SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











{December 30, 2013}   Smart Shopping Revisited

English: A pic of an Eckerd location in Roches...

 

I love love love this time of the year.  I think today may be the first day I changed out of my jammies before noon. (Ok, not true, I put on clothes for Mass Christmas Day.)  The first week of Christmas break was a bit of a slack for me, but I’m feeling froggy this week.  It’s time to organize, clean, and save money!

 

The other day, playing on Pinterest, I realized I fall off the organization wagon every year.  I know me – I need an accountability partner.  So I created a Facebook Group, and invited some of my girls to participate.  The idea is that we’ll work on the Organized Home New Year’s Grand Plan together.

 

We all know that being organized and running a home efficiently goes hand in hand with saving money.  Well, PreciousKidsQuilts hit me with a question today about smart shopping.  I had great intentions of lesson planning, cleaning, putting up holiday foo fah … and I got distracted by a blog idea.

 

This was her question:

 

So,
I was flipping through the rite aid paper yesterday. I was trying to do a few coupon matches for the best sales on hand. Normally, I don’t shop at rite aid. In fact, probably more than two years ago. But, I will make a special trip to the next town over to go to Walgreens. Rite aid is right there. I love the register rewards as part of my Walgreens shopping experience. Sometimes, I get paid to buy things and never spend anything there. I don’t know why I chose to look through the rite aid paper other than I was trying to show someone else how real deals are found. I saw these little symbols and notes in there that appeared to be like Walgreens register rewards. I decided after reading Sobo mamas blog earlier that she must know more, therefore, here I am. What can you
tell us about rite aid? One further question I have is the coupons the publish in their ad. I noticed that while they are store specific coupons, they rather slyly have ‘manufacturer coupon’ on them. This automatically voids stacking coupons, doesn’t it?

 

Okay, I am by no means an expert, but I feel comfortable addressing all points above.

 

  1. It kills me to think of driving to the next town for my shopping.  I hate driving a couple miles to shop in Shreveport, for crying out loud.  However, if there is other shopping to be done in the area, it’s okay.
  2. Walgreens does offer register rewards.  They operate similarly to the rewards programs at the other big name drug stores.  Rite Aid and CVS offer nice rewards programs, and I believe Rite Aid has the option of watching little videos to earn rewards.
  3. When shopping the drugstores, I highly recommend matching your coupons to your ads and going from there.  If I have a really good coupon for an item that is on sale at one store, but that’s the only thing I’d be going for, I’m not going to waste the gas, usually.  If I’m already in the area, it’s worth the stop.
  4. The sales and rewards for CVS and Rite Aid are often very similar, or may be about a week off from each other. You just need to watch the ads.
  5. Store-specific coupons that marked as manufacturer coupons are manufacturer coupons and cannot be stacked, unfortunately.

 

If you’re “trying out” a new drugstore, I suggest a price tracking for a few weeks.  If Skippy peanut butter is on 3/$5 at CVS on sale once a month but it’s always 2/$5 at your usual store, you know that CVS is worth a trip once a month.

 

I freely admit, I’m a lazy couponer.  I shop the dollar stores, Fred’s, Brookshire’s and CVS because they are within a few miles of my home.  I can stop by any one of them on my way home from work, karate, etc. without going out of my way.  I shop them often enough to know their sales cycles and I can get really good deals on my store-bought stuff.

 

I hope this was helpful.  Do you have any smarter shopping tips to share?

 

~ Katie

 

 

 

 

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This will probably become a binder in itself, because I really am the only one to need it. This is the section I use to keep up with my projects. It is filled with clippings from magazines with ideas for projects, various instructions for said crafts, and my never-ending to-do lists.

In my attempt at organization, this section is divided up by craft type.  Some of the things I’ve included are:

  • Kids’ crafts:  Family Fun Magazine is a wealth of information.  I also list websites with cute ideas.
  • Scrapbooking:  different ideas for photos and layouts
  • Sewing: magazine clippings, Pinterest ideas, different patterns I’ve found online, doodles and drawings I’ve made with ideas for projects around the house
  • Crosstitch: patterns and ideas
  • Miscellaneous: just random re-purposing projects

I need to add an inventory of my supplies, along with where things are located (see my post about making t-shirts with Crazy Math Lady – I’ve misplaced some supplies!)

During the school year, I don’t have a lot of time for all of my craft projects.  I’ve put myself on restriction from buying more crafting things until I can get projects done, which should motivate the heck out of me, since I love crafty stuff.  My re-purposed closet still has  a ton of scrapbooking junk supplies, which I do sometimes use for my classroom, but I have an aversion to scrapbooking if the kitchen isn’t in order.  When I clean the kitchen, it takes awhile because my ADD kicks in and I get sidetracked – frequently.  By the time its spotless, I’ve run out of steam for crafting.

However, having a list of projects and setting up my bucket helps.  I like tasks broken into small chunks, where they’re more manageable.  And I’m more likely to do something. Having the idea pages in my binder inspires me and when I have a few minutes, I can knock out a small craft project.

How do you keep up with your crafts?  Do you have a system in place or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

~ Katie



{January 6, 2013}   Monkeying Around with Crafts

 

Today was my last day off before heading back to work.  Usually, I’m totally bored and ready to return to work, but this year has been different.  Maybe because I hate my car right now.  Maybe because I was sick the full first week and a half of the break.  Or maybe it’s because I didn’t get everything done I would have liked.

 

The Grizzly and Monkey 1 planned to hunt this morning, so I was up before 5.  Feeling industrious, I put all of the totes and the Christmas tree up in the attic before 6 AM.  I did locate those missing stockings while putting other crap away!  I folded and put up two loads of laundry, ran the dishwasher, and cleaned behind the washer and dryer before being distracted by Monkey 2’s iWaste-Time.

 

Monkey 2 was out of bed by 7 and realized she had me all to herself.  We played Dream Heights on the iWaste-Time, learned how several states got their shapes, and watched celebrities shop for over-priced properties before she said, “Let’s do crafts today, Mama.”

I had the perfect thing in mind!

 

Monkey 2 has long hair.  When it is wet, it falls a few inches below her shoulder blades.  She loves bows and hair bobs of all sorts.  I made a bow holder for her a few years ago to match her bathroom (frogs), which she’s diligent about using.  Ponytail holders and headbands?  All over the floor, in drawers, in my room, even in the kitchen sometimes.  But Pinterest has a solution for that.

 

We turned an oatmeal container into a hair bob (that’s a technical term, by the way) holder.  I’m not a hoarder.  I’m a creative repurposer.

 

Project Supplies

 

  • Oatmeal container with the label removed and inside cleaned outimage
  • Scrapbook paper of the monkey’s choice
  • Coordinating ribbon
  • Glue
  • Scotch tape
  • Clothespins

 

Easy peasy, and I had everything on hand!  She picked out a pink, Valentine’s pattern for the paper and red ribbon.  We marked on the wrong side of the paper where the top and bottom of the container would be and cut away the excess.  Because our container was 14 inches around, we used part of the extra, also.  Then we wrapped and glued the paper to the container.  It wasn’t perfectly straight, but I told Monkey that was where the ribbon came in – to cover the uneven edge!  We scotch taped the seams in case the glue didn’t hold perfectly.  It was going to be covered up, anyway.  We glued ribbon around the top, near the edge, and clipped in place with clothespins until it dries.  We also added a little label, again covering the funky seams.  Then we glued a circle of scrapbook paper to the lid and added a ribbon bow from the red ribbon.

 

imageThe most time-consuming part was waiting for Monkey 2 to pick out her colors and patterns and such!

After setting that project aside to dry, she wanted a baking lesson.  Have I mentioned my oven is kind of messed up?  Thank goodness for Martha White Muffin Mix.  I showed her how to measure the milk and stir the batter.  Her stirring was so awkward!  I guess from watching me, she tried to stir with her right hand.  She did a great job after we straightened that out and the muffins turned out really well.

 

Baking done, Monkey 2 wanted to move back to crafting.  Santa Claus, that brilliant fat man, gave theEnglish: Photo of Jonathan G. Meath portraying... monkey a headband making kit for Christmas.  It came with three plain white headbands, a few pieces of ribbon, and a tube of crappy glue.  Not the jolly old soul’s finest hour.  But the Monkey had a solution!

 

“Mama, you have good glue and a whole box of ribbon we can use.  I think that would be prettier.”

 

Pretty time-consuming because she had choices again!

 

By the time we wrapped and glued 2 ½ headbands, started a hash brown casserole for dinner, and listened to every song Taylor Sift ever thought of recording, the Y chromosomes returned from a fruitless day of hunting (but they did finally pick up the last deer from the processor!) Monkey was excited to share her day’s accomplishments with her daddy and brother.  But it seemed she was done with me.

 

Until a few minutes ago.  She came up, wrapped her arms around me in one of those hugs only little kids ever give, and said, “I wish you didn’t have to go back to work tomorrow, Mama.  I liked having you to myself to do grown-up lady stuff today.”

 

And that’s exactly why I’m not ready to go to work tomorrow.

 

What crafting experiences have you had with little kids?

Mamá

~ Katie

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{January 3, 2013}   Waste Not, Want Not

Okay, so some wiseacre (Rhonda Belle, aka Granny at the Farm) voted for a “Waste Not” post.  Most of my posts are about things I’ve tried and my experiences with those things.  Well, waste not is big in my house.

Do we waste a lot? Yes.  My “Property of the City of Bossier City Utilities” trash can is down at the curb every Friday.  Sometimes it is even joined by my decrepit Rubbermaid garbage can without operational handles.  And when Grizzly cleans out his truck (once or twice a year, I think), forget about it, the garbage men hate my house with a purple passion.

We don’t waste as much as we used to, though.  Before I throw things away, I catch myself looking and thinking “Can I use this for something?”  In the past year, wine bottles have become candle holders.  Plastic coffee cans hold cookies and snack mix and canning lids.  Canning lids cannot be used more than once for actual safe canning, so I have a stack that I think will become snowmen at some point.  Or a magnetic board.  Or something.  And if your husband (or you, I guess) have developed the lovely habit of using smokeless tobaccos, there is no better spit cup than an old soup can.  My hard-won Mardi Gras plastic cups are pretty much off-limits for that kind of nonsense.

So here are some things that I try to repurpose:

Cans (from soup or beans)

  • After emptying these pantry gems, I rinse them and run them through the dishwasher.  These cans have become pencil holders for teachers by hot gluing an assortment of hand-me-down crayons.  They are great for organizing plastic utensils for get-togethers.  I also have this vision of using them to organize my school supply stockpile (currently residing in a deep dresser in the garage). I saw the coolest idea for an art caddy made of soup cans on Pinterest.  Love love love.  Tuna fish cans are shallow and are great for organizing a kitchen or bathroom drawer.  Any other soup can ideas?

Coffee Cans

  • I LOVE a coffee can!  I have come to prefer Folgers to Maxwell House, not because the coffee tastes great, but because of the shape of the cans.  I especially love the small ones that are round.  In my plastic coffee cans, I keep canning lids, canning rings, food coloring, and other baking necessities.  They are fantastic for organizing my pantry.
  • Due to my cheaptitude, I occasionally purchase the store brand coffee.  When I do this, I’m certain to buy the bigger can because the smaller ones are constructed out of some kind of foil-coated cardboard – not useful to me.  Those big cans hold colored pencils in my classroom as well as nails and screws in my garage.  At one point, I slit a lid and used it to store my massive collection of Box Tops for Education (you are very welcome, Bellaire Elementary!) and another became the Laundry Fairy’s wallet.  Love a coffee can!

Butter Bowls

  • I remember at 10 or 11 years old eating my cereal from a Cool Whip bowl at my parents’ in the summer.  I can count on one hand how many times I’ve purchased whipped topping during my adult years, but butter/margarine containers?  They are marvelous!

A serving size of Cocoa Krispies for Grizzly is the big Country Crock tub.

  • While not great for long-term storage or freezing, these containers are convenient for throwing leftovers in the fridge or toting a dish to a potluck (I’ve had too much expensive Tupperware not make it home over the years!) or even just serving a side at dinner.  And it doesn’t just have to be butter tubs.  I have some of the Country Crock sides and Lloyd’s Barbecue containers as well.

Oatmeal Containers

  • My family loves instant oatmeal.  You know the kind that comes in little paper envelopes? And that’s fine, when it’s on sale.  But I always have a container of regular, supposed to cook it on the stove oatmeal because I LOVE no-bake cookies (aka Doo Doo Balls) and when I want them, I want them.
  • While these are also cardboard containers, I can repurpose them.  On Pinterest, I found an oatmeal carton that was used to contain ponytail holders on the inside and headbands were wrapped on the outside.  How cute!  I have a plan to Mod Podge scrapbook paper that matches Monkey 2’s bedroom and then all of her hair bobs can be in her room.  Cute and functional.

Glass Bottles and Jars

  • Beer bottles, wine bottles, olive oil bottles, pickle jars…I’ve learned how to remove the labels and put them to further use.  Lots of ideas come from Pinterest ad I have yet to try even half of them.
  • I have tried one project and was pretty happy with the results.  After cleaning a jar/vase/bottle, I drew a picture in hot glue and then spray painted the bottle.  Mine is now a black vase with a fleur-de-lis.  Once I get a little more practiced, I could see making these as gifts.
  • On the windowsill by my sink, I keep an old bottle.  The bottle holds a repurposed toothbrush for scrubbing dishes and such.  It works out really well.
  • Bottles also make fantastic candle holders.  We used to have this amazing store in the mall, Wicks N Sticks, but it’s long gone.  At this store, you could purchase these cool colorful candles that when they burn, they drip down the sides of whatever holder.  I’ve seen where they’re available online, but they’re too pricey for a cheap chick like me.  I simply buy the really cheap tapers from the dollar store and guess what?  They drip!

Dryer Lint

  • Ok, this one is different, and I don’t save it for myself.  Granny at the Farm is collecting dryer lint.  I believe she’s making starter logs for the fireplace?  I currently have a grocery sack overflowing with lint, just waiting for me to take a trip to the farm.
  • I wonder if it could be used for felting?

Leftovers – It’s What’s for Dinner

  • My family is really easily bored with leftovers.  I hate it for them, but there are certain things I cannot feed my indestructible four-legged baby, and I cannot throw away good food.  Here is a trick I saw on TV.
  • One of my favorite former Bravo Housewives was on some morning talk show.  She’s a professional chef and has it so together when it comes to food.  She says she always has a bit left over from dinner each night.  The next night it is incorporated into another dish.  Leftover corn?  Throw it in tomorrow’s taco soup.
  • Grizzly did question the appearance of corn in this week’s Magical Mystery Beans.  They were part of a frozen serving of taco soup!

So slowly but surely, I’m repurposing rather than contributing to the local landfill.  I’m far from perfect, but it’s amazing what I can do with what I already have on hand.  Who needs Tupperware?  I have a coffee can.

What ideas do you have for repurposing things at your house?

~ Katie

 

 



{December 16, 2012}   Making Christmas Merry and Bright

Money has been tighter than ever this year.  On the news, I’ve heard the economy is recovering.  Well, I can’t believe it until I see evidence in my bank accounts.  Construction is not the ideal field work right now. Unless you have a rich in-law subsidizing your business or something….just sayin’.

So, like I posted before, I’m trying to get a little more creative this Christmas.  Our gifting will consist of our children, little kid cousins, and our parental units.  We’ve not even discussed buying for each other this year.  So that is pretty much it.  And if I can figure out things that I can make, that people will appreciate and use, even better.

I can’t post pics yet, just in case any of the parental units actually reads my blog posts.

My picture frame venture has turned out super cute, but I cannot locate my Mod Podge.  I need it to seal some of the foo foo I’ve added.   As a crafter, my Mod Podge is on the same level  as my Soft Scrub Spray for cleaning.  I love it and use it for every project possible (Mod Podge, not Soft Scrub).  So where is it?  Probably hiding in the misplaced  holiday tote with my stockings.  I found a recipe, but it’s not worked out the way I like.  Thank goodness it’s easy to find at Michael’s or *shudder* Wal-Mart.

For the little kid cousins, I’d love to start ornament collections.  By the time I married, I technically should have had enough ornaments to decorate a good-sized tree.  I didn’t, due to storage issues beyond my control, but should have.  Even now, every year, my mother goes to Bronner’s and buys each of us an ornament that either reminds her of us or she thinks we’ll love.  Most of my ornaments are handmade and have a lot of memories attached.  The exceptions include Mother’s finds from Bronner’s, Hallmark ornaments from Grizzly’s mom, and of course, Aunt Pat, the angel on top of my tree.  I want my own kids to have a respectable start on their Christmas ornaments, and I think it would be a neat tradition to start for the little kid cousins.

That might not be the kind of thing the in-laws appreciate, so I probably will go out and buy them some kind of toy or book.

As for the monkeys, they wrote down their 4 things, but were pretty silly about it (really, I’m going to buy a 12-year-old an iPad???) We always try to do something “big,” and after some tense discussions (I called Grizzly materialistic at one point), we’ve agreed on some electronic devices – that I can get on sale.

Monkey 2 needs bedding since she’s moved to a queen-sized bed.  I’ve taken a crack at locating a plain old pink comforter, to no avail.  I considered sewing a comforter cover, but have had the most unfortunate time crunch this year.  Grizzly found some pink camo bedding at the sporting goods store, so that is the direction we’ll go with that.  I’m will design her some “hair bobs” (Rhonda Belle’s term) and maybe some little beady jewelry.  She’s also begun to express an interest in her fashion dolls, so maybe I can make some doll clothes.  Pinterest, here I come.

Monkey 1’s room is terribly crowded since I took his bunk bed apart, but it’s a  small amount more difficult for him to make such a nasty mess. So he could use some kind of organizers.  And he loves art.  Santa always manages to bring some kind of art supplies, and I’ve seen the coolest handmade caddies on Pinterest.  I imagine he’ll also be getting some video games, if I have enough room on my handy-dandy gift card and I can find them for a good price.  Honestly, he’s not asked me for much.  Except the iPad.  Tweenagers are a little difficult to Christmas shop.  We’ll see.

On top of doing Grizzly’s and my shopping, Rhonda Belle sends money for me to do her shopping.  Every year, I fuss that I don’t have enough ideas.  Every year, I get a lot of bang for her buck.  I think she and PaPa Mac get tickled at my shopping adventures – and I give them details, from the minute I cash the check. Monkey 1 will be going to martial arts classes and Monkey 2 needs a bigger bicycle. To quote Phil Robertson, they’ll be “happy, happy, happy.”

I also do MY grandma’s shopping.  In her Christmas note every year, she thanks me for lending her a hand with the shopping.  She’s funny.  The kids get new jammies or sneakers or some other clothing items from their great-grands.  The monkeys always love what they receive.  I’ve learned to make it easier on myself than I used to!

The one thing I’m really excited about for the monkeys this year is a journal.  I found the idea in a blog or on Pinterest or something and have seen several variations.  It’s a “Mom and Me” journal.  As kids get older, it’s kind of embarrassing to discuss certain things with parents and sometimes writing helps.  I hope so.  I’m interested to see how this project works out.  I’ll probably cover that one in a separate post, with pics and all.

Note: Last night, Grizzly and I went back to Wal-Mart.  In case you’re counting, this means I’ve been to that awful place FIVE times in one year now.  Ugh.  We did get Monkey 2’s bike and a new helmet to match from Granny and PaPa Mac.  It is safely stashed at my dad’s house for now, because both monkeys are horribly nosey.  From the Great-Grands, Monkey 2 is getting 2 new pairs of sparkly jeans, a pair of sweat pants, and three shirts.  I’ll still have to shop for Monkey 1, because all I found for him was a pair of PJ pants.

At least I’m finally making progress.

How are your holidays looking?

~Katie

 



{November 29, 2012}   Creative Christmas

The down turn in the economy over the past several years has really affected my house.  I make more money as a teacher than I ever have in my life before, but haven’t had a raise in a few years and prices on everything have increased exponentially (my friend Perks would LOVE my incorporation of Math vocab!)  My husband owns his own business and it is construction-related, so you probably know what that means.  I’ve heard the economy is rebounding, but my bank account disagrees.

We have what we need, and I thank God every day for that.  We even have some of what we want.  However, without one creative mama managing the house, we would be lacking in several areas, I’m afraid.  DH, whether he realizes it or not, is brilliant in many ways but planning ahead financially is not one of them.  I freely admit I’m far from perfect.  But I’m ok with squeezing a nickel.

There have been times in the past where I’ve had Christmas gifts for everyone, wrapped, stashed, paid for byChristmas in the post-War United States August.   That was a while ago.  Now I count myself ahead if I’m finished the week before.  We’ve cut back on the number of people for whom we buy over the years, but we still have a bunch of folks getting gifts from our house.  I don’t mind because I enjoy giving gifts.  I put a lot of thought into the gifts we give.  This year I’ll have to be really creative.

Limited Numbers, Limited Stress

Pile of gorgeous gifts

If you follow my blog, you know I’m addicted to Pinterest. I have found some amazing money-saving ideas, as well as Christmas and general gift ideas on there.  I found one thing I’m definitely implementing this year.  I feel like my monkeys can be spoiled and expect a lot, so I’ve forewarned them.  This year, from Mama and Daddy, they’ll each get something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  Surprisingly, Monkey 2 is really excited about the idea – I think Christmas sends her into sensory overload!  This way she has to put a lot of thought into her requests.  Monkey 1 was cool with it, too.  He says, “That’s okay, Mom.  Santa Claus brings us all of the good stuff.”

Ummmm…..

The Cheap Seats

I remember a time in the not-too-distant past that there was not a Target Store in my area.  We had to drive to Longview, TX, to get our Target fix.  Heck, I was in college when te first Super Wal-Mart came to our town.

I don’t shop these stores much.  My friend from college, Heather, told me years ago there is something fundamentally jacked up about being able to buy your food and your crap all at the same place.  And I’ve learned over the years that she’s right.  It’s too easy to throw in a couple of DVDs with your fish sticks and toilet paper, and your carefully planned list and budget might as well be toilet paper.

But I love love love the cheap bins at the front of the store.  The dollar bins at Target and Michael’s?  Heaven for someone in search of cheaptitude.  For example, DH’s aunt writes a bazillion letters each week.  I could go to a fancy specialty store and buy her a few pieces of fancy paper.  Or I can hit those magical cheap bins and get several packages of stationery, buy something both pretty and functional, and well within my limited budget.

I check out the cheap seats any time I’m in any store.  You never know what you’ll find.  I haven’t had to purchase valentines for school for 4 years now – and I have exactly enough to get Monkey 2 into Middle School.  And I spent less than fifty cents to do it!

“Making” Do

I’ve always enjoyed crafty projects.  One of my favorites was a framed scrapbook page I made of the monkeys. DH’s mom loved it, so guess what every grandparent received that year for Christmas?

When I cleaned out my closet for repurposing, I found several half-finished projects.  So I have 3 picture frames and a photo album ready to be wrapped. Each one is decorated differently, and each with a specific person in mind.  I’ve also been working on hairbows, using the stockpile of ribbon I’ve accumulated from various dollar bins.

Although some of my friends are very Southern Living in their tree decorating, all matchy-match, I’ve always loved handmade ornaments.  Very few items that are on my tree are store-bought, unless they came from Bronner’s, which is acceptable in my mind.  I’m planning for the monkeys to make salt dough ornaments this year that we can gift as gifts.  I also have a lot of scrap fabric I can make some things.

There are some people in my gift-giving circle that do not appreciate a hand-made gift – and that’s ok.  I put thought, time, and work into everything I make, and if someone won’t appreciate it, I’d prefer not to waste my time.

Black Friday All Year Long

I will not get up at the butt-crack of dawn the day after the day we give thanks.  I’m usually tired, either from cleaning and cooking and entertaining or from going and spending quality time with family elsewhere.  Holidays are exhausting.  And honestly, the deals aren’t that overwhelming.

English: This is a row of Cash Registers at a ...

There are websites you can check that tell you when the best time is to buy EVERYTHING.  For example, I can find amazing deals on computers in June.  Why?  Darned if I know, it just happens that way.  And I think January is the month to buy linens.  Which reminds me, my towels have seen much better days…..I’ve found that I can shop smart throughout the year and find great deals without fighting crowds and standing in ridiculous lines.

Do I shop all year-long? Well, not really.  If I see something cool on sale that will be a great gift for X, of course I get it then.  But one of my Christmas budget tricks is to buy gift cards while I’m shopping for other things.

Not to give as gifts!

Year before last, I thought it would be great to get Monkey 1 a Nook so I could stop driving across town so much to buy books.  Coming up with the idea well before Christmas, I started stocking up on gift cards.  I think I paid less than $40 cash at Christmas for his $100 gadget.  Gift cards are my way of doing a Christmas Club account.

And Christmas Club is a great way to put money away for holiday shopping, but I know me.  If money transfers into my checking account, I’m paying bills.  The interest rate at my credit union is pathetic, so gift cards are the way to go.

The Hostess with the Mostest

I’ve not done it this year, but boy do I love a home party.  I’ve been an independent consultant with several different companies over the years (and still am a home party consultant!) and have learned lots of tricks  in addition to earning a little extra holiday cash.  I’ve figured out which parties have high attendance because the people love the products.  I’ve also figured out which party plans have the best hostess benefits.

Pampered Chef goodies

Pampered Chef goodies (Photo credit: Carissa Marie)

I usually host a Pampered Chef party in May, while the “Help Whip Cancer” promotion is going on.  As a former Independent Pampered Chef Consultant, I have the kitchen goo gahs and gadgets I need (except the complete set of

executive cookware) and can use my hostess credits, discount, and half price items to get goodies for Christmas.  For example, DH’s smoky barbecue rub….

Starting around August or September, I like to host a party every 3-4 weeks.  There are a few reasons for this.  First of all, it forces me to clean my house. Second, I get to see friends and family I might not often otherwise. And finally, I can get Christmas gifts on the cheap or even free – and they’re high quality, nice things people love.

Hosting a bunch of parties is tricky.  You have to rotate your guest list.  But if you put some thought into it, it works.  For instance, I may not invite my Bunco Babe who has to dust her stove top once a month to a Pampered Chef Party.  But a purse party?  She’s on that list!  My stepmother who makes jewelry might not be too interested in a jewelry party, but she loves organizers so I’d invite her to a Longaberger party.  Just like gift-giving, party hosting takes a little extra thought and planning, but can totally work in your favor.

Like I said, I am still an active consultant with a company, and I’ll order some Christmas gifts from my favorite salesperson, too.  Then, in January, I’ll have a tidy little commission in my account to buy gift cards or invest in more toilet paper. (If you want to know which company, drop me a line and I can let you know!)

Christmas gifts.

Again, my methods might not work for everyone or for every situation.  I’ll be trying some new things this season and will probably implement some things that worked before.

Do you have any tried and true Creative Christmas Tips?

~ Katie

*Update*

Now the big day has passed and I can post project pics!

image

Ladybug frame for MaMaw….

image

Marine photo album for PawPaw. Notice the mod podge is still wet!

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Snowy frame for Granny at the Farm…



et cetera
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