Wrapping paper-free

I’ve never been a wrapping paper person (WPP). First there’s the trip to the store to purchase paper and tape, then there’s the cost, and finally there’s the impermanence of it all. Wrapping paper is a single-use thing; enjoyed one second and discarded the next. Because of this, I like wrapping paper alternatives.

Here are a few to consider:

  • Boxes
  • Comics (coffee shops are a great place to find comics)
  • Clothes
  • Fabric
  • Furoshiki
  • Gift bags (I reuse all bags that I come my way)
  • Kid’s artwork
  • Nothing. Ask someone to close their eyes, hold out their hands, and imagine a beautifully wrapped present with a big bow. Then place the present in their hands and ask them to open their eyes. Ta-da!
  • Old calendars
  • Paper bags

Be creative and you can save a tree, a small mountain of plastic tape, a trip to the store, and some cold hard cash.


Experiences vs stuff

It’s the holiday season again; an excellent time to slow down and spend time with family and friends.

My family celebrates Chanukah and I’ve given my kids a few presents, but years from now I doubt they’ll remember these presents (I know I won’t). Instead of presents, I think my kids will remember the Chanukah parties that we have every year: latkes, candles, and spinning dreidels. Every party is a fun and unique experience.

I think most people would agree that experiences make people happier than things. The novelty of things wears off, but memories last a lifetime. That said, I hope you’ll spend lots of time with family and friends this holiday season.

Experiences are more memorable than presents.

Here’s to life experiences! Give the gift of your time – a very precious commodity in our busy world.

Related post:  No Christmas gifts this year dot com

Love everyday

I don’t get excited about Hallmark holidays like Valentine’s day. And being single seems like the perfect excuse for me to opt out of Valentine’s day participation. Or is it?

Whether you’re in or out of a relationship, Valentine’s day is not exclusive to romantic relationships. Every day is the perfect day to express your love for someone.

Here’s some ideas:

  • Touch everyone in your home with affection
  • Say “I love you” to everyone in your home, everyday
  • Tell someone what they mean to you
  • Give someone your undivided attention
  • Do something unexpected for someone you love

That’s what comes to mind this morning. There are millions of ways to show your love and most don’t cost a single thin dime.

Thanks to Aldra (of Consciously Frugal fame) for inspiring me to think beyond the consumer aspects of Valentine’s day. “Love is a gift that is celebrated daily.”

If you’re in a relationship… this free eBook posted at Serene Journey looks really good:  LOVEveryday

This week I also enjoyed Betsy Talbot’s Valentine post at Married with Luggage: “Lower your expectations for February 14 and raise your expectations for romance throughout the year.”

Practice deliberate acts of love

Happy Valentine’s Day

Tell someone what they mean to you

I just celebrated my birthday and received a few gifts that I really love.

My favorite gift is a homemade card from my daughter. Yes, a card can be a gift!

There are many fun things about my Beatles birthday card, but my favorite part is a section where my daughter listed qualities about me (frugal, kind, optimistic, computer geek) with reasons why she selected them. The card let me see myself through my daughter’s eyes. What a gift!

My daughter’s birthday card is a total keeper – keepsake box bound. Someday. For now, I’m still savoring the details. 

I can’t think of a better gift than telling someone what they mean to you in a note or card. 

Another favorite birthday gift of mine is a bag of chocolate cookies with a coupon for six months of cookies baked by my friend. Yum!

Looking for gift ideas? My friend Angela just posted some great handmade and frugal gift ideas. Tis the season….

No Christmas gifts this year dot com

I stumbled upon a great I Will Teach You To Be Rich Project called No Christmas Gifts This Year.


Every year millions of Americans buy gifts whether they have the money or not. Christmas gifts are sacred. But do they need to be? 

NoChristmasGiftsThisYear.com sayz:

“Instead of buying things we can’t afford, here’s a way to do something more meaningful.”

The web site let’s you send a note to your friends and family offering to share time together, instead of a gift.

Hi (name):

This year, the economy has made it tough, so instead of buying Christmas gifts, let’s do something more (fun/helpful/exciting) together like: (a list of options)


I love this idea, but the editor in me can’t resist a little editing. I marked out the bit about it being a tough year. Why? Because it’s not necessary. I don’t think we need a reason to say “instead of a gift, I’d love to do something together with you.”

My sister did this last year for our Mom. Instead of a gift, she asked if they might do something together like put up holiday decorations or make cookies. My Mom agreed and they had a lovely time.

Often the greatest gifts can’t be bought at the mall and or wrapped up in a box.

Give the gift of an experience. Make time for someone. Your time is a gift in itself.

What are your thoughts on holiday gifts?

Simple wallets

I’ve had the same wallet for a decade. It’s pretty much indestructible.


Recently I stumbled upon a duct tape wallet that caught my eye.


These duct tape wallets are handmade in Methow Valley Washington by Brian Drye. I like these wallets because they’re handmade, thin, simple and unique. And for vegan-minded folks, they’re not made from leather. If you have your own design in mind, you can send it to Brian and he’ll let you know if it’s doable. Don’t want a design? You can order a basic brown duct tape wallet. Here’s a blue one:

Inside view of duct tape wallet

Like to keep things simple? It doesn’t get any simpler than this wallet.


This simple money-band lets you carry cash and cards, bundled together in your front pocket. If paying $5 for a strong perfectly sized rubber band seems outrageous, start looking for your own rubber band. My friend uses a regular ol’ rubber band that she wraps around her credit cards a couple times. It does the trick and costs nothing.

Any of these wallets should perform admirably and won’t bust your budget. To use these wallets, you will need to whittle down the cards you carry to the bare essentials.

Inside view of my metal wallet

Right now I carry 7 cards:

  • Visa 
  • Driver’s license
  • Gym membership
  • My insurance card
  • Starbucks discount card (could leave in my car)
  • ATM
  • My kid’s insurance card 

That’s it.

Try it yourself. Whittle down the number of cards you carry. How low can you go?

New or used gift: Does it matter?

My daughter doesn’t differentiate between new and used. She’s 8 years old, and to her stuff is just stuff. Even in the case of a gift.

This story begins with a birthday party. I keep a stack of Barnes & Noble gift cards for kids’ birthday parties. I have the stack for a variety of reasons – the gift cards keep things simple, require little shopping, and I like to give books as gifts.

That said, my gift card stash was depleted and a birthday party was imminent. A Sunday morning bookstore dash was becoming likely, but I stayed silent. I wanted my daughter, who is an excellent problem solver, to come up with a solution. And she did.

Surprisingly and thankfully, my daughter didn’t mention going to a store. Instead, she started going through her stuff. Knowing that her friend loves Pokemon, she thumbed through her Pokemon movies. “How about this?” She offered up a favorite, Lucario and the Mysteries of Mew. “Sure,” I said gleefully.

There was a moment of silence. The gears in her head were spinning. “If I give this to Chaz, can we get another one?” Impressed that she was willing to give away a favorite, and excited about not going to a store, I said “sure.”

Gently used birthday gift with homemade card

What I appreciate about my daughter’s thought process is that she considered what she had, and not what the closest store had. She found a great gift and it didn’t matter that it was used.

I was thinking of popping out to buy something, but my daughter found a great gift amongst her things. In her mind, stuff is stuff. New or used, it’s all the same. And why not? A great gift is a thoughtful gift. It doesn’t matter if it’s used or new.

What about you? Do you give gently used gifts? Have you gotten a used gift? What did you think? Please share your thoughts in a Comment.

Postscript: We should be near the end of my daughter’s Pokemon phase. I’m hoping that if the dvd is replaced, it will be with something else – a different used dvd.

Postscript #2: I read this post to my daughter today and she thought I missed an important point. The dvd  was originally her birthday gift from me. She told her friend as much and he loved the gift.

Postscript #3: Enough with the postscripts.