Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Santa's Sixty Dollars

Some of you were curious just what secondhand toys we found. I would call this a blow-out Christmas. I can already tell that Santa bought too much.

Even though I pared our toys to the bare minimum beforehand, I will likely pack half of these games away for later.

For our 18-month old: about $24 total, including the $5 Radio Flyer Horse pictured earlier.

Playmobil train set/farm set ($3) is suitable for both of them.

The big gift was a Batman LEGO set ($4) and a giant bag of Bionicles ($6).
The Castle book (.50) and building set (.69) made a serendipitous pair.

Here's the big, big stack of things to do this winter-- bringing the total to just under $27 for my five-year-old. My out-of-pocket expense was less. A $25 shopper reward at Thrift Smart made some toys essentially free.

For more budget goodness, Mama Says details how a family of 9 did all Christmas--down to the ham--for $300.

How about you? Did you keep track of what Christmas cost?


Anonymous said...

Wow -- I applaud you!

We do not have such nice thrift stores around here, but I was able to do a lot of great clearance sales and good coupons. I also shop year round, which also helps.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I am totally jealous of your totals. Overall, I don't feel we did bad. We got a Power Wheels Jeep from a friend for $25 and it looks new and I made a doll for my 2 year old, which cost next to nothing. We probably paid more for the stocking stuffers than the actual gifts. Except the $50 replacement battery for the Jeep.
A Merry Christmas was had by all.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

I definitely spent more this year (and more than you!) but I am still proud of what I was able to get. I have to say that when kids get older they want more specific toys that are current in the stores and that makes it tough to be frugal! That was definitely the case with my 5 1/2 year old.

Last year Santa brought a "gently used" huge toy kitchen that my boss gave me. I spent less than $100 on both my girls last year.

This year I got some amazing deals on Amazon (one My Little Pony doll my daughter wished for was marked down from 29.99 to $9.) I spent about $160 on both girls but they got name brand stuff from the stores (I also found two beautiful Danskin ballerina sets on clearance at WalMart for them for $10 each.)

You did great!

Anonymous said...

I won't even venture to guess what I spent because it will make you wonder what I am doing reading a blog about frugal living!!
Ok, while I am not exactly a spendthrift, I do feel like we spent way too much. I am honest when I say that after a very disappointing Christmas this year in terms of gifts/purchases/expenses, etc, I am COMPLETELY rethinking things already for next year. I am very, very impressed with how you managed to do such a modest, sensible, reasonable Christmas, Meredith, and yet still have kids who were thrilled and happy! (And the proof is in the photos!) It seems like, for the most part, kids are tired of their toys in a short time no matter what you paid for them. I have been really thinking about this over the past few days and want to become a better steward of our funds in the area of gift giving in particular. Thank you so much for sharing your totals, etc, because it gives me a benchmark to aim for in the months ahead!!!

Anonymous said...

Our goal this year was to only spend cash--no credit cards. We met that goal--gift cards from family and friends also were used to buy presents this year. No scary bills will be coming in January, thank goodness. However, like the previous poster, I now have a new goal--putting together a more frugal, yet merry Christmas for next year. I am starting today by looking for a full-size Artificial Christmas tree on deep discount. I have one gift card left, and I hope to replace our 15 year old, 3 foot tree with a seven footer for next year with very little or no cash out of pocket. Merry Christmas, Meredith. Thank you for inspiring me to strive for elegant frugality. Miss Kris

Donna(mom24boyz) said...

I am soooo jealous, but I have to agree with the comment it does get harder the older they get--not really 5 1/2 in my opinion, but my 12 year old was difficult. All he asked for was a laptop. but with 4 boys I can not afford to shell out that kind of money for money for one of my children. We tried bidding on ebay for the last few months, our limit was 250 including shipping, but we always got outbidded. We ended up getting him a Zune player on Ebay for $100.00 (at the stores in our area they are over 250, it was the big one)We also got him a kids"video" camera 1 gb disc type, So we tried to keep our spending to under $200 for my two older children--they each only opened about 4 gifts total--the problem is the things they desire are not cheap--now for my 5 year old, we got him the two things he begged for, Star wars ship --and a pirate ship--I got each 50% off day after thanksgiving--so we spent about 50 on him and we bought our s month old one small toy (Santa had to bring something for him)

The problem is not generally what we get them, but rather what ever aunt, uncle, grandparent, etc gets them! WE scream every year, ONE TOY only! but know one listens then my husband and I are stuck int he mess of it--
Great job Meridith! I miss the days my kids were younger and more innocent of consumerism!

Anonymous said...

My expenditures on the kids (ages 7 and 3) were about $120 total, the highest amount ever. Now, don't go into shock or anything! I'm thinking that I'll bring it back down to $50 or so each for next year and probably will do a toy or two fewer and will probably add in an outfit or two. I did buy them their own note cards from a budget online provider so that I could continue their instruction in proper written social communication (i.e., invitations and thank you notes), but that was the one practical gift for each.

I don't believe in beating myself up about stuff. Yes, I spent more than I'd prefer and probably wouldn't have if I hadn't been back to work full-time this year. Then again, because I also buy an equiv. amount for Angel Tree, I gave more into my community. So it's not all bitterness and recrimination!

In addition to the kids, I buy for about 22 people and we host the family Christmas meal with no contributions from attendees. My total expenditures on the holiday, including food and supplies for homemade gifts, decorations, hostess gifts, baking, school events and so on was just short of $450. This is possible, I think, because 1) I shop all year, 2) I can make some gifts (that people profess to enjoy) and 3) I know how to cook and bake.

I'm more concerned about what my husband spent on me (his holiday "budget" is spent solely on me and is separate from my budget). I'm totally grateful for his kindness and consideration, of course, but I do plan to have a gentle correcting conversation with him at a safely removed time - maybe April or May - about my expectations and how they are NOT what advertisers would have him believe.

TJ said...

We did our best by shopping clearance, and I was tracking really well for quite awhile. Our expenses were less than $50 each for our two children. I did my best to keep all nieces and nephews to right around $5, but ended up spending 12 on one. I figure with all gifts, and food costs for hosting 20 people, we were just under $500. A little more than planned, but we enjoyed ourselves, and were blessed with a bonus to help cover the extra expense.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

Oh wow! I'm so impressed!

I, too, have to agree that the older they get, the harder it is to save money on their gifts. We have 4 young nieces, and I can easily buy nice presents for them and keep the costs down. But our teenage niece is so much harder. At her age, she wants money, gift cards, or clothes from expensive stores. And anything used would NOT fly. I wouldn't even try it, frankly.

Anonymous said...

I'm new at this thirfting for Christmas. But I did start in time for this year, thanks to you Meredith. Actually we all made our gifts for each other. It was one of the best exchanges we have ever had and plan on doing it next year. All our kids are older (20's) so it is alot easier for us to do.
The ladies in my family recieved Spa Packages. I made Sugar Scurbs, soap, hand cream bars. All the containers came from Thrift Stores, plus the silver spoons! The ribbons that the presents were wrapped in ribbons from last year and I put all the gifts in baskets (from Thrift Stores!) Each gift truned out beautiful. One daughter was jealous until she found out that she got one also!
Thank you Meredith!

Anonymous said...

I didn't keep track of our total Christmas expenditures, but for gifts for our 2 year old, we spent $30 on blocks from Etsy and maybe $10 on stocking stuffers (plastic animals, a flute, etc.). Like Donna, I agree that our relatives gave her far too much (clothes and books and CDs and a tea set with plastic food and some puzzles). She is confused by all this - we really downplay gifts - so I am glad to be reminded by other commenters that kids are not so easy to please as they get older. My husband and I got each other 1 gift. We really don't do multiple gifts for anybody.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my, I thought I was a thrifty Momma this year, but obviously not. This is fantastic! Merry Christmas to you all.

Kate said... I didn't keep track of the cost, but I'm quite sure Christmas was between $500 and $800 this year. 2008 is my year of frugality and thrift. I'm going to try to keep it down to a low roar for Christmas next year.

Anonymous said...

Meredith, I am very impressed. Your kids got some great goodies! We probably spent too much this year....but, as always, we paid cash for it. We went "dream shopping" at an electronic store, checking out digital cameras for ourselves. Glimpsing the prices, we knew we'd have to wait and save. I jokingly told my husband, "Maybe my parents will buy us a digital camera," and he said, "Yeah, right." So he got me a day planner and I bought him pajama pants and my parents....gave us a digital camera!

Anonymous said...

I will encourage all of you with young children that it gets much cheaper when they are out of the teen years. (Mine are unmarried in their 20's) Ready? I spent $7 on one child and gave a free-- because of an exchange-- paperback book to the other one! Yes, that is right; seven dollars total!

We all wanted to give the money to others (Christmas boxes, angel tree, a community outreach, and mostly Compassion International.) When the children grow up it truly changes,so don't feel too bad if you bought an extra toy or two. It sounds like everyone did well.

Unknown said...

I have been reading your blog for quite a while now but just now started blogging myself. This is the first comment I have left...I am so excited!! I really enjoy your posts. We have just recently started thrifting also, we were on a cash only basis this year for gifts for the first time ever! I wasn't nearly as thrifty as you but we did well for us, watching sales, using coupons, etc. It will be so nice not to have any credit card bills coming next month!

Anonymous said...

I love the gifts you were able to find for your children. I am sure they will have many hours of fun playing with those things.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful blog with us. It is so very kind of you to inspire the rest of us. Roxie

Alice Gunther said...

Truly fantastic, Meredith!

Merry Christmas, and thank you for the inspiration!

TheyDHD said...

Congrats on all the great finds!

Anonymous said...

You have a great eye for quality on the 2nd hand market!

DH, [who is very practical and thrifty normally], goes a little nuts with electronics at Christmas. So, we had a lavish Christmas full of gifts.

I did find a Royal Doulton coffee creamer with 2 cups for a thrifted gift for me from Santa ($1.50). said...

We spent half of what we did last year, and paid cash only. I did some prettily packaged cinnamon sugar pecans for friends, made with a large bad of pecans I had on hand from a Costco purchase a few months ago. They were so delicious! It felt so good to stay in budget and pay with cash... We kept things in perspective, and we don't feel guilty about overspending. Hallelujah! :)

Now, for next year, we want to do a better job focusing on Jesus's birth rather than all the traditional holiday hoopla...

Kimi Harris said...

Wonderful Job! I have been reading your last few blog posts as well. You do such a great job using everything well and making everything beautiful. Excellent job. :-)

Lisa B. said...

Our goal was also to pay cash for all and not use credit cards...we met that goal.

I read others comments and I have to disagree with "it gets harder as they get older".

I believe it's all in the way it is presented to the older children.

My 10yr old son loved all his gifts, a couple were purchased at the retail stores, the rest from thrift stores. His list was a mile long, with a Wii, 4 wheeler, and Ipod included. We discussed the unrealistic list and he pared it down himself.

There were a couple smaller things bought off his list, the rest were things his father and I knew he would enjoy but had not thought of.

And we were right. He was delighted with all his gifts, he knew most of them came from thrift stores, and he didnt care.

Ellen said...

I just wanted to tell you that I am truly impressed. I want to know how you score the thrift store sales you do. I don't know where you live, but around here, it seems like our high illegal immigrant population walks off with most of the thrift store finds. I have been disappointed. Any tips? =) Merry Christmas!

Julie said...

We did well, but not that well! Good for you. I think I need to stockpile thrift finds and put them away for birthdays and Christmas. I just didn't have the time for it in December. The favorite gift by far was an older book on turning bikes into mechanical contraptions for 25¢. helped that the boys got new bikes from Santa so they have a garage full of old bikes to repurpose.

Anonymous said...

You are simply amazing, and inspiring as always. This year I plan on year-round shopping, that's all I can say!

Lana said...

We did 18"previously loved dollies with a couple of outfits for my 4yo DD and 3yo neice, the total was less than 10 for both combined :-)

Great deal on the bionicles!! I have a bionicle-hollic here too.... 7yr old DS.... Isnt the thrift store great??? :-)