The holidays are a time when we all want to indulge our families. But spending too much just leads to anxiety, which is no gift to your family.

I wanted to start this forum to allow ErieMoms to share some of the creativity I know is out there -- and give you some time to make or track down some of the money-saving projects/gifts that you can do.

As I find ideas, I'll be adding them. But I hope you will too.

One of my favorites is to go to one of your favorite photo Web sites, I use, and create calendars with pictures from family gatherings. You can make them for about $15 per calendar, comparable to what you can buy in the store but personalized.

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I visited Ollie's Bargain Barn over the weekend. Great deals there. I got an art set for under $10 and found a kids' metal detector (great for the beach) also for under $10.

Next up ... Big Lots.
One money-saving idea is to work with your kids outside to create Christmas presents for their friends and family.

This allows both you and your children to get outside and get exercise and conversations about the outdoors.

Recently my daughter and I have been collecing sea (beach) glass. These piece are being turned into both earrings and cards for friends and family. This morning I was drilling the glass to make earrings. Later today we'll get out the glue to turn the white pieces into snowmen for cards. It's a great way to remind family members who don't live here anymore about the region's natural beauty.


Coming up

 CHRISTMAS CRAFT SHOW AND BAKE SALE: Saturday, Nov. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 4376 West Lake Road; crafts, Greek foods. Cost: Free admission. Info: 838-8808.

Celebrating Erie Arts & Culture: Saturday, Nov. 7, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Experience Children's Museum, 420 French St.; performances of "Honk" by Erie Playhouse performers throughout the day, visit with Musical Petting Zoo from the Erie Philharmonic, learn about Erie history and Flagship Niagara, more. Cost: $7.

Painting the Penguins: Saturday, Nov. 7, 6-8 p.m.; Erie Zoo, 423 W. 38th St.; paint a penguin on canvas with a real penguin as your guide; for adults. Cost: $30; $28 members; registration required. Info:, 864-4091.

Welcoming Winter Wildlife: Saturday, Nov. 7, 10:30-11:30 a.m.; Asbury Woods Nature Center, 4105 Asbury Road; learn how to make your backyard more welcoming to winter wildlife. Cost: $5; $3 members. Info:

'HONK!': Fridays, Nov. 13 and 20, 7 p.m.; Saturdays, Nov. 14 and 21, 2 and 7 p.m.; and Sundays, Nov. 15 and 22, 2 p.m.; Erie Playhouse, 13 W. 10th St.; Youtheatre performs adaptation of "The Ugly Duckling." Cost: $14. Info: 454-2852, Ext. 0,


WQLN Holiday Craft Show: Friday, Nov. 13, 1-6 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 14 and 15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Rainbow Gardens, Waldameer Park & Water World; more than 100 local crafters, free pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, entertainment by Erie County Clarinet Choir. Cost: One day, $3.50; weekend pass, $5; children younger than 12, free. Info:


Parents Night Out: Friday, Nov. 13, 6-9 p.m.; Erie Zoo, 423 W. 38th St.; drop children ages 4 to 12 at the zoo for pizza dinner, games, movie, carousel rides and a walk on zoo grounds. Cost: $18 per child; $15 per child for members; each additional child from the same family, $15; $11 members; preregistration required. Info:, 864-4091.

 Erie Zoo Animal Art Show, Sale: Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 21 and 22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Erie Zoo, 423 W. 38th St.; small animal painting demonstrations; purchase framed art and other items painted by zoo animals. Cost: Free admission for patrons who enter through the Education Entrance. Info:


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