Use Pinterest to UP Your Holiday Game

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The holidays are my favorite time of year – gathering with friends and family over special meals, showing you care with gifts, watching the kids explode with excitement over pumpkins, decorated houses, lit Christmas trees… you get the idea. If you’ve yet to explore the wealth of inspiration that is Pinterest, this season is the perfect time to take a tour. Whether you’re a holiday lover like me, looking to build some memorable traditions without going overboard, or a budding Martha Stewart ready to make over your home in festive extravaganza, Pinterest has something for everyone.

Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/) is a social, image-sharing website that functions like a shareable scrapbook. Users “pin” images to a virtual board from the Internet, other user’s boards or their own computer, resulting in a collection of images that you can visually scroll through until something catches your interest. Boards are all public, so once you’re a member you can see anything that anyone posts.

The biggest challenge for those new to Pinterest is the overwhelming abundance of material and a relatively weak search function. Search is limited to a single text box where you enter keywords and choose to search Pins, Boards or Pinners. Searching for Pins results in specific images where the “pinner” has listed your keyword in their description of the image or link. Search by Boards for collections of images that pinners have categorized under your keyword. Search by Pinner if there’s someone on Pinterest that you’d like to follow.

When it comes to using Pinterest for holiday inspiration, I recommend that you start with a relatively generic keyword search by either Pins or Boards. For example, search Boards for “Thanksgiving” and you’ll get hundreds of images: crafts to keep the kids busy; beautiful ideas to decorate your home with pre-made printables, nature or artistically presented edible arrangements; and food upon glorious food. My favorites are the ideas to help me connect with the spirit of the holidays with creative family activities, charitable acts or homemade crafts and gifts.

our nerds know nearly nothing about pinterest!

When you find an image that links to something that you like, click through to view the other pins on the same board and then the other images that the pinner has collected on different boards. In many cases, once you find someone with similar taste, style or interests, you’ll end up discovering a wealth of great ideas that they’ve already done to footwork to collect. I’ve also discovered that perusing the boards of others who have repinned something I find appealing often leads me to like-minded individuals and the ideas they’ve found to be appealing.

Once you find inspiration, “repin” the links onto your own boards so that you can have them at hand when you’re ready to get in the holiday spirit. I’ve collected numerous ideas that I can come back to when I want to take some time to do a craft with the kids or make a special themed treat for family or friends. There are many, many things I will surely never get around to, but even if it gives me two or three memorable things to try, it’s a win.

In the same way that leafing through a fitness magazine can motivate you to go for a walk or choose a healthier snack, it’s not the specific project so much as the overall feeling that you can create something cool or beautiful. It gives those of us with little time and creativity the opportunity to find achievable projects while offering those with more crafty skills tools, tips and tricks to take their creations to the next level.

While I’ve grown to love Pinterest, it truly is an Alice In Wonderland-style “rabbit hole.” You start off looking for homemade gifts you can create for the neighbors and before you know it you’ve ventured into DIY garden gnomes or motivational quotes. Time on Pinterest is like dog-years – an hour morphs into five more often than I care to divulge.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to attempt to make marshmallows into snowmen.

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.