10 Last Minute Gift Basket Ideas For Under $10

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Christmas is less than a week away. It is now too late to shop online unless you are willing to shell out for speedy delivery. There is still time to repurpose items into gifts if you can find the time between all the other Christmas events that are packed into the week before the big day, if not don’t fear  I made a trip to my local dollar store to help you out.

10 last minute gift basket ideas for Christmas for under $10 For young and old, married and single.

In our hometown Dollar Tree is our local dollar store but I am assuming you can find similar items at whatever store is in your area.

With items being just $1 a piece plus tax, you can easily make up a basket of items that can suit any gift recipient for under $10 . I wandered around my local Dollar Tree snapping pictures of items and writing down ideas of what type of baskets you can make.

(please note, these pictures are all taken on my older model Tracfone LG  smartphone, since I thought taking picture with  my cannon rebel while I shopped  might draw too much attention to me, so they are not as clean and crisp as my normal photos)

10 Last Minute Gift Basket Ideas Under $10

popcorn gift basket Under $101. Movie night in a basket

I got really brave and  put together this gift basket while in Dollar Tree then made room to photograph it, because I really wanted you to see what one complete gift basket would look like.  Yes people did stare. I mean really how many people do you see while shopping assembling a basket and then make room for it on  a shelf and start shooting photos of it? But you are worth it.

This basket is has a total of 8 items. You can make it a complete gift card by putting enough for one Redbox movie in an envelope.

gift basket idea mugs and cocoa

2.Personalized mugs for the whole family

Another great family gift would be these white mugs. Of course you are not going to leave them white. Head over to the office supply area and grab a sharpie and follow one of the many sharpie mug tutorials on Pinterest and make up personalized mugs for the whole family. Place them in a colorful tote and add in hot chocolate and peppermint sticks that they can use to stir.  (psst….I think nail polish would also work to decorate mugs)

Gift giving ideas for the dollar store

3. Car Fanatic gift basket

Grab one of the cleaning buckets seen above and fill it with a sponge, car interior cleaner, car tire cleaner, towels, and perhaps a few towels.

tool kit idea for a gift basket

4. New home basic tool kit

Grab one of the cleaning buckets, or a tool kit or belt if your dollar store has them and fill it with, basic tools like a hammer, screw drivers, measuring tape, crazy glue, duct tape, all the things that come in handy for a quick fix repairs.

kitchen supplies for gift baskets5. New home kitchen basket

For this one use a either a wire basket or a wicker one and fill it with all the things a new home owner needs in their kitchen. Pot holders, slotted spoons, can openers. Perhaps even a few glasses and dishes depending on how much you want to spend.

little artist gift basket

6. Craft basket for the little artist

fill a colorful plastic, with coloring books, crayons, craft kits, glitter glue, stickers and journals. You could also fill a cleaning caddy as this makes an excellent container for little artists to keep their supplies organized and portable.

fashionista gift basket

7. Dress up gift bag

Grab one of the giant gift bags and fill it with fairy wings and a wand. Or perhaps a dinosaur hat. A knights armor and shield. There were lots of different items for  young dress up fanatics at my dollar store.

hair accessories for gift basket

8.  Hair accessory basket

Whether you want a gift for a teenage girl who loves trying out different hairstyles or for a little girl with a love of hair bows, the dollar store has a tonne of great items you can make a basket out of.  Fill a colorful wire basket with a selection or brushes, and hair accessories that suit your recipient. You can also add shampoo, conditioner and hair styling products if you wish.

notebook and pens gift basket

9. Journal basket

Know someone who is always jotting things down in a notebook. The dollar store is a great place to grab them a gift. Mine had several blank journals to choose from as well as one that had a blank cover so you could add in colorful pens and stickers for them to personalize it with. There are also pens and highlighters.  Place these things in small reusable book bag, to complete the gift.

dog and cat treats gift basket

10. Don’t forget the family pet

The dollar store I went to had dog bowls that you could fill with dog treats and dog toys that you could give to your four legged friend to keep him or her busy while the family opens up their presents Christmas morning.

Hopefully this post assures you that even if you are out there this week shopping last minute you can still get some great gifts on a small budget.

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 Visit my Thrifty Christmas resource page where you will find all my thrifty Christmas tips and more.



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9 Ways To Give At Christmas Time Despite A Tight Budget

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At Christmas we are often bombarded with different charities needing our help. If you are on a tight budget it can begin to feel hopeless. How can you give something, when you have very little extra yourself?

9 ways to give to those in need at Christmas time even when you are on a tight budget

By thinking creatively, having open eyes to opportunities, and a heart that is willing I think even those on tight budget can give at Christmas time.

9  Ways To Give At Christmas Time When You Are On A Tight Budget

Please note you might not be able to use a lot of the tips on this list to help out others this Christmas but you can use it to start planning for next Christmas. Over 12 months some of these actions can make a big impact in how generous you can be at Christmas time without blowing the budget.

1. Collect free samples to give

When I wrote my article on where I find free samples one of my readers commented that she bags up her free samples and donates them to homeless shelters where the residents are happy to receive them.

2. Coupons

If you are a coupon queen I know that you can get items for low to little cost. Grab  extra free to almost free items  now and then and donate them to your local food bank.

3. Donate your time instead of cash

Could you help stock the shelves at the food bank? Ring the bell for a shift at a Salvation Army Christmas donation center? Help serve food at a homeless shelter?

4. Collect your change

My family does this. We spend our quarters, but we throw all our pennies, nickles and dimes in a large glass jar. When it fills up I take the kids first to the bank to have it changed in for bills, then we hit the grocery store with a list of what our Church needs to line the shelves of its food pantry.My children are always amazed at how much money collects in that jar and how much food it buys, when their thrifty mom puts her thrifty ninja skills to work.

The jar doesn’t always  reach  full capacity by Christmas, but then again your giving doesn’t always have to be at Christmas either. There are needs year round.

5. Pick one point earning program or cash back site to use for giving purposes

There are so many different way to earn a few gift cards online. I personally have written about how to best use  18 of them. Pick one and make a goal for it and designate the points you earn for gift cards that can help you give to needs in your area. One way to do this would be to pick gift cards that can help you buy toys to fulfill needs of a gift tag program.

6. Sort through your home and donate to a local thrift store that supports local food banks or shelters

There is a thrift store in my area that is attached to a local soup kitchen. Every time I drop off my things there I am reminded by the aroma of the upcoming meal that my donations are feeding the hungry. It motivates me to toss more in the donation pile.

7. Use the donation options found in point programs

I mentioned in number 5 that you could use gift cards earned through point programs to give, but did you know that point programs like Swagbucks have areas where you can donate your points to national charities.  Every point really does help.

8. Shop clearance

In  late January when you see that bin of hats and gloves for $1 each pick up a few extra pairs and put them away until the next local warm clothing drive in your area. If you have a larger budget you can do this to pick up winter coats for as little as $10 a piece, and do the same thing. I have seen other charities asking for blankets which also go on clearance.

9. Give your words of encouragement and kindness

I love what  Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom  wrote last week about how a simple note she took seconds to write were  able to impact someone. Perhaps you just can’t stretch your budget to do any of the above, and your calendar has your time stretched so thin. I bet you have a moment to use your words.

Those in need are not just the ones signing up for gift tags for their kids, or standing in line for a bag of food and warm meal. Sometimes those in need are the people right around you. The lady at church who never seems to smile. The cashier who seems very distracted. Give them a smile and say something nice. Ask about their day. Compliment them on the color of their shirt, or the piece of jewelery they are wearing that caught your eye. Chances are it will warm their heart, causing a chain reaction.

What inexpensive ways to give to others at Christmas time would you add to my list? I would love to read them in the comments below.

Thrifty Christmas Tips (small)Be sure to check out my Thrifty Christmas Resource Page for great ways to fit Christmas into a tight budget

Linked to Saver Tips Tuesdays,

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12 Ways To Repurpose A Sweater Into A Christmas Gift

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So ever since I wrote my post about how to have Christmas on a zero budget , I have been thinking about all the common household items we own that could be made into Christmas gifts with little to no cost, except  time and talent.

12 ways to repurpose a sweater into a Christmas gift

My mind immediately went to sweaters. I don’t know about you but after a year or two of wearing a sweater I find about 80% of them are either stretched out, have a snag in them here and there that I can’t seem to hide, or they have shrunk due to my wonderful (er..not) laundry skills.

One evening while feeling uninspired to write I thought I would seize to opportunity to spend a few “working hours” on Pinterest. Yes, that is one perk of blogging sometimes spending time cruising Pinterest can in fact be labeled work.

I wanted to see if my theory was right could peoples old sweaters be made into gifts. Yes they can! In fact I found a enough ideas  to start a pinterest board devoted to repurposing sweaters.

12 Ways To Repurpose A Sweater Into A Christmas Gift

1. Fingerless Mittens for the friend who just can’t be parted from her smart phone touch screen.

2.  Coffee Cozy (or sleeve) whatever you want to call it, it would make a great gift for the coffee lover in your life.

3.  Braided scarf for your fashion loving loved one .

4.  This Scarflette is another great option as a Christmas gift for a fashion lover.

5. Boot socks for the friend who is never seen in anything but boots and legging all winter.

6. These hats would make adorable gifts for infants and toddlers.

7.  Another great gift for little ones are these leggings.

8.  A pair of slippers is always a classic gift.

9. A trendy friend might like these slipper boots  instead.

10. If you have a huge stack of sweaters on your hands and some time and talent you could try tackling this sweater blanket as a gift.

11. For a small project these sweater ornaments are supers sweet.

12.  You could go with the classic gift of a pair of warm mittens.

Thrifty Christmas Tips (small)For more thrifty Christmas ideas check out my Thrifty Christmas Tips resource page.

linked to Thrifty Thursday

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100 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Christmas

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Christmas does not have to be expensive. Christmas does not have to put you into debt. Christmas can fit in any budget big or small.

100 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Christmas

Over the years of blogging I have shared post after post on how to have a Thrifty Christmas. If you add up the tips shared in each and every post I have shared 100’s of ways to save money on Christmas. Today I thought I would share  the top thrifty Christmas posts with you, and when you add the tips in all of them together you get 100 thrifty Christmas tips in 7 areas of the Christmas budget plus one for those with a zero budget.

1. Entertaining

10 Thrifty Christmas Gatherings Enteraining On A Budget (med)

 10 Thrifty Christmas Gatherings:Entertaining On A Budget

2. DIY Gifts On A Budget

10 DIY gifts for girls under $10 (med)10 DIY Gifts For Girls 8 to 12 Under $10

5 DIY Gifts Under $5

Bonus Articles That Will Help With Your Christmas Crafting

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

Ways To Save On Craft Supplies

3. Decorations

10 ways thrifty people decorate for Christmas (med2)10 Ways Thrifty People Decorate For Christmas

4. Stocking Stuffers

stocking stuffers (small)

10 Fabulous Stocking Stuffers  (Ages 10 to 18) That Won’t Break The Bank

5. Holiday Leftovers

ways to use up holiday leftovers blank (small)10 Ways To Use Up Holiday Leftovers

6. Gifts

family gift ideas for $10 or less (med)

10 Family Gift Ideas For $10 Or Less

10 Clutter Free Gifts & A Thrifty Way To Save Money On Each One

7. Shopping

5 steps thrifty online Christmas shoppers use to save money (med)

5 Steps Thrifty Online Christmas Shoppers Use To Save Money

10 Ways Thrifty People Prepare For The Christmas Shopping Season

8. The Ultimate Thrifty Christmas

Christmas On A Zero Budget 10 ways to afford gifts & food for Christmas Day when you have no money to spend (med)Christmas On A Zero Budget: 10 Ways To Celebrate Christmas When You Have No Money To Spend

For more thrifty Christmas ideas follow the Thrifty Christmas Board on Pinterest

Thrifty Christmas Tips (small)
Absolutely all my thrifty Christmas tips in one place.

Linked to Frugal Friday Link Up Party, Thrifty Thursdays.

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5 Steps Thrifty Online Christmas Shoppers Use To Save Money

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This year my husband and I have decided to do as much shopping as possible online and have it shipped to the stores for pick up (teenagers are too smart to not notice the writing on the side of delivered to door boxes and figure out gifts inside :) ).

5 steps thrifty online Christmas shoppers use to save money

In thinking of where we are going to shop, I began thinking of how we could save the most money on our online purchases of Christmas gifts.

Here are 5 ways I plan to save money on my online Christmas shopping.

5 Steps Thrifty Online Christmas Shoppers Use To Save Money

1. Use the Swagbucks toolbar for all your online searches for great deals

If you are going to be bouncing from site to site looking for discount codes, cash back, and discounted gift cards you might as well earn a few gift cards in the process .  I love the Swagbucks toolbar for winning Swagbucks as I search the web. Within 24 hours this week I got a 26 Swag Buck win and a 21 Swag Buck win for entering the site I wanted to visit into the Swagbucks toolbar and clicking enter. That is 47 Swag Bucks for just using 1 of 24 ways to earn Swag Bucks.

Sure if you just use that one option of Swagbucks you won’t be rolling in free gift cards, but you will slowly earn one over time and that is better than earning zero.

2. Get on the email list of Brad’s Deals and those of all your favorite stores

Brad’s Deals is not a daily deal site but more like a daily deal hub, for more than just daily deal sites. You can find great deals on items on your loved ones Christmas list in the area of  clothing, electronics, kitchen gadgets and more. Sign up and get their daily deal email.

Don’t forget to sign up to be on the email list of your favorite stores as well. I do this for Old Navy and few others and have used their emails numerous times to save money on items on my “need to purchase ” list as well as  Christmas gifts.

3. Check  Cardpool for discounted gift cards for their favorite stores

If you know roughly how much your purchase is going to be and what store you are going to purchase at, I recommend seeing if Cardpool has any electronic cards you can use. They can take up to 1 full business day to arrive, so plan accordingly. You can also get physical gift cards, they take a bit more planning though as they take up to 2 weeks to arrive.

4. Check RetailMeNot for discount codes and free shipping codes

RetailMeNot is my number one go to site for coupon codes and free shipping codes. Make sure before you press enter on any online order that you enter the store you are shopping at into the RetailMeNot search bar.

5.  Use a cashback site like Ebates

Finally with a sale found, a discounted gift card in hand, a discount code ready to go it is time for the last step in purchasing a Christmas gift online the thrifty way; finding a cash back offer.

There are plenty of cash back sites out there but if I had to choose just one online cash back site I would choose Ebates, because of its amazing selection and awesome promotions. Like the one they are running for Cyber Monday where you get double the cash back.

5 Steps Thrifty Online Christmas Shoppers use again and again to save money

Here is how I saved on few a recent purchase by using these sites

Scenario #1: My eldest son was down to just 2 pairs of jeans.  I knew that the Old Navy ones fit him best, so I went to Cardpool and bought an electronic gift card for just a little less than I thought the jeans would cost and paid 10% less than the card’s value. I am signed up for Old Navy emails so I waited until they were having a sale on jeans to make my purchase. My total already qualified for free shipping but I checked RetailMeNot for a discount code and found none. I shopped through Swag Bucks and got 1% cash back. (I could have gotten a higher cash back rate had I shopped around, but I forgot to do this, still 1% is better than nothing).

Savings & Earnings: 10% on purchase of gift card.  Sale price on jeans. Cash back 1% .  Shipping free.

Scenario #1: My middle son needed some new hoodies. I had heard that 6pm.com had great prices, I did a quick comparison to Old Navy and Aeropostle and indeed their prices were lower. I couldn’t wait for a clearance sale for this one as my son ripped his last hoodie and the temperatures were dropping.  I checked Cardpool, but they didn’t have a discount gift card.  I checked my favorite cash back options, and found no cash back offered. I checked RetailMeNot and found a code that saved me 10% . 6pm already has free shipping so I didn’t have to look for that.

Savings & Earnings:  10% with a discount code. Shipping Free.

How do you save money on your online Christmas gift purchases?

Looking for ways to save money this Christmas? Follow my Thrifty Christmas Tips board on Pinterest.

Thrifty Christmas Tips (small)Visit my Thrifty Christmas Tips page for links to all the ways I have shared to keep the cost of Christmas low.

Linked to Frugal Friday, Mom2Mom,

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10 Thrifty Christmas Gatherings: Entertaining On A Budget

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It seems like Christmas time more than any other time of the year friends, family, and co-workers want to gather together and spend quality time together.

10 Thrifty Christmas Gatherings Entetaining On A Budget

Although all the gatherings are great for friendship building and memory making they can often be a drain on the budget. They don’t have to be though.

The key to entertaining on a budget at Christmas time is to keep the event simple, and a group effort.

10 Thrifty Christmas Gatherings

1. Potluck

You knew a potluck would be on the list so I thought I might as well make it number one. You don’t have to do a traditional dinner pot luck. You could make it a brunch potluck, or a dessert potluck. Perhaps even a hot cocoa and cookie potluck.

2. White Elephant Gift Exchange

This is a great one to play with long time friends and co-workers, since those that know each other best won’t be afraid to really get into stealing and picking humorous gifts to include, and it is those elements that make it fun.

Encourage people not to spend a dime on the gift they bring. Set the guidelines on what type of gift should be included and what type you don’t want. For instance, I have been part of White Elephant exchanges that have asked for useful gifts only, as well as others that wanted the most unusual item you can find in your home.

Start the exchange by verbally stating all the rules of the game, how many steals a gift can have, etc.

3. Christmas Mug Exchange Night

I went to a Christmas Mug Exchange night once with a group of ladies from a church we attended. It was so much fun. They set the price limit at $5 and you could spend it just on the mug, or get a $1 store mug and fill it with extras if you wanted. If your friends are on super tight budget make it a dollar store, or re-gifted mug only gift exchange, so that everyone can swing it without busting the budget.

We all met and one ladies house, who had hot chocolate ready for us, as well as hot water and tea bags out for those who were not hot cocoa fans (me being one of them).

The Christmas Mug Exchanged worked a lot like a white elephant gift exchange, but the best part was after the exchange was over we all washed out our new mugs and then spent the evening drinking hot cocoa and tea out of them and chatting together.

To make things less expensive for the host, you could all bring your own favorite teas and cocoa mixes along with you.

4. DIY  Christmas Ornament Night

Have one person pick out an Christmas Ornament you could all make for relatively little money spent. Send the most thrifty person in your crew out to buy the materials, and then split the cost between the group.

Gather at whose ever house has the largest space for crafting and get to work making Christmas ornaments for your trees and catching up.

This idea does not have to be limited to just girlfriends, you could include the children on this one too if you wanted to.

5. Make Christmas Cards Night

A lot like number 4 but this time you make Christmas Cards. You could do handmade cards and split the cost, or everyone brings the boxes they got on clearance in January and their Christmas card list, postage stamps and other Christmas card supplies. In the second scenario you all go home with you Christmas cards done, and have had a blast catching up with friends while doing it. In the first you all go home with homemade cards to send out.

6. Walk or Run The Christmas Lights

In most towns where we live there is either a large Christmas display in the local parks or a neighborhood that really knows how to put on a Christmas light show. What I love doing is grabbing a friend and running or walking those displays together on a mild night. If you walk it you can hold a hot travel mug of something in your hands to keep you warmer while you walk. You can even bring the kids along, and make it a family night.

Grab some great pictures for instagram, spend sometime with a friend and get a workout in, all for very little cost and perhaps even free.

7. Cookie Sampling Night

I am not a fan of cookie exchanges (I can hear the gasps now). I find them to be stressful and not helpful. I stress because I never know if people will like what I bring , and they are not helpful to me because I find myself taking home cookies we don’t like that go stale and often…..end up in the garbage…all the while my family begs me to make more of the cookies they do like, which makes me spend the time in the kitchen I thought the cookie exchange would save me.

Here is my suggestion instead throw a “Cookie Sampling Night” have each guest bring enough  individual wrapped and labeled cookies for each guest to sample one of, as well as a printed out recipe to place in front of their cookie plate.

Each guest can either sample their cookie then and there while mixing and mingling with the other guests or take them home with them.

A fun night for just the cost of a dozen or so cookies, labels and printed recipes, nothing wasted and friendship time gained. Plus you discover new cookies you like, and you don’t waste more than one of those you don’t.

8. Hold A Re-gifting Christmas Gift Exchange In January

Sometimes the days from Thanksgiving to New Year’s are just packed. If this is you and your friends consider having  your get together  and gift exchange after the holidays are all done.

The first week of January get together while others are exchanging gifts at the store, and exchange you unwanted gifts with one another . Yep, re-gifting brought out into the open. Place all the gifts you won’t use on the table  and start drawing cards. That candle that gives you a headache might be  your best friends favorite scent. Those chocolate covered chocolate beans you got and hate, might be treasure to another friend.

This way these items won’t take up space for months until the next annual white elephant gift exchange.

If you really loved and will use all the gifts you received, then you can at least save money by bringing something from an after clearance sale.

9. Go Sleighing.

Gather some of your favorite families together, and meet at the local Sleigh hill over winter vacation. Bring along a few thermos’ full of hot chocolate or coffee, and some cookies too.

10. Year End Book Swap

Grab your fellow bookworm friends and get a head start on gathering new titles for the new year.

Give each person the same amount of tickets as they brought books as they come in the door and then once everyone has arrived and the books have all been placed on the tables let the book swapping begin.

Bonus idea: Ugly Christmas sweater party with white elephant style prizes. I am sure everyone either already has a bad holiday sweater in their closet or can find one at  a thrifty store. Have people vote for who has the most tacky holiday sweater, each bring snacks to share.

Have you been to a low cost Christmas gathering you have loved? Share it with me in the comments below.

Thrifty Christmas Tips (small)All my thrifty Christmas tips in one spot.

Linked to Mom2Mom, Saver Tips Tuesday,

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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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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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Christmas on a Zero Budget

(post contains affiliate links see disclosure)

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 To 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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Christmas Swagbucks Earning Plans

(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

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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