Christmas On A Budget: Stocking Stuffers

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Just three days left!! I am in a little bit of disbelief about this fact…this month has gone by at light speed. And while I like to get my holiday shopping done early, I for some reason always save stocking stuffers until the last minute. We don’t stuff our stockings until a couple days before Christmas, and I think that’s why I wait. I like to be able to tuck things right in! So if you’re like me, and still need to grab a few things to stuff in those stockings, take a look below at some of my favorite (and inexpensive) ideas.


There are three things that are most important to me when it comes to stocking stuffers, for both my hubs and my daughter. 1. Practicality. I’m really not a big fan of filling up a stocking with useless items just to say it’s filled. My hubs doesn’t need a bunch of stuff he doesn’t really care about, and my daughters needs more little toys like I need a kick in the shin, so I’d much rather find ‘useful’ things to tuck in there.  2. Inexpensive. I don’t know why, but I feel like if I spend a decent amount of money on something, even if it’s small, I want it wrapped and under the tree. I like the stockings to not cost as much. 3. Non-candy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about sweets during the holidays, but I don’t like the majority of a stocking to be junk food. Between baking, and Christmas parties/celebrations, we all get plenty of sweets. I try to stick to just one or two sweet treats for the stockings.

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A sampling of what’s going in my little’s stocking.

First up, little kids. This is especially where the non-candy ideas come in.

  • Playdough
  • Socks
  • Crayon packs
  • Small notepads/sketchbooks
  • Undies (which my daughter get’s weirdly excited about!)
  • Toothbrush/paste
  • Stickers
  • Craft/collage items
  • Character cups (they have them at Target/Walmart for less than $1 – my little is getting a Frozen one this year!)
  • Tub toys
  • Jewelry (dress up, or real – your choice!)
  • Chapstick/lip balm (if you’re child is old enough of course)

Need more ideas? Hit up Pinterest or Google and do a search – you’ll be overloaded.

My top places for nabbing kids stocking stuffers? The $1 section at Target…seriously filled like half my kiddo’s stocking there. Also, dollar stores in general – especially for stickers.


Filling up my little missy’s stocking has never been a problem. It’s my hubs that’s always a killer. Finding enough practical items to fill his stocking (that he will actually want/use) is a challenge and a half. But I’ve come up with a list that hopefully you can apply to your significant other – this isn’t a male only list, just a general ‘grown-up’ list!

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Things heading into my hubs stocking…except that lotion on the left – that’s going in mine from Santa!

  • Scratch Tickets (we never buy them regularly, so we always tuck a few in each others stockings!)
  • Notepads (I love lists so I’m always down for one, and my hubs likes to have small ones to keep on hand to take with him when he judges Magic tournaments.)
  • Chapsticks
  • Updated wallet photos
  • A fave treat or snack they don’t often get (in this case, for my hubs, it’s PopTarts. We never buy them but my hubs will have a whole box of Smores PopTarts tucked in his stocking!)
  • ‘Joke’ Boxers/Undies (I buy my hubs a pair of geek boxers EVERY YEAR for his stocking at Christmas. It’s become tradition. This year it’s Captain America.)
  • Packs of a favorite gum or mint
  • Small candles/wax melts
  • Lotion
  • Pack of nice(ish) pens (both my hubs and I like to write in pen, so this is always a good one)
  • New ornaments (in our case, geek ornaments if we happen upon any, but any ornament would do!)

And then, though this may sound obvious, I try and find something to cater to a favorite hobby. For instance, my hubs is really into Magic the Gathering, so I always toss in some booster packs from the sets he is currently playing with. As for me, I’m hoping for some of my own dice for D&D, so I can stop borrowing from our neighbor when we all get together for a session!

And there you have it – my go to stocking stuffers! Hopefully you’ll find an idea or two to apply to your own stockings to fill. I hope you have a truly excellent holiday, and enjoyed the Christmas On A Budget series. It was a blast to put together, and certainly kept me full of Christmas cheer. Though, really, I didn’t need to much help there. 😉 Do you wrap your stocking stuffers? I prefer to do a mix of both – some wrapped, some just tucked in. What do you prefer?

Christmas On A Budget: From Kids & For Kids

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Today we’re talking about the small humans you may have in your life. My daughter is about to turn four, so keep in mind this list is geared toward the younger spectrum of kids, both in gift making and receiving. This post mostly focuses on handmade gifts. Personally, it is super important to me to instill making gifts for people in my daughter’s life.  I am really not a fan of opening up a gift marked as from a little/young child and finding something storebought. They didn’t buy it, and chances are they didn’t even pick it. So why bother saying it’s from them? Maybe it’s just because I grew up making presents for everyone, and my friends I have always made each other things, but I find making a gift for someone and then getting to watch them open it to be one of the best parts of the holiday season.

My biggest thing to keep in mind when giving gifts from young children is practicality. I know that drawings, cards, collages etc. are great, but usually the reality is it hangs on the fridge for awhile and then ends up in the trash. I like gifts, even those from little ones, to have a little more lasting value, and ideally a USE to them.

A go-to for very young children is ornaments. For my daughter’s second Christmas (she had just turned one) we gave hand print ornaments. Specifically, I embossed her hand prints on green and red paper, dated them on the back, and looped some ribbon through. However, a stamp pad is much cheaper than an embossing kit (mine was a gift – woo!) and a stamped hand print would work just as well. If you’re feeling like putting in a little more effort, make up a quick air dry clay and do hand/foot print ornaments that way! I love ornaments as an option for young, especially first Christmas, kiddos to give as it’s a practical item that will be used year after year, and it commemorates their first one! Need some inspiration? Search on Pinterest – you’ll be overloaded with ideas.

My little’s first handmade gifts!

Picture frames/photo gifts are another great ‘from child’ option. You can buy plain photo frames at the dollar store, and then simply have your kiddo paint on it (after removing the glass! Don’t forget that step! I’ve done it!) and pop in a picture of your choice – voila! My other favorite option, especially for the 2 -3 year old age is the ‘interview’ photo. Write out a series of questions to ask your child about the recipient. For example, I made one of these for my mom last year and I asked my daughter, “What is Mimi’s favorite food?” “What is her favorite animal?” What is your favorite thing to do with Mimi?”, and so on. The answers you get at this age are hilarious, especially if you ask about age! As you can see below, I wrote out my daughter’s answer on a piece of watercolor paper she had painted, added a photo of my mum and daughter, framed it and called it a day. The whole thing cost me $3.15 (for the frame, and photo print) and my mum still says it’s her favorite present she’s gotten from my daughter! That’s a win. If you’re pressed for time, skip the interview and just have them paint on a picture. Once it’s dry, lay a photo over it and frame it. Done!

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Photo gifts from last year. So simple!

This year, we opted for bookmarks, another really great and practical option for little kids. Grab some thick paper (cardstock works fine, though my examples below were done with watercolor paper), cut it into bookmark size pieces, and have your child paint away! Once dry, laminate (you can buy a pack of laminating sheets for $6 – $10 depending on the kind – it comes with LOTS), and you’re done. We opted to add in some pressed leaves and flowers from our stash to give them some extra spunk. My daughter placed them, I did the gluing as the pressed pieces were so delicate, and that’s it! If you’re child is old enough to write (we are just starting, but she’s doing so well!) have them jot a quick message on the back just to give it the extra oomph of handmade love.


My other most favorite simple, cheap, and practical gift from little ones: A painted flower pot + a seed packet. A medium size plain terra cotta pot is about $2 – $3, and plain acrylic paint works great on them! However, you will need to seal the paint if it’s going to be an outside planter. We’ve never done these for Christmas, but they are completely applicable, especially for an indoor plant or herb!


Now it’s time to talk about ideas FOR kids. With all the commercials and advertising kids are exposed to I find that hand making gifts for kids can be intimidating. And yet, I think it’s so important to do to help instill with them the importance of handmaking gifts for people, themselves included! My daughter is only four, and we don’t have cable, so she isn’t exposed to a ton, but even she loves My Little Pony and many other ‘brand’ type things (Littlest Pet Shop anyone?). Luckily, most of my ideas can be adapted to incorporate their favorite things!

Plush stuffies. I know this sounds really scary, and complicated. The idea of making a stuffed animal of any sort always intimidated me. But I tried it this year, and it’s not that hard! I definitely recommend starting out with a purchased pattern if it’s your first time. Etsy has so many options, and most are only a few bucks each. Mine are all made out of felt because again, it’s super cheap. Can’t stitch to save your life? No problem! I’ve yet to make a stuffie that couldn’t be put together with hot glue instead. I use hot glue on some of mine that have really small details simply because I find it easier than stitching. I’ll be posting a tutorial on how I make plushies (from pattern making to finished product) very soon, so you can see my method. But hot glue would be a completely acceptable (and time saving!) substitute for hand stitching!

Some examples of the plushies I’ve made as gifts this year!

In the same vein as stuffies, I think masks are another great option for a fun gift, and one that promotes imagination! These would be a bit more advanced as you’d probably need to make your own template/pattern, but still a great option. Etsy has some amazing shops that sell masks – browse for inspiration if you’re thinking of making one for a special kiddo in your life!

Jewelry is another great, and relatively simple thing to make for the late toddler/preschool age (just beware of choking hazards). My daughter loves to play dress up with her jewelry, so a new beaded bracelet, or bracelet/necklace set would be a most loved gift. I tend to scout for beads and things on clearance, as you can often such great deals that way. Especially at Joanns.


As for non-homemade gifts, I love stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx to get great deals on toys and things. They tend to carry a pretty decent variety of brand toys and non-brand at a price that doesn’t kill your wallet. Often times too they have a pretty sweet arts and crafts section! My local Marshalls always has a great array of notebooks and journals (which my daughter loves to doodle in, and practice her letters!), along with really fun kits of crafts to do with the kiddos. It’s my go-to store for kiddo gifts!

 Next week is already the LAST POST before Christmas! I thought November went by fast, but good gravy December bumped it up to light speed. Anywho, tune in next Monday for the final post in the series Stocking Stuffers!

Christmas On A Budget: FOOD!

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Today’s topic is one of my favorites. I think giving (and recieving!) food is one of the best gifts out there! It’s not too expensive, it’s practical, and pretty much everybody loves a sweet treat. I make my friends and family a gift basket of homemade foods every year!

I happen to love to bake, but I can understand the intimidation of baking. However, I fully believe that if you can read, you can bake. Obviously, some recipes are easier than others, but for the most part following a recipe is super easy! Just take your time, and make sure you read each step. If you’re a really newbie baker, I recommend reading through the whole recipe at least twice before starting so it’s a bit familiar. And don’t forget to double check that you have ALL the ingredients! There is nothing more frustrating than getting halfway through a recipe and realizing you’re missing a key ingredient….not that I’ve done that or anything. *Cough*

Below are some of my favorite baking recipes to give as gifts! These are all links to my personal recipes, a lot of which are old blog posts! Therefore, please ignore all the funky footer stuff going on at the end of some of them, and the poor food photography (with lack of watermarks). 😉

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1. Banana Bread. I think this tops my list of gift-giving food. It is a staple of my yearly gift basket.


2. Peanut Butter Buckeyes. A simple, quick, and delicious treat!


3. Molasses Cookies. A bit time intensive, but they are my all time favorite cookie!


4. Zucchini Bread. Less sweet than the above banana, this bread is a savory classic.

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5. Pumpkin Spice Cookies. More of a fall treat, but so delicious!


6. Peanut Butter Blossoms. This is my classic Christmas cookie. My mum made them every year growing up, and it doesn’t feel like the holidays without them!


7. Lemon Bar Brownies. This recipe has a bit more to it than the others, but is still pretty easy! And absolutely delicious – I get raves about these.


8. Chocolate Pie. This is one of the richest chocolate mousse pies I’ve ever had, and it’s so simple to make.


Now that you’ve whipped up some yummy goods, lets talk presentation. Packaging up your lovingly homemade goods into a gift basket just adds a punch of holiday cheer! My biggest money saving tip for this? The dollar store. I go there every year to stock up on my food ‘gift wrap’. As I prefer a rustic Christmas look, I always start with a basket but really, pick any container that suits your fancy. I wrap my breads in plastic wrap, place cookies or other treats in cute boxes (or baggies), then add some ribbon or bows around the basket and call it a day! Cheap, easy, and pretty to boot.


Crunched for time, or truly doubting your baking ability? No problem! Make Food In A Jar! To me, this is one the best gifting concepts of all time. I love to give soup jars! Here are some of my faves from around the internet, and they make great last-minute gifts too.

(Click the pic to take you straight to the how-to!)

Cul-de-sac Cool shares five different cookie-in-a-jar recipes, with the free printable label tags to go with!

Our Bower shares this yummy looking Multigrain Chicken Soup in a jar.

The Frugal Girls shares a yummy looking Hot Chocolate in a jar! Be sure to check their French Vanilla Hot Chocolate too! (My hubs may be getting this in his stocking!)

Sassy & Sweet shares this Spice Tea in a jar.

Hope you found a new gift to give someone today. Next week for Christmas On A Budget: From Kids, and For Kids!

Introducing: Christmas On A Budget!

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With Christmas one month away as of today, it seemed like the perfect time to introduce my new series, Christmas On A Budget! I adore Christmas and, like most people, I love to give gifts! However, I live on a pretty tight budget. We are a one income household, and every year it seems like our Christmas to-buy-for list grows. I wanted to share some of my favorite tips and tricks for how to survive Christmas on a budget. For every Monday before Christmas in December there will be a new part in the series, featuring some of my favorite ways to save money and still give gifts for the holidays!

December 1st: Handmade Items
December 8th: Food
December 15th: From Kids, and For Kids
December 22nd: Stocking Stuffers

I hope you’ll tag along for each post! It’s been so much fun to plan, and hopefully you’ll find something helpful!


Below are some of the basic things I do each year to ensure this season doesn’t become overwhelming on the bank account.

1. Make A List
You know how I live off lists, right? Well, the Christmas season is no different. Often what can be so overwhelming (and killer on a budget) is the fact that the possibilities seem endless for items to buy. I always start by making a list of everyone I need a gift for, and then listing a few items I know they’d like. It’s kickoff point, and can help narrow down things for each person.

2. Stick To A Budget
I know this sounds like a DUH but I feel like it is one of those things that gets out of hand quickly. I am completely guilty of it. I’ll say to myself, Okay, no more than x amount for this person, spend it, and then a week later find something I just HAVE to get for them and spend more. Don’t do that! If you pick a number, STICK TO IT.

3. Make A Gift or Money Limit With Friends/Significant Others
This can really ease some stress if you worry about not being ‘even’ in your gift giving, which I think can be a legitimate concern! So whether it’s your mom, your BFF, your partner, or all of the above, agree to a no-more-than X number of gifts/$$ for each other and some shopping stress has been lifted.

4. Limit Gifts To Your Own Kids
This one is situational and a bit age dependent, but it can save so much money so do it if you can! In my case, my child recieves a TON of gifts from friends and family members. So as much as I want to buy her a massive amount of fun new things, I force myself to stop at a few, with a big special one from ‘Santa’. She will still get plenty, and my wallet is a lot happier. I say if you can get away with doing that too, go right ahead.

5. Shop Early
If I’m out and about in July and I see an item I know a friend will love, you better believe I’m buying it and stashing it away for later. I have a designated hiding spot for presents and I always put them there, that way it’s out of MY sight and I’m not tempted to give it to them early. Then come November, check your stash and see how much you DON’T have to buy! Seeing how it’s nearly December I realize this tip isn’t that helpful, but maybe tuck it away for next year?! A tweak to this could also be make it a goal to finish ALL your Christmas shopping by the end of November (I do this EVERY year). That way come December you have nothing to do but enjoy the season, and maybe snag a few last minute things if need be!

6. Comparison Shop
Another DUH, but one I forget about more than I’d like to. Often I buy something on impulse, than see it later on Amazon or a different store for cheaper. Now when I do my holiday shopping, I check everywhere I can think of online and then figure out what gets me the best deal. I do a lot less in-store shopping, but when I do I also try and coordinate it around sales.


These tips have worked well for me in the past few years! I feel a lot less stressed about the holiday season knowing I don’t have to worry so much about my budget, and that is a great feeling.

What are some of your holiday money saving tips?