Frugal Hack #2: Christmas Shopping with the Kids

December 17, 2012 by Kyle

(Welcome to the second post in my new Frugal Hacks series. Frugal life tips which take very little time to implement, but could conceivably save you a ton of money every year.)

I’m giving my wife full credit for this frugal hack. Yes, I am a very smart guy. Long story short, we take our kids to the dollar store and let them buy Christmas gifts for family members. It stemmed from us getting tired of telling them “No, that’s too expensive.” or “No, your brother doesn’t want an American Girl camp trailer.” This year they are actually going to take ten bucks they have earned themselves to buy their gifts. They absolutely love it and really look forward to it each year.

The Pro’s

~ Independence – There is nothing better than walking into the dollar store and telling your kids that the entire store is “on-limits”, feel free to buy whatever gifts you want. There are so many countless times in their young lives when they are told that things are “off-limits”, so the reverse is pure magic in their eyes.

~ Thoughtful Gifts – My wife and I have noticed that when our kids are empowered and given full gift buying independence, they really try to buy gifts that their siblings and parents would like. When we first did the whole dollar store thing we were not sure if they would take it seriously, but they really do.

~ Value of the Dollar – When kids are using cash, especially their own cash, they really start to value that money and what it can purchase. Way more than if their parents just swipe a credit card to pay for gifts at the local toy store. This is an age thing of course, our 5 year old has no real concept yet, but the older 2 really “go back and forth” on what gifts to buy and often have a hard time deciding.

The Con’s

Only one that I can think of is you have to keep an eye on your kids in the store which can be a little tricky. You have to know where they are, pretend to not see what is in their little shopping basket, and keep your other kids from seeing what is in each others baskets. Totally do-able, especially with two adults. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have another negative.

Gifts I Have Received (Some Hilarious)

Last year I got a gag-gift of toilet paper that doesn’t tear from my 10 year old, a mini-screwdriver set from my 7 year old daughter, and a bag of Almond Joys from my 4 year old. If memory serves, my wife received some car wash soap (hint, hint), pot-holders, and a bag of Red Vines. I must also add that the best gift I received was from my daughter when she was 3 and delicately wrapped a very special acorn that she found and gave it to me as a gift. Sometimes the most special gifts are still free! And yes, I still have that acorn in my desk drawer.

Do your kids buy gifts for you or each other? If so, how do you go about it?


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KyleDC @ Young Adult MoneyBloggerFatherStay At Home Brad Recent comment authors

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Stay At Home Brad

Hi, just came across this from the Facebook Dad Bloggers group. Really great idea you’ve got there. I like going to the dollar store myself, when my kids are old enough I’ll let them do their Christmas shopping there too! See you around!


It is a good idea, although the Dollar Store always scares me. I always feel like these things LOOK real, but there’s probably something very wrong with them… Maybe I just need to get over that.

DC @ Young Adult Money

I’ll keep the Dollar Store idea in mind and might steal it…in 10 years when I have kids 😉