Fun Ways to Celebrate the Olympics

Are you as excited as I am for the Olympic games to start? In our family, the Olympics is something to watch and celebrate together. It is an opportunity to learn about other countries, to admire amazing athletes, and a time of celebration for our country.

The Olympic games are just a week away and I am so excited to share a few fun ideas for craft and activities you can do to celebrate this exciting time.  Today I wanted to share with you seven fun activities you can try together as a family to make the Olympics extra special for your kids.

1. Olympic Medal Cookies– What could be sweeter than receiving an Olympic medal? How about an Olympic Medal filled with a cookie? AlphaMom offers this sweet little Olympic craft to do with your little ones. Stumped for a cookie idea?  I highly recommend an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookie for your medal filling!

2. Olympic T-Shirts– Visit Goodwill to find the perfect white t-shirt to dress up for the Olympic games. with a simple painted ring pattern on an inexpensive thrift store shirt, this is a craft that is easy enough to do with kids of all ages. Kate’s Creative Space offers this fun craft idea to her readers and we think it pairs perfectly with a great t-shirt from Goodwill!

3. DIY Olympic Torch– What child doesn’t dream of carrying around their very own Olympic torch. Hoosier Homemade showcases a fun craft that you can do to create your very own Olympic torch made from some commonly found items at your local craft store.

4. Olympics Party Fun– Why not throw a party for your family or for a group of families to celebrate the Olympics? A Small Snippet has you covered with everything from patriotic foods to great Olympic game ideas to play together, to fun ideas for decorations that don’t cost a lot. Before heading to your local superstore, check Goodwill for creative games and prop ideas for your very own mini-Olympics.

5. Olympic Torches Made From Recyclables– If hitting your craft store for supplies to make an Olympic torch isn’t in your budget, this Olympic Torch from The Idea Room is made from common items you have in your home and recyclables. These torches are made from a paper plate, a paper towel roll, and red & gold tissue paper. This is one that even the smallest child can do. Be sure to lift these high and participate in your own round of fun family Olympic games.

6. Olympic Rings Necklace– Even moms can jump in on the Olympic excitement with this cute craft, from Remarkably Domestic, for an Olympic Rings Necklace. This necklace is made from simple rings covered in Chinese knotting cord to create those Olympic rings everyone loves so much. This would be a fun craft to do while watching your favorite games this year!

7. Discus Throw Frisbee– Are your kids excited about the Discus Throw? This craft from My Sister’s Suitcase is a fun one for kids of all ages. Print a design for the front of your Frisbee and then have your child decorate it to their heart’s delight.

What are some ideas you have for celebrating the Olympic games with your family?

The 10 Days of Goodwill Challenge

I can’t tell you how many times I am asked if I REALLY shop at Goodwill.  The answer is always “Of Course I do!”.  I love when I am at a meeting and someone compliments me on something I am wearing, and I get to boast that I found it at Goodwill.

To prove my point…that I do shop and wear things from Goodwill…every year I institute a ’10 Days of Goodwill Challenge”.  So…are you ready?  Here we go!

 This is a cute little number I wore to the Fashion Days event at the Goodwill in Goshen.  I paired it with a nude colored crazy sassy stiletto.

Love this dress.  Banana Republic. Perfect for summer.  I put some of my style on the look by adding a brown leather braided belt and turquoise beads. I am LOVING this bright pink color with Turq accessories this season. Then I finished the look with a leather Kate Spade shoulder bag.

 Tunics, leggings and boots…all are a few of my favorite things.  I love this tunic. I think it could also be worn as a dress with flip flops in the summer. I had the boots, leggings and sweater…but those pieces would be DULLSVILLE without this great tunic!

 Wore this to speak at a ladies group at a country club.  I wanted to ‘dress the part’ for the country club (and I resisted wearing plaid golf shorts). Banana Republic white trousers and that beautiful 3/4 sleeve bright blue jacket. I played up the gold buttons on the jacket with gold accessories. 

 And what is Goodwill good for if not to pick up some great handbags?  This LV Inspired cutie I used for a night out on the town.  It is the perfect size to hold my money, ID, cell and of course…a few lipsticks!

Then I decided I needed a new wallet. Ideally I wanted something that was water proof for the lake and the beach this summer.  Well, whadda know!  Found it at Goodwill!

 Skirt and tank from Goodwill!  Love these pieces, I wear this Gap pull-on skirt a TON.  As a matter of fact, I’m wearing it now!

If you went to the Little Black Dress luncheon, then you saw me in this…and yes, it’s my new fav color combo (turquoise and bright pink).  

 This was for a working day at Goodwill.  Cute Ann Taylor flippy skirt and a black tee.  What could be better?

So I am in this “work out” phase.  Well, not as much work out as I need to get off my lazy butt and move around a little.  I don’t want to spend a lot of money on workout wear, but of course I am convinced that if I look the part, I will be in top physical shape. Basic black tank and Nike cropped workout (yoga) pants.

And for the Go Red luncheon for the American Heart Association, I had to wear red.  I emceed the Fashion Show for the event – so dressing the part was critical.  Finding a good red dress is hard!  And…guess where I found this one?  Yep – GOODWILL!

10 Unique Ideas for Projects to Do With Goodwill T-Shirts

Goodwill is one of my favorite places to visit for craft supplies and to find ideas for upcycling donated items. If you have ever been in a Goodwill store, one thing you will notice is that there is an abundance and plethora of donated t-shirts in every size, style, variety, and color.

The next time you visit your local Goodwill store, don’t just visit the t-shirts in your own size for ideas. Look in the Men’s section and in the larger sizes to find t-shirts that will offer you extra and a generous amount of craft material for the same amount of money as your smaller t-shirts. Try to select t-shirts that are not as faded or that have fabric pills on them for optimal material for your projects.

Today I wanted to share with you ten of my favorite projects that I have found to do with old t-shirts from your Goodwill store from some very amazing bloggers. I love that all of these ideas are extremely unique and that most require no sewing skills at all.

1. T-Shirt Scarves– I have seen lots of varieties of t-shirt scarves on many different blogs, but I absolutely love this DIY Dish episode you can watch to discover three different varieties of scarves you can make from an old t-shirt. My favorite is the one, pictured above, with a bright pom-pom trim.

2. T-Shirt Bibs– If you are looking for a fast sewing project that would make a fun baby gift, then these t-shirt bibs are the project for you. For little boys, you could look for their dad’s favorite sports teams and for little girls you could look for a fun t-shirt with sparkly letters or flowers. Don’t forget that these could also be embellished with rick-rack, ribbon trim, or an easy t-shirt rolled rosette flower.

3. T-Shirt Bracelets– There are many varieties of cute bracelets that I have seen using t-shirt materials, but this one has to be one of my favorites. This twisted knot bracelet can be made from just a single t-shirt or it could be made with a mix of prints or a mix of solid colors. I can’t wait to make some of these for myself and my daughter this summer. Nothing could be cozier than a gently worn t-shirt bracelet on your arm!

4. T-Shirt Produce Bag– Nothing could be greener than carrying your groceries in a cloth grocery bag…until you start using recycled materials for your bag. Even if you are a beginning sewer, this simple produce bag can easily be created for a visit to the grocery store of your local farmer’s market. I think these would be fun to make in a variety of pastel colors or to give as a gift to someone special in your life.

5. T-Shirt Pom Poms– Looking for a fun way to dress up your home for the warmer months? I absolutely love these adorable t-shirt pom poms for a fun way to add a pop of color to your mantle, as a fun adornment to a wreath, or hung in a gathering on a door handle or front door. The best part about this project is that no sewing skills are required for this one!

6. Petal Tees– I have seen many, many refashions of old t-shirts, but I think this Petal Tee is simply genius because the petal trim on this t-shirt is made from a variety of t-shirts, adding a cute pop of color for the Spring. Visit Goodwill on their half off days and stock-up on a fun mixture of colors for a fun addition of color to your wardrobe. If you are looking to add a little of the fluorescent color trend to your wardrobe, this would be a great way to do it without having to commit to an entire fluorescent piece!

7. T-Shirt Yarn– My favorite craft in the world is knitting and I love the idea of using Goodwill t-shirts to create fun yarn for my projects. This would be a fun gift to give to a friend that knits or crochets. If you can use a pair of scissors and cut in a relatively straight line, then you can do this craft and use this yarn for a variety of projects!

8. T-Shirt Aprons– I have a true affection for aprons and have a little collection of my own thrifted aprons that I have acquired from Goodwill and other antique shops. I had never thought to use t-shirts to create aprons, but I think this t-shirt apron is the cutest thing I have ever seen. This would be a cute craft to make for yourself or for your helpers in the kitchen. The best part? No ironing required and it can handle the messes that you might make in the kitchen.

9. T-Shirt Necklaces– I love t-shirt necklaces for adding a splash of color to your neckline. This rolled rosette t-shirt necklace is a fun way to add some feminine details to your outfit very inexpensively. I think it would be cute to make the t-shirt bracelet in a coordinating color and one Goodwill t-shirt should more than cover both of these cute projects.

Our tenth project is actually a fun t-shirt project we did here on the Goodwill blog. Be sure to visit my tutorial on creating a cute t-shirt flower pin made from an old t-shirt and spray painted clip-on earrings. This is so cute and would be a fun addition to a Spring top or jacket.

What are your favorite craft projects to do with old t-shirts?

All photos featured in our collage were gathered from the blogs that were featured. Please visit these blogs for tutorials and instructions on completing these projects!

Thrifty Ways to Package Holiday Gifts

I love to wrap gifts creatively for the holidays and am always on the hunt for cute ideas for embellishing gifts without spending a lot of money.

You may not have thought of Goodwill as a great place to find items for adorning those holiday gifts, but it is the perfect place to check for creative gift wrapping solutions.

Here are a few of my favorite creative ways to wrap gifts for the holidays!

Wrap it In Wallpaper- I love to hunt for wallpaper when I do my Goodwill shopping because it is such a beautiful (and durable) way to wrap your gifts. Hunt for patterns that can double for your holiday wrapping and for all of those other special occasions. I can usually find huge rolls of wallpaper for a dollar or less and it lasts me forever. You can make each gift unique by switching the colors and styles of your bows and use this paper for years to come.

Use a Wallpaper Border– Wallpaper borders are also a wonderful way to wrap your gifts, particularly for the small jewelry boxes or for recovering small gift tins. The best part about using wallpaper borders for small packages is how easy it is to work with when wrapping small boxes and it costs just quarters at Goodwill!

    Upcycle a Vintage Tin– Old vintage tins can make the perfect packaging for your favorite holiday treats. Recover the tops with scrapbook paper or vintage wall paper. I also love to use cans of spray paint in bold colors for making tins monochromatic.

    Wrap it in Maps– Maps can be a really unique way to wrap those gifts. When visiting in different cities and areas, be sure to pick up some maps from the visitor’s bureau and save them for wrapping your presents. To make gifts more personal, save maps from your special trips or places that you would like to remember.
    Likewise, you can save maps from the recipient’s local area and wrap them in that. Maps can also be printed for free from places like Google Maps or MapQuest.

    Wrap them in Fabric-Look at Goodwill for great fabrics to use to wrap your gifts in over by the table linens and bed linens at the store. You can easily make a no-sew bag using hot glue and the fabric. Leave the top of the bag open and tie it up with a little bit of ribbon. This would be a great way to wrap items that tend to be more difficult to wrap because of their odd shapes.

    Make the Wrapping a Gift in Itself- Don’t forget that your gift itself can also be used to wrap your present. For example, a pretty scarf can be used to wrap a new pair of gloves or an apron can be used to wrap a new dishtowel set. Look at your gifts as wrapping elements and see how you can use them.

    Add a Small Embellishment– Add a special element to finish off your gift that you have found when doing your Goodwill shopping. For Christmas, I love to find mini-ornaments to use to decorate my gifts. For other occasions, you can tie something little that goes along with the theme of the party. Be creative and it can add another dimension to your gift.

    Gifts wrapped in newspaper

    Wrap it in Newspaper- Newspaper is a great way to wrap gifts and can also be tailored to the recipient. For example, I love to wrap children’s gifts in the comics section of the paper. This is a fun and frugal way to wrap their gifts and, let’s face it; kids do not care about the expensive gift wrap anyway. Likewise, you can use different sections of the paper to go along with that person’s particular interests. For my favorite finance guy, I love to wrap the gifts in the Business section and add a Monopoly Money gift tag. Similarly, a foodie might enjoy a gift wrapped in the Food section and a whisk tied to her gift. Go nuts with the themes- it makes your gifts completely unique and more interesting to open.If you have children, have them get in on the decorating fun. Let them decorate computer paper or large sheets of construction paper to wrap your gifts in.

      vintage greeting card gift tags

    Repurpose Old Greeting Cards- Save the greeting cards that you receive and make new gift tags out of them. I save cards that I receive that have interesting pictures on them for these kinds of occasions. You can hole punch them and loop them through with ribbon or mount them to card stock and add an extra layer with stamps around it.

    What are some of your favorite ways to creatively wrap gifts? Have you found anything at Goodwill that you wrap your gifts with? I would love to hear your suggestions!

    Photo credits- Please click on the photos to access the photographer’s Flickr pages.

    Finding Thankfulness in a Simple Holiday

    I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. What other holiday do we just eat and sit around being thankful for what we already have? While Christmas really should be about that, I find that Thanksgiving is the holiday where our family seems to focus best on all of the blessings in our life. There are no presents to distract us from our thankful hearts and the focus is all about being together as a family.

    We don’t have very many Thanksgiving traditions in our family other than a morning spent watching the Thanksgiving parade in our jammies and just being together. The beauty in Thanksgiving, for me, is finding simple ways to give thanks for all that we have in our lives.

    As Jacqueline Winspear has said though, “Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.” I want to live thankfully, to be aware of every blessing (great AND small), and the more aware I become the more thankful I am. The more thankful I am, the more blessed I feel. It is a richness that money can’t buy.
    Here are a few ways to embrace a life of thankfulness in the little things this holiday season:

    Say Thank You With Simple Gifts– Contrary to popular belief, even though I blog abut saving money, you won’t find this girl at the Black Friday sales trying to score the best deals. My favorite thing to do is to spend the day after Thanksgiving lounging around in my pajamas, sipping coffee, and starting my holiday crafting for those I love.

    Instead of making a plan of attack at the store this year, embrace a DIY mentality towards your gift-giving and start jotting down the crafts you want to try this year. I don’t know about you, but nothing means more to me than someone taking time out of their day to create something beautiful and unique just for me.
    Make a list of supplies you need for making those crafts happen and hit Goodwill first to see if you can find the craft supplies for less or find a vision for what to do with these thrift store items. If you need a little inspiration to get you started, be sure to read my entry on, “Breathing New Life In Thrift Store Items.”
    With those beautiful handmade gifts, jot down a note to say thanks and tell that person why they are so important in your life. In a day and age where we barely write anymore, just imagine what a little note included with a handmade gift could mean to someone you love?
    Start a Simple Christmas Stocking Tradition- Tired of trying to find a home for all of those useless items in your stocking? Why not start a new tradition that will remind you what the holiday season is all about?
    On the first day of December, I set out a basket with small slips of paper. Each person in the family is supposed to write something about someone else in the family that they appreciate about them and stick it in each other’s stockings. On Christmas morning, we have something fun to look forward to opening, which centers on family rather than gifts. If you have smaller children, have them draw pictures for each family member and jot down the sweet things they say about their family members. It is truly a highlight of my Christmas morning and brings us all closer together as we share our family breakfast.

    Give Simply to Others- Even though I have the best intentions to keep gift-giving simple, we always receive so many wonderful gifts from our family that we have to find a home for. Use this time leading up to the holidays to bless others with the abundance in your life.

    Talk with your children about the importance of giving back and have them help you weed through their books, toys, and electronics to make room for the gifts that they will be receiving and to reclaim some much needed space in your home.

    Want to visualize how much your Goodwill donation will mean for others with your children? Visit The Donate Movement page and you can use their calculator to discover what your impact will have on your community and the amount of hours your simple donation will provide to educate and train employees at Goodwill. Head on over to their page today and see what a difference a simple day of decluttering could do for someone in your community.

    Instead of Gifts Create Simple Family Moments– Last year we started a new tradition with the money we received from our grandparents. In year’s past, I would spend an entire day shopping and trying to find gifts that the kids might want even though they really didn’t need anything.
    Instead of buying gifts, we put the money toward an experience that we could do together. Last year we all dressed up very fancy and took our children to see, “The Nutcracker.” We finished the show by having hot cocoa at The South Bend Chocolate Cafe. It was a memory I hope they will never forget.
    Consider asking for gifts like money to put toward a pass to a local museum, zoo, or a special show that you would love to see at the theater. Not only will you have had a fun experience together bonding as a family, but you will also have a memory that will last far longer than another gift under the tree.
    What are some of your favorite simple holiday traditions? Feel free to share them here!

    Creating Fun Family Nights In


    If there is one thing that our family loves it is a good old-fashioned board game night, in fact, some of my most favorite childhood moments were spent around board games. I still remember the Sweet Valley Twins board game that I would play with my best friend and the endless rounds of Skip-Bo that I played with my sister when we were kids. Later, when we were first married, we had little to our name other than a futon for our bed, a card table for our kitchen table, and a stack of board games to keep us company. Those are still some of my fondest memories of those newlywed days.

    Now board games are the ultimate frugal family fun night in our house. I try to get our board games at Goodwill because it is a great way for me to try them out without making a huge investment. Sometimes I buy games and we discover that it isn’t something we would want to play over and over again, but I know I don’t have to worry about it. When the games cost us only $1.50, it makes it much easier to donate it back and try something else out.
    Here are a few of my favorite board games to look for when doing your Goodwill shopping.

    skin in the game

    Apples to Apples– If you have not played Apples to Apples before, you are really missing out on a treat. It is my new favorite game to tote around to all of our family functions and any opportunity where I can get a few friends together. Simply deal the cards out to each player and one person gets to be the judge. The judge will share a card and you select from your cards the best match to that card. Once everyone has given their card to the judge, the judge decides which card best fits the card they shared.
    The fun is in the variety of unexpected comparisons people make, sometimes apt, funny, creative, or simply absurd. For example: people might match “Awkward” with “Oil Spills,” “My First Kiss,” “Dandruff,” and “Gold Chains. ” Or: “Painful” with “High School Reunions” and “Regis Philben. ” Strategy comes into play since, because each player takes turns being the judge, you begin to pick up on the preferences of each player and tailor your choices accordingly.
    Honestly, if you find yourself hosting a dinner party where you are worried about conversation or a family gathering that you don’t have very much in common with, this is the game to break out to get through those awkward silences. Kid versions of this game are also available. (Age Recommendations- 12 and up)
    Skip-Bo– As I mentioned before, this was my favorite game growing up and my sister & I would play this for hours and hours. Created by the makers of UNO, this card game is a delight for anyone of all ages. The game is a sequencing game of skill and strategy intended for two players or more and ages seven and up. Players create sequential stacks with cards on the board, the first player to use all the cards in their stack wins. The deluxe edition has a board with placeholders for all of the stacks of cards and score sheets to keep tabs of the winners. I love this game because it is easy to still have conversations while playing, making it a great game to socialize with other couples.
    Trouble– Trouble is a great game for younger kids because it is a very simple concept and the playing time is perfect for shorter attention spans. Adults may remember this great game from their childhood. With this game, you just move your four pegs around the board and put them into the finish spots. If you land on an opponents peg while going around the board though, you can boot them back to the beginning and make their piece start all over again. Instead of rolling dice, you push the “Pop-o-matic,” in the center which throws the dice for you. My kids really love this game and you will too! (Age Recommendations- Ages 4-9)

    Giant Connect 4

    Connect Four– Connect Four is one of our favorite games and both the kids really enjoy it. The game is a vertical version of tic-tac-toe. Each player has a color and you drop the pieces in and try to get four in a row. The other player can block your moves with their pieces and this is a great game for strategy building to see if you can outsmart your opponent. This is another game that is short and sweet so it is perfect for children with short attention spans or for a quick game before bedtime.
    Rummikub– This is a game that my husband loved to play when he was growing up, and now he has me addicted to it too! The game is intended for ages eight and up and can be played with two or more players. With rules similar to gin rummy, Rummikub is a classic tile game that’s guaranteed to get at least a million kid-hours of use in any family. Players take 14 numbered tiles and try to get rid of them as fast as possible by creating runs (for example, 7-8-9) and sets (7-7-7). The link provided is for their deluxe edition (which we do not have). This deluxe edition is cleverly designed so that the four plastic tile racks fit together to form a carrying case for the game. Junior editions of this game are also available.

    Scrabble– What is not to love about this game? Intended for two players or more and recommended for ages eight to ninety-nine, you can play this game for years with your children. The game has been improved with a swivel board (less stretching required!), raised holders to rest the tiles into, and a bag to store all of the tiles. This is one of my personal favorites and we play this a lot in our house. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of the Scrabble Dictionary and store it with your game board. Take some time to study some words and really beat your opponents! Want to see what Scrabble obsession looks like? Rent the movie, “Word Wars.” It is all about the Scrabble championships that are held and people who attempt to make a living from this sport. Junior editions of this game are also available.
    Upwords– Along the same vein, this is another fabulous word puzzle game, but with a twist. You build words just like Scrabble, but you can build up and up (five letters high) to change words into new words. The more you stack, the more points you earn. I think it is more challenging than Scrabble, but the scoring is much easier to do. This game is for two players or more and recommended for ages eight and up. This game can be a powerful tool when your children are beginning to read because it can help teach them how to change words using different letters. Consider it a cheap version of “Hooked on Phonics” and a game that they can enjoy for years after they have learned to read!

    Yahtzee– A classic game of dice that has been around since 1956 and is still played in millions of homes today. You can play alone (which I don’t think would be as much fun) or with more players. The ultimate in this game is to actually get Yahtzee or five of a kind. This game is so much fun and also a great teaching tool for children. Children can learn basic addition and subtraction, as well as sequential ordering.

    Monopoly– I had never played this game until high school, and I can honestly say that my husband is always the winner, which is why we don’t play it as much! This game is a great teaching tool in money-management and in buying real estate. We have a couple of different versions of this game, but my favorite is the Dot Com Monopoly, which we purchased when Dot Coms were ruling the world. Few of the companies on the board exist anymore, which makes for interesting conversation and fond memories before the dot com bomb hit for computer nerds and geeks alike!
    We have many more games in our collection and the last time I hit Goodwill, I picked up another stack of new ones. Our collection keeps growing and we hope to have a game collection that our kids will enjoy someday with their friends. In a day of technological bliss, game nights now seem “retro.” Why play on a board when you can just grab your game system or play a computer game online? I hope that board games will last the test of time because they can be an essential part of family bonding and creating a family night to remember!
    What are your family’s favorite board games? Have you ever found any great ones at Goodwill that have become part of your family night? Please share here!

    Best day to head to Goodwill

     There are optimal days to head to your local Goodwill stores to get great deals.
    Many times, 50% sales are announced on the NEWS AND EVENT page of the Goodwill website. Another great place to check, is the Goodwill Facebook page.
    Here are some other thoughts on WHEN to head to a Thrift Shop
    • Sale days – ask for their regular sale schedule. A $4 pair of shoes is cheap, but when they’re $2 – even better!
    • Stocking days – ask if they exist
    • Late spring – after college gets out
    • After garage sales – if there is a big neighborhood garage sale that ends on Saturday at 4, head over to the Goodwill in that neighborhood the next morning! 
    • During the week – Monday – lots of donations from weekend cleaning and sales
    • Often! If you don’t find anything one week, try again in a few weeks. A stores’ inventory changes constantly, so you might strike gold one week, and come up with nothing the next. Make thrift store shopping part of your regular home management routine.

      More Thrift Shop Shopping tips

      I seem to have a lot of tips to share with you on Thrift Shop Shopping.  Since this is the topic that is on my mind, every time I head into my favorite Goodwill stores I think of something I want to share with you.
      On today’s shopping adventure – here are the notes I collected for you:
      NUTS and BOLTS
      1. Look for clothes new with tags.
      2. If you won’t wear it, don’t buy it.
      3. Wash clothes when you get them home.
      4. Take your time.
      5. Look for signs of wear and/or alterations
      6. What TO Buy is as important as what NOT to buy!


      How to Shop at a Thrift Store

      One question I get asked quite a bit is “how do your shop at a Thrift Store“?
      Well – I’ll tell you – it is a mix of science, research, art and…GOOD LUCK!
      Here are some basic tips that will help you as you head out to fill your closets with fab finds for Fall!
      1. Be patient The biggest tip I can offer is to be patient!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve frequented stores searching for an authentic vintage Louis Vuitton (anyone out there have one?  message me!).  But many times on those “scouting trips” I find something else amazing…like Gucci sandals, 7 (seven)-jeans, Anthropologie skirt.  All things I would not have in my closet (all for under $20, by the way!) if I hadn’t stopped in searching for that vintage LV.
      2. Be ready to dig Think of this kind of shopping like an archeological dig, or treasure hunt.  You really don’t know what you will find until you dig through a lot of other stuff.  This means your Thrift Shop shopping trips may take some time. Be prepared to invest that time. What you invest in time you will save 10-fold in your wallet!
      3. Be friendly Everyone who’s worked in a customer service position knows what a big difference one nice person can make in your day. Besides, being nice pays off; in return for your smile the person checking you out might tell you about a 50% off day or suggest a “preferred customer” shopping program!
      4. Avoid binging, shop with cash It can be tempting to stock up when you go to a thrift store – I’ve done it, and end up with all kinds of things that end up getting donated back to Goodwill.  If you are on a tight budget, it is wise to seek out sale days, and implement a ‘cash only’ policy.
      5. Go in With a Plan Know ahead of time what you need. The organization of each store can be a bit different, and might be overwhelming. So if you go knowing you’re looking for 12-24 month-old boy’s khakis, and size 8 black dress shoes, it can be a lot less stressful.
      6. Be Open-Minded That said, keep your eyes open for any surprising deals. It’s hit-or-miss with thrift stores, so sometimes you really hit the jackpot (remember my note above about the Gucci sandals, Anthropologie skirt and 7 (Seven) jeans?). You need to make sure what you find is actually something you need – otherwise, you’re just over buying. Think about unexpected gift ideas. You could find birthday gifts for all your nieces and nephews, or you might find throw pillows in just the right shade your friend is looking for.
      7. To Brands or not to brand It is true that there is a coorelation between quality and price – which means know your brands.
      8. Try Things On Always try things on. Just because it’s a beautiful silk Ann Taylor skirt doesn’t mean you should buy it. If it doesn’t fit well, then it’s a needless purchase and will only clutter your closet. And different brands size things differently, so you can’t assume anything by the number on the tag.  One last comment on this – many people alter clothes.  Just because the tag says it is a size 10 doesn’t necessarily mean it is a 10.
      9. Don’t Go With Kids Sure, you may have to bring them sometimes. But if you’re armed with a detailed list, it can be hard to get much accomplished at a thrift store when you have little ones to watch. Shopping at thrift stores means having to sift through lots of aisles of crammed-full racks. If you have to bring your kids, plan on just shopping one of the store’s sections, and then come back another day to shop the rest.
      10. Find Ways To Repurpose Think creatively when you head out to your local Goodwill store. I read about a woman who was looking for a Christmas tree skirt, but she happened upon a perfect vintage tablecloth with red and green flowers. It was thick, durable canvas with a beautiful red fringed border – and it will work better as a tree skirt than she had originally planned.

      Shopping Goodwill for Back-to-School

      It is hard to believe that summer is coming to a close, but our children will be heading back to school in no time flat. The month before school is always such a busy season of preparations as we stock up on our school supplies, pick our cool character backpacks, get our new school shoes, and select our school uniforms for the year.

      Goodwill might not be the first place you think of when you are doing your school shopping, but if you are a family on a budget, it can be a fantastic resource for families during this expensive season in our lives.

      Today I wanted to share with you just a few ideas for items to look for at your local store that you may not have thought of before.

      Stock Up on a Back-to-School Wardrobe: Goodwill carries loads of name brand items that can get your kid’s year started out in style and with your budget in mind. Name brand jeans, t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, coats, dresses, pants, and leggings can all be found at Goodwill for a lot less than you would pay at the mall.

      For stylish girls that need a little persuading to shop at Goodwill first, I recommend having them pull together a style file or poster board with their favorite looks from their favorite magazines for this year’s season. Encourage them to come up with a list of their top pieces that they would like to start the school year out with and challenge them to replicate the looks that they created in their style file with pieces from Goodwill. Issue a fun reward for them if they come under budget like a gift card to their favorite store or even an actual piece from the style file that can add that extra sparkle to their Goodwill wardrobe.

      For children that are required to wear uniforms, like my own, Goodwill often has uniform pieces for a fraction of the price than you would pay retail. I keep my kid’s clothing sizes on my phone so when I see a particularly great deal on an item at the store, that I know exactly what sizes to buy when I see them.

      Embrace Refashioned Style– Refashioned pieces and handmade accessories are the latest rage this year. You may not think of Goodwill as a fabric store, but I do! No matter what the size of the item, look at the pieces as material to create chic back-to-school accessories out of items that you purchase from the store.

      Consider using pieces from Goodwill to make items like a fabric flower pin that could accessorize your daughter’s hair or clothing, try using fabric to create rolled rosette rings for a cute accessory, whip up cute ruffled t-shirts from the clothing at your store, or add a leather label to your son’s backpack or hat with his initials burned in.

      Half of the fun for me is thinking outside the box with items that might be overlooked and creating new pieces that will make your children the envy of their classmates. The possibilities are endless at the store and every day is a brand new day with daily donations coming in.

      Get Those Back-to-School Papers Organized– The one thing I dread the most about school starting is the unbelievable amount of papers that come home and the homework paper trail that comes with it. Start thinking now about what types of systems you would like to use to control the paper chaos in your home and jot down the items you would like to find at your Goodwill store.

      Items like magazine organizers, binders, hooks, storage ottomans, and baskets can be found at the store and I love to really hunt on the sale days for these items. When doing the rest of your back-to-school shopping this year, be sure to visit the Housewares section of the store to see what you can find to house the paper chaos in your home.

      Stock Up for Teacher Gifts– I love to spoil our teachers, but I also love to do it on a budget. Goodwill is my favorite store to look for cute elements to add to our teacher gifts throughout the year. The store offers a plethora of gift baskets, mugs that can be painted and filled with treats for our favorite teachers, jars to package our favorite drink mixes, and adorable plastic containers that can be filled with bath salts for a fun gift to give.

      You may also be surprised to find that there are many fabulous items that are new and still in their package that could be stored away in your gift closet for the holidays or Teacher Appreciation Day.

      I hope this entry gives you just a few fun ideas to begin saving for the back-to-school season with Goodwill. Be sure to take advantage of their wonderful sales and find new ways to save at your store today!

      What items do you buy for the back-to-school season at your local Goodwill? We would love to hear what you love to hunt for this time of year! Please share!