Thursday, December 21, 2017

Homemade Gifts




One of our favorite gifts to give to family and friends during the Christmas season are homemade hot coco jars.  It's super easy for the girls to make so it can be a present from them.  I love having them learn to give gifts early on and this is something that can be truly from them, since they can help make it.  Plus it's affordable.

I've shared this link before, but Eating on a Dime  has a great recipe.

This recipe will fill about 3/4 of a jar so 1 recipe = 1 jar gift.

We made 9 jars this year for our family and friends and spent about $20.00. Even with decorating the jars to make them more festive it didn't cost that much to do.

Here was our breakdown:

Jars - free (I just use old spaghetti jars, pasta jars, pickle jars, etc.) You can see my post for that here.
Dry Milk ~ $6.98 ~ I got about 9 jars out of one bag + I've made it a few times for ourselves. 
Coco Powder ~ $1.98 x 3 = $5.94 ~ You can get about 3 jars out of one container
4lb Sugar* ~ $1.78 x 2 = $3.56 ~ You can get about 7 jars out of one 4lb bag
Mini-marshmellows* ~ $0.99 x 2 = $1.98 ~ You can get about 8 jars out of one bag
Bows ~ $2.50/32 = (You could buy these the day after Christmas and save for next year too) ~ This set had green, red, white, blue & purple bows.  I opted to not use the blue and purple, which left me with 29 bows instead. So I could get 29 jars done, or use for my 9 jars and have bows for presents too.
Tags - free (I just download printable tags and let the girls color them) ~ This is optional, but it gives the kids something else to help make.  If you do have your kiddos make tags, depending on how many you do I'd divide up the tags amongst different days.  My girls got bored coloring after a few tags, so I'd just save the others for another day.  It's no fun if you're making them color :)
Construction paper ~ I usually buy a big pack at the beginning of the school year when school supplies are on sale. 

*bought when on sale and stocked up

Some of the items are things you can save again to re-use for the next year; such as the bows or construction paper. You can even freeze the marshmallows to use again, if you have enough will power. Mine always get eaten before the end of December.  

Well I hope this helps you out this season.  I know Christmas is already on Monday, but if you need a last minute fast gift, these are perfect!  Otherwise just pin this post and save for next year! 







Thursday, December 14, 2017

Microwave popcorn



I love popcorn.  I grew up eating popcorn practically every night.  To say my dad is a HUGE popcorn fan, might not be enough.   So, as a family we would have popcorn before bed almost each night.  Even now when I go home for holidays or to visit in the summer, my dad and I will each have a container of popcorn while watching TV or playing games or canning.   I found this great post on Pinterest from Squawkfox about a homemade way to make microwave popcorn.

You can check out her post here.

Plus you can use this to make that popcorn-cranberry garland for the tree without breaking the bank in microwave popcorn.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas Saving



Christmas is almost here and with it comes all the joy and happiness of the season, but sometimes it also can bring frustration with finances.  Christmas can be expensive, from gifts for co-workers, family and friends to Christmas dinner and all the in betweens.

Sometimes I long for the old-fashioned Christmas, the Christmas' of times like in Avonlea.  Recently, my husband and I have been rewatching Anne of Green Gables.  We watched the new season on Netflix, have you seen it yet?  It's not bad, but I still like the original; however, both make me long for the simplicity of life back then; especially when it came to holidays.  Not only was it simple, it was cost-friendly too. So I came up with some old-fashioned Christmas ideas that will keep your Christmas simple and cost-friendly.


1. Popcorn and cranberry garland

Every year I try to have us make this.  I have this vision in my head of us all sitting around the tree stringing popcorn and talking as a family.  Now, I know with three littles 4 and under this vision is not going to be a reality, but I still want to try.  We've yet to attempt this tradition; however, it's on our Advent calendar so this year it's happening.

Another option from is to make a paper chain garland. 


2. Bake from scratch

Cookies, brownies or any other treat, instead of buying them pre-made or as a kit just make them homemade, it does cost less.  Plus by making your own, you can then divide them up and pass out to your neighbors as a cost-friendly gift or advent activity. My girls and I have made and passed out cookies to our neighbors for the last two years, it's such a fun and simple advent activity that doesn't cost a lot.


3. Make your own wrapping paper

I love doing different things for wrapping at Christmas.  A simple alternative, brown packaging paper (or even the brown filler paper you get in those packages).  You can jazz up brown paper in so many ways.  Here are some of my favorite ways.

Brown paper with stamped name and ribbon ~ from: Confessions of a Wisconsin Housewife
Brown paper with twine and felt flowers ~ from: Design Dump
Brown paper with photo of gift recipient ~ from: Our Suburban Farm

Other ideas for brown paper:
add lime green &/or red duct tape or washi tape
add just a large initial of the recipient


4. Go caroling

Just like the popcorn string, I try to find a way to go caroling every year.  This year I was talking to my husband about how in just a few years, we can go as a family because the girls will be old enough.  I use to go caroling with a church group and I think it's such a fun thing to do.  So find some friends and go caroling!


5. Spend time as a family playing games

Play games, get out those board games and spend time together as a family in the evening.  Or do some fun Christmas crafts with your kids.  My girls love crafts, and doing special Christmas crafts is even more fun!  Here are some of my favorites we've done


6. Read the Christmas Story by the tree

Simple and no cost.  The true meaning of Christmas.  Recently I heard on the radio a new song that talks about what wasn't there the first Christmas.  If you think about all that we try to squeeze in and spend money on for Christmas, how many of those things were actually present at the first Christmas?  That really puts it into perspective of what all we try to do or buy during Christmastime.


7. Reuse/Recycle

I'm all about recycling by reusing first.  We get special treats from our hanging of the greens tradition that we do with my husband's family.  Generally they are given to us in Christmas tins.  I don't like to throw them away, but can't save them every year then I'd have too many.  (I will say I've saved some as Christmas decoration holders).  But, I've started using them to put our cookies in that we give to our neighbors.  It actually works out perfectly, now that we have 5 people in our family, because we have 5 neighbors.  This is just one way I reuse at Christmas.  Are there things you are given that you can reuse for anther purpose at Christmas?


8. Simple Advent calendar ideas

Toilet paper advent calendar ~ from: Coffee and Vanilla 
I tried this one last year and it worked really well.  You can see mine here.  
Get the how to on her blog above.

Mason jar advent calendar ~ from: Mama.Papa.Bubba
I loved the simplicity of this idea; however, I'm always having to rearrange my Advent Calendar it seems, so I made another version where the activity is a write in as well.  She has LOTS of different activities already planned so if you are looking for something already made this one is perfect! 

You can also download mine at the bottom of the page if you'd rather a write in option.  

Bible verse banner ~ from: Espresso and Cream 
I love how she ties in a bible verse for each day with this.  Plus, how simple and cost-friendly is this idea? 


9. Simple advent calendar activities 

Make and drink homemade hot coco
Make homemade hot coco as a simple gift for family, friends or neighbors
Make cookies for your neighbors
Wrap presents together 
Read the Nativity Story by the tree
Watch a Christmas Movie
Read Christmas books
Make a paper chain countdown

These are just a few, you can check out more free advent activities here. 







I love this time of year and decorating for it







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