How Much Do Real Families Budget For Christmas?



A friend of mine once asked: “How much do real families budget for Christmas gifts for their children?”




If there was ever a question I didn’t want to get into at Christmas, that would be the one. 


It did get me thinking though—and after sixteen Christmas mornings with a few of the cutest kids running around our home, our family has learned a thing or two.




1. Decide when your children are young what Christmas will look like for your family.


Goodness, I wish I could tell every momma of a one-year-old that they simply don’t need to spend more than $20 (at the very most!) on that little one.


Babies have as much fun with the boxes as they do the actual presents . . . and my bet is a few family members will add a bundle of gifts to their Christmas treasures.


By choosing to purchase less when they’re little, you’re paving the way for your child’s future expectations.


If you shell out $500 in gifts to a four-year-old, just imagine what their expectations will look like when they’re fourteen.


Start simply.


Be different.


Determine when your kids are young that Christmas will be about more than dozens of gifts under the tree.




2. As your children get older, continue to keep it simple.

Remember the thirty-two bins of toys you hauled to the thrift store last summer?


That may have been because your kids simply received a few too many gifts on Christmas morning.

Instead, choose a few items that your child will love and let the rest go. Before making a single purchase, consider if the gift will end up in the bottom of the toy bin in a week or two.


If so, your child probably doesn’t need it to begin with.




3. You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. (Really.)

Be okay with doing things differently.


Inevitably, on Christmas day when neighbor kids race outside with Christmas treasures, my kids have occasionally felt a wee bit disappointed.


“Why did Santa like them better than me?” 


That, folks, especially with young children, is a tough one.


Our answer has been that Santa checks with parents before he hands out the Christmas gifts, and since our children know we choose to live differently, they seem satisfied with our answer.


(And trust me, if you saw our home, you’d have no doubt that our kids have plenty.)


Rather than trying to make Christmas special for your child by keeping up with someone else, encourage them to make Christmas special for another child. 

  • Adopt an Angel Tree child and let your kid choose gifts for them.
  • Donate food to a local food drive and let your child help do the shopping.
  • Fill an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox to send to children who may get nothing else this Christmas.


And on Christmas morning, be the parent who plops down on the floor to help build that new Lego set. (Your undivided attention will be more valuable to your child than any Christmas gift. I promise!)




4. Christmas will change as your family changes.

What Christmas morning looks like this year in our home is different than what it looked like fifteen years ago.


Our finances have changed and our kids have changed, so we’ve made adjustments along the way.


For Christmas this year, we’ll spend around $125 on my nine-year-old, thanks to some incredible deals I’ve scored shopping early (and she will have plenty).


Christmas for my sixteen-year-old will look a little different, though, and he’ll probably get a few things he needs, in addition to some fun gifts. (Gifts for a sixteen-year-old just cost more. I haven’t figured out a way around that!)




5. No matter their ages, set a budget for each child’s Christmas.


Don’t be tempted by a last-minute deal to fill up space underneath the tree. Instead, decide your limits ahead of time, and stick to them this year.
Don’t go beyond your budget to make Christmas special for your children.


Instead, make Christmas by creating lifelong memories, choosing unique gifts just for your kids, and making your home just the place your children want to be on Christmas morning. 


Especially if your children are little, think small because that sets the expectation for the next year.


Determine to make Christmas special by enjoying family traditions, and know that the choices you make today pave the way toward financial freedom in the future.




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Dollar Tree Gifts to Give


Grab my list of 101 Stocking Stuffers under $1 or less over HERE! 

Dollar Tree Gifts to Give

Y’all know I love gifting from the Dollar Tree . . .


So here are a few ideas.


Grab a bucket from the Dollar Tree or One Spot at Target, and add the words “JOY” (I made mine with my Silhouette Cameo Cutter and contact paper.)


Make this cute snowman using candles and ribbon from the Dollar Tree (the bell ornaments are from the Dollar Tree too.)


So simple, and perfect to give as a teacher gift this year with a gift card attached, or even for kids to make as a class project!


You can also set your table using this cute scarf (seriously folks, I’m addicted . . . )



And you’re all set. Success! 🙂 



the ChristmasEdition

Looking for more Christmas fun at the Dollar Tree?




I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)


See more previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!


Interact with 353K+ Penny Pinchers on Facebook and Twitter or Subscribe to Passionate Penny Pincher by email to keep up with all the penny pinchin’ deals!
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Best Cookie Jar Ever




Oh my.


I’m so excited about this.


Like. I. *love*. this.


And I soooo hope you do too!


This last week my mom was in town visiting and we stopped by Hobby Lobby. They had their glassware marked down to 50% off (remember, almost everything is marked 50% off at Hobby Lobby every other week, and if it’s not marked 50% off, you can always use a 40% off coupon. You’re welcome.)


So, because I absolutely love playing with etching cream (remember I’ve used it before HERE and HERE), I decided to grab a jar to work on, and made a few fun gifts! I was struggling with what to put on those jars, then it dawned on me that it would be so fun for my own kids to have my cookie recipe written down for them. 🙂


You can print your free recipe cards for my chocolate chip cookies over HERE if you’d like ~ they really are the best. 🙂 


Here’s what I used (as well as my mistakes – I may actually re-do this tutorial next week because a few readers helped me learn along the way!)


First, you need etching cream and a few glass jars (these are huge – the smaller one was $12.50, I think the larger one was $20 but it was a gift for my mom who wanted a bigger jar.)



I used my Silhouette Cameo (I love this thing!) to cut out the words on vinyl adhesive . . .


(Here’s a peek at me practicing some of the letters on the Cameo . . . if you don’t have a Cameo though, you could easily make this using a stencil pattern or stickers in a pattern you love!)


Then I removed the backing from the vinyl and attached it to the glass, and painted with etching cream.


(Note – I learned from folks over on Facebook live that your’e supposed to actually wipe off excess etching cream before peeling the vinyl off ~ I had no idea and am going to have to try another jar that way!)


Then my mom started fluffing those jar gifts using a few fun items from the Dollar Tree 🙂



These super cute bells and berries were from the Dollar Tree (the spatula was $2 at Hobby Lobby . . . )


And for the record ~ this would be SO much better to give as a gift with those homemade cookies in the jar, however it was the week of Halloween and I could not possibly bake one more sweet in my house to fill this jar. You get the idea. 😉


I found the ornaments on clearance last year at Target 90% off, the snowflake ornaments were $1 at the Dollar Tree for a pack of two, and the Merry and Bright sign was from Hobby Lobby for $3 (this small jar was from Walmart for $4)




And we attached a Dollar Tree star (I love those big stars!) to the the large jar with “grace” which headed home to my mom’s house.


Overall, I’m so pleased with these little projects and am going to make a few of the cookie jars as gifts this Christmas (I’m so excited!)

(And, if you’d like a video tutorial how to use etching cream, here you go. It didn’t work perfectly on the Dollar Tree plastic containers, but hopefully it will give you an idea of how etching cream works!

Are you working on any homemade gifts this Christmas? I’d love to hear what you’re making ~ leave a comment to share! 



the ChristmasEdition

Looking for more Christmas fun at the Dollar Tree? 




I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)


See more previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!


Interact with 353K+ Penny Pinchers on Facebook and Twitter or Subscribe to Passionate Penny Pincher by email to keep up with all the penny pinchin’ deals!
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101 Items To Buy at the Dollar Tree This Fall



Getting ready for fall but don’t want to bust your budget? 



Be sure to check out the Dollar Tree before heading somewhere else! Here are 101 items to buy at the Dollar Tree this Fall . . .



For Halloween parties

  1. Halloween paper plates
  2. Halloween table cloths
  3. Halloween cups
  4. Halloween placemats
  5. Halloween candy molds
  6. Halloween treat bags
  7. Halloween paper straws
  8. Halloween plastic rings
  9. Halloween candy bags
  10. Halloween candy buckets
  11. Halloween creepy plastic creatures
  12. Halloween cookie cutters
  13. Plastic candy containers
  14. Fankenstein plastic cups with lids and straws for kids


For Fall parties

  1. Fall plates
  2. Fall glasses
  3. Fall bowls
  4. Fall placemats
  5. Fall cookie cutters
  6. Aluminum baking dishes


For Halloween decorating

  1. Glow sticks
  2. Felt pumpkin decorating kits
  3. LED strobe lights
  4. Silly string
  5. Pumpkin carving kit
  6. Helium balloons
  7. Halloween centerpiece
  8. “Fright” tape for Halloween yards
  9. Halloween paper lanterns
  10. Outdoor halloween decor
  11. Extension cords


For Fall decorating & crafting

  1. Fake pumpkins
  2. Fall leaves
  3. Candles
  4. Candleholders
  5. Mason jars
  6. Scarecrows
  7. Fall ribbon
  8. Fall flowers
  9. Fall centerpiece
  10. Thanksgiving platter
  11. Metal wreath rings
  12. Grapevine wreaths
  13. Raffia
  14. Foam blocks
  15. Foam wreaths



For costumes

  1. Princess tiara
  2. Princess wand
  3. Princess gloves
  4. Cheer pompoms
  5. Chef hat
  6. Chef apron
  7. Fairy wings
  8. Fairy skirts
  9. Feather boa
  10. Witches hat
  11. Witches broom
  12. Spider tattooes
  13. Fake nails
  14. Plastic necklaces
  15. Baton for baton twirling
  16. Hair ties
  17. Plastic rings
  18. Toy binoculars
  19. Cowboy hat
  20. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Shell
  21. Ninja sword
  22. Ninja vest
  23. Camouflage hat
  24. Fake mustaches
  25. Light up swords
  26. Finger lights
  27. Spider tatoos
  28. Pet costumes
  29. Stuffed animals
  30. Poster board for costume
  31. Cardboard boxes if needed
  32. LED lightup necklaces
  33. Construction paper
  34. Tape
  35. Scissors
  36. Halloween makeup
  37. Makeup remover wipes 🙂


For “boo” bags (print your free “you’ve been boo’ed” letter HERE)

  1. candy
  2. toy rings
  3. deck of cards
  4. coloring books
  5. glow sticks
  6. bubbles
  7. sidewalk chalk
  8. play-do
  9. yo-yo
  10. silly string
  11. fall craft kit


Halloween Candy



NOTE: Check the price on candy, some of the Dollar Tree prices can be high when you count per piece. For example, right now at Amazon you can get candy for a slow as 5¢ per piece ~ make sure you’re not paying more than that before buying!

  1. Tootsie Rolls
  2. Blow Pops
  3. Starburst
  4. Whoppers


Miscellaneous Stuff

  1. Fall cards
  2. Halloween cards
  3. Large project board



Looking for more ideas on what to score at the Dollar Tree while you’re there? Here you go:

How to Decorate for Fall at the Dollar Tree

8 Frugal Ways To Decorate For Fall

8 Frugal Ways to Decorate for Fall

the ChristmasEdition

33 Deals You Need to Buy at the Dollar Tree (the Christmas edition!) 

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Dollar Tree Pumpkin Craft


Looking for an easy Dollar tree craft this October? Here you go!





  • Small faux pumpkins (watch for these at the Dollar Tree)
  • White craft paint (check the Dollar bins as well at Target or Michael’s)
  • Krylon looking glass spray paint
  • (2) Foam paint brush
  • Mod podge or liquid glue
  • Black glitter



1. Lay a couple sheets of old newspaper down on your craft surface


2. Use your foam paint brush to paint your pumpkins white and let dry


3. Next take your pumpkins outside, lay another piece of newspaper down, and spray your pumpkins with your spray paint and let dry


4. Now paint the bottom half of your pumpkins with your mod podge and immediately cover with glitter (best to do the glitter over the garbage or outside)

5. Let your pumpkins dry, shake off any excess glitter, and display


Looking for more ways to decorate for fall on a penny pinched budget? Here you go:


DIY Butcher Block Sign


I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)


See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!


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Stitch Fix Review

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy to learn more.


Sooooooo, I’ve been curious about Stitch Fix for quite awhile, and was scrolling through Facebook a few weeks ago when I saw a friend on Facebook recommending it. 


I wasn’t sure it was for me, but have such a hard time finding time to shop (and honestly don’t like clothes shopping all that much), so decided to try it out.


loved how easy the process was ~ I was able to put in my style profile, share what types of clothes I liked, how things fit me, and share an idea of what I’m looking for on my profile, and I got a $20 credit just for trying it out. 


So when my Stitch Fix Box arrived Tuesday, I was pretty excited to open it up.



Honestly? I liked almost everything in there, and it was very much my style.




At the end of the day, I’m a really frugal girl, and the prices were just high for me. (In fairness, you can keep include on your Style Profile your current spending preferences, I just completely missed that.)


Here’s what came in my box . . . 


Black top $48

After much debating, this is the only thing I kept ~ since I had the $20 free credit for trying it out, I decided I’d keep it for a conference I’m attending next week.


Jeans $88 

These jeans were very comfortable, however a little too loose, and way too long (like, 4″ too long, and I’m 5’7″!) At $88 for the pair, even after hemming and especially since they were a little on the baggy side, I just couldn’t justify them.


Checkered Scarf in picture at the top of the page $34

Not bad, but I know I can find one I love just as much for half the price at TJMaxx.


Blue flannel top – $48

I have a very similar top that I bought from the Gap for $20 (really, almost identical), so I definitely couldn’t justify the cost. This one also had buttons up the back and was open from my waist down, and I just didn’t love that look (I’m pretty traditional and don’t need anything accentuating my booty!) 🙂


Grey striped sweater $48

Just didn’t love it ~ returned.



My thoughts?


loved the convenience of it all. Having clothes chosen for me that really did fit almost flawlessly and delivered to my home was great. If I worked outside our home I could definitely see how this would be such a benefit for me.


I also LOVED (like, LOVED) that returning is super simple – I literally am just going to drop it in the mail, the shipping is pre paid, and I don’t have to do a single thing (which is why I’m still signed up for next month’s Stitch Fix Box.




At the end of the day the clothes were on the pricey side, and my penny pinching soul just can’t do it. I am going to update my preferences for pricing next month and will be curious to see how it works out ~ I’ll let you know when my next fix arrives.


Would you like to try out Stitch Fix? Sign up through this link and you’ll get $20 deducted off your first styling (which is like trying it out for free) when you purchase any one item, AND if you keep everything in your box you’ll save an 25% off everything in the box.

Here’s exactly how it works:

  • Sign up HERE
  • You’ll be charged $20 for your Stitch Fix Styling
  • Your box will come when you schedule it
  • If you keep ANY items in your box, the $20 you spend for the styling will be put towards your purchase (so it’s like getting $20 in free credit!)
  • If you keep your entire box you’ll save 25% off the entire purchase
  • Invite friends on Facebook or via email (or even text messages) to sign up through you and you’ll get $25 in free referral credit ~ love that!


One thing to note – you have to send your clothes back in 3 days, so be sure to be aware of that prior to ordering!


This post may contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy to learn more.

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Silhouette Cameo: Iron On Glitter Projects


Want more? Watch this video to see us at work. 

Soooo, I haven’t had much time for fluffin’ in our home lately, but we’ve had our Silhouette Cameo pulled out for the last few weeks and are determined to make some cute shirts before we go to Disney later this fall! (Our 16 year old’s high school band is playing at Disney, so we’re planning to tag along!)

A friend mentioned that she uses Iron On Glitter paper to make super cute shirts and I was determined to try it out. (The glitter paper is much cheaper at Amazon than we found at Hobby Lobby and  Michael’s, so it’s worth ordering if you’re doing something similar anytime soon!)


Here’s what we made using a few fun t-shirts, bows and more at Hobby Lobby, Walmart and Amazon . . .



We found the onesie and chevron print diaper cover at Hobby Lobby as well as this bow . . .



The headbands were from Walmart (I think they were 4/$3?)


The girls wanted matching Disney tees to wear so we picked up the tees at  Hobby Lobby for $3.99 (these took a bit of work, but finally turned out perfectly!)



And we used this huge pack of cheer bows to make a few cute bows (we had to even make one for our OSU-Buckeye-neighbors ~ I need more red bows because those are my favorites I think!)



So, there you have it ~ no major space updates in our home the last few weeks, but we’ve gotten a good start on one of our favorite projects. If you’ve been debating a Silhouette Cameo I really do love mine (but wait for a sale – I paid $199 for mine and have seen it drop once to $179, so crossing my fingers we see that one again soon!)




Note – I learned how to make these iron ons by following the directions over HERE ~ if you have other tips I’d love to hear those too!

DIY Butcher Block Sign

See more previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!

I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)

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Goodwill Chair Makeover #2

I tackled just a little painting today. 😉


Before . . .


After . . .


As promised in the video, here’s what I used:


Now this chair has a partner to match 🙂


Looking for more ways to work with chalk paint? Here you go:


I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)


See previous Friday Fluff Up projects and ideas . . . and Happy Fluffing!


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Hobby Lobby Happiness



Remember two years ago when we just moved in and my daughter was determined to have an IKEA platform bed?

Yup. me too.


Making that bed though was quite near the death of me, so I finally gave in and decided it was well worth the money to start fresh.


(Y’all, getting that bed made up with clean sheets was an Olympic sized feat ~ so much so that I had to muster up everything in me to keep any potty-words from coming out.)




(It was ridiculous.) 


So a few months ago we bought Caroline a set of full mattresses (hoping she would occasionally let her sister snuggle up at night), and found a headboard similar to this one online. (I can’t remember exactly where we purchased it, but I wished I’d realized it was really meant for a queen size bed not full/queen. The board is a little wider than the bed, but it’ll do!) 


Her dresser was the one I had growing up that we re-painted several years ago, and for now we brought up these garage sale nightstands from the guest bedroom. (Honestly, we don’t have guests all that often so it makes more sense for her to use them!)


Then I remembered this frame I’d found on clearance for $3 years ago (we’d actually moved it with us), and realized for just a few dollars we could update it to match perfectly.


We found fabric at Hobby Lobby along with a large piece of cork board . . .


cut the cork board to fit the frame (clearly Caroline and I aren’t expert cutters, but my sweet hubby came home and tidied things up a bit to make it work)


I stapled the fabric onto the board . . .


Caroline spray painted the old frame . . .


And for about $8 the bulletin board was done!


I found the flowers, lamp, and dishes at Hobby Lobby as well (all on sale for 50% off this week . . . )


As well as the signs to hang above her bed. (We’re actually waiting on one more anchor to go on the left side ~ our store was out but we had one shipped and it’s on its way!)


(She was in love with the anchor idea – I’m not totally sold on that anchor pillow but for now it works!)

I’d still like to find some inexpensive curtains and shades for those lamps (those lamps have been re-painted about 16 times, but I think with a new shade they’ll do?)



(Not that it matters too much – but Caroline isn’t allowed with a computer by herself in her room – however I was in there with her taking these pictures while she was watching the Olympics, and she used the computer to hide!) 🙂 


And we may repaint those nightstands one day in a brighter color but for now they’re just fine.


We haven’t spent a bundle on the room, but it is so much better and should fit her through college. (I love that!)

If you have a room that’s needed some fluffing, a trip to Hobby Lobby might just get you all set up too. 🙂


More rooms we’ve updated in our home . . .







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*HOT* Sale On Blue Host Ends TODAY: Start Your Blog Today!


If you’ve ever considered starting a blog (or website for your business), don’t miss this.


Right now, Blue Host is offering their web hosting for just $2.95 per month (which is an incredible deal.) 


This is oh-so-worth it if you think blogging may be for you! I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am for blogging (it’s how I make a full time income as a stay at home mom), and I highly recommend it not only as a source of income, but even just as a place to keep an online journal of your every day life. Honestly, I never dreamed I would love blogging the way that I do but I’m completely hooked!

how I make afull time income

Curious why I think blogging is worth it? Here are my top 5 reasons to blog:

  1. To earn an income from home. (Honest. I make a full time income here on PPP which is beyond crazy to me. Learn more HERE.)
  2. It allow you to interact with other folks across the internet, and create a little “home base” online for family photos, stories and more.
  3. It helps you become a better writer. I am so not someone who would consider themselves a writer, but blogging each day makes me re-think the way I use words. While writing still isn’t my strongest gift, working at it each day stretches my mind creatively.
  4. It creates a place for you to think of others. I love that blogging (especially for a profit), forces me to think of ways every day to help other people outside of my home. I know that PPP is a better blog to follow when I write posts that really do benefit my readers, so I’m more creative in coming up with helpful content each day. (I love that!)
  5. It builds your confidence. I struggle so much with having self-confidence, but blogging has helped me realize I’m really good at things that I never even knew existed. It’s taught me business strategies, internet savviness, social media awareness, and so much more. I love the marketable skills blogging has given me, and would never in a bajillion years thought I would love it the way that I do!


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Once you’ve signed up with Blue Host, check these posts out:

Let me know if you have any questions ~ so excited to for you to get started!

This post contains affiliate links.  See my disclosure policy to learn more.

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