Snapshot Thursdays: A Fun 5K and My Favorite Christmas Decorations

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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 me on  Instagram  to see more pictures I share all week long.

Since I didn’t post last week due to Thanksgiving I am sharing 3 key pictures from that last two weeks.

The kids and I 5k runFor the first time  all 3 of my children ran with me in a local 5K. My two boys beat me and my daughter got 1st in her age group. It was a cold run but a great day.

31 bag I really like my new Thirty-One Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote. It fits great at my feet in the car so that I can knit while my husband drives. Don’t forget your chance to win one this week, hop over and enter.  While your there check out the great discounts Katie is offering  those who place orders through my post as well, and enter to win a $50 Thirty-One Gift Card for answering her 1 question survey.

My favorite Christmas decorationsOn Thanksgiving morning we got out our artificial tree and decorated it for the season. My daughter did it all by herself this year and I couldn’t help but notice she used my absolute favorite Christmas decorations. These hung on my family tree when I was little and my mom gave them to me before she passed away. For years I have let them sit in a box afraid to put them out because they are so fragile. I didn’t take them down though. I was about too, but I heard a voice say, “Don’t, enjoy them”.

The voice is right my mom wouldn’t want them sitting in a box year after year she would want them out even if our somewhat klutzy family breaks one or two.  I also discovered that they are now making them again, which makes me feel safer.

What is your favorite ornament on your tree? Does it have memories attached to it? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below.

Today Only Grocery University is just $4.97

I wanted to let you in on a great deal today. Today only Grocery University is just $4.97. That is half-price.

Grocery University is a 2 hr and 19 minute audio course that will take you through all the ins and outs of saving money at the grocery store.

It is broken into short chapters that can easily be listened to while doing chores, running errands or working out.

With the wisdom you will learn through this course you will easily be able to make back your $4.97 with just a trip or tow to the grocery store.

This deal is only good until midnight Tonight (December 4th EST). So go grab your copy here.

 

Chocolate Peppermint Syrup

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This chocolate peppermint syrup  is amazing drizzled on chocolate ice cream, or better yet my no machine needed peppermint candy ice cream for the full peppermint experience.

Chocolate Peppermint Syrup So simple to make and would be a great gift

Great tasting chocolate sauce is so simple to make and takes less than 5 minutes there really is no need for the store bought kind. This chocolate peppermint variety has been adapted from a recipe for chocolate syrup found in The Tightwad Gazette  one of my favorite sources for simple thrifty recipes.

The ingredients are

Stiring the water a cocoa powderFirst you mix together the water and cocoa powder in a sauce pan over medium heat.

pouring the sugar into the chocolate peppermint sauceOnce the cocoa powder is mixed in with the water, you add in the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil. You then keep it at a bowl for 3 minutes, while stirring it continually. I find a wire whisk works best for this.

My mistake while making chocolate peppermint syrupHere is a tip that  I can give you as a result of my own mistake. Make sure the pot you use to make this recipe in is high enough to allow for the bubbling the syrup will make as it boils. My normal pot was dirty when I went to make this recipe, and I thought to myself, “oh surly this one will do”. Yeah not so much, the recipe filled all but an inch of the pan and that was not enough to avoid a boil over.

stiring in the last of  the ingredients for chocolate peppermint syrupAt the end of the three minutes, pull the pan off the stove and whisk in the salt, vanilla, and peppermint extract.

Let the syrup cool awhile and then place it in a glass container. You could put this chocolate peppermint syrup i in 2 small canning jars to give as gifts along with a few other sundae toppings and a gift card to a local grocery store large enough for ice-cream and give it to a family as a Christmas present the whole family can enjoy

.

Chocolate Peppermint Syrup
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ⅛th teaspoon salt
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp peppermint extract
Instructions
  1. mix cocoa and water
  2. heat and stir until cocoa is dissolved
  3. add sugar
  4. stir until sugar is dissolved
  5. bring to a boil
  6. let it boil on medium heat for 3 minutes
  7. remove from heat
  8. add in salt, vanilla, and peppermint
  9. let cool
  10. store in glass container
  11. keeps several weeks in the fridge

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Tuesday Links: Christmas Cards

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Tuesday links 30 or so link to articles on one topic for you to explore, learn, and apply to your lifeNow that Thanksgiving is behind us it is time to start getting ready for Christmas. In most homes that means sending out Christmas cards to family and friends that live far away.

I send Christmas cards most years, although I have been know to miss a year now and then. This week I thought I would inspire both you and I to be more creative with our Christmas cards this year by sharing ideas for homemade cards, photo cards and how to display all those great Christmas cards that come your way.

25 Fun Christmas Card Photos by My Life And Kids ( love the one where the parents are wrapped up in lights!)

psst…did you know that you can cash in your Swag Bucks for a Shutterfly gift card to help with your Christmas Photo expenses. (here are 24 ways to earn those Swag Bucks)

15 Christmas Card Kids Can Make by I Heart Arts & Crafts (the potato print ones are super cute)

25 Ways To Display Christmas Cards by You Pinspire Me (I might try the clothes pin wreath)

If you are like I once was and struggle for a simple method of keeping track of addresses check out my simple to update address book.

And if you want to go the extra mile and make amazing handmade cards for everyone on your list, you might want to sign up for Craftsy’s free card making classes. There are 2 free mini classes on card making and although they don’t specifically cover Christmas cards, I think you will get a lot of helpful hints and instruction from them.

And here are a few coupons for movies that you might want to watch while making those Christmas cards, and one for the paper to print the Christmas letter on. (see my coupons page for links to more great coupons)


$2.00 off (1) MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET Blu-Ray

$5.00 off HOME ALONE 4-FILM DVD Collection

$5.00 off Rio 2 DVD or Blu-ray

$2.00 off DUCK DYNASTY Season 4-6 DVd

$5.00 off Mr. Peabody & Sherman DVD or Blu-ray

$0.75 off 1 Georgia Pacific Copy & Printer Paper

Thirty-One Gifts Giveaway: Zip-Top Organizing Tote and Mini Zipper Pouch

I am so excited to be offering you a Thirty-One Gifts Giveaway this week. This giveaway is brought to you by Katie Warnock.

thirty-one giveaway

How I came to know about  Thirty-One Gifts.

I have to be 100% honest, I have been invited to numerous Thirty-One Gifts parties over the years and never gone. I really didn’t see what the big deal was, although I did admire a bag or two my friend would show me.

Then this summer I stumbled on a like new large utility tote and fell in love with it. I use it to shop numerous community yard sales over the season, and I could not believe how many yard sale treasures it could  hold before I had to empty it out in my car to do some more shopping.

The tote came camping with us and held beach gear that it normally takes two bags to hold.

It  currently goes to Aldi with me each week and holds a tonne of groceries.

What I like most about the utility tote

  • made up of durable fabric
  • easy to wipe down when it gets dirty
  • can be used in so many ways
  • long enough handles that you can sling it over your shoulder

The Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote & Mini Zipper Pouch

Katie sent me both the Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote & Mini Zipper Pouch so that I could try them out and share what I thought about them with you.

zip-top organizing utility totethirty one

My Thoughts On the Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote

I was thrilled to see how much room the Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote has, and put it right to work as my new crafts on the go bag (my previous bag by another company, got a hole in it recently  after 10 years of service) .

I put a large ball of yarn in it, my knitting needles, a small camera, my kindle and even my entire purse and there was still room for more.

This bag is so versatile.  Now that I have one I have spotted others toting them around as diaper bags, gym bags or just using them as a purse. I think the Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote would also make a great carry-on for those of you that travel by air.

mini zipper pouch

My Thoughts On The Mini Zipper Pouch

The uses for the mini zipper pouch are endless. It would make a great gift filled with pens and pencils for the artist in your life, or nail supplies, or make-up, or ……. there are so many possibilities.

I am using mine to hold scissors, pens, gum, and a few other things that usually just roll around in my purse. It is saving me time since I don’t have to dig for these items anymore.

OH and I almost forgot, Thirty-One offers personalization of their items. You can add your initials or name to the items you order, or the initial or name of the loved one you are buying the gift for. Christmas is just weeks away and there are so many great Christmas gifts to be found at Thirty-One.

You can enter to win both of these items below. You can also enter to win a $50 gift card to Thirty-One Gifts by filling out Katie’s one answer survey.

Need Some Christmas List Katie Has Some Great Deals For The Reader’s Of Snail Pace Transformations

Give big spend small152 items $20 or lessOne of my misconceptions about Thirty-One gifts was that is was super expensive. Having now taken a look through the catalog I can say the prices are reasonable for the quality of the product you are getting. They even offer 152 items under $20 with many being a low as $5. Many of  these lower priced items would make great Christmas gifts.

 

Spend $35 and Get Your Choice Of Any One Of These SpecialsRight now when you spend $35 (the exact price of the Zip-Top Organizing Tote I reviewed above) you get to choose one of the items shown above, including the Mini Zipper Pouch that I reviewed. I like how the two compliment each other.

More Great Deals For My Readers

 Katie is offering FREE DIRECT SHIPPING on any orders from Snail Pace Transformations readers. This offer saves you 8% plus an additional $4 since it is coming directly to your house! This offer is only valid thru December 8th.

Here’s how to place an order and qualify for free shipping:

::Go to the Snail Pace Transformations Giveaway event. on Katie’s website.

::Place your order and get free shipping!

::Please note: Katie will have to manually deduct the shipping off after the online event is closed so you won’t see the discount until after she manually submits the orders.

 Want to Stay Up To Date On the Latest Sales

Fill out this one question survey. It will put you on Katie’s email list as well as enter you into a $50 gift card giveaway

You can also join Katie’s Facebook group.

Thirty-one giveaway fb

 The Giveaway

Use the Rafflecopter form below and enter to win your own Zip Top Organizing Utility Tote and Mini Zipper Pouch. Trust me you are going to love them. They are super roomy, durable, and could be used for so many different purposes.

The giveaway will run until Sunday December 7th until Midnight. The winner will be contacted by either me or Katie by email.

I will post the winner’s name on my Facebook page .

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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Happy Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving. I hope you have a wonderful day with your families, I am taking the day off to enjoy mine. Snapshot Thursdays will be back next week.

My Families Favorite Peppermint Recipes

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Christmas and peppermint to me and my family go together like bread and butter.  We love peppermints around our house, and their red and white color goes perfect with Christmas.

My families favorite peppermint recipesToday I wanted to re-share with you the peppermint recipes I have shared on the blog so far. They are very simple to make and not at all time consuming.

unwrapping peppermintsIn fact the most time consuming part about all the recipes is unwrapping all the peppermints. Luckily my daughter seems to not mind doing this chore for me.  I think it is because she likes sneaking a few while she is unwrapping them. If a few peppermints is the cost of having someone else do the unwrapping for me, well then I am fine with that.

 Our Families Favorite Peppermint Recipes

Homemade peppermint mocha (small)Peppermint Mocha is  the prefect pick me up on a cold winter’s day. Making it at home not only saves money but calories too. If you are not a coffee fan, try adding just a dash of peppermint extract to our families 3 ingredient hot chocolate.

Psst…..  If you really want to enjoy a holiday drinks from Stabucks while out running Christmas errands use Swagbucks  or other point reward programs to earn gift cards to Starbucks.

No machine needed peppermint candy ice cream takes under 5 minutes to prepareConfession, I own a ice cream maker and yet it has never been out of the box. Shortly after buying it I discovered there is a way to make great tasting ice cream without a machine, and I love experimenting with flavors. For Christmas my favorite it Peppermint Candy Ice Cream.

Chocolate peppermint fudge Just 3 ingredients and takes just 3 minutes to make (small)My chocolate peppermint fudge is a winner at Christmas gatherings. I never go home with a piece of it, no matter how small the gathering.

chocolate peppermint cookie bark (small)I often pair my chocolate peppermint fudge with a side of chocolate peppermint cookie bark. This recipe is so simple to make and enjoyed by all.

Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies Oh so good! (small) Santa needs a new cookie this year and I think double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies will hit the spot.  These cookies are very chewy. Warning they stick together when stacked so make sure to put wax paper between layers.

While we are talking about Santa and cookies do you have a special plate for him? I bought a Santa plate years ago from the dollar store and was surprised at just how into this simple tradition my children got. Even now that they are older they still insist we should get the Santa plate out and put a cookie on it (although I am very sure they all know it is dad now, especially since they suggest we exchange the glass of milk for a can of coke :) ).

Chocolate Peppermint Syrup So simple to make and would be a great gift (med)When you make up a batch of this chocolate peppermint syrup you can add a little bit of peppermint to any drink. Milk, hot cocoa, coffee.

While making and photographing all these peppermint delights this week, I came up with a few more ideas for new peppermint delights that I plan to share with you really soon. Pin this so you won’t miss out on the updates :).

What is your favorite peppermint treat?

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Tuesday Links: Black Friday Shopping Tips

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Tuesday links 30 or so link to articles on one topic for you to explore, learn, and apply to your lifePersonally I don’t shop Black Fridays. Ever since I accidentally found myself in Walmart one early Black Friday morning, I have vowed to stay home and shop in my PJ’s on Cyber Monday.

However, I know that plenty people LOVE Black Friday, so these Tuesday links are for you. Go read up on what the expert Black Friday shoppers have to say and then get out there and get your bargains.

1. Tips For Stress Free Black Friday Shopping by Sarah Titus.

2. Create A Black Friday Budget Battle Plan by Thrifty Little Mom. (has free printables)

3. How To Shop Black Friday by Passion For Savings.

And here are a few coupons that might come in handy for your Thanksgiving feast, or shopping adventures.

Remember to check out my coupon page for more links to printable coupons.

$3.00 off Butterball Whole Turkey

$1.00 off TWO (2) Seasonal Nestle Chocolate Bags

$1.00 off 2 (TWO) Ore-Ida Frozen Potato Products

$1.00 off Any ONE (1) DOLE Frozen Fruit

$1.00 off OFF 2 MARS Holiday candy

$1.00 off (1) DeMet's TURTLES Holiday package

$1.00 off any two Ziploc brand bags

$1.00 off any two Ziploc brand containers

$1.00 off any 2 Glad Food Protection Items

$8.00 off (1) DURACELL & GOGO MY WALKIN PUP toy

Giveaway With 3 Winners And Why I Want You To Set A Wow Goal

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Last week something pretty cool happened. I reached the wow goal I set for 2014.

Set A WOW goal for 2015 And the book that will help you make and reach it.

 

what a wow goal is to me

A WOW goal is a goal  so big that you don’t want to tell it to the whole world; not because you fear you might fall flat on your face when you attempt it, but because the enormity of it makes the goal very personal and close to your heart.

A  WOW goal is so big you can only accomplish it if God really did lay it on your heart and therefore He comes in and holds your hand every step of the way, picking you up when you fall, sending you words of encouragement when those voices of doubt say you can’t and patting you on the back when you make it one step closer.

I still remember how I felt when I set it, I thought it wasn’t possible. I really thought I wouldn’t be able to reach it. I didn’t even like saying it out loud to people, or typing it down because I truly thought it wouldn’t happen no matter how badly I wanted it to.

My wow goal would be insignificant to many, but it was significant to me. I wanted to replace my husband’s income from a second job he had to stop doing when he started working in a different department of the hospital, due to the hours of the two positions conflicting with one another.

The loss of that job made our month to month budget pretty tight. I wanted to make our budget go from tight to breathable again. I set my goal at replacing that second job’s take home income.

I knew to do that I needed to make my goal a two part goal, first enlarging my audience and then increasing my sources of income.

With the help of my running partner picking me up when I got down, a few key bloggers  sharing my work and giving me great wisdom and advice, my husband pitching in more around the house, my children learning to cooking more, and God reminding me over and over I was capable,  I did it, WE DID IT.

Today I want to celebrate with you, because truthfully without my readers, I would have never reached my goals. Thanks for coming again and again to visit my site.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate with you than a giveaway of 3 copies of the book that inspired me to set my wow goal.

My friend Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom has generously agreed to send 3 winners a copy of her best selling book Say Goodbye To Survival Mode: 9 Strategies To Stress Less, Sleep More and Restore Your Passion For Life.


Say Goodbye To Survival Mode Giveaway

It was Chapter 3, the chapter on goal setting, that when I read it I knew God wanted me to set a wow goal and stick to it.

Which brings me to you, I want you to set a wow goal for 2015.

As I write this there are  just over 5 weeks left in the year. Take some time in those 5 weeks to grab a copy of Crystal’s book and read it . Start thinking of how you can implement the strategies listed in the book. When you do you will find you have time for a wow goal.

Take some time to think of what you want that wow goal to be. Make sure it isn’t easy to reach yet not impossible (even though it seems right now that it is).

When 2015 begins lace up those running shoes and start working your way towards the finish line of your wow goal.

 Giveaway Information

As I stated above my friend Crystal Paine has generously provided 3 copies of her book “Say Goodbye To Survival Mode” to me to giveaway to you.

The giveaway will run until Sunday November 30 at Midnight. The winners will be contacted by email and the book will be sent to them in the mail.

To enter use the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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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