Easy Ways to Personalize the Holiday

We all want our holiday celebrations to be unique and exceptional, but with a busy schedule and the demands of everyday life, it can seem like a daunting proposition. Here are our favorite low-effort ways to make your holidays memorable and distinctive.

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Add Custom Elements Throughout Your Home

Holiday pillows
James Yochum

* In the dining room dress each chair like a gift. Drape it with a slipcover, wrap the chair back with ribbon, and tie in a bow. Attach a large gift tag with a family member's name on each chair.

* In the living room baste holiday messages onto accent pillows with glitzy applique letters that spell out seasonal words or phrases. Simply remove the letters after the holiday is over.

* In the family room create a garland or collage of photos of Christmases past to drape on a mirror or hang on the wall. Put the photos on disks and share with other family members.

* Stamp tiny takeout boxes with your monogram, fill with chocolates, and leave them in a large bowl by the entry door for guests to take with them as they depart.

02 of 04

Establish Personal Holiday Traditions

Women making wreaths
Fran Gealer

* Collect nature's bounty as a family. Get everyone together to gather fresh materials for holiday decorations from your yard or a friend's property (with permission, of course). Pick up pinecones, evergreen branches, berries, acorns, and so forth. Bring the bounty home and gather in swags, in baskets, and on mantels and banisters. Use sprigs on packages, napkin rings, or in bud vases.

* Make wreaths together. Ask older children to thread colorful scraps of felt onto a wire wreath form or glue peppermint candies to a foam wreath. Have smaller children wrap a foam wreath in colorful ribbon. Take a plain evergreen wreath and deck it out with favorite ornaments chosen by color, theme, or motif.

* Start a holiday message tablecloth. Cover your dining table with a plain white tablecloth. Provide fabric pens to guests and family throughout the month to write dated messages on the cloth. Bring it out each year to continue the tradition.

* Sign holiday cards together. Ask every family member to sign the Christmas cards you address. Challenge the kids to write a holiday poem to include in the card.

03 of 04

Create Your Own Holiday Decorations

Felt stocking decorations
Heather Weston

* Choose a color palette for your Christmas trims to give your home a distinctive look. Twist traditional red and green a bit by pairing fuchsia with lime. Or try a wintry look with icy white and pale blue. Make it metallic with gold and silver or pull out all the stops for a vibrant mix of saturated rainbow colors.

* Create decorations with the kids. Add dazzle to plain Christmas balls for the tree. Use glitter and glue with older children, glitter pens for younger kids. Ask them to create their own designs or add their initials to the balls. Give them a pile of construction paper and ask them to make old-fashioned paper chains. Thread wrapped sweets onto lengths of string for a bon-bon garland. Let them add a few of these decorations to their bedrooms.

* Craft personalized Christmas stockings. Use ready-made stockings and embellish them with felt shapes, glitter, and beads.

* Dress up door handles and knobs throughout the house with combinations of ornaments, ribbon, and greenery.

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Fashion Personalized Gifts that Match the Recipient

Christmas presents

* Make flavored olive oils or herb sachets for your favorite cooks.

* Pull together a pampering box for your best girlfriend filled with soap, moisturizers, body brushes, and a soft towel.

* Fill a toolbox with basic household tools for a new homeowner.

* Wrap gifts in newsprint, wallpaper, or stamped kraft paper, or stitch a felt envelope for gift cards and cash.

* Make gift tags with a photo of the recipient attached to plain or stamped card stock. Add a personal message.

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