Recycle Your Old Calendars

July probably isn’t the best time to write about what to do with your used calendars, but I thought I’d throw it out there anyway. I have several calendars hanging around my house. At the end of the year, instead of throwing them out or putting them in the recycling bin, I save them to use in craft projects. Here are some of my ideas.

Wrapping Paper. If the calendar is large and you haven’t written any personal information on it, the individual pages can be used to wrap small gifts. Gently pull out the staples or stitches and cut each page apart. These colorful sheets are ideal for small packages.

Envelopes. Again, this is best with larger calendars (each picture page approximately 1 square foot). Cut apart each page. Trace around an envelope template, cut and fold. Use double-stick tape to secure the flaps. If you don’t have a template, you can find pretty much any size you need by doing a google search for ‘envelope template.’ Or you could make one yourself by gently taking apart an envelope and tracing it on cardstock or cardboard.

Kids’ Book. This is my favorite. Use the pictures to make a book for your kids. Cut out the pictures that you think would be of interest to your kids. (Animals, Cars, Nature, Cartoon Characters, Colors, Etc.) Paste the pictures in a blank notebook or on paper that has been stapled together. This could be a counting book with a different number of items on each page (one horse, two rabbits, etc.). You could make it a song book with each picture representing a song (lamb for Mary Had A Little Lamb, sun for You Are My Sunshine). If your kids are older, you could let them paste the pictures and make up a story to go with them.

Other Ideas. Calendar pages can be cut and used for cards or for a collage. Instead of cutting the pages apart, leave them large and they can be used as a table protector for kids’ art projects. Your kids can color in the calendar squares to make patterns or use them to practice counting.

Happy Crafting!

How to Save Tons of Money at Amazon.com

I have always liked to keep an eye on the Amazon.com clearance deals and see if I can get some cheap goods. But then I discovered that you can search Amazon by a certain percentage off and in a specific category. So, for instance, you can search for “Kid’s Apparel” that is 90% off or more! I created a page that will allow you to pick the category and percentage off you want to view.
Now you can go straight to the best deals in the category of your choice!

Here is an example.

Kids & Baby:
   Apparel (Kids & Baby): 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10%
   Baby: 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10%

See the full list over at the How to Save Tons of Money at Amazon.com page!

Shopping Trips with Kids

Shopping with the kids in tow can be stressful. Here are some hints that might help to keep you sane and under-budget!

1. Eat a snack before you get to the store. If you and/or your kids are hungry, shopping can become a stressful experience. One that, imho, can lead to non-budgeted purchases. If I am hungry while shopping for groceries, I almost always break down and put food items in my cart that are convenience-driven, not price-driven. “Ooo, that looks so good. I’m so hungry. I’ll just buy that now to snack on while we drive home.” If you and the kids are hungry, it will be harder to look for bargains, sort your coupons, etc. You’ll be far more likely to fill your cart quickly and head for the checkout. Hungry kids are great whiners. Whining for ‘I want this and I want that,’ can also lead to “ok, we’ll buy this if you just stop whining” purchases. Keep a couple of granola bars in the diaper bag so that you can munch on something before you head to the store. Or, plan your shopping for after a meal.

2. Make a list and stick to it! I have found this very hard to do over the years. Make a list – great! I love making lists. Sticking to it in the store – much harder. There was a time (before kids) when I never came home with only what was on my list. I always saw something (a purse, lipgloss, a book) that I ‘needed’ to have. Now I have made it a challenge to myself to purchase only what is on the list. It is very hard at times. Especially when I’m hungry (see number one above). Plan for your trip by finding appropriate coupons and checking ads to see where you’ll find the best price. If you are familiar enough with your shopping destination, try to organize your list by where the item is found in the store. Travel once around the store instead of going back and forth. Skip the aisles you know you won’t need.

3. Shop during Wake Time. Plan your shopping trips around nap times and both you and your kids will be much happier. Consider how long your trip should take and plan accordingly. If your child is both hungry And tired – watch out!

4. Save the ‘Shopping for You’ for a time when you don’t have the kids in tow. If you can swing it, shop for yourself (clothing, make-up, etc.) during a time when your spouse or sitter can be home with the kids. The Boy will scream and cry any time he is in a dressing room with me. An early form of claustrophobia perhaps? I don’t know. But I do know that I do everything I can to Not try on clothing when I have him along.

5. Include your kids. Talk to them. Tell them why you are shopping. “We are all out of eggs. Mommy needs to buy eggs so we can bake a cake.” or “We need to get some more diapers for you.” Kids (even toddlers) are usually much happier if they know what is going on. Have water or a snack in your purse/diaper bag for an emergency. Let them know how much longer you’ll be. Sing songs or play ‘games’ (counting, etc.) as you go about the store. Let them hold purchases for you or make small decisions (should we get the apricots or pears?).

Have fun and happy shopping.

Inexpensive Wrapping Paper

I have a hard time paying for wrapping paper that will just end up ripped off a gift and tossed into the trash bin. I do want my gifts to look nice, but ach, the cost of wrapping paper! Here are some of my favorite alternative options to traditional wrapping paper.

The Sunday Funnies. Colorful and fun to read!

Old Maps. Could be good for a spur-of-the-moment geography lesson. Use it to mark a special memory (vacation spot?) on something wrapped for your sweetie. If the map is blank on one side, spread it out and let your kids go to town with crayons, pens or paints.

Child’s Art. Wondering what to do with all those fingerpaint pictures? Have lots of crayon-colored pictures? Use them to wrap a small gift! The person on the receiving end of these gifts will love the paper colored ‘just for them.’

Brown Paper. Use stamps, stickers, child’s art or your own drawing/painting talents to embellish the paper.

Reverse side of regular paper. When all else fails and you need wedding gift wrap and all you have is SpongeBob birthday wrap, just wrap the gift with SpongeBob on the inside. See above about ways to decorate the reverse side of the wrapping paper.

If you’ve gotten this far and think this is good and all, you may be thinking what about ribbons? I recycle ribbons as much as I can. I also buy the big rolls of curling ribbon in plain colors like white, green, red and blue. One of these colors or a combination of several usually works with whatever type of wrap I’m using. I also tend to break out the pens and stickers when finishing off wrapping a gift.

Gift bags are great too. I recycle pretty much every one I receive and haven’t had to purchase a new one in several years. When I desperately need to purchase gift wrap materials, I head to a dollar store. I can usually get three gift boxes for a dollar and similar prices on wrap, ribbon and bags.

Happy Wrapping!