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How to Spend Under $100 on Christmas Shopping

Updated on August 30, 2016

Make a List of Who You Must Gift

The ads during the holiday season are clear. We need to get gifts for everyone that we have ever met, spoken with or do business with. Is that really true? Do you need to gift your mail carrier, your trash man, your dentist, your waiter, your pastor or religious official, all of your friends and more?

NO. Don't give in to advertiser's guilt about who does and who does not qualify for a holiday gift.

Make a list of the people in your life that you must gift for. Here is my example list:

  1. Mom
  2. Dad
  3. Grandma
  4. Grandpa
  5. Son
  6. Daughter
  7. Sister
  8. Brother
  9. Aunt
  10. Uncle
  11. Cousin
  12. Niece
  13. Nephew
  14. Significant Other

On my list, I have 14 people. That gives me about $7.00 and some change to purchase each person a selection for the holiday. That does not allow for tax, shipping or other fees. By eliminating people from my list, I raise the amount of money that I can spend on each person. Originally, my example list had 50 people, which would only allow a spending amount of $2.00 per person. Cull your list. Be merciless. Email people and let them know that you are genuinely culling your list and that you ask them to remove you from theirs.

Select a Theme for Shopping

In my example for shopping, I chose a theme to make my purchases easier and to go to less places to shop.

I chose Asia and Asian Culture for my shopping trip. You will see why very quickly.

By choosing a theme, your mind will start linking items that are related to your theme, and you will be able to make matches that allow you to have a coordinated look to all of your gifts. This will make your gifts look more like beautiful presentations, and much less like cheap gifts that were purchased for very little money.

Write Gift Ideas Next to Each Person On Your List

How many of us start shopping by getting to a shopping center or mall and walking around until we find something that seems to match the person that we are shopping for? With no idea of the gift we are looking for, gift giving can get expensive. Try to come up with three key words for each of the people on your list that relate to your theme.

Here is my example:

  1. Mom - likes tea, candles, import foods
  2. Dad - likes coffee, sweets, statues
  3. Grandma - likes tea, nuts, soaps
  4. Grandpa - likes candy, Buddha, figurines
  5. Son - likes Karate, red, candy
  6. Daughter - likes blue, cats, candy
  7. Sister - likes flower blossoms, fun soaps, fans
  8. Brother - likes dark brown, Buddha, paper goods
  9. Aunt - likes tea, candy, import foods
  10. Uncle - likes fans, cookies, incense
  11. Cousin - likes Karate, fans, brown
  12. Niece - likes paper goods, pencils, cats
  13. Nephew - likes Buddha, import drinks, green
  14. Significant Other - likes tea, Geisha statues, Buddha

By having a list at hand, it will allow me to purchase multiples of items that match people in my list. It also lets me shape a gift experience that is easy to create and memorable.

Scout and Scour Your Sources Locally

Great sources for gifts are often overlooked. We all know about malls and the internet, but here are some places where I have purchased great gifts at really wonderful prices:

  • Ethnic Supermarkets
  • Regular grocery stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Restaurant and party supply stores
  • Religious gift stores located inside places of worship
  • Thrift stores
  • Resale Shops
  • Consignment shops


Work Your Theme

My theme was Asia and Asian inspired. I looked online and found many beautiful quotes and ideas about Asia, Buddha, Buddhist thought and Asian ideas of culture and design. This helped me to have a better idea of what I was creating.

I saved my quotes and attributed them to the source. I then started writing down colors and ideas that seemed to repeat themselves a good deal. It was really easy for me when I got this information to formulate wrapping paper ideas, themes for gifts that went together and quotes to put in my cards and gifts.


Speak With the Manager Politely

I decided that since the store was having a great price on statues and figurines that I would buy several pieces. The Buddha figurine that I was looking at was offered at a really good price, but could I get that price even lower? Asking to speak with the store manager was the best idea that I could have come up with. How much did I save? Look at this:

Buddha Figurine

Regular Price: $7.99

Sale Price: $4.99

Multiple Price:$2.99

My savings over the regular price was $5.00 per unit! Sometimes, you will be told yes, and other times, the price that you will be quoted is with a minimum purchase. My minimum purchase was 6 pieces.

Don't be afraid to ask for discounts on items. Here are some reasons to ask for discounts:

  1. Last item left on shelf
  2. Item damaged or slightly damaged
  3. Cheaper elsewhere. (Make sure that you can prove it.)
  4. Purchasing more than one
  5. Making large total purchase
  6. Using store brand credit card

Ask politely. Remember that they have the right to say yes, but the store also has the right to decline a better price. Sometimes, an item in a store is a "Loss Leader". That means that the item is being sold at a loss in order to drive sales into the store. The manager will not be able to reduce the price for you. Don't become hateful or irate if you are told no.

Don't ask the manager to come over and discount every single item. Wait until you have their attention. Point out the items that you are going to purchase and then ask for the discount. As a former employee at a major chain, I hated being asked to come and discount each item. When I had customers like that, I would only discount the first item. Customers that waited and asked me all at once were treated much better. Also, don't ask for discounts when you are in line. You are holding up the line. Other customers are waiting. I never gave discounts to someone in line. It took too long to process. If you get a discount, don't share it with everyone else in the store. That is between you and the store manager. A customer once shared with everyone else in the cosmetics section that I took a few dollars off of a lipstick for her. For the next hour, I had to explain to several different customers that she got a discount because she purchased a discontinued color. I wanted to bring her back in and remove the discount!


My Gift Haul Was Awesome

So, with 14 people and $100.00 for spending, how did I do? Here are some example photos that I took in the store with the permission of the store manager.

Stickers are Colorful, and Foreign Text is Exotic

I wanted to avoid buying roll after roll of scotch tape. I decided that I would seal the key folds with stickers.

Looking at the stickers, I knew that the bright colors and exotic writing would be perfect for most of the kids that were on my list as well as sealing my packages. It was a great idea and everyone loved it.

The funniest part was listening to the small children tell us what the foreign writing meant. A lot of fun for less than $2.00 for a large assortment of stickers.

Foreign Food is Fun and the Packaging Was Very Colorful

The snack food I selected was the one that looks like animals on the front. Owls and other birds made for a great presentation. One of my aunts emptied out her package and stuffed it with paper towels and re-sealed it so that she could display it with her owl and cardinal display. She went back and purchased several more as gifts for her bird watching club. Do make it a point to remember your source in case your recipient wants more of the same item. In most cases, returns to shops are not allowed unless there is something wrong with the food. If this is important to you, make sure and ask.

The boxes of colorful foods made my nieces beg my sister to wash out the boxes so that they could use it in their play kitchen. If you have children using these boxes after the food is removed from them, please make sure and clean them very thoroughly when done and seal them shut securely. Check for signs of wear and tear and discard if the containers become torn or damaged in any way. If children are too young to understand that the packaging cannot be put in their mouths, it is better to discard.

Figurines are an Excellent Place for Quotes and Stories

I bought several of these dragon statues because I have a few people in my group who were born in the Year of the Dragon. I attached the Chinese horoscope of the dragon to these with red ribbons (for luck) and then I added a separate poem to the back of the paper.

Learning the Chinese horoscope sign for each of my recipients allowed me to give a unique gift to many people that I knew would not be duplicated. The best part is that these were on clearance because they were supposed to be red, according to the sale flyer. I got them for $0.99 each!

I made it a point with all of my horoscope gifts to include a short personal anecdote about each person that highlighted each one of them in relation to their horoscope sign. Only use positive anecdotes. The holidays are not a time to embarrass your cherished loved ones.

Glass and Kitchen Goods

Don't look at items for the kitchen and other areas of the home with only that purpose in mind. My aunt is an avid craft person. I knew that she had salt and pepper shakers on her table and in her kitchen. What she did not have was a shaker for dispensing glitter!

My uncle does not need tiny bowls in his kitchen. His bathroom in blue and white benefited from having a small soap dish that matched the colors already there. Small bowls are perfect to use as a place to drop keys, extra change, pocket items and receipts.

A small sugar dish can become a condiment dispenser that sometimes comes with a spoon of its' own. My sister uses hers to hold croutons since the spoon limits her children in portion size.

A teapot is not just a teapot, but can be used to hold milk, liquid medicine and my personal favorite, poster paint!

I took some photos with the prices to show how wonderful the pricing is. Not all of the items you see are glass. Some are plastic!

Be creative and you will be rewarded!

Gift Bags and Fabric

I saw the brown fabric bags and had to have them. At less than $1.00 per piece, I was able to create a beautiful gift without having to use a basket, box, or paper bag. The bags were many different sizes and colors, this is a small selection. Although I do not know their original purpose, they were perfect.

My uncle now uses his bag as a trash bag in his car. My aunt keeps a pair of glasses in one. A nephew uses his to store crayons and colored pencils. My niece stores make up brushes. Applications are endless.

The non-silk fabric I purchased was very inexpensive. It measured over 6 feet long and was stunning. I gave them out as table runners. One now hangs over my nephews' bathroom door. He uses it to safety pin events that he is going to so that he does not lose his apartment deposit by making holes all through the door. My sister uses hers as an accent splash in her living room during the spring. She simply safety pins it to the top of her curtains and then rolls it up when spring is over. My grandmother uses hers in the closet to pin necklaces to. No one that I gave these use uses them as table runners, and that is okay with me.

The "silk" pieces that were Asian in their color and design I sewed into squares and made napkins with them. Each segment I bought was less than $10.00 for a piece of material that was about 3 yards. That was enough to make one dozen napkins. My aunt loves these and I made sure that they were machine washable.

What About the Items People Put On a Gift List?

I have been asked this a lot by friends when I tell them that I am shopping with a cultural theme in mind.

I explain that I shop with a theme to save money and to express how I feel about my loved ones without spending beyond my budget. Wish lists are things that people create to help others in the event that a person might not have ideas. They are not a shopping list that must be filled!

How Much Did I Spend for Fourteen People?

Here is my breakdown of gifts and my totals are at the bottom:

I bought :

  • Fabric
  • Figurines
  • Statues
  • Teas
  • Candies
  • Food and snack items
  • Stickers
  • Gift Bags
  • Salt and Pepper Shakers
  • Chopsticks
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Teapots
  • Paper goods
  • Pens
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Gum
  • Silk Flowers
  • Night Lights
  • Nail Files
  • Inflatable Karate Blow Up
  • Rice Paper fans

My total cost for everything, including wrapping paper, gas for the shopping trip, paper for printing, and of course including tax was $85.17! I ended up with about 3-6 gifts per person.

The total time spent researching, printing items for each person, driving to shopping, shopping and gift wrapping was less than 3 hours total! The hardest part was coming up with a theme and a list. Truthfully, paring down my list was a smart thing to do. No one complained, no one black listed me and it made for a stress free holiday. I already have my theme for gifts for this year and my family is actually looking forward to what they will get.

About Me

I hope that you liked reading this hub as much as I liked creating it. If you found this to be helpful or useful, please vote it up and read my other articles as well.

I love and cherish all feedback and I look forward to hearing from you!


Submit a Comment

  • Thundermama profile image

    Catherine Taylor 

    5 years ago from Canada

    Oh how I wish I would have read this before the Christmas season, awesome ideas here! This is bookmarked for next year. Fabulous!

  • Heather Says profile image

    Heather Rode 

    6 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

    Okay lady! This is a fantastic hub. I love all of your original photos and you've got some great ideas. I love the list of gift recipients and their likes. And the pic of you by the tree is great also :) Voted up of course!


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