Karen Hellier

Freelance Writer, Coupon Lady, eBay Entrepreneur: Helping You Save Money and Work From Home

Monthly Archive: December 2017

Announcing the December Drawing on the Karen Hellier Blog

You can win one of these prizes in the December drawing on this blog!

You can win one of these prizes in the December drawing on this blog!

I am hoping that all of you who celebrate Christmas had a wonderful day on the 25th, filled with love and laughter and the joy of being with those you care about most in this world. The Christmas season is my very favorite time of year. And I try to keep Christmas and the spirit of giving in my heart all year long. To that end, let’s talk about the December drawing!

3 Prizes in This Month’s Blog Drawing

The photo above shows the three prizes in this month’s blog drawing. The first prize is a $25.00 Amazon gift card. Second prize is a $25.00 Starbuck’s gift card. And third prize is an Avon hand cream and candy cane lip balm! The contest will run from December 27th through December 31st at midnight. I will announce the winners during the first week of January.

How to Enter the Blog Drawing

To enter,  if you aren’t already a subscriber to my blog, you can enter your email in the top right-hand space and you will be entered into the drawing, and doing that will also allow you to be notified each time I post a new article about saving money or working from home. The space for your email won’t show up in your phone, only on your computer. You will earn one entry for subscribing. If you want to earn more entries…

If you would like more entries, please also click on any of the sharing buttons below the blog post to share the drawing with your friends. THEN, and this is important, you must also leave a comment below in the comment section telling me which social media site(s) you shared this post on (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) You will earn one entry for each site you share this blog post on.

If You Are Already a Subscriber

If you’re already a subscriber, scroll down to the bottom of this blog post and click on any or all of the sharing buttons to share this post with your friends. THEN, you must also leave me a comment in the comment section below and let me know which social media site(s) you shared this post on (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). You will get one entry for each site you share this blog post on. But remember, it’s not enough to just share this post. You must also leave a comment below to get entries into the drawing.


Enjoy the rest of your holiday week, and if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, check out the previous blog post about my December 26th Christmas clearance shopping trip. It was a wonderful day filled with bargains and savings galore! Make sure to leave a comment if you found any successful after Christmas bargains yourself!

And have a Happy New Year!

Save Money on Christmas Gifts: Start Shopping on December 26th

Shopping Christmas Clearance Sales on December 26th Can Lead to Great Savings!

Learning By Example

My mom was a professional shopper. Okay, well not really, but she seemed to be a professional shopper to me when I was growing up! Every Christmas morning, the tree was surrounded by piles of presents. mostly for my brother and I. And I was always amazed at the number of wonderful gifts my mom had managed to give us for Christmas, and yet money was tight.

As I grew older, she shared her secret with me: she shopped the sales all year long and put the gifts away for the next December 25th. And she started on December 26th each year.

I learned from the best and I do the same thing. So on the morning of December 26th each year, I get up early, put my Christmas red and green clothes on, and head out to the stores to go Christmas shopping!  Not only do I find fantastic sales of 50 to 60 % off Christmas gifts for the following year, but I also find great deals on:

  • Christmas wrapping paper
  • Christmas cards
  • Ribbon
  • Bows
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Christmas gift tags
  • Christmas decorations
  • Christmas books (for children and adults)
  • Paper goods such as napkins, paper plates and cups

Stockpile Year Round Supplies

I will let you in on a little secret: I stockpile many of the above items in various red, green and gold colors and use them year round. While Christmas scenes are plentiful on wrapping paper and paper goods, I gravitate toward solid colors that I can use at different times of the year other than Christmas. Birthday presents can be wrapped in red, green or gold paper all year round and with a white bow added, they don’t look anything like a Christmas package. Solid red or green paper plates and napkins can be used year round when company comes, and no one has to know you bought them for half off on the day after Christmas. You can buy these in bulk and put some away for next Christmas, and keep the rest for year-round use.

Save Money on Wedding and Baby Gifts

There are also wonderful Santa Claus figurines, elves, candles and a variety of other Christmas objects that make great gifts for next year. And if you know of anyone getting married in 2018, a box filled with beautiful ornaments and Christmas decorations makes a wonderful wedding shower gift. I received such a box at my own wedding shower and it has always been one of my favorite presents. Most newly wedded couples don’t have a lot of Christmas decorations to decorate their new home so a box of decorations and some special Christmas tree ornaments make a very thoughtful gift.

That is also true of anyone you know who may be pregnant and expecting a baby next year. You can fund a plethora of Christmas ornaments that says”Baby’sFirst Christmas” on sale after Christmas and if you purchase one, you have one gift already bought for next year.

Heading Out Early to Save Money

Well, I am on my way to the stores bright and early. I will share all of the goodies I saved money on when I return.   If you can’t make it to the stores on December 26th, there are usually plenty of sales still going on over the next week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so just keep your eye out for markdown sales over this whole week. Not only can you save money on sales at department stores but don’t forget grocery stores and pharmacies also have great markdown sales after Christmas.

Do you save money by shopping ahead each year on December 26th? Please share the deals you got in the past, or that you get this year in the comment section below.

Happy saving and Happy Holidays!

Part 2

Today is December 26th and I must say I had an absolutely wonderful time shopping at the Christmas clearance sales. Everything was 50 to 66% off. I spent 7 hours and went to the following stores:

  • Dollar General
  • Walmart
  • Kroger
  • Five Below
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Tuesday Morning
  • Kirkland’s 
  • Marshall’s

And I got some amazing deals, not only for next Christmas but for household and other holiday use as well. Here’s a list of what I got:

For Christmas:

  • 1 train set for my husband                                                          
  • 1 set of sprinkles for Christmas cookies
  • 1 flameless Christmas candle
  • 3 Christmas Mugs
  • 1 set of Scented angels for the tree
  • 2 Christmas oven mitts
  • 3 Christmas ornaments for friends
  • 2 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper
  • 1 gold Christmas bow for a wreath I have
  • 2 pre-lit 18 inch Christmas trees
  • 4 packs of mini Christmas ornaments
  • 4 packages of Christmas cello wrap
  • 1 package of pre-wrapped Christmas gifts
  • 2 packages of small gold ornaments
  • 2 packages of Christmas cookie cutter lights
  • 6 packages of Christmas napkins
  • 3 packages of Christmas paper plates
  • 9 Christmas plastic hostess plates
Items that were on Christmas clearance but can be used year round!

Items that were on Christmas clearance but can be used year round!

Year Round Items

  • 6 Bottles of Gingerbread Softsoap ( I don’t care what the scent is, I will use it year round)
  • 1 deer spoon rest
  • 2 Men’s gift sets I will use as birthday gifts
  • 1 extension cord
  • 5 rolls of wrapping paper in red, blue and silver
  • 1 ten pack package of boxes
  • 2 packs of bows
  • 1 small skillet with cookie mix
  • 1 mug with tea set
  • 1 mixing bowl with deer
  • 6 packages of tissue paper ( I will use this to ship my eBay packages)

Even people who don’t celebrate Christmas can take advantage of the after-Christmas clearance sales as you can see from the list above.

Today was so much fun. I wish I could do this once a week because I love saving money so much! But December 26th only comes once a year. I will be checking out the clearance sales in other stores as I go out and about this week. Did you get any good after Christmas deals this year?





10 Inexpensive Birthday/Christmas Gifts Your Mother Will Love

Gifts for Mom don't have to be expensive

It’s almost Christmas, and maybe you have all of your Christmas shopping left to do. Or maybe you have most of your gifts done, but still haven’t found one for that very special woman on your list: your mother?!

Well, today is your lucky day because I have created this list of great gifts any mother would love. And the best part is that these gifts are gifts from the heart and won’t cost you much money. This is a money saving blog after all!

Because some of these gifts are a gift of service, you won’t actually be buying anything to wrap. But if you want some ideas to add to these gifts that your mom can unwrap, I have a list at the bottom of this post.

Here’s your list of gifts your mother will love, not in any particular order:

1)Give Your Mother a Day Off:                                                                                                                                             If your mother has a job, you can’t actually go into her workplace and do her work for her. BUT, you can take over her home responsibilities for a day on her day off. Does she have younger children at home or grandchildren that she takes care of? That day you will be the one taking care of the little ones. Does she have errands she only has time to do on Saturdays like grocery shopping, going to the post office or volunteering to clean the church? On her day off, you get to do her errands for her. And that will give her a day to do something fun like maybe go to lunch with a friend.

2) Give Your Mother a Maid for a Day:                                                                                                                          This one comes at no cost to you because YOU are the maid. Tell your mother you are going to clean her house for the day. She will need to make a list of all the chores she would normally do on her cleaning day. And then you show up with cleaning supplies in hand and clean her house. This works best if she isn’t home, otherwise she may feel bad and want to start cleaning with you, but that ruins the gift.

3)Make your Mother Her Favorite Meal:                                                                                                                           Is your mom the person who does most of the cooking in her house? Whether you live at home or not, you can make her favorite meal either at your house or hers. If there are a lot of family members, you need to feed the whole crew, so your mom doesn’t have to cook that day. If she and your dad are empty nesters, you can make the meal for the two of them. And if she lives alone, you can suggest she invite a friend over to eat dinner with her, and you cook, serve and clean up. Make sure you create enough food so there will be leftovers for her to eat another day. That’s a bonus gift for your mother that will bring back sweet memories of something you did for her.


Even if you're not that great a cook, something simple like spaghetti and meatballs, a salad and bread will make a great meal for mom!

Even if you’re not that great a cook, something simple like spaghetti and meatballs, a salad and bread will make a great meal for mom!

 4) Create Something for Your Mom:                                                                                                                                 Are you a crafter? Do you make jewelry or sew, knit or quilt? Your mom would probably love to have something you made with your own two hands. In high school, my daughter knitted me a scarf to match the ski jacket I had. Six years later it is still one of my favorite gifts. Each time I wear it, it makes me feel loved because she made it for me.

5) Take Your Mother on a Day Trip:                                                                                                                                       Is there a place within two hours of where your mother lives that she has wanted to go to? Shopping at an outlet mall? A special exhibit at the local museum? A walk on the beach to look for special shells or sea glass? If so, you can make her dreams come true by whisking her away for a day trip. If the venue has an admission price, check out Groupon for discounts before you go.

6) Treat Your Mother to a Makeover:                                                                                                                                Does your mother live near a department store with a makeup counter? Take her there and ask for a makeover, but be prepared to purchase at least one of the products used because the salespeople at cosmetic counters work on commission and that would only be fair to purchase at least one item from them in exchange for the time they took with your mother. If you know someone who sells Mary Kay products, they may be willing to come over and give her a makeover. Again though you should plan to purchase at least one of the products used. Or maybe you are great at applying makeup and could give your mom a makeover yourself.

7) Give Your Mother a Massage:                                                                                                                                    Unless you are a trained massage therapist, it’s probably not a good idea to actually give your mother a massage yourself. But if she enjoys a massage check Groupon for discounted massage coupons. Or check for salons that offer back and shoulder massages for $1.00 per minute. Malls also have these services which are sometimes called, ‘Chair Massages” and the customer sits face down in a slanted chair and gets their backs, shoulders and sometimes their hands and arms included in the massage. This type of massage is often the choice of people who don’t like full body massages anyway. And you can get a nice massage for your mother for $10 to $15. If she is getting a massage at a mall, take her for a nice cup of tea when she’s done, and that experience will make a nice gift.

8) Create a Scrapbook for Your Mother:                                                                                                                       Most moms are sentimental and love remembering things that they shared with their children. Do you have access to pictures of when you/your siblings were growing up? Or pictures of she and your father? Or pictures of a special event that happened? Creating a scrapbook is fairly easy, and places like Michael’s, AC Moore and Joann’s have coupons in the weekly Sunday papers that you can use to purchase scrapbook supplies. And a book of memories is a perfect gift for mothers. Hobby Lobby has a weekly coupon you can download on your phone for 40% off any one item that’s not on sale. If you don’t have the time or money to create a whole scrapbook, do one page that is 8 inches by 10 inches, add some pictures and a few sentimental thoughts and put it in a wooden frame. She will love it, and appreciate the time you put into creating it.

A sentimental scrapbook is a perfect gift for mom!

A sentimental scrapbook is a perfect gift for mom!


9) Take Your Mother to a Concert:                                                                                                                                   Often there are free concerts for the public offered within a community. Check local publications for free concerts. Do you live near a college? College music departments often offer free concerts. Are there any churches near where your mother lives that offer free concerts? If you have the money to spend at a local venue, check out Groupon for discounted ticket prices.

10) Give your Mother a Coupon Book Filled with Things you Know She Would Love:                                                This could include one free walk for the dog, one free computer lesson, one night of doing the dishes, etc. If you are feeling really ambitious, you can make up a coupon book for a combination of the above other nine ideas! This gift for mom is also fun because it includes a series of events, not just a one-time thing.

In my family, it was always fun to have something to unwrap at Christmas, even if it was a gift card. We used boxes, so the recipient actually had a gift box to unwrap. If you want to do that for your mother’s gift, you can create a certificate on the computer stating what her gift is, and fold it to fit in a small gift bag or box. Dollar Tree has a package of 3 boxes for $1.00, so a folded piece of paper would fit nicely in one.


Dollar Tree stores sell packages of 3 small boxes for $1.00!

Dollar Tree stores sell packages of 3 small boxes for $1.00!

Or, you could also add something inexpensive to go with the certificate which would be larger to wrap like:

  • A key ring with a musical note on it would pair nicely with a gift of a concert.
  • A can of lemon-scented Pledge would be a cute gag gift to go with a day of housecleaning for her.
  • A small jar of shells with a ribbon around it to go with a certificate for a day at the beach together.
  • A small candle with a box of her favorite tea will pair nicely in a box with the gift of a massage.

Okay, I think you get the idea. Gifts like these that come from the heart not only are more creative than just a gift certificate or a pair of slippers, but they will provide a memorable experience that will stay with your mother for a long time and provide her with a gift she will love!



Announcing the Winners of the November, 2017 Drawing

Prizes for the November,2017 blog drawing.

Hello Everyone!

I am sure many of you are getting ready for Christmas…tis the season. I just wanted to make the announcement of the winners for the November drawing.

The November winners are:

1st Prize Restaurant Gift Card: Karen Rhyne

2nd Prize CVS Gift Card: Kara Woods

3rd Prize Avon Surprise Box: Sue Schleif

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to the rest of you who participated. The next drawing will be coming soon.

I just want to mention that two out of the three winners had multiple entries because they shared on more than one social media site. So don’t forget, the more you share, the more chances you have to win a prize!

People have been asking me why I give things away each month. Well, why not? I love getting free stuff and I am pretty sure all of you do as well. So it’s just an extra gift for all of my subscribers: the chance to win something free every month. If you aren’t yet a subscriber, subscribe to the blog today so you won’t miss the next drawing.

Have a wonderful day and good luck to all of you in the December drawing!