We had a $10 Christmas last year and it was so wonderful, that we are adopting this tradition for ever more. I haven’t really seen this concept around specifically so when I asked on socials if anyone was interested in hearing about it, the response was overwhelming!
So here we are, I am going to share with you our tips and gift ideas to create your own $10 Christmas tradition.
“A recent Australian survey by McCrindle Research has shown that 78.5% of Australians have received a present that they didn’t want. 13.7% of people will throw away these unwanted presents – meaning they go unused from manufacturer to landfill.” ~ Clean Up Australia
Why did we do a $10 Christmas?
Basically we were broke, tired and fed up with stuff and the gross consumerism of Christmas!
As a family we have long been conscious consumers and our Christmases have always been very low-key.
Last year in December, we had decluttered, downsized, moved to a smaller house and had just paid out a load of bills. My adrenals were completely shot and I wanted to have a few months off work to get my health under control.
Rather than cancelling Christmas completely, I threw out the suggestion of cutting back and limiting gift purchases to ten dollars or under. Luckily the family thought it was a brilliant idea. We were all keen to avoid adding loads more stuff back into our new house!
I know that for many people gift giving has become ridiculously stressful. There are expectations of spending a certain amount, buying for lots of people, actually getting to the shops and doing all the shopping, wrapping everything, having anxiety about what to buy and if the recipient will like it and use it and more! Then the credit card bill arrives in January just before the school expenses begin.
I think that all that stress, anxiety and overwhelm start to over-ride the joy of gift giving and gifts can become infused with negative energy. There was a time when kids were happy to just get an orange for Christmas in their stocking! Christmas can be simply a lovely family time to spend together and celebrate, not a huge spending spree that ends up in debt.
Keep it simple
My first tip is to scale right back and keep it very simple. We limit the gift buying to just us four, my kids’ partners and my mum and dad. This year we have decided to go even thriftier and make the gifts from partners not individuals.
Have a chat to the extended family and see what you can work out. Maybe you could do a $10 Kris Kringle if the aunts and uncles still want in or maybe just buy for the kids.
Cheap doesn’t mean nasty
I was very adamant that buying $10 gifts didn’t mean we were going to buy cheap AND nasty stuff. Just budget-friendly stuff!
By nasty stuff, I mean anything poor quality or novelty that will end up unused and unwanted in landfill and anything unethical that was so cheap that someone, somewhere was exploited.
Second-hand is a winner
For some reason, giving a pre-loved gift seems to come with a stigma of being stingy. Not in our family! We actively celebrate the amazing things we have found for under $10 and congratulate each other on the find.
Check out your local op shop (find my tips here for op shopping), vintage stores, buy swap and sell groups, Facebook marketplace and places like Reverse Garbage and tip shops. You can find lots of things still in original packaging if second-hand bothers you. We don’t buy anything that’s in poor condition or grotty! A quick wash or polish can be needed though.
Op shopping is a little bit harder than regular shopping as it’s lucky dip! If you can devote half a day, visit a few op shops and see what’s on offer. Many times you will find three or four op shops conveniently located together. If I am out and about, I will pop in and have a quick look in my local shops to see what new stuff they have in. If you want to get really serious, visit those more affluent suburbs where the quality of donations tends to be better.
You can also regift anything received throughout the year that you don’t have a use for. I keep a basket in a cupboard for these and then either regift or donate.
Ideas for gifts $10 and under
The family and I find the challenge of gifting amazing things under $10 lots of fun! You do have to be a bit more creative and think outside the box.
Here is a list of things that we gifted each other and some other ideas you could do as well.
- Books. Many book shops will have a great selection of books under $10 – check out those pop ups where everything is $5 or $7. My daughter found a beautiful set of animal oracle cards for $7 and I found a book on numerology for my son’s partner at QBD for $10. QBD also have a whole online section of discounted books under $10. Second hand book shops and op shops are great for books too. My mum received a brand new Food Safari cookbook from me last year and it only cost $4!
- Toys. Depending on their age, kids really don’t notice if their toy is second hand or new. Op shops always have a selection of toys, board games, sporting equipment and sometimes electronics for kids. I found my son a ‘Star Wars Family Feud’ board game for $2 which has provided us with lots of laughs. You could also hold a ‘Toy Swap’ with some friends and get free toys! Older kids and teens are able to understand the eco implications of too much stuff and hopefully will be on board with the plan. It could also be a fantastic learning tool to research things for their wish list that meet the $10 requirement. We tend to make Christmas low key and birthdays a bit more special with gifts up to $50, so that could be a new tradition in your house too that keeps the kids happy.
- DIY Beauty Products. These are very easy and fun to make. My daughter made us all a beautiful lavender body scrub in reused glass jars last year. Krissy Ballinger has an awesome book, The Inspired Little Pot with all sorts of easy recipes for DIY beauty and home products including these gorgeous bath bombs. I am using her lip balm recipe to make a gift for my son’s partner this year. You can personalise it with some cute labels and different essential oils.
- Plants. My son chose an easy option last year and just went to the local nursery and bought everyone a plant! New plants are always welcome.
- Food. It really can be as simple as a box of chocolates, tin of special tea or basket of fresh cherries. If you have time, make a big batch of something yummy, pop it into some glass jars and whack on a Christmasy ribbon or bit of twine and foliage. Here are 25 Real Food Homemade gift ideas to get you started.
- DIY Gifts. Okay, this does take a bit more time and effort, but things lovingly made are such treasures. You don’t even have to be that crafty or clever – there are loads of ideas out there that are very easy to execute. Here are a few to get you inspired. It can also be as simple as a photograph or postcard in a nice frame.
- Handmade. Take a look at your local markets or online at Etsy for small but beautiful things made by hand. Here are four cute things under $10 available right now on Etsy!
- Eco-friendly. My favourite eco stores have whole sections online devoted to budget gifts. Check out the soaps and tote bags at Biome and the coconut bowls and spoons at Flora and Fauna. My daughter would love this little jute cosmetic bag from Tree of Life too.
- Clothes and Jewellery. This is where op shops really come into their own! For this year’s Christmas, I found my son a Politix business shirt and a Mossimo t-shirt for $6 and $2.50 respectively. A quick google online shows the value of these as around $150 and $30. They are in perfect condition. I also found two nice pairs of pants for my mum for a combined total of $6.00. A few months ago, the op shop gods delivered a Spell dress for $5! I really should have saved that for my daughter for Christmas but I was too excited and gave it to her! This year she is getting a gorgeous aventurine necklace and bracelet set from the op shop which was half price and exactly $10.
- Homewares. Again op shops and Facebook marketplace are amazing for quality homewares at a fraction of their retail price. Last week at my local op shop, I found my daughter’s partner a stainless steel coffee moka pot for $4 and an insulated drink thermos in original packaging for my dad for $6. Most kitchen shops would at least have cute coffee cups under $10.
- Other stuff. I could keep going and be here all day, but I’ll wrap this up for you with a few other things we have gifted. I found my son a large Reebok sports bag as new for $6, my husband bought all the girls nice crystals from a new age shop (he’s well-trained!), my mum got me some teeny bird statues for the garden, we found a new wooden painting easel for my daughter on Facebook marketplace for $5 (although I ended up giving the lady $10 because it really was worth a lot!). I also found a brand new hipster canvas satchel for $6 at the op shop for my husband’s gift this year.
When it comes to wrapping gifts, we use Santa Sacks (basically fabric bags in Christmas prints) that we have had for years. I pop them out on Christmas Eve and everyone adds their gifts (without peeking in!).
On Christmas morning, we all get our bag and take it in turns to pull out one gift each. It’s really lovely and mindful and we all get to see and appreciate each gift instead of it being a frenzied free for all. Here are some more ideas for eco-friendly gift wrapping.
This is my Christmas shopping all done for the year as mentioned throughout the article. Seven gifts, three op shops, two hours and all for under $45. Yes, I am loving myself sick!!! 😉
How do I get the family onboard?
I think once you explain all the benefits of a $10 Christmas to your family and present it as a fun challenge, they can see that it’s a great idea. If anyone is resistant, they are totally fine to do what they want to do but you can still go ahead with your plans to gift them a $10 gift!
What do you think? Would you give the $10 Christmas a go? I found it so fun and so liberating. Best of all, I love that I don’t have a huge credit card bill due in January! I hope these tips and ideas have given you some inspiration and a starting point. Let me know if you have any questions!
If you are up for the challenge, I would love you to tag me on socials and show off what you’ve come up with and what your ideas are. You can also use the hashtag #atendollarchristmas
Want to read more?
Check out my eco-friendly tips for a very green Christmas.
Here is Lindsey from Treading My Own Path on why she completely opts out of Christmas.