DIY Treasured Last Minute Christmas Gifts

As I have been recovering from hand surgery, I have had some extra time to reflect and reminisce over the past couple of weeks, thinking about the gifts that have meant the most to me. They’re not expensive gifts — no diamonds, roses, or expensive dinners. What has meant the most to me are gifts of time, gifts of memories, and, of course, the gift of spending time with friends and family.

Gifts of Time

One of my favorite gifts comes from my husband every year, usually for my birthday, but it could really be given any time of year — it’s the gift of a clean house. Christmas cooking often generates quite a mess — if someone cleans up the mess while you are taking a nap, recovering from your cooking marathon — that is quite a gift!

Another non-food gift of time is a coupon book. You can make them for anything you want to do to spend time with someone. This search on pinterest shows a variety of coupon books you could make for a special someone in your family. Just be ready to give that person your time when they want to redeem it later! Be sure to specify if there are any terms, or conditions to your coupon book, or if it will expire.

There are also several homemade gifts that are really nice to give to your family and friends. For instance, buy inexpensive, holiday food containers at your local dollar store, or department store and then make a variety of cookies and give each family several cookies of each type. I love to make these 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies — they’re inexpensive, gluten-free (as they contain no flour), and super easy.

Three-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

This recipe is very simple:

Take 1 cup peanut butter and microwave it for 30 seconds, stir, repeat until the peanut butter is very liquidy (like cake batter).

Immediately, mix in 1 cup sugar, or Splenda — both work well (I haven’t tried any other sweeteners), and 1 beaten egg.

Drop by teaspoonsfulls onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I often dip a fork into sugar, and cross it bothways on the doughball to give it an extra bit of sweetening) Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies have just started to crack and are light brown.

You could also make candy in a crockpot — this recipe makes about 8 dozen of average cookie-sized candies.  The ingredients cost around $15 at the store, but you can give a good amount to everyone you wish for very little effort.

Bud’s Crockpot Candy

We make this recipe once or twice a year. It is often requested at potlucks. We have used peanuts, and almonds in it, but have not tried other nuts, or fillings.

Bud’s Crockpot Candy

Peppermint Bark

If you like peppermint, this peppermint bark is amazing! If you choose to add this to your food container with a variety of other cookies,  be sure to double bag them in baggies. Otherwise, the strong flavor of peppermint will transfer to the other cookies in your container.

Paula Deen’s Peppermint Bark

Microwave Fudge

I first tried this fudge at a church women’s retreat. It is very easy, and incredibly rich!

Microwave Fudge

Gifts of Memories

 “I Love You to Pieces” Picture Frame

If you’d rather make a craft for a present, then this one that my daughter made is not only easy, but also an incredible memory maker! You just get a wooden picture frame in the craft section of the department store, dollar store, or craft store; a bottle of mod podge; some miscellaneous puzzle pieces, some acrylic paint, a special picture, and a paint brush. Paint the frame however you like, and paint the puzzle pieces, too. After the paint dries, write, “I Love You to Pieces!” with a Sharpie, or other permanent marker. Then, glue the puzzle pieces to the frame, and, once the glue has dried, add a coat of mod-podge to seal everything. Once that dries, add a second coat of mod-podge to the entire frame (including the puzzle pieces) to seal it even more. After everything has dried, add the picture of yourself, your child, your family, or whatever you want.

Picture Ornament

Need: 1 wallet sized picture, toothpick, and a glass ornament.

Simply roll a wallet-sized picture up from the left-side in, so you end up with the outside showing. Then insert it into the glass ornament and using a toothpick, gently unroll the picture inside. Now, what can get easier than that? And, you end up with a gift to treasure for many years!

“52 Reasons I love you” Pack of cards

Since each card will have a different quote, personality trait, memory, or whatever on it, these cards probably won’t fly in Vegas, but they would make a treasured memory keepsake for your gift recipient for years to come.

52 Reasons Pack of Cards

If you need additional diy last minute Pennywise Christmas Gifts, just do a quick Pinterest search.

I hope you all have a terrific Christmas Holiday filled with special memories that will last a lifetime.

Nichole

 

 

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Thanksgiving on a Budget

Thanksgiving is a holiday that isn’t always as thankful as it should be — while Thanksgiving should be about things you are thankful for, and spending time with your family, you don’t always feel thankful. 🙂 After spending hours upon hours at the grocery store, and then spending all day cooking dinner for a few moments together at dinner, and then several more hours cleaning up the mess while members of your family watch football, it’s sometimes hard to find things to be thankful for and even more difficult to stay on budget.  While you’re losing your sanity trying to create the best possible Thanksgiving for your family, most of your guests won’t even notice, or care, if you’re doing everything on a budget.

You’ll need a few decorations to liven up the holiday spirit, and some food to make everyone feel at home.

Thanksgiving “Potluck”

One way to keep the budget lower and your sanity intact is to ask everyone to bring an item. While you’re baking turkey,  or whipping up mashed potatoes, someone else can bring the green bean casserole, apple or pumpkin pie, and yams, or whatever your family likes. If you don’t have to make everything yourself, you won’t be as tired at the end of the day, won’t have to spend as much money for ingredients, and you’ll have more time and energy to enjoy the family, and friends that are there to spend time with you.

So, let’s get started. Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without turkey, so you’ll either need to find a way to obtain the turkey inexpensively (your local foodbank will provide you one if you go on their appointed days and times, for free), or, if you choose to purchase a turkey, you can often get a free, or very low priced turkey if you spend a certain amount. Another alternative would be to scrap the whole turkey and opt for turkey breast, or drumsticks instead. Since supply and demand dictates price, and the general population is demanding whole turkey, turkey breasts, and drumsticks are much less expensive.

Buying a 10-pound bag of potatoes is often less expensive than a 5-pound bag, but get what will work best for your family. In my local grocery store, it’s $1.68 for a 5lb. bag of potatoes, but for just $1.30 more, I can get a 10lb bag of potatoes — that’s an extra 5lbs of potatoes for only a small amount more. If the cost of the potatoes are too expensive, or you don’t feel you could use 5lbs or 10lbs of potatoes, opt for instant mashed potatoes (another item your local foodbank will provide for free if you go).

Making gravy is easy and inexpensive since you can often make it with pantry items you already have on hand. Just take the turkey drippings, add in 1/3-1/2 cup of flour, and enough broth, or bouillon to give it a spoonable consistency, cooking it on medium until it boils, and then reducing it to low while stirring often.

Rolls, or biscuits are often staples at a Thanksgiving meal. Make them yourself to save money, or pick up a pack for a couple of dollars. Thankfully, a package of rolls isn’t more than a couple of dollars, so you can grab some without sacrificing your budget, unless your family is like mine and you need a gluten-free alternative, as my husband is celiac (allergic to gluten). In that case, making rolls is your only alternative if you don’t want to spend much money — our go-to gluten-free roll recipe is: Gluten-Free Pull Apart Dinner Rolls.

Jello parfait is also a very inexpensive side dish at a Thanksgiving meal. Just mix up a package of instant Jello (following package directions), and then once it is completely set, cut the Jello up into small pieces, and then mix in a cup, or two of whipped cream.

Stuffing is likely going to be your most expensive Thanksgiving item. Using dried herbs rather than fresh, if you have them in your pantry, will save you money. Just remember that you generally use fewer dried herbs than you would fresh. Here is a recipe from Recipe4Living, and another one from Epicurious for traditional stuffing that uses items you likely have in your pantry (unless, of course, you opt for the fresh versions of the herbs that they ask you to use).

Finally, you must have a dessert, and what would Thanksgiving be without a traditional Pumpkin Pie recipe? Here is a pumpkin pie recipe that won’t break the bank, if you purchase the items while they are on sale in the few days (maybe even a week) before Thanksgiving. Here is a great recipe from Allrecipes.com.

Decorations

Now that you have the food under control, it’s time to think about decorations. One simple decoration, that serves dual purpose as a way to keep kids occupied, is to take Kraft paper and roll it across your table as a tablecloth. You can add your own drawings, or even trace around your place settings to add some décor, but one of the best things about this brown paper tablecloth is that it entertains the kids of all ages who are waiting for dinner! Perhaps ask each person to write something they are thankful for — this will help them to remember their answers now, and then later, the tablecloth can be folded and kept as a memento, or can be cut apart and easily turned into scrapbook memorabilia.

Napkin Rings.  These turkey napkin rings are easy, inexpensive, and adorable. You can use any kind of felt — you don’t have to use the felt recommended in the article. 🙂

Dual purpose decoration and dessert. These cute little Candy and Cookie Turkeys can serve as both decoration before dinner, and dessert after dinner. Everyone — young, and old — will love these adorable candy and cookie turkeys that can be made fairly inexpensively — especially if you remember they serve two purposes, and you likely won’t have them on the table long enough to need to clean them up after dinner! 🙂

Can of gold, copper, or orange spray paint and leaves, pinecones, and acorns. You can make anything look more expensive with a can of spray paint. Get leaves from your yard, or a local park, lay them out on a piece of cardboard and spray paint them with gold, copper, and orange, and you’ll have some gorgeous décor to lay on your table.  Gather some pinecones, or acorns from under your tree, spray paint them and, after dried, place them in a bowl with some unused pillar candles from your local dollar store for a creative and decorative centerpiece. When painted in gold, copper, or silver, pinecones can be reused for a Christmas centerpiece at a later time.

 

 

Last Minute Pennywise Costumes for Halloween

If you need a last-minute costume idea that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, here are some ideas:

Flower Pot

This child’s costume was put together for just a few dollars using items from the Dollar Store. It’s an adorable costume for a beautiful girl!

Costume Cupcake Cutie

Hungry, and looking for a cute Halloween costume idea? This costume was designed by someone who was “crafty” and creative. Bought with items from the local craft store, this costume is SO SWEET!

Lego Costume

I really LOVE this idea! Having grown up with Legos as a child myself, and three kids who played with Legos, I have a deep appreciation for them.  Legos can build anything – even a terrific, inexpensive costume!

Pizza

This pizza looks so good on this kid, it makes me hungry!

Chia Head Costume

Remember the old Chia Head pets we could buy when we were young? Maybe they still sell them today. Anyway, I’ve never thought about becoming a Chia head for Halloween, but it’s a very creative and pennywise idea!

Spiderweb Cape

I think Spiderweb cape looks incredible! The fact that it doesn’t require sewing makes it even better. It appears to be a quick and thrifty costume.

Emoji

Emojis are all the rage right now, and this costume is no different! Make a happy, sad, confused, romantic, or other emoji.

Snow Cone Costume

Want to be a little cooler this Halloween? This snow cone costume is about as cool as you can get! 😊

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We all have nerds in our life.  If you know “There is no place like 127.0.0.1”, then this is the best costume out there!