I do Christmas a bit differently than most people. Instead of spending crazy amounts of money on gifts, I give myself $100 to buy or make gifts for everyone on my Christmas list. This includes stocking stuffers and an advent calendar for my kids. Follow along to see how I’ll pull it off this year.
I’ve already made good progress towards my goal. Let me show you the gifts I’ve gotten/made so far.
I started doing an advent calendar for my girls four years ago. I made their advent calendar out of a shoe organizer. It has the perfect number of pockets, and they’re nice and big. Here’s my free advent calendar printable, if you’d like to use it to create one just like it.
My girls alternate every other day, so they each receive 12 advent gifts over the season.
Last year, I made them a bunch of Christmas scrunchies for their advent calendar. This year, I decided to make them each a scrunchie with a hidden pocket. I sewed a zipper into the seam, so they can stash a bit of money and a lip balm inside. Here’s how they’re made:
One day, I was talking to my oldest daughter on the phone, and she said she wished she had some chili powder. Being a broke college kid she had deemed it outside her budget. Ha! So, I decided to make her some spice blends for her advent calendar. I included my chili powder, Italian Seasoning and taco seasoning. I also bottled up some vegetarian broth powder. I save my empty spice bottles, so I didn’t have to buy anything for this.
Here are my homemade spice recipes, if you’d like to make them:
I filled the rest of my oldest daughter’s pockets with the following:
- a pill bottle keychain – She gets migraines, so this will give her a way to carry a couple Excedrin Migraine. I think this came out of a yard sale free box.
- silly putty – I got this from Hallmark with a free promo code (I had a bit left over after I ordered a free card, so this was a filler).
- 2 patches (a bee and a smiley face) – She has a pair of jeans that she keeps adding patches to. These two were recently given to me at an America Recycles Day collection.
- A pack of all-natural gummy bears – These were a free sample that I requested.
- 3 eye masks – I think I paid $.25 for these at a yard sale.
My youngest daughter has been wanting some satin pillow cases, so when someone gave me these recently, I immediately set them aside for her advent calendar.
Here’s what I’m sticking in the rest of her advent pockets:
- 3 eye masks – two from the same yard sale package as her sister’s. One from a yard sale free box
- Silly putty – free after a Hallmark promo code
- Hair glosser – a free sample I requested
- 2 powdered drink mixes – one for hydration, one collagen. – both free samples that I requested
- 2 sunscreens samples – requested online
- Tea bags – free samples that I requested
We let out girls open one gift on Christmas Eve, and it’s always pajamas. This year I decided to make them myself for the first time. I made them from vintage sheets from my fabric stash, and used some grosgrain ribbon that was given to me for the drawstrings. This was such a fun project, and I love the way they turned out. Here’s how I made them:
Now let me show you what I came up with for my oldest daughter’s stocking stuffers …
I’m giving her a face mask and new-in-the-package nail file from a yard sale free box.
I’m also giving her a pack of black Sharpie markers (free-after-rebate), a roll of patterned tape (a freebie from ages ago) and a flashlight with a magnet on the back (a regift) …
as well as two tubes of Sierra Bees lip balm. (After a sale and promo code, I got them for $.51 each for a total of $1.02) …
And I’m including two cans of spray chalk (from a Michael’s $2 grab bag ages ago. If I remember correctly, the bags averaged out to $.02 per item).
She’s a hot cocoa fiend, so I made her a batch of my mocha hot cocoa mix.
Here’s my mocha hot cocoa recipe, and the free printable label I used.
I made my nieces and nephews some reusable water balloons, and my girls both wanted them when they saw them. So, I made them each a set for Christmas. These are the ones I made for my oldest daughter. They’re made by sandwiching a round artist’s sponge between two fleece circles. It was a great way to use up some of my fleece scraps. I paid $18.99 for a 50 pack of sponges. This came out of $55 in Amazon gift cards that my husband and I earned by participating in consumer test panels.
My daughters cleaned out their rooms this summer, and presented me with a big pile of t-shirts that they no longer wanted. They were mostly Girl Scout t-shirts that they had outgrown. There were lots of memories in that pile, so I decided to turn them into t-shirt tote bags. They have a built-in drawstring pouch for storing them, when they aren’t in use.
My youngest daughter has been hinting that she’d like a terry cloth headband, so I decided to make one for each of them. It’s used to hold your hair back when you’re washing your face, using a face mask or applying makeup. I made them out of some terry scraps and ribbon I had left over after making a bath mat runner this summer, so I don’t have any cost in these.
She runs a 501c3 non-profit to restore native bee habitat, so this necklace will be right up her alley. Both the charm and necklace were given to us at one of our recycling collection events. I just put them together.
I recently developed a new brown sugar vanilla soap. It smells AMAZING. I wrapped up two bars for her. I’ll be sharing the super simple recipe soon.
She loves to draw with pens, so I got her a bunch of colored ball point and felt tip pens to play with. These were all free-after-rewards from Office Depot, except for the Bic pens. Those were free after coupons at Walgreens.
And since she’s constantly doing workshops to teach people how to build mason bee houses out of mugs and straws, I got her four pairs of scissors to bring along to workshops. These were also free-after-rewards at Office Depot.
Since she’s a busy and broke college kid, I decided to develop some soup mixes for her.
I made her two jars of split pea soup mix …
two jars of lentil soup mix …
and two jars of potato soup mix …
She likes to drink chai tea, so I also bought her a box of Tazo tea. I paid for it with a Target gift card that I earned with a purchase.
And to get her ready for the next semester, I restocked her on hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes ($.51 after sale and promo code).
I’ve tried to give her this photo album for a few years, but the girls’ gifts kept ending up uneven, so I kept sticking it back in my gift closet for the next year. I finally get to give it to her this Christmas.
That’s all of her gifts. Now, let me show you what I’ve made/bought for my youngest daughter.
She’ll be heading off to college next fall, so I tucked several practical things in her stocking:
- 2 tubes of toothpaste – free after Walgreens rewards
- 2 pot scrubbers – I made them from mesh produce bags
- a pack of mechanical pencils – $.49 at a thrift store
- a Frogg Toggs cooling wrap – $.50 at a yard sale (new-in-package)
I also included a couple face masks – free at yard sales …
and two tubes of Sierra Bees lip balm ($.51 each, after a sale and promo code).
Now, let me show you her gifts …
These are the reusable water balloons that I made for her. The $18.99 for the sponges came out of the $55 in Amazon gift cards that my husband and I earned doing consumer test panels.
She’s mentioned several times that she needs more gel pens (she likes to use them when she takes notes), so I loaded her up. These were all free after rewards at Office Depot, except for the Bic pens. Those were free after coupons at Walgreens.
These are the tie-dyed t-shirt tote bags that I made out of her old Girl Scout and summer camp t-shirts.
Last year, I sewed up a bunch of towels and cloth napkins to use up an excess of white fabric, and went on a big tie dye spree. I made these tie dyed napkins for her to take to college …
along with a matching tie dyed dish towel.
I also made her a set of potholders, using fabric in my scrap bin.
Continuing with the getting-her-ready-for-college theme, I made her a reusable microwave popcorn bags …
one of my jar openers …
a set of my soup bowl cozies …
and an ice pack and ice pack cover.
I also made her a couple bars of my new brown sugar vanilla soap.
I scored this still-in-the-shrink-wrap box of Lemon Lavender tea for her at a yard sale for $1.
and these tea bags for $.75.
That wraps up her gifts. Now, let me show you what I got my husband.
For his stocking, I bought him a can of Coca Cola with Coffee, a Hammond’s Toffee Brittle bar and a tube of Naked Bee Lip Balm ($.82 after a Hallmark Crown Rewards coupon), as well as a Kohler dish scraper ($4.37).
Now, let me show you his gifts.
He really needs a new pair of slippers. I liked a pair on LL Bean, but they were $69, before tax and shipping. So, I hopped over to Ebay, found a like-new pair for $35. Then, cashed out my Honey rewards for PayPal credit, so they’d be free. I think they must have been a return because they don’t look like they’ve ever been worn.
I also snagged two big boxes of K-cups for him free after Office Depot rewards.
He could use some new t-shirts, so I bought him six Champion shirts in a variety of colors. I paid for them with my Ibotta earnings.
I shipped gifts to our out-of-town family members back in October, to beat all the shipping frenzy this year. Here’s what I sent.
My parents are starting to downsize, so I didn’t want to give them anything that would create clutter. I opted to make my mom a couple of my lettuce crisper bags and a jar of my homemade ranch dressing mix. The towels that I used to make the crisper bags were $2.75 for a two pack. I paid for them with a $15 Target gift card that I earned with a purchase earlier this year. I had everything else on hand.
Here are the instructions for both:
I made my dad a batch of my mocha hot cocoa mix and a batch of my bbq spice rub, since he’s in charge of the grilling.
I sent my five-year-old niece a couple of hard-cover books (new from a yard sale), some Hello Kitty bath bombs (purchased on clearance) and a lip balm (a freebie).
And I made my Florida nieces and nephews some reusable water balloons. There are four kids in the family, so this should be a really fun gift for them. I had enough left on my Amazon gift card to pay for all but $1.97 of the sponges. Not bad.
I have a couple little details to finish up before I can share my friend gifts, and I’ll be making food gifts for my husband’s side of the family this year, so I’ll share those closer to Christmas. I’ll keep you updated as I make progress on the rest of my gifts.
Christmas under $100 is a long-standing tradition in my family. You can check out previous years here:
Be sure to check out the year I did Christmas for free.