Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Favorite Dollar Store Buys...

I have a confession:  I loathe 'dollar stores'.  As luck would have it, I believe we live in the town with the most dollar stores per capita.  We have a Dollar Tree, Dollar General, TWO Family Dollar's and a 99 cents only (where everything is really $1) in a town of about 50,000.  That's 1 dollar store for every 10,000 residents if you're into statistics. 

Dollar stores are big business.  In 2011 Family Dollar stores reported net sales of $8.55 billion.  Dollar General's 2011 FY sales were $14.81 billion.  That's a lot of stuff! Dollar General positions itself in rural areas, some of which are too small for a Walmart, which makes it the go-to store for all things bargain-y.

Dollar stores have even made it into the blogosphere.  Blogs like Dollar Store Crafts, & Dollar Store Mom feature really neat crafts using supplies from dollar stores.  Many are kid friendly which I know I like.  Many of the crafts are so amazing you would never know they were so inexpensive.

While I don't personally care for dollar stores there are a few things for which I will venture into one of them.  Remember, I am pretty frugal and there are some things I just don't like to shell out a lot of money to purchase when it's not necessary.  So, the things I'll buy at the dollar store are:

  1. Party goods. $1 for 8 paper plates that will get tossed in the trash? You bet.  $1 for a plastic table cloth that I won't feel guilty wadding up and throwing out?  Sold.  Anything that has a short life is something I want to spend as little on as possible.  In my experience, the dollar stores have great color selections for any type of party goods.  It's the #1 thing that will get me into a dollar store.
  2. Gift wrap & Greeting Cards.  This is along the same line as party goods.  Do I want to spend $5 on a gift bag? No way!  I have found lots of cute gift bags and tissue at the dollar store and it's another thing I'll head in there for.  Wrapping paper is hit or miss for me since some of the paper is really thin and I find using it difficult without ripping the paper. (For wrapping paper I usually head to Target and find some on sale for a couple of dollars.)
  3. Goody Bag items.  Dollar stores are great for the little tchotchke items & candy that end up in goody bags.  Also, prizes for party games. $1 puzzles or books?  Great prizes.
  4. Beach toys.  Plastic sand castle building kind of toys can be found at the dollar stores & since they are the type of things that get lost why spend a ton on them?  I have also found the foam pool 'noodles' for $1.  Beats $3 or 4 any day.
  5. Cookie sheets. Sounds weird.  I use Pampered Chef baking stones for all my cookies so I went for quite a while without a metal cookie sheet.  But sometimes you just need one.  The one I got at the dollar store has been used for crafts and on the grill.  The last thing I want to do is ruin a $30 Calphalon cookie sheet by using it on the grill.  
  6. Aluminum Pans. You know, the kind you can bake a lasagna in and give to a neighbor without worrying about having to get your pan back?  They are great for that as well as for a pot luck dish to take to a party.
  7. Gifts. The past few years we have picked a lot of names of our church Angel Tree.  It really adds up dollar wise but we want to participate so I've been able to make great theme gifts from Dollar Store items.  This is especially nice for younger kids who don't care so much about brands and just want toys- like coloring books and crayons, playdoh & stuffed animals. For older kids I have done an itunes gift card and a $1 pair of ear buds.  They come in fun colors and when they are lost (which, inevitably, they are) it's not a huge deal. Other great gift ideas are nail polish, soaps and lotions.
Are you a dollar store shopper?  What are your favorite buys?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Kids Birthday Parties Gone Wild....

Birthday Party

I'm sure everyone has seen this demanding email by now.  After reading it I first thought 'poor child' and then it started me thinking about birthday parties in general for little people.  I don't know about you but birthday parties when I was younger meant some cake and ice cream and opening (modest) gifts for the lucky birthday girl or boy. Times have changed, yes?  For the better?  Not really.

We've all heard about the parties for celebs kids which are over the top outrageous but how many of us have been to a party with the same outrageous-ness (new word I just made up) just on a smaller scale?  In a world where bigger is better how can we top a really BIG fest next year?  People spend hundreds and thousands (!) of dollars on their little prince or princesses parties.  There are even party planners for kids birthday parties.  Who knew?

We've done big parties here and small ones and I think the smaller ones are more memorable for the kids.  The year we did a 'field day' type of party and I believe every child we've ever met was invited (and attended) was they year I said 'enough'.  Since then I've tried to keep it smallish.

Until a party planner was born.  When my daughter turned 13 in January she wanted to go all out. Oy!  But she did everything herself and we kept the costs down (I'm good at that!) I'm wondering what next year will bring?

One thing I know is that the Dollar Tree is your best friend when planning your party budget.  It's the best place to get all the paper products for the fete.  Remember, it all gets thrown out about 5 seconds after you serve that cake so why pay an arm and leg for it?

The other thing I know is that I have never and will never send you an email with my gift demands for my precious little angel.