, just glue three candy canes together and voilà…you’re in business! 

Here are the instructions.

Want to Make an Unusual Appetizer?

 I saw this recipe and was quite intrigued — crispy baked green olive balls. Yeah, a little weird but they actually look delicious. Basically, you create a cheesy dough and wrap it around a pimento stuffed olive creating a little ball. Then bake it. I think I’m going to make them this Saturday for my annual “Friendsmas” dinner.

Here’s the recipe.

A Special Topping for Hot Drinks

 For an extra special presentation, freeze whipped cream on a cookie sheet. When you’re ready to serve hot chocolate, Irish coffee, or any other drink that screams for cream, you’ll have a cool complement. Just grab a fun-shaped cookie cutter — like a small tree or maybe a dreidel (snuck that one in!) — and you have a lovely decorative addition to your drink.

Here are the instructions.

The Safest Way to Clean Up Party Mishaps

There's always a chance that someone will break a glass at your party, which is such a pain to clean up — all those little shards everywhere. The next time this happens, grab a slice of soft bread (or 2 depending on how much glass is there) and use that to sponge up the shards. The glass will lodge in the bread cleaning up the area in no time.

Here’s some info.

Time to End!

De-trimming the Tree 

Decorating your tree can be a really fun activity but I have yet to meet anyone who likes to take it down. Most want to do it as quickly as possible, but this year, take a few minutes and make next year less of a headache. Yes, I’m writing about Christmas lights and the usual tangled lump that is so frustrating every year. This time, try one of these tricks: 

Wrap your Christmas lights around a hanger and store them in a box or hang them up.

Here’s a link

You can also use a rectangular piece of cardboard and wrap the lights around it. You’re now ready for a tangle-free Christmas 2018!

Here’s the link

Easy Artificial Tree Storage with a Twist 

Finally, for those of you who eschew a real tree and prefer an artificial one, like my brother, Matt and his family — I just don’t think I could do it, but I don’t judge — here’s a hack for you (oh, you’ll also need to have some decent storage space). Unplug the lights and tuck the cord into the tree, grab a large box of Saran wrap and wrap that baby up — lights, ornaments, everything. The tree will be kept in its original state and next year, all you have to do is unwrap your tree!

Here’s the link.

Have a fantastic stress-free (or stress-reduced) Holiday Season how ever you celebrate it (or don’t celebrate it)!  I'll be back next week with an inspirational post as we close out 2017 and look to the endless possibilities for 2018.



Cooking for Joan

For my Jewish friends, here’s an easy shortcut to make fresh homemade latkes for a Hanukkah dinner. The hack is to purchase frozen shredded potatoes or hash browns.

 Potato-Onion Latkes

 Prep Time: 10 min | Cook Time: 15 min| Makes: 4 | Difficulty: Easy 


  • 4 cups frozen shredded potatoes, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil


In a large bowl, mix the potatoes, onions, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper.

Heat some oil in a heavy skillet

Drop 2 tablespoons of batter to form each latke

Lower the flame to medium, and fry the latkes until they are golden-brown on each side.

Place the latkes in a casserole dish lined with paper towels

Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve 

Serve with applesauce, sour cream, or sugar


bon appétit!


Categories: Personal Growth - Action Plans

Tags: life coach , certified life coach , holiday hacks , life hacks , cool holiday hacks , Christmas hacks , holiday tips , latkes , potato latkes , Hanukkah recipes