Enjoy a Frugal Fun-filled Fourth of July

June 23, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Holiday Ideas · Comments Off on Enjoy a Frugal Fun-filled Fourth of July 

Looking for fun ideas to help you celebrate the Fourth of July? You don’t need to spend a fortune on fireworks and expensive decorations. Use your imagination and let these ideas jumpstart your own.

• Take in your city’s fireworks display. Most every city, and even the smallest town, typically offers a fireworks display on the Fourth. Rather than spend money on fireworks for home use, visit a local event and enjoy the show. If you don’t want to fight the crowds or get stuck in traffic when it’s over, park down the street at a church lot or store and watch from there.

• Have a cookout or barbecue. There’s a reason this old standby is still so popular – it’s a lot of fun! Play outdoor games like volleyball, Frisbee or even softball. Cook hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. Eat watermelon and have a blast! If you don’t have the yard space to host the event, go to a park. They’ll be packed so you’ll want to reserve space early or hope for the best, but it’s a great way to enjoy the day with family and friends.

• Fly your flag high! This is a great time to teach your kids about the American flag – what it means, how it came to be, and the guidelines about flying one (never let it touch the ground, burn it and buy a new one if it becomes tattered, never fly another flag above the US flag, etc.).

• Visit a local homeless shelter and take Fourth of July decorations, food and treats for the residents. You can do the same a nursing home or children’s home if there is one nearby.

• Spend the day on the lake, or if you don’t have water nearby, get out the hose and run through the sprinkler with the kids!

• Make a festive dessert and invite your neighbors over to share. Bake a simple white cake in a 13″ x 9″ pan. Frost with cool whip. Make “stripes” from sliced strawberries and use blueberries for the “stars” to make your own flag.

• Get out the ice cream freezer and make a batch of homemade ice cream. Grab a lawn chair and sit outside in the backyard until you eat every bite!

• Visit a local attraction that you’ve never seen (if it’s open), or drop by to see a friend you haven’t seen in awhile.

• Hold a “Christian in July” party. Have everyone bring a new gift suitable for a child that you can donate to a local program like Toys for Tots’ Christmas program.

• Ask permission from your town council to host a block party. Rope off the street. Invite all the neighbors. Have lots of food and games and get to know your neighbors!

• Host a Fourth of July scrapbooking crop. Invite all your scrapbooking friends over. Get out your photos, tools and embellishments and scrap ’til your hearts are content.

• Go fly a kite… literally! Kite-flying is a dying pastime, but it’s so much fun. You can make your own kite or pick up a kit at the store. Grab the kids and head to the park and enjoy.

• Spend the entire day watch patriotic movies. The Patriot, Independence Day, Pearl Harbor, Yankee Doodle Dandy, 1776, The Stars and Stripes Forever and many others.

Whatever you decide to do on the Fourth, enjoy it! You can spend a lot of money if you choose, but there’s really no need when you can have as much fun – if not more! – without it.

Frugal Father’s Day Gifts

June 10, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Holiday Ideas · Comments Off on Frugal Father’s Day Gifts 

Since Father’s Day will be here before we know it (it’s June 21, this year), it’s time to consider some ways to make this an extra special day for Dad while keeping it frugal.

• Set a budget amount and stick to it.

Sometimes our best gift-giving intentions fly out the window when we actually get to the store. We may discover everything is higher priced than we expected, or we just can’t find anything we’d like to give. But surrendering to the temptation to spend more than we had planned is a quick way to sabotage our budget for the entire month. To get around this problem, discipline yourself to spend only what you allotted then fill in with free gifts if you feel what you can afford isn’t enough. Many of the ideas below are completely free, costing only time and effort. These will make wonderful additions to any small gift you can buy.

• Make Dad King for a Day.

Let him sleep as long as he likes. When he does wake up, place a foil-covered crown on his head and serve him his favorite breakfast in bed. Have the kids make cards and banners thanking “King Dad” for everything he does and for being who he is. Ask him what he’d like to do for the day then do your very best to make it happen. Let him control the remote, choose the activities, and plan the entire day. Give him a massage. Have the entire family wait on him hand and foot, and generally treat him like a king. He’ll love it, the kids will have fund doing it, and it will make for a day he’ll never forget.

• Give him a coupon for services he’d enjoy.

You and the kids can make simple coupons by hand or print them on the computer. Consider gifts such as a complete car wash (inside and out), mowing the lawn, cleaning the garage, taking out the trash for a week, a guilt-free night of sports on TV, his favorite dessert, or anything else you know he’d like.

• Create a one-of-a-kind gift basket.

Find a simple basket, bucket or other container and place some shred in the bottom. Now, fill it with small gifts he’d enjoy. Snacks, pens or pencils, a keychain, a wallet, disposable razors, after shave, nail clippers, fishing lures, golf balls or tees, tools, a crazy tie, etc. are always good ideas.

• Consider a gift certificate.

While it’s not the most original gift, a gift certificate to his favorite store ensures Dad will get exactly what he wants. Tuck it inside a nice card filled with encouraging or humorous notes from the family.

• Use your talents.

Write a poem, song or story, create a custom scrapbook, draw a picture, or crochet an afghan. Whatever you or the kids create will be sure to make a treasured frugal gift for Dad.

• Frame some family photos.

Create a photo collage of the kids, ask a friend to take some group family photos, or have a nice 8 x 10 photo framed of you alone.

• Send a candy or cookie bouquet.

Find online instructions for creating a simple candy or cookie bouquet and have one of the kids hand-deliver it to Dad on his special day. Use his favorite flavors and don’t let anyone else eat them unless Dad offers.

• Deliver a singing telegram.

Write a funny song, dress up in an appropriate costume and knock on the front door. Wait for Dad to answer and deliver your singing Father’s Day greeting with confidence.

There are a myriad of ways to honor Dad and show him your love on Father’s Day. Get creative and use these ideas as a starting point to create a memorable, lasting memory for the man in your life.

Be Creative With Halloween Decorations!

October 22, 2008 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Holiday Ideas · Comments Off on Be Creative With Halloween Decorations! 

by Jill Cooper

I just stepped outside and took a deep breath and then another one and another one. No I don’t have a breathing problem or anything. It’s just that for the first time in months, I don’t feel like I’m breathing in an aquarium. The air is crisp and cool and that means fall is here and the humidity is gone!

At one point in our lives, that would have been the signal for us to haul out boxes and sacks full of Halloween decorations and go to work. It would usually take us at least a month to put everything out. We were one of those families who would put out a “monstrous” (Ha!Ha! No pun intended) display. We literally had hundreds of people drive by our home just to see our decorations. It really was a lot of work, especially because back then you couldn’t really buy much to use for outside Halloween decorations. We had to use our imagination and make our own.

We like to have fun at Halloween and not scare the wits out of everyone, so we try to keep our decorations cute and funny looking. To us, Halloween is a time for children to dress up and for one night a year be what they always dreamed of being, whether it’s a fairy princess, a ballerina, Superman or even a robot. They get to be on the “stage” for one night to show everyone how beautiful, strong or funny they look. And to end a perfect night they get tons of candy, bags of candy and did I mention, a whole bunch of candy??

Here are some ideas of things we did to have a whole lot of fun for very little money. You can use these same basic principles for any holiday decorating.

1. You don’t have to have a lot of decorations for your display to look nice. I drive by one home every year and each season the owners put out one simple something. For example, in the summer they have one beautiful pot of flowers sitting on their porch. In the fall a pot of mums, for Halloween, one pumpkin with a smiley face and at Christmas one pretty lit up wreath on the door. It’s never a lot, but I always get pleasure when I drive by the place and see their one simple decoration.

2. We work all year buying things at garage sales or thrift stores for our decorations. We started out with about 25 plastic pumpkins to set out for a pumpkin patch. The next year we added another 50 and drilled holes in the bottoms so we could put lights in them. After a few years we had 200-300 of them that we had collected. We never paid more then 5-10 cents for them. If you want to have a big display, start small and just add a little bit more to your decorations each year.

3. Cute homemade decorations make Halloween fun! If you see something in a magazine or somewhere that you think is cute but too expensive, try to copy it and make it yourself:

* I saw a cute rake in a magazine that I loved. It was an old rake that had a few silk flowers tied on it and a sign that said “Free leaves, rake all you want.” I just happened to have a dead 50 year old rake in my shed I was going to throw away, so I pulled it out, found an old board and some paint (I could have used a marker too), painted on the words and tied on a couple of stray silk flowers that I had and voila! I had a cute rake and saved about $25.

* It takes nothing to stuff some old clothes with plastic bags and make a scarecrow family.

* If you are a little handy, put your talent to good use. My husband took and old metal trash can and motorized it so that the lid moved up and down and when it opened it popped out a Sylvester the cat.

4. We found decorations in unusual places. Once we went to the grocery store where they had a gigantic pumpkin. The thing was about 8-10 feet across. We asked the manager it they threw it out at the end of the season and he said no. We told him what we needed it for and discovered that he had seen our display and liked it. He said “Come by on Halloween morning and you can take it to use and then bring it back.” It doesn’t ever hurt to ask about anything. Most people aren’t mean and hateful, but are usually kind and helpful.

5. Get more bang for your buck. Buy things that have a big impact but cost little. A couple of bags of spider webs and plastic spiders can cover a lot of area and look “cool” but cost very little. I use spider webs for everything. They’re great to use to cover throw pillows for a party, put in your hair, hang on the lights or wrap around the handles of silverware. You just can’t have too much.

6. Use what you already have around the house.

* We were having a Halloween party and to add to the effect, we dug out some black sheets and covered all the furniture. It changed the whole look of the room.

* Another year, my husband found some 10 foot long, thin metal rods. We stuck them in the ground, added styrofoam wig heads to each one and hung some large pieces of sheer fabric I had gotten for free from a friend over the tops of the heads. Everyone loved them. The sheer material had a much more realistic see through look then just a sheet. At night, you couldn’t see the rod so it looked like these ghosts were floating 10 feet up in the air.

7. Start the day after Halloween to prepare for next year. If your kids get a bunch of plastic spiders when they go trick or treating, save them and add them to the decoration box. If your child dressed as a pumpkin this year, save the costume, stuff it next year and set it out with the decorations. Try to think of ways to incorporate any old costumes into your decorations.

Bunnies and Ham and Eggs, Oh My!

October 16, 2008 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Holiday Ideas · Comments Off on Bunnies and Ham and Eggs, Oh My! 


It’s almost that time of year again. You’re standing, dumbfounded, in front of a mound of hard boiled eggs, sliced ham and chocolate Easter bunnies. You wonder “what am I going to do with 6 dozen eggs, 6 lbs. of ham and 25 chocolate bunnies”. The stress of it is almost enough to send you to bed for a week–or at least tear most of your hair out. Here are a few ideas and recipes from Living On A Dime to help you avoid both of those.

*Leftover Bunnies*: Take a rolling pin to them and crush the life out of them. Then use the crumbs to sprinkle on ice cream, use in milk shakes, stir a few in a mug of hot chocolate, use in place of chocolate chips for making cookies or melt for dipping fruit and candy.

*Leftover Ham:* Save bone for bean or split pea soup. Make ham salad, chef salad or ham sandwiches. Chop and freeze to use in: potato salad, scrambled eggs, omelets, to top baked potatoes, for potato soup, scalloped potatoes, au gratin potatoes, pasties or pizza- with pineapple.

Top tortilla with ham, salsa, and cheddar cheese and warm, for hot ham and cheese sandwiches.

* Leftover Eggs:* Make potato salad, tuna salad, pasta salad, chef salad, spinach salad with eggs and bacon, deviled eggs, golden morning sunshine or fill tomatoes with egg salad.

*Golden Morning Sunshine*

2 cups white sauce
4 eggs, hard boiled and chopped

Make white sauce. Once the white sauce has thickened, add eggs. Serve on toast.

*White Sauce*

¼ cup dry milk
2 Tbsp. flour
dash salt
1 cup cold water
1 Tbsp. margarine

In a covered jar, combine dry milk, flour and salt and mix well. Add water. Shake until all the ingredients are dissolved. Melt margarine in a 1 quart sauce pan. Stir in flour-milk mixture and cook over low heat until mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Keep stirring until thickened completely.

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