Our Big Gift, Little Budget Christmas: How We Saved Over $400 on Gifts This Year

It’s not even Thanksgiving and I’ve already finished my Christmas shopping for Alex and Nathan! I didn’t get them a ton of things, because I know they’re also going to get gifts from friends and family, but I did get them a few things I know they’ll love – and I saved a LOT of money. Last year, I hadn’t gone back to work yet and was in school full-time, so we didn’t have a lot of Christmas money. Since I’m teaching again, we’ve got more income, but we’re still living frugally and I wanted to be very aware of how much we were spending at Christmas. Here’s what I got them and how much I saved.

1. Melissa and Doug Star Diner Restaurant (Target)

Retail Price: $200
I Paid: $105
Savings: $95

This is the one big, expensive gift that I wanted to get the twins this year. A friend of theirs’ has this toy, and whenever we go to their house, they bawl when we pull them away from it. Still, that price tag stung. $200 for a toy?! I hardly even wanted anything myself that cost that much.  I ended up getting this toy from Target while they were having a toy sale, which brought it down to $130. Then, I got a coupon code for 25% off any toy, bringing the price down to $105. Still expensive, but much more manageable, and it’s a high-quality toy that I know will last and that they’ll enjoy.

2. Train Table (Facebook Marketplace)
Retail Price: $115 (With Trains/Tracks)

I Paid: $20 (Just Table)
Savings: $85 (…Kinda)

I knew I wanted to get the boys a train table this year and I also knew the first place I would look: Facebook Marketplace. A friend told me she had gotten one for her boys for Christmas last year FREE! I wasn’t quite so lucky, but I did only pay $20 for it. It didn’t come with tracks, but the boys already have some from other train sets they’ve already got. Also, the table top flips over and can be used as a chalkboard. It also didn’t come with trains, which is fine, because I didn’t want to get the boys regular trains anyway. Which leads to my next purchase…

3. Diecast Thomas Collection (eBay)
Retail Price: $35 (for 10 trains)

I Paid: $30 (for 31 trains)
Savings: $78

It’s no secret that my boys are huge Thomas junkies. They know the name of EVERY “and friend,” no matter how minor and obscure, so I knew they’d be excited by a new set of Thomas and Friends trains. A set of diecast Thomas and Friends retails at $35 for 10 trains. Searching on eBay, I found a collection of 31 used ones for less than that! I’d have paid over $100 for the same number of trains brand new from the store. The trains I bought are in a good condition with just a bit of wear on the paint, which my boys won’t care about and honestly probably won’t even notice.

4. Dress-Up Costume Collection (10 Costumes) (Walmart)


Retail Price: $225
I Paid: $75
Savings: $150

The boys love to dress up. I can’t remember who it was that told me to order Halloween costumes on clearance afterwards and then put them away for Christmas, but I did exactly that this year. I bought the twins TEN costumes altogether of their favorite characters, including PJ Masks, Paw Patrol, and a few others, which would have cost well over $200 if I’d have paid full price. I ended up paying $75 for all nine of them, and now they have an awesome dress-up collection of their own.

Total the twins’ Christmas should have cost me: $645
Total I actually spent: $225

That’s all the toys the twins are getting from James and I. I’m pretty proud of my Christmas shopping this year! I think the boys are getting plenty, and they’re getting nice things that I know they’ll love and be interested in playing with for a while. It was important to me not to go overboard on spending just because we have a little more money this year, and I think I did that successfully!



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