Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 11/28 – 11/30

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

American Girls

National Activities:

American Girl:  November In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) These months they include the Hot Cocoa Cozy Craft, Isabelle’s Celebration, Just Mom and Me, Date with My Dad and more.

Barnes and Nobles: Start a new family tradition with The Elf on the Shelf Storytime and Activities event. Check online for dates and times at your local stores.

Bass Pro Shops:  Bass Pro Shops will be holding in store Christmas activities now through December 24th. Check with local store for listings.

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, November 22nd from 11AM-3PM ~ Kids make and take a Cool Catch Penguin.

Thanks, More with Less Today!

Local Activities:

If you are a blogger who posts a local round-up of family activities, then feel free to fill out this form to be considered for future posts.


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

4 Ways to Save on Personalized Gifts

Ways_to_Save_on_Personalized_Gifts

By contributing writer Laura

With Christmas coming up next month, you are likely pulling together gifts and finalizing presents for all those hard to shop for family members and friends.

Homemade gifts are a great, frugal way to create unique keepsakes for your family and friends. But even if you don’t have time to make your own gifts, there are some inexpensive ways to give personalized gifts.

Here are my top ways to save on personalized gifts.

1. Free Embroidery or Engraving

Take advantage of online retailers that have special promotions for free or discount embroidery or monograms. If you are buying an article of clothing, linens, or even jewelry, you may want to search for any monogram or engraving promotions or discounts.

I have seen free monogram promotions from Pottery Barn Kids and Lands End, and some jewelers will offer discounts. Being patient and waiting for the promotion is key, if you are trying to save money.

2. Glass Etching

Another inexpensive way to personalize a gift is through glass etching. You can use contact paper and etching cream to etch a glass baking dish with a last name or monogram, or to jazz up a set of plain drinking glasses. An etched trifle bowl or vase can also be an elegant yet not too difficult DIY gift.

3. Cross Stitch

If you have some thread and cross stitch material, you can easily create a personalized gift. For example, I have created monogrammed towels, bookmarks, and other items in the past. You could also cross stitch a picture, quote, or important dates and frame it to give as a gift. If you need patterns, supplies, or design inspiration, simply check the aisles of your local art and craft store or your local library’s section on sewing and cross stitching.

4. Paint Pens or Acrylic Markers

Using a paint pen or acrylic paint marker can add a nice touch to certain gifts. I’ve used paint pens to transform simple glass jars into decorative jars filled with colorful candy. Some other ideas would be to create a personalized sharpie mug or a decorative quote plate which would be great, personalized gifts. Even if you don’t think you are very artistic, you could always use a stencil or print out a design and transfer to contact paper for use in your project.

Do you like to give personalized and monogrammed gifts? If so, do you recommend any other inexpensive ways to personalize gifts besides embroidery, engraving, etching, cross stitching, and permanent markers or acrylic pens? Leave a comment and share below!

You might also like…

photo credit: kapDave via photopin cc starrynight1 via photopin cc; Kathy Beymer cc


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Free and Fun Family Activities in Your Local Area 11/21 – 11/23

Each week I’ll post links with fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in your local area and national deals that everyone can enjoy!

Ginger yo

National Activities:

American Girl:  November In-Store Events (Events vary by location and minimum age. Find events specific to your area online. Reservations required. For girls ages 8 and up.) These months they include the Hot Cocoa Cozy Craft, Isabelle’s Celebration, Just Mom and Me, Date with My Dad and more.

Babies R UsThis Saturday they are holding the Babies First Christmas event for babies born between December 2013- March 2014. There will be giveaways, prizes, story time, family fun and much more!

Barnes and Nobles: Start a new family tradition with The Elf on the Shelf Storytime and Activities event. Check online for dates and times at your local stores.

Bass Pro Shops:  Bass Pro Shops will be holding in store Christmas activities now through December 24th. Check with local store for listings.

Guitar Center: Free Classes through their Music Mentor Series. Register online. No age restriction.

  • Saturday, November 22nd: 10 AM – Recording Made Easy for Garage Band
  • Saturday, November 22nd: 10:15 AM – Group Guitar Lesson

Kindermusik: Try a free class (see all the information here). Kindermusik ~ Where Music & Learning Play!

  • Classes for children from newborn to age seven
  • Child development through music and movement
  • Immerse your child in a musical atmosphere of play, song, and dance – while developing fundamental skills
  • Connect with other moms, dads, and families

Lakeshore Learning: Saturday, November 22nd from 11AM-3PM ~ Kids make and take a Giving Thanks Centerpiece.

Michael’s Kids Club: Kids can enjoy making a craft every Saturday. This week they are making a DIY Felt Stocking. Designed for kids ages 3 and up ($2/child). Starts at 10 AM and runs every 30 minutes on Saturdays. You can shop while they create.

Toys R Us: This Saturday, November 22nd, they will be holding the Ultimate Wish Lego event from 12pm-4pm. Kids create a winter city and make their ultimate Lego wish list. Check with your local store.

Williams-Sonoma Free Technique Classes (for kids and adults): Saturday, November 22nd at 9:30 AM ~ Junior Chefs will learn to create Thanksgiving desserts including pumpkin pie and cheesecake. Check the webpage for additional details and make a reservation.  For ages 5+.

Thanks, More with Less Today!

Local Activities:

If you are a blogger who posts a local round-up of family activities, then feel free to fill out this form to be considered for future posts.


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Why I Spend $9 a Month on Amazon Prime

I’m a pretty frugal person. I like to save money and it rubs me the wrong way to spend money on things we don’t really need.

When Amazon Prime was first introduced I was skeptical.

I’m going to pay how much per year for what? 

My brother, who is always first to find out about these kinds of things signed up right away. After a year of watching him order off Amazon and never pay for shipping, while I waited for free shipping deals, tried to get my order value up to get free shipping, or missed out on great deals (for things I needed) while he was able to order them and have it delivered to his house in two days I decided to try it.

I decided to sign up for a free trial and I was hooked. After I starting thinking about the math I realized the $99 fee was really $9 a month. Could I justify the $9 a month? Did the savings add up?

It did, and here’s how.

amazon prime free trial

Amazon Prime is FREE for 30 days.

Yes, this is a marketing tactic from Amazon, however you can use Amazon Prime for 30 days then cancel and be charged nothing at all, ever. So for the next 30 days you can enjoy free shipping, holiday playlists, free books on Kindle and Christmas movies for free.

You must cancel your membership at the 30 day mark if you try it and decide it isn’t for you.

This is how I started my membership and realized about 15 days in that I loved Prime and would be keeping my $99 yearly membership.

You can sign up for your trial membership here

Amazon Prime gives you Free Shipping on thousands of items every day.

I have six kids at home. It isn’t easy to load them up and take them on errands with me. Many of the items I purchase are available on Amazon for a competitive price.

If I can shop on Amazon instead of loading up the kids and taking two hours out of our day to shop it is worth it just for that.

Also, if something is only available online, I usually purchase it from Amazon because I know I get free shipping and the price is better (which it usually is).

I do most my Christmas shopping on Amazon.

For most of the last fifteen years we’ve lived away from our family and have not spent Christmas with them. This means mailing gifts every single year. With Amazon Prime I ALWAYS have free shipping, never have to wait in line at the post office (seriously that’s a nightmare this time of year) and the gifts always arrived in two days!

Amazon carries so many products it is almost impossible not to find a gift for a loved one on the site.

Amazon Prime gives you FREE Kindle books through the lending library.

I love to read, and we love to go to the library. Sometimes the books I want to read are not available at my library and I’ve waited, weeks and months for books to come in. When you have Amazon Prime you are able to “borrow” books for 30 days to read on your Kindle.

This is an awesome way to read without spending money, worrying about library fines, or lost library books. They have over 500,000 titles available in the lending library so there’s probably a few books available you have on your list.

Amazon Prime gives you unlimited photo storage.

This is a new feature for Amazon Prime and probably the one I’m most excited about after free shipping. Since I pay $30 a year to a photo storage company and another $10 a month to Dropbox to store photos this feature pays for itself every year.

Cloud Drive offers secure online storage, automatic photo backup, and lets you access your photos anywhere: on your phone, computer, tablet, or any Fire device.

After losing 40,000 and three years with of photos this summer when my son dropped my computer (some where backed up, some weren’t). I’ve been uploading photos to the cloud. I don’t want to lose any more photos and when you take as many as I do you need unlimited photo storage!

Amazon Prime gives you thousands of free videos and television shows.

I don’t use this one often because I’m not much of a tv/ movie watcher, but it’s definitely a great savings.

You can instantly stream Prime Instant Video titles from your computer’s web browser, Fire phone, Fire TV, Fire Tablets, iOS devices, and hundreds of other Internet-connected TVs, Blu-ray players, set-top-boxes, and gaming consoles.

They have lots of kid’s shows available for free including Thomas, Veggie Tales, Angelina Ballerina, as well as lots of holiday movies.

Amazon Prime gives you free streaming music.

We’ve been paying $9 a month for Spotify for the past year. Now Amazon Prime gives you free streaming music. They have over a million titles including holiday music and playlists (yay! Love me some Christmas music!)

This is a new benefit for Prime members that I’m excited to try out. I’d love to cancel my Spotify account and save!

Amazon Prime gives you early access to Lightening Deals.

I love Lightening Deals around Christmas time because the prices are really amazing. A Prime membership gives you access to these deals 30 minutes early, so if it is something you really want to buy it will be available early and you’ll be able to get it before it sells out.

Six Month Free Trial for Students!

If you have a child with a .edu email address they are eligible for a free six month Amazon Prime Student membership. The benefits are the same for a student membership but if you decide to continue with the program it is only $50 for the year instead of $99.

Sign up for the student membership here

For my family Amazon Prime adds up!

Amazon Prime yearly membership $99.

Things I don’t need because I have an Amazon Prime membership:

  • Dropbox $10 a month
  • Spotify $10 a month
  • Netflix $8 a month
  • Photo hosting $30 a year

Total savings each year: $366 

If you don’t have an Amazon Prime membership this is the BEST time of year to start your free trial! If you don’t love it, cancel before your 30 days are up and you pay nothing.

I think it is worth the $9 a month that a memberhip costs because I use Prime almost weekly. I’ve purchased fixtures, fans, lightbulb, paint, even wallpaper scrapers from Amazon in the past six weeks and I’ve never had to worry about waiting for an item to arrive or paying for shipping!

Do you have Amazon Prime? Do you think it is worth $99 a year? 


This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.