Stretching Your Holiday Shopping Budget with Ultimate Rewards

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Chase Ultimate Rewards for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
If you know me, you know I am all about saving money. I especially love sharing with you ideas that you may not be aware of and are potentially missing out on!

Most if not all credit cards have some sort of rewards program, but they do not offer a lot of flexibility either on earning points or how to redeem them!

Not so with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program! This personalized rewards program to meet your own needs!

Let's face it, besides the interest rate differences on the cards in your wallet, when making purchases you are more likely to choose a card who's reward program is most to your liking/style.

Ultimate Rewards is available to Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire, and Ink from Chase cardholders. When you use any of these cards, you earn points on every purchase, from gas to groceries to utility bills and everything in between. The points you accumulate can then be redeemed for the rewards of your choice.

Let me share a few of my favorite features!


Points can be earned for travel, gift cards, cash back, merchandise and more! A few years ago I would have chosen mostly the cash back option, but now that I am a new grandma, I would use the points for travel since my dear grandbaby lives 2000 miles away! If you prefer cash back, this starts at $20 for 2,000 points and the best part is, you get the cash via direct deposit.

Increased Incentives.

You know I am all about making the MOST you can from your reward programs, and Chase is there to help you do that. During the holidays they offer extra incentives when you use your Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire, or Ink from Chase credit cards for your purchases.

Stretching your Wallet

Using the points you’ve earned all year during the holidays is a savings strategy you should really take seriously!

Ok let me share with you the amount of family that is on my shopping list: and yes, this is about to get complicated! My husband, 3 children, 1 daughter in law, 1 grand child, 2 father figures, 4 (yes 4) mothers/mother figures, 11 siblings + their spouses, 8 in-laws, and I lost count after about 35 nieces and nephews. Ummm…. This girl needs to stretch her wallet as FAR as it will go!

Chase lets me redeem points for lots of things, but my favorites for gift giving is for merchandise and gift cards! Or for helping my kiddos fly home for the holidays! Best part is there are no mark-ups so you pay the same prices you'd pay in store. So a $50 product or gift card costs 5,000 points.


The Ultimate Rewards website is designed for all of us! It's easy to check your points, or search for ways to redeem them, the site allows you to set up your dashboard to be personalized to meet your own preferences. I particularly like that you can "like" certain reward offerings, and in turn the site will keep track of your favorites and make sure to tailor their offerings to what you like best!

Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Program truly is a great way to stretch your budget and your wallet!

What are your tips for stretching your dollar this holiday season?

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Gift Ideas You Still Have Time to Make!

Here are a few ideas for gifts from the 2014 archives over here at Tip Garden. They all are would make really nice gifts for family, friends, and neighbors!

I have chosen a few of my favorite posts in each of 3 categories: Food Gifts, Crafty Gifts, and Free/From the Heart gifts. I hope you'll love them as much as I do!
Happy Gifting!

Food Gifts:

A gift of homemade granola is high on my college kids list. I make large batches for them, as well as for family. It is ALWAYS requested! I keep my ingredients very simple when giving as gifts.

Brownie Mix:  
You can make a large batch of this master mix and divide it up into several gifts. Package in a mason jar and send along the recipe for them to whip up their own batch. (You can even put some choc. chips into the mix too!)


Pom Pom Pens: 
Whether you make these, or your daughter makes these with your help as gifts for friends, I can guarentee they'll be well loved!

Stencil Dot Crafts: 
Originally as a t-shirt craft, I can see this on flour sack towels as a gift from your kiddo's to a favorite grandmother or Aunt. Make a set for all the holidays!

Gift in a Can: 
When its really "the thought that counts" and you just want to tuck some small items like nail polish, a gift card, etc. into a creative gift container, making them Pop the top on a sealed can will turn a simple gift into a very memorable one!

Free and From the Heart: 

Hand Written Recipes:
There is something being lost in todays digital world when it comes to recipes. Giving the gift of your favorite recipes written in your own handwriting for grand children or children will be a gift that is cherished for many years to come.

  The Worlds Best Free Gift for Family:     Where I'm From....

This easy to use writing template will help you write a gift poem that will reduce your loved one to tears... guarenteed!  Think you can't write?  The template in this post will talk you through it and help you write a treasured momento that will cost you nothing but time, but be the best time you ever spent on a gift, I promise! Come give it a try! You won't be sorry!


Christmas in a Can

Christmas in a Can is a fun and easy way to bring holiday cheer to teachers, neighbors, coworkers, or any time you need a small gift for family or even one of those party gift exchange games.

Grab a paint can and lets get started making these cuties!

You can fill your paint cans with any number of things, I'll share with you what I put in mine, but feel free to be creative! I mean, you could throw in a dvd of a classic Holiday Movie, etc. so get your creative juices flowing!

These would also be fun to make at a women's craft day for your church or civic organization.

For the Wassail Mix I used my Non Caffenated Orange Spice "Tea" but you could put in packets of those hot apple cider I've seen in the stores (Alpine Brand).

For the Hot Cocoa Mix I made a big homemade batch but you could tuck in several packets from a store bought box too. ( I just realized the hot cocoa recipe is publishing soon also, I'll try to come back and link it up here for you!)

For ornaments you could make those applesauce/cinnamon ornaments, or any homemade ornament, or the dollar store or even Oriental Trading (if you are making them in large quantities). I made these cute santa ornaments from pop/soda can tabs and  red paper shreds:

Christmas in a Can

Supplies:1 paint can
1 pkg. wassail mix
1 ornament
1pkg cookie mix
1 cookie cutter
1 pkg. hot cocoa mix
1 christmas story printed out
several candy canes


Tuck all the supplies in the paint can.
Cover paint can in Christmas paper
Add Label
Cover paint can lid with paper as well if desired.
Tie bow/ribbons to one side of the handle.

I'm not much of an artist, but here is the label and lid  I created on PicMonkey. You are welcome to use it for personal use only.

 I printed the label as a 5x7 inch label and I really don't know on the lid. I just sort of guessed on the size, and my first try at sizing the photo was close enough.


Gram's Hot Chocolate Mix

I have been working for years to perfect my homemade hot chocolate mix. My kids always loved my recipe growing up, but I have been searching recipes and tweaking it and think I finally have it down pat.

I named it Gram's Hot Chocolate Mix because I am a new Grandma! it will be a few years before she is ready for hot cocoa, but when she is I will make sure it is this recipe.

I make a big batch and send to the kids away at college every year for the fall/winter along with my Non caffeinated Russian Tea mix.

This recipe is mixed with water, which makes it convenient, and believe me, it has plenty of milky creaminess right in the mix!

I love to give a little mason jar of this mix as gifts. Tuck in some mini marshmallows, and a cute mug in a basket and you have a great gift for anyone! Just remember to add a small tag with the mixing directions (at the bottom of this post).
Here is the final version of this fantastic hot chocolate.

Printable Copy
Gram's Hot Chocolate Mix:
(makes a lot! oh, 15 cups + guesstamated)


1 (25 oz) box of powdered milk
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups powdered coffee creamer
1 (16 oz) Powdered chocolate milk mix
1/4 Cup of cocoa powder (More if you like a darker chocolate)
1 large box of instant chocolate pudding mix.


1 Mix all ingredients in a very large mixing bowl.
2. Store in airtight containers


Use 1/3 cup hot chocolate Mix and combine with 2/3 cup hot water. Stir till blended.


Edible Cookie Dough

Edible Cookie Dough, is my favorite "go to" surprise for my high school and college kids during final exam time. I have been known to show up on the door steps of some of my church youth group kids and hand them little jars of edible cookie dough and a spoon to help them power through their study sessions.

(and for my own college aged children who may read this and protest that I don't make it for them, there is a very good reason! You chose to go to school nearly 2000 miles away from home! Cookie dough surprises are "off the table"! But I love and adore you all!)

I usually stick with the classics of chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter cookie dough with mini reeses cups mixed in, but my oldest son loves white chocolate macadamia nut with cranberry cookie dough so I will include that one for you as well.

I love to keep a container of this rolled up into small balls in the fridge for mixing into ice cream too!

The key to making edible cookie dough is to simply leave out the eggs, baking soda and baking powder. So you can make any of your cookie recipes in to edible dough, but I'll share a few to get you started.  Reminder (and you would not believe how many people will still ask this question) these dough recipes are not meant for baking into cookies, but for eating the dough.

Printable Copy 

Edible Peanut Butter Cookie Dough:
Makes about 2 cups.


3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter room, softened
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons milk (more if you wish a more wet dough)
1 teaspoon vanilla
optional : 1 - 1 1/2 cups mini reese's cup candy

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
Nibble on a little "to ensure quality"!
Store in airtight containers in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough


1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or mini sized "baking" M  and M's)

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl
Nibble to ensure "quality"
Store in airtight containers in refrigerator up to 2 weeks

Edible White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Nut Cookie Dough

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2  cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup white chocolate chips/chunks
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
Nibble to ensure "quality".
Store in airtight containers in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

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