Archive for December 31, 2018

Restful and Frugal Tips to Benefit Festival of Sleep Day

Between the holidays and the long winter days, you might be feeling pretty tired. Luckily, January 3rd brings us the Festival of Sleep, which is the perfect time to catch up on your beauty rest before you have to worry about school and work schedules. One of the best things about this unique holiday, apart from the extra sleep, is you’ll find yourself spending less money on this day. This is bound to help your finances out and will make you feel even more rested. So, embrace the Festival of Sleep with ease when you utilize these ten tips to maximize the benefits of the day.

1. Skip the Caffeine
On the day of the Festival of Sleep, you might want to change up your routine a bit to help you get the most sleep possible. If you’re a coffee, tea or soda fan then today is the day where you go cold turkey and avoid the caffeine in these items. Caffeine can keep you up longer, so you won’t want it in your system if you’re trying to maximize your rest. Avoiding these caffeine products can also save you a bit of money as you won’t need to replenish the items as quickly. You should also avoid chocolate on this day as it does contain caffeine too. You might feel a little sluggish, but it won’t matter because you’ll be snoozing the day away anyway.

2. Embrace Yoga and Meditation
If you’d like to get your body and mind ready to make the most out of the holiday, then you might want to consider doing some yoga and/or meditation. There are actually many yoga moves designed to help your body relax properly, so you can drift off to sleep with ease. Doing yoga will also provide you with a bit of exercise that will make your body feel better about the excess lounging and sleeping that happens on this day. Meditation is also a great way to improve on your sleep needs. If your mind is racing while you’re trying to sleep then take some time out of the day to practice meditation. It should clear your mind, so you can finally get the sleep you need. You can even use an app to help you get the most out of your meditation time.

3. Use a Blue Light Filter
These days, we’re surrounded my technology. Although it might help make life efficient, it can actually wreak havoc on our body’s natural sleep cycle. The blue light found in phones and other technology isn’t great for the eyes, but it will also make sleeping harder too. There is a solution to this problem though, especially if you don’t want to give up your phone or laptop for the day. That is, a blue light filter. You can find many options online for free, which will come in handy if you’re on a tight budget. Simply look around and find the light filter that works best for you. Before you know it, you’ll feel a lot better about your use of technology, especially before sleeping.

4. White Noise
The silence can make it impossible for some people to sleep. On the other hand, many people don’t have silence surrounding them, which can also cause sleep problems. There is one great solution to this problem though, which is white noise. You can find white noise in many ways, so you don’t have to run out and purchase a sleep machine if you don’t want to. One of the first places to look is your mobile phone. If you have a streaming music service then you should be able to find playlists with white noise, ocean sounds and more. Another option is to look on your cable’s music channels as there is often white noise there that is accompanied by peaceful images. Your laptop can help you out too, with some of the same features. Of course, if you want to keep things simple then use a fan to create the white noise you need to sleep.

5. Keep It Cold
Believe it or not, but one of the best things you can do to help improve your sleep is to turn the heat down. It is actually healthier to sleep in a cold room and it might help you sleep for longer. So, this Festival of Sleep, you might want to turn the heater way down, if not off. This will help you save quite a bit of money in the long run anyway. If you’re still not cold enough, then crack open a window and let the room fill with fresh air. The cold will help you nod off as you get comfortable under your blankets and it will make you feel more relaxed as the air feels fresher. Your sinuses especially will thank you for the change, as the heater tends to dry out the air, which is bound to make you feel uncomfortable.

6. Skip the Beverages
If you’re aiming to get several hours of sleep in one go, then you might want to skip out on drinking anything two to three hours prior to laying down. Sleeping off schedule might mean your body will wake you faster if you do need to get up to use the restroom. However, this doesn’t mean you should dehydrate yourself to get some sleep. Instead, consider drinking plenty of water a few hours before sleeping. A water with electrolytes might also help your body stay hydrated longer. If you’re having trouble getting sleepy, then you can always try an herbal tea like chamomile. This should help you get the most possible sleep, so you can feel well rested.

7. Turn off the Phone
The blue light on your phone isn’t the only thing that can keep you up. The temptation of using social media and other apps might also become a problem while you’re trying to catch up on your sleep. Of course, there is also the problem of receiving calls and texts while you’re asleep. Your best option is to turn off your phone to make sure nothing will interfere with your sleep. You don’t have to power all the way down if this makes you uncomfortable. Instead, consider using airplane mode or simply turning the phone on silent and placing it screen down. Avoiding the phone might also help you relax even more, which is always great for your health.

8. Block Out Light
Our bodies are naturally designed to sleep when it is dark outside. It doesn’t matter if you’re a night owl or a morning person, creating a dark environment can help you slumber more peacefully and longer. So, for this festival of sleep you might invest in a way to improve the light quality in your bedroom, or wherever you choose to sleep. You can utilize blinds and drapes, especially if you’re looking to create a great aesthetic in the room. However, if you’re on a tight budget then don’t think twice about putting a blanket or other thick cloth item over your windows. You can even utilize tin foil to block out sun and heat. Your dark room is bound to help you snooze for much longer. Of course, if you don’t have access to items to block out light then consider a sleep mask. These items are actually much cheaper than you’d expect.

9. Embrace Movies
Sleeping might not be an option for you, especially if you have kids. There are a few solutions to help you rest up though. For instance, you can declare the day an official movie day. Pick out several movies to put on for the kids and have everyone hop in bed with you. Younger children are bound to nap through some of the movies, which will give you the perfect chance to catch up on some sleep too. Even if you don’t get to sneak in a bit of sleep, you’ll still have spent the entire day resting, which can do your body good.

10. Utilize Accessories
These days, there’s an abundance of items you can use to help improve the quality of your sleep as well as the duration. For starters, you might consider purchasing a mouth guard if you tend to grind your teeth while sleeping. This cheap and simple device can save you a lot of pain while also improving the way you feel after a good night’s rest. Another great item for sleeping is a breathe strip. This item is used for those that have problems with snoring. Of course, you’ll have to try out a few brands as everyone’s needs are different. There are special pillows that can be used for those that might have cramps, back pain or trouble breathing while sleeping. Pregnancy pillows can also do a world of good for those that are expecting and even those that aren’t. One of the newer trends on the market are weighted blankets. These blankets help fight anxiety, depression and stress while giving you high quality sleep.

The Festival of Sleep can be the perfect time to concentrate on your health and improve how rested you really are. These tips can help you maximize your ability to sleep without forcing you to blow your budget. You might even find that you save a little of money on this special holiday, which will help you sleep even better.

Headache Free Tips For Sending the Kids Back to School After Winter Break

Winter break seems to fly by, but if you’re not ready for it to be over then you might be in a world of trouble. Kids require structure to help them ease into situations like school, so you might have to put in a little work to help make the transition from rest to work a bit easier for the children in your life. Luckily, there’s a few things you can do to make things a bit easier on yourself and the kids. These ten ideas should cut back on the stress of ending your vacation, while also helping you save some money in the long run.

1. Ease Into Bedtime
Schedules can get a bit off track during a break from school, which can cause a lot of stress when school begins again. One of the best things you can do is start easing your kids back into their school bedtime. You don’t have to force them to jump back into their schedule or even cut back on the days that they can stay up late. Instead, cut their vacation bedtime by a few minutes each day. By the time school rolls around, they’ll be back on their original schedule and well rested for the day. Of course, you might also exercise this tactic for yourself. This will help ensure you, too, are well rested and ready to take on the day. This will give you plenty of time to get up and ready, which will cut down temptation for takeout breakfasts and coffees.

2. Meal Prep
Meal prep is a great way for you to get on top of your game before the school rush begins. One of the best items to start with is breakfast. You can make an abundance of overnight oats, egg cups and so much more that can be heated up and served in seconds, so you won’t have to rush through a meal. These items can also be packed up and eaten on the way to school or in the school’s cafeteria. You should also consider making up a bunch of dump meals that can be frozen and tossed in the crockpot in the morning. Preparing lunches at the beginning of the week can also make getting out the door much faster. Another great item to prep is snacks, which will certainly improve how easy it is to get kids to settle down and work on their homework.

3. Organize School Bags
If you’ve ever looked in your child’s school bag after a few weeks of school, then you probably know how much of a nightmare it can be. Winter vacation provides the perfect opportunity to give your child a fresh start when school reconvenes. So, brace yourself and dump out the contents of your child’s bag. This will make sorting through the old assignments and other questionable items a breeze. When you have everything sorted, place homework and other assignments that your child might still need back in the bag. Then do a count of the school supplies that they still have. You should be able to find some discounts on these items due to the holiday season, so shop ahead to save. You can even organize your child’s bag to make it more efficient for school, which will save time and frustration. Cleaning and organizing will help you save some major money while making the transition back to school a little less stressful for you, your student and their teacher.

4. Make an After School Game Plan
School plans change from term to term, so you might want to sit down with your kids and work out a plan for after school. Before the term begins, you should talk to your kids about after school programs they are interested in. This will help you know where you need to be when, so no one’s schedule overlaps another’s. If your kids use the bus then go over after and before school rules and make sure you have a game plan for when the kids arrive at home. You should also make a schedule for homework, chores, play and meals to help kids move more efficiently when they get home. Planning your after school period will help kids ensure they get the stimulation and social interaction they need without forcing things to get too chaotic.

5. Go Over Skills
It’s pretty easy for kids to forget the things they learned before they left for vacation. There is a good chance that they didn’t retain a lot of information in the week prior to vacation as well, due to all of the excitement of the holidays. So, you might want to take their education into your own hands before the holiday is over. You can download homework that suits their school syllabi online, or you can work from one of their last homework assignments. This will help them brush up on the skills they were working on before vacation began, so they won’t be in shock when they return. Working on skills is particularly important when it comes to math as this skill does take maintenance. If you can, try to have students work on math throughout the holiday to make matters easier. You can even download some apps to lend a helping hand.

6. Manage Closet
Managing your kid’s closet and even your own can be an important thing to do before heading back to school. This gives everyone plenty of time to actually go through the closet and pull out the clothes they don’t wear or like. It also gives you a chance to have kids try on clothes, so you’ll know where they stand as far as their wardrobe is concerned. You might even pull out their spring and summer clothes, so you can get a general idea as to what to shop for. You can still find clearance items from last year’s stock of spring and summer clothes, so if you shop now you’ll be in for some major savings. You also won’t have to stress about not having a wardrobe ready when the warm weather decides to make a sudden appearance.

7. Organize a Carpool
Transporting your child to and from school can be on of the challenges that you’ll face when winter vacation is over. If you’re driving your child to school every day, then you might want to consider a community carpool. This is great if you have neighbors with children in similar grades, as everyone can take turns driving the kids to school. This not only helps everyone save on gas money, but it is much better for the planet. If you begin organizing the carpool during winter break, you should have plenty of time to get everyone together to make a schedule. This will help make everyone’s life easier while allowing children to bond with other kids as they head to and from school.

8. Clean Up
Winter break and the holidays can leave your home in a real mess. Children’s rooms particularly can become a disaster zone while they’re at home for so long. So, instead of letting everything slide until the kids go back to school, get to work on cleaning up sooner. This will give you ample help and will ensure the children move out of play mode and into work mode. This will come in handy when they have to sit still and work at school. Also, starting school up with a clean home will make it easier to fall back into line. It can also help fight illnesses that will certainly be going around as soon as school begins. So, clean to your heart’s content and keep the disinfectant handy, because this tip is bound to keep your family healthier and organized.

9. Enjoy an Outing
Winter break can fly by, especially since the holidays take up most of the break. However, before you send the kids back to school, you might want to share an outing with them. This doesn’t have to be anything particularly expensive either. For instance, you can check out a free day offered at the local museum, aquarium or zoo. Many facilities like to offer these days to the community every now and then, so you’ll have to keep an eye out. If you already have a membership to one of these facilities, then you might want to visit it a few times before sending the kids back. You can also pick something that everyone will love like a trip to the movies or a day of ice skating. Spending time together will help the children make memories that they will hold onto and share with their classmates when they return to school. It will also help cut some of the anxiety about going back to school, which will make transitioning easier.

10. Craft for Teachers
Spreading cheer can be a great way to break the ice when a new semester begins. Thus, helping your kids come up with a fun craft to gift to a teacher can be a lot of fun. There are so many gifts to choose from too, so you don’t have to stress over not being able to find a craft that utilizes supplies that you already have. There are many online options that you can check out for ideas, too. Your kids might have fun making a New Year craft for their teacher as well, which will help wish a teacher luck. Crafting also helps to take your kids’ minds off of homework, social interactions and other stressors they may have built up. If the kids are feeling ambitious then they can always extend their crafts to their class, which will help bring joy to everyone.

Winter break will be long gone before you know it. So, you might want to get a jump on things in order to save some money and stress. These ten tips should have you on the right track, so you can easily get back to the swing of things while enjoying the new semester all the more.

Quick Ways to Recover From the Holiday Madness

Although the holidays aren’t quite over, you might be looking for a way to unwind when they finally are. The holidays can be particularly stressful, which might leave your body feeling tired and your mind frazzled. On top of that, you might have put on some extra pounds due to the excess foods and stress. Without a doubt, many people tend to spend extra money to help them feel better after such a trying time. However, there are some things you can do to get back on track, so you can feel on top of the world in 2019. These ten tips should help you find yourself again, even if your holiday season was particularly trying.

1. Take Some You Time
During the holidays, it might be hard to find some time to breathe, especially if you have children. This can cause the stress to build, especially as you go from one social event to the next. So, when the holidays are over, take some time for you. It doesn’t matter if you send the kids to the movies with someone else for a couple of hours, or you simply take half an hour during the day, as long as you do find the time to do something that you want to unwind. You don’t have to spend money to do this either. In fact, you might feel better simply by lounging around with a good book or catching up on some TV shows alone. You can even have a spa night to help you unwind and enjoy a holiday free experience.

2. No-Spend January
The holiday season can really take a toll on your budget. From autumn festivals, Halloween supplies, Thanksgiving dinner and all of the December holidays, you’re bound to need some time to catch up on your budget. In order to combat your spending, you might set out to have a no-spend January. Obviously, you’ll have to spend a bit of money on groceries, bills and transportation, but other than that don’t spend money on other items that can be avoided. You might find that not shopping can be a bit therapeutic, especially after all of the shopping you did in previous months. This will also give you the chance to see how much money you can actually save in a month, which might encourage you to curb your spending more often.

3. Embrace Staying In
The holidays tend to mean a lot of hustle and bustle, which can be exhausting. So, as the holidays draw to an end, you might want to embrace staying in for a little while. You can easily cut back on your entertainment budget by not going out on the town. This means no movies, clubs or even restaurants for a little while. You might find a renewed love of your home when you do this, as it will help you find comfort in your favorite items and show you items you might want to change in the future. It will also help you sharpen your cooking skills and will ensure you find new ways to entertain yourself without spending money. This will also give you the appropriate amount of time to rest up. Plus, it never hurts to stay in and avoid the cold weather and sick season.

4. Sell Unwanted Items
If you’re suffering from a bit of a budget crisis over the holiday season, then you can easily make a little extra money by selling some of the items you no longer want or need. For instance, if you received a few gifts you aren’t interested in or you might have duplicates of, then these are great items to put in an online market or sell in your community. You can also sell older items that you might have upgraded over the season. This should give you a little extra spending cash that might help you cut back on the debt you may have incurred while holiday shopping. You can even go through your old items to see if there is anything worth getting rid of. You might be surprised by how much money a yard sale can bring.

5. Earn Extra
Another great way to add some more funds to the household is to take up a side job that you can utilize whenever you need. These jobs usually allow you to work when you want and don’t require you to sign a contract, which can be very helpful. One great option is to try driving for Uber, Lyft or other similar companies. You can even pick up a job writing if that is something you enjoy doing. Data entry and transcribing are other popular jobs that can be picked up on a need-based basis. Online surveys can help you earn gift cards and other discounts that might help you cut back on your spending. You might also consider asking your boss for some extra hours to help push you through the holiday debt.

6. Exercise
Between stress and weight gain, the holidays can do a number on your body. One of the best ways to get back on track is to start exercising. It might not sound like a lot of fun, but you’ll be surprised by how much better you feel after you get started. The exercise won’t just help cut back on your weight but will have your body in better shape which will improve your mood, confidence and overall happiness. Exercising is a great way to relieve stress too, which can help you get over the holiday blues. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a gym membership or even equipment either, as you can start your exercise journey with walking. You can always pick up the speed to go jogging or running. Everyday exercises like pushups, pullups, yoga and more can also help encourage you to feel better without forcing you to spend a penny.

7. Turn Off the Phone
The holidays require a lot of socialization which can really drain you. So, one step to recovery might be to turn off your phone for a little while. This doesn’t mean you have to go without a phone entirely. Instead, try uninstalling social media from your phone for a couple of weeks. A social media detox can actually do you lot of good. These platforms tend to be a bit draining, because they involve shallow conversation, unnecessary debate and may even cause you extra stress. Social media can also breed competition and might force you to compare yourself to others, which isn’t healthy. So, instead of cutting off socialization, you might just cut social media and enjoy face to face relationships instead. Games and other apps can cause stress too without you realizing. It can also prevent you from being productive.

8. Start a Healthy Routine
The holidays can really throw off our routine, which can lead you to feel stressed out. After the holidays, you might want to take a little time to get back on track. You should sit down and review everything that you need to accomplish in a day. Then, make a schedule so you’re more likely to get everything done. You should factor in exercise, work and reading. You should also make a calendar that features menus that you plan to follow. Make sure there are lots of healthy foods to enjoy, so you can start feeling better in no time. A healthy routine will make your life a lot easier and will ensure you feel less stressed out. You might not need long to recover from the holidays if you can keep your routine on track quickly.

9. Hold Off on Resolutions
Many people often feel pressured to come up with a resolution for New Year’s during the holiday season. However, this season is packed with things to do and might leave you struggling for an idea or rushing just to come up with one. You might also base your resolution on how you feel over the holidays. Instead, don’t make a resolution until you’ve had the appropriate amount of time to recover from the holidays. This will allow you put actual thought into the resolution. You might even be able to find a resolution that will help you save some money or improve on your health.

10. Free Entertainment
Another great way to cut back on finances is to simply cancel your entertainment accounts. This will give you a chance to embrace all of the free entertainment that your community provides for you. You might consider checking out parks, going to community events and enjoying local shows and performances that are low cost. You may even be able to enjoy free entrance into a museum or other facility on certain days. Enjoying what the community provides for you will help you cut down on your budget for a little while. It will also help you explore new outlets that might be outside of your typical entertainment routine. You may even find yourself a bit healthier having explored this outlet.

The holidays don’t have to leave you in a funk in the early months of the new year. Instead, try some of these methods to clear your mind and improve your finances. You will certainly feel a lot better about the upcoming year, if only you take the time to recuperate from the final months of the last year.

Frugal Last Minute Things to Accomplish Before 2019 Arrives

It seems like 2019 is barreling towards us at record speed, which might leave many having anxiety about accomplishing last minute resolutions and more. This holiday panic can cause you to spend some money to knock things off of your bucket list in a hurry. However, you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, especially if it is going to put your budget in peril. Instead, you might want to embrace a few things that might actually help you save on some money when 2019 finally does arrive. So, don’t worry about ending 2018 without meeting all of your goals, because these ten ideas will certainly put you in a good place when 2019 begins.

1. Clean
In many cultures, cleaning is a tradition that can bring the household good luck in the new year. Even if you don’t believe in this ritual personally, you might make it a tradition to give your home a deep clean before the new year arrives. Deep cleans can actually help to improve on your bills and make you feel happier and healthier in your own home. One thing you should focus on while cleaning is your appliances, which often get over looked. Giving the dryer a deep clean can help improve dry times, while removing dust from the back of the refrigerator can shave off some of the electricity usage on your bill. You should also work on cleaning out the home’s filters, which will help improve allergies and overall health as winter transforms to spring. Clearing out extra clutter can cut back on stress and may even allow you to make some extra money. Plus, winter tends to be the worst season for colds and the flu, so keeping things spic and span can help cut back on your family’s chance of catching a bug. Best of all, your home will look great as you come into the new year, which will give you a sense of pride and confidence.

2. Visit Loved Ones
Let’s face it, the holidays are the best period to find the time to visit with our loved ones. So, make sure to take advantage of this time so you can go into the new year with renewed relations. When things go back to normal, it will be hard to keep up with everyone, especially if they live far away. Thus, visiting before new year arrives will help you feel better about your familial ties and friendships. Plus, it will help you get plenty of meaningful socialization, which might make you feel better when you go back in to work. Improving relationships during the holidays might also help you prepare to meet goals that involve spending time with loved ones, as you will feel better about visitations and keeping in touch thanks to the renewed warmth of your relationships.

3. Make Donations
Now is the perfect time to get in a little extra charity work. So, before the year is over, go through all of your things an see what items you’d like to donate. This is a particularly great time to do this anyway, as you will have accumulated new items during the holiday. Thus, you might feel a little cramped in your home or you might even have some upgraded items to replace your older things. It is very easy to hang on to the things you once cherished. However, if you sever the tie quickly then you’ll be in much better shape. On top of that, donating your goods can also earn you a tax deduction, which will help you financially in the new year. It might seem overwhelming to go through everything, so if you can just concentrate on the areas you feel need work and those that can be worked through quickly. You might also want to donate to charities at this time. The winter months can be particularly hard on charities, particularly food banks and homeless shelters. You’ll also receive a tax deduction for donations too, which will help your finances in the future.

4. Ditch the Holidays
The holidays have been a lot of fun, but it might be time to let them go for this year. Instead of leaving your tree and other holiday décor up past New Year, you can always skip the wait and put things up before 2019 arrives. This will allow you to make a fresh start as soon as the new year arrives. Having your décor up can even help you tackle the goals you want to complete in the upcoming year. Putting up décor will be completely off the table, so you can have more free time to get what you need done. On top of that, you won’t feel as if the holidays are holding you back. The food, sights and outings will be in the past, so you can move on forward to the new and improved you.

5. Reflect on 2018
Sometimes, the holidays can have us so busy that we forget to think back on all of the amazing things that we got to see and do in 2018. Before the new year arrives, make sure to sit down and reflect on everything you experienced and learned during the current year. Even if you’re feeling a little blue, reflecting can help you find some hope for the upcoming year. You can also reflect on things you didn’t like, so you can work harder to avoid certain situations or change things about yourself that might lead you to feel such a way. This is bound to improve your new year and will ensure that 2018 won’t be just as blue.

6. Enjoy a Party
New Year’s is a prime time for parties, so don’t let the good times pass you by. Attending a party is a great way to kick back and relax before things go back to the everyday grind. You don’t even have to stick to one party if you don’t want to, as there is bound to be plenty going on when New Year’s Eve arrives. Even if you don’t know anyone hosting a party, you might be able to find a community-based party or one that is open to anyone. Of course, not everyone loves the atmosphere of a party. If that is the case, then you might consider hosting one at your own home. You can serve soothing snacks and play movies until midnight. No matter how you choose to party, you’re certain to enjoy yourself, which will help make the end of the year and the beginning of the next amazing.

7. Community Event
When you’re on a budget, community events can be a world of fun that won’t force you to count pennies to attend. During the holiday season, you’re bound to find a lot of community events to engage in. You can usually find a list of events on social media or your community’s website, so make sure you take a look to see what’s going on. You should be able to at least find a firework show to watch, if you’re having trouble finding an event. Of course, you can also watch a community event online. For instance, New York always broadcasts the ball dropping, as do many other cities.

8. Read
A lot of people go a year or more without reading a book. However, if you really want to make a change in the upcoming year then now is the time to buckle down and read a book. It doesn’t matter if reading was a resolution for this year or the next, you can still get a lot out of sitting down and reading. There is still plenty of time to read a book before the year is over, which should set you on the right path in the new year. If you’ve already read a ton of books this year, then you can always get in one more to tip the scales. Reading is a relaxing activity too, which will help you unwind from all the holiday stress. It might even help you find a way to stay up until midnight, so you can greet 2019.

9. Start a Savings Plan
It might not sound like a whole lot of fun, but the end of the year can be a perfect time to sit down and work out your savings for 2019 and beyond. Since finances are a bit tighter after a holiday, working out a budget might actually be a bit easier as you are already cutting back. You can find lots of great savings tips online too, including items you can easily cut back on and plans to put back money without feeling the burn. Going into the year with a savings plan can help you feel a bit more disciplined too, which might help curb spending in other aspects too.

10. Reflect on You
One of the most important things you can do during the end of the year is to take some time to reflect on yourself. Look back at the changes you’ve made and your growth for the year. This will help build up some confidence that will help you grow even more in the upcoming year. Reflecting will also help you figure out the things that you’d like to change in the upcoming year. This doesn’t just mean personal growth but might include learning something new or traveling. This is the perfect time to dream big and create plans to help make the upcoming year one of the best yet.

With the holidays wrapping up, you might be in a rush to get everything accomplished before 2018 is here. You don’t have to stress the little things though. Instead, take a breather and accomplish a few things that might actually help you start the new year on the right foot. You’ll be surprise by how fulfilled you feel when 2019 comes to call.

Easy Tips to Keep Kids Entertained During Their Long Winter Break

Winter break is practically upon us, which can be a scary thought for parents that aren’t certain what they’re going to do to entertain kids for such an extended time. Luckily, the winter weather and festivities will help you embrace the vacation without losing your mind. However, if you’re still looking for ways to keep kids entertained on a budget then you’re in luck. These ten ideas will not only keep your spending down, but will ensure your children are constantly kept busy, so cries of boredom won’t drive you up the wall.

1. Homework
The kids might not be happy about it, but you should add a scheduled homework hour to their days at home. A lot of teachers love to assign large scale projects prior to school breaks, so make sure you check their syllabi to see if there is a science fair, essay or other large project on the horizon. If there, is then get a jump start on the task. This will help everyone from stressing out when it is time to get the assignment in. Plus, doing the work while your child has so much free time will give them more free time when they don’t have the luxury. Of course, even if they don’t have homework to speak of, you can always create your own. Idle periods of time can actually cause children to forget the things they’ve learned in school. So, try printing out homework sheets online to help them keep up. This is especially great for math. Requiring children to read an hour a day can also keep their minds active, while also adding magic to the holiday season.

2. Embrace the Snow
Snowy weather can be quite common in some areas during winter break. So, use this to your advantage. Don’t keep the kids inside because of the weather, instead bundle them up and let them have some fun. Kids can have a blast by sledding in your community. You don’t even need a sled for this activity, if you don’t have one. Instead, find some plastic or something that will slide. Another great option is to have kids make their own snowman or snow angel. This can be fun, especially if you make it a competition to see who can get the most creative. A snow ball fight is also a great idea, especially if the kids have a lot of pent up energy. If you’re feeling like a more creative activity, then snow painting is fun and cheap. There are fun snacks you can make with the snow too, like snow ice cream. There is an abundance of snow day activities to keep everyone busy. So, if you’re at a loss for ideas look online for some help.

3. Bake
Since the kids will be home, you’re going to need to prepare more meals and snacks to keep everyone happy. One of the best ways to do this is to bring the kids into the kitchen to help out. There is no better time to learn how to cook than when you are young, so distribute jobs by age to ensure everyone can gain a strong foundation in this necessary life skill. You might want to start by making some easier meals. Casseroles or crock pot dump meals are always a cheap, easy and filling way to feed the family. You can even have the kids work on meal prep, so that you won’t have to worry about cooking every day of the week. Of course, making delicious treats like homemade breads, cookies, cakes and more will excite the whole family. These foods can create a great learning experience as well.

4. Holiday Snacks
There are a lot of great holiday snacks that the kids can work on to keep their minds and their hands busy. One of the most iconic options is to help the kids build a gingerbread house. There are lots of kits to begin the process, but if you really want to take time on the task then you can easily whip up the cookies and materials needed from scratch. This craft can take up a lot of time, so you can even span it out over several days to add excitement and fun to the winter break. Another simple item is to make Christmas trees. These start out as ice cream cones and kids can decorate them with candy and icing. This craft also takes lots of concentration, so it is the perfect craft for when kids seem to be out of hand. There are so many other holiday treats the kids can make, so check out recipes online if you need more ideas. This activity is a great reward for kids too, as they can snack on their creations too.

5. Decorate Wrapping Paper
Sometimes it seems like wrapping paper is just about everywhere you look during the holiday season. Wrapping paper can be pretty pricey too. So, this year you might turn the art of wrapping paper into a fun winter break activity for the kids. Instead of buying pricey paper, purchase some of the cheaper options. It doesn’t matter what is on the paper as you are only going to use the white part of the paper for this craft. You can unroll the paper and let kids go to town on it with paint or markers. Then use the finished product for wrapping up gifts. However, if you’re looking for a cleaner craft or one that is more personal, then kids can decorate gifts that are already wrapped with crayons. This should bring a smile to the recipient’s face. It will also help get the children into the holiday spirit.

6. Kid Exchange
Without a doubt, having the kids at home for longer periods of time can get stale for both parents and children. A kid exchange is a great way to spice things up for everyone. Basically, make an agreement with a friend or family member that you know well and that has kids in your children’s age group. You can take the kids for a night or even a weekend and they will take the children for the same period of time the following week. This will help kids socialize with people their own age while also getting out of the house. On the plus side, you’ll also get a break for a while. You can come up with fun ways to entertain when it is your turn too. For instance, you can have a movie marathon and a hot cocoa party to suit the season.

7. Clean
This activity is probably going to be as high up on the list as homework for the kids, but it is a necessary thing. With school not in session, it is the perfect time to clean deep and get organized for the upcoming semester at school. You can go through homework assignments and school projects to see which items your child would like to keep and which can be tossed out. The backpack is also a great thing to clean out because you never know what scary items you’ll find lurking around. The room should be cleaned and organized too, to ensure transitioning back to school days will be a breeze. You might even go through clothes and toys to see which items can be donated. If children are older then they can also jump into action to get the entire home clean, so you’ll be prepared for hosting company over the holidays.

8. Bring on the Science
Science is incredibly important, especially in today’s tech savvy world. So, make sure your children are able to find a love for science outside of the classroom. You can enjoy science experiments with them too, which might even encourage you to learn more than you’d wanted to prior to having kids. You might start with some winter-based activities. For instance, you can have kids put their hand in ice water to see how cold it is. Then, cover the hand in Crisco and repeat. This will help children understand how animals survive in the winter. Of course, you can also make crystal snowflakes, DIY frost and so much more. You don’t have to stick to the winter theme though. There’s lots of projects that can be completed with items from around the house. You can also purchase kits to suit various age groups. Another fun activity is to observe the night sky and find constellations that can be seen only in the winter months.

9. Community Events
Luckily, winter break takes place when the community is filled with holiday cheer. There are numerous community events that you should be able to enjoy while your child is on break from school. For instance, there should be lots of freebies to check out like a holiday parade, visit from Santa and even holiday festivals. These events should help brighten the season while saving you a bundle. The library usually goes all out during the season too, with special story times and crafts to keep kids engaged. Of course, you can always spend plenty of time at the library to keep kids entertained when they’re taking a break from education. Another fun activity is to drive around and check out all of the beautiful holiday lights outside. The whole family is certain to enjoy this. You might even find a huge community light display to enjoy too, so make sure to research what your community is up to during the weeks of break.

10. Build a Fort
One of the best ways to engage the entire household is to get everyone together to build an indoor fort. This can be a great activity for younger children in particular though. Forts can be made out of so many different materials, so you won’t need to go out and purchase anything. There are many ways to tackle building a fort too, so check out some ideas online if you’re at a loss. The fort will make a great place for kids to read and play during the day. Plus, it will help keep them warmer, which can save on heating costs. Kids might even be keen to sleep in their creation on Christmas Eve, which will add some magic to special night.

Keeping the kids occupied during winter break, might seem intimidating. However, with a little planning you’re bound to make this winter break a lot of fun for the entire family. You might even find that the activities the family enjoys will bring everyone closer together. So, enjoy having the kids home without spending extra money on their presence.

Ten Holiday Traditions Your Family and Budget Will Love

The holidays are a great time to enjoy the numerous traditions that have been shared from one generation to the next. However, if you’re just starting out as a family or you want to spice up your holiday experience, then you might be looking for some great ideas to incorporate into your celebrations. If you’re on a budget, then this can be especially hard. Luckily, there are numerous traditions out there that won’t cost you a pretty penny. These ten ideas can add fun and culture to your holiday experience, without forcing you to sacrifice your budget. So, let the warmth of the holidays overcome you, because you’re bound to have some fun with these traditional ideas.

1. Pickle Ornament
You’ve probably seen a pickle ornament on a tree at one time or another. Although this trend is often portrayed on TV and in movies, the reason behind the ornament tends to me left out. Pickle ornaments are actually a German tradition. The pickle is hidden within the holiday tree and the first person to find it gets to open their gift first. This can be a lot of fun for children and it won’t cost the family a bundle. You can even make your own pickle ornament if you’re feeling crafty. From paper mache to clay, this ornament is very simple to make that you might consider making more to gift to loved ones. Of course, if you don’t have the time to make your own ornament, then you can always purchase these ornaments at a very low price. In fact, even dollar stores have these items for sale, so you can easily take part in the tradition this year.

2. Christmas Eve Books
Another great tradition that comes all the from Iceland is Jolabokaflod. This tradition requires the family to open up a book on Christmas Eve. This tradition is designed to give readers time with their new books, as Christmas is usually spent as a family unit. The tradition can be a lot of fun too, especially since you can find books at a great price during this time of the year. The tradition will also encourage literacy in children, which will do your children’s education a huge favor. You can make this tradition a lot more fun by whipping up some special holiday treats to munch on while reading. If you’d like to add a more social element to the tradition, then everyone can gather at the end of the night to share more about the book they received.

3. Start a Charity Box
The holiday season is one of the best times to give to charity. You can always make this a tradition in your home to help teach the family the true meaning of the season. One of the easiest ways to do this is to gather everyone together to make a charity box. Kids will love decorating the box and putting it on display for all to see. The box can be used to collect change and other spare money throughout the year. You can even ask people to contribute to it when they act on a bad habit. When the box is full, or the year is finally over, take the money and use it to give back. You can do this by donating the money or purchasing items for those in need. Each family member can even make their own box to see who can donate the most.

4. Take a Family Photo
The holiday season usually brings the whole family together for fun activities. Since everyone is together, you might want to use the time to get a family photo. This is especially great if you have the whole extended family together, as getting a picture together can be quite tough. You can hire a professional photographer for this, but there is really no need for this. Most mobile phones have great cameras now and with the help of a selfie stick, you should be able to get everyone together. If you get your photo taken early enough then you might even be able to use this image for holiday cards, which can save you quite a bit of money too.

5. Game Day
For many families, the holidays consist of opening gifts and eating. The bonding experience doesn’t go any further as most people want to spend time with their new items. So, instead of spending all day with gifts, you might declare a special day for playing games together. You can pull out your favorite board games, cards and dominoes to keep everyone satisfied. You might even make a tradition of purchasing a new game each year for people to try. The game day can help entertain everyone, which will bring the family close together. On top of that, it will ensure the holidays are spent having fun on a very low budget.

6. Boxing Day Cleanse
For generations, many countries have celebrated Boxing Day, which takes place the day after Christmas. When the holiday was originally created, it was used as a way for the rich to provide gifts for their servants. Generally, they would go through their own gifts and their old items to come up with second hand things to give away. Although most people no longer have servants, the tradition is a great way to cleanse your home of unnecessary items. With all of the new clothes, toys and appliances in the home, you can go through your items and get rid of those that you no longer want or need. The items can then be donated. This will help keep your home from gathering too many items and can even provide you with a tax deduction which will save you even more money. Best of all, it will teach your children to give back, especially when they have a bounty.

7. Bake Cookies
Cookies tend to be one of the best aspects of the holiday season. This is why it makes such a great tradition for just about any family. Ingredients for cookies can be inexpensive too, and you’re likely to have most of the items on hand already. This makes it a breeze to get the whole family together on Christmas Eve to bake some delicious cookies for Santa. You can find a role for just about anyone in the family too. From baking to decorating, everyone will have a lot of fun together, which will add warmth to the holiday celebration. Kids can even decide which cookie they want to leave out for Santa Claus, which will give them a sense of pride.

8. Elf on the Shelf
Elf on the shelf is actually one of the more recent traditions to hit the holiday season. As soon as December arrives, an elf appears in the home to keep an eye on good boys and girls. The elf directly reports in to Santa, which encourages children to be on their best behavior. Some households bring in an elf per child, while other households simply have one elf to keep track of good and bad deeds. Parents can have fun placing the elf in different positions or situations each day too. The elf on the shelf can be a pricier purchase during the holiday season, but you will only need to make it once. However, if you can’t justify spending the money on the elf then you can purchase one from a discounted website, like Wish, if you’re willing to wait a few weeks for it to arrive. You can also make your own elf, which will make the Elf on the Shelf a more personal experience for your family.

9. Movie Marathon
The holiday season is rich in holiday movies, which makes watching your favorites a great tradition that everyone in the household can enjoy. You can span out your movie marathon throughout the month if you don’t have time for a marathon day. This is easily done by wrapping up all of your holiday movies and unwrapping one per day to watch. Of course, you can also make some great holiday snacks and watch your favorite movies on Christmas Eve too. This will help get everyone in the holiday spirit and will ensure the family spends some time together. You can even have everyone vote on the movie lineup to ensure everyone gets a say in the matter. If you want to make things even cozier, then you might allow everyone unwrap a new pair of pajamas for the special lounge day.

10. Yearly Ornament
Adding to your holiday tree can be a whole lot of fun. That is what makes finding a new ornament each year a lot of fun. You can tackle this tradition in many ways. For starters, you can have each family member purchase a new ornament to represent their year. Then, when the kids grow older and move out, they can take all of their ornaments with them. Another option is to make a photo ornament that represents the whole family for the year. These ornaments can actually be very affordable, especially if you use coupons when ordering them. Of course, the cheapest option is to have the kids sit down and craft a special ornament for the year. The craft can be a lot of fun and excess ornaments can be used as gifts for other family members.

Holiday traditions are what memories are made of. That is why creating new traditions with your loved ones can always be a lot of fun. These ten ideas will help cut down on the amount of money you have to spend on your holiday tradition. This should make your family’s experience merrier and bright.

Christmas Activities That Will Make the Whole Family Jolly For Less

The holidays are practically here, which means there are tons of activities that the family will want to participate in. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out in the favor of your budget as many events require you to purchase tickets and foods, while paying other fees in the process. There are some amazing things that you can do to satisfy the whole family without sacrificing your budget though. So, get ready to have a blast this holiday season, because these ten ideas will keep everyone as busy as a bee until the holidays have finally come to an end.

1. Caroling
Without a doubt, you can have a lot of fun caroling in your community. This activity can be entirely family based activity or you can join a group of friends or community group to have even more fun. Caroling actually requires no money at all if you walk around on foot. This can help ease a lot of the stress of the holidays, as all you have to do is schedule in a time for your event. It is very easy to sing songs from heart as well, but if you’re uncertain about lyrics or how to sing a song then there is a good chance you can find the sheet music for the song for free. This will help make he activity even more enticing.

2. Holiday Crafts
The cold weather won’t lead to boredom when you pull out all of your craft supplies for some fun with the whole family. There are so many cool crafts that you can make during the holiday season, which will help you find something for everyone in your family. Best of all, crafting can help you create a lot of great gifts for everyone on your gift giving list. You can whip up everything from snow globes to desserts in a jar. You might even take the time to make some holiday greeting cards and thank you cards to send out to everyone you love. Another great crafting project is to work on decorations for the tree or house. With all of the great choices, you might find a craft for every downtime your family is privileged with.

3. Good Deeds
Nothing says holiday magic like the warmth of doing good deeds. There are so many great projects you can volunteer for, so you might consider signing up the whole family to try a few new things this year. One of the most common volunteer projects for this time of the year is to work in a soup kitchen or for a community pantry. These jobs will help keep those less fortunate fed during the cold season. You might also consider running a fundraiser to help someone in need. You can host a bake sale or simply set up a fundraiser online to bring in donations. Another great option is to go out and talk to those living in nursing homes or staying in the hospital over the holiday season. If you don’t have a lot of time or money to give then go through old clothes, toys and other necessities to give away. Finally, you can make budget friendly care bags for those that are homeless and must deal with the elements during one of the harshest seasons.

4. Visit Santa
One of the greatest joys for children during this time of the year is the thought of Santa Claus bringing toys and sharing good cheer. So, one of the most obvious activities is to take the kids to see Santa. A lot of parents choose not to do this because the price of Santa photos can be astronomical. However, you can actually see Santa for free and opt not to get a picture. Of course, that is just for the Santa at the mall. If you can find another activity that involves Santa, then you’re certain to be able to get a photo of the special moment for your kids without having to spend an arm and a leg. To make the occasion even more special, you might have your child write a letter to Santa which you can mail or simply hand to Santa during the visitation.

5. Enjoy Holiday Lights
Holiday decorations are definitely one of the best aspects of the holiday seasons. It can also be a time consuming part of the holiday, especially if you’re setting up your own lights. If you love to decorate then get the family together to set up lights as a bonding experience. Kids will love having a say in the decor and will feel like the lights are even more rewarding when it is all said and done. Of course, you don’t have to set up lights to enjoy this aspect of the holiday season. Rather, you can always walk or drive around your community to look at lights. This can be so much fun for the whole family, especially if you sing along to your favorite holiday songs. Another cheap and simple option is to visit a light show in your community. Often there is no charge to simply look at the lights, so the whole family can experience even more magic.

6. Decorate Desserts
Pigging out on sweet treats is another amazing part of the holiday season. There are so many amazing desserts during the holiday season that it will be hard to choose where to start. One popular option is to make a ginger bread house. If you make the house from scratch, then you should save a lot of money. Plus, gingerbread houses can be very time consuming, which will help keep the fun going for much longer. Another great activity is to make holiday cookies for Santa. Kids can help mix up the dough and then decorate them after they’ve been baked. The family might also want to pick out which cookies Santa should receive when he pays the family a visit towards the end of the month. If you’re feeling really ambitious, then you can always whip up some reindeer treats too.

7. Make Ornaments
Decorating the Christmas tree can be a world of fun, especially for the little ones. However, it can be made even more special when the ornaments are handmade and reveal the changes the family has made over the years. Thus, you might want to get the family together to make some adorable ornaments. There are so many great options to choose from. For instance, if you have extra ornaments that are a solid color then you can paint them to show off names, cartoon characters and so much more. If you don’t want to work with traditional ornaments then you can use popsicle sticks, cardboard and other recyclable items to make ornaments. Another option is to use salt dough, which is particularly great for ornaments that show off hand or foot prints.

8. Share Holiday Stories
Without holiday stories, we really wouldn’t have a holiday to speak of. So, use your spare time to share stories with those you love. You can stick to the basics by sharing the meaning of the holiday of your choice, or you can add some fun to the event by sharing your favorite holiday themed stories. You might want to find some books to help pass the time too, as there are so many different stories to choose from. Another great way to share some love is to tell your children stories from your childhood. This is especially great if it involves the holidays. The memories you share will not only give them a connection to the family but will also make you feel nostalgic.

9. Holiday Movies
You have to admit, holiday movies can be one of the happiest aspects of the holiday season. Generally, the movies are warm and filled with great messages that can lift the spirits. So, if your family is feeling bored, have everyone sit down and watch a holiday movie or two. You can even wrap up all of the holiday movies you own and have someone unwrap one movie per day. This can add a sense of excitement and mystery to your holiday fun. It might also allow the family to share their favorite holiday movies with each other. There are so many new movies produced each year that you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. However, you should also add in a few of the classics to keep the holiday magical.

10. Create an Ugly Sweater
Ugly sweaters have been a holiday trend for a few years now. So, you might want to spend some time making an ugly sweater of your own. These sweaters can cost quite a bit of money in store, so you might avoid shopping for one. Instead, take an old sweater and deck the halls out of it. You can use tinsel, ornaments and so much more to decorate the sweater. You might even hold a competition to see who can design he ugliest sweater of all. If you’re feeling especially festive then you can always have an ugly sweater party of your own to show off your hard work. The sweaters can even be worn year after year, so you won’t have to worry about wasting money on the items you used to make them.

The holidays are a great time to bond with those you love. These activities should help keep your holiday season filled with fun and excitement, without forcing you to spend even more money. So, don’t think twice about embracing the holiday spirit, because this year you’ll have plenty to do that won’t require an admission price.

Cheap Alternatives to Your Holiday Card Dilemma

Tis the season to spread cheer to all of those that you love. One of the best ways to do this is to send out holiday cards to ensure everyone knows you love them. Christmas cards can be costly though, especially when you order them custom made. Apart from that, it takes quite some time to fill out and send off your cards, which can add even more stress to such a busy season. There are quite a few holiday card alternatives that you might want to consider before you spend a fortune on your cards. These tips won’t just help out your budget, but they might actually help you to less burdened during the holiday season. So, don’t skip out on spreading your joy this year, because these tips have your back.

1. Photo Card
One of the easiest ways to get your holiday greetings out there is to design a photo card to share with everyone. There are numerous websites that will basically design a photo greeting card for you. However, if you want to save some money then you can easily do this yourself with some of the most basic photo editing software around. There are even tutorials online to help you out. If you plan on using snail mail to deliver your cards, then you can have your design printed cheaply at most department stores. Of course, you can also skip this hard and expensive step by emailing your photos to loved ones or posting them on your social media account. This will get the message out there, while still saving you a lot of time, money and frustration. You can even save your greeting card for your own photo collection.

2. Video Greeting
If you like to show off your family’s personality, then a video greeting might be the perfect way to share your love this holiday season. Video greetings are incredibly easy to make too, which will help ease the stress of card season. You can film your greeting on just about any mobile phone, tablet or computer which will give you many options to choose from. You can even edit your video to make it look professional before you share it with the world. Your greeting can be whatever you choose as well. For instance, you can make up a little skit, sing a carol or simply share a quick holiday message. Once your video is complete then email or text it to loved ones or post it on social media.

3. Craft a Card
One of the best ways to skip out on the cost of cards is to make your own. There are so many great craft ideas for cards that you might even have trouble choosing which direction you’d like to go in. If keeping to a budget is your main concern, then try to plan your cards around craft supplies that you already have in the home. You can have kids draw pictures on blank paper or even color in a color sheet from a holiday coloring book if you’re low on supplies. If you love to send off pictures, then print out some of your favorites and create a card by scrapbooking smaller pages. You can find a wide assortment of crafty card ideas online, so if you’re not sure where to begin then you might try there. You can save even more money by handing out as many cards as possible in person. Crafting cards can be a great bonding experience for the whole family though, which will make sending out cards even more memorable for everyone.

4. Edible Greeting
Your greeting card doesn’t have to paper or a classic greeting at all. One great option is to bake a special treat to pass out to those you care about. This type of greeting is especially great for coworkers and neighbors that you might not shop for but would still like to share some of your joy with. You can use items you already have at home too, which should help keep your budget under control. Some more popular greetings are Christmas shaped cookies that the whole family works to decorate. Of course, you can make whatever you want and distribute them how you see fit. You might find that the response to this greeting is greater than any card you might have sent.

5. Sing-a-Gram
Instead of sending out cards to everyone, you might decide to go the sing-a-gram route for anyone that might live in the same town as you. Simply get the family together to decide on a special song to learn for the people on your list. Then dress up in a holiday outfit and hit the road. People will be shocked that you took the time out of your day to share such a delightful message with them. There are many Christmas songs online that you can find sheet music for without having to spend a penny. Thus, you’ll spend next to nothing on this holiday greeting, especially if you perform your sing-a-grams while you’re also running errands.

6. Newsletter
When it comes to the holidays, many people tend to use their cards to update loved ones about their lives. Instead of working with a card, you might choose to whip up a newsletter instead. Newsletters are incredibly easy to type up, so you won’t have to spend too long working on your holiday greeting. You can even use holiday clipart to make the letter more festive. Your newsletter can be mailed out via snail mail or simply emailed to those you care about. The update on your family should help share some joy during the holiday season. It might even help you reflect on everything you have to be thankful for this year.

7. Make a Phone Call
Sometimes, the best way to share holiday joy is to actually pick up the phone and call the person you want to send good tidings to. You might start off by finding your mailing list and starting your phone calls there. You don’t have to make your calls in just one day either. Instead, try to span calls out throughout the month of December. This will allow you to actually talk with the loved one. The interaction will show that you cared enough to send greetings and that you wanted to catch up. This can be especially important when it comes to old friends and family. You never know how the people in your life are feeling during the holidays too, so a simple phone call might actually help bring someone the joy they need to get through a rough patch. Phone calls tend to cost you nothing extra if you follow your phone’s plan, so you’ll save a lot of money this way too.

8. Plantable Cards
Cards don’t have to be wasteful. One of the newest trends is to actually send cards that can be planted. This not only shares your holiday spirit, but it also provides the recipient and the planet with a gift. You can purchase plantable cards online if you don’t want to worry about crafting; however, you might not save a lot of money going this route. You can also make these cards with ease though. There are lots of tutorials online to choose from, which should help you start the base of your project. You can even craft the cards with special messages or scenes to make them even more festive. You’re bound to love this craft so much that you’ll want to send plantable cards every holiday.

9. E-Greetings
Another simple way to avoid the chaos that is holiday cards is to look around for an online greeting that will suit your needs. There are actually a wide assortment of websites that will allow you to send free online greetings to your friends, family and colleagues. You can send individual messages or a mass greeting that will only take a few seconds. Best of all, many of the e-greetings are absolutely free. So, you’ll be able to send a flashy message that sings and dances to bring plenty of joy to those you love. This is probably one of the easiest ways to share your love, especially if you’re on a tight budget and schedule.

10. Clearance Cards
Of course, if you like to send out holiday cards in the traditional sense you should do so. Luckily, there’s a few ways you can save money on your cards though. If you can, try to avoid purchasing a new bundle of cards from stores and websites. You should be able to go through clearance sections online to find cards that have been reduced in price for this year. When it comes to shopping for next year, make sure you go shopping on Boxing Day or the following week after Christmas. This will allow you to purchase cards that would normally be more expensive. Once you have your cards, you’ll be all set for next year.

Sending out holiday cards can truly mean a lot to the recipient. However, if you don’t have the budget to juggle such an expense, or if you’re running low on time then you might want to try some of these alternatives. They will certainly help make the holiday season easier and in most cases a little cheaper.

Ten Advent Calendars That Will Help You Count Down On a Budget

December is almost upon us, which means its time to get your advent calendar ready to count down until Christmas. If you want to add some extra fun to your holiday, then you might want to skip out on buying an advent calendar. There are so many DIY calendars that you will have a blast making, which is certain to get you in the holiday spirit. On top of that, making your advent calendar might actually save you quite a bit of money. This is especially true if you need a calendar for more than one person. So, get a pencil and some paper out, because these ten ideas are certain to inspire you to make the advent calendar of your dreams without blowing your budget out of the water.

1. Chocolate
Whether you’re buying your calendar or making it, using chocolate has become one of the most popular advent calendar themes. In fact, using chocolate in advent calendars has been passed down from generation to generation because this amazing dessert is one of the best treats, especially during hard times like the Great Depression. Generally, advent calendars you’ll find in stores will have characters made out of chocolate, but you can use all sorts of chocolate to make your calendar. If you’re looking to maximize savings, then you can easily fill up your calendar with Halloween candy. Another cheap option is to purchase a bulk bag of candy, so you have plenty of items to add to calendars. If you really want to put some work into your calendar, then use special molds to make characters. Chocolate is very easy to incorporate into just about any calendar design, so you can really show off your creativity here.

2. Alcohol
Sometimes, the holidays can become a bit much. For many adults, a little alcohol is one of the best ways to help reduce the stress of the busy season. An alcoholic advent calendar doesn’t have to be as difficult to make as it sounds. First, you should start out the project by deciding what type of alcohol you will be using. One popular option is beer, especially if the calendar is being made as a gift. Of course, the craftsmanship for this calendar will take a little extra work. You will need a cylinder item to store each beer. A simple option is to raid your recycling bin for items like oatmeal containers. However, you can always go to a hardware store to find cardboard cylinders that will do the trick. Once you have your storage items then build around them. One fun option for this kind of calendar is to build a large gingerbread inspired house. You can make this out of wood or cardboard, but the design will easily be able to handle the larger storage areas. If you’d like to save money on the beer then try a mix and match deal at your local store, so you can keep the options fresh. You also don’t have to do a full 24 day calendar. Beer isn’t the only option though. If you prefer spirits, then get sample size bottles to place in each day’s slot. This will help keep the calendar smaller, but still desirable.

3. Makeup
Another fun option to consider for the ladies in your life is a makeup advent calendar. This is great for young girls, teens and adults so you can have a lot of fun customizing it. If you’re shopping for younger girls then you might opt for toy makeup, costume jewelry and lip balm, which can all be purchased at an expensive price. For adults and teens, consider grab bin items that can be used for special occasions or just for fun. You might also want to try your hand at making some makeup for the calendar. It is actually much easier than you probably expect, and you can make bulk batches so you can fill more than one calendar or use the extras as gifts and stocking stuffers.

4. Socks
This year, it seems that socks are all the rage when it comes to advent calendars. You can find all sorts of fun characters available for purchase at a fair price. However, if you want to customize your calendar then socks are a great route to go. You can always make your own socks to make the calendar even more heartwarming. However, if you shop clearance socks then you can easily find character socks that suit everyone in your family. You might have to be on the look out all year though in order to make the calendar as exciting as you would like for each member of your family. You might also consider keeping this calendar a little shorter too, as too many socks might be overwhelming and expensive. This advent calendar will also keep some of the clothing items from going underneath the tree, which will probably make the kids happy.

5. Snacks
Not everyone has a huge sweet tooth, so instead of chocolate, you might consider adding snacks to the advent calendar. This can be a really easy option that adds an element of surprise to your daily routine. This advent calendar can be filled with snack sized chips, cookies, fruits, nuts and so much more. Your family’s favorite snacks are easy to pack into a wide variety of compartments, so you wouldn’t even have to worry about the snacks limiting the design of your advent calendar. You can even keep things simple by adding the snacks to little holiday inspired baggies with numbers.

6. Puzzle Pieces
Kids that enjoy mysteries and puzzles will love to have a puzzle piece advent calendar. This calendar is certainly one that will help keep anticipation high as the month passes. This is probably one of the easiest advent calendars to make as you can place puzzle pieces in almost any container. You can also use just about any puzzle to accomplish this fun gift. For younger children, you might even consider printing out puzzle pieces that they can color, which is certain to help make things even more fun. On Christmas Eve, kids will have a full puzzle to put together, which should help cut down on their desire to open up gifts. You might even offer a special surprise to those that can guess what their puzzle is before they finish opening up each section of the calendar.

7. Small Toys
Children will love receiving a few small toys before the holiday arrives. There are so many options you can choose from too, which will help make things even easier when setting up advent calendars for everyone. One of the easiest options is to purchase individually wrapped LEGO sets. You can separate the LEGOs to help save money or have a set or figure for each day of the calendar. Mystery bags are a huge hit this year too and are easy to place in a wide variety of calendars. Car fanatics will love receiving a toy car each day and if you buy these items in bulk you’ll spend very little. Of course, you can also find party favor toys at a cheap price in many stores. You can always mix and match the toys to suit each child, which is certain to make the month of December happier than ever.

8. Activities
Instead of filling the advent calendar with possessions, you might want to think out of the box and come up with some activities to make the month even more enjoyable. For instance, you can come up with things the children like to do with you, like board games, picnics and an outing to the park. These free items can make up most of the chart and will help bond the family. Of course, you might add in a few gems like a chore free day or the dinner of your child’s choice. Another great option is to throw in a couple of treats like go out for ice cream or a trip to the movies. If you’re creating a calendar for a spouse then a massage, date night or favorite meal are always classic options. You might find that your activity calendar is cherished more than your calendars filled with tangible items.

9. Books
Reading can bring even more magic to the holidays, which is why a book advent calendar can truly add some fun to your celebration. Of course, books are a little hard to place in a calendar, unless you use a specific design. If you want to make your life easier, you can easily wrap the books and add a number to each one. You might be thinking that this calendar sounds a bit expensive, but you don’t have to use new books. Instead, you can shop thrift stores, used book stores or even use books you already have in the home. The key to this calendar is to have the family sit down and read a book each day. Your kids will love the bonding time and you’ll love the excitement it brings them without having to spend money.

10. Written Treats
Use your sense of humor to add some fun to the holidays. One easy thing to do is to print out jokes to help bring a smile to each day of the month. You might also consider adding in a few riddles that will cause your children to stop and think for a little while. If you’re ready to for a little early gift giving, then you might offer a clue to one gift a day. If the child can crack the clue and find the gift in the home, then they can open it up. Another great way to help boost confidence is to add in a special message for each child that compliments them or thanks them for something they have done.

Advent calendars truly are a lot of fun, which is why so many households have utilized them year after year. This year, you can skip purchasing your calendar at store, because these ideas are certain to bring more joy to the family. You might even make it a tradition to build a personalized advent calendar each year. The designs and treats are up to you, which will give you more control over the awe your family feels during this season.