By: Kyla Brinkley
My top 5 tips to turn common unwanted Christmas gifts into something useful
We all get gifts each year that we didn’t really want. Instead of tossing them, here are some ways to turn them into something you can actually use.
1. Regifting or swapping: If you really hate your gift (which is unfortunate), don’t throw it away. Someone else will surely appreciate it. If no one you know personally would want the item, you can always drop it off at your local thrift store or Goodwill.
2. Take apart an ugly purse and turn it into a wallet. It’s easier to get away with a more “creative” pattern with a smaller accessory. Since you’ll have plenty of leftover material, you can even make multiple wallets for your friends!
3. Paint an ugly coffee mug for use as a flower pot, pencil holder, or other household item. All it takes to redecorate and make a mug more in your taste is a few Sharpies and craft paint.
4. Turn an ugly Christmas sweater or PJ set into a pillowcase, or even make your own pillow by stuffing them with cotton and sewing them up. You can even make a throw blanket. Many “tacky” patterns are more acceptable as part of cute home décor rather than a fashion statement. Reindeer pillows will surely give your holiday guests a smile, while that reindeer sweater may induce a more pained grimace. For another solution to hideous patterns, Megan Clark, a senior political science major from Cumming, suggests tie-dye. “My aunt gave me an ugly shirt with a bunch of Disney characters on the front so I tie-dyed it to make it cute and tone out the cartoony kids colors to look more like an outline of figures. It looked pretty cool,” she admitted.
5. Expensive jewelry can easily be pawned. However, for jewelry of the cheaper variety, feel free to take it apart for decorating anything from cell phone cases to key chains to your favorite jeans. Who needs a bedazzler?
My top 5 tips for converting holiday leftovers into delicious new meals
After the holidays we are often left with a fridge stuffed with leftovers from Christmas dinner. Here are some savvy tips to utilize your extra food so well, no one will get tired of it.
1. Transform leftover ham. This can be a life-saver at Christmas, when many of us cook up a huge ham with no idea what to do with the leftovers. Simply chop the ham into small bite-sized pieces and put them in a large pot. Add several chopped potatoes and several cups of green beans, several cups of water, and salt and pepper to taste. After letting it simmer for an hour or two, you’ll have a delicious but easy soup. You can also add kidney beans and more meat to make a hearty chili, perfect for cold winter nights!
2. Ham or turkey with pasta: Jessica Fant, a sophomore biological engineering major from Boiling Springs, South Carolina, shared, "My grandmother always uses the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in spaghetti sauce to substitute for the ground beef usually put in. It’s honestly a healthier option anyway.” Similarly, you can also make your favorite bowl of mac and cheese and throw in some pieces of your favorite holiday meat to make it an even better meal that doesn’t scream, “We still have leftovers!”
3. Cranberry sauce smoothie: Many people love smoothies, and this is a quick and healthy way to utilize leftover cranberry sauce! It makes a great breakfast, lunch, or snack and it’s perfect if you are planning to eat healthier in the New Year. Here is the recipe:
PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 5 MINUTES
This smoothie recipe calls for cranberry sauce ice cubes. To make these, glop cranberry sauce into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, pop out the cubes to make this smoothie. Yield 2 and 1/2 cups, Serves 2.
6 cubes of frozen cranberry sauce
1 apple, cored
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup non-fat milk
Put everything into a blender and blend until smooth.
4. Grilled gourmet turkey burgers: This tasty idea comes from Chef Zack Mills of the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore. To utilize leftover turkey, grind it up, mold it into patties and toss them on the grill. Top with mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce for a fancy spin on Thanksgiving dinner. Some families, like that of Paige Caffrey, a sophomore early childhood education major from Alpharetta, like to keep it simple, though. She says, “After Thanksgiving dinner when we have lots of leftover turkey, we like to make turkey sandwiches.”
5. Vegetables: Breakfast scramble: Leftover vegetables can quickly become mushy and unappetizing especially when veggies are served with special holiday sauces. A helpful way to make soft leftover foods more appetizing is to make a simple vegetable quiche. Just buy enough eggs to make an egg-veggie mixture that will fill a pie shell, and add some shredded cheese, salt, pepper and herbs and bake until it is slightly hardened. Again, ham, sausage and leftover turkey can be added in to use more leftovers and create a heartier, more flavorful brunch favorite.