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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 great 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.
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?