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Nov 7, 2013
5 Frugal Tips to Give Your Kids a Fantastic Holiday
By Blayne Burke
It's no secret that we like to do the holidays up BIG over here! We love everything there is about gifts, especially giving them. It's just plain fun! However, being a one income family who has to stick to a serious budget can be very restricting when it comes to holiday shopping. If this describes your family, then I have a few tips for you!
1. SHOP EARLY
This is the #1 tip that I can suggest for everyone. By shop early, I don't mean start now. I mean start after the holidays. Well, start after the holidays if you are starting this process NOW. I currently have gifts stashed away for years to come, and my holiday shopping has been done for about 4 months now. It honestly is the best way to go if you want to be stress free during the holiday season. It also gives you more time to focus on fun things like how to wrap the gifts creatively, creating a few handmade gifts of your own (see #5), and snuggle up with a nice cup of hot cocoa and/or peppermint bark and the holiday movie of your choice! Not to mention, shopping early is the very best way to shop frugally. If you have 12 months to slowly get all of your gifts together, there is no time crunch as you shop the sales and make sure you find the best bargains. I started doing this last Christmas when I hit my first after Christmas sale. I got tons of amazing name brand toys for dirt cheap to stash away for this holiday season, and I was hooked! Throughout the past year, I have stocked up on sales, dollar bin deals, and coupons to build an amazing, yet extremely frugal holiday.
2. Coupons / Dollar Deals
So, it has to be said: Coupons are worth it! Taking the extra time out to figure out coupons is 100% worth it. I am NO expert by any means, and sometimes it still makes my head hurt to try to think through a particular transaction. However, when you are taking home carts full of toys for free and the cashiers are commending you for your skills, there is no way you won't be hooked! There are so many resources and blogs out there that basically tell you exactly how and when to go out and get stuff for a super discount or for free. I would advise you to subscribe to those blogs. (For Example: MoneySavingMom) They are pretty invaluable!
Something much easier than couponing, and sometimes just as exciting, are dollar deals! By dollar deals, I mean those cool bins they have at the front of most big chain stores. You can also go to the dollar store of course. My favorite is the Dollar Tree. If you go 2-3 times a month, you can make sure to scoop up any stuff that is quality enough for gifts. My favorite place to find great gifts and resources is the Target dollar bin. Honestly, this place is a mecca for great cheap gifts year round! This summer was probably my favorite time of the year for dollar deals. I stocked up on some super awesome large dinosaurs that I will be giving Kingston for Christmas, as well as some great flashcards and learning materials. I also get my holiday themed stuff, art supplies, and sensory materials using dollar deals!
3. Used Book Sales
Used books as gifts? Yup. Used books! I never ever ever buy books full price unless I have a gift card to a particular place (though even then I generally use a coupon). I am all about new books on super clearance or used books. There are so many gently used books in excellent condition out there that people are getting rid of. My favorite place to go for used books is the Used Book Superstore. The books are sorted well and you can get them dirt cheap when they are having sales. Another great place to buy used books on the cheap is at Savers and other thrift stores! Probably an even smarter place, but somewhat more of a challenge is to use BookSaleFinder.com to locate used book sales in your area. Generally these are library sales or community sales where people are selling high quantities of books at insanely low prices. Yard sales are another great place to find gently used kids books. When I am on the hunt for used books, I make sure that I find ones that are like new and in excellent condition with no writing inside or teeth marks or unidentified sticky substances! A lot of the books I purchase used look better than some of the "brand new" books you can find in store. After I take the tag off the back, my child never knows the difference. Plus we are able to get 10 or more used books for the price of one new, which I think is pretty amazing!!
4. Gift Cards
We love gift cards!! Whenever we receive a gift card, we generally sit on it for awhile, until we can decide the best use for it. I don't know about you, but when my child gets gift cards, it is usually during a holiday or event when they are already getting a ton of other gifts. Therefore, they don't necessarily need to also use that particular gift card to receive even more gifts at that exact moment. What I do, is go out and purchase a handful of gifts for the next holiday with THAT gift card money. Then, not only did I not overwhelm Kingston with even more gifts, but I am ahead of the game for the following holiday. This may not work as well with an older child, but it works pretty wonderfully for the younger ones. I also tend to have a habit of saving up all of the gift cards I receive for myself and using them to buy gifts for others. It really is a frugal way to go because unless you really need something at that particular store, you may just end up blowing it when you could be using it to save money during the holiday season! These are also great to combine with coupons to make you feel like you are doing your holiday shopping for free.
So, homemade gifts are not for everyone, but I love them! I love making fun DIY gifts for my little guy and for family members. The only problem with handmade gifts is the time it takes to make them. Every mama is short on time. Between take care of, teaching, and playing with little ones, cooking, cleaning, household maintenance, errands, and about 4 zillion other things, we don't always get the time we would hope to sit down and craft a gift. However, if you have done your holiday shopping throughout the entire year, catching all your sales, clipping all your coupons, and being a frugal supermom, then you should have a tiny bit of extra time to make something special! I love the idea of including at least one homemade gift under the tree of your little one. Not only is it super frugal, but it is from the heart and full of love. Things like homemade quilts, rag blankets, quiet books, stuffed animals, pajama pants, etc. make great inexpensive gifts for the littles! This year, I am hoping to finally finish a quiet book for Kingston, make him a super simple no-sew tie blanket out of fleece from his birthday party, and a pair of pj pants. I'm going to do all of this for absolutely free with materials I already have on hand. If you know you are planning on making a couple gifts for the holidays, make sure you buy materials with a coupon during sale times! Or even better, re-purpose an old shirt, sweater, or curtains to create something frugally awesome!
I hope these five frugal tips were helpful! It can be hard to stick to a budget, and sometimes it may seem that the only way to give your kids and over the top awesome holiday is to break the bank. But, I assure you there are other ways! Make a game plan, shop frugally, and buy smart. Have a fantastically frugal holiday!
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