CouponKatie.com

Plan A Local and Organic Christmas Feast

A group of Local Knoxville Mommy Bloggers are tackling Holiday topics to save you time and money these holidays:
Blue Frog Creations, Coupon Katie, Coupon Mommie, Couponing in Critical Times, Coupons Are Money, Frugally Farming Family, Frugalissa Finds, Knoxmoms.com, Knoxville Mamabelle, Knoxville on a Dime, and Sharing Savings with You.

Today’s edition comes from Hannah at Frugally Farming Family she shares some tips and ideas on how to have a local and organic holiday feast.
It is great information about where to find local farms or farmers to buy produce. She give some local stores to hit up and some recipes.

If you are at all interested in shopping/cooking local or organic for you holiday celebrations you should definitely check out Hannah’s post.

...share the savings

Our Trip to House Mountain Christmas Tree Farm

IMG_2292

I bought the Groupon to House Mountain Christmas Tree Farm and have been waiting, rather impatiently, to use it. Since being married THE HUSBAND  we have never had a real tree. We threw away our Charlie Brown tree last year and  I knew he could not argue with a coupon.
So, Saturday we went to buy our tree!  It was cold and drizzling rain- not exactly how I had imagined our first family trip to a Christmas tree farm. However, we had a fantastic time. The boys loved walking around and getting messy in search of “The Perfect Tree”. The Henry’s (the owners) were as nice as they could be. The trees were all clearly priced and well spaced so the boys could just run around while we looked at the trees. It took awhile for us to come to an agreement but eventually, and somewhat due to a loss of daylight, we did.

It was fun to watch the boys be totally impressed as THE HUSBAND cut down a tree. They were in awe. For the time being his superhero status has surpassed Iron Man and is second only to Spiderman.

When we went to pay for our tree there was a display of great handmade pottery. The artist who created it, Katrina Lowe, was there. She told me they were all handmade, lead free and food safe. If you would like to support a local artist or are looking for a unique local gift for this Christmas you can find her work at House Mountain Christmas Tree Farm or at Knoxville Soap, Candle & Gifts in Fountain City.

How about you? What kind of tree do you have this year real or artificial? Do you cut your own or buy one pre-cut?

...share the savings

Our Holiday Craft is Making Me Gain Weight

IMG_2305

A couple of days ago told you about the fun free Christmas craft eBook and the craft we were going to try.

We tried it-well at least a version of the Cinnamon Ornaments. If you are looking for a fun, easy, kid-friendly craft to try this holiday season I would recommend it. My two boys had a blast. This is a picture of our cinnamon ornaments hanging on our tree.

There are a few things you should know before trying this craft.
1. Don’t make them too thin. I think I tried making our dough stretch a little too far and our thinner ornaments broke.

2. Be patient. Don’t try moving them or inspecting them until they are completely dry. It took ours about a day and a half. If you move them too much they will break.

3. Be prepared to gain weight. That’s right. Every morning since making the ornaments our house has smelled like cinnamon rolls.  All of the sudden a bowl of Kashi cereal doesn’t sound so good. All I can think of is cinnamon rolls. So, we are eating cinnamon rolls and I am gaining weight. :0)

...share the savings

Ways to Volunteer This Christmas Season (You Can Help KARM Tomorrow 12/4)

volunteer

A group of Local Knoxville Mommy Bloggers are tackling Holiday topics to save you time and money these holidays:
Blue Frog Creations, Coupon Katie, Coupon Mommie, Couponing in Critical Times, Coupons Are Money, Frugally Farming Family, Frugalissa Finds, Knoxmoms.com, Knoxville Mamabelle, Knoxville on a Dime, and Sharing Savings with You.

Today’s edition is from Christy over at Coupons Are Money. She has put together an extensive list of ways to volunteer this Holiday Season.
One great way to help others locally happens tomorrow (12/4) is with Knox Area Rescue Ministries, or KARM. They are holding their annual Coats for the Cold event .  They are still in need of some volunteers so if you are interestd you can can check out all the details and register to volunteer here.

After doing that check out the rest of Christy’s great ideas on volunteering this Christmas season.
Are you already volunteering somewhere this year? Do you know of any other great ways to serve our community this Christmas season?

...share the savings

Setting and Stretching Your Christmas Budget

A group of Local Knoxville Mommy Bloggers are tackling Holiday topics to save you time and money these holidays:
Blue Frog Creations, Coupon Katie, Coupon Mommie, Couponing in Critical Times, Coupons Are Money, Frugally Farming Family, Frugalissa Finds, Knoxmoms.com, Knoxville Mamabelle, Knoxville on a Dime, and Sharing Savings with You.

I did a few posts last month about setting and staying on a Christmas budget. It received such a great response I decided to post it again as part of this series. As always I would love to hear more of your ideas or great frugal finds from this year!

We should start with first things first-Setting a Christmas Budget.

As a side note, I know everyone has different ideas/traditions around holiday gift giving. This is something THE HUSBAND and I had to work through early in our marriage. (I love to give gifts, he is more on the anti-commercialization of Christmas side.  We have come to appreciate each others ideas and we now have a good compromise.) I am not trying to talk anyone into change I just wanted to offer some tips to help you spend whatever amount of money you chose to spend on gifts the best way you can!

1.Set Your Christmas Budget. What have you saved for Christmas gift giving? What can you comfortably afford for Christmas gift giving?
As far as a dollar amount for your Christmas budget I would never try to throw out a number. It will be different for every family, for us it is different every year! Just make sure it is the right number for you or your family.

2.After you set your budget, make a list of all the people you would like to buy gifts for. If you have never written it all out here is a simple gift spending worksheet that might be helpful.

3.Make a list of all the miscellaneous Christmas items you will buy.
Wrapping paper, Christmas cards, stamps, baking supplies, etc. All these things add up and should go into your Christmas budget. Thinking of all of these things beforehand will help keep you from overspending.

3.Assign a dollar amount per gift for each person/ item on your list. Add those number up- if they are more than your budget you will have to cut numbers or people or items.

I know these ideas may sound a bit scroogeish to some of you, but setting a budget early on and committing to it will help you joyfully and freely spend whatever money you have allotted for each gift. You will not have to stress in the store about your budget and how you are doing, you will know. Christmas shopping will be more enjoyable.

These are a few of the things I am doing to stretch our Christmas budget.

1. Shop early- I know it is a little late for this tip but it may help you out for next year. Several of you commented on what great deals you get right after Christmas.  You can find great deals on toys, clothing and wrapping paper.
If you shop early it is helpful to dedicate on storage space to gifts and keep a list there of everything you have. That way, when Christmas comes around you will know what you have without having to drag it all out of your closet.

2. Use Deal Site Deals- There are so many deal sites available now! They can help you save a lot of money on your Christmas budget. You could give family members a night out or a day at the spa for half price. If you have out of town relatives you can search there city’s deals. I bought the Body Shop Groupon and both of my sisters will be getting some awesome Body Shop products for Christmas.
There are a few other deal sites I have used and trust- Living Social, Half off Depot, Plum District, and FlutterToday.  If you have any other favorites let me know.

3. Make creative and frugal gift baskets.

4. Give homemade gift certificates.We did this last year for my brother and sister-in-law. We used a deal site to buy them a gift card for dinner at at restaurant we knew they liked and also gave them a homemade gift certificate for a night of babysitting. (We would have babysat anyway but it was fun to include that in their date night gift.)

You could make these for anything or anyone- baby sitting, cleaning, car wash etc. You could make them for your children- watch their favorite movie, stay up 30 late, pick dinner one night. You could help your children make them for your spouse. The possibilities are endless. You can find several templates online, my favorites I found at Real Simple.

4.Comparison Shop Online

5.Keep an eye out of online freebies. As we get closer to the holidays you will see several freebies pop up. There are usually several photo card and photo book deals that are free or close to and make great gifts.

6.Consider making your own gifts or baking your own gifts. This is a goal of mine. I do not have a crafty bone in my body but I dream of making cute homemade gifts for my kids (and nieces and nephews). I am making some plans now to help that happen next year.

7. Sign up for Swagbucks. This is another tip that would be good to start now but probably not super helpful until next year. That being said, it is not unlikely that using Swagbucks to search online everyday for the next year will earn you a couple hundred dollars in Amazon (or other gift cards) to use for Christmas presents next year. This alone has really changed my Christmas budget.

...share the savings

Reading Coach Online:Free Educational Site and LeapFrog Giveaway

leapfrogfridge

My friends Ana and Scott blog over at Reading Coach Online.  It is a fabulous site that offers lesson ideas, informative articles, tips and links. If you have a child that does not read yet, is learning to read, is a poor reader, does not like reading, loves reading- well if you just have a child it is a site you need to bookmark.

Ana is a former school teacher and reading coach who is now blogging and sharing how she is teaching her young children to read. She has a heart for teaching and never fails to impress me with her creative teaching ideas. Her ideas are practical and grounding in good teaching techniques.

Yes, I am biased because they are my friends but when you check out Reading Coach Online I think you will agree with me. While you are there you can enter their December Leap Frog Giveaway!

...share the savings

Free Christmas Craft eBook and the Craft We are Trying

Cinnamon_Ornaments

You can get at free Christmas craft eBook. It  features 25 free Christmas craft projects for home decorating,  gifts and fun crafts for kids.

My favorite is the Cinnamon Dough Ornaments. The “dough” recipe looks easy enough and I think I will modify it a bit by using some ribbon and glue and Christmas cookie cutters I already have.  I will post some pictures when we are done!

...share the savings