Clever ways to Stuff a Stocking this Christmas

“What should we get the kids for Christmas?” tis the season for parents to be asked that $64,000 question repeatedly by relatives and friends. To answer the question parents often ponder a few things, (1) storage space, (2) battery consumption, and (3) ones sanity, before replying with their answer.

1- Storage Space: As each year passes children seem to accumulate more toys, games, puzzles, “stuff” than one has storage space. One shouldn’t have to rent out a storage unit just to accommodate all their children’s “stuff”.

2-Battery Consumption: Ever have one of those toys/games that your child just absolutely adores but the darn thing requires 4 AA, AAA, or D batteries? Batteries aren’t cheap! In order to maintain that kind of battery consumption one might have to contact a bank and inquire about a loan!

3-Sanity: Why is it that some of children’s favorite toys and/or electronics are the ones with the most annoying and obnoxious sounds? So unbearable that one actually welcomes the sound of nails down a chalkboard.

So, what should they get the kids for Christmas? The answer is one that both children and parents will equally adore, that doesn’t require storage space or batteries, and that will have parents maintaining their sanity. The answer is the gift of an awesome and fun experience! A gift card and/or membership so they can enjoy awesome experiences! Now, one should be prepared for a little backlash when you state the gift of an experience. Why? Because most people want to wrap something up for the kids, not just hand them a gift card. No worries…just tell them to stuff it, stuff a sock/stocking! stockingstufferStockings make for the perfect wrap, and they could add other small items to the stocking as well, small being the key word. And encourage them to have fun with it…why not add a fun message, have children go on a little scavenger hunt for the stocking (I did this with my brother’s gift last year and it was a lot of fun), etc.

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Here are some fun messages & clever local stocking stuffer ideas:

    • “I found your Achilles’ heel”: Jam-pack that sock with lots of Dun-dums from the Spangler Factory and include a gift certificate to take a tour on their trolley & buy something from the store! Website: https://www.dumdumpops.com/about-us/factory-tours
    • “Be fleet of foot”: Add train tickets to go somewhere…perhaps a weekend in Chicago? Website: https://www.amtrak.com/content/amtrak/en-us/stations/tol.html
    • “Time to get your feet wet”: Stuff the stocking with goggles, a swim toy, and swimming lessons from the YMCA, or better yet, a summer membership to the YMCA Website: https://www.ymcatoledo.org/
    • “Foot-in-mouth”: Place gift card to Chick-fil-a in sock & add a little stuffed cow animal.
    • “Sock-Hop”: Place gift card to Toledo Ballet, Mini Motions, etc. for dance lessons in sock & add shoes, leotard, and or, cute tree ornament with ballet slippers or tap shoes. Website: http://www.toledoballet.net/
    • “We found your feet of clay/hidden weakness”: Stuff stocking with containers of Playdough and a gift card to attend one of the Toledo Museum of Art’s awesome classes and/or camps.   http://www.toledomuseum.org/
    • “You have the World at your feet”: Stuff socks with tiny items from Imagination Stations Store & include a membership…this is the gift that just keeps giving; there is reciprocity with other Science Museums. Website: https://www.imaginationstationtoledo.org/
    • “Get your Sea Legs”: Add a membership to the National Museum of the Great Lakes and a few cute items from their gift store. Website: http://www.inlandseas.org/
    • “Waiting on you hand and foot”: Place hand lotion, foot scrub, etc. in stocking in addition to a gift certificate for a pedicure & manicure from Beauty Bar. Website: https://www.beauty-bar.com/
    • “This will knock your socks off”: Place tickets to one of Valentine Theatre’s kids’ production in stocking with a book and/or stuffed animal that coincides with the play, such as Junie B. Jones. Website: http://www.valentinetheatre.com/

 

 

Please feel free to add to the list…what are some of your favorite and/or clever ways to stuff a stocking?

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8 Tips to Help You Save Money this Christmas

 

 

It’s the time of year when many of us are thinking with our hearts as opposed to with our heads. We allow our hearts to do the shopping, decorating, wrapping, and giving without consulting our heads, a.k.a. logic & reason. Then in January our heads are back in the game and have to live with the consequences our hearts made via bank accounts and credit card statements. Not this year! Here are 8 tips that will help satisfy the warmth of the heart and logic/reason of the mind/head.

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8 Tips to Help You Save Money this Christmas

 

1. Look for FREE Christmas Activities and Events Going on in the Community

  • Pat Catan’s offers free Holiday crafting events for the community (what’s more, when you participate you receive $5 Catan Bucks). 8tipstosavemoneyClick on link to see the calendar of events, http://www.patcatans.com/craft-store-locations/oregon-oh/oregon-ohio-calendar
  • Did you know the Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo offers one FREE weekend visit…and free parking.
  • Holidays in the Manor House at Wildwood Metropark is a FREE fun family event…children will enjoy participating in the scavenger hunt as they tour the rooms adorn with festive themes, dress up in the props provided in the photo booth room, take a quick lighted stroll, & warm up by the fire while enjoying a complimentary s’more!!
  • Barnes & Noble Stores (Fallen Timbers & Franklin Park)has FREE Holiday themed Storytime’s & activity that follows on Saturdays in December at 11am

 

2. Don’t partake in the lethal combination of Craft/Hobby store & Pinterest-Stick to a List!

  • When you walk into any craft store you are greeted by adorable holiday décor that practically screams, “Take me home”!! You may have entered the store looking for just a throw pillow but you are leaving with a cart full of goodies, all color coordinated, & too adorable to pass up! What’s worse is if you “accidently” click Pinterest while in said craft store, it is the worst enabler! Exercise self-control this Christmas…make a list before entering a craft/hobby store and stick to it and NEVER click on Pinterest when in a craft store, do your research before you arrive and save a pic of the project.

 

3. Reuse Christmas Decoration

  • As a child I recall fond memories of helping my parents get out the Christmas decorations each year…the ornaments, stuffed animals, etc. There was something so special about unpacking even the wreath from Christmas past, especially when we moved. It helped make the new house a home because with that wreath came all the beautiful memories from past Christmases spent at our old home. Somewhere along the way we have lost the importance of tradition when it comes to Christmas décor and perhaps tip #2 has a lot to do with it. But this year why not save money and build on the memories with your children by reusing last year’s decorations.8tipstosavemoney3
  • But what about the live Christmas trees? Okay, so maybe you will need to spend a little on Christmas décor if your family opts for a live tree. Our family enjoys the experience of selecting and cutting down our own tree. We go to Samarian Hidden Tree Farm; they have a great selection and a great price, all trees are $40 (cash only). https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hidden-Tree-Farm/140503182764564

4. Wear Clothing that is in Your Closet

  • There is no reason to get all new Christmas clothing, shoes, etc. every year when you already have Sunday best in your closet.

5. Host a Simple Gathering

  • Throwing a Christmas party is a lot of fun, but also a lot of work and money. This year throw a simple Christmas gathering, invite friends over for dessert, have a Sundae bar and/or Hot Coca bar and request that each friend bring a specific topping/sweet to share. This way all you have to have ready when guest arrive is hot cocoa and/or ice cream and serving dishes. And what’s more you get to actually enjoy your party instead of constantly running back and forth checking of food.8tipstosavemoney4
  • Why not add to the entertainment and spread the Holiday savings, make your party a White Elephant party. Have guest wrap a gently used item from home to swap. Not familiar with While elephant? Click on link, https://www.whiteelephantrules.com/

6. Take your own Family Christmas Portrait

  • Don’t pay a dime for a Christmas Portrait sitting fee! Take your own with a tripod and timer on your camera and/or phone.
  • Meet up with another family at a park or other beautiful backdrop and take turns taking pics of each other’s family.

7. Re-think the Christmas Card

  • Just send a virtual Christmas card to friends for free…Smilebox even has music!! Click on link http://www.smilebox.com/lp/christmas-cards-animated-upd.html?partner=googlee&campaign=search_us_christmas_cards_free~christmas_card_free~&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIn9SoubWC2AIV5LftCh1DbQolEAAYAyAAEgJmX_D_BwE
  • Only purchase a small about of Christmas cards for the loved ones who are not on Facebook or Social media. Chances are most relatives are seeing adorable pics of your munchkins on a daily basis, so you could simply add your Christmas pics to your page to share. But there are those few who are not on social media who do still enjoy receiving a Christmas card. Just order 10-25 cards…look for deals online. This year I ordered a bunch of items from Shutterfly and received 10 free cards.8tipstosavemoney5
  • Have children help make Christmas cards from items in your arts & craft container and then print off your Christmas picture (that you had a friend take, of your family wearing clothing that was already in closets 😉 ) at Walgreen, Meijer, etc. and place photo inside the homemade card. Loved ones will appreciate the personalized touch and you will save money, win-win!

8. Implement the rule of 3 for children’s gifts-Want, Need, & Share

  • Make a list of 3 items to purchase for each child and stick with the list, no impulse buys! Purchase children one item they want, one item they need, and an item to share. Ideas for items to share, games for family game nights, puzzles, Lego bricks, movies for family movie nights, and/or one of those craft kids.8tipstosavemoney6
  • Remind children that Christmas is Jesus’s birthday, not theirs and that we should be thankful and appreciative for any items under the Christmas tree. It also helps if adults focus more on the excitement of giving gifts rather than receiving, model the behavior you wish to see in your children.