Mess Free Painting For Your Baby

mess free painting, activities to do with baby, 9 month baby activities

When our little man was sick not too long ago we spent a lot of quality time together. By the second day we were both going crazy from boredom. He was so use to be at his sitter’s house with other little kids and I was use to not being with him 24 hours a day. So we needed a plan. A distraction. I saw on Pinterest an image… and that’s all I needed. It’s title had me from the first glance “Mess Free Painting”  I was like the heavens opened up.  We had a painting party right in the middle of the kitchen floor.

It only lasted about 20 minutes, but it was enough distraction I needed to have my lunch finish cooking and him to pass enough time to eat again.

I found some construction paper in a closet, who knows how old it is, but it was there. I cut it into smaller pieces and put some old craft paint on it. Now here’s how you tell how old your craft paints are. When you open them and nothing but a clear liquid comes out then it may be time to toss them. Or when you shake them and only hear chunks moving around then it’s time to give in the towel and move on. So after a few tries we finally found three colors that were still good. White, yellow and teal. Not the best choices, but he’s 9 months old so it’s not like really cares. Then the construction paper choices weren’t any better either, red and blue. Oh well! We’re not going to be winning any awards today.

mess free painting, activities to do with baby, 9 month baby activities

mess free painting, activities to do with baby, 9 month baby activities

mess free painting, activities to do with baby, 9 month baby activities

So I put dots of paint on the paper and slid them into a gallon-size baggie. Sealed it up and laid them in front of our little man. He went to town. Smashing them, picking them up, throwing them and then trying to eat them. At that point I knew it was over.  Here’s a great tip though, that I almost found the hard way.  It’s called mess free painting because it’s all contained in the baggie.  So make sure your baggie is sealed all the way.  Also make sure your paper fits fully inside the baggie.  Mess free painting is all about being smart.  You may have to trim some paper off to fit inside your bag.  I used gallon sized bag and didn’t have to cut much off.

I took them out of the baggies and set on top of foil on our washing machine to dry. I chose foil because that’s all I had on hand. I chose the washing machine because I gave up the illusion of getting caught up on laundry earlier that day.

I had the pictures of him making his masterpieces printed. Then I sent one picture to my Mom, J’s Mom, my sister and J’s sister. I of course kept the best for myself and framed it for our wall.

This kid has skills!

mess free painting, activities to do with baby, 9 month baby activities

Then when the painting was finished, he discovered the bottom drawer which houses the plastic baggies.  And did he go to town!

Sleep Training Your Baby

sleep training your baby, getting your baby to sleep through the night

I hate that title. It sounds like I’m teaching our kid to do tricks. Next I’m going to tell him “good boy” for sitting on command. Ugh! But that’s what we’re working on… sleep training. Because God knows he needs his sleep and God also knows that his parents need their sleep too.

Baby Boy had been a pretty good sleeper since about 2 months. That’s when we bought the DockATot. I highly, highly recommend ordering yourself one if you have a little one on the way. These are the best! If you want to try one out, then you can use my referral code for $10 off. We transitioned him into his crib at around 5 months, we used the DockATot for the first few nights, but eventually we stopped using it since he was getting a little too big for it. And he was doing great. Asleep by 8:00 and minimal late nights and midnight feedings. Then it all went downhill… FAST!

Back in early December our little guy came down with a cold. I took him to the doctor where the RSV test and Flu test came back negative. Hallelujah! A week later I was back for his second round of the flu vaccine since he was feeling better. He was just a little trooper for Momma. Only a few tears and then he was back to his smiling self. Thank you!

The week before Christmas his fever spiked – like whoa! It hit 103.9 at around midnight. So the next morning I took him to the doctor, but this time we weren’t so lucky with his RSV test. It was positive. We loaded down with breathing treatments and this fancy machine with these tubes and cords that just scream “PULL AT ME!”

After 5 days of doing breathing treatments every 4 hours we were back in business. But not when it came to sleep. Since he was sick and the doctor said to listen for any labored breathing while he slept, which meant I didn’t sleep for 5 days and he slept in our room so I could hear, see and feel him next to me.

For one month we had been struggling getting him back in his crib and to sleep at a decent time. I’ve ready countless studies that all basically said a 9 month old should be getting over 13 hours of sleep between night and naps. Ugh! He wasn’t anywhere near that.

sleep training your baby, getting your baby to sleep through the night

I had it settled that on Sunday night he would be back in his crib. We were going to sleep train that beast! No, he’s not really a beast… but he can be when he’s tired, or hungry, or drops his toy and can’t reach it.

At 7:00 I would start getting him ready for bed. Bath, pajamas, big bottle and story time. Then it’s off to the crib for sleepy time. If he woke up, I would gently lay him back down and rub his back until he fell asleep again. No picking him for anything! Unless he peed through a diaper or couldn’t stop coughing because that meant projectile vomit coming.

Night 1: Sunday started at 7:00 took 2 hours and 5 minutes to get him to fall asleep. Then probably spent 15 minutes getting up 2-3 times through the night to rub his back. He woke up for the day at 7:10.

The first night was rough because he started crying. So I went back in and laid him back down (usually he would sit up or stand up) then rub his back while the dog continued to play music. When he was pretty much asleep I would sneak out of the room. Then if he woke up and cried more then I would go back.

Night 2: Monday started at 6:55 took 1 hour and 10 minutes for him to fall asleep. Then spent 20 minutes throughout the night by getting up 3-4 times. He woke up at 7:10 again this morning.

sleep training your baby, getting your baby to sleep through the night

Night 3: Tuesday night was rough. My parents watched him and it’s hard to get someone to follow your routine exactly, but I think he still did pretty good. I ended up sleeping on my parents’ couch so that I didn’t have to wake him up completely and ruin the whole evening. My parents put him down at 7:05 and it took him 30 minutes to fall asleep. Then about 10:00 he woke up and was awake for an hour and 20 minutes. He slept the rest of the night through until 8:10.

A little after 11:00 he woke up, sat up, whined and then when he didn’t see me or hear me, he laid himself back down and went right to sleep. So now I usually wait a minute or two before going into his room. He has sat up a few times, looked around and then laid back down.

Night 4: Wednesday night we started our routine at 7:20 and it took 30 minutes to fall asleep. Then we spent about 45 minutes with him until the night was a complete failure. I was exhausted from being home with a sick baby and not sleeping too great, so J watched him. Again, I really wanted to watch him the first week because I was following the same steps each time he woke up. It’s hard to get anyone else to do it the exact way you would. So after 45 minutes J couldn’t take it anymore and I was too tired to care so he came into our room. He slept great until 7:05 the next morning. J and I slept awful!

Night 5: Thursday night I was back on it! He was so tired so we started getting him ready at 7:00 and within 40 minutes he was out. Then I spent about 10 minutes rubbing his back, but this time I only had to get up one time. He woke up at 6:55 that morning.

Night 6: Friday night he was falling asleep playing so we started our routine at about 6:50 and it took only 20 minutes for him to be out. Then I got up once to lay him back down and rub his back for about 5 minutes. He woke up at 6:25.

Night 7: Saturday was the best night yet. He was struggling to stay awake since he didn’t have a good nap all day. We started getting him ready for bed around 6:45 and within 40 minutes he was passed out. At around 10:00 he woke up, sat up and started to cry. So I walked in his room, laid him back down and he was out cold. He woke up at 6:30 the next morning, which was too early for J and I. So we laid around and he eventually fell back asleep at around 7:30 for another hour! Yes!

Here’s our nightly routine in case you are wondering.

7:00 – bath, if needed
7:10 – pajamas
7:15 – bottle, 8 oz.
7:15 – rock in a chair in his room while reading a story

As soon as he finishes the bottle he is usually pretty out of it. So I lay him down in his crib, he’s not fully asleep at this point. He has a stuffed dog that plays lullabies for 15 minutes, I turn that on and turn off the lamp. I walk out and shut the door behind me. The time I counted above includes everything. The time it takes to give him a bath, finish a bottle and fall asleep.

I also use a CloudPet that we received. It connects to my phone over bluetooth. So if he’s still moving around a lot and the dog has stopped playing music, I can stand outside his door and start playing music through the CloudPet. That way he will fall back asleep and I don’t have to disturb him.

J and I have been talking about getting a white noise machine so he doesn’t have to rely on music or specific sounds to fall asleep to. I have it ordered from Amazon and am just waiting for it to come.

Before J and I go to bed, I crack open his door, but don’t turn on any lights.

I could end this post here and let you believe that all is good. The little guy is sleep trained and it takes less and less time to get him to fall asleep each night, but that would be a LIE. And I’m not about telling lies here. I want to tell the truth… so let’s go ahead and talk about night 8. Night 8 was rough. We stayed in all day Sunday since he was still fighting his sickness and we were now coming down with it. His feeding was all off and his naps were all over the place. During his 4:00 bottle, he fell asleep in his Dad’s arms. I wasn’t paying attention (dang movie!) and didn’t notice. An hour passes and I made a comment about how tonight was going to be rough with him napping so late. J thought that meant to wake him.

WHAT?!

Yeah, he woke him up. He was mad. He was also hungry. He had a small bottle at 5:00 and then we played. He acted tired at about 7:00 so we went ahead with our normal routine. But he wasn’t tired. He wasn’t hungry. He wanted to play. It took us close to 2 hours to get him to settle down and sleep. Then he woke up at midnight, and that took about 5 minutes to get him to go back down. Then at 4:30 he woke wide up and it was about 30 minutes until he fell back asleep. He was finally awake for the day at 7:15.

DIY Valentine’s Day Printables

diy valentine's day printable, valentine's day freebie, valentine's day card, diy valentine's day card

J and I’s first Valentine’s Day was so special. We had already been dating close to a year at that point and had just gotten engaged a few weeks before. So we wanted to do something that would mean a lot, but also something that was very much ‘us.’

J knows my love of sushi and took me to one of my all-time favorite restaurants. Of course it was packed full of these lovey-dovey couples. We ordered too much food, had a few drinks and we talked for hours. It was amazing. We talked about our future and the dreams we had.

Now fast forward to our 5th Valentine’s Day together. Things have changed. No more expensive sushi dinners. It’s a night for dinner in, a sweet card, and spending time together.  It’s crazy to think about what we talked about that first Valentine’s Day.  We had no idea what our future would hold, and now here we are celebrating our little guy’s first Valentine’s Day. I know he won’t remember this holiday, but I will and that means something.

While growing up my Dad always sent my sister and I our own Valentine. When we were younger he would have our gift sent to ours school for a special delivery. It was amazing having big balloons delivered where everyone saw. I felt so much pride carrying that balloon home on the bus and walking down our street with it. I know I had a huge smile on my face.  I felt so special!

Then as my sister and I got older our Dad would have packages delivered at our sorority house, our apartments and our work. It was nice knowing that my first Valentine was my Dad. He never forgot.

Now that I have a little boy I want to do the same for him. I want to teach him what it means to love someone. That it’s important to remember those that you care about.

Being his first Valentine’s Day means I have to start off a new tradition. I don’t have to go overboard and blow my budget, but I have to take time to do something that’s just for us.

This year, I’m making a sweet picture of him on his first Valentine’s Day.  I plan on hanging it up in my office as a sweet reminder.  

Okay, Okay, I know this isn’t really a gift for him….. but it’s a memory I can give to him when he’s older.

However, I wanted him to have something to give out so I created two DIY Valentine’s Day printables.  

diy valentine's day printable, valentine's day freebie, valentine's day card, diy valentine's day card

If you’re little one is older or goes to daycare then this little gift will be great!  Our little guy goes to a sitter during the day.  He has made fast friends with the other kids she watches, so we wanted to do something nice for them.  I’m having a little card printed and will pair it with some candy.  It doesn’t have to be much, but it’s the thought that counts.  I got a little card-making-frenzy and made a second card to hand out to friends and family.  I’m telling you these DIY Valentine’s Day printables took me less than 10 minutes to make then I emailed them to my local print shop.  I didn’t need a lot and since they are not very big they were able to print more than one on a page.  You can have the print shop cut them or if you want to save a little bit of money, you can cut them yourselves.  I think cutting is around $1 for this few pieces.

diy valentine's day printable, valentine's day freebie, valentine's day card, diy valentine's day card

You can download the bee printable here.

I also created a second card to pass out to family.  I used canva to create both cards and it took no time at all.  I wanted to keep some space at the bottom to tape a little baggie of candy to.

diy valentine's day printable, valentine's day freebie, valentine's day card, diy valentine's day card

Download the puppy printable here.

When Your Little One Gets Sick

tips for when baby gets sick, mom tips

There is nothing worse then when your sweet, smiling little one gets sick. You would do anything to take away their pain and sickness. I know I would gladly take their fever or their earache so he wouldn’t have to feel the pain.

Last week our little man ended up with a cold that led to a double ear infection. Mix in some teething and we were in for an amazing week! Can you detect my sarcasm? I am so fortunate that my job is flexible. I can stay home with him if needed or I can take him to work with me on the days I need to be in the office. I’m lucky. Not every Mom or Dad gets to do that.

tips for when baby gets sick, mom tips

dog lounging, motherhood 

But when you’re not used to staying home day after day then by the end of the week you feel like you got punched in the gut a few times. I was exhausted. I had tried hard to keep the house clean, the dogs were getting too spoiled with having me home all day – meaning they wanted outside every 20 minutes to sniff around and bark into thin air. Not to mention there is only so many times you can hear Daniel Tiger’s theme song before you want to scream fast first into a pillow!

 One of the best tips I found online was a way to track our Baby Boy’s medications.  You think once in the morning and once in the evening would be easy to remember, but it’s not.  Especially when you have two adults trying to help and a dog that is on daily medications as well.  Some days J has time in the mornings and sometimes he doesn’t.  Instead of just having to rely on one another or call each other with “did you give the dog his meds?  what about the baby? did you feed the dogs?”  It’s too much.  I quickly grabbed a Sharpie and drew two sections – AM and PM.   Then drew lines going across so there would be one box for each day.  Now if you give him the medicine, just mark it off. Problem solved!  I love Pinterest!

tips for when baby gets sick, mom tips

I also found a few baby-friendly activities that we did together.  First, we played with our Tupperware.  We pounded it together, we threw it around and it was the best!  When that fun wore off I jumped onto the next activity.  Mess free painting.  Again, that was another win but it didn’t last long.  Why can’t this boy of mine have a longer attention span!?  Finally, I discovered his love of the dogs’ water bowl.  He’d race to it as fast as he could and I would jump up and tell him no.  We would go back and forth until I finally barricaded him in using the excersaucer and bouncer.  He wasn’t happy and tried to climb through the walker to get to it.  

There is nothing worse then when your little one gets sick.  Am I right?

By Saturday morning our little guy was feeling so much better. But of course J and I woke up feeling awful. Great! You know, I said I would take his sickness from him? Well that didn’t mean when he was finally getting over it. I didn’t want him to suffer at all. Now I have (an almost) well kid that wants to play and two parents who feel like crap.

Awesome!

Let’s hope these meds kick in fast because I can hear him in the kitchen knocking over the trash can with his walker as I type this. Cheers to the weekend!

2017 February’s Focus on Finances

focus on finances month, finances, money help

Last year my Focus on Finances was a huge hit in February so I decided to bring it back.

I love alliteration – February’s Focus on Finances. It’s hard not to bring something back that just sounds good. So here we are. New year, same focus on a much needed area.  During last year’s focus my sights were a lot less than last year, but since I achieved my goal I figured I needed to make it harder.

Last year I was pregnant and had no idea our little guy would only be staying in 11 more weeks. I was so happy that I took time to really focus on our money to help prepare for the baby. I actually share how we were financially preparing for baby awhile back. But all of the focus really helped us with his early arrival.

I know, I know this picture doesn’t really have anything to do with focusing on your finances.  But you just have to love a boy on his brand new trike.  Look at that face!  I want to give our kid so much more than I ever had.. and I had it pretty darn good!  So by buckling down and working on our money situation now then J and I will be able to do so much for our son.  So maybe this picture does have something to do about getting your money right… maybe it was my secret plan to tie a seemingly unrelated photo back to the topic… or maybe I just wanted to include a picture of our son and somehow managed to connect it all.  Who knows…

This year there is no baby coming, but we do have a quite a bit of fun we’re planning for. My biggest is our little guy’s first birthday in April, a trip across the state to visit one of my best friends, a work-trip to Vegas (bummer I know!) and so much more.

One of my main goals for this year was to not stress over money. I know it’s easier said than done… but I am making a sincere effort. The main goal of February’s Focus on Finances is to pick a few money areas that need work.

This year it’s about our emergency fund. I want to build it up a bit more. It’s nice to start with $1,000 as a minimum, but once you hit that and have some debt paid off it’s time to build it more. So now my goal is to have enough for each of our medical insurance deductibles, which would be $3,000.

I started the 52 week savings challenge in January and it has been a big help on keeping me from impulse shopping. A dollar here and a few dollars there can really add up. This month I’m going to be adding an additional savings challenge so we can build our emergency fund. I don’t know if I’ll hit my goal of $3,000 but I’m sure going to try!

What part of focus on finances are you going to work on? There are some many money areas to pick from. And honestly you can pick more than one. Just don’t spread yourself too thin and get overwhelmed. Remember you control your money, it doesn’t control you!

You can set a debt pay off goal
You can reach towards that $1,000 in your emergency fund
Start saving for next year’s real and personal property taxes
Start your IRA
Create a college fund for your little one’s future

Whatever you choose, stick with it. February is a short month and it will be over before you know it!

Want more money tips? Check them out!

9 Months Old

Sunday is a big day in our house. Our little guy is turning 9 months old. Nine Months…

Where has the time gone?!

Every day he is learning something new and showing more of his personality. He’s stubborn like his Mom, loves laughing at Dad’s weird noises, hates waking up too early like Mom and is a heavy sleeper like his Dad.

He still looks incredibly like J, but every once in awhile I can see a little bit of me sticking out. But then it fades away and he goes back to look just like his Daddy.

9 months, baby boy, 9 month baby 9 months, baby boy, 9 month baby

He’s inquisitive and mischievous. Always into something and never wanting to sit still.

He’s been crawling everywhere and pulling himself up whenever one of us is near (darn slick floors… he’s fallen a few times and has quickly learned to have one of us around). He constantly says “Daddy” and every once in awhile he sneaks a “Momma” in to melt my heart.

He loves most foods, except peas and meats. Which we are still working on. He thinks it’s fun to drink out of his sippy cup and prefers to feed himself the bottle, but ends up playing with it more than eating.

He’s my everything.

My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

Can you believe 2017 is here? I seriously feel like I just rang in 2016 and now here we are a year later. I never understood when my parents or other adults said that time just seemed to speed by. “In a blink of an eye.”

In school time just felt like it was dragging on. I couldn’t wait to be graduated, working a job, having my own home, etc. I just couldn’t wait to be an adult. Now here I am. 30 years old and time is flying.

It’s hard to imagine our little guy turning ONE in just 4 short months. It’s crazy to think we will be living in my hometown for 3 years this summer or how J and I will be celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary this fall.

Life does really fly by. I don’t know what’s changed since school. Maybe I’m busier, maybe I have more commitments then I used to. Or maybe… just maybe I can’t keep up like I did when I was 20.

I am so thankful that I didn’t have a ton of responsibilities at such a young age because I just don’t think I was mature enough. But I can tell you having a baby at 30 isn’t easy. It’s so much harder to pull an up-all-nighter or to go with very little sleep.

Well.. that’s enough about getting older and time just passing quickly. This post is all about the New Year. So alright, we’re starting 2017 off right. I’ve jotted down my top resolutions for this next year.

I’ve never been crazy about using the word “resolutions.” It just seems negative.  Something about saying my 2017 new year’s resolutions just seems like I’m in trouble.

Like I resolve to stop this bad habit.

I want to be more positive. I’ve never really liked calling them resolutions.  Even last year I called them my goals.  

I’m continuing with that and I am making my 2017 list all about goals. I want to continue striving and working towards something that will benefit me and my family.

So here it is… my 2017 Goals:

new year resolutions, new year goals, 2017 resolutions, 2017 goals, family goals, family resolutions

I started looking back at my goals since I started sharing them on here.  It’s crazy to see what’s changed and how I’ve grown over the years.  One thing is certain – my new year goals are getting simpler.  No more crazy lists, crazy achievements that I know will be difficult to attain.  I’m pushing myself, but only in the areas that are most important.  I’m keeping my goals broad so I know when I’ve achieved it in my heart and not on paper.  

Here are my previous goals:

2014 goals

2015 goals

2016 goals

No matter if you call them your 2017 New Year’s resolutions or your new year goals, either way it’s time to kick butt.  

52 Week Savings Challenge

52 week savings challenge

Can you believe 2016 is over? I mean, seriously that year flew by! So many changes happened in our household that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Of course, I remember the big one – you know, having a baby. That was probably the most important part of 2016 for our family.

However, we had a lot going on. We had to remodel the house a bit to make room for the baby. I kept working towards my CFP designation and am one step closer to being a Certified Financial Planner (yay!) and I survived another #taxseason without killing anyone.

We traveled a lot and just had an amazing year. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us. With all of the surprises and planned expenses last year, we decided to kick off the new year with a bang! We’re setting an additional savings goal on top of our budgeted one.

What?!

Yep, that’s right!

We plan on starting a 52 Week Savings Challenge on top of what we’re already putting aside each month.

We looked at our budget and decided with all of the highs and lows of last year, it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra $1,300 in savings for those unexpected needs. So instead of increasing our savings goal, we chose to go a fun-route.

Yes, savings can be fun!

We created an easy-to-follow 52 Week Savings Challenge. It’s easy to follow and you can really tackle it any way you want.

Here’s the gist of the savings challenge:

Start off with saving $1 the first week, then add $1 every week to you new goal. Here’s what it looks like for the whole year:

week 1 – $1, total of $1
week 2 – $2, total of $3
week 3 – $3, total of $6


week 52 – $52, total of $1,378

52 week savings challenge image

I created an easy PDF for you to download to keep track. You can download this free printable here.

Here’s another way to tackle this new 52 week savings challenge:

You can start with week 52 and work your way backwards. That way you’re starting with savings $52, $51, $50 and so on now then when it’s closer to the holidays your savings would be less than $10 a week. It’s up to you.

Just decide which way is best for your family to follow and then get started. The biggest thing is to start now and keep going with it.

Don’t give up!

You can have an extra $1,378 saved by the end of this year. That’s quite a bit for only a few dollars each month. We plan on finding the extra money by cutting out our eating out. We’ve been watching what we’ve been spending for awhile now. By following our easier cash envelope system, we will be able to easily find the extra dollars each week to add up.

What are you going to do with this extra savings at the end of the year? It’s going to be good to use towards Christmas gifts or you can add it to your emergency fund or even debt! Whatever you want to do with it, it’s up to you!

Just think, $1,378 can be yours by saving a few dollars each month for the next 12 months. So easy!

Giving Thanks

I wanted to do a post all about giving thanks this year.  

Let’s be honest… this year I have so much to be thankful for.  It’s hard to even think of every great thing that has happened in 2016! I wanted to take time to give thanks to those that have made this year truly special.  First up…

 

My Son

thankful for

baby in hat, giving thanks

I also have this little guy to be eternally grateful for.  I seriously can’t imagine my life without him and have no idea how I survived for so long before him.  He makes every day happier.  I am always on my toes trying to figure out what to do.  Am I doing enough? Is he happy? 

Husband

screenshot_20161001-085541

Then there is J, my rock.  He is the best husband and dad I could of pictured.  Maybe even better then my wildest dreams!  Watching him with our son makes me fall in love with him more each day.  One of the biggest reasons I fell in love with him many years ago is that he wouldn’t let me walk all over him (I know sounds crazy, but it’s true.  Ready about it here.).  And I’m happy to say that even today, he will still .d.fd.fafdakjfkad

Family

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My family means the world to me.  When I was struggling with be a first-time mom, recovering from major surgery and balance my career on top of it all I had a realization of just how lucky I am.  My family and J’s family are there for me no matter what.  It was so great to have people that care about me, J and our son.  They took time off work, they make time for us and it’s amazing.  I am so happy to have these people not only in my life, but in my son’s too.

Career

I have found a career that I am truly passionate about.  I have this desire to learn and help others, this career path I’m on gives me the opportunity to do that every single day.  I work with incredible people that foster an environment to reach the same goals I have.  I’m continuing to pursue my Certified Financial Planner designation and once I have earned that certificate then I will continue on to earn the Certified Public Accountant designation.  It’s going to be a long, hard process, but I am excited.  I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for me.  

You

I have to thank every single one of you! You have helped me reach new goals with this blog of mine.  It’s grown and grown over the past year.  I know it’s because you have found something of value and decided to share my posts with others.  Thank you!

 

Friends

Last, but certainly not least I have to mention my friends.  As I get older I have learned that my Mom was right many years ago.  She said you will have different friends for different phases in your life.  And if you’re lucky, a few of them will float with you through every phase.  I have a handful of amazing people that I have kept in contact with since high school and college.  To me these (mostly) women have helped shape me into who I am.  They call me out on my B.S., they are there for me anytime I need them and I am there for them.  They are my anchors.  

Stocking Stuffers That Won’t Break the Bank

Stocking Stuffers that won't break the bank

It’s that time of year again. It seems to come so fast and without warning. I mean, you think Thanksgiving would be a fair warning, but it never is. Last year I did so good shopping for Christmas presents for our family and friends on a budget. I decided this year to do it again. I’m going to stick to last year’s plan, which you can read about here. I was really able to come in golden on our holiday spending. All it took was a little planning and a little Black Friday shopping.

This year with it being the baby’s first Christmas and all, we’re going to break out the stockings. Nothing too crazy because the baby isn’t even a year old yet. I’m not that mom… yet!

Every other year we switch holidays with my family and J’s family. This year is time for Christmas with my family. My Mom always goes above and beyond on stocking stuffers every year. Most of the time the items are too big to fit in the actual stocking, so we each just get a spot on the couch and out stocking is laid on top of everything.

When it’s our turn to be with my family I usually like to help my Dad out by getting stocking stuffers for my Mom. Let’s be honest, he’s not the best at what to get her and never knows if he has enough or too little. So my sister and I usually tag team it and take care of it for him.

This year, I wanted to get some awesome stocking stuffers that won’t the bank. So I’m doing what I do best… coming up with a plan!

The best plan is to be thinking ahead all year long. Whenever you’re out and spot something for a good deal (like a really, really good deal) then go ahead and buy it. But for me that’s hard. If I buy too early then I have to find a place to store the items and actually remember where they are before Christmas. That doesn’t happen too well in my house.

So I like to hit up a few key stores to get some good deals on stocking stuffers.

Dollar Stores

You can get some really great pieces for only $1. You can be creative and think outside the box at these type of stores.

For little ones look for toys and games – chalk, bubbles, little figurines. Let’s face it kids are rough on toys and there are probably some really great items under the tree so stocking stuffers don’t have to be anything too expensive.

For adults you can find some items that are sure to catch your eye. For women I usually go to the nail care aisle. I can grab some nail files and little mani/pedi kit. They also have some cute coffee mugs that make great stuffers. For the men in your life most dollar stores sell car cleaning pieces. They aren’t the highest quality, but the rags and sponges work just fine.

Big Lots

In our small(ish) town Big Lots is the place. You can find just about anything at Big Lots. I like to grab favorite candy and throw that in the stockings. Sometimes you can get lucky and find name brand items that are really discounted. So again, be creative and you can find some great stuffers.

Target $1 Bins

This is another favorite. Those bins are magical! You never know what they are going to have and some of those pieces are really neat. You can find great stuffers for any age.

I’m a huge fan of notepads. I know my Mom likes them to make lists on them and most people can always find a need for a notepad and pen set. You can sometimes find some great kitchen utensils too that are colorful. Those make great stocking stuffers!

Amazon Add-Ons

I use Amazon a lot for our dogs. Yes, I buy stocking stuffers for our dogs because I’m that lady. I’m okay with it too! I like to shop on Amazon for some of our household items. Amazon has really inexpensive add-on items. I like to go through their dog toy sections to find some good quality, inexpensive toys.

I also use the Amazon add-on feature for smaller gifts for friends, co-workers and even my family’s pets.

Christmas Clearance

If you are someone that can buy in advance and then not lose your stocking stuffers, I would recommend stocking up during Christmas Clearance. You can find some great deals at some really great prices. You just have to remember where you store everything before next Christmas!

You can find some great quality pieces at Wal-Mart, Target and even department stores like DIllard’s and Macy’s. You just have to keep your eyes peeled.

Words of Advice: Just because something is inexpensive doesn’t mean it would make a great stocking stuffer. Really think about whether or not you want to gift the item. I like to think about each person I’m buying for – what they like, their hobbies, etc and then try to find stocking stuffers that fit them. I’m also a stickler for quality. Just because something is only $1 doesn’t mean it’s worth $1.

Handmade Items

If you’re feeling crafty then you could always make stocking stuffers.  I did a small gift exchange with my cousins a few years back where each gift had to be under $3.  So I crafted a DIY ornament.  They turned out great.

So what are your go-to stocking stuffers that won’t break the bank?