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  • "Scrapbook Shortcut"


    The June issue of Parents had a brilliant reader tip for non-scrapbookers who want a little bit more than an album filled with only pictures, or for those who simply don’t have time to scrapbook:

    I write down little things I want to remember on index cards that I decorate with stickers. Then, I put all my photos in inexpensive slide-in photo albums. I include a card every few pages as a way of telling the story behind the photos.

    You can make your notes fancier by printing them out in different fonts on the computer and using simple scrapbooking techniques by framing the notes, cutting out little shapes in the notes, etc. I also think this would be a fabulous gift for grandparents and great-grandparents – in fact, I think that’s what ours will be getting for the holidays this year!

    Make Great-Looking Gift Boxes out of Cereal Boxes


    I love saving money but I also love giving gifts, and there’s nothing I love more than taking a great gift that I got a great deal on and making it look even greater. These cool boxes look like they’ll fit the bill, especially with a pretty ribbon. Plus, I love the idea of recycling cereal boxes and helping the environment! (Especially since we go through a lot of cereal in our house these days.)

    Also via Craftzine.

    Holiday Gift Ideas – Part 2

    • Gift memberships are great gifts for families. As I’ve mentioned , I think the Los Angeles Zoo is a great deal for families with young children. There is also the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Families with older children might enjoy memberships to places like the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the newly reopened Griffith Observatory, or the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. If you don’t live in Los Angeles, check out the membership programs of similar places in your neighborhood.
    • Fan club memberships can be great gifts for fans of all things, and aren’t just kids. Membership to a sports team fan club often gives you freebies and discounts on tickets and merchandise. Memberships to other types of fan clubs also frequently come with exclusive access to newsletters, merchandise and similar items.
    • Magazine subscriptions can make nice gifts if you know what the recipient likes. For example, I really enjoy reading my monthly copy of Parents magazine, so I took advantage of a special offer to renew my own subscription for one year at the rate of $12 and give two “free” subscriptions to friends (I chose my two closest friends who also have toddlers). I’ve also given many subscriptions to my favorite magazine of all time, Cooking Light, in the past.

    The Joy of Giving


    Usually, when someone talks about the joy of giving, they’re referring to the joy of giving to the less fortunate, but in this case, I’m referring to the joy of giving to your loved ones. MBHunter’s comment about not going shopping at all on Black Friday reminded me of an entry I read on The Dollar Stretcher’s This Old Housewife blog. The November 11 entry is by a student who wrote about her lacks of wants, and said that one reason she doesn’t spend much money is that she doesn’t have friends. That made me feel sad.

    I love giving gifts. I shop all year round for gifts, and I have a couple of boxes in my closet where I stash gifts that I can give when the occasion arises. An “occasion” can be a birthday or a holiday, but it is also often just a token to say “thank you” or “I’m thinking of you.” Sometimes I give gifts to mere acquaintances just to say “I’m sorry you’re having a rough time.” The important thing here is that these gifts are budgeted for and relatively inexpensive, and I get to have fun hunting for great bargains. Most of all, they serve an important purpose: they give joy.

    Holiday Gift Ideas


    I know it’s only August, but my husband’s birthday is coming up and to me that signals the start of the end of the year. I like to plan ahead, so here are some thoughts on holiday gift ideas:

    • Gift baskets: I love gift baskets, and I love making them, too. One of my favorite ideas (although I’ve never made this particular one) is to take an empty bucket of popcorn (available at movie rental stores) and fill it with movies (or rental gift certificates), giant size candy, and popcorn. This would make such a great gift for a family.
    • Memberships: A family membership to the Los Angeles Zoo is $65, and includes unlimited admission for two adults, all of their children and/or grandchildren ages 2-17, and reciprocal admission to zoos and aquariums throughout the country. Memberships at museums work much the same way.
    • Cookies: Before I had a child, I often gave baked goods away at the holidays. (Now that my son is here, I don’t think I’ll be doing marathon baking sessions for at least a few years!) The wonderful thing about baked goodies is that almost everyone appreciates them and they don’t become clutter. I like to plan ahead, though, deciding what I’m going to make (chocolate lovers adore brownies), what doughs will freeze well so I can do that part well ahead of time, and how I’m going to package them. One year I made the mistake of presenting cookies in stacked origami boxes – it took me about a month to fold all of the boxes, and I promised myself I’d never do that again!

    I’ll have more suggestions in the near future!