Starting November 3: Homemade Christmas Gifts!

Homemade Christmas Gifts

Starting on Monday, November 3, I’ll once again be featuring a homemade Christmas gift every day (Monday – Friday)leading up to Christmas day!  I hope to help inspire those of you that want to give meaningful homemade Christmas gifts this year!

Not only are they fun and frugal to make, but the recipient will surely never forget something homemade!

I’ll be linking to projects that others have made since I know, I personally, will not have time to make a new project every day.  I do, however, have a few projects in mind though that I’d like to make, so I’ll be sure to include those with pictures.

If you’d like me to feature your project in the Homemade Christmas Gift series, please feel free to send along your link or step by step instructions to me here.

Stay tuned for the first gift idea on Monday!

So, are you excited about making gifts this year? What projects do you have in mind?

We’re Crowning Our Favourite Holiday Movie as We #StreamInto2015

roku

Can you believe that it’s almost November already??  I think it’s crazy myself.  I’ll be honest and say that I’ve got Christmas on my mind a lot these days.  With organizing the Holiday Gift Guide, shopping for Christmas craft supplies and listing gift ideas, I’m excited to say the least!

I’m even more excited since the Simply Frugal household has teamed up with Staples Canada to crown our all time favourite holiday movie!  We’ll #Streaminto2015 in style since Staples has kindly provided us with a Roku 3 streaming device which will allow us to watch as many holiday movies as we want!  (Perfect for us frugal folk since we don’t have cable TV or Netflix!)

roku

I think Sienna is going to be on board with this fun since she’s just starting to show some interest in TV shows.  I think her favourite is going to be The Snowman, but maybe she’ll enjoy Rudolph or Elf!

Growing up, my favourite holiday movie was It’s a Wonderful Life so I’m looking forward to watching that again.  Embarrassingly enough, I’m not sure what my husband’s favourite movie is!  I guess we’ll find out :)

Are you ready to #Streaminto2015 with us?  Follow along with us and other Canadian bloggers (Follow Simply Frugal here) by using the hashtag #Streaminto2015 on Twitter.  We’ll crown our all-time favourite on November 28, 2014.

Just in case you thought I was finished, I’m not!  :)

You, my dear readers, will have a chance at winning 1 of 3 Roku 3 Streaming Devices!  Here’s how to win:

All you have to do is leave a blog comment telling me what your favourite holiday movie is and tell me you left a comment by using the Rafflecopter thingy below.  That’s it!  I’ll choose three winners randomly on November 28, 2014. (Open to Canadian residents only.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas: Create Your Holiday Budget

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas
Are you excited to work your way to a more organized Christmas?  Today marks the first day and task in the 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas series that I hope will be super helpful!

Before we get started, I have a whole bunch of printables and checklists for you to print out to help you along:

Alright, on to the first task, an important one. :) This week, if you haven’t already, sit down with a hot cup of tea, coffee, hot chocolate… and create your holiday budget.  This is what you think your holiday season will cost and will allow you to put limits on your holiday spending to keep you from shopping regrets if a credit card bill comes your way!

Here is an extensive list of things you should keep in mind when you create your holiday budget:

Gifts:

  • spouse
  • kids
  • parents
  • siblings
  • nieces/nephews
  • grandparents
  • neighbors
  • coworkers
  • friends
  • secret Santa gift exchanges

Activities/Events/Parties:

  • tickets
  • dining out
  • clothing

Food (not including regular groceries):

  • baking ingredients
  • dessert ingredients
  • Christmas eve
  • Christmas dinner/brunch
  • Boxing day
  • parties

Cards:

  • stamps
  • cards/envelopes
  • stationary for family newsletter
  • photos

Clothing:

  • outfits for photos
  • parties
  • Christmas day outfit

Decorations:

  • tree
  • lights
  • ornaments/candles/wreath/etc.
  • craft supplies

Giving:

  • charities
  • volunteering

Now, those suggestions were just a guideline.  Every family is different and has different needs.  My intent is to bring to mind every possible thing that could incur an expense during the holiday season.  I’m sure many of you won’t even see half of these things on your list.   Also, in my mind, a more organized, more stress-free Christmas means not only less stuff, but a simpler season.

As for my family, we only buy gifts for immediate family and a couple of close friends.  My husband and I only exchange stockings. I make some homemade gifts as well as collect credits throughout the year so I can do some online shopping for “free”.  We most likely won’t be putting up a tree this year since we spend Christmas day away from home and I’m afraid of what Sienna will do to it. I stopped buying Christmas decorations a few years ago and will make do with what we have.   The only outfit we’ll buy is for Sienna since she’s constantly growing.  We won’t be hosting any parties, but I like to bring some baking along to parties we’re invited to.  I intend on handing out Christmas cards to a few friends and the grandparents.  (You can find great deals on Christmas cards every year from various places!)

Enough about us.  :)

If after writing down your expenses, you’re scared of the number you see, you have two options:  Decrease your expenses or increase your income.

Decrease your expenses

To make a happy holiday season, you really don’t need to spend a lot of money.  In fact, I’m daring to say, that being extravagant in your spending can be overwhelming not only for you, but the recipient as well.  As a child, one set of grandparents used to be quite extreme in their gift giving.  It was SO exciting, but I remember being quite overwhelmed with all the gifts once Christmas was over.

Gift giving is probably the easiest expense to cut back on.  If you have a large extended family, consider drawing names so each member is only responsible for one gift.  Or do what our family does and only give gifts to the children.  My parents have also started to set a $20 limit on each other in recent years.  Jesse and I exchange stockings.

Setting a price limit on each gift will allow you to shop within that budget.  If your limit on sister Sue is $30, then that $50 purse is off limits.

It’s possible to decrease your food budget too by shopping the sales and limiting the baking and Christmas dishes you prepare.

When it comes to decorations, why not create some memories by making some homemade decorations?  (I’ll be featuring some ideas in a few weeks)  Or read my Fond, Frugal Christmas Memory post for a fun Christmas tree idea.

Increase your Income

If decreasing your holiday expenses is not an option, then consider increasing your income.  Many retailers hire for the holiday season (and may offer and employee discount!).

A couple of other ideas are to:

  • sell extra baking to those that may not have much time to create their own.
  • sell unwanted household items for cash (make room for new stuff too!)

What are your tips for staying on budget at Christmas time?

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas

8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas

This year, I’m on a mission.  Not only to have my own more organized Christmas season, but I’m hoping I can help you as well!  Enter, 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas!

As I’m gearing up for the annual Simply Frugal Holiday Gift Guide, which I hope will help make your shopping easier, I’m also hoping this series will help you be more organized for the Christmas season.

My goal with the series is to help guide you in making your Christmas season more manageable by providing you a weekly countdown of sorts to get everything in order.

There will be a ton of printables, checklists, articles full of tips and inspiring ideas to aid you.

Since it’s called 8 Weeks to a More Organized Christmas, we’ll be getting started next Thursday, October 30.  I’ll have the first post up with your first task.  Every following Thursday, there will be a new post with a new task for you to focus on.  Scattered throughout each week I’ll throw in some other fun posts.

How does that sound?  Are you in?  Do you want a simpler Christmas?

Checklist for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Do you want to know my secret for a stress-free Thanksgiving? (or any big family meal for that matter…)  Yeah? Okay. Just have your Dad, who loves to cook, prepare all the main dishes and Turkey, then all you have to do is bring along the dessert. ;)

While this is a realistic scenario for our Thanksgiving and special occasions, (my dad is the best!) I’m sure it’s not for most families.  We can get away with this because we usually have a maximum of 8 people to serve.

Since I know big family meals can be hectic (I’ve experienced many of my husband’s extended family get-togethers), I thought creating a checklist would be really helpful to those of you that want to cut back on some chaos.

This checklist doesn’t tell you what to cook (I trust you have your family favourites) but I’m hoping it will give you a guideline for when things can be completed.  Also, I realize that Canadian Thanksgiving is only a week away, but I think this checklist can be used for any holiday dinner. Simply click on the image below or click here to download your free Checklist for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving.

Checklist for a stress-free thanksgiving

How to you lessen the stress of big family meals?  Also, I’d love to hear what goes on your Thanksgiving menu in the comments!

Calling all Small Canadian Owned Businesses! (2014 Holiday Gift Guides)

2014 holiday gift guide

I am once again in the midst of compiling the fifth Simply Frugal Holiday Gift Guide!  Woo hoo!  It has been wildly popular in year’s past with both Simply Frugal readers and business owners alike, so I imagine it will be this year as well!

This year (take a look at a previous gift guide here), I will have four gift guides:

  • gift guide for women
  • gift guide for men
  • gift guide for children
  • gift guide for Etsy shops

If you’re a small, Canadian owned and operated business (including Etsy shop owners!), and can see yourself under one of the gift guide categories, I’d love to feature your business and products in the Holiday gift guide!  I’d also really love to give away a product(s) of yours to lucky Simply Frugal readers to correspond with the gift guide.  (Here’s a link to one of the giveaways so you can get an idea of how it’ll work.)

Like last year, I’ll have to set a limit on how many businesses I can feature as I was a bit run off my feet!  The limit will be 10 businesses per category and I’ll also be setting a minimum $40 prize donation to make the stakes pretty great!

The gift guides and giveaways will happen the week of November 18 – 21, 2014.  Following that, the gift guide will remain available for readers to see from November 21 through to January 15, 2015 (to allow for after-Christmas sales).  If you’re interested in this idea, I think it could work out to be a great promotion for your company as it will be seen by thousands of people everyday.  Just in time for Christmas shopping season!

Please fill out this form if you would like to be a part of making this year’s gift guides the best yet! :) Or contact us if you have any questions by using this contact form.

Merry Christmas!

family November 2013

From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

We also want to send you big ole mushy Thank You for being a loyal (or new!) Simply Frugal reader!   It means to much to have so many of you that stop by daily to support our little business!

Many blessings to each and every one of you!

A Homemade Christmas Gift – Elastic Hair Ties

hair-ties

We’re running out of time to make anything too time consuming so I thought these elastic hair ties from DiaperedKnights.com would be a perfect last-minute gift to make!  Try looking for elastic at your local fabric store.

homemade christmas gifts

A Homemade Christmas Gift: Bay Rum Aftershave Balm

aftershave balm

If you’ve got a man on your Christmas list that appreciates a nice aftershave, you’ll want to whip up a batch up this Bay Rum Aftershave Balm from Abundance on a Dime!  I can smell the deliciousness through the computer!

homemade christmas gifts

Frugal Stocking Stuffers

frugal stocking stuffers

Stocking stuffers can be so much fun!  My husband and I really only exchange stockings each year.  I like to fill  his up with practical things and a few goodies.  But it’s quite easy to get carried away buying all sorts of little things to add to the stockings so I’ve compiled a list of frugal stocking stuffers that you might enjoy!

  • Christmas is the only time of the year when I have fun with a Scratch Ticket or two!
  • Toothpaste  (get some cheap with coupons!)
  • Toothbrush
  • Candy/Chocolate
  • Homemade CD
  • Homemade cookies
  • Travel sized toiletries
  • Gift cards (give a $10 Starbucks card you’ve earned free with Swagbucks!)
  • Flash drive
  • Deck of cards
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Hot Wheels
  • Gum
  • Crayons, Pencils, Felt pens
  • Notebooks
  • Nail polish
  • Socks
  • Hair accessories
  • Tea or coffee (those Starbucks VIA or Nescafe individual packages might be great!)
  • Maybe some of the freebies you’ve found on Simply Frugal? :)

Have you got any other ideas?  What do you normally add to stockings?