Tag Archives: frugal gifts

When Christmas Sneaks Up On You

— 1 —

Buy gift cards, but package them cleverly. I am severely clumsy, but even I can make an origami box from last year’s Christmas cards!
There are also puzzles you have to solve to get the gift card out (cruel, but fun for the right person!) and my personal favorite for the person who tries to figure out what it is before unwrapping it (me, since birth) a brick or glass-block square. Yeah, the people at Lowe’s will look at you weird, but trust me – they’ve seen stranger. Tape it securely to the brick or put it inside the glass-block and tape it shut with plastic. Maybe throw in a dog treat for funzies. My dad is an expert at this after fifty years of dealing with me!

— 2 —

Do a DIY that impresses everyone, but is super-easy. Last year we had just enough money to buy gifts for the kids and do DIY stuff for everyone else. (That’s better than this year.) The easiest DIY was also the cheapest (free) and the most fun!
old-vinyl-smPreheat oven to 350. Select an old, warped album (or one you’ve picked up at Goodwill) and put it in the oven over the top of a bowl. Glass mixing bowl, stoneware bean bowl, whatever’s handy. Watch it closely. At about the five-minute mark it will start to melt. Pull it out immediately. It will be warm to the touch, but not hot. Quickly push down the middle and form the outside curves as you like. Fabulous for popcorn, chips, or as a fruit bowl!

— 3 —

Make a lot of one thing. If you’re doing treats for co-workers, neighbors, and your own celebration do it all the same. Seriously. It’s as easy to make five pumpkin rolls as it is to make one. Make a huge batch of Neiman-Marcus cookies. Or a ton of your award-winning fudge. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Or hunker down and make something special if you’re feeling inspired!

— 4 —

Don’t do the things you don’t enjoy! I sat my boys down one year long ago when I knew I was going to be working more than expected that holiday season (yes, someone quit the day after Thanksgiving). I had a list of all the things I usually tried to pack into one month and had them prioritize them. I kept Christmas cards, because I always enjoyed sitting near the tree with a glass of wine, Christmas carols playing softly in the background, and writing out personal messages. We haven’t been able to afford that in several years, which is just as well since my tremor makes even my printing nearly illegible. But the boys didn’t really care about decorating cookies together, or going to see The Nutcracker. I think I cut my holiday stress about 50% that year because of things that I mentioned that rated blank stares.

— 5 —

Turn off the electronics and interact. Watching a movie together is not interacting. But neither is expecting kids to carry on a conversation with people they only see once or twice a year. Play a board game or a card game. A couple of years ago we played a three-generation Cards Against Humanity and my mom won. And I thought we’d have to explain some of the cards to her – LOL!!

— 6 —

Set priorities and make plans for next year. Hit the after-Christmas sales, especially the craft stores. Buy ribbons, ornaments, fabric – anything that catches your eye. Even a chia pet looks great wrapped in an eco-friendly cloth bag , tied with a satin ribbon and adorned with a fabulous ornament!

Pets Make a House a Home!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ToPetsWithLove #CollectiveBias
hero-imageIf you didn’t notice immediately, that’s Winnie the Yorkie photobombing my carefully arranged shot. Seconds later my dogs were snarfing down the treats and food that spilled on the floor and Winnie (my mom’s dog) was finding a spot to stash the new toy that the big dogs couldn’t get to. There is never a dull moment at my house, and that’s how I like it!

We consider our dogs part of the family, and we treat them accordingly. They get healthy food, their favorite treats, a variety of toys, and lots of snuggles! Saminda (Sam for short) is our chocolate lab and resident Southern Belle. She’ll hold out a paw when it’s time for a nail trim as if she’s at a fancy salon. And she never opens her own doors. But like Scarlett O’Hara, she has no hesitation about eating her fill in public. She truly does “gobble like a hog” and I’ve seen her distract Boss at meal time and then scamper over to eat his food as well as her own! And Boss, our rescue dog, is a picky eater. So we buy the flavor food Boss likes best and feed them in separate rooms. When Winnie is here I have dogs eating in three rooms while I monitor them until everyone has eaten all of their own food. After that I don’t feel like running all over town for pet food and supplies.

my-krogerThankfully, I have a Kroger at the end of my street. We do have specialty pet stores nearby, but I can’t remember the last time I made a trip there. Kroger always has everything I need. Although you can tell from the picture below the large bags of Purina Beneful were going fast! Perhaps because of this coupon,  good for your favorite Purina pet products at Kroger only while supplies last! (Get a move on, bargain shoppers!) I’ll certainly not be going near the pet supply store anytime during the holidays. It’s less than a mile from two malls, and I do not deal with mall traffic between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

beneful-collageOn this trip I chose Purina Beneful Original with Beef as the main ingredient. Perhaps I’ll try Chicken next time. I love that no matter which flavor I choose I know it will be sugar-free and loaded with anti-oxidants. Yep, dogs need those, too!

Beggin’ Strips have been a long-time favorite for all the dogs, especially the bacon flavor. I usually tear the strips in half since I do give out treats after every potty break – check with your veterinarian about recommended treat sizes and frequencies for your own dogs. I was pretty darned excited when I saw that Beggin’ Strips had added a Beggin’ Littles option to their selection – and in bacon flavor, no less! A little less work for me, and quicker treats for the dogs. Sam is not patient about waiting for her treat. She smells that bacon aroma and will drool all over my feet if I don’t hurry – LOL! Boss, my sweet cuddle-buddy, would sit and wait as long as needed, but once he gets a taste of his treat he wags his tail so hard his whole rear end moves!

All the dogs in the family get gifts at Christmastime. I’ve had as many as five dogs in the house at one time during the holidays, but the smallest (Winnie) is always the alpha dog. I’ve heard from other Yorkie owners that their dogs have “big dog” attitudes. Winnie is fearless, and always willing to pit her ten pounds against any dog or human ten times her size. So of course the clear choice for her gift is a pull-toy!

toy-collageNeed a fabulous dog gift you can make for free with things lying around the house? It’s the ultimate in frugal and environmentally friendly living. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. To follow the tutorial in pictures start at the top right with the picture of my hand sticking through a huge hole in my husband’s Tshirt and follow clockwise.

1. Gather scrap fabric (i.e. old clothes) in a variety of densities. I selected only 100% cotton, but I had everything from thin weaves to stretchy knits to tough denim. You’ll also need a tennis ball, scissors, and a utility knife.

2. I cut the fabric at one-two inch intervals and then tore it the rest of the way. It’s quicker and there’s a more natural curl with less dangly strings.

3. Then I tied a knot in just ONE end of each strip. Meanwhile, my husband was using the utility knife to cut an “X” on either side of the tennis ball.

4. I threaded a strip through (knot first) right-to-left, then another left-to-right, trying to keep them as even as possible. I kept going until I just couldn’t fit another strip through the ball.

5. I knotted the ends without a knot up close to the ball to hold it in place, then divided the strips into groups of three and braided them.

6. When I reached the end of the shortest strip on each side I pulled the braid tight and used the longest strip to knot it in place. Then I knotted the ends of all the other strips to keep them from fraying.

It made it through twenty-four hours with Winnie without damage, and that’s pretty impressive. Anyone old enough to remember the “gorilla with Samsonite luggage” commercial? Same deal.

sam-awaiting-supperPoor, unloved Sam (who clearly needs a mani/pedi in this picture!) Our dogs get fed at 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and they get exactly the amount specified on the dog food bag. The picture above is Sam at 4:30 p.m. huddled over her bowl and watching the grandfather clock. Mealtime is serious business for her, as are squirrels and mail carriers. She likes the UPS man. Maybe it’s the brown truck.

dogs-eating-togetherPlease be impressed by this picture. At our house, it’s the equivalent of the video some woman took of her dog saying, “I love you.”

dogs-at-rest-collageWhen Winnie visits there’s a lot of playing, sleeping spots change nightly, and Michael gets growled at when he kisses me good-bye in the morning. Winnie will never admit she likes him enough to nap on his ratty socks. And after she heads back home all three dogs usually sleep twelve hours straight. It’s like sleep-away camp for dogs, and I suspect they all love it! (Click to enlarge for extra sweet doggies!)

For more inspiring ideas for pampering your pets and making cure they enjoy the holidays check out the Social Hub! Do you make toys for the pets in your family? Share your favorites in the comments!

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