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”>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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life update

A Life Update Just in Time for Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving being a few days away I figured this would be a good time to give a life update and explain what we’re so thankful for at a Life on a Dime.

*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 so much to be thankful for! We have two healthy kids, great results on our annual health reviews earlier this month. I am currently enjoying a week at home with both kids. Okay, I’m enjoying most of it. We’ve had our moments, but it just goes with the territory! Without further ado, here is our life update!

How We Kicked off Thanksgiving Break

Last Thursday the kids all dressed as either pilgrims or Indians and then the families were invited to come to school for a Thanksgiving feast at lunch. We missed the parade due to little bubby’s speech therapy, but Thanksgiving lunch is something I’ve made every year, even at daycare before she was in school. It’s just tradition at this point.

Friday morning was the start of the break for my daughter since we opted out of the day-long field trip. We took bubby to speech therapy and then we girls went across the street to do a little Christmas shopping. I got a good start on supplies for gifts I’m putting together before grabbing the little man and heading home.

Monday was not that great, but our plans fell through. We planned to visit my daughter’s former children’s church teacher (and previous babysitter) and just enjoy some time with Ms. Linda. We are praying her hubby gets over his pneumonia enough to come home from the hospital today.

Yesterday we had an appointment across town and decided to head over to Barnes and Noble. The kids had some birthday gift cards previously mentioned in How to Keep the Kids Entertained Thanksgiving Break. It was a new experience for both to wander through the children’s section and pick out whatever they wanted within their budgets. Needless to say, it was very exciting for them! Thank you, Aunt Cara!

In the end they each settled on one new toy (a sparkly owl beanie baby for her and a trainset for him) a book, and they split a cookie in the cafe. All in all, it was a great afternoon out. Then they came home and fought over the train set cuz… kids.

As mentioned previously in the Thanksgiving break survival guide post I budgeted for one meal out for me and the kids. We don’t do this often. Logistically and budget-wise it just isn’t always appealing!

I wanted to do something special and I was so glad I did! When my best friend and I organized a playdate her suggestion to eat at Chick Fil A and talk while the kids ran around the indoor play place was in the budget! We got to catch up a little, the kids ran off some steam, and Chick Fil A is always yummy!

This is What Answered Prayer Looks Like

Today I want to show you what answered prayer looks like. If you’ve been following a Life on a Dime you know our son cut his hand this summer. Quite literally days after I published a post titled Emergency! Why You Need an Emergency Fund Now we experienced our own emergency. You can read Our Emergency: Why We Cash Flow Medical Bills and Trusting in Him Always if you need to be caught up.

Several hours in the emergency room left us with more questions than answers. Would he be able to use his thumb? Had he done more damage than we realized? We went through days of uncertainty, consulted an orthopedic surgeon, opted for surgery, and I am happy to report that he now has use of his thumb!

We opted for surgery not knowing how severe the damage was but knowing if it was extensive it was better to repair sooner than try to reconstruct what was left later.

The surgeon confirmed we made the best choice for our son and his little hand when he told us the extent of the damage; had we not chosen surgery our little boy would’ve lost the use of his thumb. He uses it now!

life update

Here we are four months later and he is using his little thumb. I just have to massage his little hand regularly to get the scar to stretch as he grows. It isn’t 100% and still too soon to tell the extent of nerve damage and repair success, but this is definitely an answered prayer!

Blog Life Update

October was a great month for a Life on a Dime! Blogtober was a huge success, literally doubling this little site’s total views! Overall, for the year, not monthly views! It was a lot of work to keep up with daily posts and pins, but somehow I managed to pull it off.

Thank you to everyone who visited and continues to visit! I have decided to try to post twice a week going forward, and for some reason that seems even harder to keep up with!

I do have lots of exciting content planned and will continue to bring you weekly meal plans via the newsletter (you can sign up here if you haven’t yet!)

The YouTube channel is growing slowly but surely and I love coming up with and posting new videos there, so it is definitely worth the work! If you haven’t seen the channel yet, you can check it out here. Now is a good time to get caught up since there aren’t a whole lot of videos yet! Stay tuned for my first guest in next week’s video! It’s going to be a fun one so be sure to subscribe and hit that bell so you know when it goes live!

Thanksgiving Plans

We’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving with my side of the family. My sister nor I were interested in eating two large meals in one day, so we all went to her house on Saturday evening. The kids love playing with their older cousins. My shy takes a bit to warm up toddler went up to my nephew and promptly asked for some “hucks!” (trucks) to play with and just like that the ice was broken!

Tomorrow night we’ll all go to my sister-in-law’s house for another yummy meal and family time. Their kids are closer in age to mine so it’ll be wild. Literally wild, but definitely entertaining. I am looking forward to my hubby’s peanut butter pie!

How is Life? What Are Your Thanksgiving Plans?

That’s about it for my little life update and Thanksgiving plans. Do you have a tradition for turkey day every year? Have you already celebrated? What are your plans? I’d love to know. I’d REALLY love to know if you have any answered prayers from this year you would like to share! Those we are truly thankful for and they are worth celebrating!

Here’s to a safe and happy Thanksgiving to all my frugal friends!

This post was proofread by Grammarly


sunshine blogger

a Life on a Dime Has Been Nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award a Second Time

Just Tuesday I posted that a Life on a Dime was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award, and come to find out I’ve been nominated again! This time by Jenni at I on Image. Jenni is a stylist who blogs about fashion and if you’re not already following, you should be!

First off, thank you so much! To have your work recognized by not one but two fellow bloggers is truly an honor! In case you missed the last post, here’s a bit of a recap:


If you aren’t a blogger, you’re probably wondering what the Sunshine Blogger Award even is. Nominations are given by bloggers to other bloggers to inspire and encourage positivity and creativity. In other words, it is recognizing bloggers who are spreading their sunshine throughout the blog world with their writing.

Since I have already nominated 11 bloggers and am excited to see their responses, here are just the questions posed by Jenni and my answers. I hope you enjoy!

Sunshine Blogger Nominee Questions

How do you express yourself through your personal style?

I don’t really think about that to be honest! I am a stay at home mom, so first and foremost I like to be comfortable and wear something I know can be washed and cared for easily!

What does your style tell about you?

My style probably says that I am rather laid back! These days I major in skinny jeans or leggings and tunics! I do love my boots though!

Do you have any style icons?

Audrey Hepburn! I LOVED her style! Admittedly, I rarely emulate it, but she was my favorite! I loved the simplicity of her style and the fact that she kept her eyebrows fuller. I am pretty low maintenance so I don’t really achieve her look much, but I love it. She was iconic. When they released the perfume made exclusively for her I wore it for a while.

Is style important to you?

Somewhat. I may keep it simple, but I don’t live in sweats!

What is your blogging niche?

I kind of have two niches, but I feel like they blend well; my focus is on personal finance/budgeting and minimalism. I actually dabble in a third, non-toxic living since it is also a passion of mine.

How does your blog reflect your personal brand?

It is me! Everything on this blog is based on my life and who I am, what my family values.

What do you enjoy the most about blogging?

I have always loved writing. And I love the fact that I can write and share things that hopefully help other people. I really love it when it really connects with others and inspires, educates, or just gives them a little entertainment.

What sparked the inspiration to start blogging?

Really I just needed something to do for me, to talk about the things that inspire and motivate me, and I wanted to be able to help others through it. I like to think I’m good with budgeting, and I’m passionate about minimalism due to family circumstances shaping my views, and I wanted to share my story with the world.

I felt like if I can help people, give myself a creative outlet, a new sense of community (without increasing my gas budget!), and maybe make a little income on the side it would be such an awesome adventure! So far it has been!

How do you practice self-care during the dark winter months?

I am not so great at self-care. I tend to choose for really easy options that don’t take a lot of time or money because I don’t have a lot of either to spare right now being a stay at home mom! Sometimes just painting my nails, putting on makeup when I don’t really “need” to, or talking to a friend can really serve as a pick me up.

Where should I shop in your home town?

We have a really cute little boutique store called Chic Gypsy Boutique and an amazing little antiques and gift store called Onion Creek Home. I never leave either without seeing something I love! I also love purchasing gifts there because they fit the ladies I know so well and I love supporting local businesses.

Where should I eat in your home town?

You should go to Fat Rolls Bakery in Prairie Grove for breakfast or lunch. Go any day but Monday and enjoy walking around the historic district downtown! Most stores are closed on Monday. At breakfast, they serve biscuits and gravy, orange rolls, cinnamon rolls, peanut butter rolls… and for lunch, they serve sandwiches on their fresh-baked bread. It is very affordable too, which I love for my budget. For dinner, you should definitely try Gabriela’s, the local Mexican restaurant.


the sunshine blogger award

a Life on a Dime Has Been Nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award!

This evening (a Monday night) I was preparing dinner and decided to check Twitter (I’m @alifeonadime if you want to follow along there too) to find that fellow blogger Mori Ganna, who runs a blog about “self-awareness, positivity, and learnings after mental illness,” had nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. First, thank you so much! If you haven’t checked out Mori Ganna do that now!

I started this blog in June to document our family’s transition as a single income family and our journey to live life to the fullest on less. I hoped to provide a little hope and inspiration to other families on a tight budget who still wanted to provide safe, non-toxic homes. At times, I’m not sure I’m really reaching anyone or making a difference. I still enjoy blogging, so I press on anyway and try to stay true to my original purpose of the site. The fact that another blogger chose to recognize this little platform was most appreciated.

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

If you aren’t a blogger, you’re probably wondering what the Sunshine Blogger Award even is. Nominations are given by bloggers to other bloggers to inspire and encourage positivity and creativity. In other words, it is recognizing bloggers who are spreading their sunshine throughout the blog world with their writing.

The fact that a Life on a Dime was nominated was very unexpected and encouraging! This little blog hasn’t been around for a very long time, and I really only got involved in the blogging community last month. I have received so much support and truly appreciate this nomination.

The Rules

  1. In your post, thank the blogger(s) who nominated you, and link back to their blog.
  2. List these rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your blog post.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the blogger(s) asked you.
  4. Nominate 11 new bloggers for the award and ask them 11 new questions.
  5. Let the nominees know about their nomination.

My Sunshine Blogger Award Questions from Mori Ganna

1. When did you start blogging?

I just started this blog in June, and only have as much content as I do because I participated in Blogtober last month. I actually went live with my site and announced it to the world on Instagram (my only social media account at the time) with one welcome post because I was afraid I wouldn’t ever do it if I didn’t just get it out there.

2. What’s your proudest moment from this year?

I think I am most proud so far that I completed Blogtober! Not only did I write a post every day last month, but I kept my posts in niche and didn’t just publish 31 posts; this girl published 32 posts and a recipe! I also started my YouTube channel! As they say, do it scared. I did it all scared last month!

3. If you had to give one piece of advice to a newbie blogger, what would it be?

Just do it! And do it for you! Write what you love to write and find your niche and blog your little heart out! You’ll find your audience/tribe. Be your authentic self and it will resonate with people.

4. How do you relax?

I love sitting down with a cup of hot tea. I’d say I read but that’d be asking too much with a two-year-old around!

5. Do you have a favorite quote? What is it?

I don’t have one favorite quote but I have always appreciated the words and works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. I will leave you with this one.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. What’s the first item closest to you on your left at this moment?

That would be a bag of mini marshmallows.

The Final Five

7. What’s your favorite type of pen to write your notes or journal with?

I like a ballpoint pen, but in reality, I just like multi-colored pens so I can brighten things up on the page. I am just happy with a set from the Dollar Tree as I am with a UniBall.

8. Do you blog full-time or part-time?

I guess it depends on how you look at it; I am a stay at home mom, so I do things for my blog throughout the day and/or night as I can. It is also one of the only sources of personal income I have at the moment, but it is far from earning a full-time salary.

9. How do you balance blogging and other life stuff so you don’t burn out?

I do what I can when I can and this prevents burnout. I also have a lifelong love of writing with very few other creative outlets, so this is a treat and not a burden. If I were to feel burned out I would probably just decrease the number of posts for a bit or change it up.

10. What’s your dream holiday destination?

Paris. Someday hopefully, but I would love to be in a cabin anywhere in the mountains for a bit again too.

11. Who is your favorite person and why?

Um, this is a hard one. It may sound cheesy and obvious, but I’m going to say it’s my husband. The last couple of years have truly been a season of sacrifice for him leaving our old house, working two jobs so I can stay home with our kids, and missing out on a lot of time with us. This is not something I take for granted.

My nominees

  1. Gabby Abigaill
  2. Goatdog Simple
  3. Renew Inspiration
  4. Pinay In Hawaii
  5. That Weird Girl Life
  6. Simply Sarah Jane Loves
  7. This Brilliant Day
  8. Prayers and Passports
  9. Gen-Y Mama
  10. The Uncorked Librarian
  11. Sweet Frugal Life

Questions for My Nominees

  1. Why did you decide to start a blog?
  2. Do you have any other creative outlets besides writing/blogging?
  3. What is your dream for your blog? What do you see as its ultimate purpose?
  4. Tell me what brings you the most joy in your life.
  5. How long have you been blogging?
  6. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
  7. If you could go back in time before your launch, what is the one thing you would have done anything differently when you started your blog?
  8. Is your job purely a passion project on the side or your full-time job?
  9. Where do you feel you write best?
  10. When do you feel most inspired to write?
  11. And last, but not least I will borrow one of the questions given to me. What is your proudest moment of the year?


non-toxic dishwasher detergent tablets

Problem: I Want Non-Toxic Dishwasher Detergent Tablets That Are Affordable

This post is a companion piece to Episode 106: DIY Dishwasher Tablets on the YouTube channel. As promised in the video, I am breaking down the process of making my own non-toxic dishwasher detergent tablets as seen in the video and provide links to the products used.

If you’re like me, you want products in your home to be as non-toxic as possible. If you’re also like me you’re not willing or able to pay an arm and a leg for said non-toxic items. I am on a budget after all. I love using plant-based, non-toxic, and essential oil-infused products wherever possible.

Sometimes to make that fit in the budget I have to DIY my own solutions. One such solution I found myself needing was a good dishwasher tablet. That’s okay since I happen to love a good DIY. I prefer tablets to powder and finding what I wanted in my price range proved difficult. Here is my DIY recipe for non-toxic dishwasher detergent tablets.

Solution: I DIYed My Own Essential Oil-Infused Dishwasher Detergent Tablets!

DIYing is often a great solution for getting what you want in your budget. We DIY everything from storage solutions to home decor to antibacterial hand soaps and shower gel around our house. So making my own non-toxic dishwasher detergent tablets wasn’t much of a stretch for me.

The bonus is I decided to build my recipe around cleaning products I already employed to begin with or had other uses for around the house. No one-off products in this recipe for me. I wanted more bang for my buck. I already make my own non-toxic laundry detergent and decided to add washing powder to boost the cleaning power of an already satisfactory product. It was in all the recipes online the first go around, but I didn’t have it on hand. I also didn’t have any Thieves® detergent left and a lot of laundry piling up. I made do with what I had! It turned out well and I used the whole bottle up. I recently whipped up a second batch with the washing powder and have been very happy with the results. You can read the updated post on that here.

I already use Castile soap for hand soaps and body wash, so I had some of that on hand as well. It is very gentle on the skin and all-natural. I just add Thieves® oil and a little water (for easier pumping) to my hand soap pumps in the bathrooms for non-toxic and alcohol-free antibacterial hand soap.

I also had Thieves® Household Cleaner on hand and use it to clean, well… everything. That bottle of concentrated cleaner is just so effective AND economical! Using the Household Cleaner instead of several drops of the oils seemed like a more cost-effective approach to me. You can skip the Household Cleaner and add several drops of lemon and or Thieves® essential oil if you so choose. So, this recipe only involved buying two items I did not use or plan to use previously; citric acid and a silicone ice cube tray.

To Make Your Own Non-Toxic Dishwasher Detergent Tablets:

non-toxic dishwasher detergent tablets

Ingredients (Fills 2 Trays)

Silicone Ice Cube Trays

2 Cups Washing Soda

1/2 Cup Citric Acid (I used Lemi Shine)

1/2 Cup White Distilled Vinegar

1 Tsp Unscented Castile Soap

1 Capful Thieves® Household Cleaner


  1. Mix dry ingredients and Thieves® Household Cleaner well
  2. Slowly mix in vinegar (it will be frothy)
  3. Scoop mixture into ice cube trays. Pack tightly. The mixture should remain moist throughout packing. Add more vinegar if needed.
  4. Let set for 24 hours then carefully remove the individual cubes from the trays.

Store them in a glass container and then use one per load in the dishwasher as you would a typical detergent.

Tips from My Experience Making My Own Non-Toxic Dishwasher Detergent Tablets

It is very important to mix the solution well and pack it into the ice cube trays while it is still moist. It will need the full 24 hours, so don’t get excited and check it too early. When you do remove the tablets from the tray I recommending pushing up from the bottom until the majority of the tablet is free of the tray. You cannot squeeze them much or they will crumble.

The good news is even if they do crumble some the soap is still good to use! You definitely need silicone; I do not believe I could’ve gotten any tablets out in one piece had I used a traditional plastic ice cube tray.

Overall, I am very happy with these ingredients in the dishwasher and using tablets that are premeasured and easier to load will make things run smoother. I definitely plan to buy another silicone ice cube tray in the future in order to make a full batch each time.

Please check out the video and give it a like/subscribe if you haven’t already! I’ll be back on the blog tomorrow with a regularly scheduled post. See you then frugal friends! And let me know in the comments here or on the video if you try these! I’d love to hear how yours turn out! Happy DIYs!


haven't budgeted for Christmas

What to do when you haven’t budgeted for Christmas and it looks like you may need to skip it…

While skipping Christmas is certainly an option, there are a few more options available. If you’re still in baby step two the last thing you want to do is add to your existing debt. If you currently have on debt don’t go back into it just to put a few presents under the tree. Don’t be like the 769 consumers polled after Christmas last year who averaged over $1000 in holiday debt with 42% saying they had no plans to pay it off within three months. Here are five tips to try if you haven’t budgeted for Christmas but still want to spread some holiday cheer without going into debt.

See Related: Holiday Debt Could Take Years to Pay Off from CNBC

Go Minimalist and Cut Back on the Yule Tide Celebrations if You Haven’t Budgeted for Christmas – Way Back

This involves skipping a few things. The optional gift exchanges at the office? Probably not happening. All the party invitations? You’ll need to decline any and all you can that require money being spent.

This is one of those times minimalism comes in really handy; if you remember from Minimalism and Christmas: 5 Tips for Minimalist Holidays, that it can be very beneficial to keep the calendar from being too full will save you some time, stress, and money. That last one is crucial! If you haven’t budgeted for Christmas then you’re going to need to make every dollar count, now more than usual!

You could even totally rethink the annual Christmas dinner with friends and family. Change it up and have fun making new memories while saving money at the same time with these 3 Frugal Holiday Dinner Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank.

Get a Side Hustle

If the idea of skipping Christmas or cutting back the gift list isn’t appealing at all or an option you would consider, there are still a few weeks to get in a side hustle and make some money for Christmas. You’ll want to be sure you will be paid before the actual holiday in order to make this work.

I have 6 Legitimate Side Hustle Ideas to help you get your hustle on. So check them out, get hustling, and make some bank to finance a little Christmas generosity.

Give Handmade Gifts if You Haven’t Budgeted for Christmas

These can be much more thoughtful than store-bought presents, and done right they can also be much less expensive. Here are 25 Thoughtful Ideas for Handmade Christmas Gifts to give you some inspiration. Also, be sure to check out a Life on a Dime’s YouTube channel weekly between now and then for some DIY videos that would make great gifts.

If you do choose to go the handmade route you’ll want to get your list together and get started sooner rather than later. Also, be sure to go over your November and December budgets now to see what you can cut from your budget now in order to have money to buy needed supplies. I have lots of suggestions on budget cuts and how to save money on the blog if you need more ideas than the ones linked here.

haven't budgeted for Christmas

If You Do Have to Skip Christmas…

There is no shame in admitting you can’t afford to do something. If buying gifts this holiday season or hosting the big, party you traditionally do is simply not an option make sure to let people know as early as possible.

And please don’t think that the fact that you aren’t buying gifts for anyone means you’re confined to your house while friends and family are gathered to celebrate. Chances are someone else in your family is preparing to spend money they don’t have this holiday season. They might breathe a sigh of relief when you come forward to say you won’t be participating in gift exchanges this year.

So go ahead, attend the family dinners and church pageant without reservation. Christmas is about love and family and sharing the news of the greatest gift we could possibly receive. No need to lose sight of that with all the consumeristic trappings that have become standard. It may turn out to be one of the best Christmases ever! At the very least it will help serve as extra motivation to get your finances in order in the new year.

Have You Ever Simplified or Skipped Christmas?

I’d love to hear what you’ve done to ease the financial burden of the holidays. Do you save year-round but still keep it simple like we do? Are you like the shoppers polled in last year’s post-holiday survey who admitted to going into debt for the holidays with no game plan to pay it off? Have you skipped Christmas before or plan to this year?

To me, the holidays just feel different when the focus is not on gifts. Family is so much more important. And all you have to budget for with family is time!


minimalism and Christmas

Minimalism and Christmas may not seem like they belong in the same sentence, but I believe they do. The holidays are stressful enough. Why do we make them even more expensive? You don’t get much more minimal than the first Christmas if you think about it. Save yourself some time, stress, and money with my five tips to keep it minimal this holiday season.

**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 qualifying purchases.**

Minimalism & Christmas: Opt for Experiences instead of Items as Gifts

When it comes to gifts, experiences are a wonderful idea! Instead of giving stuff that may go unused in a closet (or just donated if you’re like me) or put a lot of strain on the budget. Avoid all that and give the gift of an experience; this can still be just as if not more thoughtful than a store-bought gift.

Examples of experiences include a gift certificate to a favorite activity such as an indoor sports place (TopGolf, ax throwing) for a more active individual, skating rink or indoor trampoline park for kids, or a certificate for mini-golf or bowling for the entire family. Just keep the recipient in mind. Know someone with a creative flair? What about a gift certificate to paint their own pottery?

Keep the Calendar as Simple as Possible

When (if) the party invitations come rolling in don’t feel the need to RSVP yes to all of them. If the holiday season typically includes a lot of social invitations have a family meeting prior to the deluge of mail and agree upon a set number of social events to attend or discuss which annual gatherings are the highest priority.

Keeping the calendar as clear as possible will save a lot of time, stress, and might even reduce your potential exposure to a few winter bugs. It’s cold and flu season folks and you never know who’s been sick or is coming down with something at large gatherings. Be sure to bring some hand sanitizer.

It’s also worth noting that it is not very minimalist to buy a new outfit for every function you plan to attend; if you have room in the budget for one fancy outfit to wear and most social events you plan to attend include different social circles then guess what? That same outfit will be “new” for all events. Even if you’re seen in the same dress at more than one event does it really matter?

Minimalism & Christmas: Opt for Couple or Family Gifts Instead of Gifts for Each Individual

This is something we’ve chosen to do on my husband’s side of the family and it just makes life easier. There are a lot of kids on his side and they all have a lot of stuff already. Thankfully, nobody truly needs much of anything, and most of us have made efforts to pare down our possessions so adding a lot for everyone in the house seems counterintuitive at this point.

We’ve also all pretty much asked each other exactly what they want or need or if something from a general category would be alright. It helps a lot. Our Christmas savings account check was cut this week and I’m just patiently waiting for it to show up in our mailbox so I can start checking items off our list. Our gift shopping list is about 75% done at this point. I will tally the approximate total against our budget (the amount of the check) once I have it in hand and make adjustments where necessary. Our total Christmas budget this year is $500. I have added about $30 from the monthly budget to round this number out. The goal is obviously to come in under budget. This may feel like a lot to us, but it is below the average of $727.90-$730.70 National Retail Federation predicts American households will spend this year.

See: NRF Forecasts Holiday Sales Will Grow Between 3.8 and 4.2 Percent

minimalism and Christmas

Or Draw Names for a Gift Exchange

In the years past we did this with my dad’s family as it is quite large and it was always so fun; different family members live in different states, so it was always exciting to see something picked out for you that wasn’t necessarily from a store we have here in Northwest Arkansas. Granted, this area has grown significantly, but I remember when it was quite exciting to get gifts in boxes from stores I’d never been to!

This can obviously save a lot of money in larger families but admittedly isn’t for everyone. We considered it last year for my family, but we’re not really big enough. It’s not quite as fun when the odds are high you’ll be drawing the name of someone in your house.

Also with gift exchanges, this is something that the family needs to agree on fairly early as some people like to get shopping done early to save themselves some stress. I actually prevented a gift exchange from happening a few years ago because I had taken on a rather large handmade gift project and started it well in advance of Christmas.

Minimalism & Christmas: Keep it Simple with the Kids

As in years past, we plan to keep it pretty simple with our kids this year. Last year was the first my daughter could read. It was also the first year we forgot to label anything as specifically from Santa. She was so caught up in the excitement she didn’t notice!

We typically buy the kids a few things they need (this usually means there will be socks and underwear in stockings), an experience or larger want (by large I mean around $75- they’re still little and we operate on a budget), and a few smaller things. I will probably opt to skip on the few smaller things this year just because stuff for the sake of stuff isn’t very minimalist.

This year their large gifts are mostly things they need or have wanted for a while; my daughter is a boot girl and she finally outgrew the cowgirl boots we bought her two years ago for Christmas. When it comes to boots we buy quality ones from Cavender’s; they always hold up better and fit longer than tennis shoes or dress shoes. For our son, we will buy a plan rug for his bedroom floor with roads and such. He loves to play cars on the rugs around the house. I can’t say I blame him; tile is cold to sit on!

Related: You can find all Christmas posts published on a Life on a Dime by searching the Christmas category!

minimalism and Christmas

What About You?

Do you plan to incorporate minimalism into your family’s Christmas this year? Do you already keep it pretty simple for the holidays? This is how my family continues to use minimalism and Christmas is much less stressful (and expensive) as a result.

This post was proofread by Grammarly


keep the kids entertained Thanksgiving break

Thanksgiving break starts on the 25th. A mere three weeks from now and all the school children will be home from class. You’d better believe I’ve already thought of ways to keep my first grader entertained while she’s out of school. Here is a survival guide if you will of what I plan to do to keep the kids entertained Thanksgiving break and not lose my mind or control of the monthly 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 qualifying purchases.*

Survival Guide to Keeping the Kids Entertained Thanksgiving Break

Organized Play Dates

I hope to give my girl not one, but two playdates over the break. This is excluding playtime with cousins, which is also very likely to happen. I’m already in talks on one and play to reach out to the other mom this week. I’m not waiting around till the last minute on this to find out the week before that someone will be out of town. You need to have your ducks in a row.


This is where some leftover gift cards from the kids’ birthdays will come in handy. I’ve been saving a couple and Thanksgiving break will be the perfect week to use them! They both have Barnes and Noble gift cards and I plan to take them there to look around, play with the train table, and pick out a new book or two. This will make a fun outing to break up a day that might otherwise be spent indoors.

We also have a bowling gift certificate. This will probably be something we wait for daddy to get off work to enjoy, but it is still a fun way and a good chance to get out of the house without spending a lot of money.

I will probably budget a few dollars in entertainment or for one meal out this week. I have not yet finalized our November budget, (it is on my list today) so we’ll see what is available.

Outdoor Play Time to Keep the Kids Entertained Thanksgiving Break

Provided it isn’t too wet we will probably bundle up and go outside for at least a little while every day we’re home. This should prove interesting as I have one who can’t stand wearing a coat, but a little trip outside usually resets the little ones’ attitudes for a while, so it’s worth the effort.

Library Time

Check your local library calendar for fun events to keep the kids entertained Thanksgiving break. The Fayetteville Public Library, which is close enough to us will be screening a FREE movie for kids Monday-Wednesday at 1 PM! It will no doubt be busy, but there is a different, current release Disney movie each of the three days. If you live in Northwest Arkansas and are interested check out their calendar for more information.

keep the kids entertained Thanksgiving break
more than just books at the library

We won’t make it for a movie (two-year-old attention span and all), but we will definitely be loading up on some good reads at the beginning of the week and browsing the movie section for fun holiday films to watch at home.

Craft Time

I am admittedly not the greatest at following through with this, but we will probably break out the craft supplies once or twice. There are a few fun little ideas we could put together with supplies already on hand. I will encourage the kids (mostly the oldest) to make Thanksgiving cards to give to family members. as well as make the customary turkeys by tracing their hands.

Educational Screen Time

My daughter’s school uses a few online resources we can access from home to help with reading and math. I plan to allow around 30 minutes a day on either IStation or Sumdog for her to work on math skills while at home.

We do allow some TV time, but I try to keep it at a minimum and once it’s on it is a fight to turn it off without inevitable meltdowns.

Board & Card Games

I see a lot of Trouble, Candy Land, Yeti in My Spaghetti, and Go Fish in my near future! Maybe we’ll borrow a game and teach her something new. She loves playing games and is very competitive.

She also tries very hard to include her little brother in the fun, which is cute. It takes longer to play, but it’s still sweet.

Do you have any 2s?

How do You Plan to Keep Your Kids Entertained Thanksgiving Break?

Will you be traveling? Staying home? How do you keep your kids entertained without television all day? Have any special traditions or activities you like to do with your kids while they’re home on break?

With the twice as long Christmas/Winter break coming up just a few weeks after Thanksgiving, you can actually refer back to this list for then as well. Thankfully the husband will be off Christmas week. That will make things a little easier. Maybe our daughter will get a new game or two for Christmas we can enjoy the second week of that break.

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My husband was nice enough to whip up a quick and free solution to lack of counter space in our laundry room with this free DIY. He built it a couple of months ago and I just got around to stencil painting it this week. This was an almost free and frugal DIY with a total cost of about $4. Yes, you read that right.

**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 qualifying purchases.**

Original Plans for This Frugal and Almost Free DIY

We are big fans of Ana White. Her website is full of free (yes, free!) woodworking plans. My husband has modified her plans to make our farmhouse dining table and chairs, our daughter’s storage bed, her armoire, my console table, and my laundry cart just to name a few items. When he went looking for a solution to our lack of counter space in the laundry room he browsed plans on her site. He found this outdoor serving station plan to use for our frugal and almost free DIY.

Related: See more posts of our DIYs.

It also doubles as wall art and the sole decoration in the room so it is positioned on the wall as high as possible while still serving its purpose. The materials he used in the build were all on-hand so the actual build was free. I like free; free is very frugal!

frugal and almost free DIY
The actual cost to build the laundry station was $0

Finishing Up the Project

Finishing this project required a trip to Hobby Lobby, my first trip of the year was in September! This is very hard to believe if you knew me a couple of years ago; I was in there on a weekly basis scouring sales to find all sorts of home decor to display on surfaces and hang on the walls. I found what I wanted online, but it wasn’t a big enough item to warrant the shipping cost. So to the store I went with our two-year-old in tow and we walked out with the one item we came for! I also downloaded the 40% off coupon on my phone, so the stencil cost about $3 with tax.

I wasn’t sure if I had the right shade of white paint at home for the project so I waited to make that purchase. And waited. I played with the stencil placement for a bit and left it stuck on for a few days before making another trip to a store that carried craft paint. It was 50 cents at Walmart. I went with antique white. Below is the finished product in action.

Have you had any almost free DIYs you’d like to share? We love a good DIY around here. In fact, I have a few more little projects in the works I can’t wait to share here on the blog and on the YouTube channel!

DIY laundry folding station

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minimalist's pre-holiday to-do list

With Halloween this week I am reminded how time seems to speed up this time of year. With the holidays comes lots of company, special meals with family, and if you have kids… usually more stuff. Even if you keep it simple and minimal-ish around the holidays there are a few very minimalist things to put on a minimalist’s pre-holiday to-do list that can make this season much less stressful. Here are tree things I’m doing to prepare my house, and in turn myself for the holiday season.

**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 qualifying purchases.**

My Minimalist Pre-Holiday to-do List

1. Declutter

Decluttering seems like a never-ending process, and if you have kids, chances are it is! They grow, tastes change, kids on the bus send them home with random stuff… Then there are birthdays and holidays when people who love your kids shower them with presents.

We have this pretty well under control, with family and friends understanding our minimalist approach to things and offering the kids more experiences than things (and sometimes money, which we deposit in their savings accounts).

By decluttering clothes and toys I can make room for the new. I also rotate out where toys are stored so they get more use. I also sort out artwork in my daughter’s room. Some get scanned or photographed, but eventually, most of it goes to the recycle bin. The really special ones I keep.

2. Deep Clean

I need to get on this. Minimalism isn’t necessarily about cleaning, but it sure makes it easier to clean! There are fewer surfaces to dust and steam mop, but sometimes I forget to do it often enough. I plan to spend a good day or two scrubbing the place for my fall cleaning in order to make any cleaning required for entertaining over the holidays that much easier. This makes it a must on my minimalist’s pre-holiday to-do list.

3. Take Inventory as Part of Your Minimalist’s Pre-Holiday to-do List

I do this for my own shopping needs, but also for when people ask what they can buy the kids. What do I know they want/need that we haven’t gotten? This makes it really easy in general to know what items are needed for season changes and age-appropriate activities, but it is especially handy around Christmas and birthdays. I don’t have to get back with someone when they ask what the kids/need want if I already have a list made.

This also helps to prevent duplication of items with everyday shopping. It helps stay in budget and ensures purchases are necessities and not just things you think you may need.

Related Video: See how I take inventory of our family’s wardrobe to determine clothing needs.

minimalist's pre-holiday to-do list

What’s on Your Pre-Holiday to-do List?

It’s not about the gifts, the lights, or even the food! And I love traditions centered around food! We’ve already been given the greatest gift ever, so let’s focus our time on what really matters; the people we’re blessed to have in our lives. I don’t want to be busy cleaning and prepping and tidying while memories are being made in the next room. Thanksgiving is about focusing on and truly appreciating what you have. I think if we spent more time on that mindset Christmas would look a lot different!

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I hope that by doing these three simple things memories of our first Christmas in our new house will be filled with fun, love, and special moments. Mostly I don’t want to look back and have a list of things I wish I had done differently. You’ve seen my list, now what’s on yours? Continue the conversation in the comments or head on over to my Instagram, where I’ll share your answers in stories today!

Related Post: 25 Thoughtful Ideas for Handmade Christmas Gifts