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15 Cute as Can Be Homemade Valentine’s

15 Cute as Can Be Homemade Valentine’s

1. High Five Valentine

2. Color My World

3. Valentine Gardening Card

4. Color My World Teacher

5. I spy Valentine

6. Free Valentine Snack Tags

7. Valentine Tic-Tac-Treats

8. Dump Truck Coloring Valentines

9. Easy DIY Valentine Cards

10. Race Car Valentines

11. Lego Valentines

12. Star Wars Valentines

13. DIY Playing Card Valentines

14. Valentine Poppers

15. Folded Hearts Valentines

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10 Party Perfect Foods

10 Party Perfect Foods

  1. Greek Lamb and Feta Pinwheels
  2. Chicken Cordon Bleu Crescents
  3. Turkey Sliders
  4. Mini Ham, Bacon and Cheddar Cups
  5. Poppy Seed Pretzel Dogs
  6. Tomato and Feta Bruschetta 
  7. Cranberry Feta Pinwheels
  8. Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes
  9. Cheeseburger Sliders
  10. Mini Quiches

 

See MORE RECIPES from Couponista Queen

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Tips for Returning Holiday Gifts

Tips for Returning Holiday Gifts

Christmas and the Holidays are a magical and fabulous time, but sometimes you get gifts that either don’t suit, don’t fit, are broken, or you just can’t use. When it comes to returning gifts, it is usually a dreaded experience right up there with a visit to the DMV. Here are some tips for returning gifts that may save you some hassle and stress!

Know where the Item Came From

Let’s face it; just because a family member said they got you that gift at Kohl’s, doesn’t mean that is where it really came from. We are human and forget exactly where each item came from.  We also fib! Do a quick search on Google for the brand name, check the tag, or look at the receipt to try make sure you are returning it to the right store.  You can also just ‘fess up and ask the giver.  Awkward maybe but you will know, especially in the event that the gift was broken or needs a size adjustment.

Ask for an Exchange

Instead of just asking for your money back, store clerks are more likely to give you less hassle when you ask for an exchange or in-store credit. If you know you will want something from that store later, ask for in-store credit right away.  If you are lacking a receipt, you will likely be given store credit at the current selling price.

Remember the Card You Purchased the Item With

If you bought the gift and need to return it, remember which card you used. Even if you have the receipt, most stores will not give you cash back but will put it back on the card you used. This is where asking for in-store credit, or an exchange makes it easier if you don’t have the card you used.

Beat the Crowds by Waiting

The absolute worst time to get in and out of a store quickly and efficiently is the week after Christmas. Of course, everyone wants to get their Christmas gifts returned and enjoy their new item, and lots of people are off work and school making the stores busy and the clerks harried. If you want to beat the crowds, wait until the holiday season calms down. Two weeks after the holiday is an ideal time to make your returns or exchanges.  Just be aware of store time limits on returns and exchanges.

Know the Return Policy

If you go to the store not knowing the return policy, many clerks are going to tell you their version of it. Know what the policy is before you step foot in the store. Print a copy if you can. This will make your return smooth and easy. If a clerk is giving you a hassle, ask for the manager immediately.  Try to stay calm and nice and you are much more likely to have a positive outcome.

Find the Receipt

Making returns is so much easier with a receipt. Many gifts don’t come with a gift receipt unless requested upon purchase, or you have bought so many gifts you have no clue where the receipt is. If you don’t have a receipt, it’s ok because you can still do in-store credit or an exchange. However, the receipt makes the transaction that much smoother.  Next year designate an envelope for all holiday receipts and you will be ahead of the game.  I like to just include the gift receipt with the gift so that the recipient has it.  Easy and done.

What tips do you have for returning Christmas gifts? Share your tips in the comments below!

 

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Fun Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve

The holidays are a spending frenzy, so why not save some money on the last holiday of the season?  Instead of going out and spending a ton on dinner and a party that you may regret on New Year’s Day [See 5 Tips to Avoid a Hangover], try New Year’s Eve in a different way!  These fun activities may save you some money, while you are having fun and making memories.

Celebrating New Year’s is about the start of a new year, so why not go on a small vacation to kick it off?  Though not necessarily as cheap as a one night party, the memories are priceless and a weekend trip can totally be budget friendly.  Cruises are a great, fun, inexpensive way to party away the New Year and get away from the cold. Cruises offer a variety of states to cruise from including California, Florida, and Texas, and have options like Mexico, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and more.  Some have 3 day trips, a fast getaway that can be really cheap. Food and non-alcoholic beverages are normally included in the price of the cruise, and you will save hundreds of dollars on airfare if you just drive to the departure port. Cruises vary in price, but many people book cruises under $600, and this includes two guests! The earlier you book, the better options you will have.  You can also get away to a near by city for the weekend and be a tourist.  Winter prices in many areas are cheaper, and even exploring a familiar city in the winter can lead to unexpected new places to see, even in your own town.  Check out a site like Booking.com (I use this site a lot) and they can even alert you when there is a great deal in your chosen destination.

Staying at home is a great way to save money, and may be your only option anyhow if you have kids.  You may be broke, or you may be broke down tired and cannot even fathom trying to find a reliable sitter and putting on a bra, makeup, and heels while hanging out in a noisy place paying God knows how much to be with complete strangers.  Whew, I have just talked myself right into staying home!  Creating food and entertainment is easy and inexpensive at home with the family. A family favorite is to watch movies, play games, and make food.  A potato bar or nacho bar is a delicious and inexpensive way to have a creative appetizer, or make individual pizzas.  Setting up a cupcake decorating station and hot chocolate bar is a fun dessert that we love.  If you have little ones, do the countdown early and pop them into bed, and enjoy some time doing whatever you want to do.  A money saving tip! Instead of buying or renting movies, borrow them from the local library (FREE!), borrow from friends, or use what you have.  Amazon Prime has tons of free movies, along with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

Instead of staying inside all day, why not enjoy some fresh air?  Enjoying nature can be a beautiful way to welcome a new year. It is also a sure fire way to make sure your kids have no chance of making it anywhere close to midnight (ALONE TIME PEOPLE!).  So go Ice-skating.  Go sledding.  Bundle up and take a walk! Parks are a wonderful free activity, and a great way to start a fitness resolution.  Pack a lunch with hot cocoa and some warm blankets and let the kids run off some steam.

PARTY TIME! If you want to enjoy the holiday, and you REALLY want to party all night with guests, here are some tips to make it less pricey. Start the party after dinner time, around 8 or 9 pm, so people know to eat dinner before.  Have an appetizer potluck, and ask everyone to bring a dish.  Make it fun and vote on the best one!  This will save a pile of money for you when it comes to food costs. Serving some bubbly at midnight is a classic tradition, but if it is made into a punch it will create more for everyone (And taste better.  Most people don’t really like the taste of champagne.)  Either serve one alcoholic signature drink [Check out our Hard Cran Orange Cocktail] OR offer a fun non-alcoholic option [See our 25 Fun Mocktails for New Year’s Eve] You can also simply ask guests to BYOB, and you provide the coolers, ice, cups, and some soft drinks and definitely some water.  Unplug from the electronic devices, and play some party games or board games together.  Make staying off of phones a game.  Give everyone a safety pin/clothes pin.  If someone is caught looking at their phone (other than taking pictures to memorialize the fun, or communicating with the babysitter/on call at work/you get the idea.) you can take their pin.  At midnight, the one with the most pins wins a small prize [Pick up some fun prizes from the after Christmas clearance sales or from the dollar store.]  If you choose to have kids at the party, and you probably will because most people can’t get a sitter, consider everyone going in on ONE sitter who will be at at the party to entertain and watch the littles while the parents relax with the adults.  Whatever you do, please party responsibly and use Uber or just stay over if you over indulge.

Go to the movies! Make some tasty finger foods or have dinner before leaving, so that you are not hungry when you arrive and overindulge at the expensive snack bar. If you are tired of staying home, and want to unplug from life for a bit, go see a movie.  The matinee showing will save a quite a bit, and some areas have theaters that show older movies for cheap.  Many of these “older” movies are new to me lol since we don’t get to go a lot. Take a group of people or just go with your sweetie or kids. Certain apps like IMDB will let you know the upcoming movies in January.

Saving money allows you to not only enjoy these activities without the added stress of spending money, and it allows you to enjoy simple moments.

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25 Fun Mocktails for New Year’s Eve

Have the Fun of the Party without suffering the hangover!   These 25 mocktails are fun and perfect for kids and adults alike.  Pick a signature “drink” and let the party commence.

1. Cotton Candy Cocktail
2. Non-Alcoholic Cranberry Spritzer
3. Virgin Mango Margarita
4. Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri
5. Pineapple Mint Smoothie
6. Non-Alcoholic Apple Pie Punch
7. Virgin Bloody Mary
8. Red Robin Freckled Lemonade
9. Cranberry Kiss Mocktail
10. Mango Pineapple Mocktail
11. Cherry Mulled Mocktail
12. Kid Friendly Kool-Aid Slushie
13. Blueberry Mock-jito
14. Peach Mocktailrita Float
15. Captain America – Red, White, and Blue Drink
16. Cinderella Mocktail
17. Very Berry Mint Sparkling Mocktail
18. Easy Lemon Drop Mocktail
19. Shirley Temple
20. Green Gamora Mocktail
21. Apple Pomegranate Mocktail
22. Sunrise Sparkle Mocktail
23. Sea Breeze Mocktail
24. Teajito Mocktail
25. Margarita Mocktail

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5 Tips for Organizing the New Toy Mess

 
The day after Christmas is one of my least favorite days of the year. Yeah, I said it.

All the gifts I meticulously shopped deals to get, and so nicely wrapped, are all over the house.  The kids rooms are messier than ever before, so is the rest of the house, and this momma is exhausted from the run up and then cooking all day. But I can’t rest.  Not yet. Not until my house is decluttered and everything is organized – especially the toys! Here are my five best tips for organizing toys after Christmas:

Pitch it: Explaining to your child that her barbie with no hair and one leg is trash can be heartbreaking, and more tense than international negotiations. The best day to do this, (besides when she is NOT AROUND!) is the day shes occupied with her new toys. Sift through the toy box, and be brutal.  Gather everything that is broken and missing pieces, and toss it in the trash!  You will feel awesome.

Rotate it: Kids don’t need 20+ toys to play with every single day. In all honesty, the more toys a child has, the less likely they are to play with them, or appreciate what they have. Keep 10-15 of their new and very favorite ones out and box the rest. In a month, when they have become bored of the toys you left out, put those away and bring out the ones you put away. It will feel like Christmas morning every time you rotate a box.

Sell it or Donate it: Make a big pile of toys that are in great condition that you child has grown out of or totally lost interest in and find a local charity to donate them to, or list them on local buy/sell/trade sites.  I love including the kids in the donation, because it’s easier for them to give their toys away if they know a new child is going to get to love them!  We do this BEFORE Christmas, and we do it again AFTER!

Rearrange it: Sometimes a quick rearrangement of existing toy storage bins can make all the difference. Move the toy box to a different area. Remember, if you can’t close the toy box, that means there needs to be more in the donate or rotate box.

Label it: I love labels. I would label everything in my house if it wouldn’t look silly. You can use word labels for older kids, or picture labels for younger kids. Showing your child that everything has a place and everything should be in it’s place will help save your sanity and keep the toys organized.   Make them help clean up and care for their playthings so that they will mean more to them.

What toy organization tips do you have?

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5 Ways Your Child Can Give Back This Holiday Season

5 Ways Your Child Can Give Back This Holiday Season

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year for many, and the holiday is jam packed with receiving and giving gifts. However, the holidays are a tough time for many.  Teaching kids about giving is an important part of the holidays, and these creative ways will allow your children to not only get but to give back to the community.

Many salons are constantly donating hair to charities; for example, cancer patients often lose their hair. So salons partner with charities to help create wigs for cancer patients. Normally the child’s hair has to be a certain length at least 12 inches in order for it be donated, and has to be chemical free (no color, perm, etc.) This a great way your child can give to others, and this is normally a service that is offered all year. Make it an extra special Christmas for someone!

The military does so much for our country, without the service they provide we would not be able to be here with our children. Many soldiers do not get to travel home for the holidays, so brighten their day. Your child can improve someone’s day by sending their artwork or Christmas card to the military. Check out your local community in order to find ways to send to the military!

The ringing of bells outside stores constantly remind us to give to those in need. A creative easy way your child can give back is to have your child donate some of their pennies to charities. Take a day, and have your child donate to a whole bunch of charities outside of stores.  Or have them gather toys they don’t play with anymore and take them to a local donation place so that they can participate in the whole process.

Many communities have homeless shelters and camps. Blankets and coats are always needed, and your child can help you take needed items to those in need. Shelters always need can goods, and dry goods too. Their biggest need is cash, though, so consider writing a check in addition.  Toiletries are always welcome.  Your child can create care packages for those in need. Sometimes the simple pleasures of Chapstick, a bar of clean soap, and toothbrush/paste could really make a difference in someone’s life.

A lemonade stand is popular in summer time, so why not have your kiddos create a hot cocoa stand?  Dress up a table with Christmas decorations, and decorate signs with glitter. Your child can help create the goodies or hot cocoa, and all of the funds can be donated to a local charity!

Spending time together helping others is one of the most rewarding things a family can do together. Turn on some Christmas jams, and work together to come up with creative ideas to help others this year!  What ways do you teach your kids to give back?  Leave a comment and let us know!

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12 Fun Holiday Wreaths to Craft With Kids

12 Fun Holiday Wreaths to Craft With Kids

  1. Torn Paper Wreath
  2. Paper Loop Wreath
  3. Yarn Wreath
  4. Painted Dish Brush Wreath
  5. Paper Plate Wreath
  6. Snowflake Wreath
  7. Present Wreath
  8. Candy Cane Mice Wreath
  9. Cupcake Liner Wreath
  10. Candy Cane CD Wreath
  11. Crepe Paper Wreath
  12. Miniature Bow Wreath
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8 Easy Bark Recipes to Make for the Holidays

  1. Peppermint Bark
  2. Peppermint Almond Bark
  3. Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark
  4. Crunchy Andes Bark
  5. Chocolate Graham Cracker Peppermint Bark
  6. Cookies n Cream Bark
  7. Nuts and Cookies Bark
  8. Peppermint Bark Pretzels

 

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8 Clever Ways To Reuse Wrapping Paper

 
We spend the entire month of December picking out the perfect presents for our kids and family.  The ones that will make them smile from ear to ear on Christmas. Then we take those amazing gifts and wrap them in beautiful paper, tie a bow around them and write a name on them.  Christmas morning finally comes and the kids rip through our amazing wrap job to the real prize, the toy inside. But what about all that awesome wrapping paper?  What should you do with it?
Well you could toss it in the trash.  Which seems such a waste and a shame to do. Or you could try one of the below 8 ideas instead!

8 Clever Ways To Reuse Wrapping Paper

1 – Paper Mache is done with small pieces of paper, small pieces of wrapping paper according to AuntPeaches. Her wrapping paper paper mache plaid bowl is stunning.
2- Got an old stool laying around with a flat top? Check out how The Craftables upcycled an old stool and made into a gorgeous, modern piece.
3- These neat pyramid pouches by omiyage blogs would be great for Valentine’s day treats. Make them with silver and red wrapping paper for a DIY craft for February.
4- A hole punch, some string, shiny leftover wrapping paper and this tutorial by Martha Stewart will net you beautiful party decorations for New Year’s Eve.
5- Jewels At Home has an awesome tutorial for turning leftover paper into shelf liner. It makes a huge difference in her nursery.
6- Kids have lots of school books? Eighteen 25 shows you how to wrap the books with any type of paper. They will look awesome and protect the books from wear and tear.
7- Oragami is fun to make. Oragami with fun paper is even more fun to make. Turn this fun craft into a festive craft with a tutorial by Releve Design.
8- Jillie, from One Good Thing suggests using shredded, leftover wrapping paper as packing material! Its a genius idea if I do say so myself.
What do you do with your leftover wrapping paper?

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Chocolate Bourbon Caramel Pecan Ritz Cookies

Any kind of boozy cookie is my kind of cookie!  Seriously, though, the bourbon in these in minimal and really gives the chocolate a nice depth of flavor that plays well against the sweet caramel and nutty pecans.  I would make a double or triple batch of these.  They are really good and once you eat one…well, you know the rest!  Enjoy these with a nice cup of coffee, bourbon optional in that!

Chocolate Bourbon Caramel Pecan Ritz Cookies

Yields: 1 dozen

INGREDIENTS
24 Nabisco Ritz crackers
12-15 caramels, unwrapped
1 Tablespoon whipping cream
11 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 teaspoons bourbon (I like using a good bourbon.  Don’t cheap out on this.  Airport bottles are a good and cheap way to get good liquor without buying the whole big bottle.)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS
1.   Line a large baking sheet with wax or parchment paper.

2.   Lay 12 of the Ritz crackers on the lined pan, spaced apart by at least 2 inches.

3.   In a microwave safe bowl, add the caramels and whipping cream. Microwave for 20-30 seconds and stir. Continue to microwave and stir, in 15 second increments, until smooth and fluid, taking care to not overheat.

4.   Allow the caramel sauce to cool for 10 minutes.

5.   Place 1 Tablespoon of the caramel sauce on top of each cracker on the baking pan. Place the remaining crackers on top of the caramel (like a sandwich) and chill for 30 minutes. It’s fine if some of the caramel oozes out the sides.

6.   In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips over low/medium heat, stirring occasionally and taking care not to overheat. Once melted and smooth, add the bourbon and stir well to incorporate and heat an additional 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

7.   Dip each chilled sandwich cookie into the melted chocolate. I transferred my chocolate to a warmed smaller bowl for easier handling. Coat each cookie completely and place back on the baking sheet.

8.   Sprinkle with pecans and chill for 15 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden.

9.   ENJOY!!

You can store these cookies in an airtight container for up to one week.  They will not last that long in my house!  These are good.

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Pretty and Stylish Christmas Garlands to Make Yourself

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Adorable Reindeer Crafts to Make Now

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen.  Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen and Rudolph.  Make an cute reindeer craft and name him anything you want to!

  1. Salt Dough Reindeer Footprints
  2. No Glue Musical Reindeer
  3. Toilet Roll Reindeer
  4. Pom Pom Reindeer Magnets
  5. Egg Carton Reindeer
  6. Printable Reindeer Antlers
  7. Handprint Reindeer Ornaments
  8. Stacking Reindeer
  9. Candy Cane Reindeer
  10. Egg Carton Reindeer Sleigh
  11. Paper Plate Reindeer
  12. Cupcake Liner Reindeer Craft
  13. Santa’s Sleigh and Team
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Rum Ball Cookies – No Baking Required

  

If you are going to make cookies, boozy cookies are always fun!  Rum Balls are very easy to make, require NO BAKING and bonus — RUM!  Use a good quality light rum to make sure that the cookies have a good taste and that the cook stays happy.  These are alcoholic so best not to serve these to kids.

Servings: 2 dozen

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups Nabisco Nilla wafers-crushed
1 cup powdered sugar plus 1/2 cup for rolling in
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Hershey’s dark cocoa powder
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 Tablespoons honey
1/4 cup Bacardi (or good light) rum plus 2 Tablespoons

DIRECTIONS
1.   Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper and set aside.

2.   Add the Nilla wafers to a food processor and break the cookies down into small crumbs.

3.   Pour the wafer crumbs into a large mixing bowl.  Add the powdered sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, pecans and salt. Whisk to combine.

4.   Add the corn syrup, honey and one 1/4 cup of the rum. Mix until a crumbly, stiff batter forms. If your batter is a bit too dry, add additional rum. I added an additional 2 Tablespoons and that seemed to make the batter perfect. Cover and chill for one hour.

5.   Remove the chilled batter from the refrigerator. Roll into one inch balls and place on the lined baking sheet. Cover and chill for 10 minutes.

6.   Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar into a shallow bowl. Roll each chilled rum ball into the powdered sugar, covering each one completely.

7.   ENJOY!!  These do pack a punch with the alcohol so don’t let the little ones indulge.

*Store the rum balls in a single layer in an airtight container in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The rum flavor intensifies with each passing day!!

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12 Christmas Ornaments for Kids to Make

  1. Dried Orange and Clove Ornaments
  2. Felt Christmas Tree Ornaments
  3. Christmas Card Ornaments
  4. Bottle Cap Reindeer Ornaments
  5. Snowflake Pipe Cleaner Ornaments
  6. Olaf Salt Dough Ornaments
  7. Paper Mache Christmas Tree Ornaments
  8. Wool Ornaments
  9. Mini Photo Frame Wreath Ornaments
  10. Dried Pasta Ornaments
  11. Christmas Bow Wreath Ornaments
  12. Easy Tin Foil Ornaments
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12 Jolly Gingerbread Crafts

  1. Stuffed Gingerbread Boy and Girl Craft
  2. Gingerbread Puffy Paint
  3. Life Sized Gingerbread Girl
  4. Gingerbread Play Dough Man
  5. Paper Plate Gingerbread Man
  6. Scented Gingerbread Man Ornaments
  7. Toilet Roll Gingerbread Man
  8. Kid Made Gingerbread Ornaments
  9. Montessori Gingerbread Decorating
  10. Easy Gingerbread Man Card
  11. Felt Gingerbread Men
  12. Fingerprint Gingerbread Man Painting