Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Dollar Christmas

I do my Mother's Christmas shopping each year and each year I have to find new and inventive ways to be cheap. My mother gives everyone cash for Christmas BUT she wants something under the tree for them to unwrap.

Because she's giving them a sweaty wad of cash, the budget for gifts is low, really low. This year I have approximately forty-four gifts to buy on a $120.00 budget. Actually, that's a pretty good budget for a mom holiday. I've done it on forty bucks before.

Back when mother did it herself, some of the gifts were interesting. One year she found a multi-pack of men's socks on sale. She bought the socks and wrapped each of my brother's one pair. Yep, one pair.

Only it turned out the socks were boy's not men's. So they were about 6 sizes to small. But Mommy Dearest got offended when the boys had a sense of humor about it and tossed their unopened gifts back and forth between each other, pretending to fight over which pair of socks they received.

Don't think the girl's fared any better. We didn't. Goodwill shirts in garish turquoise or fushia, usually several sizes wrong. Polyester and double knits are so classic. Hah. My mother loves bright colors. Sometimes, the girls got packs of 99cent pantyhose. Those I didn't mind, you can always use pantyhose.

But somewhere over the years the mantle of frugal shopping has been handed down to me.

How do I do it?

Well I laugh at store sales. Roll in the floor, crying laughter. Something on sale for twelve bucks would have to satisfy three people at the very least.

And coupons are useless.

The key is to find one good item for a dead low cost. One year, I found 1 dollar umbrellas. They were acceptable and we all need one. I got about half of the people umbrellas. I put the extra cash into the children's gifts. The kids usually get any money overflow.

Things I've discovered:

Kid's love rubber balls on a string for some reason.
Rubber band Racers are always adored.

Don't need umbrellas?

One year, I found film on clearance. I snooped and found out how many relatives had cameras and what kind. I bought them film. This was before digital was the end all of everything.

This kind of shopping is all about the moment. I'm good at the moment. But it involves hours of combing through Dollar Stores, General Stores, and the occasional Thrift Store.

Do I enjoy it? No, no, no.

I hate it.

When someone at work brags about getting a deal on a video game for their kids for 30 dollars or someone going on and on about how they can only spend fifty dollars per person, I want to vomit.

And the gifts I'll receive will be on the same level as the one's I wrap up.

Ugly scarves, books from discount bin, and one year Barbie shoes. Don't ask, you don't want to know.

I wouldn't mind the books but they are always authors I can't stand like Jackie Collins or some hideous book on self-empowerment. I do not and never will want to read 'The Secret'. It's like bumper stickers for the soul.

So this year, I've been working on a geneology project. I'm printing each family their chart and framing in a cheap frame. More work than money.

No one will care.

I made homemade fabric padded cover albums one year and put pictures in them, my brother gave his to his kids to use in their tree house. My sister sold hers in a yard sale.

I don't suppose it matters.

Perhaps, I should get them all socks?

Nah. Jock straps.


I have a little shopping to do. There are Pez dispensers and rainbow suspenders to purchase.

Happy shopping.

Wish me luck.



  1. I adore shopping with you for the family - it brings me great joy. I always know that there is one more dysfunctional bunch than mine! I still love the plastic horse you got.

  2. True that horse was ugly but it did win the White Elephant gift exchange at work for tackiest present.

    LOL. Tirz