Inexpensive Gift Idea: CHRISTMAS SCENT Simmering Potpourri

If you’re looking for a little something special, to surprise your Thanksgiving guests with, consider this idea to kick off the holidays.  Placing one at each person’s place setting would be a wonderful new tradition you could start this year!

This Christmas Scent Simmering Potpourri is a great gift idea because it is inexpensive, all natural, you can make it yourself, and it’s a gift that lasts all season long!  And you can create several of these scent mixes to help you cross several people off your Christmas gift list also… at once!

Consider it for – friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, babysitters, nail techs, hair stylists, favorite postal worker or restaurant server, etc.

First, you will need to gather the following ingredients, in a large enough quantity to make the desired amount of gifts.


  • CRANBERRIES (optional)

Look for inexpensive sources for these products to keep costs down.  Here’s where I found mine:

  • Cloves at The Christmas Tree Shop (57 cents per jar)
  • Cinnamon Sticks (check out the Spanish section of the grocery store for a large bottle of Badia Mexican Cinnamon Sticks – typically under $10)
  • Dehydrated Orange Slices (Home Goods -$2.99 for a bag of 16 slices.  Remember – Home Goods, Marshalls & T. J. Maxx are all the same owner, so you have 3 places to look for them! 😉
  • Cranberries ($2.50 in the grocery store produce dept.)

And if you prefer to save even more money and have a little time to devote to the process, here’s the directions to make your own, oven-dried Orange Slices (makes apx. 18 slices)


  • 1 navel orange, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  2. Cut the orange into thin, round slices
  3. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper or a (nonstick) baking mat and lie orange slices (on top) in a single layer.  Do not place them directly onto the baking sheet or the slices may discolor when they react with the metal
  4. Gently pat the orange slices dry with an absorbent kitchen towel to remove most of their moisture
  5. Use a sifter to lightly dust one side of the orange slices with confectioners’ sugar.  Flip and repeat this process on the other side of the orange slices.  (the sugar creates a slight “candied” look, which is great for presentation purposes or if you decide you’d like to hang some from a ribbon in your tree, wreath or garland.
  6. Bake apx. 2-1/2 hrs, turning half-way through (more often if you feel ambitious! lol) until the peels are dry and their flesh is translucent
  7. Remove the baking pan from the oven and allow the slices to cool completely
  8. If you would like to reserve some of your orange slices to create “orange-aments”, use a sharp knife to open a small slit (between the peel and flesh of the orange slice) and slip a skinny length of ribbon through.  Tie both ribbon ends into a knot and hang… they look great when hanging in front of tree lights or a window’s light and smell great!

To assemble your Christmas Scent Potpourri:  add 1/4 – 1/3 cup of Whole Cloves, 3 – 5 Cinnamon Sticks, 2 – 3 Dehydrated Orange Slices and 10-12 Fresh Cranberries in each bag.  I also have suggestions for ways to give this gift:  in a small bag (plastic or paper), with instructions included.  Click HERE to download and print the “INSTRUCTIONS” tag I created so you can add it to your package also.

Give the Christmas Scent-filled Bag by itself -or- add it to a holiday theme take-out container

or place inside a mini potpourri crock.  I found the electric crock below at The Christmas Tree Shop for only $4.99:

but they are also available at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $9.99 and if you use a 20% off coupon, they will cost you only $8!



Christmas Gift Wrapping Idea

[click on photos for a more, detailed enlarged view ]

When I wrap a gift, I love to add embellishments for a finishing touch and I enjoy creative re-purposing in this area too!  So, keep this idea in mind when you’re in a store, after Christmas, and you come across any singular ornaments, hanging by their lonesome, at 90% off.    As long as it’s a flat-backed ornament, it will work, so….  BUY IT! 🙂

Here’s how I like to use a flat-back ornament to finish my gift wrap design:

STEP ONE – Wrap your present, in gift wrap paper, as you normally would.

STEP TWO – Cut a length of ribbon, long enough to fit around your package, with a little extra.

STEP THREE – Put a piece of tape on the wrapping paper, where the ribbon ends will meet, on the front of the package.  Using a low-melt, hot glue gun, add 1 or 2 dots of glue (add it to the center of the tape, to protect the package).

STEP FOUR –  While glue is still warm, place one end of your ribbon over it.  Add a second spot or two of glue on top of the ribbon end you just glued.  Again, while the glue is still warm, quickly bring the remaining length of ribbon around the back and sides of your box and place the other end of the ribbon over the top of the first ribbon end.  Now, both ends of your ribbon should be joined at the front of your gift box. 

STEP FIVE – Tape down the ornament hanger to the back of the ornament, in a couple of spots.

STEP SIX – Add a touch of hot glue on top of both pieces of tape and while still warm, attach the ornament back to the gift front, over the area of the ribbon where you joined it together.  It makes the cutest finishing touch to your gifts.  And once the gift recipient removes the tape on the back, they can hang it on their tree.  This is especially nice if you choose an ornament you can personalize with their family name(s), like the one shown above.

Don’t want to purchase an ornament, even at 90% off?  Then, consider recycling the fronts of all of those beautiful holiday cards you receive.  If you choose ones that have blank areas, on which you can write with an ink pen, you can even add a holiday sentiment or turn it into a TO and FROM gift tag!   This idea is perfect for those of you who ship gifts because there is no bow to get crushed.  Also, think about using this idea at other times of the year.  A seed packet in the spring or summer, that becomes something they can plant, etc…. you get the idea… it should match the season, holiday, occasion or compliment the gift in some way.  Have fun!

A “Creative” Gift for Christmas!

Recently, a fan of my new “How to Decorate a Tree for Christmas” DVD came up with such a great idea, after she watched the creative decorating ideas I added in among the basic decorating information.  It is such a simple and clever idea that I just had to share it with my readers.

This young woman has a couple of Aunts, for whom she buys Christmas gifts each year and she struggles for ideas every year.  But this year…  she hit the bull’s-eye!  Evidently, both of her Aunt’s holiday decorations have not been revamped in many years and are, therefore, looking a little tired.  So, she purchased each of them one of my DVDs along with the inexpensive supplies to create one of my easy decorating projects (featured in my DVD).    It has reawakened their creativity with new and easy inspiration.  And best of all, they had the instructions (in my DVD) and all of the necessary materials so they were able to dig into the project right away.  I thought this was very creative and thoughtful, so I’m passing it along for those of you who have similar gift situations/dilemmas.  Here’s a photo of the items she sent each Aunt:

Stretching your Holiday Decorating Dollar

Most of you know, I love to re-purpose everyday things.  However, I also love to find “second” uses for my holiday items too –  especially if it means I won’t have to put away the everyday accents I have in my kitchen cabinets.   This year, I wrapped a large gift in a paper that coordinates with my black & white toile kitchen theme.  Until I gift someone (on Christmas day) with it, I will have the perfect decorative accent for this year’s theme!  Also in this photo, I have another easy decorating idea for you.  I needed a touch of my lime green accent color inside this cabinet (to break up the black & white) and didn’t have anything to use.  So, I popped one of my leftover lime green ornament balls on top of a silver candle stand… perfect!  I hope these ideas inspire you to look through your own decorations and around your home for themed holiday inspiration.  Happy decorating!

If you are enjoying my holiday decorating ideas and style, please check out my BRAND NEW “How to Decorate a Christmas Tree” DVD… hot off the press and available on this blog!  Here’s a preview:

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]