Stone Mountain Christmas Magic!

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Making the Most of Stone Mountain Christmas

Recently, I was the delighted to be invited back with my family to experience Stone Mountain Christmas.  Last winter, we played at Snow Mountain, but hadn’t yet gotten to see the magic of Stone Mountain Christmas, so of course we jumped at the opportunity to go.  Suffice it to say, it is now on my list of family-friendly things to do in Winter in Atlanta!

From the whimsical sing-along Christmas train ride with The Gift (my Thomas-loving son’s favorite, of course!), to the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in 4-D (seriously, 10 minutes of fun and cuteness!), visiting Santa, the great variety of live performances peppered throughout, or my daughter’s absolute favorite: meeting the Snow Angel – there’s something for everyone at Stone Mountain Christmas.  The evening is topped off with the Snow Angel Fireworks Finale.

New for the 2017 season: a 36′ Christmas tree featuring snippets of It’s a Wonderful Life, as well as the live show Christmas in the City, that takes guests on a high-energy musical journey featuring Christmas classics from around the country.  My kids enjoyed participating in the show Twas the Night Before …A Christmas Caberet.


How can you make the most of your time at Stone Mountain Christmas this holiday season?  Here are my top tips for doing so:

Making the Most of Your
Stone Mountain Christmas Experience

[Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Creative Ways to Recycle Christmas Cards

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

recycle christmas cards

It’s inevitable for many families this time of year, the Christmas Cards will start arriving once we flip our calendars to December.  We keep ours in a basket available for all to see each year during the month of December.  However, once the holidays are over, I’m perpetually perplexed as to what to do with all those cards.  We get cards from family all across the country, and from friends equally spread out.  Each year, I look at these cards as a sweet, simple way to stay in touch with loved ones; but I honestly always felt a sense of dread and apprehension once the holidays passed and it was time to take down the Christmas decor.  I never knew quite what to do with all the cards.


recycling christmas cards

Thanks Jannessa from Bliss Mama Wellness for sharing your Christmas Card door!

So I reached out to my blogger friends AND posed the question on Privet, and got some awesome ideas and inspiration for upcycling and recycling Christmas cards.  Here are some ways to get more out of the Christmas cards you receive.  If you’ve got more ideas or inspirations, please let me know!

Creative Ideas for Recycling Christmas Cards

  • One family tapes them to their kitchen pantry cabinet, for the toddlers to look at year long of friends and family near and far.
  • Hang them in kitchen door frame as you receive them.  My friend Jennessa of Bliss Mama Wellness did so this year.  (see pic above)
  • Punch a hole in each one, and bind together with a binder ring.
  • Using your smartphone, take a photo of each card. Then assign that picture to the sender in your phone. Then when they call or text, you have a seasonal reminder of them all-year long!
  • If you only receive them from close friends and family, save them. Dedicate a special spot to them and watch how the kids grow.
  • Cut out the names from the cards and start a bowl full of them. Once or twice a week throughout the year, pull a name and pray for them – even the companies and businesses that send cards.
  • Lindsey from Redhead Baby Mama informed me that “if you cut off the fronts of basic or old-fashioned cards (no family photos) and give them to the VA, the vets do rehab crafts with them!”
  • Winona of Southern Family Fun has a great DIY craft turning Christmas cards into decorative coasters.

Got any more great ways to recycle Christmas Cards?  Please comment below with your ideas or contact me.  I’d love to hear your ideas!

recycle christmas cards

Keep on saving!  :o)

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Christmas in July – 10 ways to start planning now and avoid holiday debt

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Being extremely active on social media, I’ve seen tons of updates about how Christmas is just around the corner.  As much as I don’t want to start planning right now (procastinator!) it’s important so that I’m not breaking the bank in December.  So many families don’t plan for the holidays early enough, and end up putting a lot of their holiday gifts on credit cards.  Proper planning and smart shopping starting now can help you save in the long run, and avoid massive credit card bills when the new year rolls around.  Check out these 10 tips for making your Christmas as financially un-stressful as possible!

Start Christmas planning now avoid holiday debt

10 tips for planning Christmas on a budget

10.  Start making a list of what your kids want – As you hear them ask for specific things, or notice something that they could use, add it to a list.  You can easily make a list on your smartphone with an app like Evernote, and access it from anywhere.  This will really come in handy once you start actually purchasing gifts.

9.  Put aside money each pay period – Set aside a little bit each time you get paid.  Cut out stopping for coffee in the morning a few days a week, or maybe pack your lunch for work instead of going out.  Use that money for your Christmas fund instead.  There are about 25 weeks from the beginning of July until Christmas, so just saving $20 a week means you’ll have $500 to spend on gifts!  Be sure that money goes into a separate account so you don’t accidentally spend it!

8.  Subscribe to Amazon deals – Did you know that Amazon has Gold Box lightening deals available for a short period each day?  Subscribe to get those deals in your inbox and never miss out again!  Many of the deals are well over 50% off!

Start Christmas planning now avoid holiday debt

7.  Start cleaning out toys – Go ahead and start going through your kids’ toys now, and get rid of items that are broken, missing pieces, or that they have outgrown.  Once you pare them down and see what they have left, you’ll have a better idea of what they need.  You may realize they already have tons of stuff they still play with, or that they could use more Barbie clothes or Legos for their collection.  It’s easier to figure out what to buy when you have an accurate list of what they already own.

6.  Talk to your family about what to buy – If you have family members that always give your children gifts, talk to them about what they plan to purchase.  If there are specific items that you know your child wants, let everyone know.  If you plan to buy something that has accessories or add-on kits, that’s a great thing to clue family in on.  Another great way to share your child’s holiday wish list is through a site like GiftBirdy, which lets the kids make their own list online and then share it with others.

5.  Shop Craigslist, Ebay, and consignment sales – You can find great deals on gently used (and often new) items by searching Craigslist and Ebay.   I’ve also found great gifts by shopping yard sales and consignment sales in during the fall.  Your kids are going to open the boxes and use their gifts anyway, so why not buy something that’s out of the box but still in excellent condition?  This is a great way to pick up things like toddler toys, video games, outdoor toys and more, for often less than 50% of the regular retail price.  (Just be sure to exercise caution when purchasing items from Craigslist.  Meet sellers in a very public place, and if a deal sounds way too good to be true, it probably is.)

4.  Utilize layaway plans – If you have your eye on a big ticket item that you don’t currently have the money for, see if one of your local stores offers layaway.  You can pay a portion of the money up front, and then make payments over several weeks.  If the item goes on sale while it’s on layaway, most stores will honor that price and adjust it if you just bring it to their attention. Toys R Us, KMart, and Sears are just a few of the stores that currently offer layaway programs for their customers.

3.  Shop daily deal sites – Sites like Zulily and One Kings Lane offer short term deals on popular items.  Sign up to get their updates via email, and you’ll know about the big deals as soon as they are available.  Last year I got the super popular Pillow Pets for my kids for $1o from for just $10, when they were retailing for at least $25 at other stores!  Be sure to share deals your friends would like as well, because most of those sites reward you with credit when your friends place an order.

Start Christmas planning now avoid holiday debt

2.  Check out the clearance section – Big name stores like Walmart and Target always have items on clearance, so when you are doing your regular shopping each week, take a second to check out the clearance aisle.  I have picked up several gifts at a huge discount that way.  I also like to look for clearance deals at local drug stores, and even grocery stores have good deals sometimes!

1.  Saving pocket change – Instead of using that change in the bottom of your purse, set it aside for your holiday fund.  Just a few coins here and there can really add up!  Do the same thing with found money, and you’ll have a nice little stash of cash to add to your holiday budget by the end of the year.  Every penny really does count, trust me!

Start Christmas planning now avoid holiday debt

Using these tips and a few others, I managed to spend just $250 on holiday gifts for my six children last year.  Christmas on a budget is totally possible, as long as you plan ahead!  Need some ideas for budget friendly gifts?  Check out the post I wrote with over 100 gifts you can get on Amazon for $2.00 or less, including shipping!

Keep on saving!  :o)

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Ten Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Often around the holidays, we are faced with buying gifts for families with multiple children. Trying to figure out what to get for each person, and fitting those individual gifts into your budget can be draining, both mentally and financially. One of the things we always suggest to friends and family when they ask what to buy, is that they put together a family present that everyone can enjoy. Here are some great “whole family” gifts that everyone is sure to love.

10 gift ideas for the whole family

10 Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

1. Movie passesAlmost all major movie theater companies offer gift certificates or cards that you can load with an amount of your choice.  You can also order them online in $25 and $50 denominations if there isn’t a theater near you (Regal and AMC gift cards are available on Amazon). Surprising a family with a gift card that will allow them to take their children to a movie and purchase some popcorn or candy is a gift solution that never disappoints. This works especially well for families with teens or children of varying ages, because everyone loves going to the movies! If that’s still too much for your budget, a movie gift basket is a great alternative. One or two DVDs, boxed candy and popcorn, and a bottle of soda makes for a fun night in, and they can watch the movies over and over in the future. (Psst…if you are a Costco member you can buy cheap tickets online and in store!)

Also, if you live near a Studio Movie Grill, Groupon frequently has a GREAT deal for movie tickets!


2. Museum, Aquarium or Zoo memberships

My children love to visit local museums, and we’ve received family passes as gifts in previous years that allowed us to go multiple times over the course of a year. Many museums have exhibits that change several times a year, so there is always something new to see each visit. Be sure to check and see if their local museum, aquarium, or zoo is part of a reciprocal program, such as ASTC, NARM, or AZA.  Reciprocal programs allow families to use their memberships for free admission to other participating museums, zoos and aquariums.  Another thing to consider with museums and aquariums is that they are inside, whereas zoos are not, so if they live in an area with extreme weather conditions, they may get more use from a membership that allows them to be indoors during their visits.

3. Video games

We have several gaming systems in our home, but they are specifically for use as a family.  If the family you are shopping for has an Xbox or Playstation system, buying them a game that they can play together is a wonderful gift. Just Dance and Mario Party are two of our favorites, as we can play together as a family, instead of just one or two kids zoning out in front of the television.  If the family you are purchasing for doesn’t have a gaming system, and it’s in your budget to purchase one for them, there are quite a few bundles available right now on Amazon that include the system, multiple controls, and often more than one game.


4. Board gamesBoard games can also be a lot fun, especially the ones that can be played by a wide range of ages.  Yahtzee is very popular in our house, even though the younger ones don’t really understand the concept, we team up and they have fun rolling the dice and writing down the scores.  Pictionary, Jenga, and Guesstures (like charades) are fun classic choices too. Of course, if you really want to knock it out of the park, you could go for some newer games that are SUPER popular right now, like Pie Face, Gas Out (eww, I know!) and Speak Out (aka the cheek retractor game). All of these games are simple enough for young children, yet still entertaining enough to keep the older ones involved.


5. Hotel weekend

Who doesn’t love staying the night in a nice hotel?  Find a hotel that is close to the family you are shopping for, and book them a room for the weekend.  Be sure to look for hotels that have free wifi, continental breakfast, and a pool that is open.  Some hotels even offer free happy hour appetizers in their restaurant, or a game room in the lobby.  You may not be able to buy them a vacation, but you can gift them a faux getaway, and that can still be loads of fun!  We have a hotel about 10 minutes away from us that we love to take the kids to for a treat.  They have an indoor pool, a lending library, a game room, a snack bar, free breakfast, and awesome happy hour deals.  It’s a ton of fun for them, and a nice break from the stresses of home for us.

These family gifts are sure to be enjoyed by everyone, and you don’t have to go broke buying them.  Still not sure?  Here’s another quick couple of suggestions below:

6. Outdoor games such as bocce, badminton, trampoline.  Check out these great outdoor toys for little ones!

7. Pizza/Date night Offer to take the kids out for pizza while the parents go on a date night.  Make sure to peruse Scoutmob and local Groupon deals for date night inspiration, and to try out new pizza places!

8. DVD set of classic movies (Disney is a great choice)

9. Family Fun Center pass (miniature golf, bowling, arcade, go karts)

(If all else fails, and you don’t think any of these would work for your situation, you can NEVER go wrong with #10)

10.  Amazon gift card

You can buy one last minute, you can send it via email, and they can choose whatever they want for themselves.  Clothes, games, toys, electronics, gift cards, you name it, Amazon has it.  Some people feel like gift cards can be impersonal, but I’d much rather get a gift card than some ugly sweater I’m never going to wear!

Have you ever received or given one large family gift?

What do you think about gift cards as presents?  Practical or tacky?

*This post includes affiliate links, and I earn a small commission from any items purchasedMaybe even enough to take my kids out for some family fun!*

Keep on saving!  :o)

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Atlanta's Frugal Mom is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. In other words, if you click through to Amazon from some of the books or products I recommend and make a purchase, I get a small percentage in exchange for your purchase. It's a small way you can support AFM.