Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Quick way to dress up solid color gift bags

Sunday, December 7, 2008 2:17 Comments Off on Quick way to dress up solid color gift bags

If you have (hopefully!) gone the frugal way of buying inexpensive gift bags and dressing them up, or have plans to make your own gift bags, you will probably find yourself panicking as the holidays draw closer and you still have so much to do!  Here is a super quick way to dress up those dollar store gift bags… with pipe cleaners!

Pipe cleaners (sometimes now called “Chenile stems” to be a bit more politically correct!) can be bought very cheaply at craft supply stores as well as places like WalMart (think 100 pipe cleaners for $1 or $2, although you will pay slightly more for fancier pipe cleaners that are shiny or with flecks in them).  We used white pipe cleaners with irridescent flecks throughout to give it a snowy festive look.   You can see the sparkles a bit better in the photo below..  Carefully untie the current cord handles and remove from the bag.  Next, you will need to insert the pipe cleaners and make knots at the end (as the photo below shows).

Repeat for other side of bag.  Re-attach gift tag if it came with one, or you can make your own.  You can also use the pipe cleaners to make shapes, and carefully glue them to the outside of the bag. Plus, you will have many left over pipe cleaners for other holiday crafts too.

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This was posted under category: Holidays Tags: ,

How to pick the perfect live Christmas tree

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 3:20 1 Comment

If you want a live Christmas tree this year, make sure you take some of these points into consideration, so you don’t end up buying the wrong tree!  Because there is always the potential for a fire hazard, here are things you should look for and consider when buying a Christmas tree this year.

  • How tall can the tree be?  Measure to the ceiling and chose a tree that is at least one foot shorter.  This will allow room for the tree stand and a star on the top.
  • How wide?  Especially if your tree is tucked into a smaller space, measure to see how wide the tree can be, and make sure the one you buy isn’t too wide for the space.
  • Is it the freshest cut tree?  Ask when the trees were cut and ask specifically where the trees are that were most recently cut.  Just like in a grocery store, many Christmas tree farms will want to sell the trees they cut earliest to be sold first before the ones they have just cut down.
  • How dry are the needles?  The needles can tell you how much the tree has dried out.  The needles should be soft and pliable (ie. bendy), and not dry and snappy.
  • Give the tree a shake.  When you shake a branch and run your fingers along the needles, very few needles should fall off.  If a ton seem to be dropping, go on to the next free.
  • Is the trunk of the tree straight? If the base part of the tree is bent, it will make your tree lopsided in the stand and it won’t stand straight.  So make sure the base is straight as well as the cut on the base.
  • How long is the base?  To be held securely in the tree base, you need to have a good six inches without branches.
  • Have your base and Christmas tree preservative ready to go.  You don’t want to get your tree and then start the hunt to find a base.  Make sure it is all ready to go so that you can get the tree into water and the preservative (here is the recipe to make your own tree preservative) as quickly as possible.
  • Consider a live tree instead of a cut tree.  With a live tree, it will come oacked with roots and soil, and you can plant it outside once Christmas is over.

By following these tips, you should be able to chose that perfect tree for your living room this year.

This was posted under category: Holidays Tags: ,

Do you have a Christmas stash place for presents?

Sunday, November 23, 2008 3:55 2 Comments

Do you have a Christmas stash area for your presents?  How many times have you bought a Christmas present months ahead of the holiday season, only to either forget you bought it or forget where you put it?  Believe me, this happens to a lot of us!  One way to help is to keep a gift giving list, where you keep track of what you have bought for each person, regardless of whether it is February or December.

Another easy way to help keep you organized, and remembering what you have already bought, is to have a Christmas stash area where you put all your presents.  Whether it is in a specific room, such as a spare bedroom or the basement, or a specific place, such as under your bed or at the top of a hall closet, keeping all the presents together in the same location will help you remember everything you have bought when you just have to go to one place to see it all.  It is far easier than when you have presents scattered in hiding spots throughout the house.

When you have a Christmas stash place, you will know where that cute martini glass necklace is that you bought your sister back in April and it will also remind you that you bought your father-in-law a new cordless drill when you bought it in that after Christmas sale last year but promptly forgot about it.

It also means all your gifts are in one place o when you have some spare time, you can do some wrapping in batches, rather than trying to squeeze all the wrapping into a single session a couple of days before Christmas!

It is also great last minute prep work if you plan on doing a ton of Christmas shopping on Black Friday!

This was posted under category: Holidays, Saving Money Tags: , , ,

Stock up on your holiday gift bags now to save money

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 1:03 1 Comment

Buying gift bags can really add to your holiday budget.  And when you wait until closer to Christmas, it will be harder to find those inexpensive gift bags and you will be stuck paying more for them.  And as a bonus, nearly all store-bought gift bags come with a tag attached to the handle, so you don;t have to spend extra money on gift tags or cards. 

Take a tally of the gifts you have already purchased and see what you need to either gift wrap or gift bag them.  Then hit your local dollar store or other place that is known for cheap gift bags, and buy what you need now…. you can even get ahead of the game and wrap them after you buy the bags too, saving you time when Christmas gets closer and there never seems to be enough time. 

Still have some gifts you need to buy?  You can also stock up on a few extra seasonal bags – or you can get some generic solid colored bags that would also work for birthdays, anniversaries and any other gift-giving ocassions you may have coming up.  Silver is always a safe bet as is most shades of green and red. 

Don’t forget the tissue paper if you top the gift bags with colored tissue paper.  The seasonal colors always seem to be sold out at the dollar store by the time December rolls around, and it can be very hard to make a Christmas gift look festive when hot pink tissue is peeking out of the gift bag!

Don’t forget white tissue paper works just as well.  So when you purchase any clothing items, even if they aren’t for a gift, ask for a bit of tissue paper.  Then you can save it for topping on Christmas gift bags too… or use two of your freebie white tissue papers and one colored one in the middle, so you can save a lot of money this way too.

 When should you start?  Now!  Black Friday is when you will start to see the least expensively priced gift bags start to sell out.  And let’s face it, it is far better to pay $1 a bag this week than $5 a bag a week before Christmas when the stock of bags has been picked over just about everywhere.

This was posted under category: Holidays, Shopping Tags: , , ,

Make your own crystalized ginger for gifts in a jar

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 1:37 Comments Off on Make your own crystalized ginger for gifts in a jar

This is a great gift to give this Christmas season, especially since it is pretty inexpensive to make, but buying crystalized ginger in the store is an expensive treat.

1 lb fresh gingerroot

Carefully peel gingerroot and slice into thin slices.  Place gingerroot in a medium saucepan, add enough water to cover gingerroot and cook at medium low heat for 30 minutes.  Drain water and weight gingerroot on a scale.  Return to saucepan and add the same weight in sugar, using the scale to weight the sugar.  Add 3 tbsp of water and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent burning.  When the ginger is transparent and the liquid has nearly all been cooked off, remove from heat.  Toss ginger with enough sugar to coat the ginger.  Store in airtight container, such as a canning jar for gift giving.  Ginger will keep in airtight container for up to three months.

When you make your tag to attach to ginger, make sure to include a note that ginger must be stored in the airtight container for up to three months.  If you are making it several weeks before giving, you might want to put an expiry date on it instead, so the dating is accurate.

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Start buying your holiday groceries now to get the best prices

Saturday, November 1, 2008 4:11 3 Comments

Yes, we all know how it makes so much more sense to buy Christmas presents early, but people never seem to think about the advantages of starting your Christmas grocery shopping early too.  If you waited to buy all your ingredients until the week or two before Christmas, you would not only be spending a fortune, but you’d also be dealing with a crowded grocery store full of people all trying to get their Christmas grocery shopping done to.

And, when you start your grocery shopping early, you can take advantage of the sales in the weeks leading up to the holidays and picking up items as they go on sale.  This makes much more sense than buying them the week before Christmas when not as many grocery items will be on sale – and might not be in stock, causing you to go to even more grocery stores during this chaotic time.

So MomsBudget has made this handy printable that all busy women will love! 

All you do is plan out your holiday menu, and then go through each recipe, writing down all the ingredients that are non-perishable.  Then, in the weeks (or even months!) leading up to Christmas, all you need to do is check your holiday grocery list with the grocery flyers to see if any of the needed items are on sale that week.  And you can bring the list with you incase you find any “in-store specials” that were not advertised.  And as you buy each one, check it off so you know you have it.  An don’t forget to see if you have any coupons that you could use for any of the items on your holiday dinner list.

Ready to get started?  Get the free printable here.  And don’t forget to recommend this to other busy moms so they can take advantage of all the free printables too… not to mention the joy of getting most of the holiday grocery Christmas shopping nearly done with!

This was posted under category: Grocery shopping, Holidays, Printables and worksheets Tags: , , , ,

Cranberry liqueur recipe for Thanksgiving dinner

Monday, October 27, 2008 4:12 Comments Off on Cranberry liqueur recipe for Thanksgiving dinner

Looking to serve a desert wine or something fancy for your Thanksgiving dinner, but don’t necessarily want the expense that goes along with most of the desert wines on the shelf?  Why not make cranberry liqueur at home to serve to your guests after dinner?

Make your own Cranberry Liqueur

You need about five weeks to make this cranberry liqueur, so now is the perfect time to get started making it… and yes, it is very inexpensive to make, especially if you have some vodka in your pantry already.

Don’t have time to make it before Thanksgiving?  It is also perfect to serve for Christmas dinner as well!

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Things to do with all those wine corks you are saving

Friday, October 24, 2008 12:38 5 Comments

Do you have a habit of saving the cork from bottles of wine to remember special ocassions, or simply keep them because you know there has to be a great idea out there to recycle them?  I have some corks saved (and am now wishing I had even more!) because this is one of the most ingenious ideas I have seen to do with corks!

Re-Nest, (via Craft Gossip) a blog with plenty of ideas for those wanting a “green home”, has the instructions here.  Inspiration turn Design has another style of corkboard, but on a much larger scale.

And just as much, I love these wine cork trivets, another great way to show off your wine corks, and I like that this one takes advantage of the sides of the corks too.  Here is another cork trivet from Martha Stewart, but I like the first one better!  And Darning Diva has another kind of cork trivet which is super, super simple to make, so you can even get your kids to do or help with this one.

You could also make a wine cork wreath to hang on your door or for decoration.

Another really interesting idea, and one your younger kids would probably have a lot of fun with, is using corks to make button stamps from Her Cup Overfloweth .  You can then stamp cards/paper/etc with all kinds of unique buttons you have collected over the years, or you can buy a mixed bag of buttons fairly inexpensively at places like WalMart and craft stores.  You can also carefully carve a design into the wine top and use the top itself as a stamp.

Chica and Joe have a cute wine cork basket they designed using an old wicker basket.  This would be perfect for making up a gift basket for any wine lover on your list.  Add a couple bottles of wine, some glasses, wine charms, bottle toppers, etc, and you have a fabulous gift basket to give someone for Christmas, a birthday or any other special event.  It would also make a cute hostess gift too!

eHow has a couple crafts with wine corks – a Christmas tassel ornament and a few others.  And there is this cute Rudoph the Red Nose Reindeer made out of wine corks.

Not sure what to do with your wine bottles in the mean time?  La Petite Chic shows off what she does with her wine corks to turn them into a great home decor piece.

And last, not a craft per se, but a cute idea… a wine cork USB drive, for the wine loving geek in all of us :)

So next time you have a bottle of wine, save the cork for one of these great projects.  If you are impatient, ask around, because a lot of people tend to save them, then don’t know what to do with them afterwards!

This was posted under category: Crafts Tags: , , , , ,

12 Homemade gift bags for Christmas season

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 16:12 4 Comments

We thought we’d post this one early, since some of them are crafted by hand (such as knitting) that you need lead time on! 12 different holiday gift bags you can make yourself.

Knit your own Knotted Felted Gift Bag
This pattern is a MomsBudget exclusive, and super simple to knit and felt, and you can make it in a wide variety of colors to suit the person you are giving it too. Can easily be knit in an evening, then felted. Ravelry link.

Christmas Gift Bags (along with cards, keyrings, magnets and more)
Done by Sarah, a Stampin Up demonstrator, the gift bag is really cute with a cut out to see the present inside. Scroll down to the gift bag. I didn’t see instructions on this one (I looked, but if anyone finds the link, please tell me!), but you can get inspired by it.

Purse in a Box Bag
A spin on the Box in a Bag (original tutorial can be found here) but I quite like the way Andrea (another Stampin’ Up demonstrator) did hers.

Tri Fold Cookie Gift Bag/Boxes
Another style of gift “bag” with a cutout. And a great ineexpensive gift idea too, giving someone homemade cookies, along with the recipe so they can make their own too.

Gorgeous Gift Boxes using Old Cereal Boxes!
This one is absolutely ingenious from Under the Inkfluence, and will be using it as a craft for my daughter to make gift boxes. Also includes specific info on paper, stamps and scrapping accessories used for each one they show on the site. More pictures here.

Christmas gift bags with Matching Gift Tags
This one is super easy for kids to do, they are stamped onto plain

Cloth Gift Bags
If you sew, here is how to make cloth gift bags, with ideas on embellishments too.

Bonkers for bags & boxes
Not specifically for Christmas (although you could easily make them Christmas themed), these boxes include cake slices, purses and Chinese food takeout containers as gift boxes. Includes information on the Accucut die cuts used.

Christmas ornament stamped gift bag
Another cute bag from aother Stampin’ Up! demonstrator, a really cute gift bag you’d pay crazy money for in a place like Hallmark.

Placemat Gift Bags (or purse!)
The detailed instructions are here (but the pictures woefully small, and you must register to get the pattern)

Gift bags from envelopes
Straight from “why didn’t I think of this”, here are instructions for making cute gift bags from envelopes.

Make your own Gift Tags
Kristen has put up some images of some gorgeous gift tags she has made, you can definitely use them for inspiration to make your own! A great one for scrapbookers who have lots of leftover little bits and pieces from scrapping.

This was posted under category: Crafts, Holidays Tags: , , ,