10 Free Craftsy Classes To Help You Create Awesome DIY Christmas Gifts

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Are you wanting to make Awesome DIY Christmas this year but your skills are a bit rusty, or not all that you feel they could be?

10 free online craft classes that can help you create awesome DIY Christmas gifts

One thrifty  way to get considerably more instruction than you are going to find in an average blog post is to enroll in a free mini class from Craftsy.

Craftsy classes are video driven and given by expert instructors. Most free mini classes take an evening to view, and come with a complete list of supplies.

I recently took a look through Craftsy current listing of 38 free mini classes and came up with a list of 10 that I think you could take and come away with the skills you need to make awesome DIY Christmas gifts.

Remember what I talked about last Friday, sometimes being thrifty means thinking outside the box, so don’t let the name of some of these courses make you think “that is not a Christmas gift” but instead think “how could I take the skills I would learn in that free mini class and make  great inexpensive gifts”.

10 free mini Craftsy classes that can help you create awesome DIY Christmas gifts

1. Beautiful Wire Work Jewelery

Learn to make 3 different pieces of wire jewelery including a hoop necklace, drop earnings and a leather & bead bracelet with the free mini class Beautiful Wire Work Jewelery


2. Professional Family Portraits

Are you wanting to take advantage of all the free and deeply photo print deals found around the web this time of year but your photo ability is extremely lacking? Me too! Which is why I am planning on sitting down really soon and watching Craftsy free mini course “Professional Family Portraits” . The course contains an hour and half of up close instruction on how to take better portraits of you loved ones.


3.  Spectacular Stamping

Do you have stamps gathering dust. Get them out and spend just over an hour watching the free mini course Spectacular stamping and learn how to use those stamps to make gifts. The course shows you how to make cards, but you could apply the skills to so many more DIY gift ideas. One idea would be to  stamp up a favorite bible verse or saying and frame it for a loved one.

4. Create Stunning Birthday Cards

I know what you are thinking, this is suppose to be about DIY Christmas gifts not Birthdays, however Create Stunning Birthday Cards is a free mini class that would teach you techniques you could easily apply to making Christmas cards. You could also make sets of blank cards to give as gifts. Sometimes being thrifty requires thinking outside of the box, so look beyond the course name to what skills you can learn and apply to the gifts you want to create.
Online Fabric Patterning with Wax Resist Class

5. Piece, Patch, Quilt: Basic Quilt Making Skills

What I love about quilting most, is that you don’t have to buy new fabric if you don’t want to, especially if you are making a small project. You can make a quilt big enough for a dolly bed, out of a few dress shirts you no longer wear. You can make a toddler bed sized quilt out of you child’s favorite clothes they out grew.  If you haven’t made a quilt before or if it has been a while try taking the free mini class Piece, Patch Quilt: Basic Quilt Making Skills and be inspired.
Online Sewing Class

6. Bag Making Basics: A Reversible Tote & Zipper Pouch

I am really wanting to watch  Bag Making Basics: A Reversible Tote & Zipper Pouch as I think the reversible totes would make amazing gifts and I just so happen to have some great material I found at yard sales. The zipper pouch would also make a great gift stuffed with pencils, pens and erasers, or lip gloss, a pretty nail file, and candy.

7. Bag Making Basics: Drawstring Bag and Bucket Bag

Either of the  projects in Bag Making Basics: Drawstring Bag and Bucket Bag would make great gifts, and would be a great way to use up fabric scraps, or remnants found in the bargain bins of fabric stores.

Draw string bags make excellent gift bags that recipients can either re-gift with their own gift inside or keep and use for storing millions of things from phone chargers to shoes, depending on the size.

The Bucket bag would be a good alternative to using a basket to fill with gifts. Fill the bag with Duplo, or blocks found on sale for a small child, hand made scrubs and lotions for a girl friend, and perhaps a universal remote, (usually a freebie one offered somewhere on Black Friday) and snacks for the favorite guy in your life.

For those of you who want to take you sewing machine skills further this Christmas season so you can create amazing gifts these next 3 free mini courses are for you.

8. Machine Savvy Tips for Creative Sewing

The skills shared in Machine Savvy Tips for Creative sewing are  done on a Janome sewing machine (which I happen to have a basic one and love it) .  This course contains tips for using you machines free arm more effectively, how to raise your pressure foot without moving your material, how to sew a blind hem, how to do pipping and much more. I would think if your machine isn’t a Janome you would still glean some skills from taking this free mini course.

9. Sewing Machine Feet From A to Z

Have you ever sat and stared at the feet that came with your machine wondering what on earth each one was for? I know I have. Sewing Machine Feet From A to Z goes over the 11 most common feet for sewing machines. From the button hole, to the zipper foot, to the blind hem and rolled hem and more.

10. Mastering Zipper Techniques

Wanting to make a few zippered pouches as gifts this year but lack zipper skills? Take the free mini class Mastering Zipper Techniques and fear zippers no longer.

Most of these free classes would just take you one or two evenings to complete or a afternoon on the weekend. All the free mini classes come with a supply list, and you can view each one more than once if you need to.  You need to be a craftsy member to take a free mini class but it costs nothing to sign up.

My problem is deciding which one to take first.

Thrifty Christmas Tips (small)

All my Thrifty Christmas Tips in one place.

Craftsy: Free Cake Decorating ClassesLinked to Frugal Friday Link Up, Mom2Mom, Thrifty Thursdays,

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Snapshot Thursdays: Some Like It Hot

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Snapshot Thursdays 3 pictures from my week to give you a peek into my daily lifeWelcome to Snapshot Thursdays. Please join along  on instagram  by sharing your photos with the tag #snapst, or find the Snapshot Thursdays status update on the Snail Pace Transformations  facebook page and share a picture in the comments with me. I love getting to know my readers better.


early morning run with friend

When I say I don’t make time for friends it doesn’t mean that  I don’t spend time with them. In fact sometimes making time to see them face to face means getting up really early, in the cold, and the spitting rain, to run together. I never come home wishing I hadn’t gotten up that early to run with a friend before she has to go to work, in fact it is the opposite I come home wishing I could do it more often.

salamander seen on run

I almost stepped on this little Tiger Salamander during my 6 mile run this week. It is the first one I have ever seen on my years of running this particular trail. I snapped a picture to show my kids, and of course one was very disappointed that I didn’t capture it to keep as a pet. I still had a mile left to run until I made it to the car, can you imagine carrying this slippery thing for a whole mile! I am a good mom but not that good! LOL

My daughter in a heat bubble

Inside that cocoon is my daughter. Every morning when she wakes up she goes over to the thermostat and turns up the heat for the day (we turn it down at night) then she grabs this sheet, sits over the heat vent and allows the warm air to circulate around her for several minutes. If I did that I would come out  dripping in sweat from head to toe, but not my daughter she comes out warm and toasty and ready to face the day.

Which kind of makes me wonder. How hot do you keep your home in winter? We keep the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 64 at night, and I am always curious if that is average, on the cold side, or too hot for others?  I would love people to share in the comments what they set their thermostats at during the winter months.

All 3 of these photos come from Instagram: Join me there to see more of what I get up to each week.

Here are a few coupons your might like to start of you holiday shopping!
$1.00 off TWO (2) Seasonal Nestle Chocolate Bags
$1.00 off TWO (2) WONKA Candy Canes
$0.50 off any ONE (1) Command™ Brand Product

My Favorite Ways To Earn With instaGC

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I was told about instaGC by a friend and knew I had to check it out and see if it was a point earning program that could offer moms  a way to earn a little bit of money from home in flexible manner. After exploring earning options for a few weeks I have decided that instaGC , can be a great program for those who just have a bit of time here and there that they want to use to earn a gift card now and again.

My favorite ways to earn gift cards with instaGC

I found the site a bit confusing at first, BUT I didn’t take the time to open their welcome email they sent after I confirmed my email, until I had already spent 30 minutes  figuring out how to earn my first 35 points on my own.  Having now opened  it and read  all that it contained I would strongly suggest that you click through the welcome email and read the start up guide in full, it will help you understand how the program works a lot quicker than figuring it out yourself.

The part I love most about InstaGC  is instant payouts that start at just 100 points for a $1 gift card. I will admit the first time I cashed out I again found it a bit confusing, I was asked to verify  my account by entering my phone number (you can use a land line or a cell phone) and after I did, I couldn’t find my gift card, BUT what I didn’t understand was the first time you have to go back and click on the gift card you want again and the gift card code will show up magically on your screen.

In my case I cashed in for a Amazon gift card and all I had to do was copy the code, click on a link to Amazon, access my account and paste the code into the gift card box and WHAM  my Amazon account was $1 richer within minutes of cashing in my instaGC points.

With Christmas approaching, instaGC  would be an excellent program to start using regularly to earn at least enough gift cards to pay for one gift or more since not only are some of the tasks simple and quick but since the gift cards are instant you can cash them in right away and use them that day to buy gifts.

Here are my 4 favorite ways to earn points with instaGC

1. Listen to music

Under the Earn tab on the instaGC home page you will find “listen to music”. Click on it and then click through to Radio Loyalty, you can listen to the default station or choose one you want.  You earn 3 points for every 30 minutes that you keep it  running and enter the code that appears at the end of your 30 minute session.

What I do is open it in a different tab, also keeping my instaGC tab open and then open a 3rd tab to do blog work. I keep the volume low. I also set the timer on my cell phone to 30 minutes, and then click over to the Radio Loyalty tab when the timer goes off and wait for the pop up ad to show up (if not already up) and enter the captcha code . It takes just a few minutes for my 3 points to show up in my instaGC point history.

Considering I am often on the computer an average of 4 hours a day, I can earn and average of 12 points, 6 days a week, that is 72 points which is almost enough for a $1 gift card and all I did was one point earning action.

2. Visit Sites

My current favorite way to wind down at the end of the day is with my family all gathered around the TV watching “In The Middle”, during the commercials I can click and visit a few sites and earn instaGC points.

Click on the “Earn” tab found on the instaGC homepage, click “Recommend” then click “Clicks” here you will find different companies offering you intstaGC points to click through to websites and check them out.

I found in the “getting started guide” that it is recommended you stay on each website for at least 5 seconds to make sure you receive your points.

These offers reset once a day, so you can do them over the next day.

Please note that although sometimes all you have to do is click through that is not the case with all the websites, with others you have to click through a slide show or interact with the site somehow so make sure you read the instructions for each site before clicking over.

I found the instaGC  area had the ones with the simplest tasks.

3.  Watch Videos

Click on the “Earn” tab of the instaGC homepage and click on “Watch Videos” and you can earn 1 point for every 5 videos you watch. This is a pretty no brainer way to earn as you can keep clicking through to different videos as you fold laundry, or pay bills, or do other chores where you can keep the laptop handy to tap to a new video when needed.

4.  Refer Friends

Once you sign up for instaGC and have decided you like it and are going to continue being an active member, then you are probably going to want to spread the word and the good news is instaGC will give you points for it plus they make it fairly simple to do. With each person you refer, whom registers and confirms their email. You will then get 10 points right away and then 10% of what they earn for certain point earning actions while they remain members.

Click on the “Promote” tab on the instaGC homepage and you will find 5 different ways to share. The simplest way is to simple past your referral link found in the “Referral Link” tab under the “Promote” and copy and paste it  into a Facebook status, or into a tweet, or use it in a blog post if you have a blog.

Other ways to earn with instaGC

The 4 ways to earn above are point earning actions that I have tried and liked but there are more ways to earn with instaGC that you might like.

  • Search the web
  • Offer Wall
  • Crowd Flower
  • Trialpay

All of these 4  point earning actions are explained in the “get started” area of instaGC that you will receive a link to in your welcome email once you sign up for instaGC and confirm your email. I checked them out briefly but decided they were not for me, however I know others might like them, so I encourage you to check them out and decide for yourself.

Not yet a member of instaGC sign up here and start earning today.

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Tuesday Links: Veterans Day Free Meals

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Tuesday links 30 or so link to articles on one topic for you to explore, learn, and apply to your lifeI cannot express enough gratitude to all the men and women that serve in the military. In honor of Veterans Day I wanted to list 3 links to share a few places they can go to receive a bit of a treat as a thank you from all of us whom you serve today.

1. Starbucks: Starbucks is offering a free Tall hot brewed coffee to all military  and their spouses. So enjoy a coffee date on Starbucks. (complete information is found in the sidebar of the page the link sends you to.

2. Bob Evans: Bob Evans is offering free all you can eat hotcakes to all veterans and active military.

3. For a huge listing of all the free deals available of both active duty military as well as veterans today and some through the week visit this awesome listing or Veteran’s deals  by Military Benefits.

 Sign Up for McAlister’s DeliGram e-club and get a coupon for a free cookie (you don’t have to be active military or a veteran for this deal)

My Favorite DIY Granite Countertop Cleaner

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When my husband and I were renovating out current home that we bought for just under $10,000 one of many areas that got completely gutted and redone was the kitchen.

It was so much fun designing and picking out supplies for the kitchen. I of course kept things thrifty but one area I felt would be worth the splurge would be getting a solid surface counter top.

My favorite DIY Granite Countertop cleaner that makes my counters shine

I was willing to do tile so that my husband could install it and we could save money on both supplies and labor. I first picked out a plain cream ceramic  tile, perfectly functional and inexpensive but not really what I wanted. A day later though when we were once again in the hardware store there was my dream tile, a grey  granite with white and black flecks. Best part, it was priced lower than the tile that I bought the day before that wasn’t granite,  because there wasn’t enough left for a major project.

It took me all of 10 seconds  to convince my husband to let me return yesterday’s so so tile find for that day’s amazing find.

Years later I still love it, but my husband, well he likes the granite but he hates his tile job. His skills have grown and now he hates seeing where it is a bit uneven or not quite square. I tell him stop fussing it is fine.

One thing I did notice very quickly about the granite though is that although it is hard wearing in many ways it does stain. I wanted something natural, and inexpensive to take care of those stains with. After all I didn’t want to spend as much on the cleaners over time as I did on the amazing counter tile itself. Plus a lot of cleaners trigger my headaches, not fun.

Somewhere on Pinterest, I am not sure where I found a pin where the blogger was using hydrogen peroxide to get stains out of her granite. I Googled it to make sure that it was indeed safe to use on granite and found that several sources said  that as long as you are using it no more than once or maximum twice a week  to give your granite a good cleaning and remove stains it is okay, otherwise you should clean your granite counter tops with simple hot water and soap.

I also found out that you should use no more than 12% strength hydrogen peroxide, any stronger and you could damage your granite.

How to use hydrogen peroxide to remove stains from your granite countertops

I bought a bottle of hydrogen peroxide for a whopping .60 cents at my local discount grocery store, placed it in a small spray bottle from the dollar store and gave it a try. It did indeed get rid  of the stains and left my granite countertops shining. I was hooked and it has been my favorite DIY granite countertop cleaner ever since.

For more cleaning tips visit my Cleaning Tips Resource Page

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Christmas on a Zero Budget

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I know what you are thinking is it really possible to pull of Christmas on a zero budget? Yes, you can if you are willing to put in some hard work and be very creative. You also have to be willing to keep Christmas simple.

Christmas On A Zero Budget 10 ways to afford gifts & food for Christmas Day when you have no money to spend

12 Christmas’ ago I pulled off Christmas for almost nothing. Our family had taken a big move that summer and it resulted in a lot of expenses. Plus my husband was starting off a new job as a Register Nurse for the first time and therefore was earning an enter level wage.  We had some medical bills come up and after praying over it I knew God wanted me to pay them with what little I had saved for Christmas and there I was mid November with not a nickle saved for Christmas.

Yet come Christmas day, each  of our 3 children  had a gift from us, a gift from Santa and a stocking. My husband got a small gift from me and he gave me a few pieces of a Dollar Tree Christmas Village I had been eying. We had a very simple Christmas meal . The highlight of the day was the beautiful Christmas tree we got just in time for the big day for free.

How did I do it? I got very creative and thought outside the box, and at the very last minute my husband got called in for an afternoon of  over time work and that pay check arrived the day before Christmas and helped pay for a few items I had not yet gotten. Which is why I said I pulled it off for almost nothing.

If you don’t have the hope of overtime filling in the gaps for you, you can still pull of a great Christmas on a zero budget, especially since now 12 years later you have more possibilities  available to you than I did, thanks to the growing internet.

10 Ways Celebrate Christmas On A Zero Budget

1.  Go through your home from top to bottom

Christmas for zero requires you doing some inventory. What do you have that you no longer use that you can sell? Could you sell those jeans you no longer fit in for enough money to fill the kids stocking. What items do you have around the home that could become gifts? Could that tablecloth you never use become  doll clothes.

Go from room to room looking through every nook and cranny taking stock of everything you already own and try to see it with new creative eyes.

2.  Find a local Facebook Buy and Sell Group

In most areas November is a little late to have a yard sale, but now a days you can have a yard sale any day you want with a Facebook Buy and Sell group. You can sell items big and small in these groups.

3. Start Working Point Reward Programs That Have Low Payout Minimums

Now is not the time to spend hours on surveys for a company that doesn’t pay out until you reach $30. Instead work at programs like Swagbucks where gift cards in general start at 500 Swag Bucks for a $5 card. Visit my Christmas Swag Bucks plans for 24 ways to earn Swag Bucks.

Another fast earning program is Bing rewards where in 30 days you can earn enough points for a $5 gift card, and generally they take just 24 hours or less to arrive.

A new to me program I recently discovered  is InstaGC where the pay out is set at a minimum  0f 100 points for a $1 gift card. That might not seem like much but InstaGC has a lot of ways to earn and when I played around on the site I was able to hit 50 points in less than 30 minutes.

If you have a magazine lover in your family join Recycle Bank, and do their environmentally friendly themed point earning tasks. Magazines subscriptions start at 160 points.There are some activities that come out worth 150 points so it won’t take long to earn enough for a magazine subscription for a loved one.  There is a wide variety of magazines including those for fitness lovers, home decor lovers, celebrity news lovers and more.

If you want to surprise a book lover young or old with a new book join Tyndale Rewards and follow the instructions in my article on Tyndale rewards to earn enough points in your first day as a member to purchase a book. Books do take a few weeks to be delivered so plan accordingly..

4. Trade Books  And Clothing & Toys For Store Credit

Books I no longer needed was something I found on my inventory walk through those 12 Christmas’ ago. I took them to a local secondhand bookstore and got credit that I used to pick out like new board books for my toddler to put in his stocking. You could also try children’s consignment stores that pay cash up front, they often give you more if you will take store credit, and usually they have like new toys you could give as gifts to your youngsters.

5. Hold An Eat What You Got Week

For one week skip the grocery store and get really creative making meals out of food already in your cupboards  and use the savings to buy gifts. I used mine to buy the ingredients needed for Christmas baking and Christmas dinner that tight financial year.

6. Wait Until The Last Minute For Amazing Deals

That Christmas 12 years ago was the first time I have waited to finish my shopping until Christmas Eve. When I knew we had no money saved for Christmas, I had made a list and had prioritized it, and was doing well at getting  the most important items, the two things I was missing though were a tree and Santa gifts.

We were making do with a 2 foot artificial tree I found in the attic. It had been left by the previous owner of our home and was  very Charlie Brown like but it worked. I was racking my brain for free Santa gift materials around our home, when my husband got the afternoon hours of  overtime and we figure out the money from it would arrive Christmas Eve.

With the money in our account early that morning I sent my husband out with a list and told him, Santa gifts first and if there was money leftover a tree. He got the gifts and thought we had enough leftover for a small real tree. When he got to the tree seller’s place the guy was shocked we didn’t have a tree yet and pointed out that he had already gotten his ready for trash pick up but he allowed my husband to pick one out for free.

You can imagine my face when he came home with a huge tree, and if I remember rightly he spent the money we saved on some 50% off tree decorations to decorate it.

7. Sign Up For Samples As Soon As You Can

Right around Thanksgiving it seems like companies go crazy with free  sample sign ups. Money Saving Mom is my favorite place to find out about them. The site has a weekly round up list of them, but I prefer checking the site daily for new ones.  Free samples can make great stocking stuffers, or gift basket fillers.

8. Search Pinterest For Ideas

If  Pinterest were available that year I created Christmas out of next to nothing, my brain would have hurt less. Use the Pinterest search bar to enter whatever materials you seem to have in surplus of and watch amazing remake and repurpose ideas come up.

9. Watch Out For Coupons That Lead To Free Items

For  probably the last 5 years now I have been buying my children chocolate for their stocking for pennies by using the Hallmark $5 of a $5 purchase coupons that are available to print online and also found in free magazines I enjoy.

CVS Black Friday sales as well as Walgreens are also a great place to get free items by stacking deals with coupons.

10.  Give handmade Coupons

If you want to include friends in your giving but all 9 ideas above leave you too short to make it to them, here is an idea. Give out handmade coupons. Give babysitting to the couple you know never gets out. Give a coupon of “I will help you plant your flower garden this spring”, to the brown thumb friend who needs someone to be there to guide them in purchasing the right plants and getting them in the ground in place they will grow. Give your hubby a few coupons too, for back rubs and …….(be creative :) ).

A Christmas day filled with simple gifts and good food can be created even  if you have zero saved right now and little hopes of an overtime check coming your way, it just takes out of the box thinking, and a can do attitude.

New to Snail Pace Transformations? I would love to have you follow along as I share what I have learned and am learning about thrifty living, home finances, working at home,  time management and homemaking.  You can find me on Facebook  and  Pinterest or have my posts delivered directly to your email box as I publish them.

Thrifty Christmas Tips (small)

All my Thrifty Christmas Tips in one convenient resource page.

Linked to Frugal Friday Link Up, Mom2Mom, Thrifty Thursday, Saver Tips Tuesday, The Mommy Club,

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Snapshot Thursdays: A peak into my daily life

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I miss posting pictures that help include my readers into my daily life. I miss sharing what I am reading. I really need to post what I am tossing each week now and again as my clutter tossing is getting slack.

Welcome to Snapshot Thursdays where I hope to get my readers involved in my daily life once again. We are talking about a good old fashioned “look what I got up to” picture filled weekly post.  I plan to share 3 photos a week and keep it short (aiming for under 400 words but you all know I am wordy! :) )

The pictures  could be what I am reading, or what I am tossing, or just a picture of a pretty tree I saw on a walk.  I will also include pictures of our family from time to time, although now that I have older children they don’t like being on the blog as much as they use to.

Here a 3 photos from my week

pear tree in fallThe fall color here in Indiana this year has been amazing. Sadly it is coming to a close, but I was glad to see this one pear tree with its colorful leaves in amongst all those that had shed the last of  their leaves during the storm we had Halloween night

Do you like watching the leaves change?

national chocolate dayDid you know that October 28th is national chocolate day? Well I wasn’t going to let such a tasty holiday pass my family by. I picked up chocolate for the entire family, even dropped one in my husband’s truck for him to sneak out and get on a break at work.

What is your favorite type of chocolate? mine is usually dark but every once and a while I get a craving for some good quality milk chocolate.

running on leavesFor those of you that noticed the milk chocolate above and remembered that I am trying the THM style of eating, well I have a confession , THM eating is not going well. I have a few health problems that seem to not agree with a extremely low sugar and carb diet, and my love  of working out for 1 hour a day 6 days a week needs more carbs for fuel. I am however still reading the book and finding myself liking a lot of their suggestions and recipes. I am aiming for less sugar, and less carbs than I normally eat but just not as low as the book suggests.

All 3 of these photos come from Instagram: Join me there to see more of what I get up to each week.

Join McAlister’s DelGram e-club and get a coupon for a free cookie!

10 Clutter Free Gift Ideas

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We all have them people on our list that either HATE clutter or they have so much stuff already you can’t think of a single thing they need or would want.

10 Clutter free gift ideas for Christmas or Birthdays

Or perhaps you are like me, you are so tired of dealing with your own clutter that you don’t want to give something to people that might make them just as tired as you are with dealing with clutter.

So a few years ago I made a pact with myself unless some one has specifically said I would really love “………….” their gift from me is a clutter free one.

10 Clutter Free Gift Ideas

When giving clutter free gifts  make sure to observe the persons likes and dislikes first, because what is consumable to one person might not be to someone else.

To explain let me make a confession, I am a plain Jane black, white and brown sock only type person and yet every year a friend gives me a pair of Christmas socks.  Another friend will give me a scented candle every year,  and I don’t have the heart to tell them scented candles give me a wicked headache.  I also receive at least one gift each year of hot cocoa, and my family tells me it tastes amazing, but I am one of the very few people on the planet who doesn’t like hot cocoa.

These gifts although all consumable are not clutter free to me. I accept them gracefully  but I have to find others to consume them for me. The real key to giving a clutter free gift is to pay close attention to your friends likes and dislikes.  What do they love so much that you see them using it whenever you are with them. What your friend will love every minute of using it up is a true clutter free gift. What brands do they mention in their social media feeds. What items show up in their Instagram feeds over and over.

1.  Gift cards to large department stores

If the person you are buying for isn’t a friend it is going to be hard to do a lot of things on this list since you won’t know their personal tastes yet, in that case I would get them a gift card to a large department store full of so many items that surely your new friend, co-worker or family member will be able to find something they like.

Thrifty tip: To save your recently new found friend gas money make sure the department store is actually near them. This also increases the chances of the gift card getting used.

2. Candles

I know I just told you I don’t like Candles and yet they are number 2 on my list. Truth is I did at one time like scented candles  but in recent years they started giving me wicked headaches . However  many women and men love having a scented candle going at all times. Look around your friends home next time you are over, are there half burnt candles sitting here and there, and are they dust free? If so then chances are she burns them regularly.

Thrifty tip:  If you have several scented candle loving friends, make sure to sign up for emails from the Yankee Candle website so that you will be able to find out about sales.

3. Gift Card to their favorite restaurant

One of my favorite gifts  to receive at Christmas time is a simple $5 gift card to Starbucks so I can enjoy a specialty coffee, or a $5 Chick-fil-la  gift card so I can grab a few sweet teas on my friend.  Look through you friends Instagram feed, or Facebook wall and see what restaurants show up in their feed over and over again and grab a gift card to it and give it to her as a gift. You can make it a meal size card or just enough for her favorite drink, depending on your giving budget.

Thrifty tip: Check out Cardpool for discounted gift cards and get your friend a larger gift card balance for less money.

4. Favorite food items

I am a foodie, I receiving things like great organic chocolate and amazing coffee as gifts. Chances are your friend might be too.  As I said in point 2 stalk your friends social media feeds  and see what foods appear over and over. Or if they are not the social media type, when at their house raid their kitchen  cupboards while they are in the bathroom, what food is hidden in the back of the cupboards, where the kids won’t find it but your friend can! (admit it we moms all do it).

Thrifty tip: Look out for printable coupons or rebates in coupon apps like ibbota, Checkout 51 and Snap to help reduce costs.

5. Craft & hobby supplies

Crafters love brand new supplies. To a painter a good quality new paint brush is like candy. To knitter, new yarn  or more of their favorite brand in a new color is a sweet treat. Again do a bit of digging, when your knitting friend leaves the room dig down to the bottom of her yarn bag and shoot a picture of the yarn wrapper you will most likely find there. Brands tend to matter to crafters so if you are really at a loss and don’t want to dig, simply ask about their craft and what they use to do it and make a mental note of brands they mentioned.

Thrifty tip: In the front of most of the major craft stores you will find current flyers, these tend to have coupons you might be able to use on your purchase.

6.  Gift cards to stores that sell their favorite brands

Does your running friend always seem to show up in a certain brand of running attire? Find out where it is sold and get a gift card to that store so they can pick out exactly what they want. Don’t feel like you have to get a certificate large enough for one item if your friend is a designer lover and you have a thrift store budget, even getting $5 to $10 off an item with a gift card is a gift that a true friend will appreciate.

Thrifty tip: Prices for certain brands can vary from store to store, do a bit of looking online before getting a gift certificate and figure out what store might give your friend more bang for their gift card bucks.

7. Kindle gift cards

If you have a book worm friend a Kindle gift card  you will probably get  a big hug. Even if they don’t have a kindle device, with the free kindle app your friend can read books on their tablet, smart phone, or even their laptop.

Thrifty tip: Help your friend make their gift cards go further by sharing some thrifty e-book sites with them. My current favorite is Spirit Filled Kindle.

8. I owe you gift certificates

If you are great at baking bread and you know your friend loves it because you watch her devour piece after piece when you invite her to dinner, then make up a gift certificate for a fresh loaf each month for a year. Does your friend have little kids and no family in town to watch them nor the budget to higher a sitter for date night, make her a few gift certificates up that are good for a night of babysitting.

Thrifty tip: Think through how you can save on the product part of your service. For instance if you are bringing them their favorite peanut butter cookies make sure to know the best price for peanut butter by keep track of it in your price book along with other ingredients in the cookies.

9. Movie night in a box

Did you know you can buy Redbox movie gift certificates. Buy one large enough for your friend to grab a few movies, then grab a few of her favorite treats, and a bottle of her favorite beverage, and wrap it up in a box. If you don’t know what she likes then how about a small gift certificate to the convenience store nearest her and the Redbox gift card placed in a card with a few kind words from you.

Thrifty tip: You can earn Redbox movie gift certificates from Swagbucks and write them in the card, or make your friend a homemade laminated gift card with the code you earned on it that will fit in her wallet for easy viewing when she needs to enter it into Redbox. Here are several more  ways to earn Christmas presents with Swagbucks.

10. Baking Mixes

Does your friend love freshly baked cookies but you know she doesn’t have a lot of time to bake? How about making her up a cookie mix in a jar. I found this tutorial on making 5 different types of bake goods in a jar complete with printable labels while searching pinterest one night.

Thrifty tip: If your family consumes a product that is sold in a glass jar roughly the same size as a canning jar , you could save money on the gift by reusing those glass jars instead of buying others. The dishwasher does an amazing job of making glass jars sparkle and here is a tutorial on how to get the last of the labels off.

What clutter free gift would you add to my list?

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Tuesday Links: 3 Podcasts On Blogging

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Tuesday links 30 or so link to articles on one topic for you to explore, learn, and apply to your life

I LOVE listening to podcasts. I listen to them when cleaning, when in the car alone and on the two long walks I take a week (I prefer music when I run).

Podcasts are such a great way to learn about any topic. I generally listen to ones that talk about blogging, and entrepreneurship as I am always looking for ways to make my blog better for my readers.

If you are a blogger, or a entrepreneur here are 3 podcasts that I love that you are going to want to check out.

1. Brilliant Business Moms :Great for not just bloggers but any mom running a business out of her home.

2. Ask Pat:Crammed packed with great blogging information. Ask Pat is short generally under 15 minutes, making them my favorite go to when attacking clutter piles in short bursts.

3. The Oh So Pinteresting Podcast :Pinterest is big for bloggers and The Oh So Pinteresting Podcast can help you stay on top of changes and help you increase your traffic from pinterest.

If you love Podcast and want to check out a few more, I share four more I listen to in this article.

Christmas Swagbucks Earning Plans

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I am so excited to offer you another Swagbucks giveaway this time not for one $50 gift card (5000 Swagbucks) but 2 $50 gift cards (5000 Swagbucks). That means 2 people have a chance to win 5000 Swag Bucks just in time for Christmas shopping.

Enter to win $50 in gift cards from Swagbucks.


Swagbucks Giveaway Information

Giveaway is now over and winners have been contacted.

Why I love Swagbucks

Swagbucks is one of the most flexible point earning programs I know of. You can put in several hours a week and earn up to $75 or more a month in gift cards or you can put in just a few minutes a day and still earn $10 in gift cards a month.

I also love all the choices of gift cards. There are so many different stores to choose from in the rewards store that you are bound to find one for a store you normally shop or a restaurant you normally eat at.

To show you the flexibility of Swagbucks earnings, today I am going to give you 3 point earning plans that will earn you $10, $25 or $50 to help with your Christmas shopping, using entirely different point earning options in 30 days of continual work. You could also mix and match the programs to suit you better, picking just what you like, or do them all and walk away with $85 in gift cards 30 days from the day you start. (please note you can only cash in for 2 gift cards of one type per day, and it takes sometimes up to 2 weeks or more for gift card codes to arrive so plan accordingly  if you want to use your earnings to purchase gifts) 

How to fill a Christmas stocking using SwagBucks

The $10 Stocking Stuffer Plan: Using Mainly Simple Daily Task Point Options

In our thrifty home we set a budget of $10 per Christmas stocking and get very creative to make it work. To earn your $10 to fill a stocking here is what you need to do daily for 30 days. (psst…I would cash my $10 in for Target  gift cards so I could use their dollar spot to help fill my thrifty stocking)

1. Daily Poll: Found on your Swagbucks homepage at side of screen

1 Swag Buck per day = 30

2. NOSO: Found on your Swagbucks homepage at side of screen

2 Swag Bucks per day = 60

3. Daily Crave: Found on your Swagbucks homepage at side of screen

1 Swag Buck per day =30

4. Use the Swagbucks toolbar at least once per day: Download the toolbar found under Discover tab/ extensions

1 Swag Buck per day = 30

*5. Read & Discover: found on Swagbucks homepage  under Discover tab/Read

30 Swag Bucks in a month

*6. Do  all your daily web searches through Swagbucks homepage or toolbar and win random Swagbucks:

150 Swag Bucks on average per week =600

7. Radio Royalty: Found on Swagbucks homepage under Discover tab/ Special offers/ Radio Loyality

Listen to 1 hr and a half daily = 6 Swag Bucks = 180

*9. Special Offers: Found on Swagbucks homepage under Discover tab/ Special offers

Do 40 points worth in 30 days = 40 points

Total Points in 30 Days: 1000 or $10 in gift cards

Those activities with a * in front of them are averages based on what I myself have earned in past months. If you earn less you may have to listen to Radio Loyality more or complete more special offers to make the points equal to the 1000 you need for a $10 gift card.

How to use Swagbucks to pay for $25 worth of Christmas gifts

$25 Small Gift Plan: For App Lovers (no need to jump on the laptop to earn)

Did you know that Swagbucks now has 5 apps for earning points and 2 more are coming soon. I made this plan using just the video driven apps that play continuously, although you do need to check on them every now and again as they do pause from time to time.

If you have an older tablet or iPod that you don’t use as often, the apps may still work on them (they do on my 4th generation iPod) that way you will still have your smart phone available for other tasks.

Remember these plans are suggestions. I know some people won’t want to play this many videos in one day, and that is okay, add in some activities from the other plans and you will still make $25 in gift card earnings a month that is the beauty of Swagbucks it is  flexible.

1. Swagbucks TV App

36 Swag Bucks daily =1080

2. EntertainNow App

18 Swag Bucks daily = 540

3. Sportly.TV App

18 Swag Bucks daily = 540

4. Lifestylz App

18 Swag Bucks daily = 540

Total points in 30 days = 2700 (you need 2500 Swag Bucks for $25 in gift cards so this gives you 200 point wiggle room in case apps are buggy one day)

How to use Swagbucks to pay for $50 worth of Christmas presents

$50 Big Gift Plan: The Laptop Video Lovers Plan + Bing Rewards

Yes this plan is video crazy but once again these plans show you how there are as many ways to earn Swagbucks as there are personality types. The beauty is you can make a Swagbucks earning goal and pick what point earning actions you want to meet your goal every month.

1. Watch Swagbucks TV on your laptop: Found on Swagbucks homepage under watch

150 Swagbucks each day = 4500

2. Sign up for Bing rewards and everytime you reach 475 points get a Swagbucks  Swagcode card

500 Swagcode once a month = 500

Total points in 30 days = 5000 Swag Bucks enough for $50 in gift cards

How to use Swagbucks to pay for $85 worth of Christmas presents

Work all three plans together and earn $85 for Christmas shopping

$10 Stocking plan: Daily tasks driven plan

$25 Small gift app lovers plan

$50 Big gift video lovers + Bing Rewards plan

Total: 8700 Swag Bucks enough for $85 in gift cards with a bit of wiggle room

24 ways to earn swag bucks to help pay for Christmas


 9 More Ways To Earn Gift Cards With Swagbucks

I didn’t include the ways to earn Swagbucks below in any of my plans just because they are hard to estimate earnings from them over a 30 day time frame, however they are still great ways to earn, and will help you to either earn more than the plans per month or you can swap out some actions above and add others in and still meet your monthly goal. These 9 ways below plus all the ways above give you 24 different ways to earn Swag Bucks. I can’t think of another point reward programs that gives you that amount of flexibility to earn.

1. Shop & Earn: Found on Swagbucks homepage under Shop tab

Points vary from store to store (takes up to 30 days for points to be added to account)

2. Print and Use Coupons: Found on Swagbucks homepage under Discover tab/ coupons

Get 10 points for every coupon you print and redeem (take a while for points to appear in account )

3. Buy your daily deals through Swagbucks: Found on Swagbucks homepage under Shop tab

Points vary and again it takes a while for the points to be added to your account

4. Fill out Surveys: Found on Swagbucks homepage under Answer tab/ Paid Surveys

These can be time consuming but can easily be filled out while watching TV and winding down for the day.

5. Complete Tasks: Found on Swagbucks homepage under Answer tab/ Tasks

Points vary as does the amount of time each tasks take.

6. Swagcodes: Enter them on the Swagbucks homepage by hovering over the Swag Code symbol

Find Swagcodes by following Swagbucks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also find them on the Swag Blog. I find at least a few each month. Very simple way to add a few points to your account here and there.

7. Encrave: Found on the Swagbucks homepage under the Discover tab/ Encrave

Another video section of Swagbucks found on homepage of Swagbucks. Here is a tip from a reader do the ones with green circles as they keep running on their own until the cycle is done.

8. Play Games: Found on the Swagbucks homepage by clicking the Play tab

I haven’t used this area of Swagbucks but from what I understand you win Swagbucks randomly as you play, and you can also win more by winning tournaments.

9. Refer Friends

Once you have tried Swagbucks for a while and decided you love it, share it with your friends and earn 10% of their Swagbuck earnings for life.

As you can see the ways to combine point earning options to meet your Swagbucks gift card goals are endless.


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