homemade gifts http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/6083/all en-US The Simple Holiday Budget Anyone Can Follow http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-holiday-budget-anyone-can-follow <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-simple-holiday-budget-anyone-can-follow" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy_bank_christmas_50816262.jpg" alt="Following a simple holiday budget anyone can follow" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Promised yourself that you'd finally make a solid budgeting plan this holiday season &mdash; and stick to it? We've got your covered with these simple steps anyone can follow to stay in the black when the red and green take over.</p> <h2>1. Set Aside Only the Amount You Can Afford</h2> <p>So many people start the New Year in debt solely because of overspending during the holidays. You don't want that burden on your back. Rather, when planning your budget, allot only an amount you can actually afford, preferably in cash already saved, to the gifts you'd like to buy.</p> <p>&quot;Do not go into debt with holiday spending,&quot; warns consumer expert Kevin Gallegos. &quot;Making that commitment means changing your mindset. It may be telling yourself that giving people what they think they deserve is a mistake. You'll also want to avoid the trap of feeling you must give a gift equal to what someone gave you last year, or creating a perfect ski slope of presents under the tree. Chances are that your family and friends really don't want you to suffer financially in order to give them bigger gifts.&quot;</p> <p>It also stands to reason that they may not have returned the gesture in kind, either. So there's that.</p> <h2>2. Set Limits for Total Holiday Spending</h2> <p>Before you ever leave the house &mdash; or turn on the computer to shop online &mdash; you should establish how much you plan to spend this season and perhaps even on each person on your list. Having a specific number in mind will not only provide a guide as to what your limit is, but it will also help you choose the perfect gift for everyone based on how much money you've assigned to them.</p> <p>Alexis Nido-Russo is the owner of Chicago-based online jewelry store Local Eclectic, and she offers a very specific way on how to break down your holiday budget.</p> <p>&quot;Determine what your total budget for the holidays is, then map out who you have to buy for and assign percentages to each person or category,&quot; she says.</p> <p>For example, if there are six people on your list and your total budget is $1,000, perhaps your percentage breakdown looks something like this:</p> <ul> <li>Husband: 20% or $200</li> <li>Daughter: 30% or $300</li> <li>Mother: 15% or $150</li> <li>Sister: 15% or $150</li> <li>Mother-in-law: 10% or $100</li> <li>Best Friend: 10% or $100</li> </ul> <p>Of course, your specific budget and who appears on the list will vary. You also can shift numbers around if you find the right gift at a lower cost, or you can send that money back to your savings account where it'll better serve you. Also remember to factor in ancillary holiday expenses too, which can absolutely decimate your budget if you're not careful; things like holiday cards and postage, teacher gifts, travel costs, and food and drinks for entertaining.</p> <h2>3. Gather Your Coupons and Discounts</h2> <p>Go through your favorite circulars, emails, and apps to scrounge up all the deals and savings you can &mdash; then start to map out a plan of attack. For example, I'm on the email lists of many of my favorite retailers who send me a seemingly never-ending stream of promotional messages throughout the year, but especially around holiday time. (I recommend <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-email-trick-will-save-you-big-on-shopping">creating a dummy email account</a> for this to preserve your sanity, by the way.) Because I'm privy to insider information, I try to schedule my shopping around their biggest sales and pair them with additional saving that I may have from mailers, previous shopping trips, or in my text messages &mdash; all of which are excellent ways to receive additional discounts.</p> <h2>4. Make Cuts to Your Gift-Giving List</h2> <p>In a perfect world, we'd buy presents for everyone we know during the holidays &mdash; but that's just not feasible. So instead of trying to sneak everyone in because you feel obligated to purchase something, stick to those closest to you.</p> <p>&quot;If your shopping list includes more than five people outside of your immediate family, cut down on the number of people on your gift list,&quot; suggests Rachel Namoff, managing partner of Denver-based asset management firm Arapaho Asset Management. &quot;Then, make a homemade gift, like cookies, to give to all the people you snipped from your original gift list. Ensure you spread the holiday cheer without looking like a Scrooge while enjoying a fun activity with the family.&quot;</p> <p>If you still feel like you may be blindsided by a rogue gift for which you have a return gift, there are a few things you can do:</p> <ul> <li>Update your status on social media that details your holiday shopping plan and who's on the list. Remember, there's no shame in being on a budget, especially if money is already tight.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Contact people directly and let them know that you won't be able to exchange this year if gift giving to one another was established in the past.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Keep your unwanted gifts in storage to have at the ready so you can provide something in return if you feel so obligated.</li> </ul> <h2>5. Enlist the Help of Budgeting Apps</h2> <p>If you're not particularly financial or budget savvy, you can find help online. In fact, there are plenty of mobile apps that'll keep your holiday budget just a few taps of the finger away so you can access it while in real time while you're shopping. Gallegos recommends apps from Mint or Quicken to simplify the process, but there are plenty of others available &mdash; and we've <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget">detailed them in abundance here on Wise Bread</a> &mdash; that will track your spending down to the cent.</p> <h2>6. Thoughtful Homemade Gifts Are Cherished and Inexpensive</h2> <p>Namoff suggested baking cookies for those you're trimming from your main list this year, but there's no reason you can't extend this homemade concept to the more important people in your life. I'm admittedly materialistic &mdash; I love my stuff &mdash; but I'm not devoid of sentiment, thus I prefer thoughtful, handmade items over anything store-bought because I know what kind of time and effort goes into a gift like that. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-now-you-can-make-these-23-delicious-holiday-gifts?ref=seealso">You Can Make These 23 Delicious Holiday Gifts</a>)</p> <p>Another argument for going this route is that most people in your life rarely need anything that they don't already buy themselves. Personally, if I want something, I save for it and buy it; I don't wait to pawn it off on someone else at Christmas. Certainly I have provided a list of items to my family in the past, but those are merely suggestions and nothing that I need. What I need to know is that you care, and the best way to do that is to sit down and think about how to put a smile on my face at holiday time, and you'll get that reaction from me if you spent more time than money on my gift.</p> <h2>7. Stop Waiting Until the Last Minute to Do Your Shopping</h2> <p>They say the early bird gets the worm, and that's completely true at holiday time. While there are plenty of arguments on why Black Friday isn't necessarily the day you'll get the best deals &mdash; there are amazing offers all times of year and even between Thanksgiving and Christmas &mdash; but you will absolutely do yourself a disservice by waiting until Christmas Eve to buy presents.</p> <p>For starters, by then the pickins will be slim, and you're probably going to disappoint your loved ones with your laziness. Secondly, if you're an online shopper, you will often spend an incredible amount of money on shipping charges the last couple days before the big day, and even then you're not guaranteed that it'll arrive on time in some cases. Save yourself the headache, heartbreak, and surcharges by scheduling your shopping at least a couple weeks before the holiday.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-holiday-budget-anyone-can-follow">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-on-christmas-shopping-with-this-clever-gift-card-strategy">Save on Christmas Shopping With This Clever Gift Card Strategy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-common-holiday-budget-pitfalls">Avoid These 5 Common Holiday Budget Pitfalls</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-to-monetize-your-unwanted-gifts">How to Get Rid of Your Unwanted Gifts and Make Money Too</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-holiday-season-costs-everyone-always-forgets-about">13 Holiday-Season Costs Everyone Always Forgets About</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-easy-ways-to-use-technology-to-save-on-christmas-shopping">6 Easy Ways to Use Technology to Save on Christmas Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Shopping apps Christmas coupons discounts gifts Holidays homemade gifts presents saving shopping lists Mon, 21 Nov 2016 11:31:03 +0000 Mikey Rox 1815065 at http://www.wisebread.com Identify and Solve Your Spending Mysteries http://www.wisebread.com/identify-and-solve-your-spending-mysteries <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/identify-and-solve-your-spending-mysteries" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/finances-3258918-small.jpg" alt="spending" title="spending" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you feel like some of your hard-earned cash seems to vanish into thin air each month? I kept noticing a big chunk of my change seemed to be disappearing into a monthly black hole, despite what I thought was decent budgeting. So, I decided to clean up my act and set out to locate these hidden areas. Here are a few tips that I learned along the way that can help you nab your mystery spending, too. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-your-hidden-spending-habits-and-save">Find Your Hidden Spending Habits and Save</a>).</p> <h2>1. Unplanned Dining Splurges</h2> <p>Despite having a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-more-tips-for-eating-in-restaurants-and-sticking-to-a-budget?wbref=readmore-2">dining budget</a>, I admit I was not keeping track of every single drink or ice cream that seemed like a small splurge at the time. While an occasional treat is well deserved, often I was being silly. For example, last week while waiting for our table, my husband and I ordered two glasses of not-so-good, lukewarm chardonnay for $21 including tip. When I go to the liquor store, I can buy two or even three suitable bottles for that price. Do the &quot;quick drink at the bar&quot; a few more times, and you can easily run up $100 a month and not really enjoy it.</p> <p>I noticed that other little treats were adding up, too. We always visited the ice cream shop after a dinner out or made a few unplanned, weekly fast food stops. Somehow, I was forgetting that the tab for such outings can easily run $15-$20 for four people.</p> <p><strong>Curbing the Treat Buying</strong></p> <p>Once I realized what was happening, I established a treat allowance per month. This consisted of setting aside a small, fixed amount in cash, bound in a rubber band. I could do what I wanted with my little roll of cash, but once it was gone, that was it for the month. This quickly stopped the previous over-spending and made me prioritize my buying and how badly I wanted something.</p> <p>Secondly, I found ways to spread out little splurges more. For drinks, it was as simple as holding off for a more economical bottle of wine at the table, or eating at home, followed by an affordable beer at the bar afterwards. For the ice cream shop visits and fast food stops, I made such trips into planned, special outings for my family. This meant not indulging after already out to dinner or because we were just driving by. Looking forward to these planned jaunts made everyone appreciate them more. Spreading treats into separate outings actually made us feel like we were going out more, too.</p> <h2>2. The Curse of the Last-Minute Gifter</h2> <p>I budgeted for big items, like Christmas and my daughter's birthday, but I was still shocked at my annual gift spend. Things like housewarming gifts, other children's birthday parties, and smaller-scale holidays were really adding up. Throw in a wedding or two, and you can easily go off the rails. I never stopped to think about just how many events we were attending and the types of gifts we bought. Additionally, I would often buy presents at the last minute, meaning I usually spent more out of convenience.</p> <p><strong>The Gift-Giving Fix</strong></p> <p>Once I realized that we were averaging 10 dinner parties, 5 kids' birthday parties, and a handful of holidays and special events per year, I made a better gift budget. Then, I saved a bundle by <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today">making some of my own gifts,</a> like painted flowerpots, or easier projects like repurposed jars filled with fresh flowers from my garden. Next, I stocked up on some attractive home goods, which I found at craft stores for $5 or less, using coupons or hitting seasonal sales. When out shopping, if I saw a good deal on a toy or baby clothes, I bought a few to have as inventory for upcoming events. In the last six months, we saved over $300 by doing this, and many of these gifts were more appreciated than the default bottle of wine.</p> <h2>3. Too Many Shows, Too Little Time</h2> <p>With the dizzying array of cable packages and providers, it is hard to know if you are really saving. I took a long, hard look and realized I had at least 10 movie channels I hadn't watched in the last 12 months. And, if you have young kids, chances are your days of surfing premium channels to watch &quot;Office Space&quot; undisturbed for the fortieth time are long gone. It was time to take inventory of what I really needed and cut down. My plan was also up for renewal, and when I viewed my account online, I saw a $20 per month increase for the same stuff I currently had. This was not good.</p> <p><strong>Making Cable Worth It Again</strong></p> <p>I already had a combined package for my phone, Internet, and cable, so I was pleasantly surprised more savings could be had. First, instead of settling for what you may see online and giving up any previous promotions, investing the 10 minutes to call your provider directly can pay off. I called expecting a fight, but before I could even plead my case, the representative said <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/thirteen-minutes-to-a-lower-cable-bill">there were special deals for those willing to renew</a> for two more years. I was immediately given a renewal plan that included faster Internet and all of my existing features for $10 less per month. Once that was done, I cut out two premium channel lineups we never use, which saved another $30 per month.</p> <p>The next time you are looking to tune up your budget, take a look at your non-essential spending and really think through where your money goes. My examples were very relevant for a family with a young child in the house, but everyone can attempt to cut down mystery spending. By identifying the common pitfalls and making some useful adjustments, you can save a bunch and still do the things you enjoy.</p> <p><em>Have you uncovered any hidden spending habits? What did you do to spot them and correct them?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kelly-medeiros">Kelly Medeiros</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/identify-and-solve-your-spending-mysteries">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-split-the-bill-without-losing-friends">6 Ways to Split the Bill Without Losing Friends</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-americans-spent-their-money-in-the-1950s">This Is How Americans Spent Their Money in the 1950s</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spend-almost-nothing-on-gifts-this-year">10 Gift Ideas That Cost Almost Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-restaurant-menus-are-designed-to-make-you-spend-more">9 Ways Restaurant Menus Are Designed to Make You Spend More</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-holiday-budget-anyone-can-follow">The Simple Holiday Budget Anyone Can Follow</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting cable bill dining out homemade gifts mystery spending spending habits Wed, 03 Jul 2013 09:48:32 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 980278 at http://www.wisebread.com 18 Awesome, Practically Free Upcycled Craft Projects http://www.wisebread.com/18-awesome-practically-free-upcycled-craft-projects <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/18-awesome-practically-free-upcycled-craft-projects" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5961812412_091bb7ec47_z.jpg" alt="craft supplies" title="craft supplies" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I like to make stuff.</p> <p>I sew or knit a lot of my own clothes. I cook from scratch. I try to only give handmade gifts. But, because I am on an itty bitty budget, I am constantly on the hunt for ways to reduce the cost of my crafting habit. Seriously, if you look at my checkbook it looks like I have a drug habit. All my money goes to La Knitterie Parisienne. I spend more money for yarn than I pay for gas every year. And I live in Los Angeles. Making stuff by hand can be wildly expensive. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today">25 Gifts You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <p>One of the easiest ways to cut craft costs is to source inexpensive supplies. My favorite source of free supplies happens to be the recycling bin in my house. In addition to providing me with free supplies, by upcycling craft materials from the waste stream, I&rsquo;m doing the environment a favor.</p> <p>Well, okay, I&rsquo;m doing the environment a favor if my finished craft is actually a beautiful and functional item. As my friend Katy, who blogs regularly about treasures (and trash) she finds at Goodwill says, &quot;Just because you can glue glass floral pebbles on something, doesn&rsquo;t mean you should.&quot; Garbage with some glitter glued on it is still garbage.</p> <p>When I&rsquo;m trying to decide whether or not an upcycled craft project is worth my time, I ask myself three questions:</p> <ol> <li>Would I love getting this item as a gift?</li> <li>Is it something I would definitely use?</li> <li>Can it replace something I would pay money for?</li> </ol> <p>If the answer to all three of these questions is yes, then I know that the project is worth my time. However, since any type of crafting involves some level of hoarding &mdash; I mean collecting &mdash; I also ask myself a fourth question:</p> <ol start="4"> <li>Will I generate more trash in the process of upcycling this item than if I just threw it away or donated it?</li> </ol> <p>What follows are 21 upcycling projects that recently made it through my selection process.</p> <h2>1. Upcycled Egg Carton Wreath</h2> <p>I made a <a target="_blank" href="http://homemadeserenity.blogspot.com/2011/04/make-it-egg-carton-wreath.html">similar egg carton wreath</a> with my mother when I was in pre-school. Instead of tempura paint we used the cheap watercolor paints that come in the plastic palette box. If you don&rsquo;t have a glue gun, regular old Elmer&rsquo;s glue works just fine. You can get remarkably <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-homemade-christmas-wreath-ideas-with-style">sophisticated results from the humblest supplies</a>.</p> <h2>2. Coasters From Woven Magazine Pages</h2> <p>When I travel, I collect foreign language magazines, maps, and cardboard packaging.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-ways-to-use-old-newspaper">Newspapers </a>and maps get recycled into wrapping paper, cardboard packaging gets cut into postcards, and ephemera like museum tickets get laminated and turned into luggage tags, bookmarks, and placemats. I like <a target="_blank" href="http://howaboutorange.blogspot.com/2009/06/recycled-magazine-coasters.html">these woven coasters</a> because they are a good way to use up magazine pages that aren&rsquo;t visually that interesting, are a good travel craft that can be assembled while waiting at the airport or train station (just fold and tear the pages instead of using scissors), and are cheap to ship home.</p> <h2>3. Corrugated Cardboard Lamp</h2> <p>Instructables.com is a great resource for upcycled projects. I am going to use their instructions for <a target="_blank" href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Cube-Lamp/">this cardboard lamp</a> to make a nightlight scratching post for my cats. (I&rsquo;m replacing the bulb with LED tea lights for fire safety).</p> <h2>4. Plastic Toys Transformed</h2> <p>You don&rsquo;t even need to know German to understand these instructions on how to turn a small plastic toy into <a target="_blank" href="http://gesehenundgesehenwerden.blogspot.de/2013/03/spielzeugkettenanhanger-tutorial.html">a chic pendant or watch fob</a>. This is a good way to use that lone army man or plastic circus animal you found hiding behind the sofa.</p> <p>And this $1 plastic dinosaur toy plus succulents <a target="_blank" href="http://www.inhabitots.com/how-to-make-a-recycled-dinosaur-succulent-planter/">becomes Upcyclasaurus Rex</a>.</p> <h2>5. Eccentric English Grandma To-Do List</h2> <p>Yes. I know this <a target="_blank" href="http://kinderscherestoffpapier.blogspot.co.at/2013/02/einkaufszettel.html">tea bag shopping list</a> looks vaguely <em>hoardy bag lady</em>, but as a heavy duty tea drinker, I&rsquo;m so happy to have found a way to reuse tea bag wrappers before I recycle them.</p> <h2>6. Cavity-Free Christmas Light Shades</h2> <p>I started buying Tom&rsquo;s of Main toothpaste because it was the only toothpaste that was still sold in metal, recyclable tubes. So I was really disappointed when Tom&rsquo;s switched to plastic tubes a few years ago. Luckily, the recycling geniuses over at Terracycle have figured out a way to turn plastic toothpaste tubes into cute, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.terracycle.com/en-US/pages/diy-seasonal-projects">flower-shaped shades for holiday lights</a>.</p> <h2>7. Upcycled Travel Art Kit</h2> <p>I usually recycle DVD cases by bringing them to my local video store for reuse, but this upcycled <a target="_blank" href="http://stacyvaughnblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/dvd-coloring-case.html?spref=fb">mobile sketch pad and pencil case</a> is pretty slick.</p> <h2>8. Custom Jigsaw Puzzles</h2> <p>Are you tired of your old puzzles?</p> <p>Spray paint over the design and then <a target="_blank" href="http://familycrafts.about.com/od/puzzlegamepiececrafts/a/upcycledpuzzle.htm">redraw your own</a>. Or make a two-sided puzzle by creating a new design on the back of a puzzle.</p> <p>I've been pricing custom photo puzzles as a gift idea for my mother-in-law. Instead of paying $75, I am going to enlist the youngest grandkid to help me convert an old 2000 piece puzzle that I already own into a truly brag-worthy piece of kid art.</p> <h2>9. Secret Book Safe</h2> <p>Where do you stash your secret <a target="_blank" href="http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/12/07/how-to-make-a-secret-book-safe/">book safe</a>? On your <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Create-Invisible-Shelves"><em>book </em>bookshelf</a>, of course.</p> <h2>10. Citrus Peel Starter Pots</h2> <p>Before you compost your citrus peels, put them to <a target="_blank" href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/garden-hack-citrus-peel-starter-pot-seedlings/">work nurturing seedlings</a>.</p> <h2>11. Old Slide Glass Windows</h2> <p>Transform old slides into a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/yarnzombie/4357020886/in/pool-93628034@N00">modern &quot;stained glass&quot; window treatment</a>. I don&rsquo;t know if this will keep out nosey neighbors or create them.</p> <h2>12. CD Spindle Bagel or Cable Holder</h2> <p>Keep your sandwich from getting squished in your bag. Turn a CD <a target="_blank" href="http://inhabitat.com/recycled-cd-spindle-bagel-holder/">spindle into a sandwich keeper</a>.</p> <p>Or use one to <a target="_blank" href="http://begoodtime.tumblr.com/post/25473197247/old-cd-cases-to-store-and-organize-cables">store and organize cables</a>. (The CD spindle. Not the sandwich).</p> <h2>13. Suitcase Toolbox</h2> <p>No garage? <a target="_blank" href="http://www.bhg.com/decorating/storage/projects/flea-market-storage-ideas/#page=18">Organize your tools in vintage suitcases</a> as a cute storage alternative. No one knows that my grandmother&rsquo;s old train case is <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/luxury-recycling-sewing-box-vintage-luggage/">really my sewing kit.</a></p> <h2>14. Plastic Spoon Mirror Frame</h2> <p>Martha Stewart Living has nothing on Marie Claire Idées, the French DIY decorating magazine. This <a target="_blank" href="http://www.marieclaireidees.com/,un-cadre-fait-de-petites-cuilleres,2610153,1190.asp">mirror&rsquo;s mid-century mod frame</a> is made from spray painted plastic spoons that are affixed to the inexpensive mirror with epoxy glue specifically designed for glass.</p> <h2>15. Friendship Rug</h2> <p>Did you ever make friendship bracelets at summer camp? Well, you can make a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.thehousethatlarsbuilt.com/2012/02/diy-friendship-bracelet-chevron-rug.html">giant rug or table runner</a> version out of old bed sheets.</p> <h2>16. Party Favor Gift Tubes</h2> <p>My goddaughter is hosting a tea party to celebrate her confirmation in May. I&rsquo;m saving up toilet paper tubes to reuse as <a target="_blank" href="http://crissyscrafts.blogspot.com/2012/01/tp-roll-pillow-box-favor-vintage-style.html">little gift boxes for party favors</a>. I&rsquo;m overly pleased that this project will help me use up all my leftover doilies and paper flowers from Valentine&rsquo;s Day, too.</p> <h2>17. Fabric Covered Hangers</h2> <p>No more wire hangers! Even Mommy Dearest would love these <a target="_blank" href="http://www.designsponge.com/2009/09/made-with-love-fabric-covered-hangers.html">fabric covered wire hangers</a>, but don't mention that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-recycle-and-reuse-old-t-shirts">the fabric is upcycled old t-shirts</a>.</p> <h2>18. Weensy Photo Fridge Magnets</h2> <p>I&rsquo;ve always loved miniatures, so these <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ambrosiagirl.com/blog/tiny-polaroid-magnets/">tiny &quot;Polaroid&quot; magnets</a> are right up my alley. This tutorial includes a downloadable Photoshop template for the Polaroid frames, but these could easily be replicated with just a ruler and matte knife.</p> <p>What&rsquo;s so great about this project is that you can customize this idea for gifts that are personal and easy to ship. I&rsquo;m going to make a set of these for my mom and my mother-in-law for Mother&rsquo;s Day. These would also make a super cute wedding gift.</p> <p>OK, I will admit that this is one of those times that my insane hoarding of craft supplies pays off. Instead of buying adhesive backed magnet tape at the craft store, I am going to use the business card magnets I keep getting in the mail from various local businesses and real estate agents for this project.</p> <p><em>Do you think upcycled crafts are worth the time and effort? What upcycled craft project would you recommend to others? What's your biggest upcycling fail? Share your genius in the comments section.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-awesome-practically-free-upcycled-craft-projects">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-smart-ways-to-reuse-your-empty-glass-bottles">18 Smart Ways to Reuse Your Empty Glass Bottles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-beautiful-things-you-can-make-with-paint-sample-cards">25 Beautiful Things You Can Make With Paint Sample Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-cool-ways-to-make-treasure-out-of-trash">12 Cool Ways to Make Treasure Out of Trash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-cute-ways-to-upcycle-shoeboxes">12 Cute Ways to Upcycle Shoeboxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-recycle-and-reuse-old-t-shirts">15 Ways to Recycle and Reuse Old T-shirts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Green Living crafts homemade gifts projects recycled upcycling Mon, 08 Apr 2013 10:36:37 +0000 Max Wong 971591 at http://www.wisebread.com From Sweet Tea to Chai: Delicious Homemade Tea Recipes http://www.wisebread.com/from-sweet-tea-to-chai-delicious-homemade-tea-recipes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/from-sweet-tea-to-chai-delicious-homemade-tea-recipes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3165217472_274dc1439c_z.jpg" alt="chai tea smoothie" title="chai tea smoothie" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.&quot; &ndash; C.S. Lewis</p> <p>I have the drinking habits of an English pensioner. I pretty much require a cup of hot tea with every meal. I carry tea bags with me to insure that I never have to put up with bad restaurant coffee. The warm weather of Southern California has no impact on my tea drinking. I drink tea all day, every day.</p> <p>And why not? Tea is a remarkably versatile beverage. It never gets boring. As four-time British Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, once remarked, &ldquo; If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you.&rdquo;</p> <p>Tea. It&rsquo;s an all-temperature problem solver. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-to-drink-tea">10 Reasons to Drink&nbsp;Tea</a>)</p> <h3>1. Sweet Tea</h3> <p>&quot;American-style iced tea is the perfect drink for a hot, sunny day. It's never really caught on in the UK, probably because the last time we had a hot, sunny day was back in 1957.&quot; &ndash; Tom Holt</p> <p>Somewhere in East Texas there is an invisible line where Sweet Tea Territory begins. Once you cross the line, it is just assumed that when you order iced tea, what you really mean is <a href="http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/southern-sweet-tea-50400000112194/">sweet tea</a>. As Dolly Parton says in Steel Magnolias, &ldquo;Sweet tea is the house wine of the South.&rdquo;</p> <p>Iced tea is an American invention, and sweet tea was the status cocktail of the early 1900s as sugar, tea, and ice were all expensive imported food products.</p> <p>The oldest known recipe for sweet tea was published in 1879 in a cookbook by Marion Cabell Tyree titled &quot;House Keeping In Old Virginia.&quot; The original recipe, like most pre-WW2 sweet tea recipes, called for green tea:</p> <blockquote><p>After scalding the teapot, put into it one quart of boiling water and two teaspoonfuls green tea. If wanted for supper, do this at breakfast. At dinner time, strain, without stirring, through a tea strainer into a pitcher. Let it stand till tea time and pour into decanters, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the pitcher. Fill the goblets with ice, put two teaspoonfuls granulated sugar in each, and pour the tea over the ice and sugar. A squeeze of lemon will make this delicious and healthful, as it will correct the astringent tendency.</p> </blockquote> <p>(Due to anti-Japanese sentiment, Americans switched to using black tea from India during the War and have only recently reembraced green tea).</p> <h3>2. Arnold Palmer...and Other Golfer-Named Drinks</h3> <p>As much as I love sweet tea, my favorite summer tea beverage is the <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/columns/story?columnist=sobel_jason&amp;page=palmerblog">Arnold Palmer</a>, which is three parts iced tea to one part lemonade.</p> <p>Many people believe that an Arnold Palmer is an alcoholic beverage. These people are wrong. The drink that consists of lemonade, iced tea, and vodka is a called a <a href="http://www.drinknation.com/drink/john-daly">John Daly</a>.</p> <p>These drinks, and the Tiger Woods, (which is a blend of that horribly popular passion fruit tea that smells like bad cologne and lemonade), are all named after professional golfers. (The John Daly name is a nod to Daly&rsquo;s reputation as a drinker). Lemonade, iced tea, and Everclear is called a Happy Gilmore. A related, but non-golf cocktail is The Donovan, which was named after shipping magnate Andrew Donovan. The Donovan is a mix of lemonade and sweet tea vodka.</p> <h3>3. Thai Iced Tea</h3> <p>Another great summertime beverage is Thai iced tea. Made with evaporated milk, Thai iced tea can double as a desert. The unique flavor of Thai iced tea comes from the vanilla, cinnamon, tamarind, and star anise that are added to black tea. You can <a href="http://coffeetea.about.com/od/coldtearecipes/r/Thai-Iced-Tea-Recipe.htm">make Thai iced tea completely from scratch</a> using this basic recipe.</p> <p>However, since I live close to Thai Town in my city, I prefer to buy a premade, packaged mix of black tea and spices from my local Thai market, as it&rsquo;s easier and cheaper than buying the ingredients separately. You can also buy this mix online.</p> <h3>4. Chai</h3> <p>If you have a lot of random spices leftover from baking projects, chai is a delicious way to use them up at the end of the holiday season. My <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/planned-leftovers-house-chai-tea-recipe/">House Chai Recipe</a> starts with the cheapest black tea in my pantry, black pepper, and water, but I will throw in a mix of five or six other spices to vary the flavor.</p> <h3>5. Mulled Punch/Russian Tea</h3> <p>My mother is famous for her mulled punch, which is black tea mixed with orange, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-alternative-uses-for-lemons">lemon</a>, and pineapple juice, and spiced with cinnamon sticks and a tongue-numbing amount of whole cloves. This hot drink is often referred to as <a href="http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1918,152162-232207,00.html">Russian tea</a>, even though it has nothing to do with that country).</p> <p>There are many <a href="http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Russian-Tea/Detail.aspx?prop24=RD_RelatedRecipes">recipes for instant Russian tea</a> floating around the internet. All of them feature a mix of instant ice tea mix, powdered lemonade, and Tang. (Russian tea. It&rsquo;s the drink of cosmonauts). Don&rsquo;t let the low-fi ingredients fool you. This tea mix tastes like nostalgia and makes a splendid, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today">no-bake holiday gift</a>.</p> <h3>6. Apple Tea</h3> <p>A slightly fancier gift mix you can make at home is <a href="http://thegreenbacksgal.com/homemade-black-apple-tea-mix-recipe/">apple tea</a>. It&rsquo;s extra cute&nbsp;(and thrifty) packed into an apple-shaped Martinelli&rsquo;s Cider bottle.</p> <h3>7. Tea Smoothies</h3> <p>Tea can also be used as an energy boost to breakfast smoothie, like in this <a href="http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cran-berry-green-tea-smoothie-10000001694234/">cranberry green tea smoothie</a>.</p> <h3>8. Tisanes</h3> <p>Teas that are not made from the camellia sinensis plant are not true teas, but tisanes. Tisanes are infusions that are made with flowers, fruit, herbs, or other plants. Many tisanes are based on old medicinal elixirs that are so yummy, people have forgotten their original purpose. Honey lemon tea (also known as hot lemonade) is one of my favorite wintertime beverages. An array of herbs and flowers can be added to <a href="http://www.food.com/recipe/feel-better-ginger-lemon-tea-236862">honey lemon tea</a> for additional flavors and healing properties, including mint, thyme, echinacea, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and lavender.</p> <p>Jamaica, one of the most popular Mexican aguas frescas, is a <a href="http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/agua_de_jamaica_hibiscus_tea/">cold tisane made from hibiscus flowers</a>. Many Mexican supermarkets carry dried jamaica flowers in bulk.&nbsp;Jamaica will forever ruin Kool-Aid for you. Fair warning.</p> <p>Also do not make the mistake I made the first time I saw this on a menu. It&rsquo;s pronounced the Spanish way, &ldquo;Hah-MIKE-ah,&rdquo; not like the island nation.</p> <p>Finally, wear old clothes when you make this tisane. In addition to being delicious, you can also use jamaica as a natural alternative to pink dye.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/from-sweet-tea-to-chai-delicious-homemade-tea-recipes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-to-drink-tea">10 Reasons to Drink Tea</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-green-tea-all-its-cracked-up-to-be-its-close">Is Green Tea All It&#039;s Cracked Up to Be? It&#039;s close.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-tasty-ways-to-use-chicken-stock">25 Tasty Ways to Use Chicken Stock</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-great-non-sandwich-work-lunches">25 Great Non-Sandwich Work Lunches</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-do-with-rotisserie-chicken">25 Things to Do With Rotisserie Chicken</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink affordable recipes green tea homemade gifts hot drinks tea Fri, 28 Dec 2012 10:48:42 +0000 Max Wong 955381 at http://www.wisebread.com Eat Your Garbage! Turn Your Trash Into Delicious Holiday Food http://www.wisebread.com/eat-your-garbage-turn-your-trash-into-delicious-holiday-food <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/eat-your-garbage-turn-your-trash-into-delicious-holiday-food" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/270433978_851e50828b_z.jpg" alt="apple peels" title="apple peels" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Americans throw away 40% of the food that is produced in this country every year. While there is plenty of waste that happens before the food ever gets to our dinner tables, according to the latest reports from the <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/food/wasted-food.asp">Natural Resources Defense Council</a>, the average American family of four throws away $2,275 dollars in food annually! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/waste-not-want-not-stop-throwing-away-your-food">Waste Not, Want Not: Stop Throwing Away Your Food!</a>)</p> <p>As the granddaughter of both a livestock broker and a restaurant owner, I was raised to have an insane horror of food waste. My frugal mother trained my sister and I from infancy to eat last night&rsquo;s dinner leftovers for breakfast &mdash; a habit that is stomach-churning to anyone who has never eaten prime rib or a side salad at brunch. This dinner-for-breakfast practice pretty much insured that there were never cooked leftovers languishing in the fridge, and it&rsquo;s a habit that has cut tens of thousands of dollars off my sister&rsquo;s and my food budget during our lifetimes. But this isn&rsquo;t the only kitchen waste hack we picked up from our ultra-foodie family. Here are several others that make for great holiday eats.</p> <h2>Citrus Peels</h2> <p>I remember being shocked as a kid to discover that people actually paid $1 to buy a tiny jar of dried orange peel in the spice section of my local supermarket. OMG. Highway robbery! My child brain immediately started tallying up how much money I could make by reselling the peels that were leftover from my school lunches, instead of putting them into the &ldquo;orange chicken&rdquo; Tupperware container that lived in my grandfather&rsquo;s freezer. (If you&rsquo;ve never wondered who supplies Chinese restaurants with all those peels for their <a href="http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Tangerine-Beef-369492">tangerine beef</a>, well, now you know too much). While most of my citrus peels now go toward making homemade citrus cleanser and <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/garden-hack-citrus-peel-starter-pot-seedlings/">improvised garden equipment</a>, I still have a small container of peels in my freezer for home cooking and a second container of citrus zest for holiday baking.</p> <p>Candied citrus peels are a luxurious way to turn your kitchen trash into an old-fashioned holiday treat. While it&rsquo;s possible to candy any kind of citrus peel, or even entire kumquats, my favorite candied peel is, by far, grapefruit. Their peels are thick enough to have just the right amount of tooth.&nbsp;My favorite recipe for candied grapefruit peel comes from Georgeanne Brennan&rsquo;s fabulous cookbook &quot;The Glass Pantry,&quot; because I think her version has the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, but <a href="http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/candied-grapefruit-peel.html">Williams-Sonoma</a> uses a similar technique. If you want to get extra fancy about it, dip the finished candied peels into dark chocolate. They are a great addition to the holiday cookie basket. Also, candied peels can last a month without refrigeration and ship well, so they are a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today">great homemade gift</a> to send to friends who live in far-flung places.</p> <h2>Apple Peels and Cores</h2> <p>Apple peels and cores are never wasted in my kitchen because I use them to as the basis for <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Pectin-from-Scratch/">homemade pectin</a> for jam-making. Homemade preserves are my favorite make-in-advance gifts because they use up surplus backyard produce. None of my precious summer fruit gets wasted, and my friends get delicious, artisinal food that costs me less than $2 a jar to create.</p> <p>Even if you are never inspired to the &quot;Little House on the Prairie&quot; heights of canning your own fruit, there are a number of less food science-intensive holiday recipes that use apple peels like these <a href="http://community.tasteofhome.com/community_forums/f/30/p/218603/219954.aspx#219954">homemade gummy worms</a>&nbsp;that are great stocking stuffers for kids, or these elegant <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/925882/apple-peel-twigs">apple peel twigs</a> from Martha Stewart that serve as decorative, after-dinner snacks.&nbsp;</p> <p>Boiling apple peels with cinnamon and cloves also makes a delicious <a href="http://joyinmykitchen.blogspot.com/2009/10/apple-honey-tea.html#.UJh44hyChN0">tisane</a> (hot herbal tea) that will make your whole house smell good. It's a party beverage and an air freshener in one!</p> <h2>Meat and Vegetables for Stock</h2> <p>The most obvious garbage-to-table transformation for most home cooks is homemade stock. Before your throw away your Thanksgiving turkey skeleton or your Christmas ham bone this year, put those bones and any spare chunks of meat into a large pot of water with a spare onion, some carrots, and celery to make your own savory bouillon.</p> <p>Wait.</p> <p>Did I just say spare onion, some carrots, and celery? Because I meant to say onion tops, carrot tops, and that &ldquo;butt end&rdquo; of the celery that you&rsquo;ve saved (for now) from your compost heap that are sitting in a zip lock bag in your freezer. The limpest, palest, saddest celery will still add great flavor to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-tasty-ways-to-use-chicken-stock">homemade stock</a>. For stock, it&rsquo;s not about how it looks, it&rsquo;s how it will taste once it&rsquo;s been simmered for a few hours.</p> <p>If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can also save money by making your own vegetable stock. Collect the ends of your carrots, celery, and onions in a container in your freezer. (You&rsquo;ll know when it&rsquo;s time to make stock, because your container will be full.)</p> <h2>Bread</h2> <p>What do French toast, seasoned bread crumbs, croutons, and bread pudding all have in common? If you answered &ldquo;They&rsquo;re too ding dang expensive to buy considering that they&rsquo;re all made with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-uses-for-stale-bread">stale bread</a>,&rdquo; you&rsquo;d be right.</p> <p>As long as it&rsquo;s not growing black mold, dried-out stale bread is a fabulous flavor sponge. Don&rsquo;t believe me? Check out the top-rated recipes on the internet for <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/bread-pudding-ii/">bread pudding </a>or <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/down-home-with-the-neelys/homemade-croutons-recipe/index.html">croutons</a>. Most call specifically for day-old bread as the main ingredient. Bread pudding makes a splendid main dish for New Year's Day brunch, but it also works well as a make-ahead dessert to bring to holiday potluck parties. (No one has to know that they're eating the leftover dinner rolls from your family's Christmas dinner).</p> <p>The French, incidentally, do not call old bread dipped in egg batter &ldquo;<a href="http://www.foodrepublic.com/2011/09/21/pain-perdu-recipe">French toast</a>.&rdquo; They call it &ldquo;pain perdu&rdquo; which means &ldquo;lost bread.&rdquo; (The more you know).</p> <p>So get busy! Don't you have some stuffing to make out of your recycled turkey and bread crusts?</p> <p><em>What&rsquo;s your favorite food waste hack? Please share your genius in the comments section.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/eat-your-garbage-turn-your-trash-into-delicious-holiday-food">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-uses-for-stale-bread">17 Uses for Stale Bread</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-bread-fresh">How to Keep Bread Fresh</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/waste-not-want-not-stop-throwing-away-your-food">Waste Not, Want Not: Stop Throwing Away Your Food!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/curing-warts-removing-splinters-and-19-other-bizarre-uses-for-banana-peels">Curing Warts, Removing Splinters, and 19 Other Bizarre Uses for Banana Peels</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-the-takeout-meal-cycle-and-save">How to Stop the Takeout Meal Cycle and Save</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink food waste holiday food homemade gifts Thu, 29 Nov 2012 11:36:43 +0000 Max Wong 955605 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Gift Ideas That Cost Almost Nothing http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spend-almost-nothing-on-gifts-this-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-spend-almost-nothing-on-gifts-this-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/gift-5299045-small.jpg" alt="gift" title="gift" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="125" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It&rsquo;s that season again, when your wallet starts to feel lighter and every purchase means a big nasty surprise when the credit card bill rolls around in January. I am not against spending money for gifts at the holidays &mdash; after all, this is the one time of year when people are spending money on others rather than on themselves. But the holiday season shouldn&rsquo;t be one of financial burden &mdash; it should be a time of joy. And there are few things as joyful as being financially stable and responsible with your money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holiday-gift-giving-for-the-truly-broke?ref=seealso">14 Gift Ideas for the Truly Broke</a>)</p> <p>How can you spend almost nothing this Christmas? By being innovative and resourceful when it comes to giving gifts, of course! Some of the gifts below won&#39;t cost you anything; most cost you very little if you already have some of the materials on hand. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/31-great-gifts-that-keep-on-giving?ref=seealso">31 Great Gifts That Keep on Giving</a>)</p> <h2>1. Buy Presents Using Old Gift Cards</h2> <p>I still had a few gift cards hanging around from when I got married, some of which were from stores I don&rsquo;t normally shop at. I had never used them because I never found anything I liked from those stores. However, I was able to find some thoughtful presents for friends who like those stores. I consider gift cards free money, so in this way, I was able to buy nice gifts without spending any of my own cash. Dig through your own desk drawers, and you&rsquo;ll likely find a few old gift cards too!</p> <h2>2. Make Baked Goods</h2> <p>For most of the friends and acquaintances on your list, a bag of cookies is a perfectly appropriate gift. Chances are you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry, and any you lack will cost far less than buying a whole gift. Wrapping the cookies up beautifully (in dollar store colored tissue paper) makes your gift look even more fancy and expensive. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-unique-holiday-gifts-you-can-bake?ref=seealso">15 Delicious Gifts You Can Bake</a>)</p> <h2>3. Make Cookie &ldquo;Mixes&rdquo;</h2> <p>Even easier than making baked goods &mdash; how about making mixes for <a href="http://www.meals.com/Recipes/Chocolate-Chip-Cookie-Mix-In-A-Jar.aspx?recipeid=32260">baked goods</a> or <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/353001/homemade-hot-chocolate">hot chocolate</a>? You don&rsquo;t even have to pay for eggs or milk! Put pre-mixed quantities of flour, baking powder, sugar, and flavorings into a washed-out jar and tie it with a ribbon. Large glass pasta sauce jars make pretty containers for cookie and pancake mixes. Or make a peppermint hot chocolate mix with cocoa powder, sugar, and a crushed candy cane. Again, it&rsquo;s all about presentation. Decorate the jar with lovely labels, ribbons, and other crafty things, and your gift looks gorgeous and not at all cheap.</p> <h2>4. Regift!</h2> <p>Wince. I know, I know. Regifting seems kind of lame. But let&rsquo;s face it &mdash; we&rsquo;ve all done it. And if something that someone gave you happens to suit another friend better than it suits you, why not? It&rsquo;s the right thing to do. Just avoid regifting items that have been used, or regifting at a party where the original giver might be present. Now <em>that&rsquo;s</em> lame. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/regifting-a-simple-how-to-guide?ref=seealso">Guide to Regifting</a>)</p> <h2>5. Revamp the Traditional Gift Exchange</h2> <p>Instead of having a traditional gift exchange or Secret Santa, propose a White Elephant gift exchange. Everyone brings some junk that they don&rsquo;t want, and then you take turns swapping for the best stuff. You get to clean out your junk drawer and give a gift at the same time! One year, I hosted a holiday book exchange instead of a traditional gift exchange, where everyone brought a used book from their personal collection that they had read and liked. Again, we played a game of swap to see who could score the book he or she wanted. No purchase required!</p> <h2>6. Make Your Own Wrapping Paper and Cards</h2> <p>Wrapping paper can get expensive. Make your own by using brown paper bags and decorating them using potato stamps, stickers, ribbon, and bits of colored paper. Cut out the gift labels printed on Trader Joe&rsquo;s grocery bags. Use the comics section of the newspaper to wrap a gift. Plus you get brownie points for being eco-friendly and using recyclable and biodegradable materials. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cheap-handmade-and-green-wrapping-ideas?ref=seealso">10 Cheap Gift Wrapping Ideas</a>)</p> <p>For cards, download free printable holiday cards and gift tags from websites like <a href="http://howaboutorange.blogspot.com/search/label/downloads">HowAboutOrange</a>, or make your own, more personal cards with paper, markers, and other materials you have around the house. If you&#39;re particularly artsy, you can even bundle several handmade notecards together as a gift that the receiver can use throughout the year.</p> <h2>7. Make a Personal Photo Album</h2> <p>Collect photos of you and a friend, and make a photo album out of scrapbooking or construction paper. Across from every photo, write a cute personal message. Bind the pages together with yarn or ribbon. It may not cost much (or anything if you already have photos printed), but the time and effort you put into this gift makes it a unique and memorable one. For friends who live far away, you can give them a variation of this gift for free! Create a Word or Powerpoint file (or if you&#39;re more computer-savvy, a video slideshow) with photos and meaningful notes that you can email to your friends for them to print out.</p> <h2>8. Get Your Craft On</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;re crafty, you might be able to whip up a beanie or scarf from some leftover yarn (it&rsquo;s not hard &mdash; my husband crocheted me a beanie once!). Or use the fabric scraps in your cupboard to make coasters or a cute pillow or blanket. Make <a href="http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/la/how-to/how-to-quick-cute-and-simple-christmas-ornaments-162492http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/la/how-to/how-to-quick-cute-and-simple-christmas-ornaments-162492">ornaments </a>from scrap pieces of wood and craft paint (for example, we&#39;re renovating our house and we&#39;ve got plenty of perfectly good pieces of pine lying around). Makeover an old wood tray with paint or decoupage. Paint pretty designs on smooth rocks to make paperweights. Stick an orange full of cloves to make a clove-orange ornament. Take a good look at the raw materials you have in and around your home, and see if you can make something with them.</p> <h2>9. Give the Gift of Service</h2> <p>If you have a skill, consider offering a valuable service to a friend or relative. For instance, if you&rsquo;re handy around the house, offer to build bookshelves, paint a bedroom, or do some home repairs. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-remove-snow-and-save">Shovel the snow</a> for a week for a neighbor. If you&rsquo;re a good cook, offer to privately cater a romantic dinner for two. If you&rsquo;re a freelancer, offer a free family photo session, a free blog post promoting a friend&rsquo;s business, a free makeover, or a free design consultation. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-own-coupons-20-great-free-gift-ideas?ref=seealso">20 Great, Free Gifts</a>)</p> <h2>10. Donate Your Time</h2> <p>If you can&rsquo;t afford to spend money on gifts this year, consider donating your time instead. Suggest that instead of exchanging gifts, you and your family volunteer at a local soup kitchen, nursing home, or food bank, or cook a meal for a family in need. You&rsquo;ll capture the true meaning of the season &mdash; caring for others, which might just be the best gift you ever give yourself.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spend-almost-nothing-on-gifts-this-year">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buy-these-9-christmas-gifts-now-and-save">Buy These 9 Christmas Gifts Now and Save</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-fitness-gifts-for-15-or-less">20 Fitness Gifts for $15 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-holiday-budget-anyone-can-follow">The Simple Holiday Budget Anyone Can Follow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-rules-for-planning-your-most-affordable-christmas-ever">5 Rules for Planning Your Most Affordable Christmas Ever</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-holiday-debt-starting-now">How to Avoid Holiday Debt, Starting Now</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Shopping Christmas gifts frugal gifts homemade gifts Tue, 13 Dec 2011 11:24:11 +0000 Camilla Cheung 818389 at http://www.wisebread.com Wise Bread on Marketplace: Great Homemade Gifts http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-on-marketplace-great-homemade-gifts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wise-bread-on-marketplace-great-homemade-gifts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/giving_a_gift.jpg" alt="Woman giving a gift" title="Woman giving a gift" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I love homemade gifts...well, most of them. Around the winter holidays every year, there are always those people who seem to think that <em>anything</em> homemade makes a great gift &mdash; it's the thought that counts.</p> <p>I disagree with that. There are some darn awful homemade gifts out there &mdash; gifts that are poorly timed, tacky, or, more than anything, don't take what the giftee might actually like into account.</p> <p>Last week, I was thrilled to go on one of my favorite radio shows, <a href="http://www.marketplace.org/shows/marketplace-money">Marketplace Money</a>, and talk with host <a href="https://twitter.com/radiotess">Tess Vigeland</a> about tasteless homemade gifts and some great things to make and give instead. It was a lot of fun, and Tess is as awesome, friendly, and funny as she sounds.</p> <p>The show aired over the weekend, but you can still <a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/your-money/making-gifts-people-will">listen to the segment</a> and check out my recipes for <a href="http://www.marketplace.org/node/48522">fridge pickles and infused liquor</a> on the Marketplace website.</p> <p><em>Are you making gifts this year? What's the best homemade gift you've been given? The worst?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-on-marketplace-great-homemade-gifts">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-on-marketplace-a-frugal-valentines-day">Wise Bread on Marketplace: A Frugal Valentine&#039;s Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-on-marketplace-justifying-frugality">Wise Bread on Marketplace: Justifying Frugality</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wise-bread-on-marketplace-frugal-travel-that-isnt">Wise Bread on Marketplace: &quot;Frugal&quot; Travel That Isn&#039;t</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/join-our-tweetchat-on-thursday-921-12pm-pacific-for-a-chance-to-win-prizes">Join Our Tweetchat on Thursday 9/21, 12pm Pacific for a Chance to Win Prizes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/join-our-tweetchat-on-thursday-914-12pm-pacific-for-a-chance-to-win-prizes">Join Our Tweetchat on Thursday 9/14, 12pm Pacific for a Chance to Win Prizes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Announcements homemade gifts interview NPR Tue, 06 Dec 2011 00:25:48 +0000 Meg Favreau 815176 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Avoid Holiday Debt, Starting Now http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-holiday-debt-starting-now <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-avoid-holiday-debt-starting-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happy_holiday.jpg" alt="Happy family holiday photo" title="Happy family holiday photo" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="179" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As we head into the holiday season, there are some steps we can all take to help maximize our enjoyment of this special time of year while minimizing our financial pain.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to get swept up in all the hype and sentiments of the season, only to later <a href="http://www.mattaboutmoney.com/media/news-releases/">wish we had done the holidays differently</a> (see &ldquo;Holiday Regrets&rdquo;).</p> <p>After the decorations have been put away and the bills start arriving, many people wish they had spent less money on gifts, less time in stores shopping, and less money on themselves while shopping for gifts. They wish they had spent more time with family and friends and more time reflecting on the religious/spiritual significance of the holiday season. And they wish they had given more money to charity. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/giving-to-charity-is-great-but-how-do-you-pick-one">Giving to Charity Is Great. But How Do You Pick One?</a>)</p> <p>Since so many regrets center on money, here are three ways to do the whole holiday thing better this year.</p> <h2>Be Like Santa</h2> <p>Say what you will about jolly old Saint Nick (sure, he could stand to lose a few pounds), but one of his many good characteristics is that he&rsquo;s a list-maker. He even checks his lists twice.</p> <p>One of the best ways to avoid overspending this year is to make a gift list and use it to set a gift budget. You can download a simple <a href="http://www.mattaboutmoney.com/uploads/Gift-List.pdf">gift list form</a> (PDF) or make your own. Just write down who you plan to buy gifts for and set a budget. How much will you spend on each person? How much in total?</p> <p>Of course, set your gift budget at a level that you can afford without going into debt, and then stick to that budget. And there&rsquo;s the rub. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday shoppers are planning to spend an average of over $700 on gifts and other seasonal merchandise this year. That&rsquo;s far more than the amount most people can afford to spend on gifts for <em>all</em> occasions throughout the entire year!</p> <p>One way to stick to a reasonable gift budget is to&hellip;</p> <h2>Be Like Scrooge</h2> <p>Take a good look at your gift list and see if there&rsquo;s a person or two who you could approach with this radical idea &mdash; &ldquo;How about if we <em>don&rsquo;t </em>exchange gifts this year?&rdquo;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s not really about being Scrooge-like. It&rsquo;s about being sane-like.</p> <p>Besides, what people often value more than material gifts is the gift of time. Pick a date to get together for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth">potluck</a> meal at some point during the holidays. Or swap handmade gift certificates good for a certain amount of time helping each other with a chore or hobby at some other point in the year.</p> <p>Is your giftee a gardener? Give her a certificate good for two hours or gardening time. Sure, your shoveling and tilling will be helpful, but spending time together is the main point.</p> <p>There are probably people on your list who would welcome this idea. They&rsquo;d love to be relieved of the pressure to buy so many gifts, and taking you off their list will help.</p> <p>Then again, others <em>won&rsquo;t </em>welcome this idea. For them&hellip;</p> <h2>Be Yourself</h2> <p>When I look around our house, I see several items that people made for us as gifts. I remember who gave them to us, and I remember the occasion.</p> <p>Ask me what people <em>bought </em>for me last year, though, and I honestly can&rsquo;t remember most of the presents.</p> <p>Are you a woodworker? A sewer? A baker? Even a plate of cookies can be more meaningful to people than another sweater.</p> <p>While <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today">handmade gifts</a> may require more time than dashing off a quick online order, they&rsquo;re usually less expensive. And in terms of memory making, they have far greater staying power than store-bought gifts.</p> <p>I have a friend whose wife bakes pies each year during the holidays and distributes them to friends. They&rsquo;ve become legendary.</p> <p>Not only do recipients get a tasty homemade treat, but they get a nice (inexpensive) pie plate as well that creates warm lasting memories.</p> <p><em>What&rsquo;s been your experience with setting and sticking to a gift budget, agreeing with a friend not to swap gifts anymore, or making/receiving homemade gifts?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-holiday-debt-starting-now">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spend-almost-nothing-on-gifts-this-year">10 Gift Ideas That Cost Almost Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-rules-for-planning-your-most-affordable-christmas-ever">5 Rules for Planning Your Most Affordable Christmas Ever</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-holiday-budget-anyone-can-follow">The Simple Holiday Budget Anyone Can Follow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-you-can-do-right-now-for-a-frugal-holiday-season">9 Things You Can Do Right Now for a Frugal Holiday Season</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/december-deals-that-are-better-than-black-friday">December Deals That Are Better Than Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Shopping gift budget holiday shopping homemade gifts Mon, 24 Oct 2011 10:24:16 +0000 Matt Bell 757433 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways to Spend Black Friday at Home http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-spend-black-friday-at-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-to-spend-black-friday-at-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6873404457_6c07e4ce02_b.jpg" alt="couple at home" title="couple at home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I am not a Black Friday shopper. My dislike of large crowds generally trumps my love of good deals, unfortunately. Plus I couldn't bear for my mother to see me on the front of a newspaper as the poster child for shopping madness, trying to wrestle the last Barbie doll at Target away from some mother hopped up on turkey leftovers, adrenaline, and coffee. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-people-go-crazy-on-black-friday">Why People Go Crazy on Black Friday</a>)</p> <p>This is why I plan to not leave my house on Black Friday. If you're in the same boat (the boat that is anchored at home), there are still plenty of ways to spend Black Friday that will help you get an early start on the holidays.</p> <h2>Clean House</h2> <p>Winter gift-giving means you'll potentially have lots of new things coming in. Take the day to go through your closets and drawers and get rid of anything you don't use. You might find some re-giftable items, or at the very least a bag of things you can bring to Goodwill next week (don't forget to get a receipt so you can deduct it from your taxes!).</p> <h2>Start Crafting</h2> <p>While I love giving homemade gifts, I often leave myself too little time to make everything I want to. This year, my hope is to spend Black Friday knitting, sewing, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/for-delicious-cocktails-infuse-alcohol" title="For Delicious Cocktails, Infuse Alcohol">infusing alcohol</a>. Wise Bread's writers have plenty of other great homemade gift ideas as well, including <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-cool-diy-christmas-gifts-for-the-under-6-crowd" title="DIY Christmas Gifts for Young Kids">homemade gifts for young children</a>, gorgeous <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/diy-silk-flower-brooch" title="DIY Silk Flower Brooch">silk-flower brooches</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/twenty-five-things-to-do-with-old-jeans" title="25 Things to Do With old Jeans">25 things you can make from old jeans</a>.</p> <h2>Shop Online</h2> <p>Cyber Monday is all well and good, but that doesn't mean there aren't Black Friday deals to be had online. If you haven't already subscribed to our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bestdeals/today" title="Daily Deals Newsletter">daily deals newsletter</a>, do so now; we'll be sending out emails both Friday and Monday with deals for those days.</p> <h2>Exercise</h2> <p>Okay, this doesn't help you with your gift-giving, but it does help you get an immediate start on curbing the holiday weight gain so many of us complain about.</p> <h2>Make Cookies</h2> <p>The day after Thanksgiving might seem like a bad time to mix up some sweets, but if you make and freeze cookies, you're halfway to having your holiday baking done. Check out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-five-day-freeze-batch-cooking-for-the-rest-of-us" title="Batch Cooking for the Rest of Us">Linsey's article on batch cooking</a> for some more information about making and freezing big batches.</p> <h2>Rest</h2> <p>December can be a constant whirl of holiday parties, shopping excursions, and decorating-laden weekends. Take a day off!</p> <p><em>Are you avoiding the stores on Black Friday? If so, why?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-spend-black-friday-at-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-electronics-wipes">The 5 Best Electronics Wipes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-new-years-resolutions-your-pet-wants-you-to-make">4 New Year&#039;s Resolutions Your Pet Wants You to Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-home-buys-you-should-never-skimp-on">8 Home Buys You Should Never Skimp On</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-old-kitchen-tools-you-can-flip-for-cash">9 Old Kitchen Tools You Can Flip for Cash</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Shopping batch cooking black friday cleaning exercise homemade gifts Thu, 25 Nov 2010 14:00:07 +0000 Meg Favreau 331939 at http://www.wisebread.com Start Stockpiling Now: Four Cheap Christmas Gifts to Make http://www.wisebread.com/start-stockpiling-now-four-cheap-christmas-gifts-to-make <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/start-stockpiling-now-four-cheap-christmas-gifts-to-make" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000000837439XSmall.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Look out! Here come the holidays. Here are four of my favorite recipes that make welcomed gifts, but won&rsquo;t bust your budget.</p> <h2>Aunt Joyce&rsquo;s Five-Minute Fudge</h2> <p>Start stockpiling: chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, nuts, and sweetened, condensed milk. The beauty of this recipe is that it really only takes five minutes to set up. I make a few batches when I get close to Christmas so that I have it on hand, ready to go. It looks extra-sporty packed in layers inside a Chinese food take-out box, available at craft stores.</p> <ul> <li>1 12-oz package chocolate chips</li> <li>1 cup butterscotch chips</li> <li>1 14-oz can sweetened, condensed milk</li> <li>1 T. vanilla</li> <li>1 cup chopped nuts</li> </ul> <p><em>Stir and melt chips, milk, and vanilla in a heavy pan. When melted, add the nuts. Lightly spray an 8 x 8 pan with spray oil. Pour the fudge mixture into pan and place in refrigerator to set. Cut into squares when it has set up. Keep refrigerated.</em></p> <h2>Mom&rsquo;s &quot;Russian Tea&quot;</h2> <p>Stockpile: instant tea, Tang, sugar, and small jars.&nbsp;I have no idea about the origin of the name of this stuff and yes, I doubt its Russian authenticity.&nbsp; It looks sporty in a small jar with the directions on a label.</p> <ul> <li>1 two-ounce jar instant tea powder</li> <li>1 nine-ounce jar of Tang</li> <li>3/4 cup sugar</li> <li>1 tsp. cloves</li> <li>1 tsp. allspice</li> <li>1 tsp. cinnamon</li> </ul> <p><em>Add two teaspoons of mix to boiling water and stir.</em></p> <h2>Uncle Bill&rsquo;s Kahlua</h2> <p>This is another gift that gets people pretty excited. Start stockpiling: sugar, instant coffee, brandy and bottles.</p> <ul> <li>3 1/4 cups sugar</li> <li>1 vanilla bean, diced</li> <li>2 oz. instant coffee</li> <li>1 Fifth of Brandy</li> <li>3 cups boiling water</li> </ul> <p><em>Put vanilla bean in sterile bottle. Boil water, stir in coffee and sugar. Let cool and add brandy. Pour into bottle and cap tightly. Let set for thirty days. Strain and re-bottle in sterile bottle.</em></p> <h2>Chex Mix</h2> <p>I have never met a person who dislikes Chex Mix. It was something my mother made all the time in the 70s. A girlfriend once remarked that you could always find Chex Mix and Jell-o Squares at my house. Start stockpiling: Chex cereal, pretzels, and cans of mixed nuts. There are dozens of variations on the original, but I&rsquo;m a traditionalist. The recipe for the real McCoy (as well as variations sent in by other Chex lovers) is found at <a href="http://chex.com/Recipes/RecipeView.aspx?RecipeId=6709&amp;CategoryId=343">Chex</a>.</p> <p>Make sure you pack the cooled, finished product in airtight packages for maximum freshness. And remember, the secret to not blowing your budget here is to get whatever you can on sale &mdash; not only the ingredients, but the jars, bottles, boxes, etc.</p> <p>Readers, any family-tested inexpensive food gifts to share?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-stockpiling-now-four-cheap-christmas-gifts-to-make">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-no-bake-holiday-treats-that-wont-bust-your-budget">12 No-Bake Holiday Treats That Won&#039;t Bust Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-change-traditional-holiday-gift-giving">5 Reasons to Change Traditional Holiday Gift-Giving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-ready-for-christmas-7-things-you-should-do-today">Get Ready for Christmas: 7 Things You Should Do Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-holiday-budget-anyone-can-follow">The Simple Holiday Budget Anyone Can Follow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-savory-holiday-food-gifts">7 Savory Food Gifts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink cheap gift Christmas holiday gifts homemade gifts Fri, 13 Nov 2009 14:00:05 +0000 Marla Walters 3823 at http://www.wisebread.com Father's Day: What does Dad really want? http://www.wisebread.com/fathers-day-what-does-dad-really-want-4 <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/girlgivingflowertodad.jpg" alt="Girl Giving Flower to Dad" title="Girl Giving Flower to Dad" width="266" height="399" align="top" /> <p>Given that you, your father’s child, are physically healthy, emotionally stable, and reasonably educated (his top priorities), what does your dad really want besides a visit or call from you? </p> <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">He wants 1) to get you completely off his payroll and onto to some else’s and 2) to have you become financially savvy, able to made good decisions and recover quickly from the bad ones, and never, ever need another dollar from him (though he may take pleasure in giving you some cash).</p> <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">If you’re there, great! Just don’t spend too much on his Father’s Day gift or he will again start worrying about #2. </p> <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Need some practical ideas for not spending too much? </p> <p>Here’s what I’m considering 1) for my husband, my kids’ dad: A really inexpensive watch from my favorite mass merchant (a/k/a Kmart as there is a store near my office) so he won’t ruin his nice one when we go swimming or canoeing. 2) For my dad (who has everything he needs and enjoys formerly considered sinful now considered health food): dark chocolate; nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews); and red wine.</p> <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><a href="/jessica-okon" title="http://www.wisebread.com/jessica-okon">Jessica</a> has made a Target run recently, where she found picture frames and “practice” golf balls in the bargain section (also espadrilles there for the ladies). Her great gift buy though is a combo digital meat thermometer / grilling fork for less than $15.</p> <p>And <a href="/will-chen" title="http://www.wisebread.com/will-chen">Will</a> has some great ideas that are priceless and require time but very little cash:</p> <ul> <li>Set aside a whole day to teach him how to use every single gadget he never quite understood (or let him show you how to work your DVD player or navigate with a GPS)</li> <li>Write a list of things you&#39;ve learned from him on nice parchment paper, and then frame it so he can hang it in the garage. </li> <li>Do an interview with your father, <a href="http://www.storycorps.net/" target="_blank">Story Corps</a> style. Ask him about his dreams and aspirations as young man, his first crush, his first job, the first time he cried, etc. Tell him that you will save this interview and share it with his grandchildren.</li> </ul> <p>What’s on your list? </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fathers-day-what-does-dad-really-want-4">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-smart-reasons-to-last-minute-holiday-shop">9 Smart Reasons to Last-Minute Holiday Shop</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-buy-and-avoid-buying-in-december">What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in December</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-cool-diy-christmas-gifts-for-the-under-6-crowd">5 Cool DIY Christmas Gifts for the “Under 6” Crowd</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-smart-ways-to-save-on-fathers-day">3 Smart Ways to Save on Father&#039;s Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-homemade-liqueurs-to-bottle-now-for-tasty-holiday-gifts">10 Homemade Liqueurs to Bottle for Tasty Gifts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Father's Day gifts Homemade homemade gifts shopping Tue, 12 Jun 2007 19:56:05 +0000 Julie Rains 727 at http://www.wisebread.com