Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Taking The Hassle Out Of Christmas - Part Two - Gift Idea's For Everyone

Well now is the time that you start making people and present lists, watching the supermarket and chain store specials and start buying partial presents that could suit just that certain someone, and complete those last minute '' I know I should of got something extra ''comments, so that options can be made at a later stage and no one is left out.

We seem to have categories, don't we

  • Acquaintances
  • Face book & Email Friends
  • BFF Friends
  • Family
  • Extended Families
  • Gift Swappers
  • Secret Santa's

Some people are just satisfied with receiving just a message from you, so here are a few links for really cool animated Christmas Ecards, which the whole family will love, and just perfect for those

Acquaintances or Facebook & Email Friends

A couple for the children

A card the whole family can get together and make to send out

And something just a little bit special to send out to the children, a video message from Santa

Or watching the reindeer on their flight for Christmas

Now we are getting down to the nitty gritty the 

BFF's of the world.

Now they do need to receive something tremendous.
Depending on your budget of course, here are a few ideas.
And of course a nice soap or some homemade fudge would do just fine, but for that something special

For the girls:

This firm will personalise a wine label for you, you chose the wine, design the label and they will do the rest, it says their wine starts from $10.00 but there will be set up costs to do this I'm guessing but a super duper idea.

For the guys:

Personalised Golf Balls
There is a minimum number to order, but it works out at less than $1.00 a ball

For the person who just has absolutely everything, I bet they dont have one of these, and they are best believe me, the Kids got me one a few years ago and I use it all the time, it stops your banana from getting squished in your handbag.

Streets ahead in Palmerston North had them I think they were $8.00

Where would we be without them.

Nieces & Nephews

I set my self a limit for the nieces and nephews, and it is normally around the $20.00 mark, but then most of mine only receive the one present from me every year as once they get to be 16 yrs old I don't buy Birthday presents anymore for them, so I think $20.00 is pretty reasonable.

Their gifts normally are a voucher of something they are into and a box of chocolates, that I have managed to pick up on a special leading up to Christmas.

My own children

I have a limit for my both my children and their wives.
Now that they are married, its easier to chose one item that they really need, and let it cover Christmas for both of them, that way if the item brought come to $100.00 - $200.00 say, it is not to bad, but it would be rare that I would spend that amount.

Extended Family

Some home preserves maybe, some of your famous Tomato Sauce that they all love, possibly give a Bottle per individual family, or  maybe do some small jars of jam, or pickle, they can be dressed up with a fancy self personalised label and a nice ribbon.

Or maybe you can find something out of this Christmas Cookie Cook Book

and give a gift of love.

Gift Swappers

Wondering what a gift swapper is, well its simple.
You get invited to an after work drinks evening, or a Xmas BBQ and really feel that you must take something as you know everyone will gift swapping.

Secret Santa ( For Churches or for the needy)

This is where shops like the,
  •  $2 Shop
  • Dollar Deals
  • Emporiums
  • Coin Saves
  • Back Street Budget Stores
come in handy as there is just so much to chose from.

Secret Santa For Family Gifting

Normally a dollar amount is set for a gift exchange or a category, so this makes it a little easier to make purchases, but depending on the gift amount, it may work out to be an expensive gift, so don't be afraid to speak your mind, if the costs are too high.

I would also suggest looking out for these items anytime your shopping, as they are so handy to have in your gift bag all year round, for the in case presents that quite often come up.

  • Body Washes
  • Luffers
  • Pretty Soaps
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Roses Chocolates
  • Fudges
  • Favourite chocolates
  • Itunes Vouchers, sometimes they have 3x $20.00 cards for $50.00
  • Warehouse Vouchers, sometimes they also have 3x $20.00 cards for $50.00

Check out loyalty cards, such as Fly buys, Visa Hot Points, Brownie Points on your Power Bill accounts as sometimes you can redeem points for vouchers, and these make great gift ideas, I usually get 1x Warehouse voucher off my Brownie Points each year,and a good few presents off Fly buys, and on my hot points as well, I can do either redeem presents or accept vouchers, it depends on what I need to complete the list.
Although of course like everything there are hidden charges, they are almost effectively FREE.

Trade me is another great place to shop but make sure you know what you're looking for, as sometimes you end up spending more than you had bargained for.
The $1.00 reserves (my favourite hang out) is a great place to find a bargain, go to NEW, then Closing Soon and have a look through a few pages, you will be amazed at what you can find.

Through the year, if you've been a good budgetor you would have browsed through sales catalogues and stocked a few things away, also as you were shopping, if you had seen a few little bits and pieces that could be a potential present, you would've grabbed it and hidden it away, so now would be the perfect time to go through your Present box or Free box and piece together what's in there and line it up with potential present getter's.

Avon special catalogues are a great thing to look through as well as they have great special such as talcum powders for $2.00 which can be accompanied by something extra for the Aunties.

Also another place I love to lurk, is Vista print, you can design all sorts of fabulous goodies, and if you are an email hoarder like myself, you will keep all past emails, which include little treasures like this link

Vista print free delivery voucher, when you spend $30.00 or more.

And sometimes, just sometimes, they have a whole lot of stuff that is free, you only have to pay the postage, and its well worth the $7.00 post to receive the goods, Ive previously received stuff like, pens, notebooks, personalised post it notes, tote bag or library book bags, cups, bookmarks, t shirts and they were all free and they all go towards, Secret Santa for the local Church collection or if its something specific for me, then its a bonus.

Here is what they are offering now, it is a great idea.

Custom iPhone Case:
Only $10 each plus delivery.
Upload your own photos or use our designs.

Now I have given you all my Christmas Secrets, you are bound to find some bargains.

BUT If you are still stuck for ideas, here are a few ways of getting some Christmas Stocking filler for next to nothing, IF not NOTHING!!!

Keep your eyes open. 
Chances are you'll start seeing free items like java singles given away at coffee shops, or perfume and makeup samples at department stores.
My hairdresser keeps a bowl of free shampoo and conditioner singles for her customers. Bath-and-body product stores sometimes offer free samples at the register.

Regifting rules! 
Did you receive a sudoku book, coffee gift card or frou-frou lotion set that you know you'll never use? Maybe somebody else will.

Conference calls. 
At many professional seminars or conferences the sponsoring companies offer promotional items.
In the last couple of years I've gotten quite a few giftable treats: small notepads, a coffee gift card, lip balm, stress balls, hand cream, pretty pens, flash drives and "rattlesnake eggs" (pairs of small, oval magnets -- a big hit with my young nephews).

Enter Lucky Drawings. 
I've won quite a few items -- toys, dining gift certificates, fancy coffee, videos, an iPod Shuffle -- just by filling out a form or dropping my business card in a box.
If you're lucky enough to win a prize that's too big for a stocking, put a picture of it in the sock.

Social media giveaways. 
Companies give away snacks, beauty products, toiletries, gift cards and other goodies to get attention.
Follow companies whose products you like and check in at least once a day.
(Note: Start a separate e-mail account to keep freebie mail from cluttering up your inbox.) If you're really ambitious, check out…

Social media contests. 
Cameras, computers, airline tickets, electronics, jewelry, automobiles and cold, hard cash are given away regularly. 

Black Friday gift cards. 
Read the ads carefully, because some stores hand out gift cards (or small gift items) to the earliest shoppers.

Check the mail
Some department stores mail spectacular coupons, e.g., "$10 off a purchase of $10 or more." Spend as close to $10 as you can.

Christmas Gift Guide
If you are still stuck for something to buy for that one person

Christmas Gifts For Children To Make To Give Away


Ok Here is a very effective gift, because Men are so messy they need something for their screws, nails and bolts, so I have the perfect idea, and it wont cost the earth.

You will need Mums help for this.

A Piece of wood about 40 cm long 4 cm wide
4 Jam jars with Metal Lids
Some Screws, Nuts & Bolts and Nails
Varnish & Sandpaper & Paintbrush

You will need to make sure you piece of wood is smooth and has no rough edges, so sanding is a must.
The varnish, this gives it a nice finish and will keep it looking nice for a while.
Get Mum to measure out 4 even points and screw your lid flatside to the underside of the wood and then fill your jars and screw onto lids.

This makes a perfect gift for Grandads or Popas or even Dad, I remember one year my boys made their Grandads these and upon opening them,  they took the gift and the boys straight out to the garage to find the perfect spot for them and then screwed it into the wall, where the still sit.

For The Girls

Rock of Love

Go to the paintshop with Mum and get a few different colours of test pots, these make ideal paints for this present idea.
This is a definate outside job......

Nan or Grandma will love it !!
They can place it in their potplants of the garden

You will need, some awesome rocks
Paints( Waterbased) and a paintbrush

Decide what you would like to do, and go for it, whether you leave it plain or paint a pretty design, let each layer dry in the sun before adding another, glitter could be added for that special touch.
Make sure yuo put down some newspaper of plastic so you dont get paint everywhere.

Another idea is to paint the rock a plain colour, then write a note on it such as
Grandma's Garden
Grandpa's Vegetable Patch
I Love you
Garden Fairy

They will love it.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Taking The Hassle Out Of Christmas - Part One - Christmas Parties What To Take

Ok we have all panicked when were invited to a Christmas Party and thought what can I take, and known full well that you would have to make something yourself, as every cent was accounted for,  well here is the solution.

Round Filled Cob Loaf 
This is delicious

Cut the top off a cob loaf, and retain the cut piece.
Scrape the inside of a round cob loaf out and bake in a moderate oven for approx 30 minutes.

Cook in a small frying pan with a little butter
1 Chopped onion and 4 Rashers of bacon

While that is cooking, mix together
200 g of Sour Cream
300 g of Grated Cheese
Salt & Pepper

Add the two lots together and microwave for about 2-3 minutes until everything is combined and heated, then pour into the warmed cob loaf, cover with the bread lid, and place on a tray, cover with Tin Foil and you have a fabulous dish to take.

Nuts And Bolts


8 oz Butter
4 Teaspoons of curry powder
500 g  of raw peanuts
2 Packets of crispy Fried Noodles 
3 Packets of Caramel Popcorn 

Melt the butter with the curry powder in a large saucepan.
Add raw peanuts, cook for a further 20-25 minutes, stirring OFTEN

In a meat dish which has been warmed slightly on a top element,  add the noodles and popcorn, then add the peanuts and juice.

Keep cooking on the element for a further 10 minutes, stirring at regular intervals.

Drain on masses of paper towels in another large meat dish, and seal tightly in zip lock bags.

Confetti Dip


2 eggs (whisked)
2 Tblsp sugar
1 Tblsp butter
2 Tblsp vinegar
250g Tub of Cream Cheese
2 Tblsp of Tomato Sauce
Green Pepper

Cook these together in a med. bowl over a pot of boiling water until thickened,
Remove from heat let cool then beat in cream cheese and tomato sauce or puree until smooth then add half a chopped onion, half a green pepper and half a tomato minus the pulp.

I sometimes add some red pepper too, you can add what you want basically
Serve with either crackers or vegetable sticks or pretzels.


Party Cheese Ball

People are always asking for this recipe! Makes 3 large balls.
Keeps well in the fridge for a few days.
Great with crackers and vegetable sticks.
This is our Christmas or special occasion treat that always gets rave reviews.
Just be patient when mixing.
Your arm gets a good workout but you want to keep going until fully combined and you cannot see the grated cheese.
You can add extra grated cheese depending on your taste


250g cream cheese
1 medium onion finely chopped
4 gerkins finely chopped
2 cups grated cheese
4 tablespoons Tomato Relish


Place all ingredients except chopped nuts into bowl
Mix with wooden spoon
Be patient, keep mixing untill grated cheese is blended
Taste, add more grated cheese if you wish
Divide into 3 balls
Roll in chopped nuts to cover