holiday gifts http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8253/all en-US Holiday Gifts: 6 Fun Games That Teach Money and Finance http://www.wisebread.com/holiday-gifts-6-fun-games-that-teach-money-and-finance <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/holiday-gifts-6-fun-games-that-teach-money-and-finance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/parents_playing_board_game_with_their_children.jpg" alt="Parents playing board game with their children" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I was growing up, some of my favorite holiday gifts were the board games my parents gave to me and my sister. Not only did receiving a board game ensure that we would be spending time together as a family, but I also loved how new games could teach me different ways of looking at the world, and managing money in particular.</p> <p>Consider gifting these board games to your kids to get them interested in investing, saving, and spending wisely. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-the-holidays-to-teach-kids-about-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use the Holidays to Teach Kids About Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. Acquire</h2> <p><strong>For 2-6 players, ages 12 and up</strong></p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2A1VBXb" target="_blank">Acquire</a> is based on the idea of creating a super city, wherein each player tries to invest strategically in various businesses, including entertainment, food, fashion, marketing, and other major industries. Throughout gameplay, the various &quot;venture capitalists&quot; compete to build the city and try to own the majority shares in the most lucrative businesses. You make money by forming, merging, expanding, and acquiring businesses, and by buying stock at the right time &mdash; which makes this game an excellent introduction to how investing works. Whoever has the most money at the end of the game wins.</p> <h2>2. Allowance</h2> <p><strong>For 2-4 players, ages 5-11</strong></p> <p>As players make their way around the <a href="http://amzn.to/2hW8I5x" target="_blank">Allowance</a> board, they can earn money by doing chores, starting their own businesses, earning interest on their savings accounts, and of course, by collecting their allowance each time they go &quot;home.&quot; On the other hand, players can also spend money at the mall, at garage sales, or simply by losing it out of their pockets. The first player to save up $20 wins the game. Allowance comes with realistic looking play money, and helps teach young children everything from how to make change and count out money to how to save their pennies. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fun-games-that-teach-your-kids-about-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Fun Games That Teach Your Kids About Money</a>)</p> <h2>3. Black Gold</h2> <p><strong>For 2-5 players, ages 13 and up</strong></p> <p>Imagine you are trying to make your fortune in the oil fields of Texas in 1922. That's the basis for the oil prospecting game <a href="http://amzn.to/2hW31Vi" target="_blank">Black Gold</a>, where between two and five prospectors compete by exploring the terrain for oil wells, surveying the possible sites, and building derricks. You can earn money by transporting your oil to one of three companies and earning the right to sell at auction. Game play includes bidding, bluffing, and strategizing &mdash; which can help your kids learn good negotiation skills while they try to glean the most wealth from their oil wells.</p> <h2>4. Pit</h2> <p><strong>For 3-8 players, ages 7 and up</strong></p> <p>This game, which was first introduced all the way back in 1904, helps to recreate the now (mostly) defunct open-outcry trading one used to find on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. <a href="http://amzn.to/2zuaeDC" target="_blank">Pit</a> is a card game wherein each player attempts to corner the market in a particular commodity. The winner of any particular hand is the first one to collect all of one commodity, and points are awarded based on the value of the cornered commodity. The overall winner is the first player to score 500 points. Not only will this game give you a chance to shout and wave your arms a la Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in <em>Trading Places</em>, but it will help you to better understand exactly how commodities traders do their jobs &mdash; even if it's mostly handled by computers these days.</p> <h2>5. Stockpile</h2> <p><strong>For 2-5 players, ages 13 and up</strong></p> <p>Helping your kids understand how the stock market works can be an uphill battle, until you break out this board game. With <a href="http://amzn.to/2jiVTyy" target="_blank">Stockpile</a>, each player is a stock market investor. The game helps make it clear that everyone knows a little something about the stock market, but no one knows everything. That means each player receives one piece of insider information, but there are plenty of unknowns facing each investor as well. You must consider multiple factors when buying or selling a stock, just as you would in real-world trading. Whoever has the most money at the end of the game wins, but everyone will certainly learn important investment strategy skills from this game.</p> <h2>6. Tin Goose</h2> <p><strong>For 3-5 players, ages 10 and up</strong></p> <p>In <a href="http://amzn.to/2hL4WYZ" target="_blank">Tin Goose</a>, it's the early days of commercial airlines, and each player is attempting to build a large, profitable airline. You are helped by the fact that planes are becoming safer and more fuel efficient over time. But even as your planes get better, you will also face more and more disastrous potential setbacks such as crashes, worker strikes, and spikes in oil prices. This game will help teach how to balance the emotions of greed and fear while strategizing how to build your business in competition with others.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fholiday-gifts-6-fun-games-that-teach-money-and-finance&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHoliday%2520Gifts_%25206%2520Fun%2520Games%2520That%2520Teach%2520Money%2520and%2520Finance.jpg&amp;description=Holiday%20Gifts%3A%206%20Fun%20Games%20That%20Teach%20Money%20and%20Finance"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Holiday%20Gifts_%206%20Fun%20Games%20That%20Teach%20Money%20and%20Finance.jpg" alt="Holiday Gifts: 6 Fun Games That Teach Money and Finance" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/holiday-gifts-6-fun-games-that-teach-money-and-finance">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-14"> <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-smart-financial-gifts-to-give-your-kids-this-year">6 Smart Financial Gifts to Give Your Kids This Year</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/9-frugal-gifts-for-the-person-who-needs-a-nap">9 Frugal Gifts for the Person Who Needs a Nap</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/teach-your-kids-about-money-with-their-holiday-gift-lists">Teach Your Kids About Money With Their Holiday Gift Lists</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/how-to-use-the-holidays-to-teach-kids-about-money">How to Use the Holidays to Teach Kids About Money</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/17-creative-no-mess-activities-for-kids-stuck-at-home">17 Creative, No-Mess Activities for Kids Stuck at Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Entertainment Family Christmas games games for kids gift guide gift ideas holiday gifts holiday shopping money games Thu, 30 Nov 2017 10:00:06 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2062574 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 No-Bake Holiday Treats That Won't Bust Your Budget http://www.wisebread.com/12-no-bake-holiday-treats-that-wont-bust-your-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-no-bake-holiday-treats-that-wont-bust-your-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-497005966.jpg" alt="enjoy these no-bake treats for the holidays" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Love holiday treats, but not crazy about baking? Same here. If making treats involves heating up an oven, my enthusiasm wanes considerably. Fortunately, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tempting-no-bake-desserts" target="_blank">&quot;no-bake&quot; treats</a> have become extremely popular, so we need not open a bag of flour or grease any cookie sheets.</p> <p>Let's not bust our holiday budgets, though, while making holiday treats. Watch for sales on these items to have on hand: Crisp rice cereal, chocolate chips, baking chocolate, nuts, liquors, coconut, and candies. I find that Walmart usually has a good center aisle section of these items with prices that are hard to beat. I also frequent Costco for chocolate chips and nuts. For gift-giving, it's helpful to choose one item to make; that way you can take advantage of bulk buying. Not sure where to start? Here are 12 ideas.</p> <h2>1. Chocolate Bark</h2> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3VOb14PG51w" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Chocolate-covered bark has become a popular gift around the holidays, and it's easy to see why. Turn your microwave into your new BFF. Here are several variations of super <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VOb14PG51w" target="_blank">easy-to-make barks</a> &mdash; from &quot;movie theater&quot; (including popcorn!) to almond, peanut butter-cup, and seasonal white chocolate craisin.</p> <h2>2. Peppermint Bark</h2> <p>Want more? Here is a <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/155827/milk-chocolate-peppermint-bark/" target="_blank">peppermint bark</a> that goes together quickly. Broken up and placed into cellophane bags, it looks festive and tastes terrific.</p> <h2>3. Kentucky Bourbon Balls</h2> <p>It just wouldn't be Christmas in our family without <a href="http://southernfood.about.com/od/bourbonballs/r/bl81212f.htm" target="_blank">bourbon balls</a>, which you can put together in no time.</p> <h2>4. Rum Balls</h2> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/D0VInZma6s4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Prefer rum to bourbon? If so, try these <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/9777/no-bake-rum-balls/" target="_blank">rum balls</a>. This funny lady shows <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0VInZma6s4" target="_blank">how to make both variations</a>.</p> <h2>5. Mint Chocolate Chip Pie</h2> <p>Mom used to make grasshopper pie for Christmas dessert, but her recipe took much longer than the 20 minutes for this <a href="http://dinnersdishesanddesserts.com/no-bake-mint-chocolate-chip-pie/" target="_blank">mint-chocolate chip pie</a>. So use the quick and easy method! I love the incorporation of the tiny Andes mints.</p> <h2>6. Eggnog Pie</h2> <p>There are two selling points for this <a href="http://www.southyourmouth.com/2014/11/eggnog-pie.html?m=1" target="_blank">eggnog pie</a> recipe. First, it just says &quot;holiday.&quot; It's not like we can drink eggnog all year long, so let's do while we can. Secondly, it makes <em>two</em> pies. You can mix this up, let it chill overnight, and in the morning, ta-daah, pies, ready for a party, potluck, or a really nice gift.</p> <h2>7. Chex Mix</h2> <p>Mom used to heat the oven to make this party favorite <a href="http://www.chex.com/recipes/original-chex-mix/" target="_blank">Chex Mix</a>, but now you can make it in your microwave. I like to add extra zip by adding oregano, curry powder, or a few red chili flakes.</p> <h2>8. Spiced Nuts</h2> <p>These <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/spiced-nuts-recipe2.html" target="_blank">spiced nuts</a> are perfect for cocktail-party nibbling, but also make really terrific gift when packaged in clear, airtight bags. Best of all, you can make them in about 20 minutes.</p> <h2>9. Date Balls</h2> <p>These little <a href="http://www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/recipes/no-bake-coconut-and-date-balls-2934" target="_blank">date balls</a> aren't exclusively a holiday snack, but with their coconut coating, they look like tiny snowballs. And with only two ingredients, they can be whipped up in a snap.</p> <h2>10. Coconut Cranberry Energy Bites</h2> <p>Not to be outdone, though, are these delicious <a href="http://lifemadesweeter.com/2016/01/no-bake-cranberry-coconut-energy-bites/" target="_blank">coconut cranberry energy bites</a>, made with Christmas-y cranberries.</p> <h2>11. Rice Krispie Pops</h2> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uyWhWq9WOUA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>The holidays are a fun time to make treats with kids, but that doesn't have to mean turning on the oven. I love these <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyWhWq9WOUA" target="_blank">Rice Krispie pops</a>. To melt chocolate easily, put chips into a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 60 seconds. Stir. If that doesn't do it, give it another 30 seconds, and stir again.</p> <h2>12. Reindeer Pops</h2> <p>If these <a href="http://www.shesaved.com/2015/12/rice-krispie-reindeer-treats.html/" target="_blank">reindeer Rice Krispie pops</a> aren't the cutest darn things, well, I give up. Need <a href="http://amzn.to/2hHBTDA" target="_blank">candy eyeballs</a>? Got you covered.</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/12-no-bake-holiday-treats-that-wont-bust-your-budget">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/flashback-friday-80-holiday-treats-that-wont-bust-your-budget">Flashback Friday: 80 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/start-stockpiling-now-four-cheap-christmas-gifts-to-make">Start Stockpiling Now: Four Cheap Christmas Gifts 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/holiday-gifts-6-fun-games-that-teach-money-and-finance">Holiday Gifts: 6 Fun Games That Teach Money and Finance</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-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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/eight-natural-ways-to-make-water-more-flavorful">Eight Natural Ways to Make Water More Flavorful</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Food and Drink Christmas christmas food holiday gifts holiday snacks holiday treats no-bake desserts no-bake snacks Thu, 15 Dec 2016 11:00:09 +0000 Marla Walters 1854678 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: How Do You Save Money on Holiday Gifts? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-money-on-holiday-gifts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-money-on-holiday-gifts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_holiday_shopping-590045896.jpg" alt="Couple saving money on holiday gifts" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-money-on-holiday-gifts#comment-802624">Laurajj</a>, Chong, and Lisa for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>Gift-giving is a big part of the holiday season, but it can be a big headache if you're on a tight budget. That's why many frugal families are shaking up this tradition by giving homemade gifts, limiting the number of gifts that go around, agreeing to a max price on gifts, and taking other cost-cutting measures.</p> <p><strong>How do you save money on holiday gifts?</strong> Do you have an agreement with other members of your family regarding gifts? Have you purchases (or made) all the gifts that you will be giving this year?</p> <p>Tell us how you save money on holiday gifts and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; here's how you can win!</p> <h3>Mandatory Entry:</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</li> </ul> <h3>For Extra Entries:</h3> <ul> <li>You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:</li> </ul> <p><a class="rcptr" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79857dfa275/" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="79857dfa275" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_ld7vpugn">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a> </p> <script src="https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js"></script></p> <p>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on Flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, December 19th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after December 19th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You must be 18 and U.S. resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us how you save money on holiday gifts and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-money-on-holiday-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-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/ask-the-readers-do-you-return-gifts-chance-to-win-10">Ask the Readers: Do you Return Gifts? (Chance to Win $10!)</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/ask-the-readers-budgets-are-they-hot-or-not-your-chance-to-win-10">Ask the Readers: Budgets - Are They &quot;Hot&quot; or Not? (Your Chance to Win $10!)</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/ask-the-readers-200-giveaway-what-does-corporate-social-responsibility-mean-to-you">Ask the Readers $200 Giveaway: What Does Corporate Social Responsibility Mean to You?</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/ask-the-readers-what-is-your-new-years-resolution">Ask the Readers: What Is Your New Year&#039;s Resolution?</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/ask-the-readers-how-did-you-spend-your-first-paycheck">Ask the Readers: How Did You Spend Your First Paycheck?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Giveaways Ask the Readers holiday gifts Tue, 13 Dec 2016 11:00:06 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1850497 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: How Do You Save on Holiday Gifts? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-on-holiday-gifts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-on-holiday-gifts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_christmas_shopping_000075728955.jpg" alt="Woman finding great ways to save on holiday gifts" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-on-holiday-gifts#comment-786243">Jessica</a>, Kimberly, and Elena for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>Giving gifts is a big part of the holiday season &mdash; and it's easy to break your budget on this part of the festivities if you aren't careful. A few ways to save money here is to DIY gifts, re-gift nice items, or skip this tradition altogether.</p> <p><strong>How do you save money on holiday gifts?</strong> Do you have rules on gift-giving with your friends or family? What was the best frugal gift you have ever given?</p> <p>Tell us how you save money on holiday gifts and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; here's how you can win!</p> <h3>Mandatory Entry:</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</li> </ul> <h3>For Extra Entries:</h3> <ul> <li>You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:</li> </ul> <p><a id="rcwidget_lrc6ttjt" data-template="" data-theme="classic" data-raflid="79857dfa220" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79857dfa220/" class="rcptr">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a> </p> <script src="//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js"></script></p> <p>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, December 7th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after December 7th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us how you save money on holiday gifts and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-on-holiday-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-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/ask-the-readers-do-you-return-gifts-chance-to-win-10">Ask the Readers: Do you Return Gifts? (Chance to Win $10!)</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/ask-the-readers-budgets-are-they-hot-or-not-your-chance-to-win-10">Ask the Readers: Budgets - Are They &quot;Hot&quot; or Not? (Your Chance to Win $10!)</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/ask-the-readers-200-giveaway-what-does-corporate-social-responsibility-mean-to-you">Ask the Readers $200 Giveaway: What Does Corporate Social Responsibility Mean to You?</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/ask-the-readers-what-is-your-new-years-resolution">Ask the Readers: What Is Your New Year&#039;s Resolution?</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/ask-the-readers-how-did-you-spend-your-first-paycheck">Ask the Readers: How Did You Spend Your First Paycheck?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Giveaways Ask the Readers holiday gifts Tue, 01 Dec 2015 16:00:31 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1616756 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Christmas Gifts You're Better Off Returning http://www.wisebread.com/10-christmas-gifts-youre-better-off-returning <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-christmas-gifts-youre-better-off-returning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000062663562_XXXLarge.jpg" alt="opening bad present" title="opening bad present" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We can't all have the gift giving foresight of Kris Kringle. Luckily, most retailers have a return policy to keep us from actually having to wear that itchy wool sweater from Aunt Sue. Last year, the average person&nbsp;<a href="https://nrf.com/news/top-tips-happy-holiday-returns">returned four holiday gifts</a>, according to The National Retail Federation's Holiday Returns Survey. And while it's common sense to return the gifts we hate, there are several less-obvious reasons why we might consider bringing a present back to the store.</p> <p>Read on for our list of the top gifts you should return this holiday season, and why.</p> <h2>1. Smartphones</h2> <p>They're sleek and they're handy &mdash; and they're the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnet.com/news/why-a-smartphone-might-not-be-the-smartest-holiday-gift-choice/">gift that keeps on costing</a>. In the lead-up to Christmas, wireless carriers often slash the prices on the hottest mobile phone models, making them great bang-for-your-buck gifts for Christmas present shoppers. Target, for example, was hawking the Samsung Galaxy 5s on Thanksgiving weekend&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wwmt.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/Taking-a-deeper-look-at-Black-Friday-deals-around-Kalamazoo-60177.shtml">for a penny</a>. That's all well and good for the gift-giver, but it does nothing to help out the recipient, who will be stuck paying the service bill for that shiny new device. The phone itself may have cost a penny, but the service bill won't. In fact, monthly service charges can add up to&nbsp;<a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2014/07/03/5-low-cost-alternatives-to-your-pricey-cellphone-plan">more than $3,000</a>&nbsp;over two years, which is the typical amount of time that the smartphone recipient would be locked in to a new wireless service contract.</p> <h2>2. Clothes That Don't Fit Your Taste or Shape</h2> <p>Apparel is the number one&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/worst-christmas-gift-ideas-what-presents-are-returned-after-holidays-387000">most returned Christmas gift</a>, and here's why: When we don't like what we wear, it tends to hog our focus, stealing away our energy from other things in our lives, such as career, family, and relationships, that are more important. And with so many variations in style, color, and size, it's nearly impossible to buy clothing for another person. Be it a sweater or a pair of socks, follow this rule of thumb: If you don't like it, bring it back.</p> <h2>3. The Snuggie</h2> <p>Once people started to realize that the Snuggie is merely an unattractive throw with sleeves, the wearable blanket trend went out the window &mdash; and that was years ago. If you get a Snuggie this Christmas, do us all a favor and return it. There are plenty of ways to keep warm without invoking a hospital gown.</p> <h2>4. Home Goods That Aren't Quite Right</h2> <p>The thing about gifting someone a blender or a lampshade or an area rug is that most people have a very specific idea about what kind of kitchen tools and lighting accessories and carpeting they want to outfit their home with. So if you gift them the Vitamix 300 instead of the 500 model they actually wanted, chances are they'll return it. In fact, 11% of gift recipients plan on&nbsp;returning home goods&nbsp;this Christmas. That's why you shouldn't hesitate to step right up to the returns counter if a home good you received isn't quite right.</p> <h2>5. Perfume and Cologne</h2> <p>There's about $1.50 worth of ingredients in the average bottle of perfume, yet the typical price tag is $150 &mdash; less than&nbsp;1% of the retail cost. Think about that the next time you receive a bottle you're less than thrilled about.</p> <h2>6. Skis, Skates, and Snowshoes</h2> <p>If you're a newbie to a winter sport, getting the gear to match is probably a poor investment. There's no reason to own a set of skis, for example, until you've figured out whether it's an activity you actually enjoy. And it doesn't do anybody good to have barely used winter sporting equipment laying around in the attic for years to come. So unless you know you're going to make use of those speed skates, take them back to the store and stick to rentals.</p> <h2>7. Self-Help Books</h2> <p>Self-help books tend to state the obvious, oversimplify, and contain more fluff than helpful, meaty nuggets. &quot;Their recommendations are often out of touch with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/how-do-life/201406/stop-the-self-help-books-already">what works in the real world</a>,&quot; says Marty Nemko, a career and personal coach who claims to have scanned, skimmed, or read thousands of them. So if you're looking to make gains in your personal or career life, it's probably best to ditch the manuals and ask real-life experts or experienced professionals for guidance instead.</p> <h2>8. Makeup</h2> <p>It's difficult to know what makeup will compliment your style and skin tone until you try it. So it stands to reason that it's doubly hard to buy lipstick or blush for somebody else. Luckily, most cosmetics counters accept timely returns. &quot;You shouldn't ever feel guilty about a return,&quot; New York City makeup artist Raychel Wade, who got her start working behind makeup counters, tells Woman's Day. &quot;It's hard to know&nbsp;<a href="http://www.womansday.com/style-beauty/beauty-tips-products/makeup-counter-clerks-wont-tell-you">how your skin will react</a> or if you'll still like a color when you get home.&quot;</p> <h2>9. Candles, Soaps, and Lotions</h2> <p>It's true that just about everyone likes, or at least uses, candles, soaps, and lotions. It's also likely true that you already have enough of them. So long as they're unopened, you should be able to return them &mdash; and that's a much better option than giving them space in your bathroom junk drawer.</p> <h2>10. Exercise Equipment</h2> <p>In January and February, when everyone's trying to keep their fitness resolutions, retailers tend to mark down treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and the like. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, however, these items are typically priced at their highest. You can cash in on this pricing trend by returning exercise equipment purchased in December and repurchasing it again a few weeks later when the prices come down. You'll still get that brand new elliptical &mdash; plus a little extra cash in your pocket.</p> <p><em>What gifts have you returned?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-christmas-gifts-youre-better-off-returning">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-5"> <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-holiday-gifts-to-give-the-neighbor-you-like">9 Gifts to Give the Neighbor You Like</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-great-gifts-for-5-or-less">25 Great Gifts for $5 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/holiday-gift-giving-for-the-truly-broke">14 Gift Ideas for the Truly Broke</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/20-gifts-for-the-guy-who-has-everything">20 Gifts for the Guy Who Has Everything</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/holiday-gifts-for-your-co-workers">20 Gift Ideas for Your Co-Workers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping extra cash gift return gifts holiday gifts product reviews Mon, 29 Dec 2014 18:00:12 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1272763 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: How Do You Save During the Holidays? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-during-the-holidays <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-during-the-holidays" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/gifts-86529136.jpg" alt="gifts" title="gifts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-during-the-holidays#comment-725429">Linda</a>, Ryan, and Carissa for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>The holiday season is one of the most expensive times of the year, what with millions of people spending extra on food, decor, travel, and gifts. For the budget-conscious, it takes strategic planning and prioritizing to keep costs low.</p> <p><strong>How do you save during the holidays?</strong> Have you changed any part of your festivities to make it more frugal? What is your biggest holiday budgeting challenge this year?</p> <p>Tell us how you save during the holidays and we&#39;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We&#39;re doing three giveaways &mdash; here&#39;s how you can win!</p> <h3>Mandatory Entry:</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</li> </ul> <h3>For extra entries:</h3> <ul> <li>You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:</li> </ul> <p><a class="rafl" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79857d64/" id="rc-79857d64" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a></p> <script src="//d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js"></script></p> <p><strong>If you&#39;re inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</strong></p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, December 2nd at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after December 2nd on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us how you save during the holidays and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-during-the-holidays">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/ask-the-readers-do-you-return-gifts-chance-to-win-10">Ask the Readers: Do you Return Gifts? (Chance to Win $10!)</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/ask-the-readers-budgets-are-they-hot-or-not-your-chance-to-win-10">Ask the Readers: Budgets - Are They &quot;Hot&quot; or Not? (Your Chance to Win $10!)</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/ask-the-readers-200-giveaway-what-does-corporate-social-responsibility-mean-to-you">Ask the Readers $200 Giveaway: What Does Corporate Social Responsibility Mean to You?</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/ask-the-readers-what-is-your-new-years-resolution">Ask the Readers: What Is Your New Year&#039;s Resolution?</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/ask-the-readers-how-did-you-spend-your-first-paycheck">Ask the Readers: How Did You Spend Your First Paycheck?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Giveaways Ask the Readers holiday gifts Tue, 26 Nov 2013 11:36:07 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1098737 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Gifts to Give the Neighbor You Like http://www.wisebread.com/9-holiday-gifts-to-give-the-neighbor-you-like <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-holiday-gifts-to-give-the-neighbor-you-like" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends-dv056085d.jpg" alt="friends toasting" title="friends toasting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Finding gifts for neighbors is notoriously difficult. First, you have to decide if you're giving neighbors a gift. If so, which neighbors will you give a gift to? Then you have to decide what to get them. I can't help you decide the first two questions &mdash; those are personal to you. But if you're looking for gift ideas, here are some of my favorite gifts for neighbors. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today?ref=seealso">25 Gifts You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <h2>Hot Cocoa and Mugs</h2> <p>Nothing says winter like sipping hot cocoa in front of the fireplace. Pick out two festive mugs and pair them with your favorite hot chocolate. If you really like your neighbor, splurge on some <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000GH6UQ/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0000GH6UQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">Mexican hot chocolate</a> or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CREXWSO/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00CREXWSO&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">European sipping chocolate</a>. If your neighbors aren't big hot cocoa drinkers, you can substitute coffee or tea for hot cocoa.</p> <h2>Cookie Mix in a Mason Jar</h2> <p>If a handmade gift is more your style &mdash; or you're low on cash &mdash; cookie mix in a mason jar is a budget gift option that still says &quot;thoughtful.&quot; Simply layer the ingredients in a jar, then add a ribbon and a note, and you have a creative, attractive, and delicious gift. <a href="http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Gingerbread-Cookie-Mix-in-a-Jar">Gingerbread cookies in a jar</a> add a seasonal flair, but <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/julias-best-ever-chocolate-chip-cookies-in-a-jar/">chocolate chip cookies</a> are the classic choice. You can buy 12 mason <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004YVOS0Y/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004YVOS0Y&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">jars for $10 on Amazon</a>. (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>Houseplant</h2> <p>When the leaves have fallen from the trees and snow covers the ground, a pretty houseplant can add a splash of life to an otherwise dreary winter backdrop. A poinsettia is a popular holiday choice, but you can also opt for plant that will last through the winter, like a ficus or an orchid, or a plant <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-cheap-plants-for-improving-indoor-air-quality">that's especially good at improving indoor air quality</a>.</p> <h2>Gift Certificates to a Local Restaurant</h2> <p>If you know your neighbor likes to dine out and you have some cash to spend, a gift certificate to their favorite local restaurant is a great gift. <a href="http://www.kqzyfj.com/click-2822544-5674461">Restaurant.com</a> always has great deals on dining certificates (though theirs usually come with restrictions and other terms).</p> <h2>Bottle of Wine</h2> <p>A decent bottle of wine is a stalwart option in the holiday gift lineup. Pick a bottle with a festive label and tie a ribbon around it for a gift that is sure to please your favorite neighbor. And you don't have to spend a fortune &mdash; you can <a href="http://www.foodandwine.com/150-best-15-dollar-and-under-wines">get recommendations on good wines under $15</a>.</p> <h2>Date Night Gift Pack</h2> <p>If you're friends with your neighbors and they have young kids (and you like said kids), one of the best gifts you can give them is a couple of hours of free babysitting. Your neighbors get to go on a date, you get to spend a couple hours playing with their kids. Trust me, as a parent of a two-year-old, I would love this gift even more than cookies or wine.</p> <h2>Kindle Gift Card</h2> <p>There's something about winter that makes curling up with a good book very appealing. If you don't know your neighbor's taste in books well enough to pick one out, but know he loves to read, a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;docId=1000645851&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">Kindle gift card</a> is the perfect gift.</p> <h2>Scarf</h2> <p>If you're a knitter, consider making your favorite neighbor a scarf. Unlike consumable gifts, a scarf will last forever and remind your neighbors of your generosity for a long time to come. A scarf is the perfect knitwear for a gift because, unlike with a hat or mittens, you can approximate size and be confident it will fit. If knitting isn't your thing, <a href="https://www.etsy.com/search/handmade/knitting/scarf?q=scarf&amp;order=most_relevant&amp;view_type=gallery&amp;ship_to=US&amp;min=&amp;max=29">there are hundreds of scarves on Etsy for under $30</a>.</p> <h2>Homebrew</h2> <p>If you happen to brew your own beer (or have a friend who will let you borrow her equipment), homebrew is a personal, inexpensive gift for your neighbors. Depending on which <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001BCFUBU/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001BCFUBU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=holidaygiftg-20">beer kit you buy</a>, the price ends up being about $0.50/bottle, or $3.00 for a six pack. Name your brew and design your own labels for a memorable gift. I gave my neighbors homebrew one year &mdash; complete with a label featuring my dogs &mdash; <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/homebrewed-beer-make-your-own-and-save-money">and it was a big hit</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-homemade-liqueurs-to-bottle-now-for-tasty-holiday-gifts?ref=seealso">10 Homemade Liqueurs to Bottle for Tasty Gifts</a>)</p> <p><em>What have you given to (or received from) neighbors?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/elizabeth-lang">Elizabeth Lang</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-holiday-gifts-to-give-the-neighbor-you-like">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/holiday-gifts-for-your-co-workers">20 Gift Ideas for Your Co-Workers</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/10-holiday-stocking-stuffers-for-techies">10 Holiday Stocking Stuffers for Techies</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/10-great-gift-ideas-for-geeky-fanboys-and-fangirls">10 Great Gift Ideas for Geeky Fanboys and Fangirls</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-gift-ideas-for-crafters">12 Gift Ideas for Crafters</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/ultimate-gift-guide-thoughtful-ideas-for-every-list-and-every-budget">Ultimate Gift Guide: Thoughtful Ideas for Every List and Every Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping Buying Guides buying guide gifts holiday gift guide holiday gifts neighbors product reviews Fri, 22 Nov 2013 11:24:05 +0000 Elizabeth Lang 1098645 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Delicious Gifts You Can Bake http://www.wisebread.com/15-unique-holiday-gifts-you-can-bake <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-unique-holiday-gifts-you-can-bake" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/baking-2751387-small.jpg" alt="baking" title="baking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Baking is one of those things most people look forward to around the holidays &mdash; the cookies, the cakes, the breads &mdash; oh my! They're fun to make, and they're some of the best, most frugal, oh-so-thoughtful gifts you can give. The problem is deciding <em>what</em> to bake, because while most people love getting baked goods as a gift, they tend to get pretty inundated with cookies and sweets, often more than they can (or ... um ... <em>should</em>) eat. So, I dug out some delicious recipes that are both a little out-of-ordinary, and have a longer shelf life so that your friends and family can enjoy them right into the New Year. Here are 15 beautiful, homemade gifts you can bake, including simple, savory, sweet, and distinctly seasonal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-savory-holiday-food-gifts?ref=seealso">7 Savory Food Gifts</a>)</p> <h2>Simple (Non) Baking</h2> <p><img style="line-height: 1.6em; opacity: 0.9; width: 605px; height: 303px;" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/holbake-131545039-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Sometimes the best way to gift fresh baking is to leave the baking to the recipient. The holidays are so busy and so filled with gatherings and food, it can be nice to give something that'll be fresh and fragrant when whoever you're giving it to has some time to really enjoy it ... which, let's face it, probably won't be until January. Here are a few simple ideas.</p> <h3>1. Scone Mix</h3> <p>Scones are delicious and simple to make, but they're best straight out of the oven (with lots and lots of butter!). You can choose any scone recipe you like; just combine the dry ingredients in a jar and include a label with instructions on how to complete the recipe. This <a href="http://www.yummymummykitchen.com/2011/12/cherry-oat-scone-mix-homemade-gift-with.html">cherry oat scone recipe</a> is super simple &mdash; and even includes a printable label for your jar. Remember, presentation is everything!</p> <h3>2. Muffin Mix</h3> <p>Muffins are easy enough to make from scratch, but many people still buy muffin mix. The homemade ones are so much better, and a simple muffin mix makes a great gift for beginner bakers. This <a href="http://www.positivelysplendid.com/2012/11/cinnamon-spice-muffin-mix-free-printable.html">cinnamon spice muffin mix recipe</a> has just the right holiday flavors. Include some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/go-tea-go-the-10-best-online-tea-merchants">gourmet tea</a> or coffee for a perfect breakfast treat.</p> <h3>3. Frozen Bread Dough</h3> <p>If you enjoy making fresh bread, chances are just about anyone on your list will enjoy receiving it. If you deliver an unbaked loaf, you'll also be giving the gift of the <em>smell</em> of fresh-baked bread, which is almost as good as the taste. Here are instructions on how to <a href="http://breadbaking.about.com/od/beginnerbasics/ht/freezedough.htm">freeze and thaw bread dough</a>. Once you've got that down, you can make just about anything, from a <a href="http://www.aperturesandappetizers.com/basic-soft-white-sandwich-loaf/">simple white sandwich</a> bread, to these <a href="http://flourarrangements.org/2013/10/pumpkin-dinner-rolls/">adorable pumpkin dinner rolls</a> to <a href="http://thebatterthickens.blogspot.ca/2013/09/giant-cinnamon-rolls.html">cinnamon buns</a>.</p> <h2>Sweet Baking</h2> <p><img style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/holbake-160237202-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>When you think holiday baking your probably think Christmas cookies. No one turns those down, but there are so many other options. Here are a few of my favorites.</p> <h3>4. Poppycock</h3> <p>Every year, my mom makes a sweet, sticky, nut-studded popcorn mix called <a href="http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/appetizers-and-snacks/poppycock-2/">poppycock</a>. No, I have no idea why it's called that, but it's delicious. There are many many variations of sweet popcorn. When packaged in a sealed bag or container, it keeps well for several weeks. I like this <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/355397/caramel-almond-popcorn?czone=holiday%2Fsantas-workshop%2Fsantas-handmade-gifts&amp;gallery=274972&amp;slide=355397&amp;center=307035">caramel almond version</a>.</p> <h3>5. Granola</h3> <p>Homemade granola makes a great gift. It's healthy, it's delicious, and it tastes way better than anything you'd get in the store. Plus, you can load in as many nuts, raisins, and other goodies as you want. This <a href="http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2012/12/homemade-holiday-granola-recipes-plus-5.html">holiday granola recipe</a> has all the right spices, and is beautifully packaged with a cinnamon stick. You could also whip up some <a href="http://sweet-treats-baking.blogspot.ca/2013/10/copycat-kind-bars-gf.html">homemade granola bars</a>. They make a great, healthy treat for both kids and adults.</p> <h3>6. Mini Bundt Cakes</h3> <p>Bundt cakes are simple, delicious, and, because they're very moist, don't go stale as quickly as other cakes. That's especially true if you prick them with a fork and soak them with rum, brandy or some other liqueur of your choice. (You should totally do that, by the way.) Mini bundts are also cute and portion-controlled, which people seem to like. There are so many bundt recipes it's hard to know where to start, but I like the holiday flavor of these <a href="http://kirantarun.com/food/2013/10/18/plum-tea-cakes/">plum bundt cakes</a>. You could also try <a href="http://lifescoops.blogspot.ca/2013/09/cranberry-orange-mini-bundt-cakes-or.html">cranberry orange</a>. If you're really having trouble deciding, go with <a href="http://www.thisgalcooks.com/2013/10/02/mini-chocolate-bundt-cakes-coffee-glaze/">chocolate</a>. Everyone likes chocolate.</p> <h3>7. Truffles</h3> <p>Truffles are sweet, delicious, adorable, and relatively easy to make. Plus, they always look amazing in a holiday candy box of some sort. You could try these unique <a href="http://www.traceysculinaryadventures.com/2013/10/pumpkin-spice-truffles.html#.UmqxjPmminp">pumpkin spice truffles</a>, <a href="http://www.incrediblyedible.org/2013/10/cacao-seed-truffles.html">healthy, date-sweetened truffles</a>, <a href="http://dajana-bakerscorner.blogspot.it/2013/09/white-chocolate-strawberry-truffles.html">white chocolate strawberry truffles</a> or, you know, <a href="http://talentadongchef.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/classic-chocolate-truffles/">go with chocolate</a>.</p> <h3>8. Biscotti</h3> <p>Biscotti were originally designed by the Romans as a portable, non-perishable food that could be carried by travelers. Recent recipes have gotten a lot more flavorful than those little rock cakes, but the results still keep well. Try this recipe for <a href="http://www.sweetsonian.com/2013/09/guest-post-chai-tea-biscotti/">chai tea biscotti</a>. Or, keep the flavors simple with this <a href="http://www.lemonsforlulu.com/2013/09/08/maple-glazed-biscotti/">vanilla white chocolate version</a>. And don't forget about <a href="http://mamasgottabake.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/chocolate-biscotti/">chocolate</a>.</p> <h2>Savory Snacks</h2> <p><img style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/holbake-173313060-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Christmas tends to revolve around sweet things, but it's definitely possible to have too much of a good thing here. Plus, not everyone likes sweets. Here are a few savory options to try.</p> <h3>9. Crackers</h3> <p>Cheese platters and dip trays are common at Christmas, so why not give out homemade crackers? This <a href="http://www.countryliving.com/recipefinder/savory-crackers-recipe-clv1212">savory cracker sampler recipe</a> provides a base recipe you can split into four different cracker varieties, which makes baking them simple. It'll also make you look like a super-star.</p> <h3>10. Breadsticks</h3> <p>Everyone loves breadsticks, especially if they come with a delicious, homemade dip. These slender Italian &quot;<a href="http://www.jocooks.com/bakery/breads/bread-sticks-grissini/">grissini</a>&quot; make a beautiful and unique gift. They're also pretty easy to make, especially if you whip up the dough in your bread machine.</p> <h3>11. Snack Mix</h3> <p>You can call it Chex mix if you want, but it's tastier when you make your own. You also get creative license. Try this <a href="http://spicysouthernkitchen.com/spicy-snack-mix/">spicy snack mix recipe,</a> or mix things up by substituting your favorite cereals, nuts, and flavors.</p> <h2>Seasonal Show-Stoppers</h2> <p><img style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/holbake-166669383-ggnoads.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Some gifts just scream Christmas, which is exactly what makes them so lovable. Here are a few of my favorites.</p> <h3>12. Christmas Ornament Cookies</h3> <p>Yes, you can make Christmas cookies that look like ornaments, and even hang them right on the tree. That's assuming you don't have kids. Or a dog. At any rate, <a href="http://www.mysweetandsaucy.com/2008/12/christmas-decorated-sugar-cookies/">this simple sugar cookie recipe</a> includes lots of photos of beautifully decorated cookies. Mine tend to be more ... uh ... <em>rustic</em>. I'll try not to hate you if yours are perfect.</p> <h3>13. Sugar Button Cookies</h3> <p>These <a href="http://www.countryliving.com/recipefinder/sugar-cookie-buttons-recipe-clv1212">simple, button-shaped sugar cookies</a> can be stacked and threaded together by running a ribbon through their button-holes. They're sweet and cute as a, well, you know.</p> <h3>14. Fruitcake</h3> <p>Nothing signals the start of the holidays like the appearance of fruitcake ... or fruitcake bashing. But honestly, I don't know where all those hard feelings come from; homemade fruitcake tastes like holiday heaven. I like a <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/christmas-fruitcake/">classic fruitcake recipe</a> with plenty of candied fruits and spices. If that isn't your thing, try a <a href="http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/White-Fruit-Cake/">white fruit cake</a>. It's a lot lighter, which might appeal to those who can't stomach a denser brick. I even found a recipe for a <a href="http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2009/10/29/fruitcake-yes-fruitcake-%E2%80%93-get-over-it-this-is-good-fruitcake/">unique fruitcake</a> that uses banana and dried fruits. It's specifically for those who don't like fruitcake. Give it a try!</p> <h3>15. Dough Ornaments</h3> <p>Here's one gift you can bake that your recipients <em>can't</em> eat. And sometimes during the holidays, that isn't such a bad thing. This <a href="http://spoonful.com/crafts/salt-dough-ornaments">salt dough recipe</a> allows you to bake your own Christmas ornaments. If you put these together well and then paint and glaze them, they can last for years.</p> <p><em>Do you have a few home-baked gifts of your own? Share your favorite recipes in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-unique-holiday-gifts-you-can-bake">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-4"> <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-holiday-gifts-to-give-the-neighbor-you-like">9 Gifts to Give the Neighbor You Like</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/15-great-diy-gifts-for-geeks">15 Great DIY Gifts for Geeks</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/cheers-to-the-holidays-10-affordable-wines-perfect-for-the-season">Cheers to the Holidays: 10 Affordable Wines Perfect for the Season</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/ultimate-gift-guide-thoughtful-ideas-for-every-list-and-every-budget">Ultimate Gift Guide: Thoughtful Ideas for Every List and Every Budget</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/holiday-gifts-for-your-co-workers">20 Gift Ideas for Your Co-Workers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Food and Drink buying guide gifts holiday baking holiday gift guide holiday gifts Mon, 18 Nov 2013 10:48:06 +0000 Tara Struyk 1096694 at http://www.wisebread.com Better Than Barbie: 5 Free Toys Kids Will Love http://www.wisebread.com/better-than-barbie-5-free-toys-kids-will-love <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/better-than-barbie-5-free-toys-kids-will-love" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5534081949_973cc3698a_z_0.jpg" alt="bubble wrap" title="bubble wrap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I have three kids, and they'll often abandon an expensive toy for something else that we have in the home. Instead of trying to fight their natural curiosity, it's time to go ahead and embrace the fact that kids LOVE around-the-house items as much as they enjoy expensive gifts. (See also: <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>)</p> <h2>1. A Huge Cardboard Box</h2> <p>Moms and dads are sort of strange because we buy our kids gifts so they'll have fun, and then we get upset when the kids decide to write or color all over the new toy. We'll say, &quot;Haven't I told you not to write with markers on your toys?&quot; Now the problem is solved. Give them a gift that they can write and color all over. &nbsp;Don't be a parent who stops all the fun by telling them not to write and color on something. Encourage it.</p> <p>I think that's why our kids love it when we give them a big cardboard box and let them write all over it with crayons, markers, pencils, and pens. They've made castles, forts, and sleds out of old cardboard boxes.</p> <p>Best gift ever.</p> <h2>2. A Big Bag of Bubble Wrap</h2> <p>For a kid, there's nothing sweeter than the &quot;pop&quot; sound that bubble wrap makes when you pinch it, step on it, or squeeze it.</p> <p>We old geezers think the gift is the item wrapped in the bubble wrap, but kids know better.</p> <p>A trip to a department store could yield a whole box of bubble wrap. &nbsp;If they don't have bubble wrap, they may be able to spot you a box of Styrofoam shells. It will make a huge mess, but the kids will smile all day long.</p> <h2>3. A Bag Full of Anything That Can Be Cut</h2> <p>The other day we opened up a piece of furniture, and it had thin, paper-like Styrofoam padding. We gave each of the kids a pair of scissors and let them set up home base in the kitchen. Before we knew it, our kitchen turned into a crafts room. &nbsp;</p> <p>In fact, when it was bed time, the kids protested because they wanted to keep cutting. We eventually came to a verbal contractual agreement whereby mom and dad would leave the supplies scattered across the kitchen floor and the kids could pick up their playing in the morning.</p> <h2>4. Empty Margarine Containers</h2> <p>Yes, I know. If we really loved our kids, we'd give them butter instead. The only problem with butter is you don't get the cool containers.</p> <p>When <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-book-an-amazing-cheap-vacation-package">we went to Hawaii</a> for a week in September, guess what we packed for beach toys? Yup, margarine containers (empty and washed).</p> <p>When it's time for the kids to have a bath, do you want to know what they fight over? Yes, empty margarine containers.</p> <p>They are also great for building towers.</p> <p>Go on, I dare you. Give them empty margarine containers for Christmas. I will if you will. They might like them more than grandma and grandpa's $100 gift.</p> <h2>5. Empty Christmas Wrapping Paper Rolls</h2> <p>With the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cheap-handmade-and-green-wrapping-ideas">wrapping paper</a> roll in hand, your kids can be transported to a time long ago. A time when knights fought for valor and for the hand of the fair princess.</p> <p>Be forewarned, your kids will probably figure out how to hurt each other with the empty rolls.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/craig-ford">Craig Ford</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-than-barbie-5-free-toys-kids-will-love">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-5"> <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/holiday-gifts-6-fun-games-that-teach-money-and-finance">Holiday Gifts: 6 Fun Games That Teach Money and Finance</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-ways-to-avoid-awkward-moments-at-white-elephant-parties">4 Ways to Avoid Awkward Moments at White Elephant Parties</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-amazing-board-games-you-can-diy">8 Amazing Board Games You Can DIY</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/make-your-own-moon-sand-dirt-cheap">Make Your Own Moon Sand, Dirt Cheap</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/make-your-own-coupons-20-great-free-gift-ideas">20 Great, Free Gift Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Entertainment free fun gifts for children holiday gifts toys Wed, 12 Dec 2012 11:24:31 +0000 Craig Ford 959634 at http://www.wisebread.com 20 Great, Free Gift Ideas http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-own-coupons-20-great-free-gift-ideas <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-your-own-coupons-20-great-free-gift-ideas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/pet-398319-small.jpg" alt="dpg" title="dog" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you&rsquo;re minding your budget this holiday season &mdash; and who isn&rsquo;t? &mdash; you might be looking for creative ways to give gifts that have meaning but won&rsquo;t break the bank. These gift ideas are just the answer, and they work for just about anybody on your list. Create a coupon for a service you can offer for the recipient to &quot;cash in&quot; when it's convenient for them. One of the great things about these gifts is that while they&rsquo;re free for you, the services they provide have real value, so recipients will feel like they&rsquo;re receiving a thoughtful and worthwhile gift despite its lack of tangible heft. Take a look at some of my suggestions to give this holiday season, and then let me know some of yours in the comments below. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spend-almost-nothing-on-gifts-this-year?ref=seealso">10 Gift Ideas That Cost Almost Nothing</a>)</p> <h2>1. Babysitting</h2> <p>Every parent needs a night off every now and then. If you have friends (or a friend &mdash; single parents probably need a break more than anybody) with kids, give them babysitting coupons that they can use whenever they need a breather. Make sure you stipulate on the coupon that you&rsquo;ll need advance notice so you can avoid being called upon at the 11<sup>th</sup>&nbsp;hour to fulfill your promise.</p> <h2>2. Pet Sitting</h2> <p>As a proud pet parent who likes to travel, I&rsquo;m often in need of a pet sitter for a day or two. I would definitely like to receive one of these coupons so I can save the $100 per night it costs me to board both my dogs.</p> <h2>3. Winter Dog Walking</h2> <p>I would love to receive this coupon from my husband so I can use it on one of those blustery, blizzard-y mornings when I can&rsquo;t seem to pull myself out of bed.</p> <h2>4. Home-Cooked Meal</h2> <p>When the recipient of this coupon is in need of a little TLC in food form, he or she can hand it over for a comforting breakfast, lunch, or dinner of their choice.</p> <h2>5. Massage</h2> <p>Give your significant other a coupon for a 10- to 20-minute massage that they can redeem on a day when work was especially stressful.</p> <h2>6. Car Wash</h2> <p>Everybody feels better in a shiny, sparkly car, so give this coupon to a friend or relative who lives nearby. Suggest to them that this coupon is perfect to turn in before a big date or other special event.</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/holfreeg-car-wash-5257905-small-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <h2>7. Takeout Run</h2> <p>You and your roommate want to order from your favorite restaurant but they don&rsquo;t deliver. Who&rsquo;s going to pick it up? That decision is made easier with a coupon redeemable for a takeout run.</p> <h2>8. Movie Night</h2> <p>There are some Friday nights when I just want to sit home, curl up on the couch with my hubby, and watch a couple movies while noshing on snacks. If that sounds like someone you love, give them a coupon for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-host-an-awesome-frugal-movie-night">movie night at home</a> that they can turn in for a relaxing evening watching great flicks with their favorite movie buddy.</p> <h2>9. Resume Review</h2> <p>Provide a coupon to a friend who&rsquo;s in the middle of a job search for a resume review. It&rsquo;s ideal, of course, if you have the actual skills to review and revise a resume; you don&rsquo;t want to do more harm than good with your coupon.</p> <h2>10. Lawn Mowing</h2> <p>I don&rsquo;t know about you, but I hate mowing the lawn, so this is another coupon I&rsquo;d love to receive from a friend (if I had a lawn to mow). It goes without saying that you should probably know what you&rsquo;re doing before you hand over this coupon if only so you don&rsquo;t butcher your friend&rsquo;s yard and draw their ire.</p> <h2>11. Garden Weeding</h2> <p>My grandmother used to guilt me into helping her weed the garden when I was a teenager. I wish I had thought of giving her a coupon for that service instead of the restaurant gift certificates I had to shell out for.</p> <h2>12. Pool Cleaning</h2> <p>If you plan to give a pool owner a coupon for a cleaning, make sure you include the caveat that it&rsquo;s only a light cleaning &mdash; skimming the top, vacuuming the bottom, and cleaning out the filters. Otherwise you might be expected to do much more work than you bargained for.</p> <h2>13. Exercise Partner</h2> <p>Like many people, I need a workout buddy to stay motivated at the gym. That&rsquo;s why this coupon is sort of a gift to yourself if you need someone by your side, too.</p> <h2>14. Taking on Someone Else's Chores</h2> <p>If your spouse or roommate typically does a certain set of chores like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-%E2%80%9Cyuck%E2%80%9D-to-yes">cleaning the bathroom</a> or washing the dishes, give them a coupon that lets them off the hook for one session.</p> <h2>15. Breakfast in Bed</h2> <p>Treat your mom or significant other to a breakfast-in-bed coupon that they can redeem whenever they want. When they turn it in, go all out for the breakfast by making their favorite dish (perhaps you can even provide a menu), pairing it with a mimosa, preparing it on a nice tray, and finishing it off with a single flower in a small vase or glass.</p> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/holfreeg-57575986-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <h2>16. A Leisurely Bath</h2> <p>Ahh, who doesn&rsquo;t like a nice long soak after a hard day in the dead of winter? When this coupon is redeemed, run a warm bubble bath and outfit the bathroom with a few other luxuries like a soft robe, a favorite magazine, and a glass of wine.</p> <h2>17. Small-Space Organization</h2> <p>Create this coupon for spaces like the recipient&rsquo;s desk, car, or closet. Avoid the urge to be a hero. Don&rsquo;t agree to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-easy-organizing-changes-you-can-make-today">organize spaces</a> like the garage unless you&rsquo;re fully prepared to get in way over your head.</p> <h2>18. Control of the TV Remote</h2> <p>This might be my favorite coupon on this entire list. I mean, how many times a week do you want to snatch the remote out of your honey&rsquo;s hand so you can watch what you want to watch? He or she probably feels the same way when you have it. Do them a solid and give in &mdash; but just this once.</p> <h2>19. Cuddle Time</h2> <p>A coupon for cuddle time is a win for both parties in my opinion. Get your snuggle on.</p> <h2>20. Creative Service</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;re good at a creative service &mdash; like graphic design &mdash; create coupons specifically geared toward what the recipients might want. For instance, give your friend with kids a coupon for custom-made birthday invitations. It&rsquo;ll be a nice gift for the recipient, and it&rsquo;s something brand new to add to your portfolio. Good deal.</p> <p><i>Have even more ideas on free coupons to give this holiday season? Let me know in the comments below.</i></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fmake-your-own-coupons-20-great-free-gift-ideas&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F20%2520Great%252C%2520Free%2520Gift%2520Ideas.jpg&amp;description=20%20Great%2C%20Free%20Gift%20Ideas"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/20%20Great%2C%20Free%20Gift%20Ideas.jpg" alt="20 Great, Free Gift Ideas" width="250" height="374" /></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/make-your-own-coupons-20-great-free-gift-ideas">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-6"> <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/25-thoughtful-and-frugal-personalized-gift-ideas">25 Thoughtful and Frugal Personalized Gift Ideas</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-gifts-you-can-make-today">25 Gifts You Can Make Today</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/18-diy-christmas-ornaments-that-are-better-than-store-bought">18 DIY Christmas Ornaments That Are Better Than Store Bought</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/15-unique-holiday-gifts-you-can-bake">15 Delicious Gifts You Can Bake</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/5-reasons-to-use-your-outdoor-furniture-inside">5 Reasons to Use Your Outdoor Furniture -– Inside</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Coupons DIY Lifestyle DIY gifts holiday gifts homemade coupons Mon, 03 Dec 2012 11:24:32 +0000 Mikey Rox 956004 at http://www.wisebread.com Get Ready for Christmas: 7 Things You Should Do Today http://www.wisebread.com/get-ready-for-christmas-7-things-you-should-do-today <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-ready-for-christmas-7-things-you-should-do-today" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5299156140_2a5a5b7c59_z_0.jpg" alt="holiday family" title="holiday family" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Take your current schedule and imagine adding Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, and holiday travel all at once. I suspect you'll thank yourself come mid-December if you use the extra time you have now to get ready for Christmas. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/early-holiday-shopping-why-i-finish-by-thanksgiving">Early Holiday Shopping:&nbsp;Why&nbsp;I Finish by Thanksgiving</a>)</p> <h3>1. Set and Fund Your Christmas Budget</h3> <p>Every year there is a segment of the population that simply charges their gifts on their credit cards and then spends the rest of the next year trying to get caught up on their payments. Before you do any Christmas shopping, you need to determine <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-rules-for-planning-your-most-affordable-christmas-ever">how much you can afford</a>. From there, decide who to include and exclude from your list. To make it easy, try setting a per-person budget. For example, you'll buy $75 worth of gifts for each kid and $35 for each niece or nephew. You're much less likely to overspend if you've predetermined how much you'll spend on each person on your list. Don't forget to check it twice.</p> <h3>2. Start Making Homemade Gifts</h3> <p>Homemade and personalized Christmas gifts are the most memorable gifts you can give. Why? Because the recipient knows that you've invested a significant amount of your time. I often think about doing homemade gifts, but realize I don't have the time to complete a project. By brainstorming homemade ideas now, you're more likely to have the time necessary to complete the project.</p> <h3>3. If You Do Christmas Lists, Ask People to Get You Their Lists</h3> <p>My family does lists, and my wife's family does not. If you do ask people for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/giving-back-to-those-not-necessarily-on-your-christmas-list">Christmas lists</a>, go ahead and contact them now. Inevitably, there is going to be one person who takes their time getting a list to you. That's less likely to be frustrating if you have an early start.</p> <h3>4. Start Watching for Sale Items</h3> <p>If you don't subscribe to the Sunday paper, you might want to pick one up over the next few months. Set aside 10 minutes every Sunday to glance through the ads and coupons. If you find an item on your list, snag it while it's on sale. Otherwise, what's probably going to happen is that you'll run to the store on the 24th and pay too much on a gift you don't want to buy.</p> <p>Our personal goal is to have all our Christmas shopping done by the last day of November. That way we don't have to fight against the holiday crowds.</p> <h3>5. Get Started on Your Christmas Cards</h3> <p>Imagine how amazing it would feel if all your Christmas cards were ready to send by Thanksgiving &mdash; wouldn't that be a relief? Go ahead and set a target goal of when you'd like to finish all your cards. Then create some type of plan to be done by that date. You could either mark off a morning on your calendar or do a little bit at a time.</p> <h3>6. Fill Up the Freezer</h3> <p>There are a lot of great meals that you can freeze ahead of time so you have food available when the holiday season gets really busy. One way to fill the freezer is to double or triple some of your recipes you'll be preparing in the next month. Serve a single portion, and freeze the extra portion. Another option is to block out a full cooking day where you make as many meals as possible and freeze them for the busy holiday season.</p> <h3>7. Practice Saying 'No,' and Offer an Alternative When Necessary</h3> <p>Most people I know spend their Christmas season busy doing things they didn't want to do in the first place. Start today by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-straightforward-ways-to-say-no">saying no to commitments</a> you know will cause you stress over the holidays.</p> <p>If saying no is hard, then offer an alternative. I won't be able to ____, but it would work if I could ____ instead.</p> <p>With an early start, you can survive the hectic holiday rush. I'm sure that in December you won't regret any of the time you've spent while the pace of life is comparatively slower.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/craig-ford">Craig Ford</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-ready-for-christmas-7-things-you-should-do-today">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-7"> <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/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</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/8-ways-to-actually-relax-over-the-holidays">8 Ways to Actually Relax Over the Holidays</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-thoughtful-and-frugal-personalized-gift-ideas">25 Thoughtful and Frugal Personalized Gift Ideas</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/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</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-frugal-gifts-for-the-person-who-needs-a-nap">9 Frugal Gifts for the Person Who Needs a Nap</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Lifestyle Shopping Christmas holiday gifts holiday sanity Thanksgiving Tue, 30 Oct 2012 10:24:34 +0000 Craig Ford 955133 at http://www.wisebread.com The Gift Card Scam of 2011: Don’t Be a Victim http://www.wisebread.com/the-gift-card-scam-of-2011-don-t-be-a-victim <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-gift-card-scam-of-2011-don-t-be-a-victim" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/target_gift_cards.jpg" alt="Gift cards" title="Gift cards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It&rsquo;s the most wonderful time of the year&hellip;for scam artists. When the shopping craze hits us after Thanksgiving, the thieves come out in droves and this year, they are targeting one of the biggest gift items we both give and receive &mdash; gift cards. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-love-gift-cards-5-reasons-gift-cards-make-perfect-holiday-gifts">Why I Love Gift Cards</a>)</p> <p>It&rsquo;s a multi-million dollar industry, so it&rsquo;s no surprise that scammers and con artists have put gift cards on their own wish list this year. And because of them, you could be in for a nasty surprise when you go to spend a gift card you received. In fact, your gift card could already be worthless.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s right, a gift card you have received or bought someone else could already have a zero balance. It&rsquo;s a problem even <a href="http://www.silive.com/westshore/index.ssf/2011/12/staten_island_shoppers_warned.html">U.S. Senator Charles Schumer</a> is trying to warn people about.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s how the thieves are picking your pocket without you even realizing it.</p> <h3>How the Gift Card Scam Works</h3> <p>Every gift card you buy has a magnetic strip on the back, similar to the one on your debit or credit card. This strip is basically there to record the running balance, the card number, and the PIN number if it has one.</p> <p>The gift card thief has found a way to retrieve the information contained in that magnetic strip using a simple reader that can be bought very cheaply on the internet. The thief will then go to one of those racks filled with cards and read the information from them. Usually, they will target the cards with larger dollar amounts printed on them (even though they are not yet activated) as well as blank cards and lower denominations.</p> <p>You may think that the packaging on the gift card can prevent that, but it&rsquo;s no barrier. Most of the time the card can be lifted from the packaging, read, and replaced. Sometimes, the strip is visible in spite of the packaging. And many cards aren&rsquo;t even placed into a wallet or gift card holder until after they&rsquo;ve been activated.</p> <p>Once the thief has the numbers, he/she waits patiently and checks the balances online. And it&rsquo;s not long before those cards are activated in store by someone like you or me. Then the thief can use the gift card numbers to spend that money quickly, either online or in store, and run the balance down to zero. You, or most likely your gift recipient, won&rsquo;t even realize it until weeks or months later. When the theft is noticed, it could not only be very embarrassing and frustrating, but also too late to do anything about it. The best chance you have to get your money back is as soon as the theft has occurred.</p> <h3>What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?</h3> <p>There are several steps you can take to make yourself less vulnerable to gift card scammers. Unfortunately, nothing is 100% fool proof (other than refusing to buy or receive, gift cards), but these tips should help you avoid their traps.</p> <p><strong>1. Carefully Examine Any Gift Card You Are About to Buy or Receive</strong></p> <p>When buying a card, be alert. Look for any obvious signs of tampering with the card holder, the scratch-off panel, the magnetic strip or any other wear and tear. Gift cards and the holders should be in pristine condition. If you see a PIN, put it back. The PIN should always be covered. When you receive a card, do the same thing, but be tactful; you don&rsquo;t want to upset the person who just gave you a gift, so do it out of sight. If you see anything suspicious, it may be time to check that card out.</p> <p><strong>2. Don&rsquo;t Buy Cards From Public Display Racks in Grocery or Retail Stores</strong></p> <p>The first place gift card scammers look is those big racks filled with cards. They aren&rsquo;t protected or policed because they are not activated yet and thus are considered worthless. But those racks are easy picking for thieves, who can scan dozens of cards at one time.</p> <p><strong>3. Use Gift Cards Immediately</strong></p> <p>Don&rsquo;t just pop them in the junk drawer until the day comes that you want something from that store. That just gives thieves plenty of time to use the card and leave you high and dry. Go and spend that money. You should also register your card online if you can. Most retailers have that option, and you can instantly see the balance and track your usage.</p> <p><strong>4. Discourage Friends and Relatives From Buying You Gift Cards</strong></p> <p>Yes, they are a great way to give a gift, especially for people who live far away and don&rsquo;t want to pay for big parcels or risk buying an unwanted gift. If people want to send you money from far away, they can always wire the money. For people who live close, it may be time to put <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-give-cash-as-a-gift">money in an envelope</a> again. It&rsquo;s not ideal, especially if you want to encourage kids to spend their money at a book store, but at least they&rsquo;ll have money to spend when the shopping day comes.</p> <p><strong>5. Never Buy Gift Cards Via eBay, Craigslist, or Other Non-Retailer Websites</strong></p> <p>Sadly, that&rsquo;s just too easy for the thieves. Your best bet if you are going to buy gift cards is to get them directly from the retailer&rsquo;s website. If you want a Barnes &amp; Noble gift card, get it from <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/">barnesandnoble.com</a>. If you want a Home Depot gift card, <a href="http://www.homedepot.com/">homedepot.com</a> is the place. There may be cheaper deals elsewhere, but they&rsquo;re just not as reliable.</p> <p><strong>6. If You Buy the Card in a Store, Get the Cashier to Double-Check the Balance</strong></p> <p>There is no shame in asking the cashier to give you a print out of exactly what is loaded onto the card at that time. You&rsquo;ll see the current balance instantly, and it will also protect you from another gift card scam, where thieves swap out worthless, used cards and pocket the ones ready to be loaded with money.</p> <p><strong>7. Get a Receipt, and Keep It With the Card</strong></p> <p>When we bought our home, our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-should-you-fire-your-real-estate-agent">real estate agent</a> gave us a Home Depot gift card, and he gave us the receipt to go with it, just in case. We were glad to have it. The gift recipient already knows the amount put on the card, so there is no reason not to hand it over with the gift card. It&rsquo;s just a little extra protection.</p> <h3>What If You&rsquo;re a Victim?</h3> <p>Sadly, there&rsquo;s not a lot you can do. Unlike credit and debit card fraud, there are few protections offered by the gift card issuers.&nbsp;If you lose your card, you can simply report it as lost or stolen, and the card will be voided. You will receive the remaining balance on another card. However, by the time you know your card has been compromised, the balance will most likely be $0. And there&rsquo;s not much you can do to reclaim that stolen money.</p> <p>If you have the receipt that came with the gift card, you may be able to get compensated for the loss. These days, many retailers can track the usage of a gift card, including where it was bought and where it was used. If you, or the person who bought it, picked the card up in Colorado, but it was used in New York, then that could be proof. Of course, people send gift cards all over the country, so it&rsquo;s not concrete evidence.</p> <p>Have you been the victim of a gift card thief? Let us know, and tell us how it happened. Remember, with every passing year thieves get more sophisticated, and that means you have to be more vigilant.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-gift-card-scam-of-2011-don-t-be-a-victim">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-8"> <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/why-i-love-gift-cards-5-reasons-gift-cards-make-perfect-holiday-gifts">Why I Love Gift Cards: 5 Reasons Gift Cards Make Perfect Holiday Gifts</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-turn-unwanted-gift-cards-into-cash">How to Turn Unwanted Gift Cards Into Cash</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/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it">4 Warranties That Aren&#039;t Worth It</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/how-to-save-10-20-on-online-purchases-every-day">How to Save 10-20% on Online Purchases, Every 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/kmart-settles-refunds-gift-card-fees">Kmart settles: refunds gift-card fees</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping gift cards holiday gifts scams Thu, 22 Dec 2011 11:36:10 +0000 Paul Michael 836080 at http://www.wisebread.com Why I Love Gift Cards: 5 Reasons Gift Cards Make Perfect Holiday Gifts http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-love-gift-cards-5-reasons-gift-cards-make-perfect-holiday-gifts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-i-love-gift-cards-5-reasons-gift-cards-make-perfect-holiday-gifts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/guy_with_gift_card2.jpg" alt="Man with gift card" title="Man with gift card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="168" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Gift cards tend to have a bad reputation, perhaps because the receiver thinks they are too impersonal. But I would much rather get a gift card (or cash) than something I can't use or clothing that doesn't fit. There's nothing worse than having to return a gift. Not only can it be a hassle, but it's also difficult to explain to your aunt why you aren't wearing that argyle sweater vest she gave you for Christmas.</p> <p>If you are looking for that perfect gift, here are a five reasons gift cards can make life easier for you and the person receiving. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-you-should-give-kids-cash-for-the-holidays">5 Reasons Why You Should Give Kids Cash for the Holidays</a>)</p> <h3>1. Gift Cards Guarantee Gifts People Will Love</h3> <p>Whether you are buying a gift card from someone's favorite clothing store or giving free downloads from iTunes to the music lover in your life, gift cards guarantee that people will love what you give them. They have the freedom to pick out whatever they want, and you are relieved of the stress of finding something perfect for everyone. Gift cards are also ideal if you are buying for in-laws you don't know that well. Amazon sells everything from books to kitchen sinks, so purchasing gift cards from a general retailer will also help guarantee that there's something for everyone, even the picky people in your life.</p> <h3>2. They Save Money and Time</h3> <p>If you are purchasing gifts for a lot of people &mdash; a dozen or more nieces and nephews for instance &mdash; you can budget a dollar amount for each card. This also prevents arguments over which cousin got the better gift, because everyone gets the same amount of money. And it saves you the time shopping for each person. Plus, even if you get a gift receipt, returning gifts can be a headache, especially right after the holidays when customer service lines are backed up to the entrance of the store.</p> <h3>3. You Can Buy Gifts Without Leaving Home</h3> <p>You don't even have to leave your house to do your holiday shopping thanks to the convenience of the Internet. Most stores offer online gift cards, and you can personalize them with graphics and personal messages. A lot of retailers even have an option to email an electronic gift card to someone, which is convenient for you, and it helps the receiver keep track of the card. If you are one of those last-minute shoppers, you can send an e-gift card at any time, even on holidays when most stores are closed.</p> <h3>4. They Make Giving and Receiving More Fun</h3> <p>Personally, I don't shop for myself that much because I don't put aside a lot of money in my budget for it. But if someone gave me a gift card to my favorite kitchen store, I can think of nothing I'd like to do more than wander around looking at iron woks and sharpening stones. If you know the person well, you will know exactly the stores where they would most like to shop. There's also the option of giving movie gift cards, or buying a card from someone's favorite restaurant. It's always nice to know that you are giving something loved ones will enjoy picking out for themselves, and treating someone to dinner and a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-watch-movies-in-the-theater-for-free">movie</a> is always appreciated.</p> <h3>5. Gift Cards Can Be Practical</h3> <p>For practical people who never spend money on themselves, give them a gift card from a place where they can purchase something they need, or may not have the money for. I would gladly accept a $50 gift card for groceries, for instance. Don't forget pet owners could always use more cat litter or dog food. And for that hard-to-buy-for person in your life, money is always an option.</p> <p>Don't spend all your time waiting in lines and being choosy over gifts this holiday season. Save yourself the trouble and just go for the gift card. It will make everyone happy, including your wallet.</p> <p><em>How do you feel about gift cards? Are there other reasons you like giving them? Discuss in the comments section below.<br /> </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-watson">Ashley Watson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-love-gift-cards-5-reasons-gift-cards-make-perfect-holiday-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-9"> <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-gift-card-scam-of-2011-don-t-be-a-victim">The Gift Card Scam of 2011: Don’t Be a Victim</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-use-up-remaining-balances-on-prepaid-gift-cards">How to Use Up Remaining Balances on Prepaid Gift 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/30-cash-back-sites-to-earn-you-thousands-per-year">30+ Cash Back Sites to Earn You Thousands Per Year</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/holiday-gift-giving-for-the-truly-broke">14 Gift Ideas for the Truly Broke</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/20-gifts-for-the-guy-who-has-everything">20 Gifts for the Guy Who Has Everything</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping gift cards holiday gifts save time Wed, 14 Dec 2011 10:48:17 +0000 Ashley Watson 822782 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Give Thoughtful Gifts on a Scrooge-Like Budget http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-give-thoughtful-gifts-on-a-scrooge-like-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-give-thoughtful-gifts-on-a-scrooge-like-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/kid_with_gift.jpg" alt="Child with a gift" title="Child with a gift" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You don&rsquo;t want to spend too much money on Christmas presents. But you don&rsquo;t want to act Scrooge-like or look cheap. If you have more than a few people on your gift list (and some of those are far-flung relatives), then showing generosity and staying within your budget can be hard.</p> <p>In Christmases past, I have given presents to my husband and our two children plus seven sets of siblings and in-laws along with nine nieces and nephews (a grand total of 26 people). The skills and patience required to pull off this feat often exceeded my capacity. Because we lived in different cities than all of our relatives, we weren't attuned to their day-to-day lives. Plus, the obvious approach of asking for a wish list didn't always give me the information that I needed, either because the intended recipient couldn't think of anything or because suggestions were difficult to find or out of my price range. Plus just asking for a recommendation seemed business-like and not in keeping with the holiday spirit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-gifts-for-a-family-with-many-children">Buying Gifts for a Family&nbsp;With Many Children</a>)</p> <h3>Discover Interesting Stuff About Your Family Members</h3> <p>Finally, I learned that a few strategic conversations and a dash of creative thinking can help transform the holiday season from financially stretched and stressful to modest and merry. This approach has also helped me to learn even more about family members than the usual facts surrounding college majors and professional titles.</p> <p>Probing for certain information will allow you to find or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today">make something</a> that is within your price range. Start a conversation that gives you insight into new-found and long-time interests, recently discovered and ongoing needs, career goals, and personal plans of your family members. If you won&rsquo;t be talking with these folks soon, send an email or Facebook message asking a few questions about what is going on in their lives. You can make general chit-chat with family members or let them know that you are asking questions to help with your holiday shopping.</p> <h3>Use Your Bargain-Hunting Skills to Find a Great Gift</h3> <p>Responses to your questions will point the way to the right selection with moderate effort at minimal cost. Choose items among your favorite gift genres (that is, a book if you enjoy giving books, clothing and accessories if you like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-buy-discounted-designer-clothing-online">fashion</a>, food if you are a great cook) as you will know how to snag bargains in categories that you shop for regularly.</p> <h3>Personalize Your Gift-Giving Approach Based on Ages and Life Stages</h3> <p>Exploring interests and selecting gifts for children, teens, and adults of all ages can be challenging. Adapt your conversation starters to the age, life stage, and temperament of the gift recipient. Consider these approaches:</p> <p><strong>Children</strong></p> <p>Watching children open presents is a blast, but the work involved in finding the right gift can be overwhelming. Instead of researching what&rsquo;s trendy and what&rsquo;s taboo, have a conversation with parents about their children.</p> <p>To learn more about the children on your gift lists, ask questions like these:</p> <ul> <li>Does she play with ________ (fill in the blank with possibilities, such as Legos, Barbie, Star Wars, Hello Kitty, etc.)?</li> <li>What books does he like to read or look at?</li> <li>Does she like art?</li> <li>What activities is he involved in?</li> </ul> <p>Depending on the responses, gift possibilities may be a book in a favorite series like <em>Biscuit&rsquo;s Day at the Farm</em> or <em>Diary of a Wimpy Kid 6: Cabin Fever</em>; small toys like a Hello Kitty Windup Toy or a Star Wars action figure; or accessories for themed toys, artwork, sports, etc., such as a LEGO Building Plate, gown for Barbie, washable markers, easel pad, or compass for a scout. When buying gifts, consider <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/in-search-of-safety-a-moms-8-step-guide-to-toy-selection-and-everyday-use">safety issues</a>, abide by age guidelines printed on packaging, and avoid trinkets in favor of sturdier items.</p> <p><strong>Teens and Tweens</strong></p> <p>Finding gifts for teenagers and tweens is especially treacherous. Similar to the challenge with children, keeping up with teen trends is difficult. Plus, many in this age group tend to be unrealistic in their expectations and uncommunicative about their interests. They are not necessarily spoiled or dejected; they may not be able to judge what is an appropriate request and tend to be fuzzy on what adults in their lives may already know about them.</p> <p>To find a gift that doesn&rsquo;t involve expensive computer games, ask these types of questions:</p> <ul> <li>What book or book series are you reading?</li> <li>What are your favorite college teams or professional teams?</li> <li>What activities are you involved in at school, volunteer agency, etc.?</li> <li>Are you playing any sports?</li> <li>Do you have any major projects or big trips scheduled for next year?</li> <li>Hey, I noticed that you like ____ (fill in the blank with a favorite television show, movie, store, etc.) on your Facebook page; can you tell me about that?</li> </ul> <p>Books are among my favorite gift genres, so I like to buy the next book in a series (for example, <em>Inheritance</em>, the latest and last book in the Inheritance Cycle was published in time for holiday gift giving). Or, you might pick up a biography about a favorite historical or sports figure, a compilation of stories about accomplished teens, a book relating to career goals, or a guide to navigating middle-school issues.</p> <p>For teens who have enough to read already, pick up gear or supplies for a hobby, athletic endeavor, scout project, volunteer activity, etc. or something that they will need as they mature. A wallet to hold a driver's license and charge card, an extra-durable key chain to keep up with house keys, or a multi-use tool to perform minor repairs may be valued both today and years from now. Apparel of favorite sports teams, like t-shirts or gym shorts, may be suitable for some and especially appreciated by parents of growing teens and &lsquo;tweens.</p> <p><strong>Adults </strong></p> <p>Finding the right gift for a sibling, in-law, niece, nephew, etc. starts with considering the life stage of the recipient. Those who are in college and getting established in a new job will often have different needs from those who are settled in their homes. Either way, learning about their lifestyles, interests, and plans for the upcoming year &mdash; whether applying for graduate school, getting ready to start a new job, preparing for a family addition, or training for a marathon &mdash; can help influence your gift selection.</p> <p>Ask these types of questions to kick off a chat:</p> <ul> <li>What are your plans for next year?</li> <li>What are you reading? Who are your favorite authors? What topics interest you?</li> <li>What are your hobbies?</li> <li>What types of fitness activities do you participate in? What events are you getting ready for?</li> <li>Are you planning a trip next year? Where are you going? When? What will you do there?</li> <li>Are you going to learn anything new next year?</li> <li>I saw on Facebook that you are ______ (fill in the blank with interests); can you tell me more about that?</li> </ul> <p>Adults who are on the move could use some practical travel gear, suitable for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-gift-ideas-for-adventure-travelers">adventure travel</a>, treks to and from college and their hometowns, work-related trips, or moves for a new job. Traditional moving or travel items, like storage bins and duffel bags, may also be appreciated. Mostly, you want to avoid items that are difficult to lug from place to place. And, as much as I would like to suggest items that can be had for a bargain, gift cards and cash are especially well-suited for those who are in transitional stages. To control your spending, pair a $5 or $10 gift card (or cash) with an inexpensive but highly practical item acquired at your local <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/strategic-thriftstore-shopping">thrift shop</a>.</p> <p>Those who are more settled may enjoy something that suits their reading preferences. The latest book for a favorite author is a great choice though somewhat expensive; alternatively, find a title published earlier in the author&rsquo;s career, after you've checked to make sure that the recipient has not read the selection. Books from your local used bookstore, <a href="http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php">paperbackswap.com</a>, thrift shop, <a href="http://www.half.ebay.com/">half.com</a>, etc. show thoughtfulness and protect your pocketbook.</p> <p>Inexpensive accessories, consumables, or supplies for hobbies, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-fitness-gifts-for-15-or-less">fitness activities</a>, and upcoming trips are great selections. These gifts can show others that you are thinking about them and have a genuine interest in their lives.&nbsp;</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/how-to-give-thoughtful-gifts-on-a-scrooge-like-budget">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-4"> <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/5-reasons-why-you-should-give-kids-cash-for-the-holidays">5 Reasons Why You Should Give Kids Cash for the Holidays</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/christmas-gifts-for-teachers-10-great-possibilities">10 Great Gifts for Teachers</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/11-last-minute-gift-ideas-for-under-15">10 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Under $15</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/20-fitness-gifts-for-15-or-less">20 Fitness Gifts for $15 or Less</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/dont-buy-memories-make-them">Don&#039;t Buy Memories, Make Them</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Family Shopping cheap gifts family gifts holiday gifts Mon, 12 Dec 2011 10:48:18 +0000 Julie Rains 816416 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Avoid Awkward Moments at White Elephant Parties http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-avoid-awkward-moments-at-white-elephant-parties <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-avoid-awkward-moments-at-white-elephant-parties" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/white_elephant.jpg" alt="Woman with a white elephant gift" title="Woman with a white elephant gift" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="149" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Chances are you&rsquo;re invited to one of two types of soirees this holiday season &mdash; an ugly sweater party or a white elephant party. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/creating-a-memorable-christmas">Creating a Memorable Christmas</a>)</p> <p>The former is self-explanatory. Everybody wears the ugliest holiday sweaters they can find &mdash; usually obtained from a thrift store or their mom&rsquo;s closet. The latter, however, is a regional name for the more generic gift exchange.</p> <p>The rules of the white elephant party are simple. Everybody who attends is required to bring a wrapped gift worth no more than a specified amount &mdash; generally between $10 and $20. At the height of the party, the guests will convene to unwrap presents in an order, most likely decided by numbers drawn from a hat. Each person will then choose a gift in order. The first person picks a gift, opens it, and shows it to the rest of the party. In turn, the rest of the participants, in order, choose to either unwrap a new gift or to &quot;steal&quot; a previously unwrapped gift. If a gift is &quot;stolen,&quot; the person who had their gift taken is allowed to unwrap any still-wrapped gift, and the turn passes. When all the gifts have been opened, the game is over.</p> <p>You can already tell how awkward this can get, right? There are so many variables &mdash; the personality of the gift buyer, the potentially offensive content of a gift, and the hurt feelings of those who get a crappy gift. Not to mention that if you&rsquo;re chosen to go first, you can bet you&rsquo;re going to end up with the worst gift there is; on the flip side, whoever chooses last basically has pick of the litter since no one can steal his or her gift.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re invited to a white elephant of gift-exchange party this year, try to avoid those awkward moments with these four tips.</p> <h3>1. Stay on Budget</h3> <p>If the host of the party sets a limit for how much you should spend on the required gift, stick to the limit. That doesn&rsquo;t mean that the gift must be worth the limit &mdash; for instance, if the limit is $20, a $15 gift is perfectly fine &mdash; but it should not exceed it. Going over budget can make the other guests feel cheap. Even if you&rsquo;re <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/regifting-a-simple-how-to-guide">regifting</a>, which a lot of people do for these parties, be conscious of the original retail price of the gift. Just because you didn&rsquo;t shell out money for it doesn&rsquo;t mean it has no value.</p> <h3>2. Buy Usable Items</h3> <p>I once went to a white elephant party where a participant in the gift exchange brought a gift card to a grocery store that was very local to her. Unfortunately, there are none of those stores where I live, so I couldn&rsquo;t use the gift card. I gave it back to her so it wouldn&rsquo;t go to waste, but it was a little annoying. When buying your gift, make sure that it&rsquo;s all-purpose and preferably consumable. Personally, I don&rsquo;t want any gifts that take up space in my home. Besides, you don&rsquo;t know what people already have &mdash; someone brought a coffee mug to that same party, as if no one had one of those already. While the party wouldn&rsquo;t be fun if everyone brought a gift card, try to think outside the box for your gifts while keeping in mind that not everyone will be from the same area you are. Keep this in mind when shopping &mdash; go generic, but clever.</p> <h3>3. Just Say No to Alcohol</h3> <p>This isn&rsquo;t meant to say that you can&rsquo;t drink at the party, but the gift you bring for the exchange should not be alcohol &mdash; for two reasons. The first is that everyone will know what the gift is. Have you ever tried to wrap a bottle of wine or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-cheap-beers-to-keep-your-holiday-season-hoppin">six-pack of beer</a>? After wrapping it, it still looks like a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer. Secondly, not everyone at the party will be a drinker. There may be a recovering alcoholic among the participants. Can you think of anything worse than giving a bottle of booze to someone struggling with alcohol addiction? It&rsquo;s not a good look.</p> <h3>4. Above All, Have Fun</h3> <p>The gifts brought to a white elephant party aren&rsquo;t meant to be serious, so there&rsquo;s no need to pout if you get a gag gift. Some participants will bring thoughtless duds while others will brings gifts you really want. Whether you get the gift you have your eye on or not, keep your smile on. This party is all in fun, and acting ungrateful or childish will only ruin it for everyone else.</p> <p><em>Ever been to a white elephant party? Have a funny story to tell about an awkward moment? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F4-ways-to-avoid-awkward-moments-at-white-elephant-parties&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F4%2520Ways%2520to%2520Avoid%2520Awkward%2520Moments%2520at%2520White%2520Elephant%2520Parties.jpg&amp;description=4%20WAYS%20TO%20AVOID%20AWKWARD%20MOMENTS%20AT%20WHITE%20ELEPHANT%20PARTIES"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/4%20Ways%20to%20Avoid%20Awkward%20Moments%20at%20White%20Elephant%20Parties.jpg" alt="4 WAYS TO AVOID AWKWARD MOMENTS AT WHITE ELEPHANT PARTIES" width="250" height="374" /></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/4-ways-to-avoid-awkward-moments-at-white-elephant-parties">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-10"> <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/holiday-gifts-6-fun-games-that-teach-money-and-finance">Holiday Gifts: 6 Fun Games That Teach Money and Finance</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-fun-cheap-party-games-you-didnt-know-about">5 Fun, Cheap Party Games You Didn&#039;t Know About</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/14-fun-winter-staycation-ideas">14 Fun Winter Staycation Ideas</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/60-halloween-costume-ideas-that-can-save-you-money-and-time">60+ Halloween Costume Ideas That Can Save You Money and Time</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment General Tips gift exchange holiday gifts parties Fri, 09 Dec 2011 10:48:40 +0000 Mikey Rox 817924 at http://www.wisebread.com