Christmas Shopping, on a budget!

Budget101 Discussion List Archives Budget101 Discussion List Christmas Shopping, on a budget!

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      These are all great ideas, Heather. I love the dollar store this

      time of year. I would warn that some of the kids toys are not the

      best for young kids. The little hot wheels type cars come apart and

      should not be given to small children, where the real metal hot wheel

      ones tend to hold up alot better.

      I find so many cute items at the local dollar stores.

      I got small round laundry baskets there a few weeks ago, and while

      looking around, I saw a bunch of small plastic bins and baskets that

      would be great for making gift baskets that would actually be part of

      the gift.

      — In, Heather Herber



      > I wrote this up last year, but I know many people are looking for

      easy ways to cut costs in every day life- let alone at Christmas!

      Here’s some ideas on how to keep the costs low for Christmas this



      > Christmas Shopping on a small budget


      > Since getting married almost 9 years ago, we’ve had a low income.

      It’s risen over the years, but in the beginning, we survived as a

      family of 3, then 4, on less than $10,000 a year of income.


      > We did get help, of course, but for the most part, we struggled

      to do it all on our own. We got very creative with what we would do

      for Christmas presents, both for our kids, and for other people. For

      several years, we just skipped over the gifts for each other part.


      > So, here are some idea’s on how to get Christmas done, on a

      realistic and small budget.

      > First, shop sales. Don’t buy something full price. It’ll go on

      sale between now and Christmas at least once. If it’s something that

      is on the so-called “hot list”, and it will be sold out, weigh out

      how much of your budget it eats up, and just how badly it’s wanted.

      Keep in mind Want vs. Need.


      > Next, shop clearance racks for clothing, toys, house wears, and

      more. Every department in a store has a clearance section. So what if

      that shirt was from summer? As long as it’s short sleeved, and not no-

      sleeve or tank style, grab it. Kids wear t-shirts day in and day out.

      They can pair it over top of a long sleeved shirt for the popular

      layered look. And at $2.00, can you really beat the price for a brand

      new item?


      > It’s a bit late this year, but shop the clearance racks year

      round. After Christmas, you see HUGE amounts of clearance items in

      every single department in a department store. Buy a few things here

      and there, buy a Rubbermaid tub, and store it in a closet, or the

      garage, or attic, for next year. This is a great way to get gifts for

      extended family members. Candles & bubble bath will survive a year in

      storage, as long as it’s in an area that’s not too hot.


      > Alternatively, buying up cheap holiday dishes work great, too-

      short glasses can be used as candle holders, coffee mugs can be

      dressed up with a packet of tea, coffee, or cocoa, some candy, and a

      candy cane. Plates can be filled with cookies. Bowls can be filled

      potpourri. Getting a set of 16 dishes on clearance for $5 gives you a

      LOT of lee-way in gift giving the next year.


      > That brings me to my next topic- homemade gifts. Baked goods are

      always welcome, of course. Here’s some idea’s on how to do it easily,

      even if you are not Betty or Martha. Buy mixes and pre-made dough!!!

      Of course, pair the item with a sale price AND a coupon for the best



      > Buy mini-tin’s for making loaves of bread. Gingerbread, banana

      nut bread, apple cinnamon bread, etc, are all great breads at

      Christmas. 1 mix will make 2-3 mini-loaves of bread. Wrap it up, tin

      and all, in saran wrap, and add a homemade label from the computer

      saying what type of bread it is. You can even make them ahead, freeze

      them now, and thaw them the day before you want to give it out.


      > Buy a few of those refrigerated cookie dough’s. Make the cookies

      smaller than average to stretch the dough out further. For easy sugar

      cookies without the hassle of decorating or cutting into shapes, form

      a ball, roll it in colored sugar sprinkles, and press it flat onto

      the cookie sheet. I usually try to make up 3-4 different types of

      cookies. Fill a plate with an assortment of them, wrap in saran wrap,

      and add another label showing what types of cookies are on the plate.

      The person gets a handmade goodie, and a cute plate for next year.


      > Another EASY treat to make are chocolate covered pretzels. Buy a

      bag of the twisted pretzels, or the long pretzel rods, and a bag of

      chocolate chips. I also buy round sprinkles (called non-perils) in

      holiday colors. First, you want to line a cookie sheet or jelly roll

      pan with wax paper. Next, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or

      set a smaller pan in a larger pan of water. Stir it constantly to

      prevent scorched chocolate. If you are using the rods, hold one end,

      and stir the other end in the chocolate for a half-covered chocolate

      pretzel. Lay it on the wax paper. You can leave it half covered, or

      use a spoon to pour more chocolate over the rest. Sprinkle with

      sprinkles (non-perils) while it’s still wet, and move on to another



      > If you are using the little twists, get a large spearing fork

      (two pronged) and drop the pretzel into the pan, and use the fork to

      flip it, and drag it through to cover it completely. Then, pull it

      out, shake it a bit to get off the excess chocolate, then drop it on

      the wax paper, sprinkle on decorations.


      > Let them harden for an hour or so, then peal them from the wax

      paper. They make a great addition to the top of a plate of cookies.

      Add in a few chocolate kisses or peanut butter cups, and you have an

      excellent gift. Once the plate is wrapped with saran wrap, tie with

      ribbon, and add a candy cane.


      > Gifts to extended family don’t need to cost a lot of money. Don’t

      feel bad if you can’t afford to spend $20 on each cousin, aunt,

      uncle, and friend on your list. If there is a gift exchange, explain

      that you can’t afford to take part this year, and don’t feel bad

      about it!! Going into debt over a Christmas gift or two isn’t worth



      > Another idea for cheap gifts are ornaments. You can buy wooden

      unpainted ornaments cheaply at craft shops, as well as plaster ones.

      Add some cheap paints, and go to town. Add a spool of $.50 pretty red

      or green satin ribbon for the hangers, and you have a nice gift for



      > One other way is to take a package of glass bulb ($1.88 at Wal-

      Mart) ornaments in different colors, and use glue to write on them,

      or draw on them, then sprinkle with glitter. Or, use fabric paints in

      different colors, with or without glitter. Again, add pretty satin

      ribbon for a hanger.


      > Cheap kids gifts- not as easy, right? Wrong. Aside from shopping

      sales and clearance racks, you can still get away with cheap gifts

      for kids. Maybe the word Frugal would be better, as cheap has bad

      connotations with the word. 😉


      > So, for kids, you want to give a gift that they’ll like, but not

      spend a ton, right? Well, here’s how to provide a nice Christmas

      morning, without breaking the bank.


      > First, shop the dollar store. Dollar Tree is my absolute favorite

      dollar store. If you haven’t been to a dollar store in the past 10

      years, let me tell you, gone are the junk for a buck stores. You can

      find nice items at dollar stores now days, and still get out cheaply.


      > The toy aisle at Dollar Tree includes items like brand name

      coloring books (or, Brand Characters- Winnie the Pooh, Care Bears,

      Hot Wheels, Bratz, Crayola, and many more!), books based on great

      series (I’ve found Fear Street, Goosebumps, Lizzie McGuire, and

      more), good hardcover books for younger kids (Rugrats, Jimmy Nutron,

      and more!), puzzles by Rose Art, and so much more.


      > For a good gift to assorted nieces, nephews, cousins, and the

      kids your friends have, get to Dollar Tree, buy a puzzle (age

      appropriate), a coloring book, a box of crayons, and a book. For $4,

      you just gave a great gift. It might not be hi-tech, or have bells

      and whistles, but what child doesn’t like to color? Heck, I still

      like to color.


      > Dollar Tree also has cute baby dolls this year, as well as

      clothing. For $2, you can give a new baby doll and an extra outfit to

      a younger girl. These are great in the 2-5 year old range.

      > They also have many other toys that work great. I pick up lots of

      toys through out the 2 months coming up to Christmas and use them for

      stocking stuffers as well as actual gifts for my kids.


      > One thing that was great this year, is that I found some items at

      another dollar store which sells most items at $1, but some up to $5

      each. I found a hard cover Monet art book for $3 for my step-mom, who

      loves art, and I found Betty Crocker Bake N’ Fill Mini pans (the

      deluxe set) for $3 each. I bought LOTS. I got one for me, then I went

      back and bought 3 which I auctioned off on eBay- I sold 1 for $4, 1

      for $5, and 1 for $16, which easily paid for the 4 I had purchased,

      plus some. So, I went back, and I bought 3 more boxes. These ones I

      wrapped up for my mom, my mother in law, and my aunt in law. Over

      all, I spent $24 on all the items, but I made $25 selling 3 of those

      pan sets, so I got those gifts free.


      > Stuffed animals make great gifts for smaller kids, and at

      Christmas, you can find them in assorted sizes and prices. Wal-Mart

      has cute, cuddly small animals (reindeer, snowmen, Santa’s, and more)

      for under $3 each this year. Dollar Tree has larger stuffed teddies

      this year for $1. They top off a stocking great, or if the stocking

      is too full, simply use a ribbon to add a tag to the front, and

      squish it into the tree branches on your tree. Trust me, the kids

      LOVE seeing gifts that are not wrapped sitting under or in the tree.


      > One thing I bought last year were tins shaped like round

      ornaments, complete with a hanger on them. I filled each one with

      some candy, added a dollar bill, and a name tag, then hung them from

      the tree.


      > Because the kids are candy-a-holics, we don’t hang candy canes on

      the tree. But, Santa does. 😉 Stuff like that just makes their eyes

      light up, and it’s not expensive to do.


      > Kids can also make gifts for grandparents, aunt’s, uncle’s, etc.

      It doesn’t have to be anything fancy from a child. Just have them do

      something with crafts. One good idea is to take all those old CD’s

      you get in the mail, and take glue or puffy paint to make designs on

      them. Cover the printed side with felt or construction paper, but

      leave a hole in the center.


      > Once it’s decorated, and dry, use fish string to hang a loop

      through it, for hanging on the tree, or from the ceiling. Or, add a

      picture of the child to the front.


      > I hope some of these idea’s help out some of the families out

      there with similar situations as mine, or those looking to spend less

      this year!




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Budget101 Discussion List Archives Budget101 Discussion List Christmas Shopping, on a budget!