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11. Lego Valentines
Did you know that the average American spends upwards of $700 on holiday gifts and goodies? That is a big chunk of change to absorb during a month. Many families use up their savings. OR they run up a credit card to be able to have everything that was requested under the tree, then use their tax return to pay everything off. If you feel like your pockets are extra empty this month, try one of the following ways to make it till you get your tax return!
1- Utilize Yard Sale Sites: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Did you get a few gifts this holiday season that aren’t your style or that you already owned? Join a local Facebook yard sale group and list it. You will be shocked about what sells and for how much. New items and used items sell well if you take good pictures and list it for a reasonable price.
2- Donate Plasma: I’m not sure why it’s called “donating” when you are getting paid for it, but Plasma banks will pay you for your plasma! Income received from plasma donating is not significant, but it’s consistent and if you have two people in your household do it every week, you can bring home a chunk of cash.
3- Sell Your Hair: Are you always getting compliments on your hair? Then you might want to consider selling it; to the right buyer it could be worth thousands. The very best and most expensive wigs are made from human hair, healthy human hair!
4- Recycle: It’s good for the planet and good for your wallet! Certain states offer 5 or 10 cents per can or bottle by returning them to a deposit center. You can gather all the cans and bottles around your house, pick them up from the sides of roads or host a bring your own beer party and provide the hot dogs – then sell the cans after.
5- Scrap Hunt: Just like cans and bottles can be recycled, metal scraps like steel, copper and aluminum can fetch good prices and scrap yards. You can tear the metals out of junked vehicles and earn some nice extra cash at a local scrap yard or recycling center. Make sure you call ahead and know what metals they accept!
6- Pet Sit: January is a popular time to vacation, because it is the “off season”. If you know a friend that has pets is going on vacation, offer to board their dog for them instead of it going to a kennel. You could also baby sit or house sit.
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!
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.
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
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?
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!
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!
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?
Yields: 1 dozen
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
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.
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.
Couponista Queen was compensated for this post.
The 3D Deco Lights are comforting, cordless, decorative night lights that are loved by tiny customers and big ones alike. My little one likes to have a night light on for sleeping, and she doesn’t like plain jane night lights. It MUST have style! I ordered my daughter the My Little Pony Rainbow Dash 3D Deco Light for a birthday gift. She was excited to use it that very night — good thing it was so easy to install! One wall sticker plus one screw and it was done in just a few minutes. She loves it, and I love that it turns itself off after 60 minutes and it stays cool to the touch.
3DLIGHTFX 3D Deco Lights are the perfect gift this holiday season. They have a full range of comic book, super hero, Disney Princess, sports and car lights. These all include a sticker with cracks to make the lights look as though they are popping right out of the wall! They are battery operated and cool to the touch, so you can place them any where in a room. Your kids will love having these in their rooms, and they’re also the perfect additions to a den, family room, man cave or office!
Couponista Queen was compensated for this post.