Frugal Gift Idea: Old Fashioned Paper Treat Bags

 

When I was young, my grandmother used to bake doughnuts every hunting season and place a dozen in a little brown lunch bag. She’d give them out to her sons on the first day of hunting season.

This holiday season, I thought about those ordinary little brown lunch bags. They were just the right size for a dozen mini doughnuts, and so why not a dozen holiday cookies?

If you have a few Christmas cookie cutters lying around, some brown paper lunch bags, and some scrapbook paper or construction paper—this craft should be a cinch!

Make paper shapes by tracing your cookie cutters on paper. Then attach your shapes to the brown paper bags using regular craft glue. Use a marker and write some type of holiday greeting below.

You can add little embellishments like ribbon or rhinestones like the stars on the little trees of the bags pictured.

It’s that simple. Aren’t they cute? Place a dozen or so cookies inside and they’re ready to give away for treats or cookie exchanges! (These are stapled or you can just double fold the tops and seal with stickers or gift tags.)

Romantic at heart, Susan Lower is one crafty mom. She has written over a hundred articles for venues such as ehow, triond, ezinearticles.com, and newspapers. When Susan’s not writing, she enjoys visiting friends and a good cup of tea. To find out more about Susan Lower you can visit her site at www.susanlower.com.

 

How to Stress Less & Enjoy the Holidays More

As the countdown to the holidays grows shorter and shorter, the burdens of your to-do list grow larger and larger. There are cookies to bake, gifts to buy, cards to mail, home décor and house cleaning to complete.

Sound familiar?

Sound like too much?

Like every good coach will tell you, you’ve got to have a game plan. The holiday season is no different. Just look upon Christmas day as “game day”– no television required.

The key to de-stressing your holidays is not allowing your holidays to become more of a burden then a joy.

If you’re planning a large family gathering, ask everyone to help out. Each member of the family can bring a covered dish for dinner, leaving you only to prepare the main dish.

Ask family members living nearby to come over a few days early to help clean and decorate the house, and exchange the same for them.

When you know family members are going out shopping, ask them to pick up items for you.

Send your husband and kids out for supper and a movie, while you and your friends have a gift wrapping party. Also, many small shops now offer gift wrapping services, as do local church organizations and children’s clubs like Girl Scouts.

Feel overwhelmed when it comes to baking? Join a cookie exchange where you only have to make one kind of cookie. This way, on Christmas day you’ll have a variety without all the work of changing recipes. Don’t bake? It’s okay to skip the oven sweat and pick up a variety cookie tray at your local bakery.

Do gift exchanges freak you out? You just never know what to buy the family member whose name you got stuck with? Why not suggest a Yankee Swap this year? Old gifts that you got and never used, or new ones you picked up on the fly… your family will have plenty of fun discovering what’s inside while they swap and laugh till the end.

Skip the handwritten addresses this year for your Christmas card list and create one through your word processing software. Print them out on standard mailing labels and save half the time of processing your Christmas cards. Each year, you can pull up the file and update the addresses in just a few minutes.

Is it your wallet pressing the most weight on you this holiday season? Sometimes the most cherished gifts are those that cost very little to nothing to give. Written sentiments, a handmade item, a promise of service (like shoveling the snow from the driveway, or walking the dog), or traveling to see someone can rank as the best gifts of all.

Before you let the holidays stress you, create a plan to lighten the burdens and bask in the joy of the season.

About the Author:  

MRsCHADT is the author of the 2011 Daily Mood Organizer, Mood Journal, and MRsCHADT’s Holiday Planner. She has written over a hundred articles on crafting, self-help, and home organization for both online and print venues. You can find out more about MRsCHADT at http://www.mrschadt.com/.

 

The Budget Diet – Part One

The Budget Diet…It’s a diet for your wallet, not your waistline!

A Guest Post by:  Kristl, http://www.thebudgetdiet.com/ 

The Budget Diet is a diet for your wallet…not your waistline!  You’ll discover new money saving tips everyday to help you slim down your daily spending!  The Budget Diet girl is not a financial planner or an accountant…just a mom that knows how to live the good life on a budget!  Follow The Budget Diet on Facebook or Twitter.

Part 1

Do you have a written household budget? 

If not…consider this your weekly challenge:  get your budget out of your head & onto paper! 

Here’s how…just start filling in the blanks! (keep in mind that some income & expenses may not apply to you…e.g. alimony!)

Step 1: Start with total monthly income: 

  • Salary 
  • Spouses salary 
  • Child support 
  • Alimony 
  • Other 

Step 2: Next, list your monthly expenses: 

  • Mortgage/rent 
  • Insurance (auto, home, life, health, disability,dental, long term care) 
  • Car payments 
  • Child care 
  • Clothes 
  • Memberships (country club, pool or fitness center) 
  • Lessons (piano, dance, etc.) 
  • Cleaning service 
  • Lawn service 
  • Pool service 
  • Loans (home equity, student, credit cards) 
  • Savings (college, retirement, vacation, emergency) 

***Some expenses (like the ones below)  tend to fluctuate, so calculate the average monthly expenditure: 

  • water / sewer 
  • electricity 
  • gas (not for your car, but your home) 
  • Internet 
  • Cell Phone 
  • Phone 
  • Cable or Satellite

Now the fun part…simply subtract your total monthly expenses from your total monthly income.

Take a long, hard look at this number because that’s the amount you should be living on every month…food, fun, gas, dry cleaner & all those everyday expenses! Please keep in mind that the average family of four spends $800 – $1000 per month just on food!

Let’s suppose you have $2000 left to spend. Set aside 30% ($600 per month) for expenses that I refer to as “Oh No” expenses…car repairs, plumber, doctor visit, big gifts, etc. These expenses should not come from your “emergency” savings because these are not emergencies…they are just part of life, & they will come up every month! If you don’t budget for them, you’ll end up going into debt to take care of these expenses.

After you set aside $600 for “oh no” expenses, you’ll have $1400 left or $350 per week…known as “weekly allowance”!

Put your $350 weekly allowance in your wallet…spend wisely because when it’s gone, it’s gone!

Let’s get this budget diet started right now!  Check back next week for Part 2 and a new weekly challenge.