Use clearance Christmas wrapping paper for all occasion gifts
Every year after Christmas I like to pick up wrapping paper that I can use throughout the year for any occasion. I have found so many that do not carry a Christmas theme. Then if you use bows and cards that are a contrasting color than Christmas, then the giver will never know.
Here are some papers that I still have. The gold/silver paper and the white embossed are great for weddings. The reds can be used for Valentine's Day or Fourth of July. The Disney for a child or Disney lover. You get the idea! You often can also find bows on clearance in assorted colors non traditional Christmas colors.
Buy a bunch of "kool-aid" packets. I like to get the no sugar kind, then add my own sugar. You can usually find them cheaper in four packs. Mix it up and keep it in the fridge. The kids love it. I even serve it at parties and all the kids love it. You can buy the cute drink dispensers to put it in, and no one would ever know! Add some sprite (generic Sprite is even cheaper) put in a few lemon wedges, and wow, it looks fantastic
I remember when I was a kid my mom used to put Kool-aid into empty pop bottles and we thought it was cool. You could also serve it in fun cups for the kids to drink. Remember, it's all about the presentation!
Way too much information on the Kool-aid man: http://www.x-entertainment.com/messages/367.html
Video on How to Get Out of Debt. From Sat. Night Live
Birthday Bags Out of Store Bags
I was getting ready to run out to get some birthday gift bags for my granddaughter, when I noticed a nice big Williams Sonoma (just the right size) sitting on my counter. That's when I got the idea to recreate it into a birthday bag. Not only does it save money, it recycles the bag, plus I can customize it for my granddaughter. Genius - right?
Here's what I came up with:
So I went to see what other bags I could use. I found this Bath and Body bag that just seemed perfect! I also made matching birthday cards.
I also made a flip flop gift bag. I have step by step instructions here:
I found another website where a woman had her kids paint the bags. They really turned out cute.
Here's her link:
Out of Money? Make Your Dinner an Experience!
Mac & Cheese on the menu for dinner tonight? Eat it on your fine china. It makes a boring dinner a lot more fun, especially when the money is tight.
Use Your Fun Dishes!
Have a fun set of crystal bowls, ice cream bowls, fun cups, etc.? Use them for ice cream sundaes, pudding, or just to make dinner time more fun. It makes a routine evening meal into an experience.
My mother always said that she knew her parent's were out of money when they were eating dinner on their good china!
Tired of Making Dinner?
Making dinner every night can be so mundane. We solved this by giving each kid a night to make dinner. It relieves mom, and it's surprising what the kids would think of for dinner
Last night was my daughter's night to cook. She couldn't think of anything. I thought I was coming home to Ramen Noodles. To my surprise her friends helped her to make some delicious Parmesan chicken, steamed vegetables and garlic bread. Amazing!!!!
Have a child who can't wait for dinner while you are cooking? It can drive you crazy! Have him set the table while you are preparing dinner. It gives him something to do and makes him think that supper is almost ready.
My grandmother used to do this when my father drove her crazy. I always found it helpful with my kids!
Hide Those Vegetables!
Do you have that a child that would rather DIE than eat vegetables? We do! After going to pain staking measures to try to get this particular child to eat his vegetables, we came up with this very sneaky plan:
*We took cooked mixed vegetables, puréed them in a blender, and added them to chili. Then we made chili hot dogs, and also made chili hamburger helper. Spaghetti sauce is another good camouflage for vegetables.
*We took cooked cauliflower and puréed it, and made a creamy cheese sauce. This sauce was used for cheese topping for baked potatoes, fettuccine, and potato soup. We even used a little bit on top of the hamburger helper.
*Another idea is to add vegetable baby food to what you are cooking for dinner.
If your family is anything like ours - NO ONE LIKES LEFTOVERS. They just sit in the fridge until they are so gross that mom has to plug her nose and toss them into the garbage. Well, we fixed that. Now we fight over who gets to eat them (especially from a restaurant). We found that if you microwave them halfway (not completely warm) and then throw them on a skillet to brown them a little bit, they will taste as good as new. Sometimes I put a lid on the pan and turn off the stove to let things melt. The little bit of browning, or stove cooking, seems to make the food taste so much better. Adding a little bit of butter, salt, cheese, or other seasonings can also freshen up day old food. After a while you will be a pro!
You can also use the leftovers in new ways. Today I took leftover hash browns, added eggs, and ham then cooked it. Then I added cheese and salsa and put it all in a warmed tortilla and we had breakfast burritos. Yummy! If you have leftover Mexican food, use it for taco salad. Left over baked potatoes - potatoes soup. Left over chili - chili macaroni. You'll get the hang of it!