6 Easy Tips for Giving Christmas Gifts on a Tight Budget

6 Easy Tips for Giving Christmas Gifts on a Tight Budget

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year to spend with loved ones, but it has been a bit too commercialized. Everyone wants extravagant gifts and kids set out to collect the most toys and gadgets of all their friends. With so many expectations, how can you give gifts this holiday without draining your wallet? Find out how below with these 6 Easy Tips for Giving Christmas Gifts on a Tight Budget

Start with a well-detailed budget.

Before you buy your first holiday gift, make sure you have a budget. And not just an estimated figure in your mind that can change with each shopping trip…

You need an actual budget that is written down or saved in a spreadsheet. This budget should have everyone on your gift list included with a separate budget for each recipient as well as the total you cannot go over. Update your budget each time you purchase a gift to ensure you don’t exceed your total.

Research Christmas gifts before spending money.

With the Internet at your fingertips, there’s really no excuse to paying more than you should for each gift you give this Christmas. Often times, there will be websites that offer lower prices that you could snag in a store. Comparison shopping is a must to stay within your holiday budget.

Use coupons and snag deals whenever possible.

Always make sure you are getting the lowest price by searching online and in store ads for coupons. Also, take advantage of “buy one, get one free” or “2 for $XX” deals. There are likely two people on your list who can benefit from similar gifts. Make sure you are maximizing your savings! Check out new coupons on our site here: Coupons. Plus, see current holiday deals on our site here: Holiday Deals

Shop for Christmas throughout the year.

This one may not work as well this year, since we are already close to the holiday season. However, start your Christmas gift shopping early for next year – as early as the week after this year’s holiday! Clearance is VERY easy to find around New Year’s Day, so take advantage and save 50% or more off gifts that you can store until next year.

Give handmade Christmas gifts.

If you are already crafty, use your imagination to create handmade items that can be given as gifts. Even if you don’t have the craftiest abilities, you can still bake holiday cookies or pies that can be given to neighbors or teachers.

Be sure to check out our 12 Days of Handmade Christmas gifts series for some great handmade Christmas gift ideas!

Plan a fun gift giving exchange.

Rather than buying for everyone on your list, suggest doing a holiday gift exchange instead. You can have your family members draw names out of a hat to determine who they will buy for, or do something more fun like White Elephant. Just don’t forget to agree on the budget!

Hopefully these tips will help you give holiday gifts without breaking your budget this year. The trick is planning ahead and shopping wisely in order to get the best deal and still find items that your loved ones will enjoy!

Christmas Blessings Giveaway

And now, be sure to check out our Christmas Blessings Giveaway – $500 cash (delivered via Paypal).

We hope that the prize will be a blessing to the winning families and help them to fulfill their kids’ Christmas wishes, pay off some bills, or to save for a rainy day. Whatever the money ends up being used for, our prayer is that it helps to lessen any financial burden and/or fills a specific need.

There are lots of entry options in the Rafflecopter form below – the more you enter, the better your chance of winning! I know it can seem tedious and time consuming to go through all the entries, but isn’t a chance at $500 worth it? I think it is! Plus, all of these generous bloggers donated their own money toward the cash prizes and this giveaway wouldn’t be possible without them. So I hope you’ll take the time to check out each one. Who knows, maybe you will find your new favorite blog.

The giveaway will run from Monday, November 12th through Wednesday, November 21st (ends at 11:59pm EST). Winner will be notified by email shortly after the giveaway ends and will have 48 hours to respond to claim the prize or another winner will be drawn. You must have a Paypal account to win. Please be sure to read the Rafflecopter terms and conditions upon entering.


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How To Reuse Paper Bags

We do a lot of shopping at our local Whole Foods market and we end up coming home with tons of paper bags. We much prefer these over the more common plastic bags, but are always looking for How To Reuse Paper Bags in our home. Here are some of our favorite uses that you too can enjoy when you have a surplus of paper bags. And here’s another quick tip: I like to buy paper bags online at Amazon for sack lunches for the kids. Check out the current deals at Amazon here:

How To Use Paper Bags

HOW TO REUSE PAPER BAGS

Book Covers. This is by far the most popular and classic use for how to reuse paper bags. Cut them down and wrap and tape around school books to protect covers. They are tons of fun to decorate with markers, stickers and even glitter.

Wrap presents with them. There are many presents that are easily wrapped by slipping them into a paper bag. You can either put the present in the bag, decorate and use it as a gift bag, or you can cut it down and use as plain wrapping paper you can also decorate accordingly.

Shred and use in packaging. This is a great Eco-friendly way to pack breakables for shipping. Let your kids have fun ripping apart the bags, cutting and shredding them to use as packing material. This is also a great way to add bulk to gift baskets.

Line trashcans with them. This is a great use for your paper bags. They are perfect for using as trash can liners. You can even use them specifically for compost items, because the paper bags are can be used in your compost as well as the food scraps.

Use in your crafts. Not only are paper bags great for a base to make things like puppets, posters and wrapping paper, they are perfect for going under tables or projects to catch paint drips and spills. Adding these to your craft closet is a great idea.

Recycling is so important for our environment, but mostly the frugal nature will help keep you in budget. Knowing how to reuse paper bags will help you to save money and create fun new things in our home.

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Reuse Old Shoe Laces

Have you ever had to throw away your kids shoes, because they were totally worn out? Did you ever wonder what to do with the shoe laces that were in good shape? Here are some fun ways to Reuse Old Shoe Laces! Not only will you be recycling something useful, you’ll be teaching your kids all about how to take care of the environment. Any time you can re-purpose or reuse something in your home instead of throwing it away you are saving money and helping prevent further pollution. Need to replace some old and worn out shoelaces? One of the cheapest places to buy new shoelaces is on Amazon! Check out their current deals here:

Reuse Old Shoe Laces

REUSE OLD SHOE LACES

Dye vibrant colors and use in other shoes. Grabbing a packet or two of brightly colored fabric dye is a great idea for making some hot colors for your kids shoes. Colored laces that are mismatched are often popular with kids. Instead of throwing them away, simply dye them a fun new color and use them in other shoes!

Upcycle for sewing projects. Shoe laces make great drawstrings in waists of homemade skirts or pants. Typically the shorter ones are great for younger kids or doll clothing, but you may find longer ones work well for adult clothing as well.

Use as a bow on a gift. Use some of the brightly dyed shoe laces to tie around special gifts and make a fun colorful bow.

Use in garden to tie branches to trellis. When you have a small garden you know that items like tomatoes and beans often need to be tied to a stake, cage or trellis to keep from falling over. You can easily reuse old shoe laces in your garden every year. This is a fun no fuss and free way to keep your garden in check.

Use in sensory crafts and manipulatives. If your kids are working on lacing projects when they are younger, or even stringing buttons or beads onto something out of their sensory bin old shoe laces are perfect. You can create your own fun bin of items to string for them to sort by shapes or colors and use shoe laces as the free string.

For every little item in your home you might usually throw away, there is a fun free solution that will help you to recycle them to be budget friendly. Reuse old shoe laces for all kinds of fun and needed projects in your home.

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Uses For Corn Starch

I always keep a box of corn starch in my pantry, but sometimes I forget how many Uses For Corn Starch there really are. While it is usually used to thicken soups or sauces, it has many purposes outside of cooking. This list is just a beginning of the many common uses for corn starch that we have come across. Not only will this simple inexpensive pantry staple stretch your budget in the kitchen, it can throughout your home as well. A great way to save money on corn starch is snagging deals online. Check out current deals on corn starch at Amazon here:

Uses For Corn Starch

USES FOR CORN STARCH

  • Apply to diaper rash. Sprinkle on little bottoms to help prevent diaper rash, or mix as a paste with water to apply to existing rash.

  • Apply to sunburn. Create a paste using water to apply to sunburn areas. Can also mix with aloe vera for another soothing paste.

  • Use to absorb oil spills on fabric or clothing. Sprinkle and rub into oil spots on leather, fabrics and even clothing.

  • Use as dry shampoo. Comb through hair on mornings you are too rushed to shampoo. Works best on lighter colored hair, but can easily be used for any hair type or texture. This helps absorb oil at the root.

  • Alternative Underarm Deodorant. Apply alcohol to underarms then lightly brush with corn starch to eliminate and help prevent odor.

  • Polish Silver or jewelry. Make a paste of corn starch and water and rub into silver or any jewelry to remove dirt and grime. Dip a toothbrush into it to scrub jewelry like rings, pendants or bracelets that have intricate parts.

  • Hair detangler. Apply a small amount to damp hair for easier combing. The corn starch lubricates the hair shaft and makes it easier to glide the brush or comb through.

Corn starch can be found in every room of your house from the kitchen to your bathroom or cleaning supplies. These are just a few of the many uses for corn starch you can enjoy using in your own home.

And don’t forget to check out the online deals for corn starch at Amazon here:

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Uses For Powdered Milk

For years I have kept a box of powdered milk in my pantry with the intentions of using it in more than just the occasional recipe. These Uses For Powdered Milk are great places to begin and definitely things that you’ll love knowing about. Powdered milk is not only a shelf stable option you can keep in your pantry at all times, it is often much less expensive overall than traditional milk. These ideas are great for saving you money and keeping items on hand that would otherwise go bad before you could use them all. Plus, you can save money buying powered milk online too. Check out the deals on powdered milk at Amazon:

Uses For Powdered Milk

USES FOR POWDERED MILK

Sweetened Condensed Milk: Everyone loves this for use in recipes but it can be costly Instead mix together 1/3 cup powdered milk with ½ cup water. Microwave it until hot then add ½ cup sugar and refrigerate for 4-6 hours. This is equivalent to a 13oz can of sweetened condensed milk.

Replace creamer in coffee: Use 1 tablespoon milk powder and 2 teaspoons sugar in black coffee for a yummy flavor that is shelf stable and easy to keep on hand.

Sour Cream: When making recipes that call for sour cream, you can mix together 1/3 cup powdered milk with ¾ cup plain yogurt and 1 teaspoon corn starch to replace the sour cream. This is a great way to lower fat content and make a substitute for something you might not keep on hand.

Use in any recipe that calls for milk. Mix powdered milk as directed on box for recipes like cakes, breads and even puddings. Milk powder is a great way to always have milk on hand when you are cooking.

Dry milk powder is a staple item that should be found in every kitchen. These uses for powdered milk go far beyond the traditional mixture for drinking. For those who want to use it to drink, you may find it helpful to add a bit of flavoring so it is easier on the taste buds. A drop of vanilla, or some chocolate syrup can make it much easier to drink.

Remember, a great way to save money is by buying powered milk online and watching for online deals. Check out the deals on powdered milk at Amazon:

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Uses For Milk Jugs

When you have little ones in the house, it is super easy to find yourself throwing away tons of milk jugs every month. While we are avid recyclers, these aren’t always accepted at our local recycling center so we have had to come up with some other Uses For Milk Jugs so we aren’t just tossing them into the garbage all the time.

Uses For Milk Jugs

USES FOR MILK JUGS

Turn into planters. Cut the top part off and use the bottom as a great easy planter for starting vegetable plants to put into your garden. This is also a great way to transplant a flower from your garden to a pot.

Use as funnels. Cut in half and use the part with the spout as a funnel for all sorts of projects. Great for pouring bulk foods like beans or flour into smaller containers, or even using when you change the oil in your car.

Make a bird feeder. Cut openings on the sides and fill with birdseed. You can simply sit this on your back deck, or hang from a tree or awning.

Repurpose for other drinks. Clean your milk jugs well and use for mixing juice, punch or even flavor waters and teas.

Pet food scoop. Cut side off into a scoop shape and put into dog food bins for easy scoop to refill their food bowls each day.

Fill with water and freeze to create ice pack. When using a cooler for a picnic or other outing, you can fill an empty milk jug with water and freeze to create a nice giant ice pack. Put 2-3 into your cooler to keep foods around them cold and provide yourself with drinking water as it melts.

Rather than throw away your milk jugs once empty, put them to use in your home, garden or garage. These uses for milk jugs are just a few that come to mind. They make great scoops, containers and organizers throughout our home.

Did you know you can buy milk online? Check out the latest deals on milk at Amazon here:

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Household Uses For White Vinegar

One of the things that I remember always being in the pantry as a child was a bit bottle of white vinegar. My mom used it for so many things I thought it was a must in every kitchen. Here are some of the best Household Uses For White Vinegar that my mom handed down to me. You’ll love these ways to use white vinegar in your house! Not only will you be able to use a natural and healthy method of cleaning and deodorizing, you’ll find it to be budget friendly. Want to find a great deal on white vinegar online? Check out current deals on white vinegar at Amazon here:

Household Uses For White Vinegar

HOUSEHOLD USES FOR WHITE VINEGAR

Remove odors. From spraying on your hands after chopping an onion, to pouring down your garbage disposal with a bit of baking soda you’ll find this to be one of the best odor removers you’ll come across. Mix with water or alcohol to spray on everything from kitchen counters to inside your refrigerator to eliminate yucky smells.

Remove spots on dishes. Pour ¼ cup vinegar into your dishwater to help remove spots on dishes. You can also use vinegar in place of dishwasher tabs or liquid in your dishwasher to clean and remove odors inside your dishwasher.

Clean your washing machine. 1 cup of vinegar in your laundry can remove odors and disinfect your washing machine quickly and easily. Whether you are working with kids dirty clothes from sports or just general use odors, this is a safe and effective way to clean your washing machine and laundry at the same time.

Use in homemade cleaning solutions. Mix vinegar with water for cleaning windows, essential oils and alcohol for disinfecting bathroom counters and toilets. Nearly all homemade cleaning solutions include vinegar in some form.

Remove sticky glue from surfaces. Those pesky labels that leave glue residue on cups, totes, car windows or even computers come off easily with a little vinegar solution.

Household uses for white vinegar are too numerous to count. Using vinegar in recipes, within your home to eliminate odors or as a natural and green alternative to disinfectants are all perfect. Next time you see coupons for vinegar, make sure to stock up and supply your pantry with this much used and loved household product.

Want to find a great deal on white vinegar online? Check out current deals on white vinegar at Amazon here:

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Ways To Use Ribbon

If you have a crafting room, then you know what it is like to have bits and pieces of supplies everywhere.  You finish a project and have just a few inches of a beautiful grossgain ribbon and just can’t throw it away.  Here are some fun Ways To Use Ribbon that are creative, useful and of course budget friendly.

Ways To Use Ribbon

WAYS TO USE RIBBON

  • Wrap Picture Frames:  Use hot glue to secure as you wrap colorful ribbon around a basic picture frame to create a unique frame to use in your home or give as a gift.
  • Create Little Girl’s Hair Bows:  Match your daughter’s bows to her favorite outfits easily when you make them yourself.  Ribbons on classic barrettes or clips can add a fun, inexpensive and unique accessory for your child.
  • Make A Ribbon Wreath: Wrap shorter lengths of ribbon around a circle of foam, wood or plastic to create a fun unique wreath.  Secure the ribbon by tying it so it moves around easily as needed.  Mix and match ribbon or create a solid colored wreath with fun flower or unique item embellishments.
  • Make Bookmarks:  Wide thick ribbon can be sprayed with starch to make stiff and be used as a fun new bookmark.
  • Wrap Around Candles:  Use as a fun way to upgrade your basic white candle for the seasons.
  • Glue To Mini Burlap Bags:  Hot glue strips of colorful ribbon to mini burlap bags to make unique custom gift bags.

Ribbon is a great fun craft item that will dress up nearly anything.  These ways to use ribbon are just the tip of the iceberg.  It is a great item to have in your craft room to dress up any piece of furniture or decor in your home.  Tie in your hair, attach to various items in your home to accent for different seasons and hoildays, or think of your own fun ways to use ribbon in crafting and decorations!

Looking for deals on ribbons? Check out some of the current deals at Amazon here:

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Cast Iron Skillet 101

Cast Iron 101

Cast Iron 101

Almost everyone is familiar with cast iron, but do you know how to properly use and care for cast iron skillets? Surprisingly, many people have no idea how to properly care for and use cast iron skillets and cookware.

Cast iron skillets have been used for years to cook tasty meals that become family favorites! There are so many excellent cast iron cooked recipes out there, so you want to be sure you are taking care of your cast iron skillet the best you can. After all, you will want it to last a long time! If you are new to the world of cast iron skillets, or just want to brush up on the care of them, take a look below at cast iron skillet 101 tips you can try. You will find that with the proper care, your cast iron skillet will be churning out tasty dishes for years to come! Don’t yet have a cast iron skillet, or need to replace yours? Check out one of the most popular cast iron skillets on Amazon here:

How to Care for Your Cast Iron Skillet Cookware: Cast Iron Basic Use Instructions

1. Season your skillet.
One of the easiest ways to season your skillet is to place it on high heat and swish some oil around the inside. Let the oil burn and the skillet will season this way. You can do this several times before your first use to break the skillet in. Don’t want to season your skillet? You can snag a pre-seasoned cast iron skillet here on AMazon:

2. Never soak your skillet.
Skillets don’t care for baths. Never soak your skillet. Instead, scrub it when you are done using it and dry it immediately. You should never let water sit or accumulate in your skillet for any period of time. Always use a soft cloth to wipe away moisture from your skillet.

3. Use these simple cleaning tips.
If food gets stuck to your skillet, pour some salt on it to work as an abrasive cleaner. Scrub it with a cloth or sponge. It should loosen the food nicely. Then just rinse and dry.

4. Re-season as needed.
If your skillet has been used quite a bit or has been scrubbed due to stuck on food, you will need to re-season it. To do this, just place it on a high heat and swish some oil around.

5. Condition the skillet.
You can condition the skillet at anytime by placing a little oil on a cloth and wiping the inside of the pan. Don’t rinse or dry, just let the oil coat it and offer some protection.

6. Provide a covering.
When storing your skillet, cover it with a paper towel or soft cloth to keep moisture and dust away.

Cast Iron Skillet Safety Tips

When using your skillet, it is also important to remember these tips for safety: Always use oven mitts when handling your skillet. While you are cooking, never touch it with your bare hands as you can get severe burns. Even after you turn the heat off, remember that your skillet will remain hot for as long as 30-40 minutes. Do not touch it immediately or attempt to move it without protection.

Your cast iron skillet can provide you years of enjoyment when you give these easy Cast Iron 101 care tips a try!

Check out one of the most popular cast iron skillets on Amazon here:

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DIY Strengthening Lavender Nail Soak and Cuticle Cream

This strengthening and moisturizing nail soak does double duty as a cuticle cream. Place the jar in hot water, allowing it to melt and it makes a wonderful nail soak once or twice a week. Allow it to chill and firm up and you can easily swipe a little bit out to massage onto your cuticles. Either way it is great for your nails and cuticles, and makes for a nice little spa treatment at home.  Make it in a pretty jar, tie on a pretty ribbon, add a couple nail files and it makes a lovely holiday gift for anyone from family to friends, neighbors to teachers.

DIY Strengthening Lavender Nail Soak Cuticle Cream

Ingredients for DIY Strengthening Lavender Nail Soak and Cuticle Cream:

2 T.

2 tsp.

1 tsp.

10 drops

DIY Strengthening Lavender Nail Soak

Melt coconut oil in the microwave in 20 second increments, add to jar.

DIY Strengthening Lavender Nail Soak and Cuticle Cream

Stir in honey until combined.

DIY Strengthening Lavender Nail Soak Instructions

Add lavender essential oil.

Stir well to ensure that all ingredients are well combined. To store your nail soak/cream place in a  container with a tight fitting lid out of direct light.

To use as a nail soak, warm gently in the microwave until it is liquid-30 seconds should about do it. Soak nails for 10 minutes, wash hands as usual to remove excess oil.  Repeat 1 to 2 times per week.

DIY Lavender Nail Soak

To use as a nail and cuticle cream allow your mixture to solidify-I pop mine in the fridge when I want to use it that way.  Rub gently into nails, allow to sit for 10 minutes, wipe away excess. I do this nearly daily to moisturize and strengthen my nails.

DIY Lavender Nail Cuticle Cream

Check out another favorite beauty DIY: DIY Mineral Powder Foundation

Be sure to check out other great DIY Handmade Gift ideas in our 12 More Days of Handmade Christmas Gifts 2016 series; our 12 Days of Homemade Christmas Gifts 2015 series, and our 12 Days of Handmade Christmas Gifts 2014 series!

 

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