Dec 3, 2011

Saving Money On Holiday Gift Wrapping Paper!

Dec
3
2011
Saturday

Top DIY Wrapping Paper Ideas


Now that the gifts are bought WITHOUT going into debt and WHILE staying on budget, here are a few ideas for how to wrap them for less.

As with most of the articles I’ve posted so far, the 2 best ways to save are to (1) Buy on clearance and (2) Make it yourself.

You guys already get the whole buying on clearance thing (the week AFTER Christmas is going to be your best bet for grabbing some awesome wrapping paper deals).

And as far as making it yourself goes, well, once again, I’ve found a good portion of my frugal wrapping inspiration from Pinterest! Seriously, go sign up if you haven’t already! :)

First off, and probably the easiest way to save, it to get a HUGE roll of 200 feet (yes, FEET) of brown paper from Amazon for only $24! Then you can use it to wrap pretty much any present no matter how big or how small, and you should definitely have enough to last you through many holiday seasons!

Do you have any old maps in your closet? Maybe an outdated atlas? Just use red, green, or blue ribbon to make it festive and put it to good use!

Oh my!! I absolutely LOVE this idea!! Print sheet music onto regular white copy paper for smaller gifts and use it to wrap your presents! You can find all kinds of free public-domain sheet music to print too!

This next one would obviously take a little longer, but would be super fun for kids to do! And you can add some dye to the paper to make it different colors!

Wrapping your gift in a pillowcase is such a great idea! And what could be better than one that you made yourself?

And if you’re going to go for the paper bag look, here’s a fun way to dress it up with big cut-out names!

I love these stamp ideas below too! Just click on a picture to find more instructions on how to make it.

What about all of you? Which ideas inspire you? How do you save money on wrapping paper each year?

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Dec 2, 2011

8 Ideas For Saving Money On Gifts For Kids

Dec
2
2011
Friday

Save Money On Kids Gifts


Gifts for kids are unarguably one of the biggest expenses each holiday season.

And especially for those of you who are like me and have the “love language” of gift-giving. If I see something that I know that someone I love wants, it is SO HARD for me to resist buying it for them. And I love my kiddos. A lot. :)

So I really have to be careful with what I spend during the holidays on them… and THANKFULLY I have my financial-whiz husband who totally keeps up with our budget each month!

So what do you do about kid gifts? How can you still give them things they will love and not have to take out a second mortgage?

Here are a few ideas that I hope are helpful for all of us:

1. Stick to a well-defined budget. I’ve created a super simple holiday budgeting spreadsheet to help you do this! Just open up the spreadsheet, click on “File” then “Make A Copy” to be able to edit it.

First, figure out exactly how much you can spend TOTAL on gifts.

Then, write down the name of each person you need to buy for, and how much of that budget can go towards each of them. When you are done, the number in “How much room you have left in your budget” should be $0.

As you buy presents, put down what you bought in the correct spaces, and then put how much you paid for it. Everything will add up and you’ll see if you went over budget, met your budget, or were UNDER budget (which would be awesome!) :)

It’s truly amazing how quickly buying gifts here and there add up, so if we can see exactly where the money is being spent, it really helps.

2. Watch the deal sites (like Surviving The Stores) THROUGHOUT the year! Don’t wait until a few weeks before Christmas to purchase! Keep your eyes open for awesome deals throughout the year and grab things when the prices are low. I see deals like the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals all throughout the year (although not ALL AT ONE TIME like on BF & CM) and I post about the best ones here on STS!  Be sure to subscribe for email updates and follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with what’s going on in the deal world!

Just remember to write everything you buy down because it’s super easy to forget what you have already purchased and how much you have spent.

3. When buying for your own kids, let them know their budget so that they understand how much things cost and can really weigh their decisions based off of prices (definitely a valuable lesson to learn!) Obviously, this wouldn’t work for younger children, but it’s much easier to stay frugal with younger children (in my experience), than with older children.

So let’s say that your budget for each child is $100. Each child can write down as many gifts on their wish list that they want, as long as it adds up to $100. They can either choose that 1 American Girl doll that they want, or a few less expensive presents.

I would also recommend giving them a budget that is LESS than what your “real” budget is so that you are able to find some fun surprises that you know they will love.   :)

4. Pare down your gift-giving.  One of the pins I’ve been seeing going around Pinterest is this one:

I LOVE this idea!! Basically how it works is that each child gets something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read!

Such a great way to keep things focused away from just “what am *I* getting”.

5. Focus on reaching out. One of the things that we love to do with our kids each year is pick out a gift to give to a family in need from the Gospel For Asia gift catalogue. You can give rabbits, oxen, water wells, all kinds of things! The kids have a blast figuring out what to give and they see that the holidays aren’t just about what THEY can get.

6. Utilize garage sales. Whether it’s HAVING a garage sale with old toys to pay for new toys, or GOING to garage sales to look for toys, garage sales are BIG helps in saving money on kid gifts during the holidays! We’ve found lots of great items at garage sales that just needed a little TLC… and even some brand new in-the-box items that we were able to regift! Don’t forget about the consignment shops like Once Upon A Child and the Just Between Friends sales too!

7. Shop clearance throughout the year. Especially the Target 75% off Toy Clearance that comes around each January and July! This is where I get about 90% of the presents for my younger kids, and usually end up spending around $50 TOTAL for $200 worth of gifts! Toys and clothes go on clearance all the time, ESPECIALLY after the holidays, so consider leaving some room in your budget this year to grab things for NEXT year! :)

8. Check the pawn shops and Craigslist. These are great money-savers for budgeting for the older kids who likely have more expensive tastes (like drum sets, XBOXes, and cameras). And, contrary to the stigma, pawn shops are NOT just places that have stolen items (actually, that’s likely more common on Craigslist now). Pawn shops make sure that an item hasn’t been reported stolen before putting it out to sell.

What about you? What are your best tips for saving money on kids gifts?

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Nov 30, 2011

Saving Money On Teacher Gifts

Nov
30
2011
Wednesday

Ask any teacher and I can pretty much guarantee that they will tell you to PLEASE go easy on teacher gifts. They definitely don’t want you to go broke this holiday season, and they have to find somewhere to PUT gifts from 30 (or more) students.

Let’s say that a teacher just has 30 students and she’s been teaching for 5 years. That’s 150 things that she has to figure out what to do with!

So really, don’t stress about teacher gifts, and just do something small that lets them know that you are thankful for them and how they love on your children.

My best frugal advice for teacher and neighbor gifts is to MAKE them!

Yummy food is always appreciated and it can be packaged in such cute ways!  I also think a live plant would be perfect too!

And if you are going to give your child’s teacher an actual physical gift that will not be consumed in some way then I definitely recommend something that could be used in the classroom!

Here are a few inspirational, and frugal, ideas from Pinterest (can you tell that I love Pinterest?  I would love to just have a “Things I Love From Pinterest” blog!) :)

(**Just click on a picture to see the instructions!**)

First off is an awesome resource created by Laurie over at Tip Junkie with 48 (yes, 48) GIFTS IN A JAR!! I absolutely love gifts in a jar, and I love that you can just get one set of ingredients and make several presents all at one time with them!

Source: tipjunkie.com via Rachel on Pinterest

 

Next up is Homemade Vanilla Extract! Who wouldn’t love that?? If you have some already made, then you can gift them in these super cute little bottles!

 

What about all of those free Softsoap bottles that we all get? Does anyone else have about a billion Softsoap bottles under their sink, or is that just me? If you’re looking to get rid of some, here’s a super cute way to do it from Design Mom!

Source: designmom.com via Rachel on Pinterest

 

And SO CUTE!! Grab a potted plant (you could even grow it throughout the year… yes, from seeds :) ) and put a message to your child’s teacher in the middle with a paper medallion (Skip To My Lou shows you how to do it!) Talk about an inexpensive, yet I’m sure much appreciated, gift!

 

What teacher doesn’t have a ton of clipboards? Check out these awesome customized ones! All you need is paper, spray adhesive & decorations! (And a clipboard) :)

 

And then CRAYONS! Who knew crayons could be so cute?? I might have to make one of these to put in our schoolroom too. Homeschool moms get a teacher’s gift too, right? :)

What other great teachers gift ideas do you have? If you are a teacher, what are the most frugal and most appreciated gifts you’ve received?

Be sure to check out all of the other AWESOME blogs that are participating in the 12 Days Of Christmas series:



Christmas Homeschool Fun
: 1+1+1=1
Christmas Decorations: Songbird
Tips for a Healthy Holiday: The Thrifty Mama
Travel Tips: Mom’s Travel Tales
Christmas Recipes: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
Christmas Family Fun: Life as Mom
Homemade Christmas Gifts: The Happy Housewife

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Nov 29, 2011

Saving Money On Holiday Decorations

Nov
29
2011
Tuesday

I LOVE Christmas decorations! Love love love them! And the holiday smells too. Cinnamon, cloves, vanilla… COOKIES… well, you just can’t beat them!

But decorations can be expensive and retailers do everything they can to convince us that we need to keep buying more from them… at full price.

So how do you save and still have a fun and festively decorate house?

I’m sure you guys have some awesome suggestions and I’d love to hear them in the comments below too!

Here are my top two suggestions:

1. Buy your decorations for next year RIGHT after Christmas. You can get super nice stuff for 75%… even up to 90% off after Christmas and you’ll be ready for next year! Pretty much everything Christmas-related gets majorly discounted and I’ve always found lots of great items (my favorite is probably the Target after Christmas sale).

Pretty much all of my decorations are either from clearance sales, garage sales (you can find a ton of stuff at garage sales!), and things I’ve made myself!  Which brings us to #2…

2. Make decorations yourself! I have been amazed at some of the things that I’ve found crossing my Pinterest path recently. Pinterest is such an awesome resource for, well, pretty much everything.  I’ve seen everything from homemade ornament wreaths, to homemade advent calendars, to homemade ornaments. In fact, if you just search “Homemade Christmas Decoration” you’ll find a TON!  And be sure to follow me on Pinterest too!  :)

Another great resource is the awesome list of Homemade Christmas Gifts over at The Happy Housewife!  Toni is going through and listing out 100 different things over the course of the holiday season that you can make yourself for LESS!  You can use them as gifts OR for YOU!

Be sure to also check out the awesome list of Decoration ideas over at Songbird!

I was actually pretty proud of myself for making the table runner and placemats a few years ago that are pictured above at the top of the post! Those who know me know that I am FAR from a seamstress, but making a table runner and placemats was SO easy. I really encourage you to try it! And if sewing seems overwhelming to you, maybe try some of the free online sewing lessons available! :)

I’ve left a ton of room here for y’all to chime in with your ideas! Feel free to leave a comment below in the comments section with more ideas!

Be sure to check out all of the other AWESOME blogs that are participating in the 12 Days Of Christmas series:

Christmas Homeschool Fun: 1+1+1=1
Christmas Decorations: Songbird
Tips for a Healthy Holiday: The Thrifty Mama
Travel Tips: Mom’s Travel Tales
Christmas Recipes: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
Christmas Family Fun: Life as Mom
Homemade Christmas Gifts: The Happy Housewife

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Nov 28, 2011

Saving Money On Christmas & Holiday Cards!

Nov
28
2011
Monday

Ahh, Thanksgiving is over, the decorations are up (unless you’re a procrastinator like me, lol!) and it’s finally time to relax and make some homemade Tea Cake Cookies!

Except you have this one big project looming over your head that you have to get done soon… CARDS!

And have you priced cards lately?  They seem to go up in price every time I look.  $2 for a customized photo card?  Really?  with 50 people on your list, that’s $100 for the cards + $44 to mail those 100 cards too.  That sure is an expensive part of the holidays!!  I don’t know about you guys, but I could do a ton with $144 (like eat for two weeks, lol!)

So if you’re looking to cut back on your Christmas or holiday card budget this year, here are a few options:

::  Send Email Cards ::

There are a few people that I get email cards from each year and I always think, “wow, I should do that!”  How many of you actually keep everyone’s photo card every year?  Don’t most of them end up in the trash after the holidays?  While I would love to keep them all, it’s not not possible.

The whole goal is to let others know how you are doing, wish them a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays and show them how much the kids have grown this year, right?  ALL of those things can be accomplished via email!

Another option is to just send the nice cards to family and those friends who will actually KEEP them, and then send an email card to everyone else with a family update!

American Greetings and Blue Mountain are two places that have great eCard options!  Or you can just type up a nice email letter and attach your family photo!  :)

::  Make Your Own & Print ::

This is my favorite.  It does take a little more time, and some sort of photo editing software, but it works great!

Here’s what I did last year…

I’m not really creative AT ALL on my own, but I can copy creative things!  :)  So, I found a card that I like from one of the online photo card stores.

I used that basic design and color scheme and did it myself in my photo editing program.  Then I just printed it out as a regular 4×6 picture at Walgreens for around 10¢ each!  MUCH MUCH less than regular photo cards!

::  Use Old Holiday Cards As Postcards ::

This is an awesome idea for those who want to send out cards, but aren’t sending pictures or letters this year.  Take the holiday cards that you got last year, cut them in half, and send the front half as a postcard!!  The stamps cost less too, so you’re saving all around!

(And if you’re not sending a customized card, then be sure to take advantage of the awesome card sales after the holidays are over!!)

::  Send DIFFERENT Cards ::

Who says everyone on your has to have the same card?  You could grab the 25 free cards from SeeHere and then your other cards with other great photo deals!

Sure, it takes a little more time to create several cards, but you could really save big here!

::  Rotate Who You Send Cards To ::

Where’s the rule that EVERYONE on your list has to get a card EVERY year?   Yes, there will likely always be certain people who get a physical card every year, but why not rotate the others on your list to get a physical card every other year instead of every year?  Then the other half of the list could get an eCard!

What about you guys?  What are your favorite ways to save on holiday cards?

Be sure to check out all of the other AWESOME blogs that are participating in the 12 Days Of Christmas series:



Christmas Homeschool Fun
: 1+1+1=1
Christmas Decorations: Songbird
Tips for a Healthy Holiday: The Thrifty Mama
Travel Tips: Mom’s Travel Tales
Christmas Recipes: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
Christmas Family Fun: Life as Mom
Homemade Christmas Gifts: The Happy Housewife

Print this post This post may contain affiliate links. Click to view full disclosure policy.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."