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Saving Christmas

This is the perfect time of year to be discussing saving money. We are heading into the holidays. Obviously one big way to save is to take advantage of sales such as Black Friday. Another option is to save some money after Christmas and use that to stock up for next year on things (not necessarily gifts but decor or other items that go on a really good clearance). This is how I have found a majority of my decorations.

But what I really want to address is the homemade gift. One year for Christmas my parents decided to make a memory. We didn’t do regular gifts that year. We could only give one gift to each person in the family and we had to make that gift ourselves. I can to this day name every single gift given and received that year. Why? Because they held much more meaning than the gifts that we thought we wanted.

Because I work at church we have a lot of volunteers that help us and I like to do a little something for those that I work closely with. Over the past several years I have started doing more homemade items.

Note of caution, be sure to price out your DIY items per person and make sure that you aren’t losing money in this. Include how much the item itself costs to make as well as if you need to put it in a container.

Last year I gave out jars of homemade laundry soap. This year…well I can’t share that, but it will be super easy and a big hit!

Strangely enough, when it comes to Christmas cards, it is actually becoming cheaper to do photo cards. These can also be much more meaningful. I would suggest ordering those soon so that you don’t end up with a last minute holiday stress!

So those are a few tips. You know what you can and can’t do but keep in mind if you are doing to do homemade gifts you should start soon!!!

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What Started It All

This is my favorite DIY project of all time. I have jarred it up and gave it away for Christmas, I have made it several times, and it saves tons of money. Plus, making it makes your house smell amazing.

I have read that this works well with HE washing machines.

My recipe comes from my friends blog, but the following are from my own experience making it:

Laundry Soap
Ingredients Needed:
5 Gallon Bucket (you will fill this all the way)
Several Large Pots
1/2 Cup Borax
1 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Laundry Booster or Laundry Soda
A Bar of Laundry Soap
15-20 Drops Essential Oil (Optional)
Tea Kettle or similar sized pot for boiling water

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Start pots of water (including a tea kettle) boiling, leaving one burner open for your saucepan.

Grate soap and put in saucepan.

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Add just enough water to cover and heat on low, stirring enough so that it does not stick, until melted completely.

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Add the teakettle of water to your bucket and melted soap. Stir until combined.

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Add washing soda and borax (and oil) at this point. Stir until dissolved.

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Add more boiling water until bucket is 2/3 full (I have only a couple of small pots and usually at this point I am adding hot water from the faucet to get the bucket 2/3 full and it still works great). Keep stirring. Then fill the rest of the bucket with hot (not boiling) water. Let stand.

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After a few hours you should have the consistency of gelatin with some liquid around it. At this point you can keep it in your bucket or transfer some to a smaller jar to use in your washing machine. It only take 1/4 cup for a load. When I have a large load I use a heaping 1/4 cup.

DIY Week

She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle. Proverbs 31:19

This verse always makes me think of Sleeping Beauty. As if an early version of the fairy tale would follow the above lines with, “then she falls asleep.”

This week my focus is going to be on DIY, or Do It Yourself, projects. There are many reasons to have DIY projects, the first would be to save money. In most cases doing or making something yourself is much more cost efficient. However, there are other cases where it can be more expensive, so make sure you do your research first if you plan to do this for money saving purposes.

These projects also give us a sense of satisfaction and the pride of having done something yourself. This is no small feat and can help with many emotional areas as well as keeps us busy, while having fun (usually its fun…do your homework first).

Finally these projects are educational. Now I am assuming many of my readers are adults and so we do not often care if something has educational value when thinking of ourselves. But remember for a moment the joy of understanding, of discovery, the part of learning that is enjoyable…that is what we are looking for.

DIY can be anything from fixing a broken garage door to making laundry soap from scratch, to making homemade Christmas decorations. It can be anything that you enjoy doing. It can have a specific purpose or can be for the simple reason of enjoyment (i.e. the leaky pipe would be a specific purpose, but the Christmas decorations can simply be for fun).

This week I will be posting some of my own DIY projects and resources. More to come!

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