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Christmas

Christmas Stocking 3 The Prudent Homemaker

Gifts for stockings can easily add up to be quite a bit, even if you take a trip to the dollar store. 

Here are some items to give using items you already have in your pantry, cupboards, along with a few items to make using what you already have on hand:

 

From the kitchen and pantry:

1. Apples, oranges, and clementines

2. Nuts. Put a small amount in some tissue or a  bag and tie with string or ribbon, or make a little paper cone for them.

3. Hot chocolate packets

 

To make from the kitchen:

1. Cookies. Put these in a bag or some tissue paper.

2. Caramels. Here's a microwave version. Wrap caramels in waxed paper.

3. Peppermint bark

4. Homemade candies

5. Candied citrus peels

6. Homemade play dough

7. Homemade granola. Here's my recipe for cranberry almond granola

8. Fudge

 

From the cupboards:

1. Pens, pencils, and crayons that you bought on sale at back to school time

2. Personal grooming items: razors, cotton balls, toothpaste, toothbrush, toiletry samples

 

To make from the cupboards:

1. A miniature first aid kit to tuck into a purse, backpack, or glove compartment with Band-Aids and pain relievers

2. A small book with printer paper or lined paper, covered in cardstock or contrasting paper. Sew it together by machine or by hand, or staple it instead.

3. Bookmarks. I have a large selection of free printables on my site here.

4. Bookplates. Free printables are here.

5. Dollhouse artwork, wallpaper, and rugs. Free printables here.

6. Seed packets with seeds gathered from your garden. Free printable here.

7. Date with mom coupons. Free printable here.

 

To make from repurposed items:

1. Scarves from scraps of fabric, old curtains, flannel sheets, a repurposed skirt. Think flannel, velvet, sheers, etc. Likewise, you can knit or crochet a scarf using the yarn from old clothing items, or make a striped scarf using leftover bits of different-colored yarn.

2. Handkerchiefs from old sheets (a great way to repurpose a sheet that has a tear).

3. Earrings from broken jewelry

4. Decorative bobby pins with old buttons

5. Decorative bobby pins with broken jewelry

6. Mittens from an old sweater or sweatshirt (a shrunk wool sweater is perfect for this, or a stained sweater or sweatshirt--just cut your pattern around the stains.

7. Hand-warmers stuffed with rice. Use repurposed clothing or scraps of fabric to make these. Microwave them to put in pockets before leaving. Try a heart shape for a little fun. 

8. Headbands from ribbons and hair elastics

 

Christmas Stocking 2 The Prudent Homemaker

 

Something that also helped me was to hang smaller stockings. Two years ago, I needed a couple more stockings for our family. I decided to make new stockings from a drop cloth, and I made them smaller. The previous stockings we had were so long that my children would put their entire arm in their stockings and not be able to reach the bottom! Having smaller stockings relieved the presure from me to feel like I needed to buy more to fill our stockings.

Consider a stocking with a piece of fruit in the toe, some candy and/or other edibles, and one small gift per person this Christmas. It's simple, it will be used, it won't take up lots of space (or be broken in a week), and it works with a tight budget!

 

Tagged in: Christmas Gifts
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Seven Frugal Ways to Decorate for Christmas

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My first Christmas after I was married, I made a wreath with my sisters-in-law as a project where my mother-in-law provided the supplies. I still use that wreath; for years it hung on my front door, and now it hangs in my kitchen over my stove. It was made with an inexpensive wreath from Michael's ($4), pinecones from my mother in law's yard (some of which were painted gold with spray paint), some ornaments, a ribbon bow, a few sprigs of gold and white balls, and a faux bird.

Christmas Kitchen 1 The Prudent Homemaker 

Here are a few ideas to deck the halls and spruce up your house for less:

Christmas Piano The Prudent Homemaker

 

Christmas Music Star Garland The Prudent Homemaker

Use paper

Make garlands, bunting, or paper chains. Make wreaths and miniature trees. Make paper ornaments. Print out some free images to hang or frame. 

If you want Christmas music, print some out before making your project. The Graphics Fairy has lovely free images. Here's a beautiful tree topper project from there.

Check out my Christmas crafts Pinterest board for lots of fun ideas to make with paper.

Lemons in the kitchen The Prudent Homemaker

Decorate with fresh seasonal fruit

Use a bowl or a cake stand to display apples, pears, oranges, clementines, or lemons. Nuts in the shell are another great seasonal option that lasts even longer. 

 Pinecones in Bowl The Prudent Homemaker

Decorate with fresh greenery from your yard

Use any evergreens you have in your yard to tuck on pictures, on gifts, in vases, and in displays. Make a wreath on a wreath form or on a wire hanger, or make a fresh greenery garland. Collect pinecones and use them in your displays. If you don't have evergreens, see if a friend has a tree or two in need of a trim who will allow you to trim from their trees.

Wreath in Window The Prudent Homemaker 

Invest in some artificial greenery 

This doesn't have to be a lot, and it doesn't have to be all at once. 

Michael's carries inexpensive wreaths and garland. These are currently 50% off this week. The 24 inch wreaths are $3.99. They also have a 9 foot garland that is $2.99 this week. Closer to Christmas, these can go even lower; I paid $2 each for 2 wreaths like this years ago that I hang in my windows.

Christmas Living Room The Prudent Homemaker

Depending on where you live, an artificial tree can be a long-term money saver (bought on sale or clearance to begin with, of course). If you live where you can cut your own trees for $5, a fresh tree is a cheaper option. Our current tree is 9 years old, and we bought it for $80 as a display piece a week and a half before Christmas.

Christmas Ribbon The Prudent Homemaker 

Use and reuse ribbon

Over the years, my husband has received a few gifts at work of goodies wrapped with beautiful ribbons. I've saved the ribbons to use on presents every year. They're also useful to decorate the house.

Christmas Books The Prudent Homemaker

Most craft stores have their Christmas ribbon 50% off this week, if you are looking to buy a spool of ribbon to use for many years.

Christmas Stockings detail The Prudent Homemaker

Sew it yourself

Whether you're making stockings or oranaments for your tree, there's a free pattern out there that you can use to whip something up for less than the storebought version. I love Pinterest for this.

I made these stockings for my family using a bit of a painter's drop cloth, some fancy stitches on my sewing machine, and some embroidery thread to make the hooks.

Christmas Candles The Prudent Homemaker 

Display what you have

Cookie cutters, twine, spools of ribbon, mixing bowls, loose jingle bells, cake stands and candles--all can be used in creative ways as part of your Christmas display.

Clementines The Prudent Homemaker

Christmas Bust The Prudent Homemaker

For this bust, I added a child-sized vintage collar (put on backwards) and a vintage Christmas pin. These belonged to my grandmother and to her mother. 

For more more frugal decorating ideas, check out my Christmas Inspiration board and my Christmas Crafts for the Children board on Pinterest.

 

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Advent Activities 2014

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Pinecones and Euyonomous The Prudent Homeamaker

This post contains affiliate links.

Last year, I made an advent calendar to help us have more fun together as a family in December. I included crafts, special treats, and activities we would be attending. I found that writing out a list made it easier to make sure we did the special things I wanted to do as a family.

Here is this year's list:

Advent Card The Prudent Homemaker


Here are our activities:

1. Collect pinecones. These will be used for decorations.

2. Decorate the Christmas tree, while listening to a live Chamber Orchestra performance

3. Cut paper snowflakes and put up Christmas lights

4. Make paper trees

5. Draw a pastel snowman and watch a free live choir and Philharmonic performanance online

6. Drink hot chocolate while mom reads a Christmas story

7. Watch the First Presidency Christmas devotional on December 7th (a live feed will be available in 16 languages, including Portuguese, German, French, Russian, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin). 

8. Listen to a Christmas story

9. Read Snowflake Bentley, check out Russian photographer Alexy Kljatov's snowflake photographs.

10. Make more paper trees and watch a free live Wind Symphony performance online

11. Make Christmas tree paintings while mom reads a Christmas story

12. Attend a Christmas recital in which three of my daughters will play Christmas music

13. Make snowman pancakes for breakfastsnowman hot chocolate for snacks, make some snowman art

14. Watch a video about Christ's birth

15. Listen to a Christmas story

16. Listen to a Christmas story

17. Make Christmas crafts

18. Make Christmas crafts and listen to a Christmas story

19. Watch a Christmas movie

20. Make cookies

21. Play board games and eat popcorn

22. Enjoy some Christmas cheese ballscrackers cut with Christmas cookie cutters, and olive penguins

23. Make rosemary olive oil bread. Wrap it up with rosemary and tags and deliver it to friends.

24. Read Luke 2

 Advent Cards 2 The Prudent Homemaker

 

You can see the crafts we want to make on my Pinterest board.

We'll listen to Pandora's Classical Christmas stations when we're doing crafts.

For these free printable advent cards, you can click here.

 

Our list of Christmas books includes the following:


The Candle in the Forest: And Other Christmas Stories Children Love

I Saw Three Ships

The Lion in the Box

A Celebration of Christmas

The Ideals Treasury of Best-Loved Christmas Stories

Flourish 6

Tagged in: Christmas
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Grain Sack Inspired Stockings

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Do you ever have the urge to ditch all of your plans for the day and just make something new?

I did that this week.

I put away thoughts of sewing any presents, served leftovers for breakfast one morning, and worked on a project instead.

We took out the Christmas decorations and set up the tree on Monday. It was then that I remembered that we are short stockings. We have 7 stockings and 9 people.

Last year we decided to make it work. My husband and I shared a stocking and the baby didn't have one.

This year I wanted stockings. Sure, I could have the 7 that we have for just the children, but I really wanted some new stockings.

After I saw these beautiful miniature stockings last year (and these slightly larger ones), I realized how nice it would be to have smaller stockings. I wouldn't feel bad because I didn't have a filled stocking to the top. I like the look of presents sticking out the top, but with a huge stocking, that doesn't happen. I decided to not go really small, but I did make smaller stockings than we had (in the end, these turned out to be about 1/3 the size of our previous stockings).


 
I really like the look of grain sack stockings, but grain sacks are pricey. I decided to make the stockings from drop cloth that I purchased last year, and to use the machine stitches to sew on the red stripes.

For each stocking, I cut 4 pieces, so that they would be lined.


I used embroidery thread to make a twisted hanging hook (like I do for my bookmark tassels). For two of them, I attached a couple of package toppers that we had received on past presents years ago that I keep with the Christmas decorations (I usually tie them on packages). My husband would like me to do something a little different on each one so that we can tell them apart. (They are hung oldest to youngest, but I also like the look of something more on them. I am thinking of attaching some jingle bells and possibly some fresh rosemary to the tops of them this year).

I am really happy to have 9 more reasonably-sized stockings hanging up this year!


Tagged in: Christmas Sewing
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Advent Activities

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One of our family traditions is that starting on the first day of December, we sing Christmas songs together before bed. Everyone gets to pick a song and we all sing.

I want to add a new tradition in our house this year that our children will look forward to each year. For that reason, I've made an advent calendar, and I have planned something for us to do together each day in December.



It still needs numbers, but for now it is up! I was inspired to start this one two years ago based on this one. I didn't have the fabric I wanted, but I did have a little bit of brown toile (the same one I used for Ivory's pajamas). I had some red fabric from some old sheets that my parents had given to me for the fabric. I didn't have any burlap, but then I got a burlap potato sack and I had planned on using it. I read a great tutorial on washing burlap, but the sack really shrunk. I asked some questions about purchasing burlap on the blog and the writer was so sweet; she sent me an old piece that she had that had some glue spots on it. I was able to work around it and use it to make this.

The inspiration piece isn't a complete tutorial, so if you want to make something similar, I would check out this tutorial.

Since I don't own number stamps, so I'm thinking of embroidering some numbers on them in red for next year. It would have been easier to do that before construction (but I didn't think of it until afterwards!), but I can probably make it happen anyway.

 
Of course, you don't have to have a calendar; you can just write or type up a list and go off the list!

I am planning on reading a stack of Christmas stories to the children, making several crafts, and spending more than one day making cookies. We'll make several fun treats to have as our afternoon snacks. The activities (for the most part) are planned for late afternoon, as it is getting dark.

If you don't have any Christmas books, don't despair! Check out your local library for some. Our library always has seasonal books out on display by the entry.

Two of the stories that I will be sharing with my children you can read/see online; they are "We Came For Our Gifts" (scroll down the page for this one and have a handkerchief ready) and "The Coat" which has been made into a wonderful short online video for children (both are true stories).

Some of the other books from which we'll be reading:

 
 
 
 


For crafts, we will be making paper snowflakes, paper Christmas trees, sewn stars (we'll do these by hand) and a few projects using felt. You can see the crafts we want to make on my Pinterest board.

A few days, we'll work on making sibling gifts. My children love to make presents for each other.

We'll make some fun themed breakfasts, treats, and dinners together. Some of them I'll make to surprise them. Then they can enjoy the treats while we read Christmas stories. The snacks are mixed with the crafts on the same Pinterest board.

We'll start a few Pandora Christmas stations (they have all different choices for "types" Christmas music on there!) to listen to on the days when we're doing a craft and not reading a story. We've been enjoying one entitled "Classical Christmas Radio".


Here are our activities:

1. Watch a Christmas movie and have popcorn

2. Make a Christmas craft and read a Christmas story

3. Paint snowflake resist paintings

4. Make a Christmas craft and eat Christmas cookies (I'll make these ones early in the day)

5. Drink hot chocolate while mom reads a Christmas story

6. Make paper trees and make a Christmas tree pizza

7. Make sibling gifts

8. Watch the First Presidency Christmas devotional on December 8th (a live feed will be available in 16 languages, including Portuguese, German, French, Russian, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin).

9. Read Snowflake Bentley, check out Russian photographer Alexy Kljatov's snowflake photographs, and cut out paper snowflakes.

10. Make more paper trees and Christmas lollipops

11. Make Christmas tree paintings while mom reads a Christmas story

12. Make gingerbread cookies

13. Make snowman pancakes for breakfast, snowman hot chocolate for snacks, make some snowman art, and make a snowman pizza for dinner

14. Make sibling gifts

15. Watch a video about Christ's birth

16. Put up the Christmas tree. Ours will go out later in the month because we have a 1 1/2-year-old again. We put ours on a table (the stand is screwed to the table) but  unlike her 6 older siblings, this child gets a stool when she wants something!

17. Make Christmas crafts

18. Make Christmas crafts and listen to a Christmas story

19. Make cookies

20. Make Christmas crafts and listen to a Christmas story

21. Make Christmas crafts and finish sibling gifts.

22. Enjoy some Christmas cheese balls, crackers cut with Christmas cookie cutters, and olive penguins

23. Make rosemary olive oil bread. Wrap it up with rosemary and tags and deliver it to friends.

24. Read Luke 2



I made free printable cards that you can download and fit into a homemade advent calendar. They're small enough to work in all different sized advent calendars. I included several other activities that will work for some of you in colder climates (where you have real snowflakes, and not just paper ones, like we do) as well as some that won't matter what climate you are in (for my readers on the other half of the globe who experience Christmas in summer). I also have duplicates of some things, because you might want to do some things more than once (such as a craft or a story). You can print them all and use whichever ones work for you. (If you live in the Southern hemisphere, I  would love to hear what activities you plan for the month of December!)



The printables are available on my website on my free printables page. (I'm having some trouble adding images and links on my website right now. You can directly access this printable on my website here.)

Tagged in: Christmas
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