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Make Money This Holiday Season; Don’t Just Spend It

By Liz Folger

What if you could make more money than you spend this holiday season? Sounds like a pretty good idea, you say? If you’d like to be on the making money end during the holidays, now is the time to start preparing. Below I’m going to give you several money-making ideas. Pick the one or two that interest you the most and have fun!

It doesn’t matter if you’re into woodworking, sewing, painting, pottery, or creating handmade paper. More than ever, people enjoy giving that one-of-a-kind special gift. You can sell your wares via the Net, at holiday bazaars or craft shows, or even consignment style. Once you become known for your crafts, word-of-mouth will keep you very busy.

One idea is to create your own line of holiday cards with rubber stamps. Melissa Duquette has found this to be a profitable business. She explains, �The card season is upon us and everyone will soon be searching for the perfect holiday card to send to family and friends. This is your opportunity to break out into business and create unique hand-stamped holiday cards. Or why not offer a class teaching this great hobby? Rubber stamping can be worked into so many different businesses.�

I’ve been to a rubber-stamping party where we were able to create our own cards. I had a great time hanging out with my friends and making my own unique cards. If you are into rubber stamping, seriously consider having a rubber stamping card party. You would supply everything needed, and could charge either a flat fee or charge per card made.

Kim Moya runs a T-shirt business and finds this a way to make extra cash during the holidays. She says you can create inexpensive holiday sweatshirts, and long- and short-sleeved T-shirts. And she doesn’t stop at T-shirts, but also includes tote bags, felt and cloth ornaments, advent and traditional calendars, aprons and many other items that you can purchase wholesale and sell at retail prices!

I don’t know about you, but I love fleece blankets. I was really excited when I found out I could make these awesome �Snuggly� blankets without having to sew a stitch. Cinda Louden has been making these types of blankets for a while now and explains, �These blankets are made out of Polar Fleece material. They are soft, warm, cozy, durable, and wonderfully �Snuggly.’ There’s no sewing or needlework involved; all you do is cut and tie. Making Snugglies is a great way to start and create a business, make a little extra cash, or just make them for gifts. It’s all up to you!�

Tamaira Sandifer, the owner of Fun Mail For Kids, has been creating Santa Letters for a while now. �I thought, what child wouldn’t like to get a letter in the mail full of goodies just for them from Santa Claus. Once I informed family and friends about starting Fun Mail For Kids, the letters practically sold themselves. Last year brought in approximately 680 requests, which is pretty phenomenal since I don’t do much advertising.� Tamaira says that running this type of business is fun because it allows her to do something she really enjoys. �So it doesn’t really seem like work,� she says.

The hype of eBay has not gone away, but has only grown. When among a group of people, I can usually find someone who has either bought or sold something in an online auction. Colleen Wallace has made it her business to sell merchandise online. �The holiday season is the best time of year for me. People are always looking for unique and interesting gifts to give their loved ones. What better place to find something different than the online auctions,� says Colleen. Start thinking about what you might have that you could sell online. Colleen has found that the items that sell well are those that can be used for stocking stuffers, are limited editions, or are signed items.

Then there are the people who cannot stop baking during the holidays. Are you the type of person who finds that at the close of the season, all of your neighbors’ refrigerators and cookie jars are bursting at the seams because baking is just your thing? Believe it or not, this is not the favorite activity of some people.

Stacy Robinson has found that A Holiday Home Boutique is a fun way to network with others who provide a holiday-related product or service. Each vendor displays her product or information about her service, and friends and neighbors are invited to come to shop and share fellowship.

�As a cake decorator, I sell gingerbread houses, as well as display and serve a holiday-themed decorated cake – which the hostesses love because this becomes part of the refreshments! Visitors to the boutique get a chance to taste and see my cakes, and I take orders for holiday party cakes. I also display a few �dummy cakes’ to showcase my designs for birthdays, weddings, etc.�

The niche market that has been Stacy’s holiday bread and butter since 1991 is selling gingerbread houses to real estate agents. She leaves a gingerbread house with order information in large real estate offices for a few days. She also offers free delivery to the real estate office, or delivery for a fee to their home-buying customers and other colleagues, such as mortgage brokers, closing attorneys, etc.

These are just a few ideas you can use to make a little extra cash this holiday season. Use your imagination. Remember, people are more than willing to spend money for that special gift and holiday service. Why can’t you be the one who pockets that money? This is such a great time of year to make your business work.

Another great reason to consider this type of seasonal work: If you plan it right, you shouldn’t be working too close to or on the actual holiday. Being your own boss has never sounded better, now has it?

Start thinking now if you want this to be seasonal work, or if you want to continue your business into the new year. All of the business ideas I listed above can be run throughout the year. This could be the start of something very profitable!

Additional Resources:

Ebooks are available on each of the subjects listed above, and each ebook contains more information on starting that particular business. They include:

* Bizy’s Guide To: Making Snugglies! A Step-by-Step Guide to Making and Starting Your Own Fleece Blanket Business – By Cinda Louden

* Bizy’s Guide To: How to Create a Profitable Cake Decorating Business �From Scratch� – By Stacy Robinson

* Bizy’s Guide To: Making Money With Online Auctions – By Colleen Wallace

* Bizy’s Guide To: Starting Your Own Personalized Letter Service For Kids – By Tamaira Sandifer

* Bizy’s Guide on How to Start and Operate A Home-Based T-Shirt Business – By Kimberly Banfield Moya

* Bizy’s Guide To: Starting a Rubber Stamping Business – By Melissa Duquette

You can purchase any of these ebooks at

Q. Every year we have a dilemma during the holidays who will host what dinner and who will go to what dinner. Parents, in laws, brothers and sisters etc… we have lots and lots of family nearby and the count is growing.

This year my sister wants to host Thanksgiving dinner and include everyone at her house this way, she won’t have to decline anyone or have to appear at more than one family function. She has the space, but considering the cost in dollars and time, she suggested a Potluck dinner. We are looking for suggestions on how to invite people and suggest what they should bring (so we don’t have all salad or all dessert). She says she will make the turkey.. We are also looking for suggestions on how to do this with minimal cost. (decorations, invitations etc.) The Frugal Life readers are always so clever, I’m hoping for some good ideas. Thanks, Your loyal reader – Stacy

1. Assign dishes to people (especially family favorites) – that way you get the right mix of salads, sides, desserts. If you are uncomfortable with that, segment by last name (A through H make side dishes, etc.).

2. Make sure the assigned dishes will feed at least 12. If a family of 4 comes and each person takes 3 items (salad or side, main, dessert), then that’s 12 servings taken up from the table. Somehow this number seems to work fine.

3. You can also assign paper goods (1 item per family) –
so the people bringing desserts should also bring dessert plates, someone else brings plastic ware, etc.

4. Any singles coming (or those you know can’t cook!) – ask them to bring drinks.

5. We had over 20 guests last year with 12 kids under 9 (actually 11 under 6). We set up a kids table (a 4 ft square play table), and covered it with yellow butcher paper (contributed by a local school :-). We put crayons on the table. When it was time to eat, the moms got the kids their food first, so they were eating while we got our food and sat down. They finished ahead of us and quietly colored on the table, happy as clams. It can be done!

I always have Thanksgiving at my house and I make out a list of who is coming. Then I make up a menu of what I want to have and I call everyone and tell them what they are responsible for. It really works great and I’ve been doing it for years this way. We never have doubles of anything and the entire meal is taken care of. I also do the turkey. We have a nephew who is about 28 and single, so I always let him bring the paper plates and napkins!!

We’ve had good luck with all potluck dinners if we tell the guests it is a potluck and ask them what they would like to make. Most people willingly bring a dish to showcase their cooking skills. Some potlucks also ask the person to bring the recipe so that others can make it in the future. We have done potlucks as singles groups, family dinners, Law School Graduation parties, and weddings. All have turned out well. When my friends and family are invited for a dinner, they always ask what they can bring. I don’t even have to ask them. – Betty.

Having been in your shoes for many years regarding these wonderful get-togethers, here’s our plan. 1.) We alternate Thanksgiving. One year with my husband’s family, the next with mine. 2.) With my husband’s family being the larger, I do the potluck method also. I create my “wish list” of dishes and when family members RSVP, I ask which one they’d like to bring. The exception to this list is one sister-in-law who does not cook well, so she gets to do the chip and dip stuff or she brings sodas, cider, etc. I cook the turkey and mashed potatos; the rest is brought in oven- and microwave-safe containers Everybody pitches in to make the dinner special and also help with the cleaning up. Marianne R.

Editor’s Note: To avoid duplication the following are excerpts of submissions. The original submissions are very similar to above except for what I am including below:

Regarding what each guest agrees to bring – But most definitely, she should let them know that their decision is needed by a certain date before the holiday so a well rounded menu could be set without duplicates. – Maria

If you have a lot of families you may want two people to bring pies/rolls, or whatever, so that everyone has something to bring. You can also include paper plates etc as an item to bring if you want to avoid dishes.

Some ways to divide them all up –
1. One suggestion about how to make sure the dinner isn’t all one kind of thing is to divide all the people up according to the first letter of their last name. Then say what kinds of food groups you want at the table. For example if you are dividing the alphabet into four letters six letters each the first six can bring the breads and crackers, the next six can bring the main course, and so on. If there are letters left over after the dividing
those people can be the wild cards which means they can bring either the napkins, the silverware, or extra food of whatever kind they want.

2. When we do potlucks, we just go by the alphabet. A-G brings a side dish; H-M brings a dessert, etc. That has worked for us. Good luck!

3. O.K. the main course (turkey, I assume) is being cooked by your sister…assign the remaining dishes. This has worked many, many times at Church functions: You assign salads, side dishes, bread,
desserts….alphabetically (i.e. people from A – G do salads, H – N do side dishes, O – U do breads, V – Z do desserts). Whatever order works for you. You can either let people decide what type of dish they want to prepare or you assign a specific item with a specific recipe.

4. I have always found that unless someone actually designates who brings what – chaos reigns! Too many salads, no vegetable…etc. My suggestion is to make a list of all the people, then give them a choice – salad, vegetable, dessert, drinks, salad dressings, napkins, tableware, wine, flowers, etc. Then, when you go down the list, just cross off the choices – we always had so much more assortment when we did it that way. Then, you get more than one veggie, more than one salad, more than one salad dressing, and so on. If someone objects, or is short of money, or doesn’t cook, they could bring a veggie tray, appetizer tray, or even cans/jars of olives, pickles, etc. It all works and noone seems to feel that something is missing! Good Eating! – Chris

As far as decorations go for the event, you can have your children collect colorful leaves and pine cones for table decorations….hey, they’re free. Can’t get much cheaper than that. You can also buy the really small pumpkins from a farmer, then you can add the leaves &/or pine cones to the display.  For the invitations here are two different approaches. You can make them yourself (or whoever is willing to do this). Children love to help with this sort of thing……they can draw the “cover” page and then you fill in the details on the inside of the card. Card stock can be purchased fairly inexpensively…you get 100 sheets of 8-1/2″ X 11″. You can get two cards from a sheet (if you’re doing a card) or you can get 4 “post cards” out of 1 sheet. You can “stamp” an invitation (if you have “stamps”). A really inexpensive method would be to e-mail everyone (hopefully everyone has e-mail). Good luck on your gathering. – Marge

I would suggest printing invitations on your computer, or buying them (I don’t know where you are located, I’m down south)
and paper products from a discount store such as Big Lots, Dollar General, Party City, or Garden Ridge. My family and I usually have to travel from out of town and we fix what we are contributing when we get down to my mom’s. We have also contributed paper goods and breads. – Robin

Say "I Love You" For Valentine’s Day

by Jeffrey Strain

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the perfect gift for the one you love. Whether you are looking for something special on a tight budget or would simply like to add on something special to another gift, there’s no better way to express your love than by saying it in a variety of languages.

Find a nice jar and cut different colored paper into heart-shaped pieces. Write "I Love You" in a different language on each heart and place it in the jar. Continue doing this until the jar is full. Add a nice ribbon around the jar and you have a wonderful jar of "Love" to give.

If you want Valentine’s Day to last longer, write each "I Love You" in a different language on a colored, heart-shaped piece of paper. Then place each heart into a separate envelope. For the next two months, each day you can place a new envelope somewhere where your partner will find it making your love – and Valentine’s Day – last a couple of months rather that a single day.

If you are in a more playful mood, cut out the heart-shaped pieces of paper and write "I Love You" in a different language along with a hint where your partner can find the next envelope. Have your partner do a scavenger hunt to find each envelope until they come to the final piece where "I Love You" is written in English with whatever Valentine gift you have decided to give.

No matter how you ultimately decide to give the gift of "I Love You," it’ll be a gift long remembered and cherished by the person who receives it.

***** Different Ways To Say "I Love You" *****

1. a) Arabic — Ana behibak (to male)
1. b) Arabic — Ana behibek (to female)
2. Bavarian — I mog di narrisch gern
3. Bengali — Ami tomake bhalobashi
4. Brazilian (Portuguese) — Eu te amo
5. Bulgarian — Obicham te
6. Burmese — Chit pa de
7. Cambodian — Bon sro lanh oon
8. Chinese (Cantonese) — Ngo oi ney
9. Chinese (Mandarin) — Wo ie ni
10. Croatian — Ljubim te
11. Czech — Miluji te
12. Danish — Jeg elsker dig
13. Dutch — Ik hou van jou
14. Esperanto — Mi amas vin
15. Estonian — Mina armastan sind
16. Filipino — Mahal ka ta
17. Finnish — Mina rakastan sinua
18. Flemish — Ik zie oe geerne
19. French — Je t’aime
20. Gaelic — Ta gra agam ort
21. German — Ich liebe dich
22. Greek — S’ agapo
23. a) Hebrew — Ani ohev otach (to female)
23. b) Hebrew — Ani ohev otcha (to male)
24. Hindi — Mai tumse pyar karta hoo
25. Hopi — Nu’ umi unangwa’ta
26. Hungarian — Szeretlek
27. Icelandic — Eg elska thig
28. Indonesian — Saja kasih saudari
29. Irish — Taim i’ ngra leat
30. Italian — Ti amo
31. Japanese — Kimi o ai shiteru
32. Javanese — Kulo tresno
33. Korean — Tangsinul sarang ha yo
34. Lao — Koi muk jao
35. Latin — Te amo
36. Latvian — Es milu tevi
37. Macedonian — Sakam te
38. Malay — Saya cintamu
39. Mohawk — Konoronhkwa
40. Navaho — Ayor anosh’ni
41. Norwegian — Eg elskar deg
42. Persian — Tora dost daram
43. Polish — Kocham cie
44. Portuguese — Amo-te
45. Romanian — Te iu besc
46. Russian — Ya vas liubliu
47. Serbian — Lubim te
48. Shona — Ndinokuda
49. Sioux — Techihhila
50. Slovak — Lubim ta
51. Spanish — Te quiero
52. Swahili — Naku penda
53. Swedish — Jag a’lskar dig
54. Tagalog — Mahal kita
55. Thai — Ch’an rak khun
56. Tunisian — Ha eh bak
57. Turkish — Seni seviyo rum
58. Ukrainian — Ja tebe kokhaju
59. Vietnamese — Toi yeu em
60. Welsh — ‘Rwy’n dy garu di
61. Yiddish — Ich libe dich
62. Yugoslavian — Ya te volim
63. Zulu — Ngiyakuthanda

Copyright (c) Jeffrey Strain – is a website dedicated to sharing fun and inexpensive dating ideas.

Stay Out of the Kitchen This Christmas

Copyright 2001 Champion Press, Ltd
Used with permission.  All rights reserved.

It was the week before Christmas and all through the house you ran around preparing to feed all the mouths …

When what to your wondrous eyes should appear but the answer to stay out of the kitchen this year!

We have long ago known that commercialization has been draining the joy from our holiday season.  But it isn’t the only drain.

According to a recent survey of women, one of the Christmas season’s top stressors is cooking and preparation!  While many women enjoy cooking a one day holiday feast, the added cooking of Christmas Eve, New Years and meals for company, can quickly wear one thin.

Deborah Taylor-Hough, author of "Frozen Assets: how to cook for a day and eat for a month," found that she was spending too
little time with family and too much time in the kitchen over the holidays.  With a little imagination and some determination, she solved the dilemma be creating a cost-effective Ten Day Holiday Meal Plan that can be prepared quickly and feed everyone throughout the holidays — without sacrificing taste or nutrition.

This holiday, give yourself the gift of kitchen-free days by trying this meal plan in your home.  This menu comes to you direct from Taylor-Hough’s book, "Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month."

Could you imagine a relaxed Christmas and New Year without
needing to cook any main dinner recipes — only side dishes and desserts?  If that sounds like a great gift to give yourself this year, plan ahead this holiday season using this Ten-Day Holiday Meal Plan.

This meal plan covers the main dish dinner recipes from just before Christmas until New Year’s Day.  Many people find they
need larger amounts of food during this time of year due to guests, unexpected visitors or college-age children returning home for the holidays.  If these recipes prepare more than you’ll be needing, you can serve leftovers for lunches, or divide
the recipes into additional freezer pans and stretch the meals out for a longer period of time.

These recipes include main dishes for a holiday dinner of turkey; several meals of planned turkey leftovers; a breakfast casserole that can be served on Christmas or New Year’s morning; and recipes that could be used for company meals throughout the holidays.

Now that you can plan ahead and get your cooking out of the way, get ready to relax and enjoy the holidays!

"Frozen Assets: how to cook for a day and eat for a month" by Deborah Taylor-Hough. This book include the Holiday Meal Plan as well as a 30-day meal plan and two-week plan for other times around the year. Many additional recipes are included along with instructions on how to adapt your own recipes, create your own menus. Also includes low-fat tips and money-saving ideas for groceries.  Published by Champion Press, Ltd.  Available at book- stores nationwide.

Gift Jars

One reader mentioned filling jars with ingredients for cookie or cake recipes to give as gifts, I have seen these in stores and yes they are expensive. I would like to make my own also, and decorate the jars and lids with material ribbon etc.  I would love to hear from other readers what recipes they suggest to put in the jars. Thanks and Have a Good Day! Dawn

Last year a friend and I made several of these gift jars.  We got several recipes from for the mixes.  We topped them with material found in the "extras" bin at the fabric store and printed labels from the computer with directions.  Cost was about $1.75 each

Someone was wondering about cake mixes in jars, I copied and pasted the following from www.realfood4realpeople Kaylin Cherry has several great gift-in-a-jar type of ideas. She publishes an  e-zine, consisting of one of her original recipes and many more sent in by subscribers. It’s free and I for one have found it to be wonderful, as most of the’cooks’ are just like the rest of us, on a budget and always looking for good, easy, economical and nourishing food for our families! Check it out! Here is an excerpt! — "Our delicious ‘Cake Mixes in Jars’ are quick, easy, and also a great low-cost answer to your gift giving needs!  Give them to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, bus drivers & even your favorite delivery person!  She also has several collections of recipes that she has compiled for sale on her web site. –Linda

Here’s a link that I use for gifts in a jar. Enjoy!! Terri Smith

Cookie fixings and the recipe are always good, but how  about pasta and spices, a recipe for pasta salad, here are few suggestions:  seeds and fertilizer with a hand trowel, sea salt, essential oil and food coloring…to make your own bath salts, small bird  identification book, wild bird seed and a small pair of binoculars, stocking cap gloves and  hot chocolate or hot cider mix, soft socks , foot scrubber, foot lotion& foot soak or how about  crayons, paint brushes a small note book and a coloring book.    The possibilities are truly endless. Thank You for reading my letter.  –Sheree 

Here is one recipe — you could use any of your own recipes and leave out the wet ingredients for them to add later. I haven’t made these since last Christmas but I was thinking that when I went to make them it was more than would fit in a quart jar and I used a  gallon size ziplock bag to put the ingredients in and taped a bow to it and then they just added the other ingredients in the bag and kneeded it till it was mixed and poured it in the baking  pan.

Today’s recipe is a fun gift to make and give. When I make these as gifts, I always be sure to include the dry ingredient list on the directions card or label, for two reasons. First, in case the receiver really likes the mix, they can duplicate it. And second, they will know what is included in the jar, in case they have any food allergies.

Chocolate Chip Brownies in a Jar
Ingredients in Jar:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp  salt
2 1/4 cups white sugar
2/3  cup cocoa
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Ingredients needed to make brownies:

3/4 cup butter, melted
4 eggs, slightly beaten

Empty jar of brownie mix into mixing bowl, mix well. Add butter and eggs and mix until blended. Spread batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut into 2" squares. Makes 2 doz.

Here are some recipes I use to give as Christmas presents.  They aren’t cookie mixes in a jar, but I have found these to be welcome gifts.

Herb Flavored Salt
1/4 C dried parsley flakes
2 Tablespoons dried basil leaves
1 Tablespoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 C salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend just
enough to combine.  Store in an airtight jar.  (I
usually by small little jars at the dollar store for
this recipe)

Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix
1/3 C brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 C coca
2 1/2 C powdered milk

Combine and blend ingredients in a small bowl.  Store in airtight container.  (I put a tag on the jar with directions to make they are: Mix 3 Tablespoons of the hot chocolate mix with 8 ounces boiling water and stir until smooth) Love and Peace, Kathie

They have tons and tons of recipes for these in the archives at:

This is for Dawn who was looking for recipes for jars to give as gifts.  I found a great website with recipes for jars.   There are lots of good ideas and recipes for gift jars. Thanks, Janet

I belong to an ezine by Kaylin White called Real food for real people. She has a section on her website with many free recipes for mixes in a jar as well as info on how to order more if desired.

This is my favorite because you can make up a single batch and divide it into 5 gifts.

8 Cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 Cups granulated sugar
2 Cups brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups vegetable shortening

In a large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda until well blended. With a pastry cutter or heavy duty mixer, cut in shortening until mixture resembles cornmeal in texture. Put in large airtight container. Label with contents and date. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 10-12 weeks. Makes about 16 Cups of COOKIE MIX.

If giving for a gift, place 3 cups COOKIE MIX in a 24 ounce jar, attach the following instructions and cover the lid as follows: Place lid on jar. Use scissors to cut a 9 inch-diameter circle from fabric of your choice. Center fabric circle over lid and secure with a rubber band. Tie on raffia or ribbon bow to cover the rubber band. Attach a card with the following directions:

Chocolate Chip Cookies
3 Tablespoons milk
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 Cup nuts or coconut
1 Cups chocolate chips or chocolate candies

Preheat oven to 375F degrees (190C). Grease baking sheets. In a large bowl, combine  COOKIE MIX, milk, vanilla, and egg. Blend well. Stir in nuts or coconut and chocolate chips or candy. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Makes 24 cookies.

My other favorite is Cake in a Coffee Cup. My son gave these out last year to teachers, office staff at his school, the principal and counselors.

Cake in a Coffee Cup
1 box Cake Mix — (any flavor)
1 package Instant Pudding mix — (4 ounce) make sure flavor compliments cake flavor
8 – 12 ounce coffee mugs — (non-metallic)

Glaze Mix
1/3 cup Powdered Sugar
1 1/2teaspoons Dry flavoring — (see below)

Place dry cake mix and dry pudding mix into a large bowl and blend well with a wire whisk. This will be about 4 – 4 � cups of dry mix and will make 8-9 coffee cup cake mixes. Place � cup dry mix into a sandwich size zip baggie. Smooth baggie so as much air as possible is removed, then seal. Continue making packets until all your dry mix is used.

Lemon cake mix- lemon pudding
Yellow cake mix- chocolate pudding
Devils food cake mix- chocolate pudding
Pineapple cake mix- coconut pudding
Butterscotch cake mix- butterscotch pudding

Select a large coffee cup. Check it to be sure it holds 1 1/2 cups of water. That way you will be sure you have chosen the size the recipe calls for. Your mug cannot have any metallic paint on it because it will be used in the microwave.

**Dry flavorings for glaze: powdered lemonade mix, powdered orange breakfast drink mix, cocoa powder or Vanilla powder.

Select the flavoring appropriate to the cake. For the pineapple coconut cake include flaked coconut in a separate bag with instructions to sprinkle it over the frosted cake. Place the glaze mix ingredients into a snack size zip baggie and remove as much air as possible before sealing. Label this bag "glaze mix" and attach it to the other bag with a twist tie. Place one baggie cake mix & one baggie glaze mix into each coffee cup.

Cut two 16 inch sections of clear or colored plastic wrap and lay them on top of each other forming an `X’ shape, then place mug in center and bring wrap up around them, bringing the top together with a ribbon. Now attach the following baking instructions to each coffee cup:

Bake a cake in a coffee cup! Generously spray inside of coffee cup with cooking spray. Empty contents of large packet into cup. Add 1 Egg White, 1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil & 1 Tbsp. Water to dry mix. Mix 15 seconds, carefully mixing in all the dry mix. Microwave on full power for 2 minutes. (You may not get satisfactory results in a low wattage small microwave). While cake is cooking, place ingredients from "Glaze Mix" into a very small container and add 1 � tsp. Water. Mix well. When cake is done, pour glaze over cake in cup. Enjoy while warm. Mary

I have made quite a few of these jars to give away.   I started out using recipes just for gift jars, but then started just creating my own.   Find recipes that are a good basic recipe and cut the ingredients to make either a 9X9 cake, one quick bread, or one batch of muffins.   I set up the jars like an assembly line and add the dry ingredients with a canning funnel.   A 9" circle of fabric fits nicely over the top.  Secure it with a rubber band then a piece of ribbon with a note card for the directions.   Below are a couple of my favorites – watch out – the brownies are addictive!

Banana Bread Mix
Layer in a quart jar:
1 cup flour
1/3-1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup flour
1 cup dehydrated banana chips
1 cup sugar  

Mix the top layer of sugar with 1/3 cup butter or margarine. Add 2 eggs and mix. Add 2/3 cup water and the rest of the mix. Mix well. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 deg. for 55-60 min or until toothpick comes out clean. Let set 5 minutes, and remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing.  Note: for this, I use only my own dehdyrated bananas – they have not been ‘treated’ as the store bought kind.  

Crazy Cake Mix
Layer in a quart jar:
2 cup flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1-1/3 cup sugar  

This is a Crazy Cake because you mix the cake all together in the pan! Pour contents of the jar into a 9×13 inch baking pan, then add the following ingredients: 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 tsp vinegar, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 cups water.
  Stir together using a wire whisk or fork, making certain all the ingredients are completely mixed together. Bake at 350 deg for 35 minutes. Frost as desired or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Missing Loved Ones Who Have Died
From Donna L. Watkins

I know that many of you have lost special people this year and holidays are an emotional time that tends to make it harder without the loved ones that have gone on before us. My mom died on Christmas Eve and somebody gave me this. It’s been a treasure to me every year. I hope it brings some peace to your heart.

My First Christmas In Heaven
Author Unknown

I am having my first Christmas in Heaven
A glorious, wonderful day!
I am standing with saints of all ages,
Who found Christ, the truth and the way.

I am singing with the heavenly choir
And, oh what celestial music
We bring to our Savior and King.

I am singing the glad song of redemption,
How Jesus to Bethlehem came,
And why they called His name Jesus,
That all may be saved through His Name!

Oh, loved one, I wish you could be here!
No Christmas on earth can compare,
With all of the rapture in glory,
I witness in Heaven so fair!

You know how I always loved Christmas,
It seemed such a wonderful day,
With all of my loved ones around me,
We were so happy in every way.

Yes, now I can see why I loved it,
And, oh what a joy it will be,
When all of my loved ones are with me,
To share all the glories I see!

So, dear ones on earth, I send greetings,
Look up! Till dawning appears,
And, oh what a Christmas awaits us,
Beyond all our partings and tears!.

Family Birthday Party Ideas

Q. I loved the answers to the Family Holiday Parties, so I thought I would ask suggestions for Family Birthday Parties. Our family is rather large consisting of 8 parents, 9 children and 6 grandchildren. It doesn’t seem like an overload but when you try to celebrate everybody’s birthday it can get out of control. My oldest daughter is turning 21 and I would like to throw a Birthday party that allows everyone the opportunity to get together to celebrate the big event without putting any financial burden on family members to buy yet another present. I’m sure that your readers are full of creative ideas.

For family parties, how about a themed gift basket everyone can contribute to. For the gourmet cook, specialty shops have all kinds of goodies they’d like to try; for the soon-to-be-college-student, dorm supplies would be a great help; for the owner of a new pet, there are plenty of supplies that can be used even if duplicates show up. So many ideas…so few parties. – Angela

Dear Lady With The Many Birthdays, I totally understand your dilemna. My grandmother, who’s still living, has 7 children, 19 grandchildren, and 33 great-grandchildren! On birthdays, we have favorite meals to celebrate. The birthday person chooses their favorite foods, and each family brings an item off the list. The birthday person feels special, there’s a big feast, and it’s alot more reasonable than continuous gift buying. – God Bless You, Maria

Go through oneof your own photo albums or box of saved photos. Find a bunch of family gatherings and select those that would be of significance to the recipient. You probably have many that she hasn’t seen before or has forgotten. With today’s far-flung families, we don’t always get to see all the wonderful candid shots that were taken. Include not only those of the recipient but anybody or event that may bring fond memories. Then buy or make an album and place only one photo per page with the most of the rest of the space filled with a description of the when, where and why the photo was taken. Leave room for autographs and at the party pass it around with some colored ink pens and let people add their own thoughts and memories. – Pam

I thought family/friends members could look for a picture of the birthday girl, at any age of her lifetime, with the family member or without, and bring to the party for a family "show and tell". They could tell the age of the birthday girl and circumstances surrounding the picture. This would be good for some laughs possibly and bring back some fun memories.

Ways to Save on Gifts, Wrapping and Decorations

by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

1. Limit gift-giving, both in the number of people to whom you give gifts and in the cost of the gifts. Otherwise, you could find yourself spending a disproportionate amount of your income on gift-giving. Other people may enjoy your generosity, but it is you who will have to pay the bills.

2. Always keep an assortment of gifts on hand for gift-giving. Buy gift items when they are on sale (preferably when they are 75 percent or more off) and save them until the appropriate occasions arise. Usually, you will pay much more (probably full price) for gifts if you wait and buy them immediately prior to the times you need them.

3. Give gift vouchers to immediate family members and other relatives, to neighbors, and to friends. The recipients can exchange these vouchers for the items listed on them. Some examples are: A child could give his or her working mother a voucher reading "dishes from one meal washed"; a wife could give her husband one which says "one breakfast in bed"; a husband could give one to his wife saying "one outside grilled dinner for the family"; you could give to an elderly neighbor a voucher which says "one free lawn mowing"; and to a friend who seldom goes out because she can’t afford a baby-sitter, you could give a voucher which reads "one night of free baby sitting." These gifts need not cost anything extra and could be unique and fun.

4. Make gifts. Use your talents and imagination to make attractive gifts for less than you could purchase satisfactory gifts. (Below are just a few examples of gift items which could be made.) Think–"what gifts could I make?"

a. Make cookies, cakes, and candies to give to family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

b. Make and give jams, jellies, and preserves as gifts.

c. Write out your favorite recipes on cards, place them in recipe file boxes, and give them to people you know who take particular pride in their own cooking.

d. Compose a poem for a friend or family member who would appreciate such a gift. Your only cost should be a few sheets of paper.

5. Purchase potted plants from a nursery, grocery store, or discount store to give as gifts.

6. If you receive a gift which you cannot use or you have a sufficient number of similar items already, save it and give it as a gift to someone else for whom it would be appropriate. Giving this item will save you the expense of purchasing a gift.

7. If you win items or receive free merchandise which you cannot use, put them in your gift inventory. The fewer gifts you have to buy, the more money you will save.

8. Get free gifts by saving and sending in box tops, labels, and other proofs-of-purchase. Place these gifts in your gift inventory and use them on appropriate occasions.

9. Get free gifts for your gift inventory by hosting parties offered by home-party plans. The gifts you receive usually are based on the dollar amount of orders you are able to sell. Getting free gifts saves you money.

10. Be on the lookout for new items suitable for gifts when you go to garage sales. The items normally will be only a fraction of the cost of similar items purchased in a store.

11. When you receive a gift and think you might want or need to exchange it, be sure to save the box, wrapping paper, and any labels and tags which will identify the store from which the gift was purchased. Take all of these with you when you go to exchange the gift and present them to the salesperson as evidence that the gift was purchased at that store. Being able to exchange an unusable gift will allow you to exchange it for something you would ordinarily have to buy yourself.

12. Save and reuse gift-wrap paper. The more you can reuse, the less you will have to buy.

13. Buy gift-wrap paper on sale (up to 75 percent off) following Christmas and other holidays for use next year. If you wait until just prior to the holidays to buy the paper, you will likely have to pay full price.

14. Check to see if rolls of gift-wrap paper are cheaper per unit (square inch, square foot, or square yard) than sheets of gift-wrap paper. Buy the type that offers the most for the money.

15. Use black-and-white and colored sheets of newspaper for some of your gift wrapping. It’s cheap and chic.

16. Wrap your gifts yourself, rather than pay to have them wrapped, unless, of course, having them wrapped is cheaper than wrapping them yourself. If free gift wrapping is offered, by all means take advantage of the service.

17. Save and reuse bows and ribbons. The more of these you reuse, the fewer you will have to purchase.

18. Whenever you purchase items which you are not going to use immediately as gifts, always ask for free gift boxes, anyway. Save the boxes for later gift-giving. Gift boxes can be expensive if you have to purchase them, and this adds to the cost of the gifts.

19. Save suitable, miscellaneous boxes for use as gift boxes. Keep a supply on hand at all times.

20. Buy Christmas cards on sale following Christmas. You can expect to save up to 75 percent over the price charged before Christmas. Keep the cards until next year and use them.

21. Buy holiday decorations on sale following Christmas for use next year. Buying decorations after specific holidays can mean savings of 50 to 75 percent or more over pre-holiday prices.

22. Check at garage sales for used holiday decorations. You may be able to find new or nearly new decorations at almost "giveaway" prices.

23. Make your own holiday decorations. Use your talents and imagination to make decorations cheaper than you can buy them.

24. Save holiday decorations for use again next year. The longer you can use them, the longer you can postpone purchasing ones to replace them.

25. Save used Christmas cards for use in decorating. For example, cutouts from used Christmas cards make excellent decorations for your Christmas tree and dining table.

26. Buy an artificial Christmas tree which can be used year after year rather than buying an expensive live tree every year. A $40 live tree each year over a ten-year period would amount to $400. By shopping carefully and after Christmas, you should be able to buy an artificial tree for a small fraction of that $400.

27. Cut your own Christmas tree. It should be cheaper than buying one already cut. Maybe you have a friend who lives in the country and has an ample supply of wild, suitable evergreen trees. Ask if you might cut one for your Christmas tree. Some Christmas tree farms will give you a discount if you cut your own tree from their plantation.

About the Author:
Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System. She is the author of The Frugal Mind, The Little Book of Living Frugal, and Speak for Yourself: A Handbook on Practical Public Speaking.

Christmas Cards – Don’t Trash or Stash Them

by Donna Watkins

I thought I’d share a Holiday Tradition that makes Christmas cards "last"much longer than just for the month of December. It takes away the guilt of just tossing them in the trash……and takes away the clutter of putting them away.

As the cards arrive in the mail, we sit them around the house as they come in so we can be reminded of the many friends we have been blessed with. After Christmas Day we gather them up and put them in a basket and schedule a time to pray over each person and family that sent them. It’s a special time to slip into lives in a way that will bless them for the year to come — and possibly for eternity.

When our son was little and life was a bit more hectic, we would place them on the kitchen table in a basket or napkin holder and each of us would draw one to pray for before we ate each meal.

After we’ve prayed, we cut the covers of the cards into 4×6" postcards and write thank-you’s on them. You can use the left side for the message, draw a line to the right of it, and then write the address and use a 20-cent stamp. This saves 12 cents plus the cost of note cards – and you "save a tree."

A postcard gives just enough space to say thank you and makes the task quick and fun. It isn’t as intimidating for children as a note card sometimes is with all of its blank space to fill in, and it teaches children an important character quality: gratefulness.

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A Different Kind of Christmas

by Donna L. Watkins

"The Holidays" are here again. It’s a time of year that creates a lot of stress in lives, families and health. I’m hoping that many of you have chosen to avoid the push and shove of the holidays and are keeping it simple. We decided years back to stop all the "clatter and clutter" of December and enjoy the real reason for the season.

We explained to friends and family that we wanted to de-stress the holidays to be able to truly enjoy holiday events and to spend shopping time volunteering to make a difference in lives that have no hope for a holiday at all.

Some of my friends and I exchange contributions to a chosen organization. It’s been very special to be able to "sacrifice" a gift to be able to give to somebody who needs seeds to plant for food, or to provide funds where communities have been destroyed because of natural disasters.

It only takes a few minutes to purchase this kind of a gift, but it gives a lifetime of good thoughts and it’s an investment in people.

One site that might be helpful for you to "swap gifts" with family members and friends is this one that I use: Alternative Gifts International

Think back ….

How many of the gifts you received were really needed or wanted?

How much of it ends up at a yard sale in the near future?

How much is enough?

Do we really need more to maintain and store away?

What do we teach our children with the way we model/define Christmas?

How much holiday depression could be avoided for the next generation if Christmas wasn’t about what you get?

Begin this year to suggest this approach to the holidays and spend the time with family and friends at Christmas musicals or around the fireplace with a cup of tea or hot cider. Enjoy people and share the Christ of Christmas.

Have you noticed that Jesus never hurried?

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