10 tips and tricks to help you get through Christmas

1. Chill a bottle of fizz quickly

Forgot to put the champers for your party in the fridge? Wrap the bottles tightly in a damp tea towel, then pop them into the freezer. Because heat travels more quickly through dense materials (the waterlogged towel) than air, your fizz will be ice-cold and ready to pour within 20 minutes. Alternatively, Amazon sells a nifty gadget called the Corkcicle (£14.99), which you slip into the bottle. Essentially a giant plastic icicle containing a thermal gel, it cools the wine down from the inside.

2. Warm up plates in the dishwasher

When your oven is even more stuffed than your turkey, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to squeeze in the dinner plates to heat up. Instead, put your dinnerware in the dishwasher for a quick rinse beforehand, and they’ll be the perfect temperature.

3. Keep your Christmas tree perky

Does your tree shed needles quicker than your father-in-law downs that first glass of port? Then move it somewhere cooler. Many of us unthinkingly put our tree by a radiator or fireplace, but all that heat will dry the tree out more quickly. A cool, draughty place, such as a hallway, will mean you don’t spend the whole festive period glued to your Hoover.

4. …or give it a fuller figure

If your tree is looking thin, there is no need to splash out on a new one. Simply buy some dark-green tinsel (as close to the colour of the needles as you can find) and twist it around the tree to give the impression of fuller branches. Once your children have piled on those terrible decorations they made in school, nobody will know. Or just drown it in lametta.

5. Always win at Christmas crackers

If you never get your hands on that covetable key ring bottle opener, here’s what to do. Hold your end of the cracker lower, so it tilts towards you, and go for a slow, controlled pull, with minimum twisting. Mop up your child’s tears when you win.

6. Pimp your mincemeat

Homemade mincemeat is much tastier than shop-bought, but not everybody has time. Buy the best supermarket jar, then add extra brandy and a handful of luxurious fruits, such as dried cherries or figs. Accept compliments graciously.

7. Dispatch that Christmas letter without tears

Many a parent has tried to “post” their child’s letter to Father Christmasup the chimney, only to find the missive refuses to budge – to the distress of the little ones. Crack open a door or window to create a draught and the missive should fly up with no trouble. And if you haven’t got a chimney? Post the letter to Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ by December 6, and the Royal Mail will send your child back a personalised reply, free of charge.

Santa Claus reading letters sent by children
Post the letter to Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ by December 6, and the Royal Mail will send your child back a personalised reply, free of charge. CREDIT: KAINULAINEN / REX FEATURES

8. Make friends with your freezer

It might seem early to think about Christmas dinner, but a surprising number of dishes can be made ahead of time. Potatoes, parsnips and stuffing can all be cooked and frozen, then defrosted and reheated in the oven on the day itself. As for red cabbage – it actually tastes much better if you make it a few days before, and leave it in the fridge for the flavours to deepen.

9. Crack walnuts without a nutcracker

Here’s an excellent festive party trick. Place two walnuts, side by side, in the palm of your hand. Make sure the hardest parts of the nuts – the ridges – are overlapping, then close your hand and squeeze. They should crack open easily.

10. Save money on wrapping paper

Christmas wrapping paper can be expensive, especially if you have a large family. Instead, buy a large roll of brown paper and some string. Your presents will look both charmingly old-fashioned and on-trend minimalist chic. If it was good enough for Maria von Trapp, it’s good enough for your Great Aunt Bertha.

This article was taken from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/christmas/0/20-tips-and-tricks-to-help-you-get-through-christmas/

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