This year we took a three month break from all non-essential spending to meet a big savings goal, so I’m not as far along with my Christmas shopping as I usually am. But I still plan to keep my Christmas spending to $100 or less. That probably means I’ll be making more of my gifts this year, but we’ll see how things unfold.
Want to see what I’ve tucked away so far? Then, keep reading. Unless of course you’re on my gift list. In which case, it wouldn’t be cool to peek. Jo, this means you 🙂
My dad’s a fellow sinus sufferer, so my youngest daughter and I made him a batch of snowman-shaped shower steamers. I had a bunch of snowman jars in my gift closet (they came from a yard sale), so we tucked the steamers in one of those. My daughter used some paper scraps to make the label. It cost me $2 to make the melts, and another $.50 for the jar.
We’re also giving him a couple bars of my homemade honey soap. They cost me $1.34 a bar to make. So, $2.68.
I made my mom one of my solar garden globes. I spent $1 for the shepherd’s hook, $.50 for the light globe, and $1 for the solar light. So, $2.50 total.
We’re giving our toddler/pre-school-aged nieces and nephews whoopie cushion elves. They make the whoopie cushion noise when you sit on them. They were originally $13.99 each, but I picked them up on clearance for $1.39 each. I got all three for $4.17.
Our newborn nephew is too little to appreciate a whoopie cushion elf, so I made him a set of closet tags, using a printable that I found on Pinterest. I ran them through my laminator to make them sturdy.
I also printed out several sets of my kids’ clothing storage bin labels. He has two older siblings, so I figured they probably didn’t need any more baby clothes or toys. Hopefully this will be a useful gift.
We’re giving our teenage niece this M necklace. It came from an epic curb haul this summer. An artist couple threw out a bunch of art supplies, plus a bunch of their unsold craft show inventory.
We’re also giving her a jar of our homemade body butter. Cost to make: $1.79
We’re giving my in-laws a local history book that they wanted. We paid for it with yet another Amazon gift card earned through Dealspotr. (It got wrapped before I got a chance to photograph it).
And all of our nephews, our neighbor and our mailman will be receiving a box of homemade candies. We made toffee, caramels …
And gingerbread fudge. I just had to buy one can of evaporated milk and two cans of sweetened condensed milk. Normally I make both myself, but I decided to hit the easy button this time. Total spent: $3.57.
My husband made this dog flashcard notepad for one of our friends. The dog on the card looks just like her dog. It cost us $.90 to make.
And we’re also giving her this old JCPenney catalog. She and her husband recently built an outhouse, and I’ve been teasing that all she needed was a fat holiday catalog to finish it off. My husband spotted this one at an estate sale, and they told us we could have it for free.
We’re giving her husband this mini bean bag toss. They asked to borrow our cornhole set last summer, but we didn’t have any bean bags at the time. They have minimal storage space, so this pint-sized version is perfect. Goodwill wanted $5.99 for it, but we used a $10 off $20 coupon to get it for free.
And since my husband still needs bags for his cornhole sets, I decided to make him some for Christmas. One set will stay at the house, and the other set will be going to the cabin. I used scrap fabric to make the bags, so I only had to buy the corn. 16 pounds of corn cost me $1.92.
I also bought him a pack of socks (like I do every year). I redeemed $5 in Sears Free Cash and got them for $3.98 out of pocket.
Sears and Kmart gave me tons of Free Cash, so I also got him a magnetic bowl for storing hardware and a new pillow (which I forgot to photograph). Both were free.
I snagged these free Dunkin Donut coffee samples for my husband’s stocking. I was surprised by how big the samples were when they came.
I also snagged two bags of Hershey’s Cookie Crunch (free after coupons, a BOGO and ECBs) and a bag of Caramels ($1) for his stocking.
This is what both of my daughters will be getting in their stockings:
- (2) bottles of face mask (on sale at CVS for $2 each, and paid for with ECBs)
- a package of razors ( $.27 each after $3 coupons)
- an LED glow stick (one was free from Sears after surprise points. The other was $.49 at a thrift store)
- a Snickers and Reese’s Christmas tree (free after ECBs)
- (3) milk chocolate Santa’s (paid for with part of a $5 Walmart gift card that I won from Coca Cola)
Christmas Eve pajamas are a tradition in our house. This year I found a pair of plaid pajama bottoms for my oldest daughter ($.50 at a yard sale) and a pair of footed sock monkey pajamas for my youngest daughter ($1 at a thrift store).
This Kavu wallet is for my oldest daughter. I got it at a yard sale for $1.
And I ordered these water color pens for her on Amazon. I paid for them using a gift card that I earned on Dealspotr.
I also got her these cork planters at a church rummage sale for $1. She’s always looking for containers for her succulents and cacti. They still had their sticker from a local shop. Apparently they were $54!
I snagged this duvet and comforter at Goodwill for $9.99. Her duvet went missing a while back (weird things happen with teenagers in the house), so this will serve as a replacement.
I noticed her chalk was starting to run low (she’s a rock climber), so I ordered her a new bag on Amazon, and paid for it with a gift card earned on Dealspotr.
This dogwood artwork didn’t photograph well, but it’s a signed piece by a local artist, who takes real flowers and leaves, and preserves them in metal. I found it at Habitat for $.20. Crazy!
My husband and I made her this weekly planner. We’ve made the pages available as a free printable here.
She’s obsessed with cacti, so she’s going to love this crocheted Christmas cactus. I found it at a thrift store for $.99.
This “E” rubber stamp came out of a Michael’s $2 grab bag. So, it cost me around $.02. It has a different font on each side of the blocks.
And these clear hair elastics were supposed to be part of her Christmas gift last year, but I overlooked them. I bought them with Amazon credit.
This crayon carver is a joint gift for the kids. They may be 13 and 15, but I know they’ll still find it cool. We found it at Goodwill for $1.99, and paid for it with our $10 off $20 coupon, so it was free! And when we went to wrap it, we discovered it was still in the plastic.
My youngest daughter has been dying to make her own bath bombs, so I ordered her a bunch of molds. I paid for them with another Amazon gift card that I earned through Dealspotr.
She outgrew her bath robe, and has been asking for a new one; so I was excited when I spotted this one at Habitat for $1.
And I bought her a new-in-the-package cooling towel at Goodwill for $.99. She’s wanted one for a while. It’ll be nice to have at summer camp and up at the cabin.
She asked for scrunchies (can you believe they’re back in style again?), so I got her these. Two of the packs came from Dollar Tree, and the third came from Goodwill. It was half off, so $.25.
These Santa socks were a $.50 yard sale find. Both of my girls are crazy about socks, so I know my youngest is going to love these.
She’s been after me for a while to buy nail polish remover, but I don’t like all the chemicals that most contain. So, I finally ordered her a bottle of less chemically remover. I paid for it with yet another gift card that I earned through Dealspotr.
She asked for white nail polish. So, I ordered a bottle on Amazon. Zoya is pretty much the only brand I’ll buy them because it doesn’t have all the nasties. That was also paid for with a gift card earned through Dealspotr.
She’s wanted fairy lights for a while, so I was going to spend $5 on a set. But I ended up winning a $5 gift card from Coca Cola, so I didn’t have to. Ha! I got these for $3.88, so I even had money left over for stocking candy.
And she’s been after an ottoman for her room for years, but they’re always too big for her tiny room. I spotted this one while we were all out thrift storing ($8.99), and distracted her while my husband went to pay for it. She has no idea.
I ordered another pressed penny book for each of my daughters, using an Amazon gift card that I earned on Dealspotr. Instead of buying them a bunch of pricey souvenirs when we travel, we buy them pressed pennies. They’ve each filled a book, so now we’re on to the second.
And I snagged these gold paper straws for my youngest daughter’s stocking. She’s obsessed with paper straws. They were half off at Goodwill, so I got them for $.15.
My daughters brought gifts to school for their friends and teachers. They picked out stuff that I had gotten in Michael’s grab bags. The above picture shows the gifts that my youngest daughter put together. She gave 12 gifts, comprised of 27 items, so $.48 total.
These are the gifts that my oldest daughter put together. She gave seven gifts, comprised of a total of 22 items, making her total $.44. It was late when they finished, so I didn’t take pictures of the individual gifts; but they gave stuff like monogrammed notepads, mugs and rubber stamps, as well as Pez dispensers and other candy.
That brings my total spending to $53.54. Way under budget!
And here’s what our tree looked like on Christmas morning. It’s just as overwhelmed with presents as anyone else’s. We don’t miss out on a thing by giving ourselves such a tight Christmas budget. In fact, I think we gain a lot. When you’re working with a small budget, it forces you to be thoughtful and creative about how you spend your money. Instead of just running out to buy the things that my kids want, I brainstorm ways to get them for free or cheap.
People used to tell me that I wouldn’t be able to do this when my kids got older. But they’re teenagers now, and we don’t have any plans of raising our budget. My youngest daughter had a pretty specific wish list this year, and we were able to make it all happen within our budget.
For us, sharing the story of how we got each gift is part of the fun of opening presents Christmas morning. And year after year we’re showing our kids that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a nice Christmas.
Having documented our Christmas gift spending for several years, it’s interesting to see how my sources for affordable gifts vary from year to year. Last year, Michael’s grab bags figured in heavily. This year it seems to be all the gift cards that I earned through Dealspotr, plus the Free Cash that I earned from Sears and Kmart. Who knows what it’ll be next year.
Want to see what we got for $100 in previous years?