Works 4 Me Wednesday: Cookie Exchange
I've procrastinated a little bit this year on getting my cookie baking accomplished. However, between yesterday and today I have finally gotten somewhere in this department. To ease some of the pressure in baking up a dozen different types of cookies (5 dozen or more each) each year I participate in at least one cookie exchange. I thought I'd share with you today the ins and outs of hosting a cookie exchange.
How it works:A cookie exchange is a gathering of friends in which each friend brings a pre-determined amount of cookies to share with everyone else. If each person makes 1 type of cookie and then shares that type with the others everyone leaves with an assortment of cookies, but only had to bring 1 type.
Set a date: Send out an email or postcard or make a phone call and invite those you want to share this time with. Be sure to get an accurate count on how many will be attending.
How to determine how many cookies each guest should bring: To determine the amount of cookies each guest should bring you only need to know how many people will be attending. Take this number and have each guest bring that many dozen (or half dozens) of one type of cookie packaged into baggies or containers (that don't have to be returned).
How to avoid duplicate types: There are a number of ways you can accomplish this. You could all get together and write down favorite types of cookies and put them in a hat and have each person take a turn pulling a paper to determine their type. Or, you could simply send an email having people sign up for different types. It's up to you!
Reminder: Don't forget to send out a reminder to your guests to be sure they remember the date. (Afterall, this is a busy time of year!) Also, remind them to bring a bag or basket to take their goodies home in.
The actual exchange: On the day of the actual exchange be sure to have beverages to share and good holiday music and cheer. Have each person set up a cookie station for their cookies. Then, have each person take turns collecting 1 of each different kind of cookie.
There you have it! It's that simple. You now have an assortment of Christmas cookies and you only had to perfect one recipe to share.
Works 4 Me Wednesday: Spare Change
Spare change! We all have it. It's hidden in between the couch cushions. Found in the washer or dryer. Underneath the seat in your car when you vacuum it out (which I do so rarely). Or given back in penny form for that item that was $1.99. What do you do with it? This "spare" change can really add up over time. I'd like to use today's works 4 me post to offer some suggestions for things we've done in our house with these tiny coins.
We've saved our change to use it for date nights or fun money. Set a time frame for yourself (a week? a month or so?) and then count up the change you've collected and use it to go out for dinner or to the movies. Could you do this as a family and see what fun ideas you can come up with together to use this change for?
When we were dating my now husband and I used to see how much change we could accumulate until our next date and then we would take a trip to the Dollar Store to go on a shopping spree for each other. We'd try to buy the most romantic thing we could think of for the other with our coins.
We've also saved coins for a more extended period of time to donate to our favorite charity, church, or other special cause.
*Pay off Debt
Every little bit counts. You could be using your spare change to pay off a credit card, student loan, or car payment. Make your usual payment and then at the end of the month count up your change and add it as additional principal.
My hubby and I had a long engagament (1.5 years) and during that time I was working as a waitress while going through undergrad classes. I saved every coin I made waiting tables (and my hubby contributed his) and we saved them in a savings account that we put towards our wedding costs. IN fact, a LARGE majority of our wedding was paid for with change. (When some of my customers heard this was the plan they would purposely leave coins instead of bills. )
*Use it for allowance
Maybe your children have a set allowance? Or, maybe you could make it a little more fun? At the end of the week when time to dish out allowance you could offer them the choice between a certain dollar amount or the amount of change you've saved all week?
I would love to hear what you do with your "spare" change! Leave me a comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Works 4 Me Wednesday: Shop At Home.com
I have been receiving emails from many of you inquiring about shopathome.com and Ebates and looking for more information. So, today I've decided to use the works 4 me space in order to share some more info. Let me first start out by saying I have been using shopathome.com and Ebates for over a year and have found them to be a safe, legitimate, way to earn cashback (in the form of checks mailed to you) for online purchases that I make.
Shopathome.com and Ebates pay me cashback EVERYTIME I place an online shopping order at almost ANY store! They also provide discount and coupon codes (such as free shipping codes for Children's place, etc.) for you to use. Let's say I wanted to place an order with Children's Place online? Here's how it would work:
In the search bar I would type the name of the store I was looking for (In this case - Children's Place).
Up pop's a list of matches. Click on the store you want.
Beside that store name you'll see how much cashback you will earn from your order. (Usually anywhere between 1%-35%.)
Click on the store and up pops a list of coupon of promo codes that are currently working for that store online.
Choose the one you want to use and hit "click to shop."
A new window will pop up and take you to that store.
Shop like you normally would - don't forget to use that promo code!
In a matter of a few days your shopathome.com account will be credited with your cashback from that purchase.
You also earn $5 cashback when you place your first order. Once you have accumulated $20 in your shopathome.com account they will automatically mail a check in that amount to your home. And if you don't earn $20 in a month? No problem! They just keep your balance in your account and once you do your check will be mailed. (Note - they mail checks once per month.) I have always gotten my checks quickly and never had a problem with my account being credited with my cashback. (I also earn cashback from my credit card that I use for online purcashes!)
I just cannot recommend this site enough if you like to shop online. If you're going to buy something online anyway then why not earn some money back for doing so?!
Works 4 Me Wednesday: Thanksgiving Favorites
I LOVE Thanksgiving for so many different reasons! It truly is one of my favorite holidays. I love watching the dog show and parade on tv. I love spending the day with my extended family and enjoy one another's company. I love the smells and sounds of a busy kitchen. I love meditating on the many blessings God has given me. And I love the food! YUM! So, I thought I would take this week's works 4 me post to share with you some of my family's traditional Thanksgiving recipes!
Here's our traditional menu! By clicking on each menu item you will be able to view the corresponding recipe.
Cranberry Relish (although I also strangely enjoy the canned version)
And what to do with all of those leftovers? Try my Great-Grandmother's recipe for pot pie here.
If you do try any of the above recipes I would love to know what you thought. Please be sure to leave me a comment on this post.
Works 4 Me: The Drugstore Game
Each week I post a link to the best deals to be found at your local Rite-Aid, Walgreens, and CVS. These drugstores are an untapped resource for finding some great deals. Armed with coupons in hand you can score some free items each week at these stores. In fact, there are a few items that I can routinely get at 50% off or more each week including: diapers, shampoo, and toilet paper. Now, while I will occasionally make a pit stop at CVS or Walgreens for a really great buy I do not make a habit of shopping at these stores weekly. But I DO make it a habit to frequent my local Rite-Aid each week to stock up on deals. For me it is not worth the time and energy it would take me to follow the deals at all three stores. But I know from experience and my own personal shopping habits that I can score great deals at Rite-Aid. You may find that by choosing one drugstore and playing their "drugstore game" you too might be able to pick up many free items and save some major money in your grocery budget. Below I am outlining some of the basics to saving money at Rite-Aid. (Because this is the store I am most familiar with and feel I score the best deals at.)
* You'll want to get a Rite-Aid Wellness Card (here) to get the best deals! It works just like any other store card and you can use it to accumulate points ($1=1 point) that can be redeemed for discounts.
*Get to know the Rite-Aid coupon policy (here) and carry it with you when you shop there.
*Rite-Aid allows you to "stack" coupons. That means you can combine a Rite-Aid store coupon with a manufacturer coupon.
*SCR program - Rite-Aid has a single check rebates program that you can/should participate in. Each time you shop at Rite-Aid you enter your receipt information here. At the end of each rebate period you can request a check to come to you in the mail for any qualifying purchases. (I deposit my checks into my carpet saving fund!)
*UPR - Rite-Aid also has a program called UPR (Up Rewards) . Each week certain products have UPR attached to them. This means that when you purchase one of these products a coupon will print at the register for a stated amount that you can use towards any product in the future at Rite-Aid. For example: This week Huggies will print a $3 UPR for each Huggies JUmbo Pack you purchase. You can use these UPR towards any future purchase. It's like a store credit! You can use more than one at a time. In fact, you can use one UPR for every item you purchase in a transaction.
*Video Values - YOu can also watch advertisement videos on Rite-Aid's website here. Each month these videos change. At the end of the video you will earn a coupon for that product that can be used at Rite-Aid and can be combined with a manufacturer coupon. If you watch 20 videos you can earn a $4/$20 coupon each month or a $5/$25 coupon. These are WONDERFUL coupons to use in conjunction with all of these others!!!
Overall, I have found that Rite-Aid allows me to use the most coupons per transaction and the cashiers at my store are SO coupon friendly.It is what works 4 me! I would love to hear how you feel about your local drugstore.