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Archive for December, 2018

Saving on Wrapping Paper

December 17th, 2018 at 10:21 am

I am baffled by wrapping paper.

Why do people fret over it, then literally throw it away? Talk about throwing away your money!

Why does it cost so much only to run out so fast?

How did our culture get to the point where we are praised for, and socially expected to buy these fancy paper shells to cover our gifts? Wouldn’t you rather the value of the present be put into the part you keep?

This is one cultural ritual that I’m just not into. If I buy wrapping paper, it will be to create a festive decoration, not to cover a present.

So what do I cover my gifts with?

Gifts at home

Well, for my kid’s birthday presents, I’ll sometimes just throw a blanket over it. I’m not super worried about appearances.

My husband grew up with the tradition of “Santa Sacks”. Instead of wrapping the presents, Santa just slides them in large drawstring sacks with the child’s name on them. This makes irregularly shaped gifts much easier, “wrapping” fast, and is reusable eliminating Santa’s wrapping paper year after year.

If you want, you could make up a bunch of little bags of various sizes and let everyone in the family use the reusable sacks.

A favorite blogger of mine, Sarah Titus, says that she will have her kids close their eyes and hand them the gift. They get to hold it and feel it to try and guess what it is. Not only is that cheap, but a fun tradition.

Unfortunately, none of these options work very well under a Christmas tree or for presents outside the house (with the exception of gifting the sack along with the present).

Here are some alternative present wrapping ideas that are free or nearly free, but won’t leave you feeling cheap.

Brown Paper Packages Tied up with String

Great news: vintage is classy.

Who wouldn’t want to open a present that looked like this one I gave out last year?

Elegant, classy, old fashioned, and so dang simple.

I bought the brown paper shipping on Amazon in 2013 on a 30 inch by 765 foot roll for $23.55 + tax. 765 feet was definitely over kill. Its 2018 and the roll is still very full and heavy.

I do recommend getting a 30” wide roll so you don’t end up having to put two pieces around a large box and have an unsightly seam or spend too much effort covering the seam with a ribbon in just the right spot. I just don’t think the 18” rolls will be versatile enough.

Don’t want to buy paper?

Often I don’t even have to use my brown paper because I get enough packing paper stuffed in Amazon boxes. It is wrinkled, but personally I think the wrinkles add a nice rustic touch. Sometimes, I even wrinkle my own paper to get the same effect.

You also might have some other type of traditional paper. If you live near a place that gives out newspapers or newsletters on similar paper, snatch up a stack of outdated ones (maybe ask if they could set some aside for you?).

As for the ribbon, I buy it at about $0.01/yard at thrift stores or yard sales, and save any ribbons I get elsewhere (such as last Christmas). Embroidery thread, twine, and lace all work well too.

Personalized Paper

If brown paper packages aren’t personal enough for you, you can touch it up with some artwork.
Usually this means I turn the toddlers loose with a bag of crayons, but I’ve also made some very classy presents with metallic poinsettias drawn in red and silver or snowflakes drawn in blue.

An alternate method is to cut up some junk mail or scrap decorative paper and add some texture to your present like the one above.

String Art

Probably the most time consuming, but receiver appreciated is when I get fancy with embroidery thread.

I lightly draw a word in cursive with an erasable pencil until I get the right shape. Then follow on top with a thin streak of school glue and lightly press the thread in working only a few letters at a time.

Always stop when you get to a hard angle change such as the 180 degree reversals at the top of the “d”. That way you can let it dry, then pull it snugly in a new direction getting crisp changes.

I’ve collected tons of embroidery thread over the years, mostly from other people’s unfinished cross-stitch projects or leftovers from my own projects. Even if you have to buy embroidery thread, it can be found for about $0.30 at Walmart and will cover quite a few presents.

Boxes and Bags

I also collect “wrapping paper” all year. I save gift bags from birthdays and cute boxes that some products come in.

Bottom line: my presents end up pretty for basically no money and you can do it too!

Have fun!

Self-Fund Halloween with Costumes

December 4th, 2018 at 11:21 am

My husband and I are fairly divided when it comes to Halloween. He’d much rather buy candy, keep the candy, and stay up with a movie. For me, however, Halloween is all about the costumes! Since we are divided on the topic, I decided to do an experiment and let Halloween fund itself. That way, there can be no complaint.

It turns out homemade costumes sell REALLY well. In fact, I might start making two of some costumes for extra profit. So here’s the formula: make cute costumes, sell them 10-11 months later, use the profit as your Halloween budget for candy and such the next year.

Make sure to get good pictures of all the details when you wear it, especially if it is a children's costume. You just don't know if it will fit next year. When you are finished with your costume after Halloween, clean it up, take pictures of any damage, and put it somewhere you will remember it next September. For me, that is in my Halloween box since I get it out early. You might need to put it with your back to school stuff, or fall harvest type stuff, or set a calendar event for next September telling you where it is (my favorite).

Of course, you can always just list it immediately and let it run all year until it is sold, but then you'll have to be watching your eBay notifications carefully and notify eBay of vacations. You don't want to miss your delivery.

When that magical time comes around, create a quality eBay listing with great detailed pictures. Be very clear which parts of the costume they will be getting. You don't want the buyer thinking they are getting the full outfit if you are only parting with the accessories or be surprised when the Captain Hook wig isn't included. If you list it early enough, you can ask a high price and wait. I like the “or best offer” feature since it shows me what price most people are wanting it at. If it hasn't sold at two or three weeks before Halloween, I’ll lower the price to just above the best offers I received and send a notice to those who sent the previous offers. If it doesn’t sell in a couple days, I’ll accept an offer. I’ve learned from my limited experience that people don’t really go for multiple costume sets (one size fits all adult couples costumes may be an exception). You will probably make the most money listing separately even though it means you will be paying more shipping.

Here are my numbers:

note: visit my [url=http://milly.savingadvice.com/2018/09/04/diy-halloween-costumes-for-under-1_216847/]Halloween Costumes for under $1[/url] post for details on the costume creation prices.

Peter Pan (2015):

Captain Hook:
Sell Price= $35.50
Costume Cost= $6.16
Shipping Cost= $10.38
PayPal Cost= $1.33
eBay Cost= $3.55
Total Profit= $14.08

Costume Cost= $0.00
Not for sale.

Sell Price= $9.00
Costume Cost= $0.00
Shipping Cost= $2.64
PayPal Cost= $0.56
eBay Cost= $0.90
Total Profit= $4.90

Peter Pan:
Sell Price= $7.50
Costume Cost= $0.25
Shipping Cost= $2.83
PayPal Cost= $0.52
eBay Cost= $0.75
Total Profit= $3.15

Total 2015 Costume Profit (2016 candy budget): $22.13
Actually spent on Halloween candy in 2016: $19.94

Cinderella (2016):

Grand Duke:
Sell Price= $10.00
Costume Cost= $0.50
Shipping Cost= $3.34
PayPal Cost= $0.59
eBay Cost= $1.00
Total Profit= $4.57

Fairy Godmother:
Sell Price= $27
Costume Cost= $0.75
Shipping Cost= $7.25
PayPal Cost= $1.35
eBay Cost= $2.70
Total Profit= $14.95

Costume Cost= $0.00
Not for sale.

Sell Price= $9.50
Costume Cost= $0.25
Shipping Cost= $2.77
PayPal Cost= $0.58
eBay Cost= $0.95
Total Profit= $4.95

Prince Charming:
Sell Price= $9.50
Costume Cost= $0.00
Shipping Cost= $2.92
PayPal Cost= $0.58
eBay Cost= $0.95
Total Profit= $5.05

Total 2016 Costume Profit (2017 candy budget): $29.52
Actually spent on Halloween candy in 2017: $22.07

Make sure to see [url=http://milly.savingadvice.com/2018/09/04/diy-halloween-costumes-for-under-1_216847/]Halloween Costumes for under $1[/url] for more costumeing fun.

Happy costuming =)