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DEAR HELOISE: Because of social distancing rules, birthday parties for my young kids have been put on hold. However, we found a fun way to acknowledge each child's birthday.

I ask everyone I know to send a birthday card in the mail, the old-fashioned way. It's a fun learning experience for my children to practice reading all the cards, discuss the postage stamps and how the letter gets delivered. Most everybody is thrilled to participate, and we get dozens of cards.

-- Mary T. in Colorado

DEAR READER: Such a wonderful, teachable idea. So much fun to open each envelope, and those postage stamps -- some are works of art.

DEAR HELOISE: I have been saving padded envelopes I get in the mail to reuse. When I was packing to move, I used them for my dishes -- a lot of padding with little effort.

-- Marnie R. in Louisiana

DEAR HELOISE: When wrapping a gift, I use twine, along with flowers and succulents from my garden. I place the gift in a recycled gift bag or box and simply use the twine in lieu of ribbon. I then tie in the flowers and/or succulents.

I've also used brown paper lunch bags, folding over the top, adding holes with a hole puncher, then threading the twine or ribbon through the holes.

-- Lisa W.,

Huntington Beach, Calif.

DEAR READER: How creative and unique. It would be such fun to receive one of your gifts.

DEAR HELOISE: My deodorant can leave stains in the underarm area of my shirts. Is there a safe way to remove the stains, or at least lessen them?

-- Carrie

in New Hampshire

DEAR READER: There sure is, and it's one of my favorite go-tos -- vinegar. To remove most fresh deodorant and antiperspirant stains, rub the stain with undiluted white vinegar, then launder as usual, using the hottest water safe for the fabric. Vinegar is a workhorse in the home. Safe, cheap and readily available, I've reached for it time and time again. Stock up on gallon-size jugs of vinegar, and grab some baking soda, too.

DEAR HELOISE: I cut the cuffs off of old shirts that can't be donated. The cuff is good to bundle towels, neckties and belts. I lay the grouping over the cuff and button it up.

-- Mary via email

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

[email protected]

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