I LOVE chai tea! My mother-in-law knows this and often makes me some for Christmas, which I thoroughly enjoy! But now I’ve finally gotten around to making some myself. It’s super easy and makes a great gift, especially if you’re making gifts for lots of people. It won’t go bad if they don’t use it right away, they can drink it hot or cold, it’s small and lightweight for mailing, and it doesn’t even require any ovens or stoves being turned on! :) Plus your house smells amazing while making it!

You could even experiment and make decaf, try different flavored creamers, or decrease the sugar.


  • 1 c. nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 c. powdered non-dairy creamer
  • 2 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. instant tea
  • 2 tsp. ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. cardamom (I was having to buy so many spices, I just skipped this one)
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper (I just used black pepper)

Toss it all in a blender (if your blender isn’t big enough to fit it all at once, just do it in smaller batches) and whirl until it’s all mixed together.

To serve mix 2-3 Tablespoons with  8 ounces of water or milk.

I  got this recipe from another site, but can’t for the life of me find it or remember the name of it. If I eventually find it, I’ll update this post.

You can double or triple the recipe to make a big batch for gift giving!


Linked up to Tasty Tuesday at The New Modern Momma, Living Well Spending Less and Sneaky Spoons.


I know this is post-Christmas, but I thought it still might be useful for future-Christmases or birthday presents. Here’s a few of the low-budget gifts we gave this year:

  • Home-made hot cocoa mix. There’s a lot of different recipes out there, but I stuck close to this recipe, only I used french vanilla creamer. This is a great gift idea, because you can make a big batch and divide it up into multiple jars for a lot of gifts. It looks pretty in a glass jar with marshmellows on top. I put snow-man shaped french vanilla flavored marshmellows in it to go with the french vanilla flavor.
  • Trail mix – I made a nutty trail mix for my dad, with almonds, peanuts and Christmas colored peanut M&Ms. I layered them in a glass jar, an idea I got from pinterest. What’s great about this idea is that you can personalize it by putting the person’s favorite, fruit, nuts or candies in it.
  • Using my Swagbucks* – I was able to get one gift free (not including shipping) by using my swagbucks to get an Amazon giftcard, which I used for a gift.
  • Crochet dishcloths – Dishcloths can be simple to crochet, so it’s a great gift idea even for new crocheters, plus who can’t use a fresh new dish cloth every now and then?
  • Hand print pot holder. I got this great idea from Ally’s Helpful Hints for Mommies. Use acryclic paint and have kids make a hand print (or foot print) on a hot pad. Then have the kids, if old enough, write their name and date on it with a sharpie.
  • Crochet hat – I made a crochet bear hat for my nephew with this pattern. It’s basically just a beanie with two ears.
* When my referrals from this link earn points for searching, I win matching swag bucks, up to 1,000 points per person.

I keep thinking I’m done with gift wrapping, then realize I’m not. Last night I pulled out Gracia’s Duplos (which by the way we got for only $20 on Amazon), thinking I might have a gift bag big enough for them….nope. So I grabbed the biggest roll of wrapping paper I stilled had left from a year or two ago when I last bought it…but it wasn’t enough to cover it. In desperation I headed to the bathroom where I keep old Thrifty Nickels, and was pleased to see a page of comics! Unfortunately the one page of comics didn’t cover the box either, so I wrapped the back in regular newspaper and the front in the colorful classic comic wrapping paper!

Inspired by this post of making a bow from a magazine page I decided to try dressing up this humble wrapping job with a newspaper bow (although I did mine differently). My first one didn’t turn out very well, but that was okay, because I decided I liked this black and pink page better and made this bow:

To finish it off I picked out a butter fly sticker from Gracia’s craft box and placed it on the center of the bow.

Yes! my second year of not buying any wrapping materials (well…not counting 3 reusable gift boxes I bought on clearance). I do still have a couple dollar store gifts from Gracia to wrap or put in a gift bag, but they’re small so I think I have enougth…but if all else fails I have more newspaper!





Here’s most of our gifts for family, other than ones I already sent and a few I hadn’t gotten yet. As you can see by the picture, I did wrap many of my gifts with wrapping paper, but it was all wrapping paper I already had. I haven’t bought wrapping paper or gift bags in about 2 years I think. The only “wrapping items” I bought recently were the 2  boxes on the left, and I actually have another one, just didn’t have a gift that seemed to fit well in it.

Re-used gift bag with tissue paper bow holding the name tag

See the pink bag with the green bow? I made that bow from a strip of sturdy tissue paper, so I could put a name tag on it instead of writing the name right on the bag. That way the recipient can reuse the bag if they want.

Gifts wrapped using an old gift bag

These presents were wrapped using a gift bag that was looking pretty sad, so I cut it up and was able to wrap 3 presents from it! It was nice wrapping with this because it was thicker than the cheapo wrapping paper I have.

If you want more free and creative wrapping ideas go here. What have you been wrapping your gifts up in this year? I’d love to see pictures of your creative and frugal wrapping! You can email them to me at purposelyfrugal(at)hotmail(dot)com.

If you’ve followed my blog very long, you know I love to sign up for freebies in the mail! If you get freebies too, here’s some ideas for how to tastefully give them as gifts this Christmas.

Toiletry bag

A lot of the free samples I get are small shampoos and conditioners, perfect to make a little toiletry bag, especially for those traveling during the holidays.

A nice little gift made from 100% freebies!

Just fill a bag (I’ve gotten 2 free make-up bags that would be perfect) with any samples like, shampoo, conditioner, soap, perfume, chap-stick, tooth paste, mouthwash, lotion, ect…

Drink Mug

Fill a cute mug with any beverage samples. I’ve gotten teas, coffee (both instant and regular), emergen-c, 5 hour energy and even creamer!

Fill out a Gift Basket

It might be hard to make a full gift basket with just freebies, but they can certainly  help fill one out. For example, you could fill a basket (look at Goodwill for cheap baskets) with home-made cookies and hot chocolate, then add free coffee and tea samples too.

Baby Gift Basket

You could make a gift basket for new parents with free diapers, wipes, formula and baby magazines. If any of your samples come with coupons throw those in the gift too!

Snack Pack

This is a great idea for people traveling, especially with little kids. Get a paper bag and decorate it, then fill it with any free goodies you have. I’ve gotten free granola bars, mini boxes of cereal, gum and 5 hour energy (that one might not be good for the kids in the back seat though)!

Laundry Gift

I’ve gotten free laundry detergent, dryer sheets and scent boosters. These would be great for a college student. It’d be easier hauling a small pack of laundry soap to the laundromat than a whole jug of it. If they need quarters for doing their laundry, save up some quarters to add to the gift too.

Stocking Stuffers

Since stocking stuffers are usually small, free samples are the perfect size! Pretty much any free sample can be used as a stocking stuffer: recipe booklets for the cook, windshield wipes for the guy, diapers for the baby, little boxes of cereal for the toddler, make-up samples for the teen girl and even dog and cat food for the pets!

Shoe Box Gifts

Free samples can also be used in shoe box gifts like Operation Christmas Child. One year our church did shoe box gifts for women. Perfume samples and tea would have been perfect things to add to something like that.


Most of the samples I get I keep for myself, and I try not to sign up for samples I know I won’t use (like wrinkle cream, hopefully I won’t need that for another 20 years!). But if you do end up with something you wont use, you may be able to donate it, especially if it’s a big size. I received a can of baby formula I knew I wouldn’t use, someone on Money Saving Mom suggested I donate it, so I took it to the local pregnancy crisis center and they happily took it. I was glad that it didn’t go to waste, and I was able to help out a cause I believe in! This idea has nothing to do with Christmas, but thought I’d share it anyways.

College Survival Kit

My last idea I thought of while I was looking over all the samples I have. Since college students generally don’t have a lot of money they’ll usually take whatever they can get, and a lot of samples are great for them, like car windshield wipes, laundry soap like I mentioned above, drinks for when they’re staying up late doing homework (especially emergen-c, if they’re living in a dorm during flu season) and any toiletry items.

Happy gift giving!

Want a yummy, but inexpensive cookie recipe? I got this from a Country Woman magazine. Don’t let the name fool you, you can’t

Vinegar Sugar Cookies

taste the vinegar, they actually taste really good!

I love how you can sprinkle them with colored sugar. If you want Christmas cookies, just use red and green sugar, or use pastel colors for Easter.



  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Colored sugar (or just regular sugar works too)


  • Cream butter and sugar until its light and fluffy. Beat in vinegar and vanilla. Combine flour and baking soda and add to wet mixture.
  • Roll into balls. Put 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Flatten to 1/4 inche thickness; sprinkle colored sugar on top.
  • Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are very lightly brown. Cool for 1 minute before removing from sheet and cooling on wire racks.  Yield: 3-1/2 dozen. (I think I make mine big, because I never get this many cookies)
  • Eat!!

Click here to see the original recipe: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Vinegar-Sugar-Cookies

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