Dear Readers: Here’s a wonderful last-minute project that’s great for this time of year: Create a box for a needy family!

Here are some things to include: cereal, crackers, oatmeal, canned soup, tuna and fruit, as well as jars of spaghetti sauce, applesauce and peanut butter.

Add a can opener and maybe some plastic utensils.

Dear Readers: Here are the safe ways to thaw a Christmas turkey, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA.gov):

For refrigerator thawing, set the turkey in a pan so the juices won’t drip on other foods. Allow 24 hours (per 4 to 5 pounds) in the fridge, assuming it’s set at 40 degrees or colder. For example, a 20-pound turkey should thaw in four to five days.

For cold-water thawing? The turkey must be in a watertight wrapper to prevent contamination and to keep the turkey from getting wet. Timewise, allow 30 minutes per pound. Sink the turkey in cold water, and replace the water with fresh water every half-hour. Cook the turkey immediately.

For a quickie microwave thaw? Look to the maker of your microwave for assistance. You must cook the turkey immediately because parts of the turkey will have begun to cook in the microwave.

Dear Heloise: I was using a hair dryer at my sister's house and thought that the airflow was really weak. It turns out the air intake on the back of the dryer was covered in lint and dust.

This dryer had a snap-off grille that let me easily clean the intake screen, but if the grille didn't come off, I could have used tweezers to pick out the lint. Once the intake screen was cleared, it was like a new dryer.

Pat in Illinois

Readers: for safety’s sake, unplug the dryer first.

Dear Readers: Want some free greenery? Head over to wherever Christmas trees are sold. The operators will probably be happy to hand you the trimmings from last-minute Christmas trees they’ve just sold.

Make them into a pretty wreath, or wire them to your stairwell. A beautiful aroma, and it looks festive!

Dear Heloise: I cut the ill-fitting sleeves out of a blouse and now wear the blouse as a dickey under sweatshirts and tops. It stays in place and adds interest to an otherwise plain neckline.

Mary, via email

Dear Heloise: When I don't like or need baked pieces of cinnamon pie dough, I freeze the leftovers and use when needed.

Rae Lynn, via email

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

2019, King Features Syndicate