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Sometimes money can be tight, but that doesn’t mean the holidays have to suffer for it. Frugal Christmases aren’t just OK, they can actually be pretty fun! But that doesn’t mean you can’t give great gifts on a budget, too. Here’s some ways to Christmas shop under $50 per kid (in total) and not feel like anything’s missing.
How to Christmas Shop Under $50 Per Kid (in Total)
This Christmas shopping includes stocking stuffers and all the gifts that your kids might want. Some prices may vary depending on your area, and of course for simplicity all prices are in US dollars.
To fill your child’s stocking on a budget you need look at some of the things they like to have, but you rarely give them or buy. The absolute easiest way is to fill it with treats – which, quite honestly, is a super fun tradition that needs to make a comeback.
In fact, in the olden days stockings were often filled with fruit like oranges since they were less common, plus a few sweets. Now we give kids iPhones and expensive toys in their stockings, which can really mess with your budget.
Here are some great low cost, space filling stocking stuffer ideas:
- Chips, pretzels, popcorn, or other snack foods
- Kids’ snacks like fruit by the foot, granola bars, etc
- Fruit, especially oranges
- Soda in bottles or cans
- Clothing (can be found second hand for great prices)
- Dollar store stuffed animals
- Homemade treats
- Homemade playdough
- The ingredients need to make something like Gak (cornstarch and water)
- Toddler snacks
- School supplies like crayons , markers, and small notebooks
- Plastic dishes and water bottles
If you shop deals you can get enough snacks and treats to fill up a stocking for less than $10. I know my kids would be a lot more excited to find a whole box of their favourite “school only” snacks inside their stocking than a bunch of toys they’ll never play with.
To make the stuff in the stocking more exciting, I like to wrap each item individually. It makes the whole experience take longer and they feel like they’ve been given more gifts.
Gift From Santa Claus
This is where you’re going to have to get creative. One of the main ways I save money here is to give the kids a joint gift. For example, one year they got a table for their playroom. The table was $40, but spread between 3 kids it worked out cheaper.
Another great idea is to give your kids something handmade or DIYed. Santa makes toys in his workshop, after all! If you have some sewing skills you can make some pretty cool soft toys out of recycled materials, or woodwork some child-sized furniture for kids to enjoy.
Even those talentless individuals (like myself) can make homemade playdough and wrap it up inside a dollar store bin. Then include some garage sale toys, thrifted cookie cutters, and a rolling pin to turn it into a complete gift.
In our house, Santa gifts are usually toys so we try and give something we know each kid will love. Although my personal budget is more than $50 per kid, I do end up spending around $30 per child on their present from Santa (apart from the stocking) and it’s usually a toy.
I’ve also had great look finding used toys for Christmas, especially for my toddlers. Try thrift stores, garage sales, or local buy and sells.
Other Christmas Gifts
Depending on your family’s traditions this and the gift from Santa might be merged. We usually do one gift from the big guy, and the rest comes from us.
If you only have a small amount of money left in your budget you have a few options.
First of all, dollar stores are great for Christmas gifts. Although you do have to be choosy because some items aren’t great, there are usually a lot of great finds.
Some great dollar store gift ideas for kids:
- Bedroom décor for kids (Dollar Tree usually has a lot)
- Mini Christmas trees/Christmas decorations/Christmas tree ornaments
- Colouring books and crayons
- Craft kits
- Snacks and treats (but I’m not a fan of the chocolate and neither are my kids)
- Dress up accessories
Here in Canada, we have a store called Dollarama (as well as Dollar Tree) that ranges in prices up to $4. Although it’s a bit more expensive, they often have items that have been liquidated from other retailers at extreme discounts.
We’ve found toys based on Characters the kids like and all kinds of unique buys there. Definitely check discount stores (even Marshall’s and TJ Max) for deals before the holidays.
Other Ways to Stretch Your Christmas Budget
If you want to give your kids a few more gifts past the $50 budget goal, one way to do that is to hold off on some essential purchases. We have a tendency to wrap everything from toothbrushes (another stocking stuffer idea) to clothes and personal care items.
That way kids have a few more things to open come Christmas morning!
You could also pad your budget by selling some of the kids’ old toys and clothes that they don’t use or have outgrown. It might not make a huge amount of money, but even an extra $10-$20 per person can buy one more gift.
Finally, if you are celebrating with loved ones who tend to give lots then it’s a lot easier to not feel bad about budget Christmases. However, even if this is all your children will receive this year, it’s more important to celebrate the meaning of Christmas than to get presents anyway.
Some More Budget-Friendly Holiday Tips:
- What You Can do Now for a Simpler Christmas
- Why You Need to THRIFT This Christmas
- How to do Christmas on a budget
- The 4 Christmas Gift Rule For Kids
- How To Make Your Thrifty Holiday Special
- Holiday magic when you have NO money
Now, after reading all this, you’re probably wondering if this is even possible, right? We’ll here’s an actual breakdown of what your $50 budget for Christmas gifts might look like for a 10 year old.
- Bottled drink – $1 (Dollar Tree)
- Bag of chips – $1 (Dollar Tree)
- Misc toy – $1 (Dollar Tree)
- Reusable water bottle – $1 (Dollar Tree)
- Pair of touch screen gloves – $1 (Dollar Tree)
- Chocolate bar – $1 (most stores)
- Toothbrush- $2 (Dollar stores or Walmart)
Gifts (from parents and/or Santa):
- LEGO Set – $10 (See it on Amazon)
- Minecraft Building Book – $7 (See it on Amazon – Note: there are many books available for around $7 for this age group including chapter books)
- Card Game (multiple options out there for the same price) – $5 (See it on Amazon)
- Nerf Gun – $13 (See it on Amazon)
That leaves about $7 left over to either DIY something extra (I know my kids are obsessed with Gak and slime right now so a homemade DIY kit would be a big hit) or buy used. $7, at least in my experience, is enough to get a couple cool t-shirts or a decent second hand hoodie.
Of course, you could easily make this cheaper by shopping sales, using cash back promotions, couponing, etc. And every kid is going to want different things! But even still, you can really do a lot on a small budget.