Ahhh, Christmas. That beautiful time of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, time with family and friends, delicious feasts and treats, & spending an insane amount of money on unnecessary crap that everyone is just going to forget about a month later.
I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas. On one hand, I love the gifts. I love the mystery of seeing them under the tree, but not knowing what’s inside. I grew up with the idea of Santa Claus, and it was magical for me. On the other hand, I tend towards a minimalistic worldview and it truly bothers me the amount of wastefulness our culture tends to. Both with money and objects that are taken for granted.
So this year, instead of letting my “Christmas Spirit” take over and buy everyone I know ten unnecessary gifts, we went with the minimum. How little could we purchase and still have gifts for everyone? How did we pick gifts that meant something and wouldn’t just get thrown into the pile? Below, I’ve included all the things I chose for this year, plus some from previous years.
$1-10 – Print some special photos of you & your family. If you have a little more flexible Christmas budget, grab some cheap frames to put them in. If you really can’t afford much this year, give the photos in a beautiful Christmas card (you can get really big packs of cute cards for $1-2) and express your love for your momma.
$15-25 – If you watch for a special sale on Shutterfly, you can almost always find one sometime in the fall. Start working on a family calendar and purchase it as soon as a calendar or all-store sale shows up!
$2-15 – Take note of your dad’s favorite candies, snacks, etc.You can just get one kind, make a basket with assorted favorites, or better yet – make your own! Baked goods and snacks creatively housed in mason jars, tins or Christmas-y Tupperware will look just as wonderful as anything you could buy!
$5-10 – Customized mugs or t-shirts. If you like to use websites like Shutterfly or Vistaprint, watch out for great deals on customized coffee mugs and t-shirts! You can get adorable items for as little as $5!
$5-10 – Memorabilia from his favorite shows or movies. If your dad is crazy about a TV show or movie, try to find something that includes an inside joke from that show/movie! He will absolutely love it.
$15-25 – Grab a $15-25 gift card to a good restaurant. Offer free babysitting for the kids and there you go – date night in an envelope! Make sure to write a sweet little note along with it.
$5-20 – Secret Santa. If you have several couples of similar age, do a secret santa exchange! You can put everyone in the same bowl or split the genders. This is a great way to help out with costs if you have a large family or friend group.
$15-20 – Movie night in a basket. Put together a basket with everything you would need for a stay-in movie night. A DVD (the $3-5 bins in Walmart are great!), a few bags of popcorn, a box/bag of candy and a cheap throw blanket are great options. Keep it simple but adorable to distract from the limited amount of money you spent.
$5-10 – Desk/work supplies. Fill a little basket or box with pens, sticky notes, thumb tacks, paper clips, highlighters, etc.
$5-10 – Coffee or water tumbler that keeps things hot or cold for hours. Fill it with candy!
$5-10 – A t-shirt or hoody with their favorite tv characters, movie quotes or superheroes.
$0-5 – Creatively display how much you love them. A miniature journal, letters each day of the month, game cards hole punched together like a book… There are so many creatives ways to show them you love them!
$10-25 – X days of Christmas! Pick however many small and sweet gifts you want and add a corresponding love note to each gift. Give one each day in a different unique way. Ex: his favorite baked goods, his favorite candy in a cute coffee mug, a “reasons I love you” journal, a pack of new underwear, a new movie, and that hoody he has been wanting forever. Write a cute little note taped to it and make his whole week!
$2-5 – Women are so easy! Just look through DIY projects on Pinterest and pick one! My favorites are bath salts (Epsom salts + essential oil + adorable jar + ribbon), sugar scrub (sugar + coconut oil + essential oils + adorable jar + ribbon), or other fun projects and people will be so impressed with your skills, they won’t notice how little money you spent on them.
$5-10 – Hand soaps, lotions or perfumes. Believe it or not, Bath & Body Works can have some great deals! They ALWAYS offer a 5 for $23 deal on hand soaps and a buy 3, get 2 free -or- buy 2, get 1 free deal on body care items. While it’s true that their stuff is overpriced, if you plan well you can get gifts for ALL the women in your life for a reasonable amount!
$2-5 – Fragrance wax melts -or- candles. Walmart has some fabulous prices on their home fragrances! Their wax melts range from $0.80 to $2.00 by brand and the candles from $2.50-$5. Some of the brands are very comparable to Yankee or Bath & Body Works! Throw in some of their favorite chocolate or candy and call it good!
$10 – Goody basket. Make a little basket with their favorite smelling wax or lotion, a face/foot/hair treatment (you can find these for -$1 in the beauty section at Walmart!), a throw blanket, a coffee mug, nail polish in their favorite color, fuzzy socks, and a favorite chocolate or candy. You can get creative and make this is as cheap as you need to.
$8-15 – Buy a cheap pair of fuzzy socks + fill with treats according to your budget. You could do all candy, or if you have a bit more to spend things like nail polish, lip gloss/chapstick, jewelry, cute hair bands/bows/etc. are always good.
$5-10 – Grab a coloring book & pack of crayons/colored pencils. For an older girl, try a cute journal and some pretty pens.
$5-20 – If you are buying for a set of siblings, grab a card game or cheap board game for hours of fun. You’ll kill two birds with one stone!
$0 – Write a note to the kid/s and invite them over to a fun sleepover at your house with popcorn/pizza/cookies and a movie!
$1-10 – Special Christmas ornaments. Go check out the Christmas decor section of the store and see what ornaments you can find. Ornaments can be so cheap and you can find one for all the little kids in your life! They make ornaments of just about every cartoon character and animal you can imagine.
$1-5 – Playdough. Grab 1-3 colors of playdough and a few cutters. This is a cheap and fun present for any age!
$2-5 – Stuffed Animals. Stuffed animals can be insanely cheap, depending on their size and brand. Check out your local general stores to find one that is cute, soft, affordable and in the child’s interests!
$3-10 – An educational children’s book. While they may seem really boring to you, books are always a great option for kids. Ask their parents what their interests are and then score the web for affordable and educational options for their age range.
$5 – Art Supplies. You can go the traditional route with a simple coloring book and set of crayons/markers, or you can find some awesome options such as Color Wonder products (which are much cheaper than you would imagine), or these HUGE sticker books.
$5-10 – Boys love adventures. For little boys, try sidewalk chalk, jumping ropes, toy cars/trucks, action figures, walkie-talkies, “spy” gear, light sabers, or anything small toy/activity that will keep their busy mind captivated.
$1-5 – Most boy moms attempt to limit sugar intake for their own sanity. You might just make that little boy’s Christmas by giving him his favorite sweet treats.
$10 – Grab a t-shirt or hoody with your boy’s favorite superhero or character.
$1-5 – Hot Wheels cars. I had no idea how cheap these things were until I had a son. -$0.99 per car at most stores!
$10 – Make a simple fleece blanket. Even if you don’t know much about sewing, with a good tutorial you can make a simple, square fleece blanket for the babe in your life!
$2-5 – You can’t go wrong with a classic baby book, and it is so much better than toys!
$5 – Diapers!
$5-10 – If you really can’t help yourself, try picking bibs, socks, onesies or pajamas instead of those temptingly adorable fancy outfits. Their mom will thank you for the practical items.
If You’re “Santa”
If you are the parent and are broke, but still expected to be “Santa”, try minimizing the number of gifts you give your children. You could limit the fun and unnecessary gifts to their stocking, and then give ONE big “wanted” item (a big toy/game/etc.), ONE book that is at their individual reading level and of interest to them, ONE outfit or clothing item that they wouldn’t normally receive (think something from a more expensive or fashionable store, something “everyone else is wearing”, or an item you’ve noticed them eyeing that they don’t necessarily need – not underwear or another pair of the jeans that they get need twice a year), and ONE item that they have been needing (this could be underwear :)… or towels, bedding, school supplies, etc. WANT – NEED – WEAR – READ. 🙂
I hope these ideas were helpful to you! Here’s to a minimalistic & cheap Christmas for all! XOXO.