Christmas Under $100: 2020
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Every year I challenge myself to keep my Christmas spending to $100 or less. That’s $100 to buy gifts for every person on our family’s Christmas list. Normally, I meet this goal by shopping second-hand, taking advantage of freebies and making some of my gifts. But this year, yard sales and thrift stores aren’t an option, so I’ve decided to take a different approach.
This year I’ll be making most of my gifts, using supplies I already have on hand.
Over time, I’ve built an extensive craft stash, consisting mostly of things that have either been given to me, or that I’ve picked up cheap from yard sales and thrift stores. So, this will be a good opportunity to put some of those supplies to use, while making thoughtful gifts, and sticking to my budget.
Here’s how I’ve decided to calculate the cost of this year’s Christmas gifts:
- If I use a supply that won’t need to replaced, I won’t count the cost. Making something out of fabric scraps would be an example of this.
- If I use a supply that I’ll eventually have to replenish, I’ll count the cost. Using some of my elastic to make scrunchies would be an example of this. I use elastic all the time, so any elastic I use will have to be replaced at some point.
- If I have to buy a specific supply to complete a gift, that will obviously count as an expense. I’m going to try to make things that I have the supplies for, but there will likely be a few exceptions along the way.
My current focus is on getting everything made, so I haven’t started tabulating the cost of everything yet, but you’ll see I’ve made notes throughout the post about which materials I’ll be counting in my total.
I should also mention that I’ll be sharing instructions for the homemade gifts that I make. So, if one of these gift ideas seems like the perfect fit for someone on your gift list, you can make it, too. Just look for the link to the tutorial in this post, or check out my homemade gifts index, to view every homemade gift idea that I’ve ever shared.
Okay, now that you know my plan for this year’s Christmas Under $100 Challenge, let me show you what I’ve made so far.
My girls have really enjoyed having an advent calendar the last two years, so I’ll be doing one again this year. Here’s the free printable for my advent calendar, if you’d like to use it.
I have a bunch of Christmas fabric that I inherited from my husband’s aunt, so I used some of it to make the girls’ Christmas scunchies. I’m thinking about making them each one more, so they’ll get one each week, leading up to Christmas. I did that last year with Christmas socks, and it was fun.
I don’t have any cost in the fabric, and I buy my elastic in giant bulk rolls, so these were very inexpensive to make. After crunching the numbers, I determined that I have a penny’s worth of elastic in each one.
Update: I decided to go ahead and make two more scrunchies. So, now they’ll each get one each week in December. That brings the total cost of all eight srunchies to $.08.
This summer, a former craft store owner gave me some of the remaining inventory from her store. Lucky me! These Christmas sun catchers were in one of the boxes, along with a bunch of sun catcher paint. So, I decided to tuck them in the girls’ advent calendar. It’ll be a fun project while they’re both home.
I love making things out of old jeans, so I made them each a coin purse out of the front pocket of a pair of jeans. The zippers were given to me, so I don’t have any cost in these.
When I made these fabric envelopes, my youngest daughter went nuts over them, so I decided to stick them in her advent calendar. The snaps were rescued from a curb pile years ago, and the fabric was given to me.
I showed my oldest daughter some of the reusable food covers I’ve been making on a recent Zoom call, and she asked if I’d make here one of the can covers. So, I’m sticking this one in one of her advent calendar pockets. The outer fabric was given to me, and I was able to cut the liner out of one of the scraps that I had leftover from making reusable bowl covers. It took a penny’s worth of elastic to make.
And I’ve still been requesting freebies, but I haven’t gotten as many this year, partly because my girls often request them before I get a chance to. I did manage to snag a few free stickers, hair products and a tea sample for their advent calendar, though.
I now officially have all 24 pockets of their advent calendar filled!
Total cost for this year’s advent calendar: $.09!
This year, I decided to make the switch to reusable gift wrap, so I sewed up a bunch of drawstring gift bags – 65 in total. I plan to use these to wrap all of my family’s gifts. I’ll still use regular gift wrap for extended family and friends.
I used Christmas fabric that I inherited from my husband’s aunt and ribbons from my stash, so I don’t have any cost in these.
As you may remember, we have a tradition of letting the girls open one present on Christmas Eve, and it’s always pajamas.
I picked up these Santa pajamas for my youngest daughter at the Target 90% off clearance a couple years ago. They were $1.99.
And these Scottie dog pajamas are for my oldest daughter. Scottie dogs are the unofficial mascot of her college. Her grandmother found these at a yard sale, new-with-tags, and passed them on to us, so I don’t have any money in these.
Now, let me show you what I’ve made for my oldest daughter, so far.
Scrunchies are definitely in at the moment, so I made several to stick in her stocking. These were all made out of fabric that was given to me. I made the blue one in the upper right corner out of a shirt that belonged to her great aunt. And there’s a fifth black velvet scrunchie that I overlooked when I was photographing these. Total cost: $.05 for elastic.
I made this little pyramid earbud case out of a bit of vintage fabric in my stash. It has a keychain, so she can hang it on her backpack. I’m hoping the shape of the case, paired with the layer of batting that I quilted to the outer fabric, will help to keep her earbuds from getting crushed. This will mostly likely be a stocking stuffer.
I don’t have any cost in making this. The fabric, zipper and keychain were given to me, and the batting was a scrap from another project.
I made both of my girls a maxi pad pouch to give them a discreet way to carry pads in their bag. These will be going in their stockings. I don’t have any cost in these, since I used fabric and snaps that had been given to me.
The pot scrubbers that I made for my husband’s stocking last year have held up really well. Now that my oldest is off at college, I decided to make some for her stocking.
I decided to make the candy for everyone’s stockings, too. So, I made a batch of hot chocolate spoons to divide between my kids’ and husband’s stockings. They’ll each be getting three. I had the sprinkles and dehydrated marshmallows in the pantry, but I had to buy the spoons, baking chocolate and peppermints, so they ended up costing $1.49 per person to make.
I also made everyone peppermint candy spoons to use in hot cocoa or coffee at a cost of $1.43 per person.
That should round out her stocking stuffers for the year.
Now, let me show you the gifts I’ve made for her so far.
I planned to make both of my girls reusable sandwich bags last Christmas, but I ran out of time. So, I prioritized this project this year, and made them each two. I had to buy cotton laminate, liner and hook and loop strip for the bags, but I used thread that was given to me. I bought the materials in bulk, since I plan to make a bunch more, so these cost me $2.19 each, or $4.38 per kid.
I also made them each a matching lunchbox silverware placemat roll. This is the one I made for my oldest daughter. It cost me $5.37 to make.
Now that she lives in a dorm, she has to lug her laundry down four floors to wash it. So, I made her a big and sturdy laundry bag. Funnily enough, she ended up asking if I had a spare one about a month after I made this one. I used a big piece of upholstery fabric that was given to me, and my husband had the rope in his stash, so I don’t have any cost in this.
I keep a big bin of worn out jeans on hand for projects, so I dug out a pair of jeans, and made her a set of jean pocket potholders. Aren’t they fun? The backing fabric was a scrap from my scrap bin, so no cost there. But the triple layer of batting cost me $1.25.
I had a surplus of white fabric that had been given to me over the years, so this summer, I decided to sew up a bunch of white kitchen towels and cloth napkins and experiment with Shibori tie-dye techniques. This is one of the towels that I made. It matches the cloth napkins that I gave her for her birthday.
I was just trying to use up some fabric and dye that I had on hand, so I don’t have any cost in this gift.
My oldest daughter eats a lot of soup, so now that she’s away at college, I thought she’d enjoy her own set of soup bowl cozies. I made these from fabric scraps, but it took $3.05 in batting to make these.
Since she gets migraines, I decided to make her one of my lavender eye pillows in the new succulent fabric that I’m offering in the shop this year. I have $.59 in materials.
I also decided to make her one of my heating pads. I sell these in my shop. Funnily enough, she asked me for one the day after I made it. Cost to make $1.95
And to cover the other end of the spectrum, I also made her an ice pack with a removable cover. I used one of my vintage towels to make the cover, and snagged two plastic sandwich bags from the junk drawer. So, this was another no-cost gift.
I still had a few more scraps of bee fabric left over after I made the soup bowl cozies, so I also made her a set of cord wraps to help her tame all the cords that come with dorm life. In total, there are three big ones and three little ones. The batting came out of my scrap bin. The interfacing was given to me, and the snaps were rescued from a neighbor’s curb pile several years ago.
I made this zipper pouch out of an upholstery sample that someone gave me. The black dots are raised and fuzzy. The zipper came out of the large stash of zippers that have been given to me over the years. So, this is another no-cost gift.
After making the jean pocket coin purses, I couldn’t resist making a larger version. So, these are pencil pouch size. I made one for each of my daughters.
This Wet Brush Shower Brush is one of the only store-bought gifts that I plan to give my oldest daughter. I bought each of my girls a Wet Brush several years ago, and they love them. So, when I saw they make a version to use in the shower, complete with a hook at the end for hanging, I decided to buy them each one for Christmas. I watched the prices on Amazon, and bought this one when the price dropped to $5.56. Then, I paid for it with part of the $25 Amazon gift card that came with our AirMedCare subscription.
When my husband and I wrapped gifts, I discovered that I had miscounted, and actually needed two more gifts for my oldest daughter to keep things even with her sister.
So, I did a little shopping in my gift closet, and decided to give her this terrarium that I bought for her at a thrift store a while back (.50) …
and this memory wire bracelet. It was included in all the craft supplies that that former craft store owner gave us. I think she’ll really like it.
That officially wraps up my oldest daughter’s gifts, so let me show you what I’ve made for my youngest daughter.
These handmade scrunchies will be going in her stocking. I bought the chenille crocheted one at a craft show last year for a dollar, and made the rest using fabric that was given to me. The floral one in the bottom right corner was made out of a vintage sheet. So, my cost in these is $1 + $.04 in elastic.
This is the earbud case that I made for my youngest daughter. It’s made from the same vintage sheet that I made that scrunchie out of. She spotted it in my stash recently, and went nuts over it.
Here’s the maxi pad pouch that I made for my youngest daughter’s stocking. As you can see, it’ll hold several pads. Total cost: $0
As I mentioned, I also made her some hot chocolate spoons. Cost: $1.49
and peppermint spoons. Cost: $1.43
These are the reusable sandwich bags that I made her. I picked out a different pattern for each girl. Cost: $2.19 each/$4.38 for both
And here’s the matching lunchbox silverware placemat roll to go with it. Cost: $5.37
I made her a set of cord wraps out of some of my smallest fabric and batting scraps – three small ones and three big ones. The Velcro was leftover from making the reusable sandwich bags, and the interfacing that I used was given to me.
I also made her a lavender eye pillow in the one of the new fabrics I’ll be offering in my shop this holiday season. Cost: $.59
Like her sister, she also recently hit me up for a hamper or laundry bag for her room. So, I made her a laundry bag, too. Cost: $0
As luck would have it, I had the same upholstery scrap in blue, so I was able to make her a zipper pouch in the same pattern as her sister’s. This was another no-cost project.
She’ll also be getting one of these jean pocket zipper pouches.
This crazy year kept her from getting her driver’s license on time, but we’ll get there eventually. So, I made her this car trash bag for her car …
and a wristlet key fob. I’ll be giving her one of these two. I just haven’t decided which one yet. I have $.44 in interfacing in the trash bag. I was able to use scraps to make the key fob, so I just have $.85 in the key fob hardware.
I also made her a bouldering chalk bucket out of the same fabric. Both of our girls are rock climbers, and this is something that she asked me to make. I have $.69 in the interfacing and hook and loop strip.
She’ll be dual-enrolled at the local college next year, so I made her a lanyard for her ID. I used free fabric from my stash and a interfacing scrap, so I just have $.85 in the hardware.
I spotted these frosted animal cookie pillows on Pinterest, and instantly knew I had to make them for her. Here are the free printable patterns on StudioDIY.com, if you’d like to make them. I used fabric and stuffing that was given to me, and pom poms that were left over from when the kids were little, so I don’t have any cost in these.
I came across these cloth napkins in my office when I was cleaning up the other day. I had bought them for a project, but couldn’t bring myself to cut them up. So, I decided to give them to my daughter. She’ll need some for college next year, and these are fun. They still had the $1 thrift store tag on them, so I’ll count that in my gift total.
I ordered her a Wet Brush Shower Detangler, too. Hers was $9.51, and I paid for it with part of that gift card that came with our AirMedCare subscription.
And I believe I scored this free sample set on Facebook. I was really impressed with how nice it was when it came. It has a little shampoo, conditioner and hair spray. My daughter is going to love it.
That officially evens up the girls’ gifts, which feels like a big victory, but I still have a few things that I hope I’ll have time to make.
In other news, I finally sorted out my husband’s gifts.
I made him another batch of scrubbers for his stocking (exciting I know) …
as well as some hot chocolate spoons … ($1.49)
and peppermint spoons. Cost: $1.43
To round out his stocking, I also bought him a set of two Lodge grill pan scrapers. They have teeth that fit Lodge grill pans, so I thought they’d be a good addition to our dish washing tools. They were $5.73, but I paid for them with an Amazon gift card that I received as a gift.
For gifts, I made him a microwave popcorn bag. They allow you to pop corn in the microwave, without having to eat all the junk that’s in the store-bought kind. If I had made this one sooner, more people on my Christmas list would have gotten one. They’re awesome. I used a piece of thrift store fabric for the outside. I purchased the inside fabric with my Joann’s rewards. I estimate that I have $.50 in this.
I also made him a batch of mocha hot cocoa mix. This an easy and tasty gift. I have a secret ingredient that makes my homemade hot cocoa especially good. Cost to make: $3.17
And I made him a couple of leather key fobs out of some of his dad’s old belts. He passed away in February, so I thought it would be a nice keepsake for him.
To round out his gifts, I also bought him a pair of winter mechanics gloves. This is something that he needed. I spent $16.98, and paid with the same gift card that I received as a gift.
Okay, now let me show you what I made for our extended family and friends.
I made my mom a set of jean pocket potholders …
and a Shirbori tie-dye towel. Both were made using materials I had on hand (and wanted to use up), so I don’t have any cost in either, save for $1.25 in batting.
I also made my Mother-in-Law a set of potholders and a towel ($1.25) …
and I did the same for a close friend of ours ($1.25).
I made her husband a car trash bag (that’s designed to fit over the shifter) and a set of cord wraps. Total cost: $.60 for the interfacing and hook and loop strips.
We always bring her dog a gift, too, so I made a couple dog tug toys out of old t-shirts. This is the first year I’ve gone the homemade route, and I think the toys are actually a lot more durable than anything we’ve ever bought.
We buy gifts for nieces and nephews, until they’re 18. On my side of the family, we have a total of five nieces and nephews to buy for (one niece is an only child, and the other four are siblings).
I decided to make a Scunchie of the Month Club for my niece. I sewed 12 scunchies – one for each month, and I’ll be wrapping each one individually, with instruction to open one each month. Should be fun. All of the fabrics that I used were given to me, so I just have $.12 in the elastic.
Since my other niece and nephews are all in the same family, I usually give them one big gift, to cut down on clutter. I thought I was going to do that again this year, but then I realized these fabric marble mazes I made earlier this year were perfect. Each one is a different degree of difficulty, and there just happens to be one that’s age appropriate for each of the older three. I made these using fleece scraps and marbles that were given to me, plus hair ties that I got free after rewards.
I decided to give the youngest (he’s one), a couple of my fleece fidgets. There’s a marble sewn in between the layers of fleece that you can move around. I made these earlier this year, but never got around to writing them up. I’ll try to do that this week. Total cost: $0
We always give our awesome mailman a gift. He works hard picking up all the outgoing My Frugal Home shop orders, and dropping off the supplies that go into making them. This year, I bought this handmade keychain from another maker on Amazon, and paid for it with part of that gift card that came with our AirMedCare subscription. I also made him a batch of hot chocolate spoons. Cost: $1.49
On my husband’s side of the family, we have two nephews to buy for. I had a project in mind, but decided to table it in favor of hot chocolate spoons. I’ll probably revisit the other project next Christmas, when I have a bit more time. Total cost $1.49 each.
I made my dad one of my microwave popcorn bags Cost $.50.
If guy gifts always stump you, be sure to check out my big list of homemade gifts for guys.
Total Cost for All Gifts: $56.38 Woo hoo!
Be sure to check out my Christmas under $100 challenges from previous years:
Christmas Under $100: 2019
Christmas Under $100: 2018
Christmas Under $100: 2017
Christmas Under $100: 2016
Christmas Under $100: 2013
And don’t miss the year I did Christmas for free.
I don’t know if you need any suggestions, but this something our family made for folks over the years. We love the soup mix called 13 or 15 bean soup (it commercially goes by various numbers). You can easily make a mix and include a copy of the recipe. All I did was buy a variety of bags of dried beans and legumes, add about 1/8 of a cup to a big bowl. Bagged with a homemade tag and tied with baker’s twine made a simple but delicious gift.
You’ve been a busy lady! These are fabulous ideas. Thank you for sharing the instructions for all of your projects. I look forward to this post every year!!
Awesome ideas! Totally unrelated to this post, but do you plan on an article on how your daughter is paying for school now that she’s away at college? I would love to hear about the details of that! And cabin update? Keep the great posts coming! I love how you were able to conform to the current situation and hand make your gifts instead!
Yep, I plan to do a post on how my daughter is paying for college. With the pandemic, lots of scholarship deadlines got delayed, so she actually still has some that she’s waiting to hear about in November and December. To date she’s applied for 133 scholarships! Look for a post in December or the beginning of January. As for an update on the cabin: we’re sticking close to home these days, so we hit pause on the renovations for a bit. But we haven’t hit pause on the renovations at home. I have a couple projects to update you guys on soon 🙂
Awesome! Can’t wait!
I can’t wait to read the updates on these topics. Thank you, as ever, for your always practical and timely posts!
Erin, do you have photos of your sewing area on here? I would love to see them if you do. I struggle with getting mine all organized especially since I don’t have a dedicated place for it.
Funny you should ask … I actually spent all day Friday working on rearranging my sewing area. I think it’s now the best it’s ever been in terms of function, but it’s not quite done yet. As soon as it is, I’ll put a post together 🙂
Erin, thank you soooo much for sharing…my son and I can use many of these items. I second Belinda’s comment, but with a question. How do you decide what to keep in your craft area vs what to discard? I ask as I want to declutter my craft room, but want to be careful of holding on to items for “someday” and then someday never occurring. I was gifted a big box of notions from a friends deceased mother and I haven’t even gone through it not knowing where to begin. Minimalism is so big right now and while I would love to do more, to minimize a craft room is scary. Thank you so much for giving me an assortment of Christmas ideas.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to carve out a little time later this week to do a post about my sewing space. I’m probably a bit of a maximalist when it comes to craft supplies, but I’ll be sure to talk about how I decide what to keep, how I organize it, etc.
Thank you…I look forward to reading it
Wow, I am so impressed at the level of craftiness on so little money, but for really fun and useful gifts! You challenge me to take my frugalness to a whole new level 🙂 Love!!
Would you please update how everyone liked their gifts? I am curious about their reactions to all of these lovely gifts! Thank you!
Sure. My youngest daughter keeps saying that this is her favorite Christmas yet. I think it’s interesting that she saying that about the year that I made all of her gifts but one. You’d expect most kids to be horrified by the idea of a homemade Christmas, but she keeps telling me how she loves all the no-waste gifts I made her (like most kids in her generation, she’s very environmentally conscious). Even being at home right now, she’s already used her reusable sandwich bags a bunch.
My oldest daughter was also excited about her gifts. She got lots of needful things, since she’s out on her own now. It was fun to see how excited she was about her laundry bag and soup bowl cozies. My youngest has been hinting that I need to make her a set next Christmas, since she’ll be heading off to college soon 🙂
We got lots of good feedback about the jean pocket potholders and hot chocolate spoons. And my husband loved his mocha hot cocoa.
I feel like Christmas is something we got right with our kids. Everyone takes the time to really think about what someone would like/needs. And when we unwrap gifts Christmas morning, there’s usually a story about how they made the gift, got it for free, bought it second-hand, etc. That frenzy of opening gifts just doesn’t happen in our house. Every gift is appreciated and talked about, before we move on to the next one.
This year our oldest daughter was on lockdown at college, with meager funds, so she requested free samples and saved swag that she knew one of us would like. Our youngest made some of her gifts, and bought $30 worth of free gifts using a department store promo code. It’s safe to say they’re picked up our frugal habits 🙂