How to Coupon

Thanksgiving Art that Kids Can Make

Posted on Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Thanksgiving Kids CraftsHolidays are the perfect opportunity to let your kids make some artwork. It entirely possible for kids to make art that isn’t incredibly messy or time consuming. Channel some of your children’s excitement about Thanksgiving into fun, colorful, pieces of art. Here are a few ideas to start with.

Handprint Turkey
What could be more traditional than the iconic “handprint turkey”? Many kids first learn how to make one when they are in preschool or kindergarten. Older kids might decide to draw one just for fun. It is very easy to do. Parents can provide a little help if a child has difficulty with it. You will need:

* White paper (computer paper will do)
* Pencil
* Markers or crayons in fall colors (red, orange, brown, yellow)

Step One: A child needs to place his or her hand on the paper, palm down. Next, spread out the fingers as wide as possible (or comfortable).

Step Two: The child can trace around his or her hand using a pencil. Most find it easiest to trace their non-dominant hand. Parents can help with this part by doing the tracing or by letting the child trace the parent’s hand.

Step Three: When the tracing is done, it is time for the child to take his or her hand off the paper. The “thumb” becomes the turkey’s head. The fingers become feathers in the turkey’s tail. Kids can draw the turkey’s face, feet, and wings. They can color the feathers however they would like to.

Thanksgiving Coloring Sheets
Do your kids prefer to color (instead of draw)? They can still participate in Thanksgiving Day artwork with some free, printable, coloring sheets. Parents can cover the finished coloring with clear contact paper (both front and back) and use the artwork as placemats at Thanksgiving dinner.

Crayola.com has a “Happy Turkey Day” coloring sheet. It shows a goofy looking turkey who is holding a pumpkin pie and a small pumpkin. (This coloring sheet can be colored online).

Disney has a “Mickey & Friends Thanksgiving Coloring Page” that shows Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Daisy at the table for Thanksgiving dinner. They are wearing pilgrim outfits.

Nick Jr. has an entire “Dora’s Thanksgiving Coloring Book”. It has five pages that can be printed out. Dora is wearing a pilgrim hat and there are fall leaves and pumpkins on some of the pages. Parents can choose to print out just one page or all five pages of this coloring book.

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Use Coupons to Save on Thanksgiving Dinner

Posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Clipping CouponsYou probably use coupons when you do your grocery shopping. We all know that using coupons is one way to save money. Every little bit of savings helps! For some reason, people forget to use coupons when they go shopping for the foods they will serve at Thanksgiving dinner. Here are a few tips to help you remember to use your coupons.

Use the Loyalty Card
Shop for the foods you need for Thanksgiving dinner at the grocery store where you have a loyalty card. That card gives you access to lower prices. You can get some great deals even if you completely forgot to bring your coupons to the store.

The savings get even better if you took the time to add digital coupons to the loyalty card before you headed out the door. Digital coupons automatically ring up when you are at the cash register. What if you forgot your loyalty card? Most stores will let you access the savings it offers if you enter your phone number into the kiosk.

Use a Coupon Holder
Put the coupons that you printed out, or clipped from weekly ads, into a designated coupon holder. Some stores sell little pouches that are separated into many sections, that you can use to hold and organize your coupons. It doesn’t have to be fancy, though. You can use a regular old envelope to hold coupons.

Put your coupon holder next to your keys. Seeing the coupon holder might remind you to pick it up. Or, place it inside one of the reusable bags that you need to take with you to the grocery store. Either strategy will make it harder for you to forget your coupons.

Do a Price Check
Thanksgiving dinner almost always includes a turkey. Grocery stores are going to be competing against each other in an effort to attract shoppers. They know that Thanksgiving dinner can easily double the amount of money a person spends on groceries that week.

Pay attention to the price of turkey. Buy it from the store that is selling it for the lowest price. Don’t forget to consider the discount you will get if you have the loyalty card for particular store. You don’t necessarily have to do all of your Thanksgiving dinner shopping at that store. It is acceptable to just go in and buy a turkey.

Start Shopping Early
Don’t wait until the last minute to buy what you need for Thanksgiving dinner. Doing so will very likely cause you to miss out on the best deals. People will purchase the brands that are the least expensive, or that are on sale, first. Wait too long, and you could be stuck with the products that are being sold for full price.

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What to Buy in November

Posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Collection of wedding dresses in the shopNovember brings us a mixed bag of annual sales. Some are on leftover Halloween items. Others relate to Thanksgiving. The Black Friday sales are typically associated with Christmas gift buying. There are also some annual sales in November that you might not be aware of. Here is a quick list of the best things to buy in November.

Wedding Dresses
Getting married in 2015? The best time to buy a wedding dress is in November. It is the month when the best sales on wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses, and mother of the bride dresses happen. It might be a way for the stores to reduce their stock of the current year’s styles and make room for the new line. Pick out your wedding dress now and you will save money on it.

Halloween Sales
That ugly, yet appealing, Halloween decoration seemed too expensive a few weeks ago. Now, it will be offered at a greatly reduced price. (Assuming, of course, the store still has some “leftovers” in stock). Now is a great time to pick out Halloween greeting cards to send out next year. Halloween candy will be at a very low price.

Turkey
Thanksgiving is in November. The typical Thanksgiving dinner includes turkey as the main course. Those who don’t celebrate this holiday, but do enjoy eating turkey, can take advantage of the sales, too. Every grocery store is competing with the rest to get you to choose their store. They know many shoppers need to buy an extra amount of food this month for Thanksgiving. Pick the store with the best price on turkey, and use coupons for everything else.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales
Last year, Black Friday started on Thanksgiving Day (a Thursday). This year, some of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have already begun. It seems like the stores are especially anxious this year to attract customers before people spend all of their holiday budget. Visit websites and check out weekly sales papers to find the best deals. Many people find that starting their Christmas shopping now, a little at a time, helps spread out the cost.

Sign up for Loyalty Programs
November is a great month to sign up for the loyalty program at the stores that you like to shop at. You might get sent “sneak peaks” about what items will be in the store’s Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. Some stores are also offering special discounts on hot items to the customers that are part of the loyalty program. These little “extras” could help you save money on things you were already intending to purchase.

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Free Kids Events in November

Posted on Thursday, October 30th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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art suppliesThe weather in November can be cold and miserable. When your kids get bored of playing inside the house they are going to need something else to do. Take them to a free kids crafting or building event. There are plenty to choose from. The best part is that many of these events teach kids how to make a toy. That should give them something to do when they get home!

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Lowe’s Build and Grow offers free kids building events on Saturdays. Registration is required. Kids that participate will get a free apron, goggles, a special patch, and can take home the project they build.

November 8, 2014: Build a Science Lab – This science lab is a wooden project that includes plastic cups and beakers. It also has some experiment cards that kids can try after they get home.

Home Depot Kids Workshops
Home Depot also has free kids building events on Saturdays. Registration is required. Kids who participate get a free Workshop apron, a certificate of achievement, and a commemorative pin. The events are for kids ages 5 – 12.

November 1, 2014: How to Build a Pallet Coaster – Kids will put together a wooden coaster that looks just like the pallets that stock sits on in stores.

November 29, 2014: How to Build a Give and Save Bank – Kids will put together a wooden bank that looks a bit like a cartoon Home Depot.

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers free kids craft events every Saturday from 11:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon. The events are for children ages 3 and up. No registration is required.

November 1, 2014: Scarecrow Puppet – Kids will put together, and decorate, a cute scarecrow puppet.

November 8, 2014: Harvest Headdress – Kids will put together a paper band that goes around their heads. They will decorate it with fall colored faux flowers. It even has “boppers” made of pipe cleaners and a leaf design.

November 15, 2014: Family Picture Tree – Kids will color and put together a tree that will stand up. There are holes in it that can hold photos of family members.

November 22, 2014: Giving Thanks Centerpiece – Kids will put together a stand-up centerpiece that looks like a turkey. It comes with “googly-eyes”.

November 29, 2014: Cool Catch Penguin – Kids will put together a “ball and cup” game that looks like the face and beak of a penguin. They also get to color it and add “googly-eyes”.

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Last Minute Halloween Costumes for Kids

Posted on Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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HalloweenYour child declared that he or she did not want to wear a Halloween costume this year. Today, the same child insists upon having a Halloween costume to wear. What can you do now? Here are some ideas for last minute Halloween costumes for children.

Hit the Sales
The closer you get to Halloween, the bigger the discount on the Halloween stuff. This includes costumes. Take your child to a department store, grocery store, or pharmacy that is having a sale on Halloween items. There might be some costumes still there that will fit your child. There is no way to know what kinds of costumes will be “leftover”. Be prepared to emphasize the positive in whatever choices remain.

Last Year’s Costume
Your child might be able to use the same costume that he or she wore last year. To find it, a parent is likely going to have to go through some boxes of stored away Halloween stuff. What if your child outgrew that costume? Consider borrowing the costume that an older sibling wore last year. This option will, at the very least, make your child presentable for trick-or-treating (or a school Halloween party).

Sports Fan
Does your child have a football jersey or a hockey jersey? In a pinch, this can become an instant costume. Your child is now a “sports fan” for Halloween. Add a knit hat with the team’s logo on it, and have your child carry one of those giant foam fingers. If you have time, pick up some Halloween makeup in the team’s colors and paint your child’s face.

Cowboy or Cowgirl
This is an incredibly easy costume to put together at the last minute. All your child needs is a cowboy hat, a western shirt, jeans, and a pair of boots. A plaid, button-down, shirt will work if you don’t have a western one. Cowgirls can swap out the jeans for a long denim skirt. If you want to make the costume that much more obvious, put a small toy horse into the pocket of the shirt. Or, have your child carry a small “stuffy” horse.

Minimal Costumes
Sometimes, you just have to go with what you have and make it work. Does your child have a hoodie that has skeleton bones drawn on it? That, plus some Halloween face makeup, could turn your child into a skeleton for Halloween. If all else fails, have your child wear one of those t-shirts that says “This is my costume”.

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Alternatives to the Plastic Pumpkin

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Halloween Candy PumpkinTrick-or-treaters typically carry a bright orange plastic pumpkin that they use as a treat bag. There are plenty of alternatives to the plastic pumpkin treat bag for those who don’t have one, don’t like it, or who feel it doesn’t match their Halloween costume. Almost anything that can hold candy will do. It doesn’t have to be a pumpkin.

Reusable Shopping Bags
Do you live in a place that has a single-use plastic bag ban? If so, then you more than likely have some reusable, canvas, shopping bags at home. They can hold much more than groceries! Each of your kids can take one of the bags with him or her as they go trick-or-treating.

Reusable shopping bags will hold a lot more candy than a small plastic pumpkin bucket will. If the bags are not identical, it also has another advantage. It makes it easy to tell, at a glance, which bag of candy belongs to which child.

Pillowcases
This is a “go-to” last minute idea that will work. Forgot to buy the plastic pumpkin this year? Can’t find the ones you thought you stored away last year? If the stores sold out of the plastic pumpkin buckets you are going to have to find another option.

Everybody has some pillowcases at home. They will hold a lot of candy. They are also relatively sturdy. If your child drops the pillowcase and gets it dirty, it is no big deal. You were going to wash it anyway, right?

Paper Shopping Bags
The Peanuts Gang in the popular “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” animated movie used paper shopping bags when they went trick-or-treating. Kids have been using paper shopping bags for that purpose for a very long time.

The best part about using a paper shopping bag, instead of a plastic pumpkin, is that it can turn into an art activity. Kids can use crayons or markers to draw on the paper shopping bag. They can write their name, draw a Halloween scene, or decorate it in a way that matches with their costume.

Costume Specific Bags
Use a little creativity, and you could send your child out to trick-or-treat with a bag that goes along with their costume. Princesses can use a large, glitzy, purse that came from a thrift store. Draw a skull and crossbones on the front of an empty, white, plastic ice cream bucket for a pirate to carry. Kids dressed as cartoon characters can use a pillowcase that features the character.

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DIY Halloween Gravestones for your Yard

Posted on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Halloween decorationsHalloween is one of the few holidays in which people set up decorations in their yards. Often, this includes carved pumpkins, fake spider webs, and things like that. Would you like to set up your own Halloween graveyard this year? There are so many ways to make your own Halloween gravestones.

Paper Bag Tombstones
Martha Stewart has a really easy way to make authentic looking Halloween gravestones. Her instructions will show you how to make them out of paper shopping bags. She suggests that you use gray shopping bags so that they will end up looking like stone.

Basically, what you need to do is cut the top of the bag into a shape that resembles a gravestone. You also need to add an epitaph onto the front of it. Not feeling very crafty? Martha Stewart has a template you can use for both of those things. Eventually, you will need to open the bags and stake them to the ground. Put a lit tea light in them for spooky effects.

Cardboard Box Gravestone
Dave Lowe Designs has an excellent tutorial, complete with photos, that will walk you through how to make awesome looking Halloween gravestones for your yard. Start with a free overnight shipping box from Fed-Ex (or any other shipping company).

He shows you how to use a template to make the name on your gravestone. There is a certain way to fold the cardboard in order to make a base (and help the gravestone stand up). He also used two or three coats of exterior house paint to give the cardboard box gravestone a realistic look. This project takes a bit more skill than the one from Martha Stewart (but isn’t too difficult).

Tissue Box Gravestones
Crayola.com has a super simple DIY Halloween gravestone craft for children to do. First, you will need to collect up some empty tissue boxes (that were headed to the recycle bin). Follow the directions on the Crayola website.

In short, a child can take a piece of paper, cut it into a gravestone shape, and color it to make it resemble stone. An epitaph can be added to the front if desired (or just put R.I.P.). Glue the finished gravestone to the front of the empty tissue box. They will make a nice window display for Halloween trick-or-treaters to enjoy.

You could place these mini Halloween gravestones outside if you place them on a covered porch (so they don’t get rained on). It might be a good idea to stick rocks inside the empty box to weigh it down.

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DIY Fall Scarecrow Decorations

Posted on Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the fun things about fall is the creative decorating that people do. Scarecrows start popping up on people’s porches and front yards. They can be either to celebrate fall, or Halloween, or just for fun! It is entirely possible to make your own scarecrow this year. Making one is a lot more fun, and much less expensive, than purchasing a pre-made scarecrow from a store.

Where will you put it?
The first step is something you might not have expected. You need to figure out where your scarecrow will go. Many people like to put a scarecrow on their front porch (out of the way of the door). For others, the best place for a scarecrow might be the front yard.

Once you have decided where your scarecrow will sit, you will need to get him a chair. Choose a plastic lawn chair, or use a piece of patio furniture that is already on your porch. The type of chair doesn’t matter – so long as it is the type that can be used outside.

Gather some old clothes.
Your scarecrow will need some clothes. Fortunately scarecrows aren’t at all picky about what they wear, and are oblivious to the latest fashions. Find some old clothes that you were planning on turning into cleaning rags or throwing away. The clothing doubles as the body of the scarecrow.

At minimum, you will need an old pair of pants and an old shirt (preferably with long sleeves). You can accessorize your scarecrow with a hat, some boots, and a pair of gardening gloves.

Stuff the scarecrow.
There are a wide variety of materials that can be used to stuff a scarecrow. Crunched up newspaper can work well. Those of you with an excess of plastic shopping bags (or take-out bags) can use those. Another great idea is to use the leaves that are covering your yard. Your family can help rake and gather up the leaves. Use some to stuff the scarecrow. Get rid of the rest as you usually would.

Tie the ends of the shirt sleeves into a knot before you start stuffing. Do the same with the pant legs. This will prevent the stuffing material from falling out. Set up the scarecrow as you stuff him. Tuck the pant legs into boots and the shirt sleeves into gloves.

What about the head?
The easiest way to make a head for a scarecrow is to just use a pumpkin. Set a pumpkin on top of your stuffed scarecrow, put a hat on top, and you are all set! If you want to get fancier, you can paint a face on the pumpkin.

Those who are more artistic can carve a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern type of face, and use that pumpkin for the scarecrows head. Don’t put a lit candle inside it! Scarecrows are flammable.

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Where to Find Frugal Pumpkin Carving Stencils

Posted on Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Halloween Deals!Ready to carve your Halloween pumpkins? It is not as easy as it may seem. Those who are not naturally gifted at carving squashes will benefit from planning ahead before they start working. One simple way to end up with a nice looking jack-o-lantern is to start by using a stencil of a design. Here is a quick look at where to find some free, printable, pumpkin carving stencils.

Disney Designs
Disney has updated their website for pumpkin carving stencils since last year. Now, you can browse through photos of pumpkins that have been carved with a design that looks like a Disney character. Find one you like, and you can click on a box that will automatically take you to a page that will let you download the template. This year, there is a helpful step by step walkthrough of pumpkin carving tips.

Zombie Pumpkins
Zombie Pumpkins website has been around since 2002 (but it might be new to you). The pumpkin carving templates they offer are not free, but their membership is frugally priced. You can join for $2.00 and download 2 patterns of your choice. A $5.00 membership will give you access to up to 25 patterns of your choice. The memberships last 9 months and the website says you will not be rebilled later.

They have added a new section of pumpkin carving stencils called “Kreatures for Kids”. It includes a variety of cartoon characters (some of which are from Disney, most of which are from other cartoons). If that’s not to your liking, you can check out the designs in 15 other categories.

Plants vs Zombies
Popcap is the name of the company that made the popular Plants Vs Zombies video game. They have also made six pumpkin carving stencils that were inspired by the game. Choose from: Sunflower, Peashooter, Crazy Dave, Mummy Zombie, Pirate Zombie, and Cowboy Zombie. The stencil for each one can be printed out for use on your pumpkin.

Hershey’s
Hershey’s has an entire page dedicated to Halloween designs and decorations. They have grouped their pumpkin carving stencils into three categories: Easy, Intermediate, and Hard. Choose from several “traditional” Halloween designs. The PDF for each can be downloaded and printed out. Or, you can print out an entire category of pumpkin carving stencils.

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Ideas for Family Halloween Costumes

Posted on Thursday, October 9th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Little boy as cow drinking milkHalloween isn’t just for kids. It’s also for families to enjoy together! It is no longer unusual for families to all dress in costume for trick-or-treating. Instead of choosing random costumes, it might be more fun to coordinate them so the whole family has costumes that go together. Here are a few ideas for family Halloween costumes.

Figuring out what to dress up as for Halloween can be difficult. Things get more complex if you are trying to do an entire set of family costumes. It doesn’t have to be hard, though. It also doesn’t have to involve purchasing brand new costumes from the store. Use some creativity and a little imagination, and you could end up with awesome family costumes for Halloween!

Farmers and Animals
Babble has photos of 25 family Halloween costumes. Number 19 is called “Family Farm”. This one doesn’t require the adults to actually purchase costumes. Parents will dress as farmers by wearing jeans or bibbed overalls, flannel shirts, straw hats, and boots.

The children will dress up as a farm animal (pigs, cows, chickens). For the kids costumes, you could start with a headband or hat that has animal ears on it. Dress the child in clothing that matches the animal. Pigs could be pink, cows could be brown or white with black spots. Or, you could buy a brand new animal costume from a store.

M&Ms
Does your family like to eat M&M’s? You can easily put together some family costumes of those colorful candies. First, assign everyone in your family an M&M color: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, or Brown.

Next, find a shirt and pants that are in the assigned color. Grab some paper and a letter m stencil and create one letter m for each family member. Tape the letter m onto everyone’s shirt. Together, you are now a package of M&Ms!

Zombies
You might not think so at first, but zombie costumes can be really easy to make. First, gather up some old clothing. Make the old clothes look like they have been worn by the undead by getting them dirty and adding rips and tears.

Use a little Halloween makeup on every family member’s face to give them darkly shaded eyes. Older kids might enjoy using the latex makeup pieces that look like wounds or scars. Red paint can be used to make fake blood on the old clothing. For further inspiration, visit Flickr and type “zombie walk”. Warning: some of the photos it brings up may be too scary for young children.

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