Things you should do right now to make your holidays easier

Get prepared with these tips and make the holidays a breeze.


Alina Bradford

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1 of 17 Alina Bradford/CNET

Want your holiday stress to go from a level 10 to a manageable 5? These tips will get you through the holidays with a smile on your face... or at least less of a grimace. 

2 of 17 Alina Bradford/CNET

Plan on ways to entertain the troops

If your family is full of energetic kids, things can get a little crazy. The key is finding fun activities that the kids can do together while the adults bake, laugh and drink a little wine. Tech's got your back. 

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Start up some party games

One idea is downloading AirConsole to your PC, tablet or smart TV. The app works like a gaming console and allows the kids to use their phones as controllers. The app comes with a selection of party games for a large range of ages, so everyone gets to play.

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Get everyone into a treasure hunt

Another idea is to start a digital treasure hunt. Have each kid grab their phone (if some don't have phones get them to pair up) and open the camera. Then, have one adult call out a random object. 

The kids must find the item and take a photo of it before they return to base (which is where the grownups are). In the next round, another adult yells out an object and so on. The winners are the kids who find the most objects and document them with photos.

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Plan on making Alexa do some of the work

What's the point of having an assistant like Alexa if you don't use her to destress during the holidays? Rick Broida has figured out seven fun Christmas things to do with Alexa.

6 of 17 Amanda Kooser/CNET

Stop the stink ahead of time

When guests are over, you want to keep bathroom smells to a minimum. There are some creative ideas to keep the bathroom fresh no matter who has an upset tummy. 

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Make a #2 spray

You know those sprays that you can spritz into the toilet before you go and it traps the smell in the toilet bowl? Well you can make your own in any scent you like. 

In a spray bottle, add 2 teaspoons of rubbing alcohol, 3/4 of a cup of water, and 2 teaspoons of liquid soap. Shake it up and add 15 to 50 drops of essential oil, depending on how strong you want the spray to smell. 

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Essential oils to choose from

Just about any essential oil works, but I recommend peppermint, cinnamon or eucalyptus for a holiday scent. Don't forget to add a label to the bottle so your guests know to spray before they sit.

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Get a toilet air purifier

If you deal with abnormally stinky family members, you may need to go high-tech. There are air purifiers, like the Cogswell Toilet Air Purifier or the Kohler Purefresh Toilet Seat that you can attach to your toilet to filter bad odors out of the air as they happen.

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Put a security camera by your door

A security camera installed by your front door can lower your stress levels by a surprising amount. You'll know who's been stealing your packages and you'll be a little more secure when going away to visit family. Here's our guide to the best in home security cameras.

dog in snow
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Make plans so your don't worry about your pet

If you have to leave your dog or cat at home because a certain relative is allergic, there are a few techy ways you can love your pet long-distance.

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Get a dog camera

One fun idea is to set up a Furbo Dog Camera in your home. This camera will take a photo of your pet and toss it a treat. Then you can look at the photo on your phone. It also keeps track of your dog's behavior, so you know when it's time to cut the party short and go home.

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Or talk to your cat using skype

If you've got a tablet collecting dust, you can make a cool system to Skype with your pet. Here's how.

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Make decorating easy with light alternatives

If you're still dreading putting up your Christmas lights, don't worry. Here are my four best tips to get all of the holiday cheer without the hassle of putting up lights.

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Make Christmas lights easier

Okay, so there's a certain someone who just won't be happy until the house is lit up like the North Pole. Here's how to get your house lit in just 10 minutes. The family member with the light obsession will be overjoyed.

Amazon app Apple TV
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Prevent snooping

Shopping online is a great way to take some of the stress out of the holidays, but not if the snoops in your family log on to see what you bought. Luckily, Matt Elliott came up with a way to keep your holiday shopping secret, at least on Amazon.

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Or skip the shopping

Instead of buying physical gifts, you could just give the gift of music. How's that for simple? Taylor Martin has a great guide on how to gift a Spotify to the people on your list.

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