Christmas Shopping Tips For Busy Moms

christmas shopping tips

When you have kids underfoot, work to do and holidays headed your way these Christmas shopping tips for busy moms can be a lifesaver. We grab deals left and right for you to save money, but sometimes it just can feel impossible to get everything done in time for the holiday gift giving parties, events or just Christmas day with your family. These tips will help you to save time and money this holiday season.

Christmas Shopping Tips For Busy Moms

Take advantage of Amazon Prime. If you haven’t upgraded to Amazon Prime yet, this is the best time of year to do so. Amazon Prime offers you Free 2nd Day Shipping on tons of items. Nearly everything on your Christmas shopping list will be available with this offer. That means you can grab items when you see a great price, even if it is just a week or two before Christmas, and you’ll know they will arrive fast and safe. Amazon Prime has tons of other great benefits including free movie streaming as well as free music and book downloads. The $99 fee will easily save you that much if not twice as much in shipping alone during the holidays.

Use gift wrapping services. One thing that takes up a ton of time is gift wrapping all of the presents you buy. When possible online or in-store, take advantage of free gift wrapping options offered. Many stores now offer this completely free as a special way to entice you to buy from them. Some mainstream stores offer this at no-charge, but the gift wrappers may appreciate a small tip. If time is a big issue, as well as nosy kids wanting to snoop through your purchases, it is well worth dropping your gift items at the wrap counter and using the gift wrapping services in store.

Use our sites to find the best prices. We can’t deny we work long hours during the holiday season to bring you the best in store and online deals. Look no further than our daily list of deals for the best ways to save money on gifts, clothing and even food. Looking for a particular item on your gift list? Don’t hesitate to ask if we have seen a deal for it.

Don’t be afraid of gift cards. So many people find gift cards to be one of those things that just isn’t very personal, however this is definitely not true. More and more people appreciate the convenience of gift cards. From the busy mom on your block who never buys that manicure for herself, to the kids teacher that really needs an extra cup of morning coffee on her way to the classroom gift cards give the receiver the ability to enjoy something at their convenience they might not otherwise purchase. This Christmas shopping tip for busy moms isn’t a cop out – it is a great solution that almost everyone will love receiving.

This year the holiday season doesn’t have to bring stress. You can easily use these Christmas shopping tips for busy moms (or dads) to get everything you need in place, wrapped and ready for Christmas morning with ease.

Check out the HOTTEST Amazon Lightning and Gold Box daily deals HERE!

Macy’s: 3 Piece Comforter Set Just $19.99 {Reg $80!}

comforter set macys

Are you looking for a new bedset to spruce up your bedroom?  Macy’s has these great Comforter Sets (3 piece) marked down to just $19.99, from their regular price of $80!






Central Park


There are several styles to choose from and this price is good on Twin, Full/Queen and King!

macys comforter set price

Halloween Rice Krispie Treas On A Stick Recipe

Guest post from Paul ( I Heart The Mart )

I posted earlier about all the options that Walmart had for making your own treats this year.

My wife makes all kinds of treats for each Holiday and really just about every week for one reason or another. That is why I look like I do! Today it rained and everything got cancelled so the kids and I made my favorite things in the entire world. Rice Krispie Treats. 

This is what we bought. I would just get the almond bark, and color that. It was the easiest to melt.

We also picked up this pumpkin pan, it was $9.97.

I made 2 batches of Rice Krispie treats. If you have not made these before they are really easy. My 12 year old made these batches. It took 2 batches to make what you see in the picture.

When the rice krispies were hot, I pressed them into the pan.

The kids helped by putting the sucker sticks into the treats. My wife suggested dipping the sticks into the melted chocolate first then sticking them into the treats. We let them harden for a little while.

This kid is a pro. He ate about as many as he helped fix.

While they were hardening a little more I chopped the almond bark and melted it on the stove. You can use the microwave but my wife gets set in her ways and so we do it this way :) Just heat it slowly or you will burn it.

Then get the kids and start dipping them. You can do whatever colors you like, dip them a little or all the way. We did both. The kids had an easier time just dipping the tops and adding sprinkles.

My kids do this stuff all the time with their Mom and so they were helping me!

We started getting fancy and adding the pre-made figures you can buy at the store.

My 8 year old (mini Martha Stewart) got the fanciest and was making Frankenstein. I thought it was Elvis, so it is a good thing I didn’t say anything and let her talk!

We bagged them in the $.97 treat bags and tied with twist ties. I am sure you can add ribbon but I am just able to tie my shoes, ribbons are too much trouble :)

My wife waked in as we were wrapping up and added the candy corn to the bags and they looked great!


  • Rice Krispies $2.68
  • Marshmallows $1.25
  • Almond Bark $2.98
  • Wilton Cookie Stick $2.88
  • Sprinkles $4.97
About $.75 a treat! (The more you make, the cheaper!)

I don’t have Pinterest, but Tiffany does if you want to pin this. Send us pictures of what you make this Halloween.


How to make a Harry Potter Wand

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My kids were on a BIG Harry Potter kick, a couple years ago, about 5 years behind the times, but loving it none the less. We watched most of the movies in the car on the way to and from California and all over Arizona and Texas this year. They turn everything from straws. to sticks to  granola bars into magic wands.

I love listening to them and watching the big kids get completely involved and play along. In fact, we have made up a list of our own “Ivanovsky Spells.”

My Favorite? In place of one of the more popular Harry Potter spells “expelliarmus” the Ivanovsky version is “smelly lamas.” I am sure you can see how the rest of them go!

My oldest has a “real” Harry Potter wand he got one year from Santa, it was the pricy kind at $40 that is motion activated. The little kids drug it out and have been fighting I mean sharing it nicely all week. They had a lemonade stand earning $42 and decided to pool the money to buy another wand. Like that is  going to go well…

My crafty then 8 year old got online and found many different sets of instructions on how to make a wand. The other kids shook their heads and said “no!” She begged me to help her make one. Since I had just about everything I said sure, and we got started.

You will need: 

  • Glue Gun / Glue Sticks (about 3 large ones for each wand)
  • Craft Paint (we liked metallic and glitter)
  • Construction paper
  • Chop Sticks or wooden dowels
  • Elmers Glue
  • Marble or something to put at the handle end. We found a bag of wedding gems at Walmart for $3.50 that worked perfectly.

Place glue on one side of any color of construction paper.

Take your chop stick and roll from the corner tightly.

When I got to the end, I taped the corner down and we left them to dry.

Now, when they are all dry, you will need to cut off the ends so they are flat.

Working with one end, I filled the end with hot glue and stuck the end of the gem in. I turned it upside down and held it until the glue had set.

The bigger kids started to take notice and thought we might be onto something cool, so they started making their own construction paper tubes!

Once the top was set, I took more hot glue and make rings around the gem and tube reinforcing it even more. I needed them to be sturdy!

This is where your glue gun skills come in handy! If you lived though the craft phase of the 90’s you know what I mean! :)

Start from the below your gem/marble and start building up a few layers of glue. I tried to spread it down, and as it would drip I would roll it around, making some kinda funky patterns.

The thickest layers need to be at the top and get thinner as you go towards the bottom. Just keep in mind what a wand might look like with a handle.

Once you have the first 1/2 of the wand done and before the glue cools, use the tip and make designs in the glue. This will give your wand cool dimensions and areas to paint when you are finishing it.

Once the glue has cooled, you will paint a coat of solid black over the wand as a primer.

The black really pulls out all the 3D of the glue. They start looking really cool at this point.

By then, I had all 7 kids making a wand :)

Once the black has dried, you can start painting your wand. My kids liked the glitter and metallic paint for theirs. We used gold a lot for the accents.

They took a few coats because of a few mind changes. Plus a few hours of drying time. But once they were done I thought they looked REALLY cool!

The kids were really proud of themselves as well. The big kids were so impressed they wanted to have friends over to make some with them!

These are our finished Harry Potter wands. They are very sturdy and really neat looking! When you feel them it is hard to imagine that they are made of chop sticks, construction paper and hot glue!

I added a few more lines of hot glue at the end on the wands where I painted the gold you can see to give them more of a 3D look then they already had.

For the other end, the kids went out and grabbed a few little rocks and we glued them in. One of the kids use a small gem for theirs, and one of the kids didn’t want anything and I filled the end with hot glue. These really feel like they were made out of wood.

They spent all day playing with them.

One final step that I have not done yet but will when I can get them back is to take a few small drops of black paint and mix it in a lot of water to create a wash. I want to “antique” them some and so I will brush the paint water on and then wipe it off so it creates an antiquing effect.

Cost of a fancy Harry Potter wand: $40  x 7 kids = $280!

Total cost of our Harry Potter wands: $21 for 7!

I am assuming you have a glue gun in those calculations! I had to buy some paint, the gems, and more glue sticks. Total saved = $259. Now if I can just figure out how to make them light up!
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How To Decorate A School Locker For Less

Decorating a school locker

Do you have a tween or teen in school with a locker? Have you wanted to know how to decorate a school locker for less seeing all the crazy ways kids are decorating lockers now days?!

My older girls have decorated lockers for a few years. The first year I about had a heart attack and said, “no way!” and had them figure out how to do it for less!

You can see a news segment my daughter and I did for ABC 13 in Houston last year on saving money on lockers HERE.

Price comparison lockers

For the expensive lockers: 

  • Wallpaper Sheets – Target for $15 for 3 sheets ( it will take 6 sheets to 1/2 way do a locker)
  • Black Zebra Locker White Board – PBTeen $19.50
  • Mini Photo Frames – PBTeen $29
  • Locker Carpet – Walmart $9
  • Locker Shelf – Walmart $5
  • Locker Lamp – PBTeen – $24.50

For the budget locker: 

  • Roll of Wrapping paper – Dollar Tree $1
  • Basket – Dollar Tree $1
  • Locker magnetic baskets – Dollar Tree $1
  • Magnets for the wallpaper – Dollar Tree $1
  • Locker Shelf – Walmart (not shown in picture) $5
  • Locker Mirror – Dollar Tree $1
  • Locker Black Board – Dollar Tree $1
  • Microfiber cloth used as locker carpet – Dollar Tree $1

Paige honestly could not tell the difference between the high end locker and the budget locker. According to Paige, either would have been just as cool at school!

One thing that we did not have time for in the video segment was to laminate the wrapping paper. In the past for the girls I have taken the wrapping to a school supply store and paid a few dollars to laminate it so that it held up better through the school year.

Budget Locker Teen decorating

:: Locker on a budget $17::

We use magnets to attach the wrapping paper to the locker walls. You can use tape but Paige has told me horror stories of trying to get it off at the end of school. Magnets worked well for us last year.

This locker also had a locker shelf in it that you can find at Walmart for $5.

For Paige the most important thing to have in her locker was a mirror, shelf, and the magnetic containers on the wall to hold pens and pencils.

Pottery Barn Teen high end locker

:: High End Locker $107::

The wallpaper sheets in the high end locker came from Target. They are really nice and easy to work with, but we used 2 packages ($15 each) on this locker and you can see we needed even more.

The thing that FREAKED me out the most was $29 for the magnetic frames. ARE YOU CRAZY!?

The other tip from Paige is that she thinks the locker lights and locker chandeliers are cute and had one last year. But it only lasted a few days. See they block the hook at the top of the locker where the kids hang their backpacks and it was a hassle to try and maneuver around the lamp and she took it down (along with all her friends) after a few days.

In conclusion, you are more then welcome to spend $100 on your kids locker for school. But acording to the kids we interviewed, they couldn’t tell a difference between items from Pottery Barn and ones from Dollar Tree!

Plus, as we were doing the segment a teacher walked by and asked about the shoot. I explained to her what we were doing and she told us that at the end of the year they line up trash cans all along the hall for kids to clean out their lockers and place trash in. After school was done and the kids were gone, the teachers would pull out all the HIGH END nice locker decorations that all the kids just THREW AWAY!

They use them in their classrooms and save them for kids next year who can’t afford to decorate at all. I almost cried. But the teacher said NO WAY would she spend more then $20 on a locker as she watches the kids just toss it all when school is out!

Do your kids decorate lockers? What so they ask for? What do you spend?? 

It’s Shark Week Viewing Game!

You know how crazy we are about Shark Week! It is a family tradition for us, we watch each night and celebrate the week! I really should work for Discovery promoting them…

This week we are playing a game as we watch. I saw a drinking game that you can play while you watch and didn’t really think it would be appropriate for the kids, and not really for us as we don’t drink. However, if you do, just know that it is out there! LOL!

I changed it up a little and created the Shark Week Viewing Game game you see above.

The kids are going to get little bags or containers and as we play if they earn points we are going to use something like beans, or M&M’s as the points. You could also just use an old fashioned pen and paper to keep track!

This is a fun way to spend some time as a family and hang out together!

4th of July Candy Craft Snack – Candy Kabobs

If you want to keep your kids (and husband) busy for a while, you can try this cute candy snack that we make for the 4th of July each year to take with us as we watch the fireworks!

All you need are some lollipop sticks or skewers and soft candy. I used mostly gummy candies. I also tried to just use red, white and blue for the 4th of July to make it festive. It would also be cute to do them to match birthday parties with different colors.

I was able to buy ALL the candy at our local convenience store this year. They carry all kinds of bagged prepackaged gummy candy, salt water taffy, and gummy lifesavers. I placed them all in bowls on the table, gave each child/Dad a lollipop stick and let them at it!

This is the one Paul made, actually one of the 10, he really got into it with the girls! We packaged ours in little gift bags with ribbon tied around the top. The sticks and bags we put them in cost $1.75 each at Walmart. You can find these in the craft section at your local store.

On the ones for the girls we have little necklaces for the 4th to go with them, turned out really cute!

Do you have any cute crafts for the 4th?

Hurricane Preparation Coupons! Be Prepared!

This is my front yard the morning after Hurricane Ike. In the days before we brought in all the plants and kids toys we could. We nailed down everything possible and taped all the windows.

While many people were panicking and spending all their available cash on supplies, we were comforted knowing that we didn’t need to join the rush and that we were well prepared. We ran into Walmart on Thursday evening and were stunned to see the shelves. It was a very errie feeling when your huge supercenter is cleared out COMPLETELY!

Because of couponing and my food storage there was nothing that we needed, save for some fresh fruit and vegetables.

On Friday 2008, everything was closed, the kids were out of school and we just had to sit around and wait. Paul, myself and the DuBois, took the shotgun and hand guns down to the creek to do some shooting and relieve some anxiety! We heard reports on T.V. of all the chaos surrounding the stores closing early and people not having any food or water. I can’t understand not being prepared? Why would you live so day to day that you can’t take care of your family in an emergency with the basics of food, when you have the ability with coupons to do it almost free?

Alright, so are you guys out east ready? What about along the Gulf coast? With hurricane memories still fresh, I have gone through our supplies this past weekend to take a little inventory. If you have a chance you might want to do the same thing.

::Here are a few food and supply items that have coupons to go with them!::

::Bottled Water::
– $0.55/1 Nestle Pure Life Sparkling Exotics Sparkling Water; 8 pk 12 oz; 
– 5% OFF Market Pantry Sparkling Water (Target eCoupon) – (exp 08/01/15)
– $2.00/1 Kirkland Signature Flavored Sparkling Water – Costco Monthly Coupon
– $3.00/1 Brita Water Filter (Target Coupon); Includes 3 pk (exp 07/09/15)
– $0.50/1 AquaBall Naturally Flavored Water Drink; Includes 6 pk Only
– $3.00/1 Bobble Reusable Water Bottle (Zip Code 77477)

– $1.25/2 Glade Jar Candles – 5-3-15 SS (exp 06/14/15)
– $1.00/1 Febreze Candle; Excludes Trial and Travel Size; 
– $1.00/2 Glade Jar Candles
– $0.50/1 Unstopables Candle; Excludes Trial or Travel Size;
– $2.00/2 Air Wick Scented Candles or Wax Melts;


– $1.00/2 Clorox Bleach – 5-3-15 SS; Excludes 16 oz (exp 06/30/15)
– $1.00/1 Clorox 2 Product – 5-3-15 SS; Excludes Pen (exp 06/30/15)
– $1.00/2 Clorox Branded Products; Excludes Travel Packs and Sample Size
– $1.00/1 Lysol Power & Free Taptop Multipurpose Cleaner – 5-17-15 RP;  (exp 06/17/15)
– $0.50/1 Lysol Disinfectant Spray – 6-7-15 SS; Includes 12.5 oz or Larger Only (exp 07/05/15)
– $0.50/2 Lysol Disinfecting Wipes – 6-7-15 SS; Includes 35 ct or Larger Only (exp 07/05/15)

– $1.00/1 Rayovac Alkaline Batteries
– $1.00/1 Duracell Batteries – 5-31-15 PG; Includes Coppertop, Quantum,  (exp 06/30/15)
– $0.50/1 Energizer Batteries or Flashlights – 5-31-15 SS (exp 06/27/15)
– $1.50/1 Energizer Ultimate Lithium, Advanced Lithium, Recharge Power Plus, or Recharge Universal Batteries – 5-31-15 SS; Includes AA or AAA, 4 ct or Larger Only (exp 06/27/15)
– $3.00/1 Duracell Alkaline Coppertop Batteries – Costco Monthly Coupon (Valid from 6/11/15); Includes AA or AAA; Limit 10 (exp 07/05/15)

::Supply Kit Items::

Water – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days
— non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
— foods for infants or the elderly
— snack foods
— non-electric can opener
— cooking tools / fuel
— paper plates / plastic utensils

Blankets / Pillows, etc.
Clothing – seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
Special Items – for babies and the elderly
Toiletries / Hygiene items /
Moisture wipes
Flashlight / Batteries
Radio – Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
Telephones – Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set
Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards – Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
Toys, Books and Games
Important documents – in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag — insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
Tools – keep a set with you during the storm
Vehicle fuel tanks filled
Pet care items
— proper identification / immunization records / medications
— ample supply of food and water
— a carrier or cage
— muzzle and leash (shelters require this)
Thanks to NOAA

How to shop a Victoria’s Secret Semi Annual Sale!

victorias secret semi annual sale

We are getting ready for the Victoria’s Secret Semi Annual Sale. If you like to shop VS but find it pricy, this is the time to think about checking them out!

When is the Semi-Annual Sale:
There are 2 Semi-Annual Sales yearly. Typically they will start in May (online) and June (in-store) or December/early January (online) and January (in-store).

There are a few tips to shopping this sale and few things that you need to know. First, the sale starts with items about 50% off. BUT, they will be marking items lower a few days later all the way down to 75% or more. If you take a look at your receipt you will see that they have a “price adjustment” policy which means if the price goes LOWER within 14 days of purchasing your item they will give you back the difference.

What does this mean for you? 

  • Get in their early, shop, and then follow these directions:
  • Shop within the first few days of the sale. This is when all the good sizes ( XS, S, M,L ), and the good colors are available.
  • Realize that you are buying the item hoping it will go lower then the 50% off. You might have to out the money out ahead of time and then be willing to return it if it doesn’t go lower.
  • Head into your store a few times. They out items on sale at different times and bring our more items throughout the sale. The first few days are items they want to get rid of fast. Such as a lot of the PINK items and college items.
  • Save EVERYTHING. Leave the tags on the clothes and leave them in the bag WITH the receipts. You don’t know if you will be returning it, and you need to have your receipts.
  • Check back at your store in the last few days of the sale and see when they go 75% off! Every store is different as to what is the last day of their sale. I am GUESSING that they will be marking down more items around January 9th this year.
  • If you purchased your items within 14 days of the day your store going 75% off, all you will need to do, is take in your receipt, go to the register and ask for a price adjustment. They scan the receipt and give you a refund for any price difference between then and now! It’s super easy and takes no more than 10 mins depending on how much you bought.
  • If your purchase exceeds 14 days you need to take all the unworn clothing and your receipts back with you. You will do a full return, and get a full refund. Then repurchase all the items back at the 75% off price!
  • HEADS UP: Sometimes at the 75% off time, occasionally an item will go back to full price! Be aware of this while making a return or price adjustment, you will need to pay attention. If you are ok paying the price you did, keep it. If not, return it.

Some cashiers get grouchy about doing the price adjustment, you are not doing anything wrong, just look at the back of your receipt for the details and maybe remind them at this is their policy.

* Also you can NOT use coupons with this sale. Just a heads up.

Here are a few more tips: 

  • The sale starts online first, in fact it has already started but is much better in-store.
  • The first day is CRAZY, just be prepared for madness in the store.
  • If you like matching sets, get those first. They will sell out.
  • The winter sale is always better then the summer sale. Just my opinion…

Let us know what you find and feel free to ask any questions. We are a community here and can help each other!

What coupons can you use where? Store vs. MFQ and Store Logo.

It can be confusing when you are printing and cutting out coupons to know where you can use them when you first start couponing. But quickly you will be able to see some differences and understand what they mean.

When you look at the above coupons before you print them, you can see a few differences. Mostly that 2 of them have a store logo. The top one has none. The middle coupon with the HEB logo is actually a manufacturer coupon that can be used at any store, although it has the HEB logo. The bottom coupon has a Target logo and also says “Redeem only at Target” and when you print it, it is a Target store coupon. Which can only be used at Target, and can still be combined with manufacturer coupon.

This is what they look like when printed. Well, except I already printed and used the 3M coupon, so I printed the Softsoap coupon (you can see below) has a Walmart logo before printed.

You are looking at the top of the coupon to see if it is a manufacturer coupon or a store coupon. A manufacturer coupon can be used at ANY store as long as there as no exclusions listed on the coupon. A store logo isn’t an exclusion. UNLESS IN THE STORES COUPON POLICY THEY SPECIFICALLY SAY THEY DONT TAKE THEM. Even with another stores logo the store can still redeem it and get reimbursed for it.

The Target coupons above both say on them “Redeem Only at Target” even if these coupons are manufacturer coupons, they could only be used at Target. Because the coupons have an exclusion saying they can only be used at Target.

Now, these coupons above all have the Walmart logo on them. The logo says “Available at Walmart” basically letting you know that Walmart carries the product. Plus, they are hoping you think to yourself when seeing the logo, “I am going to use this at Walmart.”

What you need to do is read the coupon:

Coupon 1: USA Kids – Manufacturer coupon, Walmart logo, but says “Redeem ONLY at Walmart” This coupon can only be used at Walmart.

Coupon 2: Softsoap – (you can see this coupon printed above) Manufacturer coupon, No Walmart logo when printed, no exclusions can use anywhere.

Coupon 3: Purex Crystals – Manufacturer coupon, Walmart logo, says “Redeemable at Walmart.” This coupon can still be used at any store that will accept it. They are telling you Walmart carries the product and suggesting you use it there.

Finally, this is pretty much the ONLY coupon type that you can’t use at Walmart or any other store but the store it says on it. That would be a specific STORE coupon.

Clear as mud right?! It really isn’t that hard. The best thing to do is just print the coupon and read it all the way through. I also try to tell you ahead of time if we know that it is  Target coupon so you don’t print it if you wanted to use it somewhere else.

Any questions feel free to email or leave a comment and we will help you understand any questions you have!