5 things to do for under $12 with a cheap box of wine

That box of wine you bought for daily sipping can become a magical wellspring of uses for the holidays. To get into the Christmas spirit, WalletPop offers five thrifty ideas to think outside the box.

1. GINGERBREAD HOUSE OF WINE

Turn your wine dispenser into a storybook dream that will have guests sipping happily ever after. Wall the box with gingerbread, add a roof, make room for the tap, and decorate. It might be the only real estate on your block worth toasting.

Make up a tale of how the cottage morphed into a wine fountain and put it in writing on a placard next to the house. Something about a witch and Ernst Gallo? You won't be able to use a custom gingerbread house kit because you'll have to cut the dough to fit your box. Unbaked gingerbread sheets are available from Pillsbury and others. Or ask your local bakery to make gingerbread sheets for you and cut them according to specs.

Make the mortar with a standard royal frosting by beating together one pound of powdered sugar, one teaspoon of cream of tartar, three egg whites and a teaspoon of vanilla. Apply gum drops, candy canes, maybe even old corks. This vintage house will never be confused with a fixer-upper.

"It's a nice way to serve wine," Lisa Commitante, the manager of Monteleone Bakery in Brooklyn, N.Y., told WalletPop. "Very festive." ($11.95 with the store-bought sheets)