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25 Completely Free Family Winter Activities

 Sweet Frugal Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

I absolutely love the snow!  I love to snowmobile, sled, and snowboard.  I love waking up to a fresh blanket of new snow and the sparkle it makes in the sunlight.

The only negative about the snow is that it’s so cold!!  Unfortunately, I live in an area where it stays cold for many many months!  We all get a little stir crazy around here being cooped up for so long.   I’ve learned to get creative during these cold months to help us stay sane and stay in budget!

2019 Goals

Fun In the Snow

1.  Sledding

Try a few sledding hills around town.  See if you can find a new favorite.  Enjoy spending the day laughing with friends and family.

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2.  Snow Cave

Spend the day outside building a snow cave as a family.  You could even have a contest to see who can build the best.  Turn it into a castle, add some stairs or windows.  Get creative and have fun!

3.  Snow Candy

We fell in love with Snow Candy a few years ago after reading the Little House on the Prairie series. Simply place a bowl outside while it’s snowing.  When the bowl is full of fresh clean snow, immediately bring it in and pour pure maple syrup on top.  The syrup will harden to make a sweet treat!

4.  Winter Walk/Scavenger Hunt

Bundle up and go for a walk in the freshly fallen snow.  Make a game of it by putting together a list of different items to find; a pine cone, icicle, boot tracks, animal tracks, a snowman, etc.

5.  Snowball Fight

Have a family friendly snowball fight.  This is guaranteed to bring a lot of laughs and memories!

6.  Build a Snowman

Why build one snowman when you can build a family of snowmen???  Have everyone build the snowman that fits their unique personality!

7.  Snow Ice Cream

Search Pinterest to find hundreds of easy snow ice cream tutorials. It is a simple recipe using a few cheap ingredients.  This is a fun way to enjoy the snow…while staying indoors!

 

Fun at Home

8.  Movie Night

Snuggle up together, pop some popcorn and have a family movie night.  Watch a few old classics or try something new.  All that matters is that you are spending time together.

9.  Bake Bread

I love spending cold winter days in my kitchen baking something warm.  Try baking a loaf of homemade bread!  Lather it with homemade butter and eat it together as a family.

10.  Homemade Cocoa

It only takes a couple of minutes and a few ingredients to make a big batch homemade cocoa.  Make the hot chocolate together as a family and enjoy sipping it next to a warm cozy fire.

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11.  Family Slumber Party

Haul blankets, pillows and sleeping bags onto the living room floor.  Have a large family slumber party together.  Your kids will remember this forever!

12.  Read a Novel as a Family

My family loves to read a novel together every winter.  I usually pick a classic and read it to the kids for 20-30 minutes every evening.  A few favorites have been Little House on the Prairie, Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little.

13.  Paper Snowflakes

Spend an afternoon cutting out paper snowflakes and hanging them around your home.  We like to tape a few to the windows and use invisible thread to hang some from the ceiling.  You can find countless Youtube video tutorials.  This is such a fun, cheap and easy craft!

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14.  Play Dough

Make some homemade play dough at home!  Use it to build snowmen or other fun creations.  You can use my favorite recipe or search pinterest for other variations!

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15.  Indoor Picnic

You don’t have to have warm weather for a picnic!  Spread a blanket out on the floor, bring a few of your favorite picnic foods and enjoy a picnic indoors!

16.  Make a Fort

Gather all the blankets and chairs in your house and build a gigantic blanket fort.  Play games, read stories and spend the day hiding out in the fort.

17.  Make a Sock Snowman

All it takes is a little creativity and a few random items found around the house to turn an ordinary sock into a snowman!

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18. Board Games

We love board games in our family!  You can find some cheap ones at your local thrift store, but there are plenty of fun games played with just a deck of cards or dice.

19.  Make Friendship Bracelets

My kids love spending an afternoon making friendship bracelets!  You can do an easy braid or something fancier.  Be sure to make two bracelets!  One to give away and one to keep.

20.  Family Dance Party

Sometimes our family (or maybe just this tired mom! 😉 ) just needs a good old fashioned dance party!  We crank up a few of our fave dance tunes and dance the grumpy faces away!

 

Fun in Town

21. Visit the Library

The library offers a lot of free activities for everyone in the family.  Take advantage of all the many free programs and be sure to check out a book or movie while you are there!

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22.  Serve a Meal at a Homeless Shelter

There is nothing better for a child to learn than how to care for others.  Pick a day as a family to help serve a meal at the local homeless shelter.  This is such a humbling experience!

23.  Visit a Pet Store

It’s so simple, but so fun!  We love walking around the local pet store and visiting the cats, dogs, and birds.  My kids ask to go regularly and I never complain!

24.  Donate to a Thrift Store

As a family go through all of the toys, clutter, and household items.  Fill up a large box of items to donate to a thrift store.  It feels so good to start the new year fresh and clutter free!

25.  Visit a Neighbor

Do you have an elderly neighbor who might need a visit?  Or maybe someone new to the neighborhood?  As a family pay a special visit to someone needing company.  It’s a great way to brighten their day and get to know someone new!

 

What do you like to do with your family during the cold winter months????  Bonus points if it’s FREE!  Comment below with all your good ideas!

 

 

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Christmas · Family · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Gift Ideas · Good Ideas · Holidays · Homemade · Recipes

Easy Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe

Hot cocoa is such a fun staple to have in your home during these cold winter months.  My kids will spend hours playing outside in the snow and the first thing they ask for when they come inside is some hot chocolate!

Back in my “spender” days I use to buy hot chocolate mix at the store like it was nobody’s business!  Once I started learning how to save and live a frugal life I learned how to make hot chocolate mix from scratch and I have never looked back!

Not only does making your own hot cocoa save you money, it is also so quick and easy to do.  It also tastes much better than what you will buy from the store!

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Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe

2 cups nonfat dry milk powder

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 cup powdered creamer

1/8 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Store in a tightly covered container.

To make hot chocolate:  Stir 1/4 cup mix with 3/4 cup boiling water.  Enjoy!

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We usually make this mix for our family to enjoy all winter, but it would also be a really frugal christmas gift for friends and neighbors.  Whip up a large batch, portion it into cute jars and tie a bow around it. Done!

 

Affiliate · Amazon · Bargain Buys · Christmas · Family · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Holidays · Parenting · Recipes

Christmas Tree Cookie Recipe

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

One of my favorite Christmas Traditions as a young girl was my mom making these delicious Christmas Tree Cookies!  I knew it was Christmastime when I came home to these delicious treats after school.

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My mom is no longer living, so I have continued on the tradition by making them for my kids.  They are SO easy and I love the hint of almond flavor!

One of the best parts of making Christmas Tree Cookies is getting to use this fun Wilton Cookie Press.  It’s really easy to use, and you can usually find one under $10!  It comes with a dozen different plates with fun shapes for cookies.  All you have to do is fill it with the cookie dough, turn it upside down and press the trigger!  Out comes a cute little tree.

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Christmas Tree Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp salt

2 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

green food coloring

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together in mixer.

Beat in egg and almond extract.

Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Gradually add to mixer.

Add a few drops of green food coloring.  Mix well.

Fill Cookie Press with dough and insert the tree plate.

Use Cookie Press to make cookies on ungreased cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with red sprinkles.

Bake in hot oven for 8 minutes.

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They are so easy!  Your kids will look forward to them every year, I promise!

Crafts · Family · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Homemade · Parenting · Recipes

How to Make Homemade Butter

I had a container of heavy whipping cream sitting in my fridge for a few weeks.  I kept looking at it, knowing I needed to do something with it, but never knowing exactly what!  My sister finally suggested to me that I should use the cream to make butter with my kids.

This actually turned out to be the best idea ever!  Making butter was so so easy, cheap, and my kids absolutely LOVED it!

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My kids loved shaking their jars and checking every 5 minutes to see if the butter had formed.  My daughter even said, “Wow!  They use to have to work hard in the olden days!  I can’t imagine doing this every time we needed butter.”  This led into such a great discussion about the conveniences we have now and how hard our ancestors had to work in order to survive.

You can make your very own butter; all you need is a mason jar and heavy whipping cream.

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Pour some whipping cream into the jar.  I filled our jars about half full, but if you are doing this with your kids I would recommend only filling it about 1/4 full.  I think it would’ve been easier and quicker for the kids if the jar had less cream in it.

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Now, you shake it!  Shake, shake and shake!  This took us about 45 minutes of hard shaking.  If I had done less cream I’m sure it would’ve been much quicker.

We turned on some music and danced while shaking our jars.

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The cream will slowly become thicker.  You will eventually notice the butter separating from the cream. The butter will form together in a nice solid ball.  Once this happens, you are done!  See, so easy!

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Drain the leftover cream, rinse your butter, and then transfer it to a plate.  Wah-lah!  You have made butter!

Now is the fun part!  Enjoy your butter on some fresh bread or rolls.  It really is delicious!

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Affiliate · Amazon · Christmas · Family · for free · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Good Ideas

20 FREE or FRUGAL Family Christmas Traditions

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Christmas is just my very very favorite season.  I love the lights, the snow, planning that perfect gift for a loved one, and the joy I feel from everyone around me.  It truly is the most magical time of the year!

December is the perfect month for establishing family traditions.  My hope is that one day my little family will look back on their childhood and remember the sweet memories and traditions we made together.

You do not have to spend a lot of money to make these memories with your family.  A lot of activities can be done completely FREE!  Here are 20 FREE or FRUGAL Family Christmas Traditions!

family traditions

Free or Frugal Family Christmas Traditions

1.  Decorate the Christmas Tree

Each year our family hikes through the forest to cut down our Christmas Tree.  After finding that “perfect” tree we bring it home, turn on some Christmas music and spend a fun evening decorating it together.  Our Christmas tree is decorated with salt dough ornaments, candy canes, and all the things that bring sentimentality and love to my life.  The ornaments made by the hands of my sweet children are ones I will cherish forever!

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2.  Christmas Stories

Every night for the entire month of December we turn off the lights in our house, sit in front of the lit up Christmas tree, and read a Christmas Story.  Short stories can easily be found and printed from the internet, or you can usually find Christmas books at your local thrift store.

3.  Christmas Lights

Take a drive as a family and look at all of the Christmas lights around town.  We have found a few favorite neighborhoods that we enjoy visiting each year.  I always pop popcorn for the kids (and me!) to snack on during the drive and the kids bring a blanket and wear their pajamas.  Of course, we have our favorite holiday music on in the background.  It is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to enjoy the holidays

4.  Holiday Baking

I mean really, does it get any better than holiday baking??  I think NOT!  With hundreds of different recipes and treats to choose from, we could be baking all month long!

Holiday baking is a fun tradition to do with your kids.  My kids love to help in the kitchen, ESPECIALLY if they know treats are involved!  A few of our holiday favorites are gingerbread men, peanut brittle, pretzels dipped in chocolate, and homemade toffee.

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5.  Neighbor Gifts

After all the holiday baking it’s so fun to deliver those yummy goodies to friends and neighbors.  We like to get the kids involved in this.  We package up the plates together, make cute little cards and spend an evening bringing some joy to our little neighborhood.  I love this tradition and the way it brings a community together.

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6.  Advent Calendar

Years ago I made a Christmas Advent calendar.  It was quite a bit of work and honestly, there are so many cheaper and easier options out there.  But, my kids love this calendar.  It’s nothing fancy.  They don’t receive a treat or activity each day, they just put a little felt ornament up on our felt Christmas Tree.  When the tree is full, Christmas is here.  It makes the long wait a little bit easier for the excited kids!

7.  Christmas Movies

Have a Christmas Movie night.  I love snuggling up with my family and enjoying a feel good holiday movie.  We enjoy classics like; It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas; or a newer family favorite is Elf.  Netflix has a lot of great options, or check out a few from your local library.

8.  Christmas Crafts

There are hundreds of darling Christmas Craft ideas all over Pinterest.  I like to do a few of these during the school break with my kids.  You can always find some ideas using items you already have in your house.

9.  Paper Snowflakes

Cut out paper snowflakes and hang them around your house.  You can find many tutorials on YouTube.  These are usually easy enough for younger kids to enjoy.  I will usually fold the paper for my preschool kids and then let them be in charge of cutting out the fun shapes. It’s such a joy to see every snowflake with a different unique design.

 

10.  Christmas Eve Dinner

I like to have a big fancy dinner with my family on Christmas Eve.  When we have our big dinner on Christmas Eve, we are able to just relax and enjoy Christmas day stress free.  We invite over extended family and everyone brings a side dish to share.  When everyone helps contribute to the meal, it keeps the costs low.

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11.  Letters to Santa

My kids like to write letters to Santa Clause every year.  I am personally not a huge fan of the traditional letters to Santa, where the kids ask for all the things they want to be brought to them.  Instead, I have my kids write to tell Santa about all of the good and nice things they have done throughout the year.  I have told them this is how Santa decides if he will bring them a present or not.  My hope is this will encourage them to focus more on being kind and less on materialist things.

12.  Light the World

We have been participating in Light the World for the past few years.  Light the World is a campaign sponsored by my church.  It encourages families to look for ways to serve within their family, community and in the world.  It is absolutely open to EVERYONE!  The focus is less about religion, and more on service.

There are so many different ways to serve and love others.  Bake cookies for your local fire department, participate in Operation Shoe box, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or become “Secret Santa” for a family in need.  I love having my kids participate in this and have found it really brings the true spirit of Christmas into our home.

13.  Act out the Nativity

Every Christmas Eve, after our special dinner, my kids act out the nativity as an adult reads the story out of Luke 2.  The kids dress up as mary, joseph, donkey etc.  I love this tradition!

14.  Make a Ginger Bread House

Spend an afternoon making a ginger bread house with your family.  You can usually find fairly cheap kits at your local grocery store.  One year we just used graham crackers and homemade frosting.  For decorations we used items already in my pantry, like chocolate chips, marshmallows and almonds.  It really doesn’t matter how fancy of a house you build, all that matters is that you’re spending time with your loved ones.

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15.  Christmas Cookie Exchange

Invite some friends over for an annual Christmas Cookie Exchange.  Ask everyone to bring a dozen cookies and enjoy socializing and taste testing all of the different holiday cookies.  You might even find a new favorite recipe!

16.  Send out a Christmas Email

Ditch the traditional Christmas card and instead send out a Christmas e-mail.  You can include a few pictures and a short update of what your family has been up to over the past year.  I have even seen some free email card services you could look into!

17.  White Elephant Party

Host a White Elephant Party at your home.  Ask everyone to bring a wrapped gift (something they already have around their house).  Play a fun gift exchange game (these can be found on Pinterest) to decide who will open which present.

This is a fun way to exchange gifts with friends, without having to spend a lot of money on everyone.  It also brings a lot of laughs!!

18.  Hot Chocolate Bar

Set up a hot chocolate bar on Christmas Day.  Keep it simple to prevent overspending.  A few peppermint sticks, some marshmallows and whipped cream are all easy ideas.  Search Pinterest for easy homemade hot chocolate mix.

19.  Christmas Concerts/Events

Look to your community for free Christmas Concerts and Events happening around town.  Does your community put on a free nativity, light parade or other special concerts?  You can usually find at least a few Christmas Concerts at the local high school.

20.  Cookies for Santa and Reindeer Food

Set out milk and cookies for Santa Clause on Christmas Eve.  Go one step further and make Reindeer Food.  Mix together oats and glitter for magic reindeer food.  Sprinkle it out in your yard to help the reindeer find your house.

Christmas Traditions

I am always searching for fun new traditions!  What are some of your families favorite holiday traditions???  Let me know in the comments!

Date Night · Family · for free · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Parenting · Valentines Day

10 Ideas for Date Night at Home

Date nights are so important to all relationships.  I’ve been married 14 years and life has HAPPENED.  Right now the majority of our time is spent taking care of our three kids, working our jobs, and maintaining our home (with our slightly to big yard!).

It’s been so easy to get consumed with all of these “to dos” and leave less time for my spouse.  We have learned that we MUST make date night a priority, or else it probably won’t happen.

I get it!  Dating can be expensive!  Just dinner and a movie could easily cost you a quick $50.  PLUS, when you have to hire a babysitter….those dates can add up fast.  I have BEEN there!

One thing my husband and I have learned to do is to have date night at home.  This saves us the added cost of hiring a babysitter and is almost ALWAYS cheaper than the dates we have outside of the home.  We plan a night each week, put the kids to bed, turn off the TV, put away all phones and other distractions and we spend time TOGETHER.  It has done wonders for our relationship!

I’ve made a list of a few of our favorite at home date night ideas.  Hopefully this will help you brainstorm a few that you and your significant other can enjoy.  For EVEN more FREE date night ideas check out my post, 20 FREE Valentine Date Ideas.

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Here are 10 of our Favorite At Home Date Night Ideas

1.  Candlelight Dinner

There’s no rule that says you have to go out to a fancy restaurant in order to enjoy a romantic dinner.  Cook a special dinner, put the kids to bed and enjoy a quiet dinner for two.  Set the mood by lighting some candles, dimming the lights, and adding a pretty tablecloth.

2.  Put Together a Puzzle

I am not usually a huge fan of puzzles (I lack patience!), however, my husband really enjoys them.  Through him I have learned to better appreciate puzzles.  Often when we do a puzzle together it has turned into sweet moments where we are able to just talk and laugh.  It’s fun to have a project/goal we can work towards together.  I have surprised myself by saying I enjoy puzzles…..as long as they are done with my husband!  😉

3.  Would you Rather

Ask each other “would you rather” questions to get to know each other a little better.  It’s such a fun way to learn more about each other.  You can ask serious questions, or be a little more lighthearted and fun.  I’m still surprised at all the random idiosyncrasies I keep learning about my husband!

4.  Food Tasting

Try some new foods together with a food tasting.  Look for new food at the grocery store that you normally wouldn’t buy.  Perhaps, some fancy cheeses and unique fruits.  You might even find a few new favorites!

5.  Personality Quizzes

I’m a bit of a nerd in the fact that I seriously love personality quizzes.  I’m betting there isn’t a personality quiz out there that I haven’t taken.  For a fun date night you could both take a personality quiz and then read each others results.  It’s such much easier to understand why someone is the way they are if you understand their personality better.

6.  Dream Board

Dream up your future together!  Set goals and put together a dream board of what the two of you hope to accomplish within the next 5, 10, 20 years.  The best way to achieve a dream, is to have a dream!

7.  Outdoor Picnic

If it’s warm outside, set up a little outdoor picnic.  Lay out a blanket to sit on, pack all your favorite finger foods, and enjoy time together in your own backyard.  Try to schedule it right before the sunset so you can enjoy dinner and a show.  Be sure to bring an extra blanket for snuggling.

8.  Ice Cream Sundaes

Who says ice cream is just for kids????  My husband and I have a serious deep love for ice cream.  It’s fairly common for one of us to buy a pint of ice cream as a sweet gesture to the other.  How about making gourmet ice cream sundaes, WITHOUT the kids around?  Pile it high with all your favorite toppings, finish it off with a cherry on top (of course!), and enjoy talking and spending time together while you eat your ice cream sundae!

9.  Play Name That Tune

Test each others music knowledge with a friendly game of name that tune.  Travel back in time and play some of the hits from when you were kids.  Turn it into a friendly competition with a small wager (maybe loser has to make the bed the next morning????).

10.  Learn a New Skill

Watch some youtube videos about a new skill you have both been wanting to learn.  These could be a few weeks worth of dates, as you continue to learn and improve your new skill.  Perhaps you will want to learn about photography, cooking, art, or a foreign language?  The options are endless!  Maybe you could each pick a new skill you would personally like to learn and you can take turns supporting and learning the others chosen skill together.

Date night has truly become a night I look forward to ALL week!  Sometimes us moms just need a little adult interaction, amiright?!?!?!

What are some of your favorite at home date night ideas???  Let me know in the comments!  The more ideas we share, the better for all of us!!

 

 

Birthday · Family · for free · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Uncategorized

Fun Birthday Traditions for Small Budgets

I love celebrating my kids birthdays every year.  It’s so fun to have one day just focused on helping them feel important and loved.  I try really hard to give them a special day to remember, WITHOUT spending very much money.  I truly believe that you do NOT need to spend money to help a child feel special.

12 No-fuss Birthday Cakes

Here are a few of our favorite frugal birthday traditions.

Decorate Bedroom

The night before a birthday birthdays, I sneak into their room after they fall asleep, and decorate.  I fill the floor with balloons and hang streamers from their doorway.  They know every night before they go to bed what will happen, but they still love it.  It’s so fun for them to wake up to a party!

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Birthday Breakfast

Birthday Pancakes are a staple at our home.  A birthday is always started with our traditional breakfast of birthday pancakes.  The only thing I do different, is add some sprinkles to the batter.  So easy, but the kids love it!  Sometimes, if I’m feeling real fancy, I’ll try to make a pancake in the shape of their initials….but let’s be real, I’m rarely fancy!  😉

Your-Choice Dinner

The birthday child always gets to choose what I make for dinner.  If they choose pizza, I make pizza!  If they want waffles, well then, I make waffles!  This isn’t a hard tradition by any means, but my kids think it’s fun to get to be in charge of all the dinner plans.

Red Birthday Plate

We have a special red plate at our house.  We only get it out on a birthday, and the birthday child gets to eat dinner on the red plate.  This is a tradition I grew up with and have enjoyed carrying the tradition on with my own children.  It’s so simple, yet for some reason, it brings so much joy to whoever gets to eat on the birthday plate.  Yes, it has a chip on it, but that is just part of the memories from this long loved plate!

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Birthday Love

While we are eating dinner we take turns going around the table and every family member shares something they love about the birthday child.  I love this time with my family.  I love focusing on all of the many wonderful qualities in each of my kids, and getting to hear them express these to each other.

Bedtime Stories

At bedtime I lay with the birthday child and share the story of their birth.  I try to go through all the details of their day years ago, including every up and down.  I always end with sharing how that day was one of the most special, important, beautiful days of my life and I talk about just how perfect my life has become because they were born.

 

These traditions do not cost much money.  I spend a few dollars on streamers and balloons and these usually last me a couple of years.  10 years ago I bought a red plate for $5, and it is still being used and loved.  It does NOT take a “pinterest worthy” birthday to celebrate a loved one.  All it takes is a little thought and a lot of love.

 

Birthday · Family · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Parenting

LEGO Birthday Party for Under $20

We had an exciting birthday at our house recently!  My son turned six years old!.  It didn’t take him long to decide that he wanted a LEGO themed birthday party with all of his friends..  He loves all things LEGO and I was excited to make this party all come together.

I wanted to give him a special birthday, but I also wanted to spend the LEAST amount of money as possible.  And, I DID it!  The party was a huge success, and I spent LESS than $20!  I’ll break down everything that I did and each of the expenses.

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The Invitations:  $0

Sticking with the theme we (obviously) wanted LEGO themed invitations, and to save money I committed to only using supplies I already had at home.

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The invites were made out of red and orange card stock cut into a rectangle.  I cut out six circles per card in matching colors to glue to the front.  I had a little foam eraser that wasn’t being used so I cut a small circle from that and glued it under each circle.  This helped the circles look a little more 3D and resemble a LEGO design.

Inside the LEGO invite was just a simple typed up paper with all of the party info.  It only took me a few minutes to whip it up on my computer!

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My son adored these invitations, and didn’t cost me any money Big win!

The Decorations:  $4

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I tried to go fairly simple on the decorations (these are 6 year old boys we are talking about….I don’t think they even noticed much of the decor!).

First stop is ALWAYS The Dollar Tree!  While there I bought a pack of balloons and a couple rolls of streamers.  I tried to focus on the classic LEGO colors of red, yellow, green and blue. I used these items to decorate throughout the house.

For the table center piece I grabbed a few of our mason jars from our storage room and filled them with some LEGOs from our collections.  These also ended up being so fun for the kids to build with while they were waiting for me to serve the cake.

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The total for decorations came to only $4!

The Food:  $6

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To cut costs on food, I decided to have cake the only food served at the party.  I made the cake from scratch, spent $2 on the frosting, and $3 for the Oreos used on top.

I had big goals of decorating the cake to look like a giant LEGO.  Truthfully, it didn’t turn out great…..but, my son thought it was the coolest cake ever, and that’s all that matters!

The cake was so simple to make.  I cooked the batter in a 9×13 pan and then frosted it with blue frosting.  I also frosted the Oreos with the same frosting and placed them on top so that it would resemble a LEGO.  My kids told me that the cake needed the word LEGO on the Oreos, so I used a toothpick to include write out the word.

These darling LEGO themed plates were also found at The Dollar Tree (of course!).  I had plastic cups and forks already at home so I used them on the table as well. I decided instead of buying a plastic tablecloth (like I usually do), that I would just use a fabric tablecloth that I already owned!  It worked out perfect!

Out of all the categories, I spent the most money on food.  The total came to $6.

The Games:  $2

Honestly, I don’t love planning birthday party games.  It always feels so stressful to me.  I decided to go a little more simple and stress free this year, and it seemed to work!  A plus side is simple is that also usually means less money (and I always like spending less!)!

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We started with “Pin the Head on the LEGO Man.”  It was a huge hit!  The kids loved getting to choose from the variety of fun faces.  I found the printable here.

Another fun game was “Don’t Eat Pete.”  The favorite part was getting to be the one to go out of the room and try not to eat Pete.  We made sure everyone had a turn (or two!) and it was so fun.  I found this printable here.

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Another fun (and easy) game was the LEGO treasure hunt.  I hid a bunch of our LEGOs around our yard.  The kids all ran around trying to find as many as they could.  (kindof like an easter egg LEGO hunt! 😉 )

Once we found all of the LEGOs I split the kids into two teams for a LEGO on the spoon relay race!  Each team was given a bucket of LEGOs and a spoon.  They had to walk with a LEGO on their spoon across the yard a little ways and drop their LEGO into another bucket.  The first team to successfully bring all of their LEGOs across wins!  It was so fun watching all those little boys trying to run fast AND balance their LEGO!

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Our last game was probably the favorite!  I spray painted two boxes (I bought the spray paint for $2), and then cut two holes in each box.  The kids had to stand at some tape I put on the ground and try to throw a ball into one of the holes.  This was a little hard for most of the kids, which created a fun challenge.  They wanted to play this game for a few rounds to try to get the ball in each of the holes.

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I have decided simple really is the best way to go!  I was A LOT less stressed this time and I only spent a total of $2 for all of the games!

The Party Favors:  $5

I really struggled trying to come up with a cute yet frugal LEGO themed party favor.  I was THRILLED when I found these cute little LEGO boxes at The Dollar Tree.  They came in a pack of 4 for $1, so I bought 2 packs.  I also bought three packs of Starbursts for $1 each.

I filled each of the boxes with a few pieces of Starbursts candy and the kids LOVED them!  I thought the candy would be the hit, but the favorite was definitely having their very own little box. It ended up being the PERFECT favor, and I only spent $5!

The Total:  $17

In total I spent $17!  I was so thrilled that I was able to pull this party off without having to spent a lot of money.

I’ve realized that kids REALLY don’t care how extravagant the party is….all my son wanted was to have a few friends over, blow out candles on his birthday cake, and open a few presents.

He didn’t notice that the party was all done on a very small budget.  All he noticed was that his family and friends were taking the time to show him some love.  And you know what….THAT is ALL that matters!

Affiliate · Amazon · Family · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Homemade · Parenting · Recipes

How to Make Ice Cream in a Bag

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I’ve always said that I was born in the wrong decade!  I truly yearn for the simple life of the early 1900s.  I think that’s partly why I love being frugal.  I get so much satisfaction from growing and making my own food; and living a simpler, less materialistic life.

When we make our own ice cream it reminds me of simpler times.  It’s a way for the entire family to make our very own ice cream, no need to go to an ice cream parlor or the grocery store.  We can do it on our own!

We always have ice cream in a bag on our summer bucket list.  It’s easy (the kids can do it themselves!).  It’s cheap.  It’s fun.  I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand.  And, who doesn’t love ice cream on a hot summers day????  I know we do!

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Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag Recipe

1 cup Half and Half (I usually just use plain milk and it works just as good!)

2 TBSP Sugar

Favorite Mix-Ins:  any combination of the following

1 TBSP vanilla

1 TBSP cocoa

Chocolate Syrup

Fruit

Mix half and half, sugar and one or more mix ins (we used cocoa) in a quart size Ziploc freezer bag.

In a gallon size Ziploc freezer bag dump in a lot of ice and about 1/2 cup ice cream salt (I never measure this, I just kind of guess).

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Take the quart size bag with the ice cream ingredients and get out all the air and seal it shut.  Make sure the bag is sealed tight so no salt will get inside.  Place the quart size bag inside of the gallon size bag.

Now for the fun part.  You shake it!  This takes about 5-10 minutes of HARD shaking. It’s important to be shaking it constantly. I will usually help my little kids to make sure it gets nice and frozen.

Once the milk mixture looks frozen, take the quart size bag out and rinse it under cold water.  This helps to wash off any excess salt.

Pour it into your bowl, top with sprinkles if you’d like, and ENJOY!  I love the simplicity of this activity, and the excitement the kids get out of making their very own personal ice cream!

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!  It’s fun to try to make different flavors!  My daughter had the idea to use a little mint extract and chocolate chips in our next batch for our own chocolate mint flavor!  There is really no right or wrong combo!

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Crafts · for free · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Homemade · Parenting

How to Make an Easy Nature Bookmark Tutorial

Sweet Frugal Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I spent a wonderful week with my sister in the mountains.  We took walks, watched movies, played games, and enjoyed getting out of our daily routines.

My sister planned such a fun simple nature craft for the kids to do.  I loved it so much and felt like it would be perfect for camping or a nature study.

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Easy Nature Bookmark Tutorial Craft

First, you will need to collect flowers, leaves, and any other thing that catches your eye.  this made for a really fun nature walk.

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Once you gather your flowers you will need to press them.  We laid our flowers on a paper towel and put books on top to help press them.  We kept them under the books for about 6-7 hours.  I found that this wasn’t enough time for the flowers to dry fully.  I would recommend at least 24 hours.

Once your leaves and flowers are dried it’s time to start designing your bookmark.  My sister used Self Laminating Pouches to give the bookmarks a nice strong seal.

 

You will lay your flowers down on the non sticky part of the pouch.  This is the fun part!  The kids loved spending time getting their bookmarks to look just right!  We were able to get 2 bookmarks out of one pouch.

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Once you have your flowers laid you will put the sticky part of the pouch on top.  This part was tricky!  It is hard to redo any mistakes, so you will want to take your time and be exact.  Slowly peel off the backing as you place the sticky side on top of the flowers.  Be sure to press and seal as you are peeling it off.

Once you have it all laminated and sealed just right you can cut your bookmarks in half, punch a hole through the top and thread some ribbon through for a nice top.

We learned a lot doing this craft and I am excited to try it again seeing if we can fix some of our mistakes.  My kids have been so proud of these and excited to use them.

I hope that you and your littles will enjoy spending a little bit of time preserving nature.