Tag Archives: holiday savings

Save Money This Holiday Season with These DIY Gift Hacks

Love the holidays but hate the Santa sticker shock that follows? No need to spend your way into debt this Christmas. Keep costs down and make the holidays more meaningful by gifting your loved ones with personalized homemade presents. From pamper-me packages crafted with care, to home décor that costs just a few dollars, to home-baked goodies that say “I love you,” the sky’s the limit when you DIY! Here are 13 homemade gift ideas from across the cyber-verse to get you started.

Sugar cookie sack

Everyone loves pulling freshly baked cookies out of the oven, but who wants to bother with measuring and mixing all those ingredients? Make it easy for your loved one with this adorable sack of sugar-cookie mix. Decorate the sack to make it personal, and you’ll have a heartwarming gift costing less than $10.

Fleece blanket

Help your friends and family gear up for winter with a cozy fleece blanket. If you’re handy with a needle, you can design a deluxe version of this fuzzy piece of heaven; otherwise, keep it simple, sweet and oh, so cheap.

Pedicure kit

Has your friend been pining for a pedicure? Gift them with all they need to make their nails sparkle with a “for your mistletoes” nail kit. Fill a $7 Mason jar with polishes, filers, a buffer and everything else they need for a spa-at-home experience.

Wall clock

Dress up a flat circle of wood with some beautiful material, attach a clock kit and voila — homemade designer décor for just a few dollars! This clock makes the perfect gift for the friend who’s just moved into a new home or dorm room. Learn how to make your wall clock here.

Bubble bath gift set

Who doesn’t love a relaxing bubble bath? This gift makes it possible with a complete bubble bath kit, including chocolate, bath salts, a candle, soaps, a pouf and more. Learn how to create your own at Sugar and Charm.

Instagram picture frame

Round up your friend’s best Instagram snaps of the year with this creative desktop frame. This gift will make them smile all year long.

Infused vodkas

Flavor your own vodkas and give your friends a unique gift they’ll enjoy for days to come. Choose between classic flavors or experiment with brave new ideas, like spicy citrus and cucumber tarragon. Get the tutorial for infused booze here.

Money tree

Who says money doesn’t grow on trees? Give the gift of cash with an adorable holiday-themed presentation by rolling up stacks of bills into tree boughs. Learn how here.

Recipe box

This one is for the friend who dreams of starring on “Chopped.” Fill this personalized, decorated recipe box with their own best recipes and add a few new gems for their collection. They’ll think of you every time they cook up another storm. Check out Club Crafted to get the full tutorial.

Snowball bath bombs

Bath time is fun again with these peppermint-infused bath bombs! Package inside plastic ornaments for a real holiday treat.

Rainbow candles

We’re all spending more time at home these days, and what better way to light up a cold winter evening than with these gorgeous rainbow candles. All you need for these eye-catching creations is a bit of time and some old crayons.

Painted picture frames

Dress up dollar-store picture frames with colored chalk paint for the perfectly memorable gift. Learn how at Make Your Mark.

Reindeer gift card holder

This holiday-themed card holder is the perfect present for that friend who owns a collection of gift cards and needs a place to keep them safe. You can also use it to dress up a gift card and make it more personal. It’s made out of leftover toilet paper rolls and basic craft materials you likely already have at home.

Keep the stress out of the holidays this year with our DIY gift hacks. It’s all the shared love with none of the debt. Plus, creating these gifts will keep you busy as you ride out a quarantine or avoid crowded malls during these pandemic times. Who knew holiday gifts could be so much fun?


What’s your favorite DIY gift hack?

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Energy Saving Tips for the Holidays

From our friends at BALANCE

The holidays can be an energy guzzler.

The Christmas lights are hung and turned on 24/7. The oven is busy baking gingerbread cookies, yams, turkey, etc. The whole family is at home and turns on all of the lights…and the television…and the computer. Between driving to stores to buy gifts and attend holiday dinners and parties, the car gets double its normal use.

Not only is all of this excessive energy use bad for the planet, but it drains your wallet as well. However, there is no need to turn off the lights on holiday cheer. Here are five easy ways you can reduce your energy consumption.

Skip the Christmas lights.
Instead of using Christmas lights, why not use decorations that don’t need to be plugged in, like garland and ornaments? But, if you just can’t live without them, consider purchasing LED Christmas lights, which use about 80-90% less energy than conventional ones.

Turn off your household lights.
With people typically on vacation during the holidays and friends and family visiting, lights tend to get turned on more. However, you do not need to eat in the dark to save energy – just walk around periodically to make sure that the lights are not on in empty rooms. Also remember to unplug items that drain energy even when they are off, like computers, televisions, and cell-phone chargers (when you are not using them, of course!).

Don’t drive more than you need to.
Instead of visiting the mall multiple times, try to buy all of your gifts in one trip. Draining your gas tank shopping can be avoided if you buy on-line, but sometimes the shipping fees are more than what you would have spent on gas driving to the mall. If you need to travel a long distance for a celebration, consider carpooling. You may not want to spend an extra 45 minutes with Aunt Marie, but you can ask her to pay for half of the gas.

Turn down the thermostat.
Heating is the highest energy expense in most homes, so not having the heater at full blast could save you hundreds of dollars. Certainly, you do not want the house to feel like a freezer, but why not try lowering the temperature a few degrees and putting on a sweater? (You may have received an ever-so-stylish one in holidays past!) When guests are over is often a good time to turn the thermostat down since crowded rooms tend to be warmer than empty ones.

Avoid excessive appliance use when cooking and cleaning.
You can use the oven more efficiently by cooking multiple dishes at the same time. Wait, but what if you have a pie that bakes at 400° and bread that bakes at 350°? You may be able to get away with baking them both at 375°. Or, if you only have a small amount to cook, use a more energy-efficient toaster oven or microwave instead. When washing dishes, consider doing it by hand, or, at the very least, only turn on the dishwasher when it is full.

By being conscious of and reducing your energy consumption, you can enjoy the holidays without breaking out in a sweat when January’s energy bill comes.

Skip-a-Payment

And benefit local kids

Take a much needed break from your loan or loans at USAgencies this holiday season. For just $20 per loan, you can skip the payment and free up some cash in your budget. Plus, during the months of November and December, USAgencies will donate the skip-a-payment fee to Credit Unions for Kids, benefiting Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Note: some loans do not qualify for the skip-a-payment program. Details can be found on the Skip-a-Payment Request Form or connect with Lending Services: loans@usacu.org | (503) 275-0300 or (800) 452-0915, option 2.

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