Holiday Magic Without the Stress: Simple Treats & Decorating Ideas

The holidays are upon us. This is literally one of the most wonderful times of the year as we enjoy the embrace of family and friends. However, it can be less-than-wonderful if you’re non-crafty and/or not especially talented in the kitchen. I put myself squarely in this category.

In fact, to say I am “not talented” with decorating and baking is an understatement. My skills are remedial at best. Many of the so-called “easy” decorating and baking ideas are too challenging for me. And each holiday season I fall into a familiar pattern:

I have visions of bonding with my family over baking and decorating projects.

I search for “easy” baking and decorating ideas.

I find “simple” projects I’d like to try.

“Simple” ends up being a deceptive and/or relative description.

We start a project in earnest, but then comes the struggle, stress, and sniping because we’ve made a huge mess and we’re all mad at each other.

In order to break this cycle, I’ve curated a list of truly easy holiday treats and decorating ideas. These items combine the best of both worlds: project-based family bonding without the stress.

Easy Treats

If mixing, measuring, and preheating are not your things, I have three words for you: melted white chocolate. It’s a miracle substance that can transform mundane food items into edible magic. For an added dash of holiday cheer, you can finish each of these treats with sprinkles or edible glitter.

Oreo Truffles

These truffles are so amazing it’s hard to believe they only contain 3 ingredients: ground Oreos, cream cheese and melted white chocolate. (Or, if white chocolate isn’t your thing, milk or dark chocolate works as well.)

White Chocolate Puff Corn

(Sometimes called “Angel Poop” or “Unicorn Poop” which are cute names but also kind of gross?)

My sister makes this treat for our extended family gatherings and it’s a big crowd-pleaser. The only drawback is that it’s incredibly addictive.

Dipped Pretzel Rods

A holiday classic. Making these treats is one of our kids’ favorite traditions.

Refrigerated Cookie Dough Hacks

If you prefer decorating holiday cookies to baking them, refrigerated cookie dough is a lifesaver. I use the time saved baking the cookies by focusing on making homemade frosting. In addition to decorating, you can dip half the sugar cookies into (you guessed it) white chocolate and sprinkle with glitter. (If you’re more ambitious, check out these other tips for using refrigerated cookie dough.)

Decorating Ideas

Lights and electric candles

In my opinion, the only holiday décor you really need is lights. Add some electric candles (we use these because of our cat) and your home will be transformed into a holiday haven. There are endless possibilities, and creative lights are something that even the most artistically challenged people can do. (Check out some unique light ideas here.)

Make use of glass bowls

Fill them with ornaments, lights, ribbons, evergreen, twigs, flameless candles, bells, peppermint candies, etc. Or create a combination of these items. Like indoor lights, creating a glass bowl display is easy and nearly impossible to go wrong.

Paper chains

Simple paper chains are charming, inexpensive, and a wonderful family activity. These look really cute when displayed with your holiday lights.

Holiday card garlands

My grandma used to reserve a wall of her kitchen for hanging up her Christmas cards during the holiday season. One of my favorite memories as a kid was looking at them. I loved reading the notes from family and friends, and I loved looking at all the beautiful card designs. My grandma used to tape her cards to the wall, but a more modern take is hanging them as a garland, clothesline style. (You can view more ambitious ideas here.)

Focus on the process, not the outcome.

The most important thing is to focus on why we love creating treats and décor for the holiday season. It’s about connecting with family and friends and enhancing the magic of the season. It doesn’t matter if your skills rival Martha Stewart’s or if you’re like me. Just enjoy the process of creating and connecting with those you are closest to.


Meghann is the mom of 5 kids. She is a Lecturer at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication and an Owner/Partner at Brand Driven Digital. Meghann was elected to the Coralville City Council in 2017 and is currently serving her first term. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Coralville Community Food Pantry (Vice-Chair) and on the DVIP Board of Directors. She is also a member of Johnson County's Juvenile Justice and Youth Development Policy Board. Meghann is passionate about her family, her community, and is a proud pop culture nerd.


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