Have your calmest, most joyful (and stain-free!) season ever with our genius tips and tricks. We’ve got your back!
Hanging Outdoor Decorations Safely
Go for plastic hooks: When used to hang lights, metal hooks or nails can damage wires. We like Command Outdoor Light Clips ($27, amazon.com).
Avoid extension cords: Choose a surge protector labeled “UL-approved,” and be sure the sum of the wattage of your devices does not exceed the rating on the package.
Pick LED lights labeled for outdoors: They last longer and use less energy than traditional incandescent string lights, and outdoor versions stand up better to wind and weather.
Find a friend: Hang lights with someone who can pass you supplies and keep a ladder steady for you. (Make sure it’s a nonconductive fiberglass ladder, since you’ll be close to electricity.)
Spend Less, Give More
We asked GH Seal Star RetailMeNot expert and savvy shopper Sara Skirboll how to give the best gifts without bloating your bills.
Make a list; check it twice: “Failing to plan ahead always leads to unnecessary impulse buys during the holidays,” said Skirboll.
Write down a plan of action: Note whom you need to shop for and where to get what, then suss out prices online so you’ll know you’re not overpaying.
Start in the back: “When there’s a storewide sale, what’s by the doors has most likely already been picked over,” said Skirboll. “You’ll find more options in the back, since shoppers tend to go there last or skip it altogether.”
Buy in bulk: If you enjoy wine all year, stock up now. “This season, you can get wine and Champagne for up to 30 percent off,” Skirboll said.
Treat yourself: Make a list for yourself as you shop. It’s a great way to give friends and family ideas, and if you don’t get what you want on the big day, shop post-holiday when everything is on sale.
Post-Party Cleanup Q&A
Q: There are candle-wax drips on my wood coffee table! What’s the best way to remove them?
A: Wax is easier to remove once it has hardened, so let it dry (help that along by holding a plastic bag filled with a few ice cubes against the wax until it’s brittle). With a credit card, gently scrape up the hardened wax, being careful not to damage the wood’s finish. Then, using a clean cloth, apply an adhesive remover like Goo Gone (not for unfinished wood) and wipe away any remaining bits. Finally, polish and buff as usual to camouflage any marks. Next time, of course, you can place candles on stable, heat-resistant dishes large enough to catch any drips.
ON ANOTHER MATTER …
Skin Saver: Vitamin C(hristmas)
Late nights and liquid cheer can leave your complexion looking tired and sallow. To the rescue: a boost of vitamin C, the hottest new skincare innovation.
How it works: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that, when applied topically, brightens skin by blocking an enzyme that produces pigment, explains GH Beauty Lab chemist Danusia Wnek.
Lab lowdown: Highly effective in its pure form, vitamin C can degrade and become ineffective as an ingredient when exposed to oxygen and water. These innovative products aim to deliver more stable and potent vitamin C in dry powders, capsules or strips that are activated only when you’re ready to use them – just mix with liquid (as directed on the packaging).
Try: Karuna Vitamin C+ Pearls and Activator Serum ($48, Sephora); Mary Kay TimeWise Vitamin C Activating Squares, ($24, marykay.com); Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster With Pure Vitamin C 10 Percent ($20, Clinique counters).
3 Genius Uses: Broken Candy Canes
Time to play Christmas candy crush! Grab a plastic bag, fill it with candy cane pieces and use a rolling pin or a heavy-bottomed pot to smash. Use the crumbles for these festive treats.
Make a Peppermint-tini: Dip a cocktail glass rim into light corn syrup, then dip its rim into crushed candies. Chill the glass and fill it with equal parts half-and-half, vodka, peppermint schnapps and white creme de cacao.
Christmas Movie Popcorn Snack: Drizzle melted white chocolate over air-popped popcorn and toss with a small handful of finely crushed candy canes.
Sweet DIY Ornaments: Spray metal cookie cutters with nonstick spray and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Fill each with crushed candies; bake at 350 F until melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool 1 minute, then make a small hole in each with a greased skewer. After the candy cools completely, pop it out, tie a ribbon and hang. (Eat or toss at the end of the season – they won’t keep well longer than that.)
The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, (800) 638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.
Netgear power adapters for outdoor Arlo cameras, sold at Fry’s electronics stores nationwide and online at Frys.com and Amazon.com from June 2017 through October 2017 for about $20.
Water can leak into the weatherproof connector on the power adapter and cause a short circuit, melting and overheating, posing a fire hazard. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled power adapters, unplug them from the camera and contact Netgear for a full refund. Consumers can contact Netgear toll-free at (866) 243-0513 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST Monday through Friday, or online at www.arlo.com. Click on the “Recall” tab at the top of the page for more information.
Hyundai 2018 Santa Fe Sport
The front coil springs may have been improperly manufactured and, as a result, may fracture under certain loads while driving. If the coil spring fractures, it can puncture the tire, causing a loss of vehicle control and increasing the risk of a crash. Many of the affected vehicles currently are unsold on dealer lots. Dealers will replace both front coil springs for free prior to the vehicle’s sale. Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at (855) 371-9460. Hyundai’s number for this recall is 167.
© Hearst Communications Inc.; Distributed by King Features Syndicate
—GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: The Good Housekeeping holiday survival guide–