Everything You Need to Know about Christmas Shopping on a Budget!

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Christmas shopping while on a budget can be stressful...add in being a parent, and it could become super stressful! Usually our hearts are in the right place when we over shop and over spend at Christmas time. We love our family and friends, and we especially want to spoil our kids at Christmas time...I get it! As a mom of 3 with a goal to be completely debt free soon, giving my kids every single toy from Target just isn't our reality. Over the past few years I've had to learn how to shop on a budget, while still trying to give everyone special/meaningful gifts. 

So here's a few tips on how we've done that...

1. We adopted Minimalism and purged more than half of our stuff! 

Nope, you didn't read that wrong...MORE than half of our stuff went away last Spring after I learned the ways of Minimalism. Implementing Minimalism into our home has brought so much peace and contentment in ourselves and our kids. Our kids appreciate what they have so much more, and have virtually stopped asking for junk. The things they do ask for now are things that they truly desire...not just whatever's in front of them at the store. Now that they desire much less, we don't feel as pressured to buy an excessive amount of gifts. 

2. We adopted budgeting and started to become debt free!

Similar to the change that Minimalism brought to our family, budgeting has had a huge impact on our mentality about money and possessions. We've spent the last couple of years paying off all of our debt except our home, therefore a lot of spending habits have had to change, and our kids are aware of that. When we all shifted our mindsets, it also spilled over into the holidays. 

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3. We made a written Christmas Budget and stuck to it! 

Now that we're living a debt free life we had to learn how to Christmas shop credit-card-free. As the former owners of several credit cards, one that reached almost $12,000 at one point, this was a hard habit to break. Our first budget friendly Christmas came only 2 months into our journey...and it was tough! We set aside $500 for about 20 people, including our 3-year-old and 11-month-old at the time. The next year we bumped up the budget to $600, and added our third daughter to the mix. Then, this year our budget was supposed to be $800, but we ended up only spending $625 for everyone! (See our kids' gifts at the bottom of this post)

How did we do that? Well, I figured out how much we could afford to spend and set it aside in our savings account. Then, I printed out the worksheet provided below, determined who I needed to shop for, how much I could spend on each person, and then I shopped smart and stayed under budget! (scroll down for all of my money saving tips for gifts)


Tips for Saving Money on Gifts 

  • Plan out your gift ideas before you go shopping!
  • Always keep a running total while you're out shopping! 
  • Do a no-gift-exchange rule with a few of your friends or family members! (a few of us are using this idea this year)
  • When in doubt, buy a gift card! No need waste money and over spend on a gift they might not love!
  • Print Pictures! This is perfect for family who lives far away or any grandparents.
Dollar Tree Goodie Basket $6 + Gift Card to their favorite store

Dollar Tree Goodie Basket $6
+ Gift Card to their favorite store

  • Make Goodie Baskets with items from Dollar Tree! (my favorite gift idea for any occasion)
  • Take advantage of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and any other sales! This can be dangerous, but if you plan out your purchases and stick to your budget this can be a life (...I mean, budget) saver! (My favorite Black Friday sale is Old Navy's 50% off entire store sale! I shop this sale literally every year!)
  • Buy all of your Stocking Stuffers from Dollar Tree! (I do this every year for my kids! I usually only spend $5-$15 per kid! See my pictures at the bottom of this post.)
  • Take advantage of Ebay and Amazon to price compare and buy some unique gifts that you might not be able to find at a store close to home. 
  • Take advantage of free shipping! Don't use this as an excuse to over shop though! Instead, plan out your purchases, shop at online stores that sell a wide variety of items, let your total build up to get free shipping. Stores like Target sell something for everyone and usually offer $50 free shipping...take advantage of that! (or even sneak in a household item that you'd have to buy anyway, like paper towels, if you're a few dollars short of free shipping)
Adorable cookie tins from Dollar Tree ($1 each) for cookies for my friends! 

Adorable cookie tins from Dollar Tree ($1 each) for cookies for my friends! 

  • Give cookies! Even if you aren't a baker you could always buy some treats from the grocery store bakery, add a cute container and a bow, and you're golden! (Perfect gift for friends, neighbors, co-workers, or teachers.)
  • Give a homemade gift! I know not everyone is crafty, but search around on Pinterest for something like "easy DIY Christmas gifts" or "cheap homemade Christmas presents"...I bet you could find something fun and easy to make. 
  • Buy a few practical items for your kids! Things that you'd have to buy eventually anyway...like soap, toothbrushes, hair accessories, clothes, art supplies, books, snacks, etc...make perfect gifts. 
  • Use cute wrapping! Presentation of the gift can do a lot for something you only spent a little bit on. (Kind of like my goodie basket idea...a basket and some ribbon can do a lot to spruce up $5 worth of beauty supplies from Dollar Tree
  • Keep your receipts! (My favorite thrifty shopping tip ever!) If you get home and realize you over spent, bought too many items, found something better, or just decided you've changed your mind...take it back! I did this last year with things for my kids, even though I stayed under budget, I realized that they didn't need more than 3-5 wrapped gifts...so some got returned and some got donated! 
  • Use the 3 Wisemen or "something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read" gift ideas! I love these ideas because these make us stop and think before we over shop for our kids. We used the 4 gifts ideas the past few years, but this year we bought even less! (see our kids' gifts below) 
Everything you need to know about Christmas shopping on a budget!

Our Kids’ Christmas Lists

*click on images to follow links to the item's website

June (5 years old)

Total Spent including shipping and tax=$151.38

Izzy (2 1/2 years old)

Total Spent including shipping and tax=$148.64

Melanie (1 year old)

Total Spent including shipping and tax=$79.23

Other kids on our list

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