163 Christmas Ornaments For $50 (But Who’s Counting?)


(These pictures do not do these items justice – I promise when they’re on the tree it’ll look so much better but I hurriedly took the pics with my iphone before the kids got home from school!)

Dollar Tree Christmas decorations are out in full force, and I scored big this week! I made a quick run in just to see what they had, and came out with a small Christmas haul. ;)


Everything in our new home is very pale and neutral, and while I’ve loved our last Dollar Tree Christmas Tree, I knew those colors wouldn’t work here. I found this beautiful silver and white tree over on Pinterest, and am working towards switching over to those colors this year (while sticking to a budget!) A few days ago my sweet husband made the mistake of saying “I can’t wait to see how you’re going to decorate here this Christmas” which for me clearly meant “You get to buy anything you want to decorate as long as you don’t go really nuts.”;)


So, for a whopping $50, I scored ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY THREE ORNAMENTS for our tree. I’m not quite sure where it’s going to go or what else we’ll need, but I’m thinking we’re already just about there! (We’ll also have our normal family tree, but this one’s my perfect little decorating tree – ’cause you just can’t get enough Christmas around here.)


Here are a few fun things I noticed while shopping (all for $1, of course.) 



(I love those reindeer!)






Do you use Dollar Tree decorations at home on your tree? I’d love to hear your favorite finds – leave a comment to share!

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Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ideas For Older Kids


After sharing with you all about how my seven-year-old’s perspective changed recently after working on her Operation Christmas Child Shoebox, I put together a list of ideas to pack in those shoeboxes for older children (as littler ones are pretty easy to buy for!) Many of them can be found at the Dollar Tree, and would be easy, inexpensive gifts to give.


For Older Boys:

  • Tools – hammer, screwdriver, wrench or pliers, duct tape, measuring tape
  • Fishing supplies – add in a small fishing kit, fishing line, hooks
  • Binoculars
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Plastic Magnifying Glass
  • Watch
  • Handkerchief
  • Collapsible water bottle
  • Harmonica

For Older Girls:

  • Small sewing kit
  • Clip on earrings
  • Bracelets
  • Barettes
  • Coin purse
  • Sticky notes
  • Watercolor paint set
  • Yarn
  • Colored Sharpies, highlighters or markers
  • A friendship bracelet with extra string so they can make more
  • Ink pad and stamp set


Also, here are a few ideas that Operation Christmas Child shared on their site as far as suggestions for all ages (as well as some items not to include):

  • TOYS: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.
  • SCHOOL SUPPLIES: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
  • NON-LIQUID HYGIENE ITEMS: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.
  • ACCESSORIES: t-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.
  • A PERSONAL NOTE: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may be able to write back.
  • DO NOT INCLUDE: Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.


National Collection Week for Shoeboxes this year is November 17-24, and if you’re not sure where to drop off a box in your area you can go HERE to find a local collection site. They do ask that you also give a donation of $7 per box to cover the cost of shipping – learn more about that over HERE and donate online as well.


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What other suggestions do you have on items to donate in Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes? I’d love to hear them – leave a comment to share!


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Laurie’s Fresh Thyme Market Trip: I Love This Store!


Goodness, can I just tell you how much I’m loving our new Fresh Thyme Market here in Columbus? I went this morning and took advantage of their double ad Wednesday (meaning you get to enjoy last week’s ad savings as well as the savings for the new ad which starts each Wednesday), and was so pleased with my trip.


I know this is a market that’s still only available in a few cities, but if you have one near you, you’ve got to take advantage of their special sales each week. They’re regular prices are pretty high (from what I’ve seen), but their sales are really sales, so it’s worth stocking up.  I also love that they offer great sales on some of their organic items, which make for just incredible deals on those compared to other stores.  While I didn’t purchase all organic items today I did get quite a few this week, which you can see highlighted with the * in the picture below.


Here’s what I bought . . . 

  • 5 packages strawberries $1.25 each
  • 2 packages blackberries $.88 each
  • organic celery $.99
  • (2) 3 lb bags organic apples $3.99 each
  • organic carrots $.99
  • 2 organic lemons 2/$1
  • 1 tomato $.72
  • 2 bunches green onions 2/$1
  • 2 green peppers 2/$1
  • 3 pears $1.26
  • 3.5 lb rump roast $10.35 ($2.99/lb.)
  • 2.89 lb boneless skinless chicken breast $5.75 ($1.99/lb)
  • 2.94 lb cut up whole fryer chicken $5.86 ($1.99/lb – this had a tag showing $.99/lb which is why I bought it – wouldn’t normally pay that  much)

Their chicken is on sale 50% off this week (making it $1.99/lb.) and is minimally processed. I haven’t seen prices anywhere close to these on produce anywhere else in our area, so I’m thrilled to have this option to shop for whole foods!


Do you have a Fresh Thyme grocer in your hometown (or another store that offers similar sales occasionally?) I’d love to hear your thoughts as well as other tips on saving on organics and fresh foods - leave a comment to share! You can also check out all the sales at Fresh Thyme each week over HERE.




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Michael’s: Save 70% Off Halloween & Fall Items




Michaels is having a huge clearance sale on some fall and Halloween items, and there are so many fun items included in the sale! You can also save 50% off any one regularly priced item when you print your coupon over HERE. If you have any parties going on at your child’s school or other activities, this is an easy way to save!  Here’s a peek at what I found today . . .




After clearance pricing $2.99


Fall Berry Wreaths just $4.49


Foam Capek kits just $.87


Halloween Baking Supplies as low as $.59


Halloween Crafting Kits just $2.69


Halloween Baskets $2.99


Fall Decor just $3.09


Ashland Accents as low as $1-2 after 70% off sale


Baskets on clearance 50% off – as low as $4-$5

And here are just a few fun finds I noticed in the dollar bins (love those!)




Have you found any great deals on fall products at the craft stores? Leave a comment to share your finds!

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How My Seven-Year-Old’s Perspective Changed





Can I just promise you what a blessing giving is?


Last Friday night, as I was packing for a trip, my seven-year-old snuck around our closet and came across some hidden treasures for our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox. (Remember when I found a bunch of clearance items at Target last month to give? Yup, she found it too.)


Her eyes lit up, and she was so excited because she just knew she’d hit the new-toy-jackpot. I explained to her though that the treats weren’t for us, but rather for us to share with kids who might not have any Christmas without them.


Oh my. That girl was mad.


She didn’t get it, and absolutely knew she was deserving of every trinket in the box. Honestly? She was a wee bit irate that none of it was for her. (And, honestly? I was a wee bit irate with her for not getting that she needed absolutely none. of. it.)


I stopped my packing, pulled her up in my arms, and tried to explain a little bit more about the program and who would be receiving those tiny gifts. (Even though we’ve filled Operation Christmas Child Boxes for years, she still needed the reminder.)


Then I grabbed my laptop, and we sat down in the middle of the floor of my closet and watched a few of the Operation Christmas Child videos.


My girl’s heart changed. completely.


I encouraged her to separate the items into a few different boxes, and goodness, watching her expression soften and change to excitement for someone else’s gift melted this momma’s heart.


“They’re gonna love our stuff,” she said.


“I’m glad that I’m helping this year,” came next.


And finally “My heart just feels so happy right now momma.” 


She then decided to spend a little of her own money to buy them a few extra gifts this year. ;)


Folks, I have no idea where your finances are at right now, but if you’re in a place where you do have some extra to give, I encourage you to find just the right place to share this year. Whether it be packing a box with your kids for Operation Christmas Child, donating to a local food pantry, or even just giving of your time to help someone in need, you will be blessed more than the one you’re giving to will. Promise.


As a family we’ve struggled a bit recently with gratitude, and there’s nothing like giving to someone else in need to completely change our perspective. And, while I think traveling on mission trips to share the good news with others is wonderful, I also believe there are seasons in our lives when there is simply so much good we can do right here at home. With the power of the internet, our children can get a glimpse of ways to give abundantly to those who live in a completely different world than our own.


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Five Items I Was Surprised To Find At Aldi


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I made a quick run to Aldi today, and was pretty surprised that they carried quite a few items I didn’t know they had! I’ve always picked up fresh produce and string cheese there (they consistently have the best price on string cheese), but there were some new items that caught my eye today.  Here were the things I noticed that you may have missed too . . .



1. K-Cups priced at $4.99/12 or $.41 each (compare to $.31 per K-Cup at Amazon)

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2. Lots of gluten free options (LOTS!)


3. Coconut Oil (great price!)

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4. Organic Cereal (Simply Nature Organic Walnut or Tropical Mango Passion $1.99 per box) as well as quite a bit of Organic Produce (I haven’t priced it to be sure this is a great deal compared to your local grocery store ~ I would love to hear your thoughts on it if you normally shop organic)



5. Whole Wheat Flour ($2.29 – I forgot to take a picture!) and spices/seasonings (I actually knew this one, but didn’t want you to miss it – they have tons for just $.99 which is a great way to save!)


What other items do you purchase at Aldi that help your family save? I would love to hear them ~ it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been to Aldi so I was thrilled to stock up on whole wheat flour and fresh produce easily this week. Love that store! ;)
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What’s Your Family’s Favorite Meal?



I shared this over on Facebook this morning (and a few folks seemed interested), so thought I’d share our Cracker Barrel Copycat meal at home for any non-Facebook readers here! It’s not exactly like Cracker Barrel, but tastes just as good. (And, you’ll save quite a few pennies . . . and my bet is a few calories too?)


I snapped this picture from my phone – it was all I had time for before my family gobbled it down!

Here’s what we had:


Not all that fancy, but after dinner my fourteen-year-old said “we need to have dinner at home like this more often.” And, as fast as these days are flying by right now, I’ll take it. ;)  If you’re up for making dumplings from scratch these Homemade Chicken and Dumplings are just the best (really), so you may want to try those out too.


Did you have anything yummy for dinner tonight? I’d love to hear what your family’s favorite meals are too.


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How I Saved $15.82 On Groceries (Without Clipping A Single Coupon)



I had the best post getting ready for you today about something sweet my seven-year-old taught me, and then the power went out at our house because of construction. (I’m trying not to really lose it here, but goodness I wasn’t all that sweet to the power company when the power went out!)


Because I couldn’t get the pictures added in, I figured I’d just share how I saved a whopping $15.82 this morning on groceries, without even a coupon in hand. (Stop back for my little girls story about Operation Christmas Child later – I promise it’ll be worth the wait . . . that girl teaches me so much!) ;)


Here were exactly the steps I took to save big:

  • I did a quick check of my Favado app and noticed there was a great price on Tide Simply Clean. I made a quick mental note to check out the laundry detergent aisle before I left the store.


  • I walked through the cereal aisle (because we eat a lot of cereal around here.) I noticed the big boxes of Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch were on sale for $2.99, and they had a label mentioning “download super savings.” I checked my Kroger app, and sure enough there was a $1 off coupon, dropping my price on cereal to $1.99 per box. (That’s a stock up price because these are double the size of the boxes normally on sale for $1 – $1.50!)



  • I scanned the dairy aisle quickly and noticed my absolute favorite Skinny Cow Cream Cheese Spreads were on sale for $2.50, and there was a $1 off coupon right there in front of the item. While I’ve gotten them a few times for less than $1, they don’t sell at that price very often, and since they’re regularly $3.59 I was thrilled with that price!


  • I headed over to the laundry detergent aisle and noticed that while the Tide Simply Clean was $2.99 (and there was a $1 off digital coupon), the All Laundry Detergent was also the same price and was a larger bottle. So while the Tide Simply Clean was a good deal, the All deal was even better, and all it took was me reading the labels to look for their price per use to get the most bang for my buck. Success! 


Here were my totals:

Bought 2 Skinny Cow Cheeses $2.50

  • Used $1/1 coupon found in store

Bought 2 All Laundry Detergents $2.99 (regularly $5.29, yikes!)

  • Used $1/1 All Laundry Detergent Kroger digital coupon (can use up to 5 per transaction)

Bought 2 Cinnamon Toast Crunch $2.99

  • Used $1/1 Cinnamon Toast Crunch Kroger digital coupon (can use up to 5 per transaction)
  • Paid $10.96 for over $26 in groceries ~ yay!


Do you have any other tips on easily saving at the grocery store? I’d sure love to hear them, and be sure to check out all the deals going on at Kroger this week!



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How I Completely Wasted $6.26 Today


I spent the last few days away at a blogging conference in North Carolina (it was so pretty and warm there!), and enjoyed meeting up with other bloggers so much. On the way back though, my friend Mara and I raced to make our planes (without time for lunch), so I figured I’d just pick something up after waiting through the long line at airport security.


After getting myself checked through, I scrambled to the bathroom (um, which I’d also skipped in my hurry to make the flight), and then stopped at a snack kiosk where I picked up a Snickers Bar and water bottle. (Just a few dollars, right?)


Clearly I was shocked when the cashier rang me up at a whopping SIX DOLLARS AND TWENTY SIX CENTS (I am not kidding folks!), and determined I will never go on a trip without a Snickers bar in hand. Yikes!


Do you have any great tips on traveling frugally? Clearly I could use them ~ but being home safe and sound makes it completely worth it. ;)


(And, on a very random note, in the restroom in Charlotte they had the sweetest woman keeping the bathrooms clean, who went way above and beyond to be awesome. She did have a tip jar which I was more than happy to add to ~ while I didn’t enjoy paying $4 for a candy bar, paying a small tip for a clean bathroom at an airport felt incredibly reasonable to me!) 



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2014 Lego Advent Calendar & Playmobil Nativity Set Available at Amazon

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This isn’t any real savings, but if you’re kids love Legos it’s worth checking out!  The Lego City Advent Calendar is available on Amazon, and I just got ours for my kids.  (I think they’re going to love it!) Here are the options available:

These don’t usually drop much in price (the lowest I saw it last year was $27.99), but are only available for a limited time and usually are a favorite for Lego fans. Head on over HERE to check it out, and let me know if this is one your family enjoys it.

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Right now you can also get the Playmobil Nativity Manger with Stable for $31.46 as well (regularly $38.99.) We have this one and really like it – head on over HERE to check it out!


See more Amazon Deals, and remember when you subscribe and save to 5 or more items in one month, you’ll also save an additional 15% on all of your subscribe and save purchases.

Remember that pricing on Amazon is subject to change at any time.


This post contains affiliate links.  See my disclosure policy to learn more.

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