- November 26, 2007 at 7:50 pm #254671
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
— In Budget101_@yahoogroups.com, 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
> 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
> 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
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