How to Put Away Your Christmas Tree If It Came in a Box

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Category: Seasonal & Holidays

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Taking down the Christmas tree can be a real bummer. There’s that sudden void in the living room that wasn’t there before. Your hopes that you’ll find one more present will be unmercifully dashed. And of course, there’s the dilemma of packing that beast up for storage.

We may not be able to do much about the first two, but we can help you with that last one.

Back in the box?

FrugalGinger.com

Fancy tree cases are either expensive or hard to size up to your exact tree, so putting your tree back in its original box may seem the most logical way to go—until you try it. You could probably sing the entire Twelve Days of Christmas song before you even come close because the reality is that your tree only fit in that box in the first place because a machine specifically designed to pack it put it in there. Humans may be a lot of things, but we are no match for tree-boxing robots.

If you are determined to pack your tree in its original box, go for it. What we’re going to do is talk about how to pack up your artificial tree if you don’t have (or don’t want to fight with) your tree’s factory box. 

Hold the tree super tight.

Once you’ve taken everything off the tree and taken it apart (some fake trees come in separate sections), give each extended piece a big gentle bear hug to get those branches compacted. Do take care to avoid putting undue pressure on the points where the branches connect to the tree stem. Otherwise, common sense will say how tight you can hug your tree.

This is all you need to get the branches to start pointing downward (sometimes upward, depending on your tree). Naturally, the branches will loosen up some when you let go, so consider tying them up tight again with some basic string. And since we’re tying up tree branches, not our shoes, it’s a good idea to make a slipknot, not a bow. (Here’s how to do that.) Or simply tie a loop in one end of the string, bring the other end through the loop (don’t forget to wrap the string around the tree) and pull it tight. Either method lends much more mechanical weight to your string than a shoelace bow.

Protip: You can try a rubber band if you’ve got some big enough, but don’t overdo it. They can deform the shape of your tree that way! Plus, they’re just hard to get off a year later.

Think outside the original box.

Now instead of wrestling our tree back into its original box, what can we use to pack it up?

One option is a mattress bag, durable and likely plenty big. Another is a wardrobe box, which is obviously sturdier than a mattress bag and may end up offering you plenty of extra space to pack away much, if not all of your Christmas decorations. Your tree and all the trimmings in one sturdy box—how cool and convenient is that?

If you don’t need a box quite that big (they usually run from 46 to 60 inches tall), see if your tree will fit into the kind of extra-large boxes movers use, which are around 18” x 24” x 24”. You can get them at Home Depot, Lowe’s, most self-storage facilities or from your local moving company (who will probably have those wardrobe cartons available as well). Home Depot also has a wardrobe box measuring 24” x 24” x 34”. What size you get depends on how big your tree is— and how good a slipknot you can tie!

One more and somewhat more expensive option is getting a bag designed specifically for packing artificial trees. Check Lowe’sHome Depot, or the fancy-schmancy bags at Tree Classics.

More durable and flexible than cardboard, they can come with various features like interior tie-downs, wheels and bases to allow you to store your tree upright.

Keep it safe until next Christmas.

However you pack up your tree, you’ll want to keep it away from moisture, dust, heat and critters for the next eleven months. Seal it up good and put it in a cool dry place. (Especially those frosted trees.) Lay it down if at all possible. 

Then when you’re all done, make sure you go fill up that void in the living room!

How to Install a Smart Thermostat in 8 Easy Steps

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Category: Home Improvement

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Adding smart technology into your home is not only a great way to add convenience and value, but it’s also a great way to stay energy-efficient. Take the awesome smart thermostat for example… this gadget can be a high expense up front, but it will end up saving you big money in the long run. Some energy companies are even offering their customers $100+ in refunds if they show proof that they installed a smart thermostat!

Because this technology is a win-win-win in our playbook, we decided to show you how easy it is to make your home smarter with the smart thermostat. And when we say easy, we really mean it!  This entire project can be broken down into eight steps that shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes.

We installed the Nest for this tutorial, but there are a lot of awesome smart thermostats on the market. Do your research and find one that works best for you and your home.

What You Need

  • The Nest (or most any smart thermostat device – the product itself provides almost everything you need, including a screwdriver, screws, and a level)
  • Drill (optional)
  • Anchors (optional)
  • Touch-up paint, brush, painter’s tape (optional)

1. Turn off the Power

No matter how experienced you are with DIY projects, we highly recommend turning off the power to this system before moving on to the next steps. This is the safest way to install the smart technology and the only way we advise you to complete this installation. You will also want to make sure you have enough daylight left so you can see the project without the lights on.

2. Open up the Old Thermostat

After the electricity is off, we are ready to get to the fun part! Pop off the face of your current unit, which may require unscrewing a screw, depending on your unit. Ours popped right off, no screwdriver necessary. Above is what most thermostats look like without the cover, though yours may vary slightly. What matters most are the wires.

3. Label the Wires

Before you start removing the labels from your old thermostat, we need to label them so that we are fully prepared for the last few steps of this project. The Nest comes with these convenient stickers (right in the manual!) so you can keep your labels organized. If you don’t have stickers, just use whatever you can to label all of the wires. We only had four wires, but you may have more, so make sure you label everything! You’ll thank yourself later… we promise!

4. Take the Old Thermostat off the Wall

After the wires are clearly labeled, it’s time to unscrew the old thermostat and carefully pluck it off the wall. Use your screwdriver and it should come off fairly easily. Make sure that you’re not taking the wires (or stickers!) with you because you’ll need both of them soon.

5. Hang the New Thermostat

The Nest provides a level within the product (genius!), which makes this process extremely easy.  The level makes it simple to identify when the device is evenly placed on the wall, and that’s when you can make a mark so you later know where to drill. If your smart device has no internal level, don’t worry! It’s a pretty simple process to use an external level to make sure you’re screwing it on the wall correctly.

After you mark the wall, add your trim plate (if necessary – it’s the plastic encasing that goes around a lot of these smart devices) and hang the Nest using the markings you made to guide you. You may need to use an anchor for extra reinforcement into your wall during this step, which does not always come with the kit.

6. Attach the Wires to the New Thermostat

This is when those stickers come in handy. Not only is the technology itself smart, the team that created this kit may be even smarter because these stickers are genius! Simply match each wire’s label to the label on the Nest (or the labels you made yourself), then pop them firmly into place. Make sure the little box the wire goes into pushes down snugly, because that is how you will know it is tight, secure and connected.

7. Turn Electricity Back on 

If the Nest lights up a few moments after you turn the power back on, you have successfully completed the installation. If not, turn the electricity off and recheck the colored wires to make sure they’re both in the right spots and pushed down correctly.

Your little gadget will immediately start prompting you through a series of steps that will guide you to align this new technology with your home.

8. Control Your Heat and A/C from Your Cell Phone

This part is where the “smart” technology really comes in! Once you connect the Nest with your home’s wifi, you can monitor it from anywhere you have a wifi connection. That means you can click on the heat from work, turn on the air before you get back from vacation, or even change the temperature in the house while still laying in bed (that last one is probably our favorite!). If that’s not smart technology, we just don’t know what is.

So do you think you can tackle this project and make your home a little smarter, all while saving money and energy along the way? We’re confident that installing a smart thermostat is so simple that you now have all the steps you need to check this project off of your to-do list… maybe as soon as this weekend.

Save Green/Go Green: 5 Moving Hacks That Do Both

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Category: Green Moving, Moving Boxes & Supplies

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Ah, St. Patrick’s Day! A time for silly green sweaters and spilling green beer on ourselves!

What’s that? You’re too busy moving to a new apartment to get your Irish on? Well take heart, lads and lassies, you can still celebrate St. Paddy’s! With these five tips for saving some green on your move while being greener along the way, you’ll be drinking in the An t-áadh na n Gael more than any of your fellow muckers heading out on the lash for a craic.

Anyway, you get the idea.

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What Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year Can Look Like in Your Home

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Category: Home Decorating

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Not only would it be festive to incorporate more green into your home for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities, but Pantone named green as their color of the year for 2017. Bold choice! This bright green hue oozes freshness, brings the outdoors in, and as Pantone states, “[Is a] refreshing and revitalizing shade and symbolic of new beginnings.”

It’s a smart choice too; Injecting a pop of green into your space will ensure that your home is ready for the holiday, sure, but you’ll also get those staying up-to-date vibes. Look at you go!If you’re interested in bringing a sense of outdoors inside, or maybe you’re just looking to refresh your space, we’ve got six tangible ways to stay on-trend by adding green to your space.

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