Dollar Store Holiday Purchases that Won’t Make You Feel Scroogish

Strangely enough, until I married Jon, I never bought anything from a dollar store.

I’d go in, look at the cheap stuff, and let it be. Rarely did I consider a purchase.

If everything cost a dollar, nothing could be that good, right?

How times have changed. In our ten years of marriage, I’ve gone to Dollar Tree more times than I can count. I now actively try to find dollar store purchases that can replace buys elsewhere. 

With care and thought, you can find good bargains at the dollar store.

That’s especially true with dollar store holiday purchases. During the holidays, I want my money to stretch as far as possible while still being festive. And you have extra purchases around the holidays: presents, stocking stuffers, home decor, gift wrap and bags, and place settings.

But there’s a thin line between careful spending and getting Scroogish. I want to have a good time, celebrate the season, and gift with a glad heart, not just pay the least amount possible.

No one wants to feel like they are being a miser, even if they don’t want the ghosts of Christmas presents to bring on the credit card bills of January Future.

While I don’t recommend doing all of your holiday purchases at the dollar store, there are certainly a few things you can pick up that will save you money without having your friends and family yell, “Bah, humbug!”



Not all dollar store items make good gifts. Dollar store toys tend to be worth less than you pay for them, but there’s a number of things you can pick up round out your present-buying for cheap.

Christmas Cards

Dollar stores have cards for all occasions. Even if you don’t mail Christmas cards to your ex-babysitter and Great Uncle Bubba, it’s nice to have a few Christmas cards around for gift cards or gift certificates  While I love the extra snarky holiday cards I used to get at World Market, they cost me about $4-$5 a pop. Dollar store ones may not be as funny, but why spend more than a buck for something that someone’s going to look at once for 2 minutes?

Picture Frames

One of the best presents you can give folks is pictures of you and your family. But whether they are pictures you’ve taken yourself or had a professional sitting, those pictures will be a lot more appreciated if they are physical rather than digital and put into a frame. Most dollar stores have serviceable frames in multiple sizes.

Stocking Stuffers

While I’m not a big fan of dollar store toys, I think it’s a great place for stocking stuffers and gag gifts. If you look around, you’ll find candy (avoid the seasonal candy and go to the regular aisle!). It’s also a good place for things like glow sticks (my daughter loves glow sticks any time), bead necklaces, glitter and other craft supplies, bubble bath, and coloring books. For the grownups, you can find inexpensive kitchen tools, ice scrapers, fire lighters, and other small gifts.

Not everything will be a good deal, but you may find some inexpensive treats to round out your gift giving. That’s nice to have, especially if you’re giving one of your kids one BIG gift and want some extra things for them to open.

Gift Wrap/Bags

The dollar store is the place to get gift bags, no matter what the time of year. Far better to pay a dollar for a gift bag (or even 2 or 3) than spend $5 or more at a discount store like Walmart, including some big ones. They have some cute bows for your packages as well as tags, tape, gift boxes, cookie tins, and tissue paper.

They have gift wrap too, but I’ll give you this caveat: Gift wrap rolls at the dollar store tend to be smaller than those you get elsewhere. I saw some super cool Star Wars wrap and was tempted to get it to wrap presents until I realized it was all of 20 square feet of paper. Even at $1, that seemed like a bad deal to me!

Many of the rolls were larger at 30 or 40 square feet. For folks like me, maybe the little rolls would be better. I know I sigh a bit when I pull out the beat up roll of reindeer paper I’ve used since before Little Bit was born. I actually would prefer to spend $2 on fresh paper that I could use up and not have to store it year after year. But understand that you may end up spending more overall than if you buy bigger rolls elsewhere.


Dollar Store Holiday Purchases that Don't Make You Feel Scroogish

Entertaining & Decor

I may not entertain very often, but when I do, it’s usually the holidays.(Stay thirsty, my friend.) So I like to add some festive touches to my home.

I have an abundance of items I’ve bought over the years or that others have passed on. With all those items, though, I still have occasions where I need something new. Although I can find holiday items at yard sales and thrift shops during the year, I can’t always find them during the holidays when I actually need them.

For those occasions, dollar store holiday purchases can rescue my budget.


Having a party or just don’t want to clean up much after the big meal?

I love to get decorative cups, napkins, and paper plates from the dollar store. While disposable items aren’t always the most ecological choice, they sure can be convenient.

You’ll probably notice I did not say plastic forks, knives, and spoons. I’ve found those to break easily when I get them from the dollar store. If I need those, I buy them elsewhere. The paper stuff, though? Even if they are out of holiday-specific items, you should be able to find red and green or blue and white (or just about any other solid color.) with their regular party supplies.

You may also want to pick up one-use foil pans for cooking casseroles, pies, or other dishes, particularly if you head to a potluck elsewhere.

Table Decor

If you need some accents for your holiday table, I’ve found a few choice items at the dollar store. One find I use on my table is unscented taper candles. While the long candles may cost a pretty penny elsewhere, I can find them at the dollar store in 2 packs.

I also found greatn vases, perfect for some festive flowers.

While I tend to have plenty of plates, mugs, and glassware, I saw festively decorated versions as well. They seemed just as nice as the ones I see at Walmart or Target, only cheaper.

Decorations & Ornaments

I think dollar store Christmas tree ornaments are hit and miss. Some seem super tacky, but you can also find basic decorations like glass balls or bells that will complement almost any holiday celebration. If you are decorating your first tree, you can do a lot worse than exploring your dollar store options first.

I have a plethora of wonderful Christmas ornaments at home, but I found the dollar store a perfect source when I wanted to decorate my cubicle at work a couple of years ago. Items that seemed over the top glittery added festive touches to the beige world of an open office plan.

While I can’t make a faux flower arrangement to save my life, I’ve seen people do lovely things with dollar store wreaths and poinsettias, too.

Silly Hats

Hmm, I’ll probably wear a Santa hat for all of 30 minutes at a party or picture. Perfect Dollar Store holiday purchase. Whether you want to dress like an elf or don a pair of antlers to release your inner reindeer (or your dog’s inner reindeer), you might as well limit your spending to $1.

Don’t Be Scroogish

While no one wants to feel miserly, saving some money shouldn’t make you feel like a Scrooge.

Ebenezer’s real sin was being a Class A Jerk. He lost the reason for the season and had to be spooked into finding joy.

Don’t be that guy…or that girl. Misers are no fun.

Celebrate. Just moderate the cost by leveraging a few dollar store holiday purchases to save money while celebrating.

Do you ever feel Scroogish? What’s your favorite place to make inexpensive holiday purchases? What are your favorite dollar store purchases?


37 thoughts on “Dollar Store Holiday Purchases that Won’t Make You Feel Scroogish

  1. We are definitely Dollar Store purchasers of cards and gift bags! We also pick up holiday table items there too. There are plenty of Dollar Store finds that are decent in quality to add to regular giving or as you said – to cut down in certain areas of spending. It’s silly to think that everything there is poor quality. It definitely is a place where many people can go to find something to give to others. Great advice!
    Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions recently posted…Should We Stay or Should We Go? A Reader’s Relocation Decision – Pt. 1My Profile

    • I especially love the fact that they have giant gift bags for $1. That can be key for those bulky kid’s Christmas presents, and they can cost $10 or more elsewhere.

  2. I buy disposable table wear, gift bags, tissue paper and cards from the Dollar Store (and sometimes stocking stuffers). I was considering trying to put together a couple of gift baskets solely from purchases at the Dollar store – like a themed personal care basket, or household items (for my niece that’s heading off to college soon).

    This isn’t holiday related, but our Dollar Store has name brand, day old bread on some days of the week, so I occasionally pick that up.
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…Debt Free Story: How this couple paid off their mortgage in 5 yearsMy Profile

    • Yeah, I’ve noticed Nature’s Own bread there pretty often, which is what we usually buy at the grocery store…for $2.70.

      I like the basket idea, especially for someone going to college or setting up house for the first time.

  3. I have a huge grapevine wreath on my (covered) front porch and decorate it for different seasons and holidays. It now has a garland for autumn, but Christmas is approaching. I bought lovely Christmasey gold flowers and plastic balls last year at Dollar Tree (which has only been open a couple of years in our little town). Also found some new stocking hangers for the mantle and some extra ornaments for our
    tree. Threw in a few more holiday decorations and cards and ended up spending under $25! Could not have done as well at Walmart.

  4. Hail the dollar store! People have to get over their snobbish impulses. Dollar stores are a resource–nothing else. And if they have great prices on Christmas cards, gift wrap, paper plates, stocking stuffers, etc., why not take advantage of that? Thank you, Emily.
    Mr. Groovy recently posted…Will You Outlive Your Money in Retirement?My Profile

    • As someone who had LOTS of snobbish impulses, I take this to heart. I did get over them, but it took Jon pointing out how well we could make substitutions and what we could do with the extra money. There are things that are worth paying for (still a coffee snob! At least for quality beans I can grind and brew at home.) and things that aren’t (name brand bleach? Huh?) and things that can easily be found for less (Bought my Colgate at the dollar store!)

    • Considering how much I’ve spent at Target on picture frames, I was really glad for Jon to point the ones at the dollar store out! Pretty much the same thing.

  5. We frequent the dollar store for things that we use around the home. We haven’t shopped at the dollar store during the Christmas season. You have given a nice set of ideas to save money on things like disposables, gift wrap / bags etc. which makes total sense. This year we will stop by the dollar store for some of these items which we sure will need.
    Michael recently posted…Reflections 2016My Profile

    • Right? Most of the time, I’m willing to make an extra trip out for those things anyway. Might as well hit the dollar store instead of Target!

    • Yep, perfect source for cute paper plates and napkins for just about any occasion, particularly compared to what you have to spend at a party supply store.

    • Thanks Christina! The wrapping paper was really cute, even if the rolls were smaller. And, small rolls may even be an advantage if you don’t have a ton to wrap.

  6. I used to think that Christmas was expensive because of presents, but it’s more the “extra stuff” that makes the costs of the season add up – and as you say, so many of these “extras” can be bought at the dollar store. I really hate to admit it, but I used to have what can only be called a snob thing about places like dollar stores. I don’t anymore though. A good dose of debt-stress cured me of that!
    Fruclassity (Ruth) recently posted…How to Avoid Failure and Get Debt Payoff RightMy Profile

    • Ruth, I think my extras (cards, stamps, foods, wrappings, etc) cost more than my present giving for any one person, so it’s good to budget for them and find cheaper alternatives where I can.

      And I’m glad I’m not the only reformed snob here! There are good cheap buys available where you really aren’t skimping on quality…dollar stores, secondhand stores, Big Lots, Walmart, Aldi.

  7. I haven’t had a chance to go visit a dollar store. I want to really badly because when I hear something only costs a dollar, it makes me wanna live at the store! Checking out the quality of the merchandise will also help as well. It could be a double edged sword.
    Finance Solver recently posted…What Donald Trump Means for Your PortfolioMy Profile

    • Yes, not everything is high quality, so you have to be careful. But there are plenty of things that are just as good as what you buy elsewhere and may be the same things you buy elsewhere.

  8. Thanks for the reminder to visit the Dollar Store! We always head there for a variety of things before the kids’ big joint birthday party in the summer. We buy things like paper plates (as you mentioned) and little party favors and decorations. I also like to pick up cleaning and craft supplies there. For example, one container of glue at Wal-Mart is over a dollar, but you can get a pack of two at the Dollar Store. The picture frames are a great suggestion. We usually give pictures of the kids out as presents.
    Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope recently posted…Is It Financially Irresponsible To Have Another Child – If You’re In Debt?My Profile

    • Pictures are one of the best presents you can give, and while it’s really common to give presents of kids, we forget that our loved ones might also want presents of us. I know that when I was around 30 I paid a friend to do a photo shoot of me because my dad told me “I have no pictures of you since college. I need pictures!”

  9. We only buy birthday and christmas cards at the dollar store. My wife gets so mad if I spend more than that. I too never shopped there before I met my wife but there are aisles full of awesome things.

    We have definitely bought many items off your list and I even buy scented candles from there 🙂
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Are Messy People Better With Money?My Profile

  10. I like your ideas! And I don’t think there’s any shame in giving thoughtful, usable gifts – no matter where you buy them. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Good philosophy, Haley! I’d much rather get a thoughtful but inexpensive gift than expensive things I won’t use.

    • I really love Dollar Tree, but know there are other chains that are just as good. I’m glad you have one you can explore. (My brother says the $1 steaks are pretty good, but I haven’t dared to try them yet.)

    • I think the dollar store is perfect for seasonal-use items. How much do you really want to spend on things you only use one month a year?

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