Last Minute Gift Idea (for Birthday, Grad, Mother’s & Father’s day, etc.)

This (last minute) gift idea would be fun to give just about anyone!
One of my sons lives in a different state and is the Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach at a college located there.  Because his busy season runs into spring, he hasn’t been able to come home and celebrate his birthday with family in a long time.  But this year, his season ended early, enabling him to head home for his birthday (as part of  trip to scout local, stand-out high school players) and I was able to give him a HUGE hug and wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY, in person…. YAY!  The last minute dilemma: I had already decided to pitch in on a birthday gift he’ll receive once he returns, which left us without a small gift to actually hand him on the one year he would finally be with us…. figures! LOL

Anyway, not to be defeated, I thought of something creative & fun, but as low cost as possible I could pick up for him… last minute.  Remembering my umbrella gift idea (, I came up with a new twist on it!  Because they are always open, I ran up to our local convenience store and purchased the same amount of scratch-off lottery tickets as the age he was turning.  Then, using double-sided tape, I temporarily adhered each of them along the length of a long piece of curling ribbon.  I cut the ribbon end and tied it to a balloon weight (you can find these at dollar stores, if you don’t have one hanging around)  and placed that into the bottom of a gift bag, feeding the ribbon ‘o lottery tickets in behind it.  Then once I was done, I tied the other end of the ribbon to the top of my gift bag and added a note of “what to do” instructions, made on my computer using clip art and a text box.


Needless to say… he really liked it and that made me happy too!

Enjoy the Creativity!


Mother’s Day Brunch in a Up-cycled Garden

[Click on any photo for a larger view]

This post is a double-feature… an idea for a Mother’s Day celebration AND some up-cycling ideas for your garden!

First, the Garden ideas.  I’ve been busy this spring, up-cycling some items (I already own) to stay within my budget.   Before I talk about those projects, I have to share with you a bargain I found last fall.  I got SO lucky and spotted this gorgeous, cedar pergola at Sam’s Club (on sale) for around $200.   Have you priced these things?   If you have, you’ll understand what a bargain this was!  So, my advice is to watch the post-summer sales at the shopping clubs and grab a deal for yourself. 🙂

Now that I have a garden focal point, in my pergola… it’s time to add a fountain!  I was inspired by a blue ceramic, bubbler fountain at Lowe’s.  But, at $130, I decided to  instead up-cycle my old birdbath that I had turned into a planter years ago.  So, using my glue gun, I closed the drainage holes (previously created), spray painted it blue, added a small pump, “Welcome” rock (from my front garden) and added 2 bags of smaller rocks from the Dollar Tree to turn it into a simple, blue fountain.  

HINT:  spray paint the pump electrical cord the same color to camouflage it.  

I hung an old farmhouse window (from the back side of the pergola), above the fountain, to create a “back wall” to my new garden room and gathered all of my larger clay pots, spray painting the 2 white ones (blue) also.  And I filled several of my large pots with lettuce & tomatoes so I can have a homegrown salad soon!

You might also recognize the garden outdoor furniture set I up-cycled and featured in a post (last year) by spray painting it black and recovering the cushions.  And since a portion of my first (glass) gazing ball holder disintegrated, I removed the ball and replaced it with a clay pot, highlighting one of my pretty plants.

I also wanted to create some shade because it gets HOT in Florida! (LOL)  I found a pre-made cover at Lowe’s for $99, but it had no tethers or weights to keep it in place…. hmmm… the first wind will turn that into a sail!  Luckily, Lowe’s also carries the shade fabric (cuts sun & heat by 75% and is super-easy to sew, but you could also use velcro to create a customized cover) by itself for a lot less, I decided to make my own.  I measured, cut & sewed the lightweight fabric to match the dimensions of my pergola roof and added a pocket (on each end) so I could insert a piece of poplar wood (the least expensive way to weight each side down).  By the way, Lowe’s will also cut-to-size any piece of wood for about 25 cents… what a deal!   The fabric works AND looks great! [check out my $7 paper lantern too].  The rug is one I found (last year – post summer) and because it’s small enough to roll it up and store, I just bring it out for special occasions like this one.  Speaking of that — I can also roll up & remove the shade cover if a storm is headed my way (yay!)

And now, for the Mother’s Day celebration idea – creating a little bit ‘o Heaven in my backyard (on a budget) inspired me to invite my Mom over and spend some time with her going through old photos, reminiscing and enjoying some lunchtime treats for Mother’s Day…. an “ahhhhhh” day for both of us… with no standing in line and no reservation required!

Happy Mother’s Day and –

enjoy the Creativity!


Father’s Day Gifts

So, Mom’s had her special day and now, it’s Dad’s turn on June 19th. Of course, you should check out my previous FATHER’S DAY posts (see Father’s Day category, under SEASONAL CATEGORIES on the right-hand side of this page) for more awesome ideas as well as the new gift suggestions I’ve added below.  I’ve tried to cover several gift-giving budgets and many different Dad-types too.  You can check out further details on any item I’ve highlighted from a website, by clicking on that photo.  I would recommend you “right click” and open the site in a new window so you can come right back to this blog post.

First, consider making Dad a gift.  For Dads who love their grill, purchase a plain Chef’s Apron. available at most craft or kitchen stores.  Then, with a few bottles of paint, you can personalize it with a helping hand (print) from each of the kids.  Look on the internet for placement & pattern ideas (like the one I show here).  If you want to add more to the kid’s homemade gift, pick up an inexpensive cooler (I found this one for $9.95 at Walgreen’s Drug Store) and fill it with some useful marinades, sauces, grill tools and wood chips.  I filled the cooler  (below) for a total of less than $20, by shopping at a discount store.

For the Business-minded Dad, consider a sleek, personalized business card holder, only $12.95 (chrome),  from OR $29.95 (leather) from + personalization:


If Dad is a Business Traveler, consider this monogrammed, leather travel kit ($41.39) from (above).

If Dad enjoys MOVIES, there are a bunch of Movie-themed USB Flash Drive (Computer Memory Sticks) on the market this year.  Here’s one that would be ideal for TRON fans that I found on for $41.28.  It’ features a flashing light-up wheel base and sound effects from the movie.

For the Dad who enjoys GAMING, check out the creative shirts (avg. price $20) and other gift ideas on

For a Dad who would rather FISH than work, I found a unique gift that will keep him entertained all year-long.  Enroll him in the LURE OF THE MONTH club where a new lure arrives right to  his  door and comes carefully packaged in an attractive card stock collector’s box. Inside he’ll find a premium lure crafted by top manufacturers along with a history card that details the history of each lure and how it is used.   3, 6 or 12 month plans are available and prices start at $53 and Shipping is FREE with a subscription. 

If Dad is a SPORTS FAN, consider putting him “in the game!”. At, for $49.99 (+ personalization fee), you choose the sport and team and then, put Dad into the action of the game.  In each sport print, there’s one player with his back to the camera.  That’s where Dad’s last name is placed on a team jersey in the framed photo.  It’s a great conversation starter for his office or at home:

And if the Dad in your life enjoys all sports, surprise him (at work) by sending him these yummy & unique, chocolate-covered strawberries from for $39.95:


A Group Gift for Mother’s Day

It’s my hope that every Mom out there has a wonderful “SPECTACULAR” Mother’s Day and that your family makes you feel very special.

This Mother’s Day, some Moms will be spending their day in Women’s shelters, Red Cross shelters and inexpensive motels, alongside their families who are too stretched (financially) to even consider a small gift for their deserving Mom.  I belong to a philanthropic group who believes in doing something nice for Moms in this situation.  If you feel the same way, consider my easy and quick idea.  It’s the perfect “little something” that will brighten another Mom’s day, just by making them feel remembered.

To begin, check with your church or local shelter because you will probably find out about a group of Moms who are struggling.  If so, check inexpensive stores, like the Dollar Tree, for multi-packs of nice gifts.  I found these multi-packs of small, flower-shaped (die-cut) notepads and ink pens.  With a roll of satin ribbon, I tied a pen to each notepad and finished it off with a bow.  I’ll donate them to the local Women’s shelter to make them feel special on Mother’s Day too.  After all, I have always believed that it’s not about the cost of the gift, it’s simply about making an effort to make someone else feel special.  And in keeping with my motto of making  things  nice, on a budget, I spent less than $10 to create these small, but sweet & useful gifts.

For a “no cost” donation, gather all of your hotel (shampoo, body wash, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.) samples and drop those off so the moms can choose what they need.



Mother’s Day Gift Ideas!


With Mother’s Day around the corner, feel free to check out my previous posts (click on the above photos, to view them), full of ideas for MOTHER’S DAY GIFTS.

This year… I’ve categorized some more gift suggestions, by Mom-type.  I’ve also added a link to each photo to make it easy for you to locate each product (click on the product photo to visit the retailer).   So here we go – let’s see if any of these match YOUR mom-type:

For GARDEN-LOVING Moms who also loves to cook:  A ready-to-enjoy HERB GARDEN!  If Mom enjoys cooking with fresh herbs, purchase a variety of established, organic herbs and plant them in a unique planter, so they are ready to go.  Taking out the subsequent work of a gift is the perfect post script of LOVE.  Gift her with a creative planter in her garden, like this inexpensive cart (available at most discount retailers, like K-mart) for around $20-

  ←You could also “make” a portable herb holder  by heading to HOME DEPOT and purchasing their plain wooden toolbox ($10), some paint or stain (depending on how you’d like the box to look) and a small can of chalkboard paint, so Mom can personalize her herb holder.

For ON-THE-GO Moms:  Iced Coffee and an Insulated, Lidded Beverage Mug.  Over the holidays, I received a wonderful Instant ICED COFFEE product from Starbucks (5-pack for $10).  I loved the fact that it comes lightly sweetened with natural cane sugar and all you need is water to make it!  It tastes great over ice and is ready-to-go, in an instant.  You might want to include an insulated, lidded mug, made from recycled products (check their clearance section for a $5 find).  You’ll find both of these products at your local Starbucks.  [YUM Hint: add milk!]


[NOTE: Several of the following gift suggestions are from one of my favorite websites:  I checked to see if they’d provide my readers with a discount & they graciously agreed!  So when you order, use COUPON CODE Mother21 to receive 25% off your order.  If you find that FREE SHIPPING is a better discount for your order, use COUPON CODE BlueFinally, they charge $3.95 (per item) to personalize, so if you’re ordering more than 1 item, call your order in and tell them you would like to take advantage of their single personalization fee special of $3.95.]

For SENTIMENTAL Moms:  A book that will tug at her heartstrings and inspire her Mom-Creativity!  If the Moms on your list enjoy learning new heartfelt ideas for unique ways to celebrate special times & holidays with “family & friends”, they will definitely enjoy my book Creative Family Traditions and Ideas.  ORDER THE BOOK RIGHT HERE... using your charge card, debit card or PayPal card (ONLY $11.95 and it ships for FREE!).  And why not also consider a beautiful, personalized frame to showcase a few cherished family photos:

Limited Time Offer... FREE SHIPPING!


For the SPORTS FAN Mom: Check out Alyssa Milano’s new line of fan-wear, called TOUCH.  This clothing line is specifically designed for women and I found a great selection at

For THE ENTERTAINER Mom: order her a personalized BEVERAGE HOLDER.  This is something she will use for every get-together she hosts.  And you can ONLY order the holder, or splurge and include a stand ($30; $50, with stand).

For HARD WORKING Moms:  consider a THEMED GIFT of comfort and that “AH!” relaxation for them.  Create a Spa feeling for Mom with – a monogrammed waffle robe & set of slippers along with a set of apothecary jars for spa necessities.  Apx. $70.

Click on ROBE for website

Click on SLIPPERS for website

Click on JARS for website

Making MORE Memories!

I am firm believer that children, and people in general, remember what you DO much more than what you give.  Because of this philosophy, I receive many requests to create gift baskets filled with items that help us make memories with family and/or friends.  If you would also like to make one of these, here’s how I build one:

I use my book (Creative Family Traditions and Ideas) as the foundation for each basket because it has ideas useful in many different types of  relationships, including simple friendships.  Next, I search out other manufacturers who also sell products encouraging us to focus on the “M” word…. MEMORIES…  not money and include those, thereby supporting my book as well as the products of other deserving companies.  Finally, rather than place the items in a typical basket, I search for “useful” containers.  Before you know it, I have a gift filled with fun and useful items for creating memories or at the very least – items that make life easier for the recipient.

On an even HAPPIER note ~ When I wrote my book, I discovered that raising 4 children on an extremely tight budget provided me with a true “gift”.  Necessity being the mother of invention, my circumstances helped me become creative – teaching me how to spend “time” (on my children).  I developed clever traditions, ideas and problem solvers as well as ways to reinvent new uses for everyday items.  All of my efforts made them feel loved and special.  And now that they are amazing & creative adults themselves, I realize that they benefited tremendously from my situation!  Coming to that conclusion makes me even happier because I realize that today’s tough economic hardships may actually have a silver lining… it gives me hope for the future adults of today’s struggling parents.  I applaud the parents who roll with the punches and dig deep to find their own FREE creativity to “spend” on their children.  I wish I could give every one of them a HUGE HUG and tell them to hang in there.  I want them to know that the end result can be positive and wonderful!

[check out BABY’S 1st GIFT post as well as the 2 baskets (below) that I created for a fund-raiser, this week]



Baby’s First Gift

If you know someone who is about to or has just had a baby, I have a wonderful gift suggestion…

Most people purchase outfits, toys, necessities… you know, the “usual” new baby gifts.  My suggestion to you is to give the “unusual”!  Because my book is full of SO MANY wonderful ideas for making memories, it makes an excellent Beginner Manual of Ideas for New Parents.  Especially around the holidays, new parents are so excited to begin making memories with their child and YOU can provide them with the perfect head start.

In this gift basket, I placed:

  • My Book (Creative Family Traditions and Ideas)
  • Baby’s 1st Teddy Bear
  • Baby’s Memory Book (for recording all the “Firsts” in Baby’s life)
  • Parent Journal (my personal favorite tradition in my book)
  • Photo Frame to display “Baby’s 1st Birthday” picture
  • Hallmark “Baby’s 1st Christmas” Keepsake Ornament

I tucked all of these adorable, color-coordinated, Memory-making goodies inside a very usable basket.  For under $50, this gift contains everything a parent needs to celebrate and record their child’s life and memories.  What a SPECIAL gift to bring to a Baby Shower or on your first visit with the New Arrival… they’ll never forget your “unique” gift!

One of my FAVORITE traditions (in my book)

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve presented gifts, to friends and family, using this method.  I thought of it when my boys were teenagers and have used it for “event” birthdays (like this 60th birthday celebration – see photos below), Baby and Bridal Showers, Graduations, Mother’s or Father’s Day and Holidays.  Whenever I feel like showering someone with a little fun and happiness, I fill up an umbrella with goodies they love.  My brother loves Starbucks coffee and scratch-off lottery tickets, so I filled his umbrella with $25 worth.  He LOVED it!!!!   It’s so funny to watch their expression when they think you have bought them JUST an umbrella…… and THEN….. they open it up and are thrilled beyond words!

The assembly details and suggestions are in my book (CLICK on book icon, in right column, to order) as well as TONS of other fun ways to celebrate the Events, Birthdays, Seasons and Holidays of our lives.  Best of all…. they’re road tested!  Making memories is SOOO important.  If you (or someone in your life) need ideas, they will LOVE my book… gift them!

By the way, this time, I added a new twist to my gift umbrella.  I placed it in a cardboard tube (left over from the inside of a roll of wrapping paper) and then, wrapped the cardboard tube with bright birthday paper & curling ribbon.  I thought it would be fun for it to resemble an English Christmas Cracker – except mine is a Birthday Cracker, loaded with prizes!  Check out the fun he had ~

Inexpensive Party -or- Bridal Shower Favor

[check out my other helpful, creative ideas… under the categories, listed on the right-hand side of this page →]

Recently, I was looking for something inexpensive that would make a nice, little party favor.  What I came up with would also make a great bridal shower guest gift.

I found this box of these rose-shaped soaps [each petal is a piece of soap] at a Michael’s Craft Store.  The cost?  Are you sitting down?  ONE DOLLAR!!!   That bargain price left me with extra funds to purchase a package of tiny, open-ended plastic bags (apx. $2) and a roll of thin satin ribbon ($1.00).   The box of 9 rosebud soaps had only 1 tag attached, describing their scent (lavender) on 1 side and instructions (for use) on the other side.  Since my plan was to create 9 individual gifts out of my economical find, I needed to create 8 more labels to attach to each soap rosebud.

To accomplish this, I scanned both sides of the label into my computer.  Next, I created a 9-cell “table” in Microsoft Word.  Into each cell, I inserted the .jpg I created by scanning the front of the label.  I repeated this process and inserted the “instructions” instead.  I, then, printed the front “table”, flipped over that printed paper and placed it back into the printer.  Then, I printed the instructions, which ended up on the back (of the original printout).  I’m a little technologically challenged, so I had to print it out a few times (front & back), hold it up to the light to see where lining-up adjustments should be made until I finally got it right.  In the end, it printed out a grid of 9 tags that looked exactly like the original!  Now, all I had to do was cut them apart and punch a hole in each so I could thread a length of satin ribbon through it and tie in a bow to close up each baggie with a rosebud in it.

For the event, I displayed them together on a silver platter, on a table located by the front door so each guest could take one on their way out the door.  It was a big hit with the party-goers because most of them had never seen rosebud-shaped soap before and the beautiful, yet simple packaging made it seem like a very special gift… and an economical gift for me.  A win-win!!!

Patchwork Gift Wrap Idea!

[check out my other ideas under the categories, listed on the right]

If you would like to try a unique idea for wrapping a gift, here’s one…

This idea is especially helpful when you are short on time and find that you only have a small amount left of your favorite gift wraps.  It also falls under the “waste not, want not” category in life!   In this case, my favorite plain white paper came up a little short (on the ends of my gift) AND I only had a small amount of my other favorite black & white toile paper left.  So, it occurred to me that I should combine the 2 papers and unify them through my ribbon choice.  Here is the end result, which was a TRUE attention getter at the birthday party I took it to!

Simply use double-sided scotch tape to adhere side pieces of gift wrap

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