Easy Christmas Crafts for Children

By Nicole Dean

Remember how much you had creating Christmas art projects? Nothing brings out the kid in you better than sharing some together time with your own children and there’s no better time to do it than during the holiday season! Start the season with some cute and fun to make Christmas crafts that your kids will love.

Christmas Decorating Ideas

As the holidays approach, it is time to start thinking of how you would like to decorate your home. As you will probably have numerous friends and family during the holiday season, the sooner you start to consider you Christmas décor the better. The Christmas décor you choose should not only make your house beautiful, but it should make it warm and inviting as well.

There are many things you can add around the home to make it more festive. For example, some women decide to replace their regular couch pillows with really lovely Christmas pillows. This will really brighten up your home. These pillows can be bought online or at local department stores. If you are handy with a needle and thread, you can also sew your own pillows. A good suggestion would be to buy a large Christmas or needlepoint pattern and finish it in time for the Christmas holidays, and then you can stuff it and use it as a Christmas pillow.

Smart Shipping And Storage Suggestions

When making up a package for shipping or storing, remember to tape it shut-flaps taped down along the middle and on both ends over the corners-and reinforce the seams with a good-quality clear tape.


(NAPSI)-Whether you’re sending gifts for the holidays, packing for a move or storing keepsakes, heeding a few hints on how to prepare things for shipping and storage can help your package stay safe and intact.

Packing Tips

First, choose a strong, rigid carton made of high-quality corrugated cardboard, preferably double walled to ensure strength, durability and protection. Be sure it has enough room for the cushioning material around the contents. If you’re reusing a box for shipping, cover up or black out any old labels and markings.

Next, place plenty of cushioning around your items. Wrap each item separately within the carton with protective cushioning. Don’t let any items touch the walls of the carton. Close and gently shake the box to see whether there is enough padding. If you hear items moving around as you shake the box, add more newspaper, packing foam or plastic material to secure the package.

Before you ship or store your stuff away, make two lists of what’s in the box. Put one inside the box and then tape the other to the outside, so you know what’s in which container and what not to overlook when you open one.

Tape your box shut and reinforce the seams with quality tape. Don’t use cord, string or twine, which can get caught in mail processing equipment. Fortunately, you can now get a tape that is almost three inches wide, so packages can be secured with just one strip of tape. Gorilla Shipping Tape also has a 3.4-mil construction, which makes it thicker, tougher and wider than other tapes. Plus, it’s water and temperature resistant, so it stands up to the elements-whether you’re shipping a package across the country or storing a box in a humid attic. It comes on an easy-to-grip, quiet dispenser, and the tape cuts easily for smooth dispensing.

If traveling for a holiday or visit, ship packages and boxes ahead of time to save space in your luggage.

You can find further facts online at www.gorillatough.com and

Simple Tips Add Holiday Spirit

(NAPSI)-Make your home cheery and bright when family and friends come to call with simple touches that reflect the holiday spirit.

  • Spray paint rhododendron leaves and pinecones in gold, attach them to a triangular cardboard backing and hang over the fireplace or entrance door.
  • String garland greens, greeting cards and festive lights along a banister or around window frames. Secure with Velcro® brand Christmas light clips.
  • Decorate mantels with knit stockings in a variety of patterns and colors. Add a grouping of candles to make things sparkle.
  • Recover throw pillows and attach rich fabric borders to drapes with no-sew Velcro® brand Fabric Fusion tape that you just steam iron on.
  • Add a warm, fragrant scent throughout the house with strategically placed mistletoe and bowls of clove-studded oranges.
  • Keep plenty of Velcro® brand Sticky Back® tape on hand to hang mistletoe and holiday stockings and to secure wreaths, garlands and more.

For additional information, visit www.velcro.com/tips .

Secret Santas Gain Inspiration From The Internet

So the secret’s out. There are no excuses for giving the wrong present. And perhaps best of all, you won’t have to fake the thank- you smile when you open your Secret Santa present this year.

(NAPSI)-The popular tradition of Secret Santa was created to solve a problem. Faced with buying gifts for a large group of colleagues, people came up with the idea of each person just buying a gift for one person. Everybody gets to share in the spirit of the season and no one spends a small fortune on presents.

Problem solved? Not quite. For many people, there can be challenges involved with picking out gifts for Secret Santa exchanges.

“Workplace gift exchanges can be quite tricky,” says Tom Tsao from Yahoo! Shopping. “Etiquette dictates that you want to avoid anything too risqué, cheesy or inappropriate. You’ve also got the added pressure of trying to be creative while working within a usually small price limit.”

This year, savvy Secret Santas can turn to the Internet for help.

For ideas on gifts, categorized by price and by recipient personality, head over to Yahoo! Shopping (http://shopping.yahoo.com), which has added recommended Secret Santa gifts to its Holiday Gift Center. These ideas include gift cards, wine, spa gifts, books and more.

There are also a number of Web sites that offer free gift exchange organizing tools. Elfster.com and SecretSanta.com were both started by people trying to find a better way to manage gift exchanges. As well as matching participants with one another, SecretSanta.com allows for exclusions so that Paris is not assigned to Nicole or vice versa. Elfster.com has a nifty function that lets you ask questions of your gift recipient (e.g., What’s your favorite color? Are you allergic to nuts?), without revealing your identity.

Glorious Holiday Decorating (Without Breaking the Bank or Losing Your Sanity)

By Jeanette Joy Fisher

Decorating for the holidays can be both expensive and emotionally draining. But you can decorate your home beautifully–on a budget–by following just a few simple suggestions.

First, you can create a happy holiday impression on your guests by simply concentrating your decorating efforts on your front door. Surrounding the entrance to your home with colorful lights, interwoven with garlands of greenery, offers a cheery “Welcome Home” atmosphere, without the need for ladders and endless strings of lights.

If putting up all of your decorations has become more of a chore than a delight during the holiday season, consider dividing your collection in half and alternating them every other year. That will require only half the amount of work, and the decorations will have more meaning, since you’ll be putting up different ones every year.

If you spend extra money on costly additives for keeping your Christmas tree from turning brown, you can take heart from the National Christmas Tree Association, which says that plain tap water is the best source of moisture for your tree. In fact, some commercial additives and home concoctions can actually be detrimental to a tree’s moisture retention and increase needle loss, according to the NCTA.

You can save a considerable amount of money, and make your holidays more meaningful, by creating your own decorations, using your family’s heritage as a guideline. You can incorporate family pictures or treasured mementos to create totally unique decorations, and it’s a great way to honor your ancestors while helping your children feel more connected with their family’s history.

And finally, you won’t have to take down the old decorations and put up new ones for your New Year’s Eve celebration, if you recycle your holiday wreaths and garlands after Christmas simply by spray painting them silver or gold.

The holidays can be a stressful period, but you can avoid the financial stress and the emotional burden by using these simple suggestions. Happy holidays!

(c) Copyright 2004, Jeanette J. Fisher. All rights reserved.

Jeanette Fisher, Design Psychology Professor, is the author of “Joy to the Home” eNewsletter, interior design and real estate books. For Design Psychology information, visit http://www.designpsych.com/. Ask your holiday decorating questions here: http://holidaydecorating.blogspot.com/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/

Voluntary Stupidity: Holiday Shopping for Less

By Adam Eisenson*

Christmas comes but once a year. And it’s the happiest time of year
… for retailers. That’s why new gift-giving holidays are being created
all the time. Sure, there are the old standbys like birthdays, weddings,
anniversaries, baby showers, and … that gem of holidays … Valentine’s

We’re expected to buy for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandmother’s
Day, Secretary’s Day, and Boss’s Day. I’ll bet that during Pet’s Week,
many a “lucky” Fido gets a rhinestone studded chain, a ceramic
bone with his name engraved on it, or some other stupid, unnecessary
trinket to help fill up a closet in his colonial styled doghouse.

Kmart, Sears, and Wal-Mart aside, for many of us, the holiday spirit
gets lost in a frantic search for gifts … and by the need to borrow
at high credit card interest to pay for them. At last count, Americans
had almost $400 billion revolving on their plastic. The sad truth
is that once we whip out our charge cards, many of us fall prey to
impulse buying … and spend substantially more than we had planned.


Haunted by Hallmark

There truly are “cards for every occasion.” This year, we
received our first Happy Thanksgiving card. Whatever happened to that
old-fashioned hand-written note saying, “Hope you feel better
soon,” or “I’m thinking of you”?

Does true love (even moderate friendship) need an influx of corny
sayings to survive? I don’t believe so. Does going broke prove love,
appreciation, deep religious belief, or friendship? Hardly! All it
proves is poor judgment and a lack of self-control.

If you want to voluntarily simplify your life, over-commercialized,
make-believe holidays are a great place to start. It seems to me that
cutting down on the 7.4 billion greeting cards Americans send a year
is the perfect place to begin getting back to basics.

We spent $6.3 billion in 1995 on greeting cards, alone. That’s
a lot of dimes for schmaltzy rhymes
. So from now on, skip it on
Snoopy, zap Ziggy, and get away from Garfield. Write a personal note
instead. It’s easy.

At the risk of being seen as the Scrooge of the 20th Century, here
are more ideas for simplifying life’s special events and avoiding
“love token” poverty, all year long:


  • Admit your sanity

. Now is the time to talk to every-one you
exchange gifts with, and change the rules. Stop it altogether, or
agree to set a lower limit, or to only exchange homemade goodies.
At a minimum, agree not to trade meaningless junk.



  • Start some inexpensive traditions

: A group-cooked meal, a
trip to your favorite museum or park … perhaps something that really
celebrates what the holiday is supposed to commemorate (like a birthday
visit to the town where you were born).


With families getting so complicated these days, more and more of
us are conflicted about where to have holiday meals. Do we join this
side of the family, or that … or that? Years ago, Nancy, my children,
and I began to celebrate Thanksgiving on virtually any day but the
fourth Thursday of November. It’s become so much fun, that we try
to have numerous Thanksgiving dinners throughout the year.

Think of all the benefits to celebrating the holidays a month earlier
or a month later: While you prove your independence and sanity, you’ll
also avoid the hype, the crowds, the costs, the hassles.


  • Give up garbage collecting

. Avoid adding to closet clutter.
Stop buying gifts that never have and never will make anyone happy,
just to “give something.” Suggest that your family and friends
pool resources. Buy the bride, birthday boy, or long married couple
a really significant present. And remember, “significant”
doesn’t have to be expensive.



  • Give gifts that actually mean something.

It’s really wonderful
to receive a practical or truly personal gift. Six years ago, Harry
Lazare, who used to work here, got tired of us all struggling with
an old, persnickety, hand-crank can opener. He gave Nancy and me a
sturdier, reliable (also non-electric) model. Hardly expensive, it
was so thoughtful and so needed … that we were delighted. We chuckle
and think of Harry every time we take it out of the drawer.



  • Make it yourself

. The possibilities are endless: But you
can’t go wrong thinking food … fruitcake aside. Give those new
parents or someone recuperating from surgery or chemo a home-cooked
meal. They won’t forget it.


If they aren’t already in your repertoire, how about learning to make
soups, breads, cookies, jams, or herb vinegars? Then put together
a gift basket of goodies. Like everything else, if you do-it-yourself,
you can save money and really personalize the assortment. If you want
to practice, feel free to send those yummy samples to me.

Nancy’s always giving away flowers that she grows, indoors or out,
depending on the season. And believe it or not, I just sent my daughter,
Sharon, some home grown brussels sprouts (which she and we love).
Can you knit, do needlepoint, make wooden toys, or compile some of
your favorite recipes? Did I mention that the possibilities are endless?



When you care enough to give the very best


  • Give yourself.

Donate some of your time to a homeless kitchen
or other worthwhile organization. And don’t limit your generosity
to Christmas or Thanksgiving … the homeless are cold and hungry
on other days as well.


Or offer to babysit for a niece, nephew, the neighbor’s child, or
your grandkid. Let their frazzled parents take a kid-free mini-vacation,
even if it’s only a peaceful night’s sleep!

Or you could share a skill. If you’re a master gardener, help a friend
develop a green thumb. Can you strum a guitar, make a bench, reupholster
a couch, or do magic? I’d rather learn a skill than get a hideous
tie. Wouldn’t you?


  • Play it again, Sam

. All year long, keep your eyes out at
church rummage sales, garage sales, auctions, and consignment shops
for gift ideas. Recycled toys that you’ve cleaned up are great for


Sarah, the bundle-of-energy daughter of our researcher, Marcy Ross,
received an instant family heirloom from a doting aunt and uncle,
who stripped and repainted an old children’s rocking chair they found
at a tag sale.

Nancy keeps her eyes out for cashmere sweaters to give to our favorite
sweater hounds … as well as hounds, in the shape of hokey bulb
planters, for our two favorite dog lovers, Janet and Rachel. (She
fills those planters every year with tulips, crocuses, and daffodils,
for a touch of spring in the dead of winter.)


  • Have a very, merry unbirthday

! When you see something that
you know will be useful, affordable, and appreciated, why not declare
your own holiday? There were some very wide smiles on my children’s
faces the day I unexpectedly drove up with a very much used bicycle
built for two strapped to my car’s trunk.



  • Resolve to give gifts that help earn or save money

. For example,
a gift certificate for a continuing education course, or toward a
tune-up for the family car. How about a cash gift earmarked as a pre-payment
on a mortgage, car loan, or credit card bill … along with a copy
of The Banker’s Secret?


Entering college students can use rolls of quarters (for laundry),
as well as stamps and phone cards. Our nephew Ben went off to Brown
with an old bowling bag that Nancy and I had outfitted with everything
from an assortment of screws and a “hot pot” to a pair of
electrician’s pliers that I had used … and loved … for years.


  • The notion that we deserve instant gratification

is responsible
for our various governments, and 70% of Americans having no money
left after paying the most basic of expenses. If you must buy …
plan! Look for sales … and ask retailers when they’ll happen. Certain
things do traditionally go on sale at specific times, every year.
For example, January is “white sale month,” when great buys
can be had on sheets and towels. Remember, it’s always sale time at
garage sales.



Preparing for battle


  • Are you out of control

? If you routinely end up paying off
Christmas well into the New Year, ditch your credit cards and begin
paying with a debit card. Or better still, use cash and traveler’s


If you do use a debit card or check, make sure you’re not about to
borrow from your overdraft “protection.” Learn from Uncle
Sam. Even when you have the money, or the credit, if you don’t control
your spending … your debt will continue to climb and climb … until
you need to curtail “all non-essential” purchases.


  • When retailers loudly trumpet, “No payments for 6 months,”

or “Buy now … pay later,” be careful! They’re not going
to give it to you for nothing. They’ve already built a healthy cushion
into the purchase price. And more often than not, you’ll get hit with
hefty interest charges, anyway. Those ads should say, “Buy now
… go broke later.”



  • Don’t fall for it!

When Visa or MasterCard invites you to
skip paying a bill one month, “because you always pay your bill
on time,” just say “No!” Otherwise, you’re just going
to end up paying extra big bucks in interest.



  • Don’t blindly believe “guaranteed lowest prices.”

Merchants count on the fact that once you buy, you’re not likely to
price shop. And if you price shop, you’re not likely to haul yourself
back to the store for a small refund. If you do haul yourself back,
you won’t have proper “proof.” Even if you have proof, you’ll
be one in a million, and the shopkeepers will happily return your
over-payment … because they’ll be keeping everyone else’s.



  • Replace voluntary stupidity with voluntary simplicity.

it’s a gift for someone else … or a reward for yourself, be smart.


If you haven’t done so already, I hope that this will be the year
you’ll start to cultivate a simple attitude. Getting back to basics
may help to keep you solvent … and living better on less is really
a lot of fun. Try it. You’ll like it!

The Pocket Change Investor, the quarterly newsletter from GoodAdvise.com on how to save money, get out of debt, and live better on less, will be available online, only — for free! To get issues sent right to your inbox, send your email address to GoodAdvise.com at newsletter@goodadvicepress.com, putting the word “subscribe” on the subject line.

Want to Save Money, Eliminate Debt, and Live Better on Less?
The FREE E-Letter from GoodAdvise.com Can Help — Subscribe Today!