Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: It's Chic to Be Cheap {8}

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees, but You Can Save Some at The Dollar Tree!

I'm still fuzzy on how it happened, but two years ago, I somehow became the Newsletter Coordinator for my local MOPS group. It was like they slipped something into my Starbucks at a meeting, and when I came to I had some responsibility! One of the perks of this position is that I get to read all sorts of fun things that are submitted. So when my friend Kelly wrote a Feature Article for me about the wonders of The Dollar Store, I knew I had to share it with you guys! I'll post it here and then share a few of my own recent Dollar Store acquisitions.

Dollar Stretching Magic, by Kelly B

As evidenced by the growing number of articles, websites, and TV shows devoted to saving money, many moms are looking for new and fun ways to stretch their dollar. What better place than at the Dollar Store? When I say “Dollar Store” I specifically mean the Dollar Tree, where everything is one dollar. Don’t be intimidated by the quantity and variety of items at the Dollar Tree. Leave your children at home, and browse the store at your own pace. As you pass through the aisles, think about how many different uses an item has, not just for what it is intended. Use your “mommy creativity” to think outside the box! I have discovered that the three best uses of the Dollar Tree are Party Prep, School Supplies, and Gift Giving.

The first and probably the most money saved is when using the Dollar Tree to plan a party. Don’t spend a lot of money on party supplies at a specialty party store or even your favorite discount chain store. Head to Dollar Tree and pick out supplies that match your theme. Mylar helium balloons, napkins, plates, cups, tablecloths, and more come in a variety of themes. By only spending a dollar on each set of items, you will end up saving a lot of money that can be put into your food budget or an extra gift for your little one. Party favors are very inexpensive. You will find the same type of party favors as the discount stores, but the price is much better. I even buy enough helium balloons for each party guest so they have something extra to take home and I’m not left with a lot of balloons dying in my family room.

Savings are not limited to kids’ parties! For example, I took $20 to the Dollar Tree last Christmas and bought all of the decorations and favors for my MOPS table’s decorations, including the beautiful red table runners, vases, flowers, and even some of the serving pieces. For special Christmas gifts, I gave each mom a wine glass with a battery operated votive (votives were two for $1) and I made a cute lamp shade to go on top. Because these were so inexpensive, I was also able to buy supplies to make each mom an ornament.

For homeschooling moms, the dollar store has great school supplies as well as teaching aids. I’ve found everything from blank accomplishment certificates to large teaching posters, plus math and English flash cards. There is no need to shop the expensive online sites or teacher stores when you can find a lot of items you need at the dollar store. And for those of you who have children in school, sometimes buying paper, notebooks, special folders, and other school supplies at the dollar store can save you a lot of money as well.

Gift giving is much cheaper at The Dollar Tree. You will find unique items for gift baskets as well as the baskets themselves: candles, frames, bath and body items, and so much more. Stocking and Easter Basket stuffers are just as good as other stores in town, but much less expensive. Now, before you object, saving money on gift giving doesn’t just mean shopping for thrifty gifts. The variety and size of gift bags and wrappings will truly amaze you. Tissue paper, specialty wrapping paper, and many types of ribbons will save you a bundle at the Dollar Store and allow for more money to be spent on your gifts.

I have one last word of advice about dollar stores, though: do not purchase items that are less than a dollar at the other discount chain stores. If you follow that advice and start thinking outside the box, you will save a lot of money this year. Good luck and happy bargain hunting at the Dollar Store!

I hope Kelly's article gave you some good ideas! I know I wrote about framing some old family photos in one Thrifty Thursday post, but I've found some more great stuff there too! (When I eventually hang all of them, I'll do a big old decorating post!)
Kelly was right when she mentioned The Dollar Tree's gift bag/gift wrap section. Some of it is just plain ick, but if you really look around, you can find some cute cute cute gift bags. I think I mentioned before that finding cute gift bags is my spiritual gift. Here's one I found recently:

Isn't it sweet?? They had several in different shapes and sizes, but I only let myself buy one. I'm saving it for the perfect gift! You'd probably spend $3 or $4 on a similar bag at Target (I can't believe I just typed that 'cause you all know I love me some Target!)
Remember Natalie's Sesame Street 3rd birthday party? A lot of the decorations were picked up during a frantic run to The Dollar Tree, and no one would be the wiser if I weren't telling you right now.

I always do a small themed tree in the kitchen for Natalie's birthday parties, since her birthday is in early December. I got the characters at a kids' consignment sale, but the "ornaments" were part of a teacher's bulletin board border set that I got guessed it--The Dollar Tree.
Close up. If I'd had the time, I would have backed each "ornament" with colored paper, but I just had too much to do. The different colored ribbon punched through each circle was purchased as a big pack of 4 colors for $1 at The Dollar Tree. Those also came in handy at Christmas-gift wrapping time. I've been buying my white tissue paper for gift bags there too...why spend $3 on it at the drug store?
Used the same ornaments in the Dining room, and also bought a cheap balloon plastic table cloth at TDT for the kids to color their hats on. Crayons also purchased at TDT because I was not gonna shell out $2 a pack for crayons they'd use for five seconds. I still have the table cloth and pull it out for crafts since I STILL don't have a craft desk yet.
Stickers on homemade "Pin the Cookie on Cookie Monster" game? The Dollar Tree, of course!
Check this out!

I made this fabulous little notebook in a Stampin' Up workshop that Kelly hosted. Best part? If you have some stamps and some leftover scrapbooking paper, you can buy a pack of those little plain notebooks at The Dollar Tree! I think there are at least 4 or 5 of them in a pack...for a dollar!

We used some coordinating papers to cover the front and back (one piece) and cute a smaller piece for the spine. The front can be stamped or decorated however you like! It's small and thin, so it would be easy to stick in your purse. It could be a cute sticker book for a child, an idea book for a blogger, a notebook to count your calories, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Do you have a Dollar Tree in your area? I've found that they really do have better stuff than the other Dollar stores (like Dollar General).

Have you found anything fun at The Dollar Store that you could redo? Leave me a comment, and I'll feature your response in my Spend Less Saturday post!


  1. Hey there, Amanda! Stop over at Eventually Cottage, I have a surprise for you!

  2. I love the Dollar Tree!

    I never plan a party without stopping there!


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