Christmas Gifts Part 2: Fun Ways to Do Christmas on a Small Budget

Christmas Gifts Part 2: Fun Ways to Do Christmas on a Small Budget


My life is a bit of a conundrum: I am a huge lover of all things Christmas while at the same time loving a good deal and saving money. You’re probably sitting there, thinking, “How in the world are you supposed to do both at the same time?!” You’re in luck, because I’m about to tell you!!


I have always been a lover of gift-giving. I blame it on my mom since she’s the best gift-giver around (no joke). BUT, when I entered my adulting years, I realized that buying gifts for anyone and everyone can quickly become stressful when you’re forced to spend your own money instead of your parents’ (oh, to be young again). Rather than quitting gift-giving all together, I decided to change up how I did Christmas in order to get the best bang for my buck.


If you’re entering the holiday season knowing you’re strapped for cash but you still want to call on your inner Saint Nick, below are my favorite ways on how to grab some joy and make the most of it!


  1. Exchange names: Imagine you only had to buy one gift (or two if you’re married) instead of FIVE or even TEN (big families, I’m talking to you). Talk about maximization at its finest!! Not only will you save time and brainpower (less shopping & less thinking), but you’ll probably save money in the end as well. Exchanging names allows you to buy one meaningful gift that might cost $40 versus spending $10 per person on things that are small and insignificant. If you’re smart, you’ll talk your family into this one!
  2. Stocking stuffers: If you’re one of those people that can’t imagine a world where you don’t buy for each and every family member, try sticking to a set limit and only buy stocking stuffers (for example, buy $5 stocking stuffers for each person). This forces you to be creative with a smaller budget but also allows you to exercise your love of gift-giving.
  3. Make a game of it: Rather than setting a dollar limit or only buying for one person, create a fun task for yourself while still gifting each person on your list. Ideas include creating artwork from supplies you already have on hand, finding the perfect gift from a store like Five Below or Target (hello, dollar section!!), sewing a costume, thrift shopping, or re-gifting a meaningful trinket from your past.


Below are some examples of how you can mix and match the above tips for some holiday gift-giving fun:


Each year, my immediate family exchanges names for Christmas. We spend a larger amount on the person whose name we have, but then we also buy $5 stocking stuffers for each person in the family. This has been a fun way for us to give gifts to each person but also stay smart.

Are your kids into building things? Check with your mom to see if she saved that big box of Lincoln Logs that you played with as a kid. If so, wrap those puppies up and put them under the tree!! They may be used but I’ll bet your kids will be excited because a) they were yours and b) they’re a new toy they haven’t played with before. (The same could go for your old Barbies, tractor, Polly Pocket, GI Joe, etc. It’s amazing what moms will keep after you leave the nest!)

A friend of mine had a fun tradition growing up: her mother always filled their stockings with Goodwill finds (a t-shirt, coffee mug, paperback book, CD, etc.). She’d score thrift stores looking for things that she knew each of her kids enjoyed. I love this idea because it’s thrifty and fun at the same time.

Maybe your kids want to get Daddy gifts for Christmas. Give them each $3, or, heck, even $1, and let them explore DollarTree looking for the gift they think Dad will like the most. My guess is he’ll love it, even if it wasn’t expensive, because they chose it themselves.

Sew a costume or fun dress-up items out of scraps of fabric you have sitting in your craft drawer. Or, if you’re really skilled, sew some doll or Barbie clothes rather than spending that $7-10 at Walmart.

Have everyone in the family buy a $25 gift. Bring it to your Christmas gathering and play Bingo to see who will get which present! This way, everyone gets a gift and there can’t be any hard feelings because so-and-so didn’t buy for everyone. (WARNING: there WILL be hard feelings if everyone puts effort into their gift except for that one person who brings toilet paper because he/she couldn’t think of anything else. Leave your toilet paper at home!!)


Be creative when it comes to gift-giving!! It’s ok to break out of the box and choose a different path in order to save money this year. You can get more tips on how to spend less for Christmas here. (Would you like some ideas on how to budget for the holidays? You can get my Christmas Gift Budget worksheet straight to your inbox by entering your info below!!)


What ideas do you plan to implement this year in order to maximize your gift giving?


XO, Kayla

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