These are so easy to make, take very little time and even the kids can help with this one. You will need:
- ½ cup of unsweetened applesauce
- 1 to 1-½ cups of ground cinnamon (I use the really cheap stuff)
Put the applesauce in a small bowl and stir in enough cinnamon to make a stiff dough. Put the dough on a piece of waxed paper and pat it out to about ¼-inch or so. Take a small cookie cutter–I used a star–but you can use several different ones if you like. Press into the dough and cut out your shapes. BEFORE you pick them up, use a drinking straw to poke a hole near the top so you can slip a ribbon or twine through it to make a tie. Use a spatula and pick up the cut-outs off of the paper. Put them on some kind of a fine meshed rack (I used a spatter shield for a skillet) and let the shapes dry for several days until hard.
Now, you can put the twine or ribbon through the holes and hang them on the Christmas tree, use them to decorate a wreath, or use them for part of a package tie. They smell wonderfully spicy and cinnamony (I don’t think that’s a word, but it perfectly describes the scent). I put them in dresser drawers after Christmas, and they hold the scent for well over a year!
If you have a small cutter in the shape of a gingerbread man, that would be cute too.
-tip submitted by JB, SD
Homemade Fire Starters
This is a good gift for those who have wood burning stoves or fireplaces and it’s a neat way to recycle as well. Gather some pine cones. Then dig into the kids toy box for the old broken crayons they refuse to use any more. Melt the crayons and some plain paraffin wax in a small container over low heat. Drizzle the melted wax over the cones and let it dry well. Pile the cones in a recycled basket along with a box of long matches, add a big bow and give with pride!
-tip submitted by CW, MT
Pine Cone Bird Feeders
This is a fun ‘kid’ project. Have the children gather up some nice pine cones and tie a string or wire around the top for hanging. You will also need some cheap peanut butter and some unsalted sunflower seeds.
After the ties are on the cones, let the little ones plaster the peanut butter all over the cones and up under the little edges as far as they can. When the cone is covered, drop it in a dish full of the sunflower seeds and roll it around until you can’t see the peanut butter any more. Hang them up to dry a little and then they can be hung from bushes or tree limbs for the birds to enjoy.
These make a nice gift for folks in a Nursing Home as they can observe the birds from their windows.
-tip submitted by FS, OR
The cost of wrapping paper is outrageous! Six to eight bucks per roll that will only wrap a few things, so, I’m going back to what my grandma did. She couldn’t afford the newspaper, but got it from a friend, so she saved the colored advertisement pages and the funny pages (comics they call them now), and by taping them together, she could get a good sized piece of paper to wrap around her gifts and all it cost her was a little bit of tape!
-tip submitted by CD, IL
(This makes ‘cents’ to me–it’s just going to end up in the trash anyway, or with luck, the recycling bin.)
Price Check 101
I pay attention to prices all year long, but at this time of year, I really watch! I was in a store recently looking for some baking items and found the old saying, “Look high, and look low” really paid off. I found a bottle of name brand corn syrup that was marked almost $4 on the middle shelf, right at eye level, but down two more shelves, at basement level, I found a bottle (different brand) for under $2. (This is when it pays to get down on your knees.)
I also found chocolate chips to be the same. The name brand was twice the price of the other brand. I’d never tried that one before so bought one bag of each to try. The kids couldn’t tell the difference between the two. From now on, I’m getting the cheap chips.
-tip submitted by MA, TN
Do you have any tips or ideas you would like to share? Email them to Paula at [email protected] Be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond.