Wednesday 29 November 2017

Christmas Gift Tags, Bags, Wrapping And Crafts

Christmas can be an expensive time of the year.  There's no need to spend a fortune on wrapping and tagging your presents.  Infact,  you might have everything you need on hand and recycle at the same time.

Gift Tags

* Use and recycle your old Christmas cards.  Find the best part of the picture and cut it into a square,  oblong or tag shape.  Use a hole punch to make a hole and thread through a small piece of string,  ribbon or twine.

*  Tags can be made from any piece of cardstock, paper or craft paper.  just cut into a shape,  add a hole then decorate.

*  Do you have a cardboard box hanging around the house ?  Start cutting the cardboard flaps ( top ) off.  Cut into squares / oblongs with a craft knife then decorate.

Gift Bags

*  Do you have lots of department store cardboard / paper carry bags.  Glue a piece of wrapping paper over the top of the store name or brand.  Add a homemade gift tag ( see above ) to the wrapping paper panel then tie a small piece of ribbon or tinsel to the carry handle for extra style.

*  Brown paper bags can be decorated with a Christmas theme to use as a gift bag.  Stamp images,  add Christmas stickers or leave it plain.  Add your present then neatly fold the top over a couple of times,  staple then add a gift tag or a ribbon tied in a bow.  Glue the bow to the centre of the folded top with a hot glue gun.

*  Scraps of material are easy to make into bags.  If you sew,  just sew a hem around three edges. Turn over the top by 2 cm and sew a hem.  Thread some cord or lace through the top as a draw string.

Wrapping Paper

I buy all my wrapping paper on Boxing Day at heavily reduced prices.  If you haven't done this and are stuck for wrapping paper,  have a look to see what you have around the house.

*  Tissue paper makes beautiful wrapping paper.  Use a few layers to conceal the present inside.  Add a ribbon made from cut up sheer / netting curtains. 

*  Children's paintings could be used as  personalised wrapping paper.  I personally couldn't do this but some people have a truckload of Kinder paintings and this could be a way to keep the numbers under control.

*  Plain butcher / craft paper can be decorated.   Even simpler,  leave it plain and just add a colored ribbon.

*  If you are really stuck for wrapping paper,  use birthday wrapping paper and turn it inside out.  On Christmas morning when the paper is being ripped off,  no one will notice.

Christmas Crafts

*  If your old Christmas card looks amazing and too good to cut up,  consider framing it for a lovely present or to decorate your home.

*  If the image on the card is square or oblong,  cut it out,  put a layer of contact paper over the top and stick it to a jar of homemade goodies.

*  Make Christmas decorations by cutting out a shape from the card and threading a ribbon.  Tie the ribbon into a loop then hang on your tree.

Here are a few links to websites with more craft ideas

Gift tags made from old Christmas cards

Cardboard gift tags.  Just change the theme to Christmas

Use this layout to decorate bags for Christmas

Cut up netting curtains as bows.

Saturday 25 November 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 25th November 2017

Only 31 more sleeps until Christmas.  The presents are all wrapped and under the tree.  Darren and I just need to finish making our Christmas cards which need a little decorating.  The calendar is starting to fill up with events and i'm surprisingly calm about it all.  Maybe it's the forward planning that's putting my mind at ease.

As you read this post today,  our church is holding it's big Community Day where we give out 200 food  hampers,  close to 1000 toys and offer a free sausage sizzle and rides to those in need.  Please pray for Darren today for strength, endurance and good health.  He works hard all year to get this event ready to bless others.

Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Sold three dozen eggs.

*  Picked lettuce from the garden for two meals.

*  Started picking Loganberries for the first time.  I'm not sure if we'll like eating them fresh so I've been freezing them to make jam.

*  Sold a few cards and gifts in my blog shop.

*  Gratefully received lots of bread bags.  These will be used to wrap food for the freezer and to use as bin liners.

*  Bought a few chocolate treats at half price for our Christmas stockings.

*  Bought kitchen scourers for $1.00 a packet in Bunnings.  They had a few shopping trolleys with bargains at the end of the aisles.

*  Darren redeemed our Velocity points for a $100 Myer gift card.

*  I won a set of reindeer biscuit / cookie cutters in a competition.  I'll post photos when they arrive in the mail.

*  Made two sets of angels and wreaths for a customer order.

*  Combined a few errands in one trip to save on petrol which is very expensive at the moment.

*  Saved the shower warm up water and poured some on our hydrangeas bushes.  The rest of the saved  water was poured into the washing machine.

*  Recycled a few gift bags,  tissue paper and shoe boxes found in one of my daughter's room.

*  Received a voucher for a free sub meal at Subway.

*  Went to DFO Moorabbin with a group of friends to visit the Kaisercraft store ( card making supplies ) .  I used a gift card Jessica gave me for my birthday to buy heavily discounted supplies.  I also purchased a gift for my 2019 present list that was well under budget.

*  Turned standby lights off where possible.  Applied the two light rule most of the time.  Saved the washing machine rinse water for each next load.

Angel decorations for a customer order

Feijoa flowers



Mango tree in flower with little mangoes growing

Please visit my blog shop for teacher presents,  Kris Kringle presents or handmade greeting cards and gift card holders.  All are uniquely made and sure to delight your friends and family.

Magnetic pegs

Gift card holder

Hand towel and face washer set

Christmas tree decorations.

What was on your frugal list for the week ?


Wednesday 22 November 2017

Planning For Christmas

At the Gower Abundant Cottage,  we love Christmas.  We love the tree,  the decorations,  the present wrapping and giving,  the food,  the carol singing but most of all,  taking time to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

None of these things happen by chance.  I'm not a last minute,  wrap the presents and plan the menu on Christmas Eve type of person.  Christmas Eve is when I sit back,  relax,  watch the Carols by Candlelight or maybe even walk to the Carols celebration nearby.  Infact,  most of December I sit back  relax and watch people go crazy trying to get everything organised.

As you know,  I'm a list writer and planner.  I shop all year round to make the most of the sales and to help keep my gift giving budget under control.

If you haven't started any Christmas planning,  now is the time to get moving.  Here's how to plan your Christmas celebrations

Presents -

*  Make a list of everyone you are buying for.
*  Set a dollar amount per person.
*  Review your list and cut back
*  Write down gift ideas for each person
*  Put the list in your purse / wallet
*  Start shopping now and look for ways to save a few dollars.
*  Make any presents you can
*  Make biscuit / cookie dough now and freeze into log sizes for future baking to give as presents.
*  Sew,  knit,  crochet or make presents when you get a few spare moments.
*  Check your wrapping paper,  gift tag and sticky tape supplies and buy what's needed
*  Wrap as you buy and put straight under the tree ( or hide them if needed )
*  Keep all receipts in a marked envelope in case of future returns.

Christmas Cards -

*  Write a list of people you'd like to give a card to.
*  Write a list of cards to be sent
*  Make or buy your cards
*  Buy the postage stamps to send the cards.
*  Write a few each night as you are watching tv.
*  Send any overseas cards by early December.

Christmas Menu -

*  Write a list of how many people might be coming.
*  Write out a menu for lunch and dinner that caters for the numbers coming.
*  Cut back a little on the food.  There's always too many leftovers
*  Ask family and friends to help out with the catering by bringing a plate.
*  Write a list for Christmas Eve treats and Boxing Day grazing
*  Start buying the meat ahead of time to freeze
*  Watch the supermarket catalogues for sale items especially snacks
*  Clean out your fridge

Christmas Decorating -

*  Dig out the Christmas tree and check for damage / wear.  Buy a new one NOW if needed.
*  Check your decorations.  Do you need to update or buy new ones ?
*  Decide on a color scheme.
*  Decide how you'll decorate your tables.  Have a look at what you already have on hand and use that first.
*  Wash the table cloths ready for use.  Do your table runners need a wash ?
*  Buy candles,  serviettes, cutlery,  paper plates and bon bons.
*  Check your extra tables / trestle tables for damage.  Do you need to buy a new one.  Give them a wipe over.
*  Declutter your home.

Color schemes for the tree

Table decorations using what I already had

Leftover decorations make great table displays

Decorating the house

Christmas Eve platter

Making my own gift tags.

Here are the links to other Christmas articles I've written

Are your Christmas plans under control ?

Saturday 18 November 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 18th November 2017

My frugal list is very much on the slim side this week.  Both Darren and I have been busy with work and getting ready for our church's community day coming up.  We've packed 200 hampers and sorted out 500+ toys with a team of helpers.  Here's what else we managed to do -

*  Jessica made icy poles with some leftover juice.  She even diluted the juice due to it's strong flavour.

*  Fixed a necklace that was coming apart.

*  Used the trigger nozzle on the hose to water only the base of the veggie plants

*  Picked silverbeet for a meal.

*  Made a tuna pasta bake and froze the leftovers.  Megan also took some to work for lunch.

*  Picked lettuce for two meals when it was hot.  The lettuce grew to just the right size for picking this week.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Collected small pieces of tissue paper that were between each recyclable bag we are using for hampers at church. 

* Darren filled up both our cars just as the price of petrol went up.  He got it for $1.22 per litre while other petrol stations went up to $1.49 per litre.

*  Donated more items to Savers op shop and received a discount stamp.  While I was there I had a quick look around and found a present for Darren.  It looks new too.  I can't say what it is because he reads my blog.

Letting the bread dough rise.

Cos lettuce in the garden.

Raspberries growing each day.

Silverbeet from our garden

Our Christmas tree this year.

Darren picked the " trendy " colors

Did you have a busy week ?  Did you get some frugal tasks completed ?

Thursday 16 November 2017

A Handmade Christmas

If your Christmas present budget is looking a little on the slim side,  no need to stress.  There are so many presents you can make for just a few dollars that look amazing and will be so well received.  I just love a handmade gift knowing the giver has spent time and effort to make something special.

Here are some ideas using what you might already have on hand.  Click on the purple writing to take you to the instructions / recipe on my blog.

Glass jars / bottles 

*  Fill with hot chocolate drink mix.
*  Make some jam
*  Make relish
*  Fill with homemade biscuits
*  Fill with chocolate truffles
*  Fill with handmade bath bombs
*  Make your own bath salts
*  Sewing kit with pin cushion on top
*  Biscuit mix
*  Iced coffee / chocolate syrup


*  Bbq apron for men
*  Kitchen apron for females ( or vice versa )
*  Child's handbag
*  Coin purse
*  Diary cover
*  A patchwork throw
*  A cushion
*  Coasters
*  Heat pack
*  Bow tie
*  Head band
*  Glasses case
*  Pot holder
*  Dress up skirt or veil
*  Nappy bag
*  Toy bag
*  Door stop
*  Door snake
*  Hankies

Timber off cuts

*  Make a timber planter
*  Make a spice rack
*  Chopping board
*  Tic Tac Toe game
*  Timber block calendar
*  Soap dish
*  Coasters
*  Bird feeder
*  Children's building blocks
*  House plaque

Plastic containers

*  First aid kit
Fruit crumble topping mix
*  White sauce bulk mix
*  Fill with biscuits 

Paper / Cardboard

Gift tags
Greeting cards
*  Bookmarks
*  Cover a diary or notebook
*  Lolly bags
*  Gift boxes


*  Air freshener
*  Handmade soaps.

Handmade gifts can look really elegant if some time and effort is put into the wrapping and presentation.  Dig into your ribbon bag and start using up those scraps.  Maybe you could make over a department store bag and decorate it with a strip of wrapping paper.  Add a handmade gift tag and write " made with love "  Include some instructions for the present if needed.

Cellophane bags can be used to wrap your present.  They can be bought from discount shops for about $2 for 50.  They come in a range of sizes.  These are wonderful for biscuits,  pita chips and greeting cards.  Add a ribbon bow 

Here is another article I wrote a few years ago about creating your own mini economy.  It's a great way to keep some of your money in your home.

Handmade soaps.
Peanut butter choc chip biscuits

Lemon butter

Air freshener

ANZAC biscuits

Bath bombs

Tote bag

Assorted jams and relish

What will you be making this Christmas ?

Saturday 11 November 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 11th November 2017

So many frugal tasks have become a way of life for us.  We don't think twice about recycling everything  we can.  We don't think twice about making our own.  It's not always about the dollars saved.  Often we can make items better than what we can buy at the shops.  Most often,  making our own is better for our health.  Here's what we got up to this week -

*  Sold three dozen eggs.

*  Refilled all the foaming hand wash pumps with diluted shower gel.

*  Bought a pair of jeans and a new cardigan from the Savers 50% off sale on Monday for a total of $8.  The cardi was worth $30 ( it still had the price tag on ).

*  Darren converted more Flybuys points into another $10 on our card.  We are saving the money to buy groceries on holidays.

*  Stuck to the two light rule as much as possible.  There were times when we had one light or no lights on ( in front of the tv ).

*  Sold lots of muffins and a jar of jam to a cleaning client

*  Lined the bathroom bins with recycled bread bags.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and the shower warm up water.  Some was poured back into the machine and the rest was put on the garden.

*  Picked lettuce from our garden for dinner one night.

*  Made a Santa sack for Jessica's boyfriend out of Christmas material I already had on hand.

*  Fed a silverbeet plant to the chickens.  It had started going to seed.

*  Put pumps back on my shampoo and conditioner. I've been buying shampoo without silicon and other nasties but I could only find it in small bottles that the pumps don't fit on.  Now this " healthier ' type of shampoo is available in other brands with bigger bottles that fit the pumps I have.  BONUS  !!

A grazing board Darren and I had for dinner on Tuesday

Bread bag bin liners

Home grown lettuce

Home grown eggs

Roses from the garden

Muffins to sell.

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Thursday 9 November 2017

Filling A Christmas Stocking

Everyone in our family loves to open their Christmas stocking on Christmas morning.  It's been a tradition for our girls since they were early primary school age.  In recent years I thought I'd fill one for Darren and I and it was such a success we continued the tradition.  Darren didn't want to miss out on all the fun.

Filling a stocking doesn't have to cost a small fortune.  If you buy what retailers call a " stocking filler " then you could be spending thousands.  Really,  an ipad or aftershave hardly qualifies as a stocking filler unless you are the rich or famous.

Depending on our budget for the year,  our stocking goodies cost between $30 - $50 for each stocking.  If our budget is $30 then we use smaller stockings so they still look full.  We don't fill them with rubbish and try to put some useful things in as well as novelty.  I shop all year round to get some things on clearance and wait until the supermarkets have their toiletries on half price sales.  $2 shops and discount stores sell an array of goodies suitable for filling the stocking.

Here are some ideas for filling your Christmas stockings -

Something to wear

*  Socks - plain or character
*  Tshirt ( they are so cheap now )
*  Thongs footwear
*  Hat - cap,  beanie or sun visor
*  Scarves - Winter / Football / Spring type
*  Necklace
*  Men's neck tie
*  Hankies
*  Apron - kitchen or bbq
*  Bangles / bracelets

Something to eat

*  Lollies
*  Chocolate
*  Favourite breakfast cereal.  Maybe treat them to a sugary one
*  Nuts
*  Chips
*  Biscuits - sweet or savoury.  Store bought or homemade
*  Icecream topping
*  Marinades,  bbq type sauces
*  Chocolate share bag
*  Lolly stocking


*  Shower gel
*  Razors
*  Fancy soaps
*  Shower puffs / scrubby
*  Makeup
*  Makeup remover wipes
*  Bubble bath
*  Bath bombs
*  Tissues in little packets
*  Deodorant
*  Mirror - on stand or compact
*  Hair ties - pretty or in school colors
*  Nail files
*  Makeup brushes
*  Toiletry bags
*  Hair brushes or combs
*  Hair clips
*  Hair gel or hair products
*  Fancy shampoo / conditioner
*  Shower cap

Fun stuff

*  Glow sticks
*  Address books or diaries
*  Calendar
*  Dvds
*  Travel mugs
*  Torch - regular size or travel
*  Magazines
*  Ice cube trays - novelty
*  Water bottles
*  Candles
*  Stationery - post it notes,  sticky tape and scissors ( if they pinch yours )
*  Lego - small box
*  Purse / Wallet
*  Key chains
*  Coffee cup
*  Phone charger / cord
*  Ear phones / head phones
*  Board games - full sized or travel
*  Slinkies
*  Cookie cutters
*  Garden hand tools
*  Veggie seeds
*  Craft items - for young and old
*  Bubbles
*  Tennis balls
*  Golf balls
*  Deck of cards

What do you like to put in your Christmas stockings ?  

Have you found something that worked really well ?     

Saturday 4 November 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 4th November 2017

This week has been a mixed bag of work,  keeping up with the housework,  Christmas present sorting ( and budget reviewing ) and moving food between our fridge and freezers ( see further down my list ).  Here's what else I got up to -

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness

*  Cleaned the dishwasher with bi carb,  vinegar and Miracle Spray

*  Jessica saved money by getting me to do a fancy hairdo for a ball  I'm no hairdresser but I think I did ok.

*  Megan dyed her hair at home and I gave her a haircut.

*  Darren picked a bunch of white roses from our garden to surprise me when I came home from a day of Christmas shopping.

*  Saved the shower warm up water.  Saved the washing machine rinse water for each next load.  Saved the drink bottle water in an icecream container and used it to rinse or soak dishes.

*  Hand washed the dinner dishes most nights.

*  Dried most of the washing on clothes horses   With the temperatures dropping to almost Winter temperatures,  some things had to be put in the dryer.  Heavy,  bulky items were hung on coat hanger and hung in the shower.  We have a ducted heating vent in both bathrooms so the doors get closed and the clothes dry within 24 hours.

*  Started saving old socks to cut up as garden ties.  We had to throw out our older stockpile when we found mice in my shed a few months ago

*  Unfortunately I had to throw out some food when our almost new fridge / freezer started playing up.  I did limit the damage by moving some food to our other two freezers.

*  Only bought milk this week.  We've been eating veggies from the freezer over the last few days. We lost most of our fresh fruit and veg with the fridge playing up so I'll do a top up next week.

*  Darren bought replacement ink cartridges for our laser printer.  Although they were expensive,  he did get a good deal saving over $50 per cartridge.

*  Kept the heater off most of the week which has been a challenge with the temperature drop.

*  Jessica saved $20 by handing over a newly signed up loyalty card when purchasing Darren's and my Christmas present.

Made pita chips for snacks.  We had to make room in the freezer with all the food shuffling so the pita bread had to come out and be used.

A lovely surprise from Jessica

Princess will sit anywhere

Jessica's hairdo for the Uni ball

Back view of Jessica's hair
Jessica and her boyfriend Eugene 

Some of my favourite books.

How did you save money this week ?