Somebody’s Gonna Be Offended

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And I apologize.

I love parties.  I like to take as many occasions as I can, and invite people over to celebrate.  Fakesgiving?  We’re throwing a party.  Christmas?  We’re having a party.  All the laundry in the house is done?  We’ll be throwing a party (when it happens).

When I throw a party, I don’t expect people to bring gifts – but more than that, I would never ASK someone for a gift.  Even if the event is one you would typically expect to bring a gift for, just because I have invited you to celebrate with us, please don’t think I have invited you because I want you to bring a gift.  I invited you because we love you, we enjoy your company, and we just think you’re special, damn it.

So when did it become socially correct to host a party for yourself and ASK people to bring you gifts?

Consider this invitation someone recently sent me:

Before this Miss Becomes a Mrs.

Come shower Me with Gifts and Your Best Wishes!

What?  You are throwing yourself a bridal shower AND you are telling me I have to come and bring presents?  I mean, I would, of course, but I am slightly ticked off that you (a) are hosting your own shower and (b) are not merely implying the obligation to bring a gift by discreetly slipping in your wedding registry information, you are telling me I HAVE to bring a gift.

Okay, so I’ve had friends who had a big hand in organizing their own showers – primarily because the actual host sought out assistance.  I think that’s fine – but mainly because there wasn’t a tacky poem insisting I bring gifts.  I’ve even had a friend tell me NOT to bring a shower gift for an event because I was helping out in other ways – but seriously?  I would have brought a gift anyway AND wanted to help, because I love this person to pieces.

I’m over it.  You do not get to organize your own party, demand people bring you gifts, and expect me to come with a smile on my face.

Oh – and while I’m pissing people off?  Have you had a baby shower for your first baby?  Is your second baby the same gender as the first?  Are there less than three years between said babies?  You don’t get another baby shower!

My apologies to those I’ve offended.  If you had sent me gifts before I blogged, I wouldn’t have said mean things.

Let’s Gossip – Should Kim Kardashian Keep Her Wedding Gifts?

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Awww, true love!  Remember that bazillion dollar wedding that took place not too long ago and lasted ten minutes?  It was between the bootylicious Kim Kardashian and that tall white guy.

Obviously, because the Kardashians only know people who are, like themselves, incredibly, filthy rich, there were some very generous wedding gifts offered to the beautiful bride and whatshisname.  I’m sure there were all the usual things – a crockpot, a toaster, a Mr. Coffee – you know, things that you would buy for the brides you know.  But is the former Mrs. I Needed the Money a Wedding Would Earn Me For My Reality Show entitled to keep the gifts?

According to the jilted jackass that married Kim Karda$hian, no.  He believes that since the marriage was a sham (which, of course, he had no knowledge of), she should return everything.

According to Emily Post, they get to keep the gifts.  Who would want Kim Kardashian’s used bath towels?  Her electric can opener?  The sterling silver toilet paper roll holder?

To soften the blow for all those poor suckers  generous loved ones who are out the big bucks they spent on the buy 1, get 1 for a penny JC Penney down pillows, Kim has donated TWICE the value of each gift to her favorite charity (stop it, those of you thinking it’s the other Kardashians!).  Not the gift giver’s favorite charity, mind you, but one near and dear to Kim herself.

I’m on the fence.  I kind of think if the wedding took place, she gets to keep the gifts.  At least the ones from her family and friends.  And Whatshisface should get the kitchen towel ensemble his family gave.  But, at the same time, I hate that she was able to pull off such a bogus wedding and benefit from it – although it’s not like she needed anyone to buy her anything.

What do you think?  Send them back?  Keep them?  Should the donation have gone to a different charity?

Talk amongst yourselves.

School Friends, Teachers, Tutors – and the Christmas Shopping List Grows Longer!

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With three daughters, all of whom have friends and teachers they like to give holiday gifts to, it seems that the holiday budget has to grow to nearly the size of the national debt in order for me to accommodate all the people on the list!  The kids also like to give a little something to the grandparents that’s just from them.  Add to that the people I always find at this time of year that I’d like to give a little something to – like the two girls who tutor me in chemistry and save my sanity.  And the guy who works the tutoring desk who asked me the other day if I knew the DMX song that was playing in the tutoring center (I did not) – he earned a spot on the list by insulting me when he said, “But you’d probably know it if it was Tony Bennett, right?”  He gets the burnt cookies.

But what is a mom with a budget tighter than that chunky monkey Santa’s squeeze down the chimney to do?

Let’s go to my old favorite standby – Oriental Trading.  The place has everything you could ever want to make your own inexpensive gifts!  Something cute I found that would be great for Grandmoms and teachers is this adorable gingerbread man necklace.  It’s festive for the holidays, and you can make 12 of them from one kit – that’s just over 50 cents each!  For the teacher, add a $5 Starbucks gift card, and she’ll have something handmade to help her remember your child for years to come, plus she gets a little treat while she’s out doing her own Christmas shopping!  You can find this and MANY more gift ideas at www.orientaltrading.com.

For your teenagers friends, think along the lines of something your own teen would like.  Perhaps have him/her choose a collection of songs they like and make each teen a CD that they’ll all enjoy listening to.  Teenagers also love photos of themselves with their friends, and you can find frames of all sizes and shapes at the dollar store.  Buy a simple frame, grab some wooden letters that spell out BFF at your craft store, have your teen paint them, then glue them to the front of the frame.  Print out your teen’s favorite picture with each friend to put in the frames, and viola – the perfect gift for around $2.50!

Younger kids get a kick out of snowman soup!  Again, hit up places like Oriental Trading or the dollar store, and find some inexpensive holiday themed mugs (Oriental Trading usually has plastic ones at $10 per dozen.  In each one, put a single packet of hot cocoa mix, a chocolate kiss or two, a candy cane, and a few marshmallows.  Wrap the whole thing in cellophane, and tag it with this little poem:

Snowman Soup
Was told you’ve been real good this year.
Always glad to hear it!
With freezing weather drawing near,
You’ll need to warm the spirit.
So here’s a little Snowman Soup
Complete with stirring stick.
Add hot water, sip it slow.
It’s sure to do the trick!


These also make great party favors for your holiday parties, and if you are going to make a bunch, skip the mug and put the ingredients in a holiday treat bag, twist tied at the top.  You eliminate the cost of the mug and save about .75 per gift!

Never underestimate the value of Christmas cookies and holiday fudge.  I know we all say a dozen times a year “If I eat one more Christmas cookie, I’m going to explode!”  But we usually say it as we are snagging another cookie.  What other time of the year are you going to have this many fabulous treats in front of you?  As someone who is lucky I don’t burn the slice and bake variety of cookies, homemade treats are one of my favorite gifts!

I hope this helps you save a little in your holiday budget for you to do something nice for yourself this Christmas season.  Splurge on some fuzzy slippers you can wear while sipping your snowman soup and noshing on those Christmas cookies.  You know you deserve it!.

 

 

 

Christmas – In Retrospect

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I took a lot of pictures this holiday season.  These and the blogs to follow highlight some of my favorites!

CHRISTMAS AT HOME – This actually was 12/18, the day before we left to spend the holidays in Florida – plus one bonus photo of lazy Granuaile being met at the car by her dad with a wagon so she didn’t have to walk up the driveway!

A Kid Wants a Kindle for Christmas

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Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.  ~Groucho Marx

I have a kid on my Christmas list who is an avid reader.  She wanders the house with her nose in a book from the time she wakes up until the time the batteries in her Itty Bitty Book Light burn out.  Sometimes, she is reading multiple books at the same time.  I know this because she leaves them all over my house.

With an order from the grandmother to purchase something for this child for Christmas, and a very generous budget with which I can shop, I started looking at eReaders.

The Kindle holds the current market lead, has a vast library of titles to choose from, and also works on multiple devices.  Kindle ebooks are purchased, and then used on whatever platform you have. Now that’s darn cool.

I think the biggest problem I am facing with the Kindle – and other eBook Readers – is that there seems to be a lack of quality books for tweens.  I had my own tween grab her Scholastic Book order form, which happened to come in today, and asked her to choose the books from the form that she wanted to order.  None of the books she chose are listed in the library of books to purchase for an eBook Reader.  Disappointing.

Does anyone want to chime in on an eBook reader for kids for Christmas?

Frugal Christmas Gifts – Perfect for Grandparents!

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With how scattered we tend to be, it isn’t the easiest thing to get everyone together for a family photo.  But there is probably nothing more your grandparents would like than a photo of all of their grandkids together.

But holy cow!  Have you seen how pricey those photo packages at the mall can be?  And then you have to get everyone dressed up, hair combed, shoes tied, dresses fluffed – it’s a pain in the butt, and the smiles you get aren’t going to be happy ones.

Thank goodness for your digital camera!  Pretty much everyone has one these days, and it doesn’t have to be a fancy one to get a good photo.  And dressing up?  Forget about it!  While I’m sure Grandmom loves to see the kids in their holiday finery, she loves seeing them on a day to day basis even more.  Put them all in jeans and a t-shirt from Grandpop’s favorite sports team.  Le tthem be comfortable and happy, and save the money on the fancy holiday clothes they are only going to wear once.If you want, include Grandmom or Grandpop in the photo.  That way, they can always look at the picture and see how happy their Grandchildren are to be around them, surrounded by the happiness that will make the fond memories of Grandmom they’ll have all of their lives.

You can find reasonably priced frames in virtually any store, from a mall department store to WalMart, so your whole gift can cost less than $25 when it’s finished.  It’s a great way to capture the happy faces the grandparents look forward to seeing, except there’s no clean up after they leave!

Frugal Christmas – What to Get Grandmom?

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You know Grandmom.  She’s the one person on your Christmas list you have no idea what to get.  She has everything, if she doesn’t have it, she doesn’t want it, and she’d probably rather see you spend the money on the grandkids than on her.  But you have to get her something – it’s Christmas!

Gone are the days of the Grandmoms who sat home, watching her stories, crocheting slippers.  Grandmoms now come from a generation of working women, and many of them work still.  They are more likely to be out and about, active in more organizations or hobbies, and not the type of sit at home, wait until family comes kind of grandmom.

I love the jar gifts for Grandmoms.  I know, you’re thinking they’re played out, no one uses them, and you don’t want to give an old idea new life.  But guess what?  On the days Grandmom heads out in the morning to play tennis, stops to have a coffee with her friends at Starbucks, puts an hour or two of time in with some volunteer work, and stops at the grocery store to pick stuff up for a weekend sleepover with the grandkids, she doesn’t feel like making a big dinner from scratch.  But as active and healthy as she is, you want to keep in mind that she is a senior citizen, and frozen foods loaded with fats and sodium aren’t good for her.

How awesome would it be for her to come home, dump out the jar of ingredients into a big pot, throw in some cubed meat or diced chicken she picked up at the grocery store, and let it simmer on the stove while she checks her email and catches up on Facebook?  Dinner in an hour, and she’s beaten your score on Bejeweled Blitz and harvested 800 crops on her Farmville farm while it cooked!

And when she has the kids over this weekend, it will be fun for Grandmom and the grandkids to whip up a batch of muffins or cookies, using the jar gift you gave her.  She doesn’t have to scramble to find the ingredients in the pantry, and she doesn’t have to buy a whole bag of brown sugar, which she won’t need again until it is petrified way beyond viability.  She and the kids just dump the ingredients into a mixing bowl, add some eggs or oil, and in a matter of minutes, Grandmom is the superstar of the weekend with fresh, hot, homemade cookies.  We’ll let Grandpop put the dishes in the dishwasher!

Food is always a great gift for an active senior – the easier, the better.  And if you can make it healthy by assembling it yourself, you’ve got an inexpensive winner of a holiday gift!

Frugal Christmas – A Gift For Your Favorite Traveler

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We’ve got rules now, people!  No longer can I pack up half of my bathroom – the soap, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, moisturizer and makeup – and pack it all into my carry on luggage to head off on vacation.  Everything has to be small – under three ounces – and it all has to fit in ONE zip top baggie.

If you’ve ever traveled – even just going away for a weekend once a year – you know that the smaller sizes of toiletries don’t last very long.  So if you have a traveler on your holiday gift list, this is the perfect gift for them!

You may collect the soaps and lotions that they give you for free at your hotel when you travel.  We did for a long time to send to my brother-in-law when he was in Iraq.  At one point, I ended up with some spares that weren’t really enough to send.  Wondering what I could do with the few extras I had, I decided to make a small gift for some friends I knew that would be headed to Disney World!  It was an almost entirely free gift, except for the Dollar Store makeup pouch I used as my “basket”, but you can recreate it very inexpensively even if you don’t have access to hotel freebies.

Head to your drug store, Target, or WalMart, and you are likely to find a small section where they sell small size toiletry items.  You’ll find toothpaste, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, shaving cream – pretty much anything you would need to take with you on vacation.  Many of these items are under $1.00 in price.  Theme your colors or your packaging to your traveler’s destination.  If you know they are going to Disney World, for example, pick up a red or black makeup pouch or a black Chinese take away container with some red tissue paper.  Is a tropical destination in the offing?  How about snagging some Garnier Fructis products, which are in lime green bottles, and nesting them in a small plastic basket in bright orange.

You can easily assemble a gift that is under $10 – even cheaper if you use your hotel freebies!  It’s useful, looks beautiful, and you can easily adapt it to an adult, a teenager, a child, or even a baby!

Christmas Gifts For Teachers – Inexpensive and Useful

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I have two daughters, and each daughter has two teachers (a teacher and an aide).  Each year, on a tight Christmas budget, I try to come up with something different but useful to give as a holiday gift for the teachers.

Since I have a 19 year old in addition to my 9 and 5 year olds, I know the drill when it comes to teacher gifts.  There are a lot of great gift ideas in the aisles of Target and WalMart that are inexpensive, lovely to look at, and things you think a teacher would use.  But in my mind, I think if I buy that awesome coffee set, the teacher will already have 9 other coffee mugs and she doesn’t drink coffee.  If I buy the bath set, she’ll have a house that only has a shower and skin allergies.  If I buy the candles, she’ll get 14 other candles that she’ll end up selling at a yard sale in the spring anyway.

I try to find something different.

This is going to be the first post among the Christmas gift ideas that will help you put together a nice, memorable gift – but memorable because it’s something a teacher can use!

This year, it’s Pasta Night baskets!  While browsing the aisles of my local Michael’s craft store, I found these items in their dollar clearance section.  The gift I’m making includes four pasta bowls, a bag of tri-color pasta, coasters, four placemats, and a set of paper napkin rings.  The items are going to be put into a colander that I found in the Dollar Store.  Viola!  Pasta Night gift basket for $12 per teacher!

Our Michael’s had a variety of four of five different patterns – we purchased the set above for the teacher, and the set below for the aides:

It provides a quick meal on a busy night during the holidays for the teacher, as well as a colorful gift for your child to give.  If you want to upsize, you can add some Italian seasonings, a garlic press, and a jar of good pasta sauce.  You can do the gift for under $10 if you eliminate the paper napkin rings, coasters, and the colander.

What a great holiday gift!