Each year, I challenge myself to buy all of my Christmas gifts for $100 or less. This is something that I’ve been doing for most of my married life, and I’ve been married for almost 17 years. When we hit the holiday season, I make my kids promise they’ll stay off the website until after Christmas, so I can show you what I’m able to get on such a tight budget.
If this is your first time tuning in for one of my Christmas Under $100 challenges, that $100 budget has to stretch to cover gifts for my husband and two teenage daughters, our extended family, all of our friends (and our kids’ friends), our awesome mailman and my kids’ teachers.
This year, I’ve also decided to include advent calendar gifts. My mom used to fill an advent calendar for the kids, but as the number of grandkids in the family grew, the tradition sort of fell away. So, this year, I’m bringing the tradition back. It’ll be a fun surprise for my kids, since they don’t know I’m doing it.
Since I need to have their advent calendar ready to go by December 1, I’ll start by showing you what I’ve gotten to fill it. Then, I’ll update this post throughout the season, so you can see what I’m giving everyone this year.
I ended up spending $1.07 on the kids’ advent calendar this year. They’ll be alternating every other day, so I picked out 12 things for each of them.
This is our advent calendar, by the way. It’s made from an over-the-door shoe organizer, so it has nice big pockets for gifts. If you want to make one just like it, you can print the number cards here.
Alright, now let me show you what I got …
I decided it would be fun to get my daughters each a new pair of Christmas socks for each week in December. Sears has cute, inexpensive Christmas socks this year, so I used some of the Shop Your Way Rewards that I earn from playing the instant win games to pay for the socks. It took me a few weeks to earn enough points, but I managed to get all eight pairs for $.07 out of pocket. They would have been completely free, but I got a notification that the reindeer socks (my favorites) were in low stock, so I went ahead and ordered them before I had enough to cover the full cost.
I’ve always played the Shop Your Way instant win games on my laptop, so I never saw any reason to download their Win It app, but I finally downloaded it last week, and now I really wish I’d done it sooner. It has special bonus games that you don’t get on the desktop version, and you can set notifications, so you don’t miss the bonus games or the Wild Wins. It’s not unusual to win $4 or $6 at a time when you play the bonus games, so now I’m wracking points up much faster.
Unfortunately, our local Sears will be closing in February, so this will likely be the last year that I can include Shop Your Way in my Christmas-Under-$100 strategy, but I plan to make the most of the program while it’s still around.
Free samples are another prong of my stuff-the-advent-calendar plan. I’ve been requesting things that I thought the girls would enjoy all year. So, this peach tea bag and clay mask will fill two of the pockets. I also got another free face mask that I forgot to photograph.
Here’s the rest of the stuff that I got to fill their pockets. The Carmex lip balm is a full-size sample that I requested. The Welch’s fruit snacks were paid for with Walgreen’s Register Rewards. The face masks and Hershey’s Kisses came from CVS, and were paid for with ExtraCare Bucks. The Kisses will be divided between four pockets. And the little canvas boards came from Dollar Tree. They came in a two pack, so they were just $.50 each.
Now that I have their advent calendar taken care of, let me show you some of the Christmas presents that I’ve gotten.
These are all gifts for my oldest daughter, who’s 16. The cabin socks were paid for with Shop Your Way Rewards. The face masks are a repeat from last year, since they were such a hit. I paid for them with ExtraCare Bucks. I got the colored pens for free, thanks to an eBay promotion. They had a promo code earlier this year that got you $5 off any purchase, so I used it to get these pens, plus a stocking stuffer that I’ll show you in a minute. The little stretched canvas came from Dollar Tree, and it’s the only thing I paid for in this batch. So, that brings my total up to $2.07 so far.
I also bought her this Columbia fleece at a church rummage sale for $1 …
… and this Great Smoky Mountains National Park sticker for $.10 at the same rummage sale. This is actually something that’s been on her wish list. Both of my daughters collect stickers from the National Parks they’ve visited. They use them to decorate their water bottles.
She asked for some fine-point colored pens for sketching, so I bought her this nice set of Staedtler pens (free after a 20% promo code and Office Depot Rewards.
This little photo album is something I bought for myself several years ago, and never used, so I decided to pass it on to her. I know she’ll find a good use for it.
And here are the stocking stuffers that I’ve rounded up for her so far.
The chocolate coal is a tradition at this point. I try to put it in their stocking every year. This time it was paid for with Walgreens rewards. The Airheads were a Kroger Friday Freebie, and the “E” lucite keychain was a $.25 find at a church rummage sale. The Sharpie marker was paid for with Office Depot Rewards. I had a bit left over after I bought her pen set, so I used it to get a Sharpie for each of their stockings. And the pink bracelet at the bottom is a hairband bracelet. I bought them each one (free with the eBay promo code), so I wouldn’t have to get after them for wearing tight hairbands on their wrists anymore.
I’ll be sticking one of those Boylan Shirley Temples in each of my daughter’s stockings. I found them on clearance at Kroger for $.59 each. They first discovered Shirley Temples at my sister’s wedding several years back, and they’ve loved them ever since.
I found the glitter hairspray in the Halloween clearance at CVS. It was 90% off, and I used rewards to pay for it. I figure they can use it next Halloween, or maybe for a school dance, if they do a fancy updo. One of these bottles will go in each of their stockings.
I still have a few things that I’m waiting for in the mail, and I’ll likely make a few more thrift store purchases between now and Christmas, but that’s everything I’ve gotten for my oldest daughter so far. Combine her gifts and stocking stuffers with their advent calendar gifts, and that brings my total to $4.01.
Now, let me show you what I’ve gotten my youngest daughter …
These gifts are very similar to some of the gifts that I got for my oldest daughter, and they all came from the same sources. But just to recap: the cabin socks came from Sears, and were paid for with Shop Your Way Rewards. The face masks came from CVS, and were paid for with ExtraCare Bucks. The little canvas came from Dollar Tree, and the colored pens came from the eBay promotion. My husband and I each have an account, so we were both able to use the promo code.
I also found her a brand new pair of Nike Dri-Fit leggings at a church rummage sale for $1 …
and a brand new pair of Nike socks at that same sale for $.10. Major scores!
I have a Burt’s Bees gift set that I bought after Christmas last year for $4.48. I haven’t decided if I’m going to give it to her, or divide it between the two girls (there are four items in the set). I try to keep things even, so it’ll just depend on what other deals I stumble upon between now and Christmas.
And here are the stocking stuffers that I’ve found for her so far. The Sour Patch Watermelons were a Kroger Friday Freebies. The chocolate coal and Russell Stover chocolate were free after Walgreens Register Rewards. The “L” keychain was $.25 at a church rummage sale. The Sharpie was free after Office Depot Rewards, and the hairband bracelet was free from that eBay promotion. And just to remind you, she’ll also be getting one of those Shirley Temple bottles and glitter hairsprays in her stocking.
She currently has one more stocking stuffer than her sister. I’ll make sure they’re even before Christmas.
When I add her gifts and stocking stuffers to my total, that brings me to $10.84.
Now, let me show you what I’ve gotten for my husband so far.
I used Shop Your Way Rewards to get this fleece sheets set from Kmart. These are going to be great this winter.
I also used Shop Your Way Rewards to buy him a new pair of jeans …
and a pack of socks. I have a few more ideas that I’m working on for him, but in the meantime let me show you the stocking stuffers that I’ve gotten for up to this point.
This shaving kit was a free sample that I requested. Isn’t it a nice freebie?
And this coffee sample was a freebie, too. It’s also a generous size.
I got these photo bookmarks for free from Walgreens (with a promo code). It’s a picture of a horse and cart from a local mill that was owned by Huffstetlers. I plan to stick one in everyone’s stockings, but first I want to add tassels to them.
We’ll be swapping presents with my family soon, so I’ll have those gifts to share with you in a few days, and I’ll continue to update this post throughout the season as I finalize other gifts. With $89.16 left in my budget, I’m feeling really good about the way this year is shaping.
Want to See How I Pulled This Off in Previous Years?
Check out …
And if those aren’t crazy enough for you, check out the year I did Christmas for free.