Stretch Your Holiday Gifts

Here is what I have done with that sweater that was the wrong size and how I made the most out of my penny pinching Christmas dollar. In case you haven't noticed retailers are desperate for your dollars! This is such a good thing for you, the Penny Pincher.

I am very fortunate that I have relatives that attach gift receipts to each piece of clothing that they gift. I take the sweater to the counter and get the clerk to scan the gift receipt to see how much was spent on it. Have the clerk put the amount on a store credit or a gift card. You now have your gift on a gift card/store credit. Now you are able to get full advantage of the after Christmas deals. For example an extra 25% off the entire store! So if you did indeed change your mind on that sweater you just returned you can get it for the sale price, plus 25% off. Your penny pinching relative would want it this way. The catch is you HAVE a gift slip or the actual receipt. Other wise you will get the price the item is selling for that day.


Coffee Sugar Scrub

Coffee is wonderful to invigorate you in the morning. You probably have a cup of joe in the morning so why not kick start your routine and start the day with a coffee sugar scrub? The caffeine in the coffee brings the blood to the surface and helps disperse the cellulite cells (over time that is!). The olive oil is an excellent moisturizer and the oatmeal helps retain that moisture. The sugar is a great exfoliant. So this is how I make my coffee/sugar scrub.

Coffee Grounds
Use coffee grounds, ground to an espresso or even turkish ground. They type of coffee doesn't matter.
White Sugar (brown can be substituted if you wish)
Oatmeal (ground to a fine powder in the food processor)
Olive oil
Vegetable oil


Combine equal parts of coffee grounds and sugar.
Add 1/2 cup ground oatmeal per 2 cups of coffee grounds.
Stir in olive oil so the mixture looks like sloppy wet sand that you find at the edge of the ocean where the waves crash.
Add vegetable oil if you want it to be more oily. All olive oil can be used but I pinched pennies by doing 1/2 olive oil, 1/2 vegetable oil.

Once this is all stirred around and combined you are ready to package. I found containers at Sunburst Bottle Co. I used the 8 oz. clear with black lid I even got the coordinating shrink bands for that extra special professional look. I am sure there are other packaging companies out there but this is the company I went with. If you happen to choose this particular size container I have a label for you. I printed this on a sheet of self adhesive sticker sheet, cut them apart and put them on the container before I put on the shrink band.


PS Also pictured are the personalized coffee sleeves I had blogged about HERE.


It's A Wrap!

I think the most pinch for my penny that I have gotten to date is my Sam's Club box of plastic wrap. It is 2000 square feet of clear wrapping goodness. At the time I bought it I paid under $10 for the box. Times have changed. In the past 7 years (that is right I have had the same box of wrap for 7 years and counting!!!) the price has gone up but so has the square footage. The box is now in the $13 range and has 3000 square feet per box. For all you penny pinching calculators out there that is $.0043 per square foot. Less tha 1.2 of a penny.
I love that the box has a slider on it to cut the wrap instead of a sharp metal edge. And the wrap actually clings! I have wrestled with 'brand name' wrap at other people's houses and it does not cling nearly as well as my big box of wrap. The only drawback to my big box of wrap is the size. It does not fit neatly on the door under your kitchen sink. BUT if you have a spot in your cabinet or your pantry for the box it will be well worth the space sacrifice. I love my big box of wrap.


Starbucks Syrup

Did you know that Starbucks will sell you the syrup they use to make their yummy drinks? There is a Starbucks in my Target and they sold me the bottles for under $7.25!! Isn't that fabulous?! I can get a lot of use out of a bottle. This would be a great gift for the coffee lover in your life. Having a bit of Starbucks at home. Complete the gift by pairing it with a personalized cup sleeve.


MMM Caramel

Yet another penny pinching idea for the holidays is to make caramel. I know what you are thinking. "Sarah. Come on now. You are crazy. Do you think I have time to sit, watch and stir a pot just to make caramel?" I am telling you this is easy peasy.

Get a can of sweetened condensed milk. Take the label off. Put it in a pot of water. Make sure the entire can is submerged. Boil for 3 hours. Whala! Caramel. Did you catch that? Just boil the can in water. The sugars in the milk and sugar IN THE CAN caramelize making a wonderful caramel. The fabulous thing is you can boil as many cans as you can fit into your largest pot. As long as they are able to be covered in water you are good to go!

Now for some safety:
Do not let the water run out in your pot. The can will explode.
Do not put a dented can in your pot. It will explode.
Let the cans cool completely (over night) before handling them.

Once you have your cans cooled put on the label I have provided for you and present with a couple of apples. In case you don't like my label or want to customize your own this label is 3 inches high and 9 1/2 inches long.
My label for you

Don't forget to make a few extra to have on hand for an impromptu hostess gift.


Microwave Popcorn

Here it is almost midnight and my brain won't shut off. So I blog. I am thinking of the make-it take-it I have planned for the 15th of this month. I really want to have air popped popcorn for the event. I want the lightest, fluffiest, fullest kernels of corn for our activity. I don't want the popcorn to be weighed down by the slight bits of oil that may cling to them when they are popped on the stove top. (There is NO WAY I would use microwave popcorn. Such NOT a penny pincher thing to do!)

So I was remembering a science project I did in the 6th grade. I wanted to see if brand made a difference in popcorn kernels. We had a ridged plastic popcorn popper that was made for the microwave. I very scientifically counted out 100 kernels for each test batch and put them in said popcorn maker, popped them for the alloted time etc. My POINT being that I was wondering if there was a way I could do popcorn in the microwave! I am sure the aforementioned popper has long been disposed of and I was NOT finding an air popper to borrow or one with the price point I wanted to purchase.

Turns out you CAN pop popcorn in the microwave!!! After a bit of goggling I discovered that all is needed is a paper bag. ( And loose popcorn kernels.)

1. Use a clean brown paper lunch bag.
2. Pour 1/4 cup of loose popcorn kernels into the bag.
3. Add 1 Tablespoon of oil of your choice ( I would be using peanut...but not for the MITI application)
4. Add any seasoning you want. Salt, Pepper, Parmesan cheese, chili powder, Old bay seasoning, etc.
5. Fold over bag several times. Make sure it is tight. OR staple it with a staple. (your microwave will not catch on fire)
6. Shake bag
7. Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until there are 5 seconds between pops.
8. CAREFULLY remove the bag from the microwave, shake and CAREFULLY open and enjoy!

There you go. I can now go to sleep (I hope) and you can have a penny pinching snack of microwave popcorn with out all the additives that the commercial microwave popcorn bags give you.


Create a Custom Cup Sleeve

Something that I found to be a cute thing to give to the coffee lover in you life is a custom coffee cup sleeve. I used the template from Some Random Dude found here. He is more than generous with offering the template.

Using PSP ( but use what you have)
For my purposes I did up the DPI to 300 and then erased the instructions. Then I duplicated the layer and was able to fit 2 on a 8 1/2 x 11" paper. I used papers and fonts that I was able to download for free HERE. I then printed them on to card stock paper. I think my paper is 110 lb. But I think anything over 90 lb. will work. I cut them out and then hot glued them onto the cardboard sleeve you get with your coffee at your local coffee shop. ( minor trimming is required) Don't feel like spending $4 for a cup of coffee just to get the cardboard sleeve? Just ask the barista for a few. I am sure they will be more than happy to give you a few. Be sure to smile and say thank you!

Now to my friends... act surprised when you are given this gift. I just had to get it up on the blog and share this penny pinching idea with the world! To those friends who do not see their name...your sleeves are not completed. So if you have any requests just e-mail me!