5 of Our Favorite US Charities to Give Back to

Being in a position where you can donate to the less fortunate or a group of people that need help is a warming feeling. During the holidays, nearly everyone has a sense of making sure each person has the most glorious Christmas possible. However, one thing that many people don’t realize is that donating even a dollar can make a huge difference in the lives of people in your area.

We’ve found 5 of the best US charities to donate to this holiday season, no matter if it’s clothing, toys, or money if you’re looking for a way to spread Christmas cheer.

1. Fisher House Foundation

fisher house foundationAs a charity that is designed around giving military families the support that they need throughout the year, Fisher House Foundation is one of the best charities to donate to this holiday season. In fact, since 1990, the charity has served over 335,000 military families, has 78 houses currently in operation, and has provided over 8 million days of lodging. The best part is they have provided over $407 million dollars in savings to military families since 1990 as well.

They offer a wide variety of different programs that are fantastic for the veterans themselves and their family members as well. Apart from the Fisher Houses around the United States, their Hotel For Heroes program, and even Hero Miles, they also have scholarships for both military children and military spouses. When you visit their website, you can click on the “Ways to Give” tab to learn about all of the ways you can help the charity.

2. Prevent Child Abuse America

Prevent Child Abuse AmericaPrevent Child Abuse America has been rated by several different research companies as one of the best charities developed for children across the United States. Developed for children who have grown up in the cycle of abuse, this charity donates 94 cents of every dollar to the programs designed to help children thrive. The charity was founded in 1972 and is based on the sole promise of educating children, giving them the healthy development they deserve and preventing them from ever experiencing abuse again.

They are prevalent in 50 states and have a tendency to help over 100,000 families each year. By visiting the “Get Involved” page on their website, you can learn about the many ways you can help them out this holiday season. You can sign up to be a mentor to an abused child or parent and you can be an advocate by contacting elected officials and enlightening them about the dangers of child abuse. If you simply want to donate, there’s a place for that as well, whether you want to donate online or offline.

3. Make a Wish America

make a wishYou’ve likely heard of Make a Wish America in the past and it’s a fabulous organization that gives children hope and answers their dreams. There are hundreds of thousands of children who have been able to experience the sheer joy and happiness of Christmas as a result of this organization. Even though you might not be able to send them on a trip of their dreams all on your own, your donations surely help. Created to assist children who have been diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions, there are plenty of ways that you can give back to our youth.

You can attend volunteer workshops or make a donation at any time throughout the year. We surely recommend visiting their website, as you can learn about what the charity does for children outside of taking them on trips they have always wanted to go on. You can donate money, donate air miles, or even give them gifts during the holiday season.

4. Toys for Tots

Toys for TotsOne of the reasons as to why we love Toys for Tots is because it’s a program that was developed by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Program. During this time of year, the charity will collect unwrapped brand new toys during October, November, and December. They then give those toys to children in their surrounding communities around Christmas day. Since their origination, they have distributed over 500 million toys to over 250 million at-risk children across the United States.

Their website has plenty of resources such as learning all of the ways that you can donate, figuring out where and how to donate toys, and you can even request toys for a child in need.

5. Angel Tree

Angel TreeLast, but certainly not least, is Angel Tree, which is a division of the Prison Fellowship. Similar to Toys for Tots, Angel Tree brings gifts to children in need around the holiday season. This program is specifically designed for children of prisoners who won’t be able to experience a holiday this year because their loved ones are imprisoned. What we love the most about this charity is that in the upcoming days to Christmas, they match every donation that is given so that children get the most out of the money you donate.

Angel Tree is also a religious charity that not only gives children gifts around the holidays but also spreads the word about the spirituality of the season so they can have the coping mechanisms they need. It can be incredibly difficult to live without a parent who has been imprisoned, especially as a child that has little understanding of what incarceration means. With the help of this organization, you’ll be able to change their lives with as little as $20.

Final Thoughts

Donating during Christmas is more than a vanity project, it’s something that you can do to help children across the United States. With millions of at-risk youth unable to know what a Christmas tree is like or how it feels to unwrap gifts under their tree, these charities work to give families what they deserve. No matter if you want to directly support a charity or do something special for a family in your neighborhood, this is the time of year where we should all come together. This Christmas, get your whole family involved and do something spectacular that can change someone else’s life.

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Do Some GOOD With Your Unwanted Gifts!

A third of Brits admit to keeping unwanted Christmas gifts unused/unworn in the cupboards at home. That’s according to our recent study on Christmas shopping and gifting habits in the UK.

A further 23% admit to regifting their unwanted presents, while 20% have returned a gift and 19% have sold one on eBay.

But there’s a better way.

If one third of over 16s in the UK keep just one unwanted gift in the packaging unused in a cupboard, that amounts to over a million gifts sitting in storage wastefully after each Christmas in the UK alone.

Imagine if we could actually do something great with the gifts we don’t want or need ourselves.

Well, we can!

Donate Unwanted Christmas Gifts to Charity!

Don’t let perfectly good items waste away in your cupboards at home. You can donate goods to many charities in the UK.

We’ve compiled a list of some of them right here.

Here’s how to go about it.

Pop into a local charity shop

Perhaps you have a favourite charity or maybe you just want to see the shops closest to you. There’s a free and easy to use charity shop finder at https://www.charityretail.org.uk/find-a-charity-shop/

Pop in your location and it will return charity shops within 5 miles. So you can simply pop in and donate the items you have.

charity shop finder uk

Have items collected

Some charities, including the British Heart Foundation, will often arrange to collect items from you. So not only could you donate your unwanted Christmas gifts this way, but you could also have a clear out and donate any other items in your home that are in great condition but are going unused.

 

Get together with your colleagues, friends or a local group and sell for charity

Ok, so we admit this one takes a little bit more effort! But the average person has more than 150 Facebook friends. Based on our findings, 50 of them are likely to have an unwanted gift sitting in a cupboard.

Get together and hold a sale (either in person at a local community centre or similar) or arrange a group sale online and donate the takings to your chosen charity.

Don’t leave great items sitting in cupboards

Don’t let brand new items sit in your cupboards unused. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and by donating an item to charity, you can make the world just a tiny little bit better for someone – one gift at a time.

 

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Are You a Christmas Grinch? A Guide to Surviving Christmas for All the Grinches Out There

Christmas: The songs say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but do you have a bit of a different outlook? Between spending far too much money on presents, finishing up end of the year projects at work, decorating the house, dealing with overcrowded malls, and of course traveling to be with family, the truth is that the holidays can be stressful!

Do you tense up at the first sight of Christmas decorations at your local grocery store? Does figuring out your plans for the holiday season give you a major headache? Do you no longer have energy to send out Christmas cards, or do some holiday baking for friends and family? Uh oh: You might just be a Christmas Grinch!

While it may be understandable why the holiday season can have you feeling a little stressed, the truth is, you should look at the season as one of joy! While there is no way to avoid all the stress of the season, there is a lot you can do in order to enjoy Christmas more than you ever have before!

Not convinced? Stick with us. Here’s what you can do to survive the Christmas season. In fact, you might do more than just survive, you may actually enjoy it!

1. Apply for time off early

Having to work during the holidays simply isn’t fun. If you know you are having family over, be sure to apply for those days off in advance. Waiting until last minute won’t only upset your boss, the time may not be approved. Try to maximize the time you have off so that you can try to fit in some time to relax in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the busy season.

If you do have to work, make sure that everyone knows what your schedule is like so that you don’t have to keep explaining and possibly disappointing people- that is an easy way to get stressed out very quickly! Whatever your situation ends up being, make it known, and plan accordingly. Having a plan will make things run much smoother, even if the plan involves things you don’t want to do.

2. Do your shopping in advance

Don’t wait until the last minute to get all of your shopping done! This is one of the biggest reasons why people do not enjoy the holidays- they leave all major tasks to be completed until right before Christmas, and they end up not enjoying the day at all. Be smarter about your shopping! Take advantage of online sales, and we recommend getting started earlier in the year as well! If you hear your child, spouse, or friend mention wanting a certain item, make a note of it right away and consider purchasing it right away as well- even if it is nowhere near Christmas!

shopping

That way, as the holiday season rolls around, you are well prepared! The more items you can cross off your to-do list in advance, the better.

3. Take some time for yourself

It can be exhausting attending various Christmas parties- between work parties, neighborhood parties, gatherings with family, friends – it is a lot! Don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself in order to recharge and relax. Even a few hours to yourself can make a world of difference.

Not only will this make you feel better, you’ll end up enjoying yourself more at future parties, which everyone else around you will also appreciate! It is easy to get burnt out during the long season, so keep this in mind and make sure you fit in some time whenever you can.

4. Keep expectations realistic

Between Christmas movies on TV and social media postings, it is easy to get this idea in your head of having the absolute perfect Christmas. The reality is, the season is stressful, and things are not going to be perfect. And that is okay! However, adjusting your expectations can help you to better enjoy the season instead of always being upset that things aren’t living up to your expectations.

With a more realistic idea in mind you can better appreciate all of the wonderful moments of the season, and be better prepared to deal with the more stressful ones. Remember- what people post on Facebook or Instagram is a quick snapshot, not their entire reality! No one is having a perfect, stress-free time, so don’t be upset when you aren’t either.

5. Try to limit your cocktail intake

Yes, we can all agree that champagne and fun Christmas cocktails make the season more enjoyable, but the reality is, by indulging a little bit too much you are actually more likely to have a less than enjoyable time. A cocktail or two never hurt anyone and can help you relax, but make sure you don’t go overboard! Not only can you end up dealing with a nasty hangover the next day, you may end up causing some unnecessary drama that you will then have to deal with the next day.

The holidays are stressful enough, make sure you aren’t accidentally adding to it! While at any party where you are drinking, make sure you have one glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. You will thank us later!

6. Don’t be afraid to say no

One reason why you may not enjoy the holiday season is because you agree to do too many things! It can be a difficult skill to master, but learning how to say no can benefit you tremendously during the Christmas season. Just because you turn down a party or two does not mean you are a Grinch, or that you don’t love your family. You simply can’t say yes to everything- there is only so much time, and so much energy that you have!

If you really feel like you can’t take on one more event, be honest and say so. Like we mentioned earlier, this will not only benefit you, but everyone around you as well.

7. Start your own traditions

Christmas can be overwhelming for many reasons, including trying to keep up with everyone else’s expectations and traditions. You may turn into a Grinch this time of year because you are having to do the same things year after year that everyone else likes. Instead, try coming up with some of your own traditions so that you have them to look forward to as well. Even if you keep up with all the others, by also having some of your own, your mood will be much improved.

grinch

These new traditions don’t have to be large, but they just have to be what you want! Whether it is something you do with your spouse or your children, or maybe even something you do on your own, make it a priority and make sure to do it this year and every year. It is good to have things to look forward to during the stressful season- and this can be just that thing you need!

8. Spend time with people you enjoy

We all have to deal with spending time during the Christmas season with people we don’t necessarily enjoy being around. Perhaps a friend that comes into town once a year, a coworker you try to avoid, or certain family members that you know you can’t get away with not inviting to Christmas dinner. That is okay! Balance out those moments by making time to enjoy with those you are closest to.

Perhaps this is taking time to spend with just your immediate family, or your siblings, or you closest friends. These positive experiences will lift your mood and help you cope with dealing with everyone else.

9. Recruit some help

Don’t feel like you have to handle all of the decorating, planning, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, and baking on your own. No one should have to endure that! Instead, make sure you have people you can count on to help everything come together. This is one of the best, easiest ways to alleviate some of your stress during the Christmas season. By having less to do, you will have more time to focus on the fun parts of the season so that you can actually enjoy yourself!

10. Try your best to stick to a budget

Finally, one of the biggest stressors of the Christmas season is money. Plane tickets, Christmas presents, food, decorations, it all adds up. If you are worried about money all season long you are sure to not enjoy yourself. Instead, try to come up with a total budget in advance that you are comfortable with. Divide the budget according to what your plans are, and do your absolute best to stick to it!

By having a financial plan, you are much more likely to enjoy the season. The last thing anyone wants to do is open up their credit card bill in January to a huge surprise. Budget, plan ahead, and allow yourself to enjoy the season!

Wrapping Up

The Christmas season is stressful, no one can deny that. However, it is also a wonderful time of year to gather with family and friends. If you have felt like a Grinch the past few years, try to keep this guide in mind so that you can have a better holiday season. You deserve to enjoy the holidays as much as everyone else!

What is your go-to trick for staying calm during Christmas? Let us know!

The post Are You a Christmas Grinch? A Guide to Surviving Christmas for All the Grinches Out There appeared first on Thatsweetgift.


Dinner Party Favor Ideas: Winter Edition

If there’s one thing that everyone knows about winter it’s that you’re going to get invited to many dinner parties and possible host one or two of your own. This means you’re going to have to get prepared to either create dinner party favors for your guests or to bring to a friend or family member’s home. We’ve found all of the best dinner party favor ideas for this upcoming winter season so you’re always prepared for every holiday event you’ll be invited to or will host.

1. DIY Holiday Jars

Creating holiday jars is not only a great and unique gift to give to your dinner party attendees, but it’s also a fantastic way to create place settings for the dinner table. You can be as creative as you want to be, as your main job is to create some type of winter scene inside of the jar with the name of the guest clearly visible.

What You’ll Need:

Christmas tree decorations

christmas decorations

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Mason jars

mason jars

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Mini chalkboards

Mini chalkboards

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Chalkboard pen

chalkboard pen

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Fake snow

fake snow

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Step 1: Open the mason jar and fill the bottom of the jar with the fake snow, adding in the Christmas tree decoration and ensuring that it’s sitting properly in the jar.

Step 2: Write the name of the guest on the mini chalkboard using the chalkboard pen and tie it to the front of the mason jar.

Step 3: Add the lid back onto the mason jar and place it by the table setting for each guest.

2. Mini faux succulents

There’s nothing better than being able to add a bit of liveliness to your dinner table and your home, which is why we love the idea of giving your guests a faux succulent or any other type of plant that they can take home with them. The benefit of fake plants is that the guest doesn’t have to worry about keeping it alive and you have the ability to add a little more of a holiday flair to the party favor to help tie it into the occasion.

What You’ll Need:

Mini planted faux succulents

Mini planted faux succulents

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Glitter craft paint

glitter craft paint

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Paintbrushes

paintbrushes

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Step 1: Take the mini planted faux succulent (or plant of your choosing) and use the glitter craft paint to gently paint the edges of the plant to help add a little bit of sparkle.

Step 2: Allow a sufficient amount of time for drying before putting them on the table, as you’ll want to make sure that the glitter doesn’t transfer to your plates or cutlery.

3. Winter cocktail cookbooks

Another thing that is quintessential to the holiday season is being able to get together with friends and family and enjoy a couple of festive beverages, such as eggnog, hot toddies, and more. With the help of “Winter Cocktails” by Maria del Mar Sarcasa, you’ll be able to give your guests something that they’ll be sure to use throughout the holiday season.

winter cocktail cookbook

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What you’ll love even more about winter cocktail cookbooks as a party favor is that you can bring it as a gift to a friend or family member’s house who is hosting a party. Plus, as the gift is available through Amazon, you can choose between Kindle or Hardcover versions depending on your budget.

4. Homemade candied nuts

Homemade candied nuts

Homemade treats and snacks are a couple of things that most people love the most about the holiday season and with the help of homemade candied nuts, you can add a festive appeal to your dinner table or you can give a host a gift that they’ll be sure to enjoy on nights when they’re looking for something to satiate their sweet tooth. Not to mention candied nuts are incredibly easy to prepare the night before you’re expected to arrive or host the dinner party.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 pound of natural almonds
  • 1 pound of natural pecans
  • 1 ½ cups of granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla

Step 1: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt in a small bowl, making sure everything is thoroughly mixed together.

Step 2: In another bowl, combine the egg whites and vanilla, whisking until the mixture is frothy.

Step 3: Add the nuts to the egg mixture and coat them well, mixing in the sugar to coat all of the nuts.

Step 4: Pour the nuts into a slow cooker and bake on low for 2 hours, making sure that you stir the ingredients every 30 minutes.

Step 5: Once the 2 hours has passed, put the nuts on a baking sheet and allow for cooling time.

5. Christmas bell bracelets

christmas bell b racelets

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If you’re looking for something that is very affordable but still offers enough holiday cheer to make any winter dinner party a memorable event, we love the idea of these Christmas bell bracelets. Even though they’re not as luxurious as some of the other favors on this list, they’re the type of gift that everyone at the dinner will love, as it brings a little bit of fun into a more serious dinner setting. With your order, you’ll receive 24 green and red bracelets with fantastic bells attached to the rubber bracelets.

We also found that these are great gifts for kids that might be attending a dinner party and they can even be used to play games after dinner has been served. For example, if you want to play a safe game of hide and go seek where each person has to jingle the bells on their wrist in order for the seeker to find the people that are hiding.

Final Thoughts

No matter if you’re hosting or attending a dinner party, it’s important that you think about favors to either give to the attendees or the host. With these fantastic holiday inspired gifts, you’ll be able to show up to a friend or family member’s event with something they’ll be sure to appreciate. There’s something for everyone, all you need to do is get a little creative and take the time to partake in some quick and easy wintertime crafts!

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10 Best Holiday Backgrounds for Your Screens: Getting You in the Right Mood for Xmas!

Apart from the fact that electronic devices are useful in their own right, one of the most interesting parts of owning them is the fact that you can change your backgrounds to correspond with upcoming events and seasons. Christmas is easily one of the most visually beautiful holidays during the year, and as such, you’re going to want to make sure that you choose the perfect backgrounds for your computers, tablets, and smartphones to really get you into the spirit.

We’ve found 10 fantastic options for any of your devices and they are all entirely free and legal to use for a wide variety of purposes.

1. Christmas Cinnamon Sticks

cinnamon sticks

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First and foremost, let’s just say that you can easily smell the delicious scent of cinnamon mixed with citrus and pinecones simply by looking at this photo. Not to mention we love the stellar contrast between the fruits and natural elements, such as the wooden background.

As a far more modern background than most other Christmas pictures you’ll find on the internet, we love the idea of using this image as your background for a family or personal computer. It can also be a fantastic option for a tablet that you would use to pull up recipes when it comes time to make holiday treats.

2. Christmas Candle

Download it for free

As another beautiful Xmas background that you might be able to smell as soon as you see it, we love the comforting feeling that we got when we took a look at this Christmas candle background. In all honesty, it’s one of the more simple background images that we found, which is ideal for someone who is a minimalist but certainly a fan of the greens that pop up around the holiday season. If you’re getting ready to decorate your home with fantastic Christmas candles, this is one of the better backgrounds to choose from.

3. Christmas Gifts

christmas gifts

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We loved the combination of all of the natural elements in this Christmas gifts background, especially because it has a beautiful filter that adds to its rustic appeal. With presents wrapped in stunning wrapping paper and finished with a bow, this really got us in the mood for getting all of our presents together. We also appreciated the contrast between the red and white ribbon, burlap colored paper, greenery, and wood that seemingly brings the entire image together.

4. Santa Claus

santa claus

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We wouldn’t necessarily recommend this Santa Claus background for adults, however, it’s a fantastic option for a family computer or a computer that your children mostly use. If you find that the kids are starting to act up once they go on winter vacation, what better way to remind them to behave than to put a picture of Mr. Claus on their computer?

Remember kids, you won’t get any presents if you don’t listen to mom and dad! Additionally, there’s nothing that quite screams Christmas as much as Santa Claus himself.

5. Red Cranberry Garland

Red Cranberry Garland

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If you’re someone who is a fan of the reds and greens around the holiday season, this background image is easily one of the best ones on this list, especially as the saturation of the photo creates a stunning and brilliant display of our favorite things around the holidays. With juicy cranberries on a beautiful green garland on a striking red background, it’s a fantastic wallpaper that will surely grab the attention of absolutely anyone.

6. Snowman Ornament

https://www.pexels.com/photo/snowman-and-drum-decor-1028724/

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If you’re looking for something that is a little more cute than modern or original, the snowman ornament background image is a fantastic option for your smart devices or your computer. What we love about this picture is that it’s also appropriate for professional environments, so if you want to change the background of your computer at work, the IT department shouldn’t mind. As an image of a friendly snowman, who we’d like to think is Frosty the Snowman, surrounded by tiny drum and present ornaments, this photo makes us want to jump right into the winter wonderland.

7. Scrabble Christmas

Scrabble Christmas

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Is your family the type of family that loves to play games together during Christmas Eve dinner or at any other point during the holidays? The overall ambiance of the Scrabble Christmas background picture is rather soothing and cozy, which is quintessential to the holiday season. Not to mention, Scrabble is easily our team’s favorite holiday pastime to enjoy with the family. Ideal for the board game aficionado in your life, we recommend setting this as your wallpaper to get you excited for the time that you get to spend with friends and family over the holiday season.

8. Snowy Winter Home

Snowy Winter Home

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The main thing to appreciate about this image is the fact that it doesn’t only apply to the Christmas season, but the entire winter season. With a beautiful home in the background covered in blankets of snow and images of small snowflakes falling around the house and tree-lined streets, we find ourselves wishing that we were able to live right around the corner. On a quiet street on a cold winter’s evening, there’s nothing better than listening to the sound of snow gently falling on the branches of trees and packing up on sidewalks and front lawns.

9. Christmas Drinks and Treats

Christmas Drinks and Treats

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As we all know, Christmas is the one time of year where you get to indulge in some of the most delectable sweet treats, even if it’s first thing in the morning. Perfect for someone who is getting prepared for their annual holiday baking, the Christmas drinks and treats background is the perfect addition to any device that you own. We particularly love the look of the candy cane inside of the hot chocolate with the spectacular fluffy marshmallows on top. Though we also find ourselves salivating at the idea of indulging in the delicious gingerbread cookies on the plate as well.

10. Winter Ornaments

Winter Ornaments

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Ideal for the type of person that is a fan of all things sparkly that pop up during the Christmas season, this winter ornaments photo is the perfect alternative to traditional Christmas photos. With the combination of icy whites, crystal ornaments, silver, and dark green, it’s an extraordinary scene that you’ll see every time you unlock your phone or boot up your computer. If there’s one thing that we can say about this background it’s surely, where can we get those ornaments?

Final Thoughts

With the right holiday background, you can easily raise your spirits and get ready for the Christmas season. No matter if you’re a fan of the more natural elements of decorating or if you’re getting ready for Christmas baking, there’s surely a background image on this list for anyone in your family.

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The Best Sites to Shop at this Holiday Season!

Gone are the days of having to get in the car and spend the day dealing with traffic and millions of other holiday shoppers  now you can just head online! From the comfort of home you can easily find the perfect gifts for everyone on your shopping list – and we mean everyone!

Whether you are shopping for, you can head online and find the perfect gifts. While it is easy to head online, the next problem you are faced with is, where do you go? There is nearly an endless number of shopping sites – it can be overwhelming!

Thankfully, we have narrowed down the long list to just 5! These 5 sites are our favorite for shopping, and we’ll tell you why!

1. RetailMeNot

retailmenot

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One of our favorite places to start our shopping at is RetailMeNot! You may be used to searching for them for a coupon code when placing an order somewhere, but have you ever started at their website? It is a great resource for finding all sorts of excellent deals at an endless amount of websites. In search of clothing deals? Head to RetailMeNot and see which stores are offering discounts.

Toys? Kitchen appliances? Gift bags? You name it, there’s likely a store offering a sale on it, and RetailMeNot can make sure you find it with ease. Manually trying to find all the best deals online is exhausting and time consuming, so we love a site like RetailMeNot that does a lot of the hard work for us! Plus, typing in their coupon codes and watching our cart total drop is totally satisfying.

2. Wayfair

Wayfair

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We absolutely love Wayfair because of their huge selection of home decor items. From large pieces of furniture, to throw pillows, side lamps, and more, they have just about everything- including a great selection for kids! If home decor is an option as a gift for anyone on your shopping list, you need to head to Wayfair. Even better, we absolutely love their ‘Search with Photo’ tool that allows you to upload any photo and see what items they have for sale that match what you submit! If you’ve ever been scrolling on Instagram or Pinterest and fell in love with something you saw, this is the tool for you. You may end up picking out some items for yourself as well as for those on your shopping list- and we won’t judge!

3. Etsy

Etsy

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The holidays are all about being together with family and friends, and sometimes the best gifts to add to the enjoyment of the season are those that are more personal or handmade. We love Etsy because of all the wonderful, unique items that they have for sale from seriously talented artists and designers. Not only is it great to support individual artists, but the items you are getting are seriously cool! From personalized jewelry, to individual pieces of art, to home decor, and so much more, there is a wide variety of items for sale on Etsy, and we love heading there for inspiration when shopping for our friends and family.

4. Groupon

groupon

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The holiday season is expensive, and therefore finding great deals on gifts is crucial to ensuring you can afford to get gifts for everyone on your shopping list! We love Groupon because of their extensive list of deals that cover just about every interest and age group.

You can save a serious amount of money by shopping at Groupon, but you are not sacrificing quality at all. We also think it’s great that in addition to physical items, you can also purchase Groupons for local events, which we think make for excellent gifts. Perfect for bringing the family together to make lasting memories, Groupon can allow you to do that without breaking the bank! It is a great website to head to while holiday shopping, and you are sure to find plenty of excellent gift ideas at great prices!

5. ThatSweetGift

ThatSweetGift

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Finally, of course we had to mention ThatSweetGif t- it is really a lifesaver when it comes to holiday shopping! With plenty of gift guides for each and every person on your shopping list, you can easily pick out gifts without having to stress out about finding something they will really love. Our great team selects all the best, most unique items so that you can sit back and relax.

The holiday season is busy and stressful, but we don’t think that shopping for gifts should be! Easily find gifts and purchase them all from the comfort of home, and all right here at ThatSweetGift. The time you’ll save can be spent instead with friends and family all season long- and that is really the best gift of all!

Wrapping Up

The shopping season could not be busier, but thanks to technology, you can do most of it (or really, all of it) from your computer! These are the best sites for holiday shopping, as they will provide you with unique items and all without breaking the bank. It’s a win win!

We hope this will be your best, more relaxing holiday season yet! Happy shopping!

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5 Awesome Sites to Sell your DIY Creations (Jewelry, Art, Clothing)

 

 

Are you a pro at all things DIY? If so, have you ever considered selling your creations? For many, this is a great way to make some extra money (or to pursue as a full time career!) From jewelry, to art, to clothing, and so much more, there are so many handmade items to be made, and plenty of willing customers to purchase the items!

 

The most difficult part of selling your DIY creations is figuring out where to sell them. After all, if no one knows about your items, you aren’t going to make very many sales! However, thanks to the Internet, setting up your very own DIY store is now easier than ever.

 

There are numerous sites out there where you can sell your items, and choosing the one that is right for you depends on several factors. What type of items do you create? Do you have money to spend for your store, or do you want to list your items for free? Do you care about things like payment protection? There is a lot to consider!

 

With that in mind, here are 5 awesome sites to sell your DIY creations. Let’s discuss each site, including why they may be the right fit for you based on the items they sell, pricing, ease of use, and more.

 

  1. Etsy

 

Of course, no DIY selling list would be complete without including Etsy, the most well known marketplace for selling handmade goods. What is great about Etsy is that you can sell just about anything here- including vintage items as well as new handmade items, digital downloads, and so much more. As a seller, you can create an account for free, but you will pay both a listing fee and a transaction fee for each item you have. The listing fee is only $0.20 and the transaction fee is currently 5% (which includes whatever your shipping cost is).

 

While the site isn’t completely free, keep in mind that with Etsy you will have access to a really large pool of people who shop at the site. Once you get up and running you will see that the small fees are really not a major issue.

 

  1. Artfire

 

Artfire is another well-known site to sell homemade creations, although admittedly not as widely known as Etsy. However, what we like about Artfire is that there are tiered options for shops, giving you more power to select the type of store you need (instead of paying more for features you likely won’t use). This way, you can easily start with a lower (and therefore cheaper plan) and upgrade later on as you earn more sales and if you want to sell more items!

 

The cheapest plan is less than $5 a month, and the listing fee is only $0.23 per item. You do pay a 9% fee on each item sold, but thankfully that number reduces to just 3% if you upgrade your plan. Best of all, you can sell just about anything on Artfire, including handmade and vintage goods!

 

  1. eCrater

 

eCrater is a great option if you want a very cost effective option for selling your DIY creations! This site is totally free to get started with, and doesn’t charge anything to list your items! Even better, if you bring in the sale you get to keep 100% of the cost of the item. eCrater also has what they call their Marketplace, and if someone finds your item through there you just pay 2.9%. The fee is completely fair considering that the marketplace will help put your items in front of a lot of buyers.

 

eCrater also has a wide variety of categories of items they sell, so you can feel confident selling just about anything that you have created! If you can make it, you can sell it on eCrater!

 

  1. eBay

 

Almost everyone knows about eBay at this point, but did you know that you can use this site to sell your handmade creations as well? You absolutely can! Not only can you, but there are a lot of buyers who turn to eBay for purchasing these types of goods. Considering how well known eBay is, it is a great option for any seller who wants to get their products in front of a lot of people.

 

Pricing for eBay is a bit more complicated than other sites, with there being differences in terms of listing or selling fees based on certain factors. For most people, you can list around 50 items for free each month, and anything above that is charged a fee of around $0.35. In terms of selling fees, it can be as high as 10%, but can also be less. Part of this depends on the type of items you are selling. The higher selling fee can be justified given the large pool of people who use eBay. If you want a large audience right away, a well-known site like eBay may be the right fit for you!

 

  1. Amazon Handmade

 

Finally, did you know that ecommerce giant Amazon also sells handmade items? They do! Called ‘Amazon Handmade,’ they have a dedicated section of Amazon that is all about selling handmade goods. If you want your items in front of arguably the largest online audience, Amazon Handmade is for you. With tons of categories, you can sell just about any of your DIY creations!

 

There is no up-front cost to start selling, but you do have to apply for an account (as opposed to other sites where anyone can easily sign up and start right away). If you are approved, you will have to pay a fee for each item you sell. The fee is the most expensive on this list, you will pay about 15% for each item sold. Keep in mind that this fee also includes things like seller support and fraud protection!

 

You will find that Amazon is much stricter about the items they allow to be sold- they must be entirely handmade by you! If you fit that description, it is a great opportunity to sell your products to a worldwide audience. We would recommend this site for a seller who is serious about selling their crafts full-time. It is more expensive to be listed here, but it will seriously pay off.

 

Wrapping Up

 

So there you have it! If you want to get started selling your DIY creations, you’ve got plenty of options! Based on the budget you have for setting up your shop, as well as the items you have to offer, you can determine which platform will be right for you.

 

From well-known places like Etsy and Amazon Handmade, to lesser known options like eCrater and Artfire, you can rest easy that all are excellent platforms and can get you one step closer to selling your beautiful creations! Happy selling!

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How to Make Fake Snow to Decorate your House this Holiday Season

 

 

Whether you live in a cold climate or not, it is hard to picture the holiday season without snow! From making snow angels to building a snowman, to holding a snowball fight, there is so much to do, and fun for all ages!

 

While getting out in the cold is fun, the truth is sometimes the cold is too much! Or, perhaps you live somewhere that doesn’t get much (if any) snow. That doesn’t mean you should miss out on the fun! Why not bring the snow inside? Seriously! Fake snow makes a great decoration that you can use all throughout your house.

 

No matter where you live you can wake up to a White Christmas by using fake snow to decorate! Do you have little kids? Leave some fake snow around your Christmas tree and near your chimney on Christmas Eve and it’ll look like Santa made his way into the house to leave presents!

 

There are so many great ideas for decorating with fake snow, but what is most important, is you need to have the fake snow to get started! Did you know that you can easily make your own fake snow? You can, and it is very easy!

 

First let’s discuss how to make fake snow to decorate your house, and after that we’ll list some top decorating ideas so you’ll know what to do with your snow once you’ve made it!

 

Fake Snow Recipe

 

It couldn’t be easier to make this DIY snow, and best of all, you can involve your kids and have them help! This is a great activity to do all together on a nice weekend afternoon (or anytime really!) You will need to do some of the steps, but there is plenty the kids can help with!

 

What You Need:

 

  1. Foam balls (the more balls, the more snow you will make, so get several if you want to make a lot)
  2. White glue
  3. White acrylic paint

 

What You Need to Do:

 

  1. First you need to prep your area! We recommend clearing off a large table and laying down some newspaper (especially if your kids will help- reduce the mess you need to clean up later!)
  2. Grab a cutting board and a serrated (or bread) knife and cut your foam balls in half- make sure you do this step, not your kids!
  3. To make the base of the snow you will simply rub the two halves of the foam ball together back and forth and the balls will crumble into your snow flakes! We recommend doing this either onto a plate or into a bowl.
  4. For each batch of snow you need around half a cup of the foam shavings- divide your flakes into half cup servings and place each serving in a mixing bowl.
  5. Add to each bowl a fourth of a cup of your glue and 2 tablespoons of white paint. Mix all 3 ingredients together well.
  6. Using your fingers or a paintbrush (if you don’t like getting messy!) to apply your ‘snow’ to your decorations. Allow it to dry before touching it again.
  7. If you want a looser type of snow that you can just vacuum up, simply take your foam balls and rub them together wherever you want your snow!

 

Top Decorating Ideas for Fake Snow

 

Now that you’ve made your fake snow, what do you do with it? Here are some popular decoration ideas:

 

  • On your Christmas tree: We only recommend this if you have a real tree that you will dispose of at the end of the season. If you have a fake tree that you use year after year it can be tricky to get the snow off and be more trouble than it’s worth.
  • At the dinner table: Compliment your dinner centerpiece with some snow! This is easy to do with the loose fake snow from the foam and can make a big impact!
  • On your mantel: Did you decorate your mantel for Christmas? Add some fake snow to give it a more realistic, wintery appearance!
  • Mason jars: Mason jars are perfect for just about anything, including winter decorations! Fill some jars with fake snow and add either pine cones, evergreen sprigs, berries, or any other festive items for cute decorations that you can place all around your house!
  • For Santa: Finally, like we mentioned earlier, consider adding a ‘trail’ of snow on Christmas Eve from your fireplace to your Christmas Tree (and near your cookies and milk you left out) to make it look like you got a late night visit from none other than Santa Claus himself! Your kids will absolutely love it!

 

Wrapping Up

 

There you have it! With just a few items you can easily make fake snow to decorate any part of your house this holiday season! From loose snow, to more compact snow that you can paint on your decor, you have so many options for making your home into a total Winter Wonderland!

 

What is your favorite part of your house to decorate for Christmas? Let us know- and happy decorating!

The post How to Make Fake Snow to Decorate your House this Holiday Season appeared first on Thatsweetgift.


Cheap Outdoor Christmas Decoration Ideas

 

 

It’s the Christmas season, and while there is a lot to do, one important part is decorating! From selecting your Christmas tree, to placing the ornaments, hanging the garland, stringing the lights, and hanging the stockings, there is a lot to keep you occupied inside.

 

But what about outside? That is important to! To really get into the festive season, consider decorating the outside of your house. Each day you come home you can pull up to some gorgeous decorations that get you in the holiday spirit all over again. Isn’t it nice driving through neighborhoods where all the houses are nicely decorated? You don’t want to be the one house that doesn’t participate!

 

With that in mind, we recognize that outdoor Christmas decorations can be kind of pricey! And given how expensive the Christmas season is in general, it makes sense if you don’t have a large budget to spend on outdoor decor. That is okay! Thankfully, there are plenty of affordable decoration ideas to choose from.

 

We have rounded up some of our favorite outdoor Christmas decorations, and all are very inexpensive! If you want to take the festivity outside this year, consider using these decorations to help turn the outside of your house into a perfect Winter Wonderland. All of the items here are $50 or less!

 

  1. YIHONG Inflatable Santa Claus 4ft Christmas Blow Up Yard Decorations

Price: $25.99

 

Of course, what list of Christmas decorations would be complete without Santa Claus?? Inflatable decorations are some of our favorites, as they are just so fun and make a big impact. And trust us, kids love them too! Best of all, this 4 foot Santa is under $30! For not a lot of money, this can easily be the focal point of your outdoor decorations. Santa will wave hello to friends, family, and neighbors all season long! We love that this Santa also has LED lights inside of him so that you can still see him at night! It also comes with ropes and stakes to stabilize him so that you don’t have to worry about him flying away during a windy day!

 

  1. Whaline Christmas Porch Sign, Welcome and Merry Christmas Hanging Sign for Home

Price: $18.99

 

What better way to welcome friends and family into your home than with these gorgeous outdoor hanging signs? Perfect to hang on either side of your front door, these signs say ‘Welcome’ and ‘Merry Christmas’ and we think they are perfect for decorating your doorway. Sure it is important to decorate your yard, but you don’t want to forget about your door! Everyone passes through here- make it special! These banners also come with two small holes at the bottom so that you can secure them to something heavy, that way you don’t have to worry about them flying around on a windy day! For less than $20, this is a great outdoor decoration that is easy to set up and looks great.

 

  1. guaiboshi Falling Rain Lights, LED Meteor Shower Lights

Price: $17.99

 

Okay, wow! If you want to make a big impact and totally wow your neighbors, you need these meteor shower lights! These are perfect to hang from any trees that you might have in your front yard, or you could consider hanging them off the edge of your house! Either way, the result is some seriously cool lights that everyone will love. Personally we thought these lights would be way more expensive, but for less than $20, they are a steal! If you want to do something with lights this holiday season but want to do something different than the typical string lights, this is the perfect option for you. Best of all, these lights turn on and off in a sequence as if they were actually part of a meteor shower! This may be our favorite outdoor decor, they just look so magical!

 

  1. Multi-Color Light Bulb Pathway Markers, 10-Pack

Price: $32

 

These light bulb lights are so cute and are perfect for marking the edge of a walkway or sidewalk up to your front door! Not only do these look nice, they are also practical as well! If you have family or friends stopping by at night, these lights will light the way to your door! So fun and festive, we love these lights and think they make for perfect Christmas decor. These technically come in white bulbs, but we think the multi-color is much more fun for Christmas! If you don’t have a walkway you can still easily use these for decor out in your yard! There are plenty of possibilities when it comes to these fun lights, and we think they would make an excellent addition to your outdoor decor.

 

  1. Prextex Set of 3 Christmas Lighted Red Green and Blue Gift Boxes Small Medium and Large

Price: $35.95

 

Looking for more decorations that you can put out in your yard? You’ve got Santa, and what does Santa bring with him? Presents! We love this set of 3 Christmas presents and think this makes for wonderful decor this holiday season. Wrapped in gorgeous red, green, and blue ‘paper’ along with red bows on top, these are fun present boxes that you can place either in a grouping or in 3 different spots in your yard. Best of all, these decorations come with lights inside them so that you can still see them at night! Fun, festive, and affordable! You can’t beat that!

 

  1. Hohoto Firework Lights, LED Fairy Lights, 2 Pack of DIY Led Light for Christmas

Price: $28.99

 

Finally, if you want more unique lighting for your decor, we love these ‘firework’ lights, in fact we think they look like lit up snowflakes! No matter your interpretation, these lights are gorgeous and perfect for lighting up the outside of your house. Whether you hang them from a tree, off your house, or near your front door, these lights are sure to make a big impact. Best of all, you can actually bend these lights to form them into unique shapes! Push them more tightly together, or spread them out for thin lights bursting from the center, the choice is yours! You can also choose if you want these lights to be steadily on, or you can choose various flashing modes like wave, sequential, or slo glo! With timer modes as well, these lights are easy to set up so that you don’t have to worry about them- they will turn on and off all on their own all season long!

 

Wrapping Up

 

So, what do you think? Without breaking the bank you can get some great outdoor decor that will ensure your house looks ready for the holiday season! From unique lights, to Santa and his presents, and so much more, your house will be the best looking on the block!

 

What are your favorite type of Christmas decorations? Let us know, and Merry Christmas!

 

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How to Crochet? 5 Free Online Tutorials to Get You Started!

When it comes to picking up a new skill, such as crocheting, you’re going to want to make sure that you have the best resources at your disposal so that you don’t wind up wasting your time. There are hundreds of different resources that you can use online to start your new project, however, there are some that are far superior to others.

Below are things to look out for when choosing the right crocheting tutorials as well as our top 5 online tutorials that you have to check out!

What to Look for in Online Tutorials

As mentioned, there are plenty of things that you’re going to need in order to make the most out of crocheting instructions, especially if you’re a beginner.

1. Step-by-step pictures

First and foremost, the tutorial that you choose should have pictures to give you a visual representation of the steps that you’re going to have to take, otherwise, you’ll just be relying on the written word of someone who already knows how to effectively crochet.

crocheting

No matter if you’re more a visual or hands-on learner, a tutorial should always have pictures.

2. Lists of required items

Another important feature that tutorials should have is a list of items that you will need before you even start crocheting, otherwise, you might find yourself running out to the crafts store before you even start. It’s always better to be prepared beforehand so you can start crocheting immediately.

3. Easy-to-understand text

Finally, you’re also going to want to find tutorials that offer easy-to-read text along with their pictures, as sometimes, a picture isn’t sufficient enough to explain techniques that you should try to make the task easier.

The Best Online Crocheting Tutorials

Below are our top five picks for the best online tutorials to help you become the best crocheting aficionado you can be.

The Spruce Crafts – A Total Beginner’s Guide to Learning How to Crochetthe spruce

We love a great beginner’s guide and The Spruce Crafts always has the best way to lead you through arts and crafts that you’ve never tried before. With “A Total Beginner’s Guide to Learning How to Crochet”, you’ll have the ability to know the ins and outs of the project and what to expect every step of the way.

We also love how they implement videos throughout the article that can show you different techniques, such as how to make crochet stitches as a beginner.

Craftsy – Want to Learn How to Crochet? Start Here!Craftsy

If you are someone who is looking for a simple and easy to follow step-by-step guide to learn how to start crocheting and how to improve your skills over a short period of time, Craftsy’s tutorial on crocheting is a fantastic option.

Similar to The Spruce Crafts, “Want to Learn How to Crochet? Start Here!” offers pictures every step of the way, discusses the type of materials that you’re going to want to start with, and even goes into detail about the different types of crochet hooks that you might come across in the store.

It’s one of the better tutorials because it covers all of the bases to make sure you can make the most out of your time and effort.

Instructables – “How to Crochet for Beginners”Instructables

Much like their name suggests, Instructables is another incredibly useful resource to have at your disposal when you’re interested in learning about a variety of different things. It’s unique when compared to the other tutorials on the list because all of their articles are crafted by teachers or experts on a specific project, so you’ll surely have all of the information you need to get started. What makes “How to Crochet for Beginners” the most notable is the fact that it’s been viewed over 2 million times, which shows you just how effective the tutorial is.

Another thing that we love about Instructables aside from their easy to follow instructions, pictures, and videos, is the fact that you can leave comments and questions at the bottom of the article and they will either be answered by teachers or other community members. It’s essentially as if you were taking an advanced crocheting class and asking for assistance.

Annie’s Craft Store – How to Crochet & Basic StitchesAnnie’s Craft Store

Annie’s Craft Store takes a more conventional approach when it comes to tutorials, but they’re arguably one of the most effective ways of teaching when compared to the other tutorials on this list.

Instead of getting bogged down by walls of text and a few pictures, “How to Crochet & Basic Stitches” is designed to where you click on the step of the project you want to do and you’re immediately directed to a video that shows you how to complete the said step.

Craft Yarn Council – Learn Single CrochetCraft Yarn Council

If you’re looking for resources developed by the best professionals possible, you’re going to want to take a look at Craft Yarn Council’s learning center, as it’s filled with great tutorials and advice about a wide variety of yarn-related tasks, including crocheting.

With that being said, we found that their tutorials were a little more appropriate for intermediate users in comparison to being as user-friendly as the other tutorials on this list. However, it’s a great guide for learning more about the ins and outs of crochet once you get a hang of it.

Final Thoughts

Have you ever seen someone start to crochet something and thought to yourself, “Well, that looks easy enough”? Even though it might look simple, you can guarantee that learning how to crochet is something that is going to take a lot of time and patience to get a hang of. Also, you can bet that as you become more experienced, you’ll start to pick up on mistakes that you wouldn’t have noticed when you first started.

With the help of the right tutorial, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a fantastic crochet enthusiast and be able to develop your craft far faster than if you were to try to figure it out without any help.

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