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      One thing that helps when kids can’t have what the other kids have is to make their lunch special. I used to do this when my kids were small. I always had craft things around the house. So I would make a special lunch bag from some left over kid friendly fabric. Cut out their pbjs with cookie cutters. Maybe you could print some coloring pages off of the net. let your child color them then glue them onto a paper lunch bag. I would often make cloth napkins from some bugs bunny fabric or something I had laying around. Sometimes I would keep a stash of dollar store toys and add one of those. When my boys were little like a little match box car or something. Another thing the dollar tree sells birthday napkins. I used to buy these for my dd in sesame street and use for her school lunches. Or a solid pink with a barbie sticker.

      One year one of my sons wanted a batman birthday party. Batman was not popular at the time.So I couldnt find the character stuff. So I wrapped mac and cheese boxes in yellow contruction paper to get a form cut and folded at the bottom with a bit of scotch tape. Then I cut out that batman emblem from black construction paper and glued to the front. I left the top open and just slid my box out and filled the construction paperbags with candy. This was in the days before the internet and the massive scrap booking things we have so many stickers available today. I used solid black cups and napkins.

      Another great way to save money on the character stuff for birthday parties is to buy the character cups and use solid colored plates.

      I would buy stickers of their favorite character and put on their reusable drink containers.Even a reused water bottle is special with the right character sticker on it. I would remove the label or make my own and cover the existing label. A secret stash of small toys, stickers, and things of that nature is a great budget friendly thing for any mom to have.

      My oldest graduated from high school this year and he still remembers fondly these homemade treats, he never realized it was a money thing.He never felt deprived he thought he was special because the other moms didn’t make things for their kids.Often times I would just say no I am not buying that food it is total junk. There is no nutrition in it and I want you to be healthy.

      One more thing. My boys were always hard on the knees of their jeans so their winter jeans had holes in the knees. I hated the look of the ratty cut off jean thing so I would cut off their jeans fold the hem under twice and press with the iron. Then sew a straight seam around the bottom in a long stich instead of looking cheap they looked like Jeans shorts I had bought. They looked so preppy in their thrift store polo shirts and their resewn jeans shorts.

      One time I took the legs of a cut off pair of jeans and traced a basic bear design cut it out sewed around the edges and stuffed. My son never forgot his blue jean teddy.

      Tracy in VA

      Creative frugality is fun



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