PLASTIC-FREE DECEMBER CHALLENGE RECAP

Plastic-Free December Challenge

WHAT I DID WELL, WHAT I DID NOT SO WELL, AND WHAT I TOOK AWAY FROM MY EXPERIENCE WITH PLASTIC-FREE DECEMBER EXPERIENce…

I’ve tried to make choices this past year to make my family’s new home as non-toxic and safe as possible. I’ve learned a lot over the course of several months on just how much of an impact this can have on our budget as well. This post will serve as a recap for my experience with the Plastic-Free December Challenge.

We try to “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” What doesn’t meet the safe, non-toxic, natural standard we set and fit in our budget, we just don’t buy anymore. If it is a more durable good we either donate it or continue to use until we find a frugal and sustainable alternative.

To make things more complicated, in the early stages of switching to glass our son pulled down one such glass item and cut his hand in the process. We switched gears and started purchasing stainless steel wherever possible instead of glass.

This is expensive and takes time. While we have replaced a lot of the glass items in our kitchen (safety issue) with stainless steel, we just moved some glass items out of the kids’ reach. In the kids’ bathroom, they currently use a plastic soap bottle until I find a suitable replacement. It is filled with all-natural, non-toxic soap.

THE PLASTIC-FREE DECEMBER CHALLENGE 

When Angela of Tread Lightly Retire Early asked on Instagram if anyone would be interested in doing a plastic-free challenge in December, specifically purchasing no new one-time-use plastics the first week of the month I was so excited to try. I figured we were already eliminating plastic around the house, how hard could it be? It was hard, very hard in fact.

One thing worth noting is that my family is blessed with our health, which I know isn’t the case for everyone. We don’t need one-time-use plastics for medical reasons, which made it possible to do the challenge in the first place. In no way do I  want to appear to place blame or come off as ableist in this post if you need one-time-use plastics or just cannot afford alternatives. I sincerely hope no one is made to feel that way after reading this. 

I do not know where to purchase affordable meat in my area that isn’t wrapped in plastic. There are local meat farms, but the prices have been a bit steep for me when I looked them up in the past. I’m also unsure of the packaging used. It’s not exactly the farmer’s market season either. I also walked into this challenge completely unprepared!

WHAT I DID WELL IN the CHALLENGE

This challenge definitely forced me to be more conscientious of my purchases. I delayed some until I figured out a better alternative, even forgoing a few. I cooked a new dish rather than stick with mashed potatoes for a church potluck rather than buy a plastic bag of potatoes to mash. We didn’t come home with leftovers, so I guess people liked my dish!

I avoided some processed sugar the first week of December due to the fact that I chose a carton of half and half rather than my usual flavored creamer. Initially, I thought I would get used to the taste and just add vanilla to my coffee. In reality, I lost my appetite for my daily coffee and mostly did without that week.

I also probably consumed less sodium as a family that week due to refraining from any ramen noodle purchase. Additionally, I made a few healthier choices by shopping at the local natural foods co-op for what I could (within budget).

The socks we ordered for our son’s stocking surprisingly arrived in a little box with no plastic. This was a pleasant surprise. It actually resembled a cell phone box. I also didn’t need to buy wrapping paper. I did use what I had and plan to continue to use it or otherwise donate it since I have almost a whole roll left from years prior. Now I buy paper gift bags and boxes that can be reused if possible or recycled once ripped. 

I ran out of shampoo in the first week of December. Rather than reorder my usual, I purchased a bar of shampoo from the natural food store. I was excited to try it and am pleased for the most part with it. The paper wrapping stated it contained essential oils and was safe for color-treated hair.  Once it runs out I think I will try to find a frugal, oily DIY recipe and try to make my own. 

WHAT I DIDN’T DO SO WELL AT IN THE PLASTIC-FREE DECEMBER CHALLENGE

That half and half carton I was so proud of myself for purchasing isn’t recyclable locally. I forgot that when I was busy my own back for not buying my usual creamer in the recyclable plastic bottle. 

Recycling in our area is mostly limited to glass bottles, cans, cardboard, paperboard, mixed paper, and plastics 1 and 2. But this does NOT include clamshells or waxed cartons. I did recently read online that it is okay to leave the caps on, which is great news. I hate throwing them away AND hate leaving the bottles open so I usually remove them at the recycling center. Now I don’t have to! 

CHRISTMAS POSED A CHALLENGE WITH THIS CHALLENGE

The signs at drop off centers state that I can recycle shoes, glasses, and all sorts of other random stuff, to ask an employee. There typically isn’t one when I am there. I need to look into this further; we have a bag of non-rechargeable batteries at home waiting to be recycled.

I purchased a few items in plastic packaging the first week of December that I had already committed to purchasing; we adopted a “cardinal” from the school tree, which is the district’s equivalent of an angel tree. 

We adopted a four-year-old girl because could afford her requests. The card listed clothing sizes, needs, and a few wants. We were instructed to purchase two needs and one want form the list. I ordered a baby doll in a plastic crib with accessories and a two-piece outfit from Amazon at the end of November. 

I stopped at the local Dollar General and purchased socks and underwear as well. Both were wrapped in plastic. Our daughter’s socks and decorative ponytail holders also arrived in plastic. The wooden Thomas the Train we bought our son also had plastic attaching it to its cardboard backing. 

We thought we did well purchasing our son the wood toy excavator set, but the excavator’s arm is plastic. We’ll see how long it holds up. There was also a lot of plastic packaging around the gifts our kids received from family, but I pulled all the cardboard off for recycling that I could. It’s not like we told anyone not to buy us anything wrapped in plastic for Christmas. We made a run to the recycling center and dropped off some stuff to goodwill two days after Christmas. 

It wasn’t in the budget to buy produce “naked” at the natural food store and most of it at Aldi isn’t naked. I thought it was a win buying sweet potatoes in a net, but that’s probably plastic as well. I definitely can’t recycle it. 

WHAT I TOOK FROM THE EXPERIENCE

I failed miserably at this challenge! Admittedly, I didn’t make it one week of the month without purchasing one-time-use plastic, even overlooking Christmas! I do not foresee accomplishing this in the future without making my own toothpaste as well. I’m not quite there yet, as I love my current toothpaste. But in my failure, I learned a lot. 

I was forced to be more conscientious with every purchase I made. I hope to carry that lesson going forward. And while some items we regularly consume have plastic-free package alternatives I will continue to use the one-time-use plastic if it is the most easily recycled option. 

I may not have achieved a plastic-free goal, but am definitely more thoughtful about an item is BEFORE I buy it as opposed to just deciding if goes it in the trash or recycling bin. That in itself was worth accepting the challenge. 

I definitely plan to continue putting more budgetary and environmental considerations into my purchases in 2020. And Angela, if you plan a plastic-free week or month for this year I will definitely be more prepared! 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2019 IN REVIEW

2019 in Review

2019 In Review and Best Wishes for 2020

I say this every week in the newsletter, but I can’t believe how fast the year has gone! And now not only is the year ending, but also the decade! I just started this little blog and June and it has far exceeded my expectations. I have all of you to thank for that and I am most grateful! This little post will serve as both my wishes for the new year and decade as well as a little 2019 in review post.

I want to start by saying I am so excited that I am closing out the year with my one hundredth blog post! This is a milestone I really wasn’t sure would happen so quickly, but we can thank Blogtober for that.

2019…

Oh my, so much happened in 2019. There is a hashtag trending on Twitter, #2019infivewords, and I honestly cannot sum up the entire year in five words. So here are a few highlights of how our 2019 went down.

March

  • We closed on our new house toward the end of March. It was a huge relief to get back into our own space once again. My dad had been gracious to let us live with him since the end of April 2018 while we finished the last renovations at the old house and then during the build.
  • We moved in and immediately started a giant purge. I had thought I had been minimalistic when packing up the old house, but I was oh. so. wrong.

April and May

  • I honestly can’t remember hardly anything that happened in April and May!
  • Somewhere in here, my husband started his side hustle at a local retailer.

June

  • June saw both kids’ birthdays and a backyard pool party for family and close friends.
  • As part of her birthday gift, our daughter started martial arts classes.
  • I started this blog!

July 2019 in review

  • July was a busy month!
  • Our son cut his hand and had to have orthopedic surgery to repair as much of the damage as possible and salvage at least most of the use of his thumb. The jury is still out as to how much feeling he has in his thumb, but he’s a little too young to tell us. You can read more about that here.
  • Shortly after cutting his hand our little man started speech therapy. He is talking much more now, which makes life a little easier for him and us!
  • I taught at Vacation Bible School for the first time in a few years. I taught the toddler class, so our son was with me all week, bandage and all. It was a long, but very blessed week.
  • The week after VBS our daughter started two weeks of swim lessons. I’ll be looking at different options for the summer of 2020 as this did not go well compared to her first year at the same aquatic park.
  • On the way to one of those disappointing swim lessons a “buck deer” as my daughter calls them jumped out of a ditch and ran into my husband’s front bumper and headlight. No one but said “buck deer” was seriously injured, unless you count the headlight which is still held together with packing tape.
  • My dad remarried! This was one of the brightest spots of 2019 and continues to be a bright spot. After four years alone my dad deserves all the happiness Cathy brings him and we thank God for her every day. My sister and I cooked for and hosted a modest spaghetti dinner after the rehearsal. The kids all love her too!

August

  • August saw our daughter start the first grade! We finally had a customary first day of school pictures on our very own front porch! On her first day of kindergarten, we were at my dad’s house and it was pouring rain, so all pictures were inside and hope for the picture of us standing where our front porch would one day be were dashed.
  • I turned 35, but we can just ignore that little fact and move on…
  • We set up a much-needed auto maintenance sinking fund to take care of some maintenance and repair needs. Within a week we needed a new tire and a car battery; neither expense was able to be covered by the account, but we have tried to add to it and now have enough to get some upcoming routine services done, which feels good.

September 2019 in Review

  • In September we started attending a new church. It was very scary leaving the unknown and going where we felt God lead, but it has been such a blessing. The kids love going and my daughter goes to school with most of the kids in her Sunday School and Children’s Church classes which adds another a greater sense of community.
  • We celebrated our thirteenth anniversary home with the kids this month as well. Budgetary restraints didn’t allow much in the way of celebrating, but I am already mentally planning a little 15th-anniversary getaway. I just might have to set up another sinking fund in 2020!

October

  • In October I was finally able to resume my little side hustle of taste testing after canceling the day of our son’s surgery. It was little, but much welcome sign of things returning to normal.
  • We DIYed my daughter’s Halloween costume after her Wonder Woman accessories didn’t come in.

November & December 2019 in review

  • The last two months flew by with the holidays and much-needed family time.
  • I started a little bookkeeping side hustle project and will probably look to pick up more little jobs like it in the new year.

My hopes for 2020 and my word of the year

I am really looking forward to 2020. I think it’s going to rock! We seem to have crammed a lot of stress and change in 2019 and I’m looking forward to a year of calm. Last year I used a word of the year generator and was assigned the word know. I still don’t know what that was all about! Guess I missed the point of that one. I actually had to dig around my Instagram to remember what this year’s word was! This month I took a word of the year quiz from Dayspring and based on my responses the word I was given bloom as my word of the year.

At first, I was confused by the choice and discounted it as I had last year’s word. Then I decided it was perfect and I’m going to do my darndest to make sure I bloom in whatever situations I find myself in for 2020. I kind of feel like I got a head start on my word of the year without even realizing it; I’m finding my rhythm with this stay at home mom life, enjoying this blog, and venturing out into new projects. I find all of these things challenging, rewarding, and a source of joy.

So I plan to bloom away in 2020! I hope you do too! Thank you so much for following along with me as I document my family’s journey to live life to the fullest on less. In January I have some simple goals in mind. I resolved a long time ago not to put needless pressure on myself with new year’s resolutions. I’ll probably share those in the next few days. I haven’t quite articulated them yet.

In the meantime, tell me what your word of the year for 2020 is if you chose one and how you plan to focus on it. I pray for a happy and blessed 2020 for each and every one of you and I look forward to getting to know you more in the new year and decade. And thank you so much for being a part of my life in 2019. Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe via email (the big pink button on the right of the screen!) before January 15th! That’s when I’ll be picking one random email subscriber to win the Erin Condren Budget Bundle!

AN HONEST REVIEW OF MY 2020 ERIN CONDREN PLANNER

 

2020 Erin condren planner review

The below is my impression of my gifted Erin Condren Life Planner, Budget Bundle, and Take Note College Ruled Notebook. Items were gifted, but opinions are my own. With that said, let’s get in with my 2020 Erin Condren planner review.

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.*

i started thinking about the perfect 2020 planner in November

In the first week of November as I filled out my special dates, goals, and note to self sections for the new month I was reminded of my 2019 planner’s shortfalls. For one, the goals section is small, and on the inside of the left-hand page by the spiral so that I can’t fit my hand comfortably to write out my goals. There is also only lined one page (ONE PAGE) per month to write out longer handed notes. 

To be fair there are a few lined pages for notes in the back, but they have long been doodled up my helpful two-year-old.

So when I became an affiliate for Erin Condren through Share a Sale and was offered to pick out my own planner I jumped at the chance! I have long admired the style and design of these beautiful planners. Just to be clear, the planner, as well as a few other accessories, were gifted, but I will give my honest opinion of the products.

And before I forget, you should know that you can shop Erin Condren planners and calendars at 20% off or stationary and other accessories at 30% off through January 2nd. It doesn’t get much better than that folks!

Let’s break this 2020 Erin Condren planner review down with the specifics and what I was looking for in a planner versus my 2019 cheapo from Walmart…

here it is… my 2020 erin condren planner review

Big, but not too Big

I love having more room to write. My gifted planner has so much more room to write, as evidenced by this size comparison. I love being able to write and not being crowded by the rings. And I LOVE the rose gold ring! You can customize the color of the ring with Erin Condren, and for my planner, I had to try the rose gold. I was not disappointed! It measures 7″ x 9″.

2020 Erin Condren planner review

design

As far as design goes I LOVE the design, and I was able to personalize my planner like no other place I know. I picked the cover design, interior color scheme, coil color, and put my name on it. None of which were options with my cheap planner from Walmart last year. I think this definitely falls in the category of Frugal isn’t Cheap as it serves my needs and suits my style. Now I won’t constantly be adding notes to my phone or buying additional notepads because my planner doesn’t have space to… plan.

I chose the watercolor flower design and I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome! The cover is laminated, which not only allows for dry erase notes (yes, there is even a lined space inside the cover for that), but is just an added layer of durability. Also worth noting, I chose the vertical layout. My only qualm on the design is small – I would like to have an option on the design of the interior pages and not just the color scheme; I’m not a huge fan of the popular kaleidoscope theme.

Erin Condren 2020 Planner Review

Practicality

I am a mom and  I carry a large handbag. It’s just a fact of life. This planner fits in my handbag. It’s large, but not huge. It has just enough of what I need and not much I don’t. Each month has a bullet journal space. While I like the idea, I admittedly am not the most artistic person. 

I love the fact that each month has more space to write my goals, notes, and special dates to keep track of. There is also a month at a glance page to write all important dates on the same page.

Erin Condren 2020 Planner Review

I do not see any sections of this planner that will not be put to good use. It may take me a while to decide how to use the bullet journal portions on every month at a glance page, but I am excited to figure it out!

Not too Many Stickers

It’s not that I don’t like stickers, but I do not really use them. And I have a six-year-old who REALLY likes them and uses them at every chance. So the odds of me using stickers and not getting them swiped weren’t that great. I like the fact that stickers can be ordered separately.

overall impression of the life planner

I am very impressed with the design, ease of use, and durability. It is fairly safe to say I am a convert for life! I enjoy reading the inspirational messages on the pages, and immediately got to work meal planning and writing out regular appointments. I have my goals set for January, know what appointments I need to make, and have a head start mapping out blog posts as well. This planner is definitely worth the small investment and would even make a great gift.

2020 Erin Condren Planner Review

my impression of the take note college-ruled notebook

This is a solid notebook. I took it to church with me and wrote sermon notes in it. The paper is of good, thick quality which I can really appreciate. Pages are also lined front and back, which allows for much more note-taking. 

Even though it is about the same size as the Life Planner it still fits in my handbag (again, mom so I have a huge bag, but…) and it didn’t weigh it down. This notebook will probably be in my bag more often than not going forward. I also chose the watercolor flower design and had my name engraved on the notebook. 

budget bundle review

I must say I was intrigued when I saw a  budget planner so I included it in my cart. Not only is it incredibly colorful and stylish, but it is also very useful. It comes with 12 budget spreads, weekly spending summaries, savings goal tracker, a debt tracker, monthly savings and expense spreads, as well as a metallic sticker sheet. The stickers are pretty cute and can help to make budgeting a little more fun. 

In addition, the Budget Bundle also includes two sets of sticker sheets, a dual-tip marker set, and the Petite Planner. The smaller planner includes 80 checklist pages. This set would be great for a beginner budgeter; the colorful pages and stickers can make the somewhat tedious task of budgeting a little more fun.

to sum up my Erin Condren 2020 planner review

All in all, I am very impressed with the Erin Condren products I have tried so far and plan to continue to buy and possibly even gift more of these in the future. I noticed they also have a planner for children, so that is something to keep in mind for a certain middle school-aged niece and my own daughter when she’s ready. I also know a teenaged girl or two who probably wouldn’t mind a 2021 planner next Christmas. 

And now, the fun part! A giveaway! I am a digital girl when it comes to budgeting, so the entire Budget Bundle will go to one lucky blog subscriber! The winner will be chosen on January 15th, 2020. All you need to do to enter is to be an email subscriber to the blog. If you live outside the continental US I will email you a gift card. Please do not subscribe only to unsubscribe after the giveaway.  

I hope you are all having a splendid last few days of 2019 and look forward to getting to know you more in 2020! Stay frugal my friends and don’t forget to subscribe for your chance to win! In conclusion, I give the Erin Condren Life Planner and other products reviewed in this post a 9 out of 10. If you feel so inclined to shop Erin Condren please help a blogger out and use my links and remember the sale ends January 2nd. Until next time!

 

 

CHRISTMAS 2019 BUDGET BREAKDOWN

Christmas budget breakdown

Christmas came and went quickly, as it usually does. I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday with family and friends. I know I sure did. We had a relatively small budget of $500 for our gift budget. Food came out of an increased grocery budget.

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualified purchases.*

Back in November, my husband gifted me some clothing on sale at the store he works at on weekends; this was not in the Christmas budget. He operated out of overtime and/or bonus money.  Let’s see how we did with our budget. Below is what we bought, the average cost of each, and I’ll give the final amount spent at the end!

For the kids

We spent just over half the budget, $288 and some change, on the kids’ Christmas gifts. We considered every single item and debated several different options before hitting the checkout button in the online carts. Each kid received one larger gift that was more of a need, an article of clothing, and a few fun things we felt they would actually use.

Ella

Our six-year-old received this flannel shirt (now on clearance) and new cowgirl boots to replace the ones she’d outgrown. We do not buy cheap boots because, if you will remember, Frugal Isn’t Cheap. We buy them a little big and typically get two years out of them. They’re still good enough for the resale shop or to hand down to a family or friend when she outgrows them.

We also bought her two movies that she’s been looking forward to seeing. We bought the third installment of the How to Train Your Dragon movies and the Secret Life of Pets 2. We’ve already watched both movies, and the whole family loves them!

Then there was the craft supply set, which she loves. Half the glitter glue was gone Christmas day! Safe to say she enjoyed this little kit. And, when she was done it all went back in the tube and was neatly stored. She finally got those scissors she has been asking for – we would’ve included some in last year’s stockings with some crafty stuff, but she cut her bangs at school, so we waited a bit.

Elijah

Our two-year-old got a pair of overalls like his daddy’s (he isn’t quite a fan yet), this excavator toy (also now on clearance), and the book Good Night, Good Night Construction Site. For his large gift, he received a play rug with roads on it.

don’t worry, they got lots more from family

Even without all the additional toys and games from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, they seemed perfectly happy with the gifts we picked out for them.

for daddy

I spent a whopping $15 on my husband on a new pair of house shoes. It wasn’t much, but it was in budget and it was a need. I hadn’t yet decided what to get him when our two-year-old decided the holes in daddy’s old house shoes (a stocking stuffer at least 5 years ago) were the perfect place to stuff his toy cars… while they were still on daddy’s feet. The outdoor sole had detached from the cushion and the top of the shoe that they slid right in. So I knew what I was getting daddy for Christmas!

We take advantage of sales and his discount to get him clothing and other items as we can, so there wasn’t much he needed (cheaper than a tractor or shop building that is).

stocking stuffers

I spent just over $70 on stocking stuffers. Both kids got socks, my daughter got underwear, hair ties, and our son got flashcards to help him with colors, letters, and shapes as well as a little Thomas the Train that will hook onto a train set he already has.

I bought my husband the Harry’s starter set and set him up on a subscription for razor cartridges. At first, I tried to use an offer code from a favorite YouTuber of his, but it was no longer valid, so I googled a coupon! Initial spend on this stocking spender was just under $4!

Teacher gifts

I spent about $12 each on four teacher gifts of herbal tea, a citrus vitality oil, and tea bag rest for my daughter’s elementary, Sunday School, and Children’s Church teachers. I spent about $3 each for hot cocoa and mugs for the church nursery workers from my son.

gifts for the rest of the family were mostly diy-ed

I bought a set of large amber Ball Mason jars and filled them with homemade brownie mix made with ingredients I already had on hand. I paired these with a tea towel, peppermint vitality oil, and printed photo cards designed in Canva with the instructions. These then went to both sets of parents, his local sister and brother-in-law, and my sister and brother-in-law.

I also DIY-ed my teenaged niece a little spa package consisting of bergamot oil-infused facewash, a peppermint oil-infused sugar scrub, and lavender oil-infused bath salts. I topped it off with this sleep mask. Including the Pioneer Woman clamping jars I put them in,  I had less than $20 in them.

For my nephew, we went with a Barnes and Noble gift card. For my husband’s nieces and nephew, we gave them cash for skate rink passes. The local skate rink is only open evenings and I never seemed to be in town after 5 PM.

did we keep it in our $500 budget?

So, were we able to keep all of our Christmas spending in our modest budget? According to Every Dollar, we spent a total of… $509.57. I also have one extra teabag rest to return (overestimated number of teachers I gifted tea), which will bring our total overspend down about $4. I can live with that!

All in all, planning ahead, making a lot of the gifts, and making sure we had our kids covered, then family, and then purchasing stocking stuffers with what was left in the budget helped us keep mostly to the budget.

I hope you all had a great holiday! How did you do with your Christmas budget? Did you come in over or under? Did you set a budget for your holiday spending or just swipe away without a plan? Feel like you bought just the right amount of stuff or wondering how you got so carried away again? Let me know!

I’ll be back soon with a new post and will resume the weekly YouTube schedule after the first of the year. Until next time, stay frugal my friends! And if you aren’t that frugal, stick around and get caught up; I have some great tips on being frugal!

I WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS

Its Christmas Eve! We are experiencing beautiful, springlike temperatures here in Arkansas! Yesterday we played frisbee and watched the kids play out in the weather just soaking up the sunshine for almost two hours.

Today, and yesterday we’ve had the windows open to air the house out! It doesn’t necessarily feel Christmasy, but we’ll still take the sunshine.

I’ve cleaned house, gotten the toddler to take a nap (truly a Christmas miracle!) Daddy took big sis to the park to ride her bike and out for lunch, and he’s currently tilling in the yard to even out some spots and prepare for a garden this spring (I hope).

Rotel is cooking in the crockpot, Alexa is playing Christmas carols, the Christmas tree is lit, and the windows are open. We don’t get many white Christmases around here but this is a bit different.

Today I write my 97th post just to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I appreciate your support for this little blog the last six months and look forward to creating more content in the new year.

My Christmas wish for this little blog is to publish my 100th post before the new year and hopefully exceed 5000 pageviews on Google Analytics! The second goal is a bit lofty, but I think I’ll come close even if I don’t hit my goal.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with your families and loved ones. For those of you missing loved ones or spending a first holiday alone I pray God makes it a peaceful time of comfort and healing.

Merry Christmas my frugal friends! I hope it’s a great one.

A LIFE ON A DIME’S FAVORITE AMAZON FINDS OF 2019

Favorite Amazon Finds

a Life on a Dime’s Favorite Amazon Finds This Year

Since I am just about done with Christmas shopping and not really interested in any spoiler alert posts showing what I’ve done for everyone, I thought it would be fun to do a post on my favorite Amazon finds from this year.

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.*

We have really enjoyed our Amazon Prime this year! Besides being our main source of streaming entertainment, Prime has also come in handy for all of our frugal and sustainable purchases this year.

If you don’t already have Prime, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial or gift someone on your Christmas list with a three or twelve-month Prime membership.

Since shopping without kids in tow isn’t usually an option I have relied more on more on two-day shipping. I don’t really enjoy shopping like I used to (or spending lots of money for that matter), and trying to shop with a budget while keeping up with kids isn’t exactly my idea of a good time! Here are some of the Amazon items I’ve really enjoyed this year.

Favorite Amazon Finds in the Kitchen

Stainless Steel Straw Cups

This is one of my favorite examples of how frugal isn’t cheap so far this year! I admired these stainless steel straw cups for a few months before finally adding them to my cart. The kids love them too! As a bonus, typically when I pull these up there is a 5% coupon to be applied at checkout.

I was surprised at how easily our two-year-old adjusted to drinking from a straw; we’d had a few messy experiences prior to purchasing them. Now I just use his last two remaining plastic sippy cups as a backup in his bag just in case. I am leaning toward getting some portable stainless steel straws to use instead.

These cups are handy for multiple children because all five are a different color. The stainless steel tumblers also have a silicone lid, wrap for easy gripping, and silicone sleeves at the top of the straws. The last part is one of my favorite features; they can’t chew these straws up easily OR hurt their little teeth on the steel straw.

Reusable Bags

I got so tired of buying zipper bags for snacks and lunches. They’re cheap, but every month or two they made it on the list and one by one into the trash they went. It just seemed like a waste.

As I shifted to a more minimal, frugal, and sustainable approach in the kitchen this summer I resolved to stop buying most one-time-use products in the kitchen. This included zipper bags, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and paper towels.

See Also: 10 Things Minimalists Don’t Waste Money on and You Shouldn’t Either

As I started looking at replacements for these I came across these reusable storage bags. They were definitely worth the small investment. These little bags are sturdy, easy to clean, and zip well enough to put raw meat in. I just can’t include them in my first grader’s lunch bag; one did make its way in the trash.

My husband uses them every day in his lunch for his chips since we stopped buying single-serving bags. It is worth noting if you have really pigmented chips there may be some color transfer; I bought salsa flavored chips and one of the bags was left with a slight orange tint afterward. This is still a product I would definitely buy again, especially for the price.

Silicone Baking Cups

I finally used up my stash of paper baking cups. I have yet to replace them with a reusable option, but I have these gems saved to my Wish List and plan to move them to my Shopping List once the January budget is finalized.

There are a total of 36 liners in different shapes and colors in this set which makes it a winner in my book. In addition to baking, I plan to use these in my daughter’s lunch containers (next item on the list) to make a bento-style box lunch for her.

Stainless Steel Food Containers

I bought a nesting set of stainless steel bowls to contain everything from sauces, morning snacks, to my husband’s daily yogurt ( as mentioned earlier, we have eliminated daily single-use trash from his container). Sometimes they even get used for small amounts of leftovers.

We also have a set of stainless steel sandwich boxes to use and they have worked out very well too. They’re durable, easy enough for my daughter to open, and travel well. The exact ones we bought are not currently available, but these look like a good alternative.

Pioneer Woman… Anything

I LOVE Pioneer Woman! Last Christmas I was given a set of tea towels and have been admiring her stuff all year! I purchased the stainless steel measuring cups and spoons as part of the continuing phaseout of plastic in our kitchen.

We are down to two stoneware mugs after declutters/purges/a few broken handles and would love to buy this set of four next year for hot teas. Stainless steel is fine for drinking coffee, but for hot tea I just prefer stoneware.

Favorite Amazon Finds For the Kids

Ride-on Tractor

We purchased this adorable ride-on John Deere tractor for our son’s second birthday this summer. While his little hand was recovering from orthopedic surgery we eventually brought it inside for him to be able to play with since he couldn’t play outside much.

At first, we just wanted him to be able to have a little supervised fun in a clean environment. We were also afraid he’d outgrow it before he healed up. He’s all healed up now, but the tractor is still in the house. It has provided a lot of entertainment!

No Tie Shoelaces

When we purchased new tennis shoes for back to school over the tax-free weekend there weren’t a lot of in-store options. The only shoes my daughter really liked and I thought she’d actually wear had shoelaces that tied. Very long shoelaces.

She isn’t very good at tying shoes yet either. After the first week or two of school, I knew no-tie laces were in order. These have been lifesavers. Even better, they come in a two-pack!

Waterproof Mattress Pad

This favorite Amazon find is pretty self-explanatory. It has worked rather well.

Favorite Amazon Finds in Health & Beauty

Eco Frenzy Kids Bamboo Toothbrushes and Toothpaste Squeeze

My kids love using their bamboo toothbrushes. I love using more eco-friendly products that fit in my budget!

We also have these handy dandy toothpaste squeezes that help get the last of the toothpaste out of the bottle. Even when you think you’ve gotten all you can, pop one of these on and get a few more days worth of brushing!

Bamboo Wrapped Vial Jars and Roller Bottles

It is no secret that I love a good DIY! I also love frugal items of good quality to store them in! I have had my eye on these vials and rollers wrapped in bamboo for oily DIYs for a while.

These Diffusers

I was cheap when I bought my first diffuser; it now sounds like it is trying to go somewhere every time I turn it on. I am honestly surprised it still turns on every day.

I really want a Dessert Mist, and love the owl diffuser in our son’s room (which I need to be more intentional about using) but since it would be nice to have multiples so I didn’t have to unplug and move the same one for use in other rooms. I’d prefer to leave one in each bedroom and one in the kitchen.

This set of two diffusers is a great deal and comes highly recommended on several of the oily soical media accounts I follow.

Favorite Amazon Finds for Vlogging on YouTube

This list is pretty small this year. Next year I’ll have a better idea of what I need and like to use for my YouTube videos. Be sure to check out a Life on a Dime’s channel on YouTube. Let me know what you think! Be sure to like and subscribe if you enjoy the content, and be sure to click the little bell so you can receive notifications when new videos are uploaded!

Tripod Stand with Ring Light

This beauty came recommended by a blogger and social media coach I follow on Instagram. I love the rose gold color of the tripod and the fact that it has a ring light included.

I am relatively new to YouTube, and needed a good, sturdy tripod in order to up my game. There was also the fact that I also knew I might want to upgrade to a remote and ring light later on, and this has both! I recently ordered this USB adapter so my phone will work with the remote.

What are your favorite Amazon Finds of 2019?

I’d love to hear what awesome, frugal products you’ve come across this year! You can check out the full list of items I recommend here. As I continue to switch over to more frugal and sustainable items you can be sure to see more posts and more items I recommend in the new year!

I’ll be back next week with a few more Christmas related posts as well as the weekly newsletter and meal plan going on out on Monday! If you haven’t subscribed yet you can do that here now! Until then, stay frugal my friends!

AWESOME, THOUGHTFUL LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEAS

Last minute gift ideas

If you haven’t quite gotten it together or just haven’t started, here are a few very helpful last minute gift ideas that won’t break the bank.

On a side note, you can probably still use my previously posted gift and stocking stuffer ideas. I wouldn’t want to wait too much longer though! There are barely two weeks til Christmas as of publishing this article and the postal system is only going to get busier! Not to mention that shipping costs increase the longer you wait.

**This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.**

Last Minute Gift Ideas: Gift Cards

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; gift cards can be very thoughtful gifts! If someone on your gift list has a coffee habit why not gift them a reusable mug and gift card to their favorite coffee chain?

Know some kids who love going to a local arcade or movie theatre? A gift card makes a great gift! And by taking a little time to think about the recipients you can come up with a very thoughtful and useful gift.

A Voucher for an Experience

Want to treat someone on your list to an activity that doesn’t offer a gift certificate, say an experience together? Or maybe an experience coming up that you can’t purchase yet (or have in time)?

Not a problem at all! Get on the computer and print out a voucher good for whatever it is you have in mind and place it in a gift tin or envelope with something related.

Want to take your bestie to a concert but tickets aren’t on sale yet? Maybe a movie that isn’t out yet. Wrap up a t-shirt for the band and put it under the tree with the voucher.

Say you want to take someone hiking or camping when the weather warms up a bit. Pick up some small piece of gear to go with their voucher.

This can also be a good idea if you don’t have the money now to do what you plan. The important thing is to remember to follow through! A last minute gift idea is not a forgotten gift!

Cash is the Original Last Minute Gift Idea

And for good reason! Cash is s versatile and doesn’t limit the recipients to one store or chain. It can be set aside for a larger purpose, used for necessities, or as a special treat.

Sometimes friends and family need a little help. The offer to pay a bill or help out with groceries may be a very appreciated and needed gift. This isn’t necessarily a last minute idea, but the awareness of the need may come up last minute.

Or maybe you know someone on your list is saving up for a large purchase or vacation. Cash can help them achieve their goals a little faster.

Gift Subscription

Did you know you could gift someone a three month Prime membership? There also gift subscriptions for Audible and other services? This is a gift that keeps on giving! Best of Al it takes only minutes to prepare.

The best thing about gifts like these? No shipping is required!

Gift a Donation in Their Name

If you are having a hard time figuring out what to get someone who has everything make a donation in their name! This can be through Heifer International, Salvation Army, their favorite humane society… The possibilities are endless! Organizations no doubt count on an increase in donations this time of year.

A quick peek at their social media pages should be enough to give you a few ideas. Have they shared stories about homelessness, adoptable pets, or maybe water issues in third world countries? All of these examples have nonprofits established to address the problem/need that concerns your loved one.

Last Minute Gift Ideas: A Homemade Gift Basket

This doesn’t have to be really expensive. Baskets aren’t the only acceptable container either. This can be as simple as some homemade cookies on a pretty plate or a tote bag with a scavenger hunt kit or other activities in it.

There are local, small businesses that would love to make a gift basket special for you. Onion Creek in Farmington and Our Handmade Market in Fayetteville come to mind as great options love to me. Just be sure to tell them your budget before getting started.

Get Creative with Last Minute Gift Ideas!

It doesn’t have to be obvious you got around to shopping late if you put some thought into it. By tailoring a simple idea around the person’s interest and taste you can turn a last minute idea into a favorite gift!

Have you given any last !minute gifts that were a hit? Any that were a flop? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

THRIFTED CHRISTMAS: 5 UPCYCLED CHRISTMAS DECOR IDEAS

upycled Christmas decor

5 Creative Projects to Stretch Your Christmas Budget

If you’re like me your Christmas budget may already be stretched just buying gifts and extra food. But what if you’re on a small budget and still want to decorate (or give decorations) for the holidays. I’ve got you covered with five upcycled Christmas decor ideas. Spread some holiday cheer around your house (or even the neighborhood) with these great ideas that are also easy on the budget!

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.*

1. Use a Tree Stump or Log for a Beautiful Table Setting or Even Ornaments to Make Upcycled Christmas Decor

If you have cut wood for burning in the fireplace or just trim a small piece off the bottom of your real Christmas tree, you can use that for beautiful, rustic decorations!

Simply cut the diameter of the wood into slices, leaving the bark on, place on the table and decorate using greenery, holly, or even just placing LED candles on them for a little ambiance (without the obvious fire hazard of open flame on top of wood). The awesome thing about these is they work year-round!

pinecones and a fishbowl on top of a slice of wood
fishbowl not required, but the pinecones are a nice touch!

If you have a branch or log that is not as large in diameter drill a hole toward the top and hang the slices as ornaments! Stencil some initials or brush on some glitter for a little extra detail. They’d be adorable with snowmen, stockings, deer silhouettes, or stars painted on them! This is a simple, oh so easy form of upcycled Christmas decor! If you have kids this would make a great craft to do over the break! Have them help paint the ornaments (maybe not cut them). Gotta keep them entertained for two weeks after all…

Related: For more Christmas craft ideas see my latest YouTube video: Episode 108: Christmas Crafts featuring my sister, Cara Davis, and two of the crafts from her Etsy Shop!

2. Wreaths Made of Grapevine or Tree Cuttings Make Great Upcycled Christmas Decor

I was literally just in Goodwill today and saw a substantial grapevine wreath for $5.75. Alas, I was there looking for counter height barstools and don’t have a wreath in the budget, but my point is these can be picked up cheap! My frugal instinct tells me $2 can probably score a pretty good one at a yard sale or other thrift store.

You could even pull the sunflowers off an old summer wreath stored in the attic and upcycle yourself some great Christmas decor! Or, save yourself some trouble, head to Dollar Tree, and pick up a wire wreath form. They even come in 3-D! If you use a real tree and have to trim a few boughs use the greenery to fill the wreath! It’d make a beautiful advent wreath or look great on the door. The best part – you only have $1 in it!

3. Upcycle Pinecones as Ornaments!

Several years ago I made ornaments for a church Christmas bazaar using only pinecones and ribbon. They sold pretty well. Amazingly (to me) they held up pretty well also; I still have a few on my tree! Simply make a loop to hang from the tree out of ribbon, hot glue it to the top, and fashion a simple bow out of ribbon to hide the glue. Easy peasy lemon squeezy as my six-year-old says. And very neutral; it could go with several color schemes or tree themes.

pinecone ornament hanging in a tree as a piece of upycled Christmas decor

4. Make a Christmas garland with old cards for Upcycled Christmas decor

I used to make gift tags and scrapbook pages out of old card pictures. It was fun, economical, and they were all one-of-a-kind. Even if you’re sentimental about cards, you can still keep the message! Even just hanging them by clothespins on a line of jute rope would be a pretty way to make a blank wall feel festive.

stack of Christmas cards

5. Repurpose Some Childhood Favorites

This requires zero effort and has all the nostalgia. If like me you were allowed to pick out an ornament a year as a child (I picked very random ornaments) why not pull them out and use them with your kids? We have two small trees we use in our kids’ rooms. There was nowhere “safe” to display the tree in our toddler son’s new room this year, but next year I will find a spot for it. He’ll likely have a different furniture arrangement by them.

Most if not all of the ornaments on the tree in our daughter’s room were ours as children! She loves that. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to go through a box of old ornaments with my sister. Some of the wood ones are now on our tree in the living room.

My kids will grow older, be safer around baubles, and our tree will eventually get fancier. For now, I like being able to look at almost every ornament on the tree and have it mean something. Most of the ornaments on our tree were made by yours truly or someone I love; I have ornaments from my sister in years past, ornaments we made together (see the link above), ornaments my kids made, some my mother made, and a few that were made by ladies who were very special to me growing up who have since passed.

Do You Have Favorite Items to Upcycle for the Holidays?

I love finding new uses for things in general, but there’s something really magical about the holidays. Anything that adds to the magic without upsetting the budget is just grand in my book.

That’s one of the reasons I love upcycled Christmas decor; it saves you money and keeps items fresh and in use. I’d love to hear your frugal and upcycled decor ideas in the comments. Do you have any special ornaments that you hold dear? Tell me about them! Until next time, and stay frugal this holiday season my friends!

INEXPENSIVE STOCKING STUFFERS THE FAMILY WILL LOVE

inexpensive stocking stuffers

Inexpensive Stocking Stuffer Ideas for the Whole Family

Stockings are fun. I remember them being a particular specialty of my mother’s: the stockings could’ve been the whole gift! It is fun filling my kids’ stockings (and the hubby’s) with useful, fun things for Christmas morning. I always have fun picking out what to put in them but do not like allocating a huge chunk of the Christmas gift budget for them. For this post, I have compiled a list of inexpensive stocking stuffers your whole family will enjoy emptying on Christmas morning that won’t leave your wallet feeling empty!

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualified purchases.*

First, a Small Admission…

I must confess that this year we do not even own stockings! In my YouTube Episode 107 Pre-Holiday Decluttering, I mentioned that I would probably donate quite a few holiday decorations that didn’t go with the color scheme of our new house. The stockings didn’t make the cut!

In an attempt to buy more “adult” looking stockings our first year married I bought really formal, dark-colored burgundy and sage-ish stockings. After having a child I bought two more similar color schemed stockings on sale in preparation for the second child we planned. After not seeing them last Christmas (we lived with my dad in between selling and building our new house) we realized… we don’t like them!

I’d rather not have a nonessential item (I am a minimalist now after all) than hold onto something I don’t like, so they went into the donation box along with a few other breakable decorative items.

In case you’re new here, we are trying to keep glass to a minimum around the house after our son’s injury this summer.

For the Kids

I like to keep stockings fun and simple for the kids while still making the contents useful and not just something that will end up thrown away or donated in short order. Luckily my kids are young enough that saying no to most electronic items is still really easy! Here are a few examples of inexpensive stocking stuffers I have included or plan to include in my kids’ stockings:

Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers For Him

I’m not going to lie; these are ALL things my husband has or suggested! A lot were gifts from previous years and one or two were just ideas he gave me. The names of some of these products are funny, but they really are good products. In years past I was guilty of going to Lowe’s on a lunch hour and shoveling random stuff in my basket for stocking stuffers for the hubs and my dad. Not so much anymore. Here are some inexpensive stocking stuffing ideas based on what my man already owns and loves.

  • A good stocking cap – my husband is still sad he’s misplaced his Carhart cap somewhere in the move to our new house.
  • a good Mag Light because what man doesn’t appreciate a great flashlight?
  • a big a$$ bar of soap- I bought this as a joke one year for my husband, but he is a Duke Cannon convert now! They have scents anywhere for everything from beer to different military branches. They even have a soap on a rope pouch that is hubby approved.
  • Duke Cannon solid cologne – my hubby wears Redwood. I am in no way affiliated with Duke Cannon (I wish) but I LOVE their products! You can google the ingredients and not worry! I’m all about that nontoxic life on a budget!
  • Beard oil – Whether it’s Duke Cannon Big Bourbon or Young Living’s Shutran Beard Oil, you can’t go wrong with an all-natural product!
  • Harry’s razor starter kit – Give him a great shave at an even better price! Set your subscription and get blades delivered to your door when you need them!

For Her

This is the hardest one for me to write and you’d think it’d be the easiest! Here are some items I wouldn’t mind finding in my (nonexistent) stocking this Christmas. Hopefully, I am not the only one. This isn’t the longest list on this post, but I do hope it is helpful. Since my mindset has changed to a more minimalist one it is harder to think of a number of smaller things. I envision clutter. Maybe it’s just me. Please let me know in the comments if that’s how you feel as well!

  • a pretty mug, like in this Pioneer Woman set. You can call me weird, but I do not like drinking hot tea in a stainless steel cup or mug.
  • a bath bomb, plus the guaranteed time to enjoy it
  • lipgloss, not just any lip gloss, but a clean beauty brand
  • a good lip scrub
  • a ponytail beanie hat – I didn’t know these existed, and I’m already in love! Keep your hair up AND your head warm. Brilliant!
  • Smartwool socks – I own a pair from Duluth and I love them. I believe they are worth every penny.

There You Have it

I do not advise going overboard with stocking stuffers, especially if you have younger kids. Once everyone is older smaller, more valuable gifts may be more appreciated, but when they’re younger I prefer to keep it simple. I do believe I’ve added a stainless steel mug or pair of house shoes to my husband’s stocking in the past, but those were probably the most substantial items I’ve purchased to make their way in a stocking.

Do you use stockings at Christmas? I’d love to hear what you stuff them with! Let me know in the comments! Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel! Fun things are coming later this week! And I’ll be back on the blog in a couple of days with more helpful holiday-themed tips. Until my next post, stay frugal with your holiday shopping my friends!

THOUGHTFULLY THRIFTY CHRISTMAS; 25 MORE GIFT IDEAS

thoughtfully thrifty Christmas

25 More Thoughtfully Thrifty Christmas Gift Ideas

A couple of weeks ago I published a list of 25 Thoughtful Ideas for Handmade Christmas Gifts. Maybe you’re all for a thoughtfully thrifty Christmas, but not so much handmaking it yourself. No worries! Here are 25 more thoughtful gift ideas that will still fit nicely in your budget with no hot glue or needles required on your part! If you’re on a really tight (or nonexistent) budget you might also want to check out these Five Helpful Tips if You Haven’t Budgeted for Christmas.

*This page contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualified purchases.*

1. Have the Kids Help You Make a Masterpiece

Get some art supplies from Dollar Tree and set the kids loose with markers or washable paints (depending on their age) to gift Grandma and Grandpa an original piece of art! Kids also love to paint items they find for special collections. This gift is thoughtful, thrifty, and handmade – just not by your hands!

2. Get the Journaler/Planner in Your Life a Great Notebook Set

If you have someone on your list who is big on making lists, journaling affirmations, or keeping life neatly organized in a great planner https://www.erincondren.com/“>Erin Condren has the perfect gift! You can even get it customized with their name or initials! There are lots of great accessories for sticker lovers as well.

3. Scrapbook or Photo Album (Physical or Digital)

If you want to share the memories without taking up a physical hardbound album or wall space a digital photo album may be a great option for a thoughtfully thrifty Christmas gift! It may cost a bit on the front end, but imagine NEVER having to print pictures again! Just share them instantly via WiFi! It’s the gift that keeps giving.

4. Diffuser Necklace

Know anyone who could use the power of aromatherapy everywhere they go? Who doesn’t?! This beautiful tower-shaped pendant is very striking and doesn’t look like most diffuser jewelry. It has a daintier feel and can be dressed up or down.

5. Memory Jar

If it’s someone you’ve known a long time fill in a few of the 180 included tickets in this Top Shelf Good Memory Jar with your favorite memories with them. If it’s someone special you’re just getting to know better fill one or two out and explain that you look forward to adding to it together.

6. Personalized Jewelry

A beautifully engraved necklace or bracelet doesn’t have to break the bank! This nameplate bracelet can be engraved with a favorite phrase, name(s), or even the latitude and longitude of somewhere special. Sterling silver options can be found under $30 as well!

7. Coupon Book

take a stack of notecards, punch a hole, and use a metal ring to hold together a one of a kind creation from the kids. Coupon ideas can include help unloading the dishes, doing their least favorite chore without complaint, a hug… let the little ones come up with a few of their own. This gift is thoughtful, thrifty, and coupon ideas can come completely from the kids’ imaginations.

8. Buy a Good Pair of Slippers for a Thoughtfully Thrifty Christmas Gift

Some people appreciate a quality slipper but never fork over the money for a pair themselves. I am in that category as well; time and time again I have to throw out ratty slippers and tell myself I’ll buy better quality ones. Time and time again I go to the store, see the price difference, and go for the cheap two-pack. Frugal isn’t cheap and I know this, but man is it hard to spend money on this sort of thing for yourself.

If you know someone who may have cold tootsies while at home and would appreciate a good pair, there are several good options for men and women. I particularly like these soft slip-ons for women and classic Dockers for men.

9. Stainless Steel Razor Gift Set

Upgrade your loved one’s shave game with a durable and eco-friendly stainless steel razor set like this Bigfoot Shaves kit for men. There are also some traditional Harry’s gift sets with aftershave skincare products included.

10. Letterboard Photo Frame

It’s a slightly different take on the current letterboard craze; include the latest picture of the kids with a sweet note or share the big news with the letterboard in the middle. This is a thoughtfully thrifty Christmas gift that’s also on-trend!

11. Stocking Cap

Buy a Love Your Melon beanie and 50% of the proceeds go to nonprofit therapeutic experiences for families affected by cancer. There are lots of color and style options to choose from. These are also 100% cotton and made in the USA!

12. Gift Cards Can Make a Thoughtful Gift Too!

Gift cards are a lot more thoughtful than they get credit for! Have a coffee addict on your list? Get them a card to their favorite coffee shop! Know some frazzled parents who would love to have a date night? Get them a gift card for one of their favorite restaurants. Maybe throw in a coupon for free babysitting that night?

How about gifting that college student on the list a gift card for a sandwich shop near campus or grocery store. The possibilities are just about endless! Just consider the recipient and buy a gift card or certificate you know they will enjoy or find useful.

13. Handwoven Serape That Gives Back

Wrap your loved one in the warmth of this authentic Benevolence LA Mexican Serape. Benevolence LA has a mission; So far, according to the product page on Amazon proceeds from purchases have “provided 4 villages with clean water for the very first time. More than 2,500 Africans no longer suffer from the debilitating water-borne disease.” That’s not all these blankets do. Check out their purpose by clicking the link above. The packaging is also eco-friendly!

14. Heifer International

Make a donation in the name of someone who doesn’t need or want anything at the moment. Shop the Gift Catalog to provide farm animals to help lift families out of poverty. Gifts start at around $10 for a share in a larger animal. You can donate as little as $20 to donate a flock of chicks to provide eggs and a source of income.

15. Skip the Gift Exchange with a Friend and Perform an Act of Service Together

Make this year more memorable and instead of exchanging gifts spend time with a particular friend or relative volunteering somewhere together. All it will cost is your time and it can be a much more rewarding experience! You can volunteer together helping at a local animal shelter, serving a meal to the homeless, or just take the money you would’ve spent on the gift and purchasing supplies or making a cash donation to a local food bank.

16. Commemorative Ornaments

Keepsake ornaments can be a very special way to remember a special trip taken together, baby’s first Christmas, couple’s first Christmas, you name it. Just please, please, please give a Christmas themed gift to someone a little early. It’s not really fair to give someone Christmas decorations shortly before they get packed up.

17. Lava Diffuser Bracelet with Empower Charm

This adorable minty charm bracelet does a lot more good than just carry your favorite scent all day all proceeds from sales of this little beauty go to benefit the Young Living Foundation. Empower is exactly what your purchase will do the foundation makes a point to empower people in underserved communities around the world.

18. Find a Thoughtful, Handmade Treasure from Amazon

Shop from Amazon’s small business gift section under handmade gift items and find that perfect gift for someone special on your list. There are truly unique artisan-made finds in this section. From jewelry to bath bombs to beard combs you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

19. Give the Gift of an Experience Together for a Thoughtfully Thrifty Christmas Gift

This one doesn’t actually have to cost anything! You can decide to finally take your friend on that hiking trip you’ve always talked about and call that their gift! Pick an activity you both enjoy and do it together. The cost can obviously vary quite a bit on this one, but quality time with the people you love is always a plus be it hiking, wine tasting, a tea party, or a road trip!

20. Write a Poem or Short Story

If you have a flair for writing why not write your sweetie a love poem or the kids a one-of-a-kind story? There are lots of ways to present it; have the book printed at a photo kiosk or online, or the poem or shared phrase printed out on canvas in a color scheme fitting with the decor.

21. Give the Gift of Softer Lips with a Lip Balm Set

Chances are you know someone with dry lips (or a little girl who just loves lip balm). Why not gift them with an all-natural gift set of essential oil-infused lip balms? The Yule Love Your Lips lip balm set comes pre-wrapped!

22. Have Fun with the Thoughtfully Thrifty Gift of a Caroling Kit in a Box

If you live in a neighborhood or visit someone who does this can be really fun; print out some carols, drop in a few mugs, some cocoa powder, marshmallows, maybe even throw in matching scarves and spread some Christmas cheer throughout the neighborhood! As an added bonus leave a treat of peppermints or homemade cookies at each stop!

23. Professional Massage

This isn’t the thriftiest gift idea, but it is almost always appreciated! Trust me!

24. Buy a Childhood Favorite and Make it a Tradition with Your Family

Was there a movie you watched every year? Did you get matching pajamas on Christmas Eve? Why not keep the tradition alive? It can be a special game, movie, matching slippers or mugs…

25. Adopt an Angel

The deadline for turning gifts should be coming up fast. If you have any money left in your budget I highly encourage you to adopt an angel from the angel tree or see if your school district has a program. Include the kids if they’re old enough too! I believe generosity should be taught from an early age. It’s so much easier to appreciate what you have when you help someone in need.

That’s 25 Thoughtfully Thrifty Christmas Gift Ideas

I’ve given you 50 gift ideas total now! What are you waiting for? Make that list, check it twice, and be sure to stay in budget! I’ll be back later in the week with stocking stuffer ideas for the whole family! Until then, as always, stay frugal my friends!

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