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Christmas Home Tour

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Welcome to our home!

Christmas 2017 Entry The Prudent Homemaker

In the urns by the front door, I added some free Christmas tree trimmings and free pinecones. Many places that sell Christmas trees will give free Christmas tree trimmings if you ask.

I hung some wreaths I bought several years ago.

This year, I added the two lanterns by the door. The black one I bought used for $5 earlier this year (it turned out to have a broken hinge, but it still works fine). The red lantern has faux candles inside that don't light up and a crack in the bottom; my mom found it for free at someone's trash last year after Christmas and picked it up for me.

 

Christmas Entry Table and Living Room The Prudent Homemaker

We were gifted this poinsettia a couple of nights ago by some friends who came caroling at our door. I took out the roses and basil from this arrangement (which were done) and put the poinsettia in the middle instead with the dusty miller from our garden and the free Christmas tree trimmings.

Christmas Entry Table and Mirror The Prudent Homemaker

The wreath was a $2 garage sale find in October. I used a ribbon that used to be the drawstring to a pair of flannel pajama pants. The pajamas wore out years ago but I kept the ribbon. The urn was an $8 garage sale find in October.

Christmas 2017 Piano The Prudent Homemaker

 I bought our Nativity set 16 years ago with my husband at Walmart for our second Christmas together.

I hung the star music garland that I made for another Christmas. I used a vintage fur collar from my grandmother on the bust, and I added pinecones to the urns.

The Christmas book is one from which my daughters are currently playing. We sing Christmas carols every night as a family starting the first of December, and sometimes one of my daughters will play for us when we sing. I have been enjoying hearing them practice their Christmas music all month.

Christmas 2017 Living Room The Prudent Homemaker

A woman who works with my husband gifted him the beautiful live wreath that is hanging in the large window. I have two small wreaths in the end windows,  but I wanted another in the middle window. One day I hope to purchase a large faux wreath for this space.

Our tree is a beautiful faux one that we bought 11 years ago from Lowe's. It was the display model and they couldn't find the box. They charged us only $80! (This style of tree retails for $300 to $400).  We have it in a tree stand that is bolted to a little table (the table was free and my husband cut the legs down to make it a bit shorter). Having the tree on the table gives the illusion of a taller tree, and it keeps our toddler from reaching too much of the tree. He can reach the bottom two branches, so we don't have any ornaments on those branches this year. We have eight children, so this arrangement has worked well for us for years to keep the tree and ornaments save from toddlers.

The ribbon and ornaments on the tree are ones we have had for many years.

I made the tree skirt this year from some drop cloth that I had on hand. 

Christmas Gifts Under the Tree The Prudent Homemaker

 I have been wanting reusable boxes for years. I had a few velvet covered ones that were gifted to us years ago. I added the brown ones and the two white and gold ones that are on the table last year (I found them at Target in the gift wrapping section). This year I was very excited to see that Target was offering more reusable boxes in the Christmas section, and they were very similar to the boxes I bought last year. I bought several. I can use these every year for Christmas, as well as for birthdays, without needing to use wrapping paper. Since I hand make gifts and purchase many gifts at garage sales, I don't usually have boxes for my gifts. This will make wrapping so much easier for me every year. 

Christmas Gifts The Prudent Homemaker

I purchased a few spools of ribbon to tie the boxes closed. I also have lots of ribbon that I've saved from gifts we've received in years past that I use to close boxes.

I bought the gold and burgundy faux berries this year from a local Facebook garage sale page for $3 for 12 of them.

I bought some large and regular sized jingle bells this year as well to add to the top of the boxes. They still don't disguise the sound of Legos in the boxes, but they are a fun addition that I can reuse every year.

Christmas 2017 Table Runner 2 The Prudent Homemaker

The small wreaths I have in the windows at the end of the room are faux ones I bought for $2.99 each (on sale at Michael's) several years ago.

The pinecones were gathered from the side of the road.

The faux greens on the table are ones I bought years ago. This is my first year using them on the table; I usually place them on the piano.

The lanterns are ones I bought early in our marriage. The candles I've had for years, as I like the look of them during the day, but we don't use them at night.

The silver-plated bowls and urns are ones I've picked up for $5 and under each at garage sales over the last couple of years.

Christmas 2017 Table Runner The Prudent Homemakerjpg

 I purchased the clementines on sale for $1 a pound, which is a good price here.

Christmas 2017 Table Runner 3 The Prudent Homemakerjpg

The Meyer lemons are from my garden. The beautiful silver reindeer were a surprise gift from a reader who inherited them and didn't have a place for them. She didn't know it, but I had been looking at faux mercury glass deer very similar to these last Christmas. I was so excited to find these in a box from her as they are even better than what I had looked at!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

 

Merry Christmas!

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Rethinking Christmas Stockings

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Christmas Stocking 3 The Prudent Homemaker

A few years back, we were in need of new Christmas stockings. Our family had grown, and we didn't have enough matching stockings for the family.

At the same time, I had been seeing beautiful miniature stockings online made from vintage grain sacks. I loved the simple red stripes at the top and I especially loved the fact that the stockings were tiny. Small stockings (rather than ones that could fit an entire adult's arm) mean there is less to fill, and I can have a wrapped gift sticking out of the top, which is something I had always wanted to do. That didn't work with our previous stockings, which were so long I could fit all of our gifts for each person in with room to spare.

Chirstmas Stocking The Prudent Homemaker

I drew up a small stocking pattern and set to work. I didn't have vintage grain sacks, nor a budget for them, so I used my sewing machine to sew red stripes on some painter's drop cloth that I had previously bought at the hardware store. (Note: Our city got an Ikea store last year; they have dishtowels for $0.79 each that have red stripes at the top which would work beautifully to make these stockings).

Last year, with our new baby, I wasn't worried about hanging a stocking for him. Now that he's a year and a half, it's time for me to make a stocking for him too!

You can make your own small stockings out of your fabric of choice. Not a fan of red stripes? Try cutting up a velvet skirt or dress, or an old sweater that you find at the thrift store! Repurpose an old sheet to use as the lining.

Christmas Stockings The Prudent Homemaker

 

When it comes to filling the stockings, consider the simplest things.

In the toe, put a clementine or an orange. These are always on sale at Christmastime in the U.S.  (Readers in the Southern Hemisphere, please share your favorite summer fruits for stockings in the comments below!)

Include some candy and/or nuts. I like to buy some candy from the bulk section at Winco when it goes on sale right before Halloween and give that (this year I bought peppermint patties). Candy canes, purchased on sale, work well. I like to make homemade candies too, such as peppermint bark, which I put inside in plastic bags. For nuts, look at buying them in bulk from Sam's Club, Costco, Winco, or another place that sells bulk nuts. If you grow your own, whole nuts in the shell look pretty in stockings as well. If you prefer cookies to candy, a beautifully decorated Christmas cookie or two is a nice, edible gift.

For gifts, I like to keep the cost down. Most "inexpensive" stocking stuffer ideas that I see include several gifts that are $10-$20 each. Most years, that is my entire Christmas budget per person (candy and nuts come from my regular grocery budget, rather than my planned gift budget), which means I need to lower that amount considerably to keep within my budget for the year. I usually include two to three gifts per person in stockings. Here's some of what I like to include:

 

For my daughters:

Jewelry. I find pieces at garage sales for $1 an item. I'll make jewelry from repurposed or garage sale pieces. Broken or old costume jewelry is great for this purpose. I've also bought beads, elastic, and jewelry findings on sale to make pieces between $0.15 to $1 each.

Small toys. Garage sales are also a great place to find small toys. I found a number Legos for a total of $0.50 this year, and I'll divide these up between my four younger girls.

Art supplies. I purchase these for $0.25 to $1 at back to school sales.

Hair ribbons. I buy them on sale by the spool and cut them on the diagonal (to reduce fraying) in lengths for the girls.

Homemade barrettes.

Hair elastics. I buy these in packages of 100 from the dollar store.

Bobby Pins. I get these from the dollar store.

Hair brushes. I also get these from the dollar store.

 

For my sons:

Legos. Garage sales are again my source for the least expensive small Lego stocking stuffers.

More Candy and/or nuts. My boys like to have the same candy as their dad.

Ties. My boys wear a tie to church every Sunday. I find them at garage sales for $0.50 to $1 each.

 

For both boys and girls:

Toothbrushes. I buy them in packages of 4 or 5 for $1 from the dollar store (last Christmas I saw this same deal at Walmart too).

Chapstick. I often buy a bulk package and divide it up. I look for coupons and sales to get the price lower than $1 each.

Bouncy balls. You can buy a bag (usually of 6) in the party section of several stores.

Puzzles. The dollar store has small puzzles that fit in stockings. 

Earbuds. Again, I get these at the dollar store.

Bookmarks. Homemade bookmarks are a favorite gift at my house. My children are avid readers who always have a book going.

 

For my husband:

His favorite candy. At my house, this means a large bag of peanut M&Ms and/or a bag of Werther's. I can always find coupons and sales on these to get the price down considerably.

This is all I usually get my husband, but this year I'm thinking of adding a restaurant gift card using points I earn on Swagbucks. We don't usually exchange gifts between the two of us, so this would be a surprise. It also won't cost me anything at all!

Christmas Stockings detail The Prudent Homemaker

Reducing the size of your stockings makes it easier to fill a stocking and keep within a tiny budget. There's no need to feel obligated to spend money on stocking stuffers that will end up broken and unwanted before the New Year. Let your gifts be simple.

 

As I was writing this post, I asked my 12-year-old son what he loved getting in his stocking. He immediately mentioned the clementine, then candy, and then bouncy balls! And only then did he mention Legos. What my children have come to remember is the simple traditional items that we have included, and they look forward to them every year!

 

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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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