Cheap and Easy Holiday Shopping at the Dollar Store

Photo: inhisgrace

What makes the dollar store great is the ease in which you can locate and buy inexpensive stuff. There are no unusual merchandising layouts or complicated pricing schemes, and checkout lines generally move quickly. These stores also often have charming and cheap gifts and accessories for the holidays. Stop by to see what you can find for the following uses. (See also: How to Avoid Holiday Debt Starting Now)


If you are hosting a dinner or party, combine simple items and transform them into elegant displays.

For the dining room table, mix seasonal items with everyday ones. For example, create a stylish centerpiece by placing ornaments in a large glass container, or install individual ornaments on a collection of candlesticks or inverted wineglasses. You can grab all of these (ornaments, candlesticks, glasses) at the dollar store or mix and match holiday items with glassware from your kitchen cabinets.

Dress up place settings by using small frames to hold name cards and adding seasonal figurines or holiday candles at the top of each plate. For more casual gatherings, get colorful paper plates, cups, table coverings, and streamers. These stores usually carry an assortment of frames of varied sizes plus party gear and candles.

Gift Giving

Stocking stuffers and small gifts for members of your extended family, coworkers, Secret Santa buddies, etc. that are appealing — if you are going for holiday-themed gifts — include Nativity scenes and those aforementioned ornaments and wintery figurines (I noticed adorable blue snowmen this year).

You can uncover some clever items like LED flashlights and reading lights. There are also water bottles including aluminum versions in bright red and deep green. Take a quick walk through the aisles to find small, useful gifts.

For children, I bypass most of the toys to select picture books and stickers that are typically big hits with preschoolers and younger elementary school kids. They may also like the coloring books, crossword puzzle and Sudoku books, and jigsaw puzzles. The children's and book sections contain some great buys if you take a few moments to check out the selections.

Gift Packaging

You can buy supplies to package presents inexpensively, even though the gift wrap itself often seems unsubstantial.

To save time without spending too much money, my top choice is a gift bag. The large, oversized ones are suitable for bulky items (like big Lego building sets). Tall, slender bags look perfect for a bottle of wine. Plus, these are typically strong enough to be reused for many holidays.

To create personalized, decorative, and functional wrapping, start with mailing paper found in the shipping supplies area. Use craft supplies like stickers, markers, and construction paper to decorate or assemble found items around the house or yard for a sleek, custom look. For a few more clever ideas, check out these gift wrap suggestions from Apartment Therapy.

The boxes are a good buy compared to alternatives at most discount stores, even though you may need to reinforce corners with tape. You can also find tissue paper for protecting gifts and sprucing up the presentation along with bows and ribbons for finishing touches.

Holiday Decor

Finally, gather a few items to create simple yet sophisticated accessories suitable for the holidays.

Glass bowls filled with ornaments can be placed not only on the dining room table for entertaining but also on side tables for your own pleasure. Large ornaments can be hung from the chandelier or nestled in baskets with greenery on the porch

Embellish vases and candlesticks with decorative stones (aka accent gems), tea light candles, and/or floral items. Display holiday photos, wrapping paper, or cards in frames that can be tucked away after the holidays and brought out each year.

What are your favorite holiday finds at the dollar store?

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