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    35 Brilliant Holiday Hacks That'll Make You Say, "Why Didn't I Know About These Sooner?"

    Everything you need to know to make it through the season.

    1. Add a few drops of soy sauce to your gravy for extra depth of flavor.

    Marie Telling /

    A teaspoon is enough to give your gravy that subtle-but-perfect unami flavor and make it even more delicious.

    2. For the best cookies, let your cookie dough rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

    Cookie dough balls
    Lindsay Hunt / BuzzFeed

    While it might be tempting to bake your cookies ASAP, trust us on this one: The longer you wait — and some experts recommend up to 36 hours — the better they'll come out, both in terms of texture and flavor.

    3. Place fresh cranberries in your ice cube trays to add some festive colors to your holiday drinks.

    Natalie Brown /

    One of the easiest ways to cheer up your holiday drinks.

    4. Quickly transform a plain store-bought cheesecake into an eye-catching holiday dessert with just four ingredients.

    Step one: Buy a grocery store cheesecake. Step two: Top it with homemade whipped cream. (That might sound intimidating but you'll only need a few things: heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.) Step three: Decorate the top by crushing a few candy canes in a plastic bag, then sprinkle the smashed pieces on top of the cream.

    Get the recipe: The Easiest Christmas Cheesecake

    5. For a super flaky pie crust, replace some of the water in the recipe with a bit of vodka.

    Pie crust with and without vodka
    Marie Telling /

    Sounds weird, but it works. The more water you use when making a pie dough, the easier it'll be to handle and roll out. But more moisture also means the dough will be tougher once cooked. To solve this dilemma, Cooks Illustrated suggests replacing part of the water with vodka. The alcohol will evaporate during baking and you'll be left with a super flaky crust. (PS: I've tried it and it works!)

    6. If you want a juicy turkey, don't forget to let it rest for at least 20 minutes after you take it out of the oven.

    Turkey resting
    Macey Foronda / Chris Ritter /

    This seals in the juices, so don't start carving too quickly. And there's no need to cover the cooked turkey with a cloth – doing so might actually make the skin soggy instead of crispy. So just let the turkey rest uncovered.

    7. Make hot chocolate floaters by freezing a sheet pan of Cool Whip and cutting out shapes with a cookie cutter.

    Natalie Brown /

    All you have to do is spread a layer of whipped cream on a sheet pan covered with foil and pop it in the freezer overnight. You can then use your favorite cookie cutters to make Cool Whip floaters for your hot chocolate.

    8. Make your whole house smell like Christmas with stovetop potpourri.

    stovetop pot pourri

    All you need to do is simmer a few spices (like cinnamon sticks and star anise) and citrus slices in a pot of water and let the holiday smell take over your house. You can also use your slow cooker for this, if you want to save precious stovetop space.

    Get the recipe: Stovetop Potpourri

    9. Turn waffle cones into edible candy Christmas trees.

    And the best part is that they have a cookie baked inside!

    Get the recipe: Candy Cookie Cone Christmas Trees

    10. Want to make latkes but can't be bothered with all the grating? Use frozen tater tots or hash browns as a shortcut.

    Hannah Loewentheil /

    Ok, so they might not turn out as crispy as the real deal, but they're still pretty damn good and you won't have to go through ANY potato grating.

    Get the recipe: Tater Tots Latkes

    11. Make super easy holiday treats like these snowmen chocolate barks, decorated with white candy melts, pretzel sticks, and candy corn.

    Snowmen chocolate barks

    A super fun afternoon activity for the whole family, with a delicious treat at the end!

    Get the recipe: Snowman Bark

    12. For the best mashed potatoes of your life, follow Tyler Florence's tip and boil the potatoes directly in a pot of heavy cream.

    Taylor Miller /

    We've tried several methods to make the best mashed potatoes and Tyler Florence's wildcard tip — boiling the potatoes in heavy cream — yields seriously amazing results.

    13. Run canned pumpkin purée through your food processor for a filling that's even smoother and silkier than usual.

    Marie Telling /

    Sure, this is an extra step — but if you want to take your pumpkin pie game to new levels and get the smoothest filling of your life, this is the trick for you.

    14. For a much quicker cooking time, ask your butcher to spatchcock your turkey.

    Spatchcock turkey
    James Ransom /

    Spatchcocking or butterflying the turkey, AKA removing its backbone and flattening it, will lead to a more uniform and much quicker roast. The technique (detailed here) can be a bit tricky, but if you're not feeling up for it you can always ask your butcher to prep the bird for you.

    Get the recipe: Spatchcocked Roast Turkey

    15. Follower Thomas Keller's example and use two types of chocolate for extra indulgent chocolate chip cookies.

    Taylor Miller /

    To up the chocolate flavor to the max, use two types of chocolate – 55% and 72% – and chop chocolate bars instead of using chocolate chips, which can often be of lesser quality.

    Get the recipe: Chef Thomas Keller’s Recipe for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

    16. Mixing cream soda and Fireball will give you the perfect festive cocktail.

    17. Use green food coloring to turn Rice Krispie treats into a fun Christmas tree.

    Rice Krispie Christmas tree

    Brilliantly easy!

    Get the recipe: Krispie Treat Christmas Tree

    18. Use squeeze bottles to make cookie decorating with icing easier.

    Decorating with squeeze bottles

    This is one of the best ways to control the mess — especially with kids — and still have fun.

    19. Wrap your turkey in a buttery cheesecloth, like Julia Child used to, so you don't have to keep basting it throughout cooking.

    Ulrike Welsch/The Boston Globe via Getty Images, Gmvozd / Getty Images

    This Martha Stewart's recipe uses Julia Child's cheesecloth method and explains how to do it.

    20. Take your champagne game to the next level with three super easy tips.

    Glasses of champagne

    You can 1) add a piece of candied ginger to your glass to make the champagne fizz longer and give it a light ginger flavor. Or 2) add a few pomegranate seeds to make it extra pretty and festive. Or 3) add a bit of liqueur to your glass (crème de cassis or St Germain, for instance) to turn it into a fancy cocktail.

    21. If you're tired of lattice tops, twist the dough to top your pies with a spiral pattern.

    Marie Telling /

    Learn more about how to make this pattern here. It's easier than you think!

    22. A bit of a fancy tip from Ina Garten: Add a splash of Cognac (or brandy) to your gravy for extra flavor.

    Nbc / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via, Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

    She also recommends caramelizing the onions thoroughly for even more deliciousness.

    Get the recipe: Ina Garten's Homemade Gravy Recipe

    23. Put your slow cooker to use to make hot chocolate for the whole family.

    This works in an Instant Pot, too!

    Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Coconut Hot Chocolate

    24. Make chocolate trees to decorate your holiday bakes.

    All you need is dark chocolate chips and aluminum foil.

    Get the recipe: Chocolate Trees

    25. For a super brown and crispy turkey, spread butter under the skin of the bird before roasting it.

    Tasty /,

    Use your fingers (or a rubber spatula) to release the skin from the breast and spread some herb butter underneath. This will keep the meat moist and the skin crispy.

    Get the recipe: Thanksgiving Turkey

    26. Repurpose your holiday cookie cutters to make Star Wars-themed cookies.

    Traditional holiday decor is great and all, but these Star Wars cookies will be a hit in any cookie swap.

    Get the step-by-step: Star Wars Cookies Using Holiday Cutters

    27. Make little turkey-shaped sweet treats with Oreo cookies, candy corn, and pretzels.

    Oreo turkeys

    If you're looking for a fun and rewarding activity for your kids on Thanksgiving, this should do the trick.

    Get the recipe: Gobble Gobble Oreo Turkeys

    28. Adding a spoonful of mustard to your mac 'n' cheese will balance out its flavors, cut out the richness, and make it even tastier.

    Mac cheese with mustard
    Hannah Loewentheil /

    A super low effort trick that yields an insanely tasty result. And no holiday table is complete without a side of mac, right??

    29. For a fall-flavored holiday drink, mix apple cider with caramel vodka.

    30. For added flavor, brown the butter you use in your chocolate chip cookies.

    Tasty /

    This will add a rich, nutty flavor. To brown the butter, melt it in a sauce pan, and swirl it until it bubbles. After a few minutes of bubbling, the butter will quiet down, and the white milk solids will sink at the bottom of the pot. This means your butter is ready. Take it off the heat right away so it doesn't burn – timing is key!

    Get the recipe: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

    31. Bake your desserts a day before the big meal.

    Pumpkin pie baking in the oven.
    Gmvozd / Getty Images

    Maybe an obvious tip, but worth repeating! This will free up precious oven space and will make your day much less stressful.

    32. If you make your own cranberry sauce, Jamie Oliver recommends adding apples, sugar, and cinnamon to the cranberries for extra yumminess.

    Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images, Bdmcintosh / Getty Images

    It'll add extra tartness, sweetness, and spice.

    Get the recipe: Apple and Cranberry Sauce

    33. Either toast your bread in the oven or let it sit out overnight before you use it to make stuffing.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    If you don't, the bread may fall apart and your stuffing will turn out mushy. So tear your bread into pieces (don't cut it with a knife, tearing it is easier and will make for better texture) and leave it out to dry for at least six hours or, if you're lacking time, pop it in the oven at 325°F for 20-30 minutes.

    Get the recipe: The Perfect Classic Stuffing

    34. Make your own peppermint candy cane dust to add to your holiday desserts.

    Homemade candy cane dust

    All you need is a food processor and a magic bullet. Once it's crushed, you can use peppermint powder in your hot chocolate, add it to vanilla icing, or use it to top ice cream.

    35. To prevent your cookies from going stale, place a slice of white bread in your cookie jar.

    A chocolate chip cookie next to a slice of white bread
    Getty Images /

    A tried and true tip, straight from grandma.

    What's a holiday cooking or baking hack you use every year? Share in the comments!