Life Insurance
Insurance 101
Live Chat
Sign In
Apply Now
Work, Life, Balanced

7 Ways to Save on Gifts for Kids, Teachers and More

By Lauren Cormier Jul 31, 2018

The end of the year tends to be a gift-buying bonanza, but, if you’re a parent, there’s a good chance you find yourself rolling out the wrapping paper all year long. Whether you’re on the hunt for gifts for kids, gifts for teachers or even baby shower gifts for your friends, you’ll probably find yourself most stressed out—and you’ll likely end up shelling out the most money—if you wait until the last minute.

In a given year, let’s say you bought:

  • Twelve $25 birthday gifts for kids (let’s call it once a month, with all those toddler parties!)

  • Three baby shower gifts at $40 a pop

  • Five gifts for teachers at $20 apiece, for assorted occasions

  • Five birthday gifts for assorted family members, at about $50 each

You’d be spending close to $800 dollars on presents, not even counting the end-of-year holidays. And according to the National Retail Federation, in 2017 consumers were set to spend an average of $967 on winter holidays alone.

Of course, creating a solid budget, and possibly using apps to track your spending, is a good way to start. But to go a step further, we spoke to an expert for ways to save on unique gifts for kids and adults alike, without sacrificing quality.

1. Find Cheap Gifts at Costco

Retail analyst James Dion, founder and president of Dionco Inc., a Chicago-based retail consulting firm says, “I’m a huge, huge believer in Costco.”

According to Dion, Costco marks its products up less than any retailer out there (it has just a 14 percent operating margin), which means you’ll pay less at the wholesale club for an identical item at another store.

For example, while other retailers might sell smoked salmon for $40 a box, Dion says, Costco sells it for $19.99. That’s already a 50 percent savings, but he adds, “If you wait, and you’re lucky, they can get down to $4.99 a box.” Even if you don’t hoard salmon so you can give it out as a hostess gift throughout the year (!), Costco offers solid deals on plenty of products, from clothing and kids items to party platters and electronics.

If you don’t have a Costco near you, you can likely find similar deals at Sam’s Club, BJ’s or other wholesalers, although, according to Dion, their margins are slightly higher than Costco’s.

2. Buy Year-Round

The same rule of watching for deep discounts applies to all your favorite stores. Stock up when you find great deals, then save the items for when you need gifts for kids, gifts for teachers, baby shower gifts or anything else.

While sometimes it just boils down to being in the right place at the right time, the trick to finding deep discounts is knowing when to look. Dion explains, “The absolute lowest price is often about three to five weeks after a big event.”

For example, you’ll find the best deals on sports equipment three to five weeks after each individual sports season ends; you’ll find the most affordable summer items, such as bathing suits, in July and August when the summer retail season is over. Visit Consumer Reports for a month-by-month rundown of the best deals in a variety of categories.

3. Stack Savings for the Best Deals

We all know to check for coupon codes before shopping online, but the real trick is to stack the deals you find. (Here are more tricks for being a smart online shopper.)

Some sites, like Ebates and TopCashBack, list discount codes in addition to offering cash back on purchases at thousands of online retailers. For example, at the time of this writing, searching “Kohl’s” on Ebates yielded a coupon code for 20 percent off, plus 3 percent cash back on your purchase, if you do so through Ebates. These cash-back sites work by sharing their affiliate commissions with the shoppers, so it’s a win for both the site and the consumer.

Stacking coupon codes with cash back incentives is a great start, but you can take it a step further if you use a credit card that offers cash back or other rewards.

4. Make Your Gifts More Unique Through Cute (and Cheap) Wrapping

Buying a gift bag and a card can add almost $10 to each gift, which is non-negligible if you’re giving many gifts a year.

Sometimes part of the gift itself can be used for the presentation. For instance, if you like including a blanket in your baby shower gifts, use the blanket to wrap the rest of the gift, like this cute example. Similarly, if a book is part of your gift, let it pull double duty as a card by writing an inscription on the inside flap.

Especially for teacher gifts and presents for adults who are especially prone to thinking your kid is adorable, setting your child loose on a piece of plain cardboard can yield a card that’s both free and more meaningful (and could be a good way to include your kids in the “money is finite” conversation). Cool gifts for kids can feel even more unique when they’re wrapped in the comics section of the newspaper.

5. Buy Second-Hand Gifts for Your Own Kids

Buying used items for friends or extended family may be poor etiquette, but it’s OK to bend the rules when it comes to gifts for your own children, especially if they’re too young to know the difference. After all, toys can be expensive, most don’t get much play time before being forgotten.

You can often find used toys in excellent condition for deeply discounted prices if you keep an eye on your local barter and swap pages on Facebook (for a page near you, try searching for “ swap Facebook” and see what comes up). It’s possible to find these items online at a site like eBay, but pay attention to shipping fees and user reviews so there are no surprises.

An extra trick to find the best-quality items at local consignment stores? Check Zillow for the neighborhood with the highest property values near you. Then search Google for consignment stores near that address. Those stores are likely to have higher-value items in better condition.

For clothing or accessories, sites like ThredUp screen every item prior to listing it on their website. Especially relevant for gift-giving, you can often find items that are brand new with tags. (In which case you might decide to bend the rules and gift second-hand items to your friends and family too! After all, if it has the tags, it’s not really used. We won’t tell.)

6. Go With Experiences Over Material Items

Research shows that, on the whole, people derive more happiness from experiences than from possessions. When buying gifts for your own kids, choosing experiences over possessions can also save money.

For example, an annual pass to your local children’s museum or a punch card to the trampoline park often pays for itself after two or three visits. Sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and CertifiKID are great resources for deals on local entertainment.

So finally go on that family camping trip and make the memories that really matter.

7. Swap Names If You’ve Got a Big Family

There are only so many Christmas gift ideas for kids, after all. If you buy for a lot of extended family each holiday, consider doing a name swap instead. Depending on how large your family is, it could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. This idea could also work if you have a family in which lots of people have similar birthdays—you could throw the names of all the summer birthdays into a hat and turn the family-wide gift exchange into an activity.

You can give Secret Santa (or “Hanukkah Harry” . . . ?) a digital twist with a tool like, which will create the list for you, taking into account any specific constraints (you can avoid buying for immediate family members, for example). A White Elephant exchange is another version of the same general idea.

Being a parent is expensive enough as it is. By planning ahead, you’ll get to experience that satisfying feeling of saving money over and over again. And that is a gift, to yourself.

Fabric exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.

This material is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific financial advice or to serve as the basis for any decisions. Fabric Insurance Agency, LLC offers a mobile experience for people on-the-go who want a easy and fast way to purchase life insurance.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Written by

Lauren Cormier

Related Posts

Work, Life, Balanced

How Spending 13 Minutes a Day on Self-Care Changed My Life

I created the Mental Health and Wealth Challenge to engage in self-care that was meaningful, simple, and free — and only takes 13 minutes a day.

By Melanie Lockert
Work, Life, Balanced

Can You Afford to Become a Stay-at-Home Parent? How to Find Out

Working vs. being a stay-at-home parent is a major decision. We’ve created a framework to provide financial clarity about your best options.

By Julie Pierce Onos
Work, Life, Balanced

How to Make Mundane Moments With Your Kids Feel Actually Special

We asked experts for ways to savor even the mundane time with family—whether or not we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

By Sarah Li Cain

Fabric Picks

Life Insurance 101

Is 30-Year Term Life Insurance Right for You?

Term life insurance provides affordable protection for many families, and a 30-year term is often a fit for younger couples and parents of young children.

By Emily Smith
Life Insurance 101

Is Converting Term Life to Whole Life a Smart Financial Move?

Convertible life insurance offers the option to convert from term life to permanent. Here’s who can benefit and who may not need the coverage or cost.

By Jessica Sillers
Life Insurance 101

Life Insurance for Parents: 6 Key Questions You Should Ask

Securing your family’s financial future is an important plan to cover as a parent. Get answers to the questions parents have about life insurance.

By Jessica Sillers

About Fabric




Download Fabric’s iOS mobile app through the Apple App Store
Download Fabric’s android mobile app through the Google Play app store
Subscribe to our newsletter

© 2021 Fabric Insurance Agency, LLC

Accidental Death Insurance policies (Form VL-ADH1 with state variations where applicable) and Term Life Insurance policies (Form ICC16-VLT, ICC19-VLT2, and CMP 0501 with state variations where applicable) are issued by Vantis Life Insurance Company (Vantis Life), Windsor, CT (all states except NY), and by The Penn Insurance and Annuity Company of New York (NY only). Coverage may not be available in all states. Issuance of coverage for Term Life Insurance is subject to underwriting review and approval. Please see a copy of the policy for the full terms, conditions and exclusions. Policy obligations are the sole responsibility of Vantis Life.

All sample pricing is based on a 25-year old F in Excellent health for the coverage amount shown. All samples are for a 10-year term policy, unless otherwise stated. Term Life Insurance policies (Form ICC16-VLT, ICC19-VLT2, and CMP 0501 with state variations where applicable) are issued by Vantis Life Insurance Company (Vantis Life), Windsor, CT. Coverage may not be available in all states. Issuance of coverage for Term Life Insurance is subject to underwriting review and approval. Please see a copy of the policy for the full terms, conditions and exclusions. Policy obligations are the sole responsibility of Vantis Life.

Fabric Insurance Agency, LLC (FIA) is an insurance agency licensed to sell life and accident insurance products. FIA will receive compensation from Vantis Life for such sales. The NAIC Company Code for Vantis Life is 68632. See the Terms of Use for additional information regarding FIA.

A.M. Best uses letter grades ranging from A++, the highest, to F, companies in liquidation. Vantis Life’s A+ (Superior) rating, which was reaffirmed in April 2020, ranks the second highest out of 16 rankings. An insurer’s financial strength rating represents an opinion by the issuing agency regarding the ability of an insurance company to meet its financial obligations to its policyholders and contract holders and not a statement of fact or recommendation to purchase, sell or hold any security, policy or contract. These ratings do not imply approval of our products and do not reflect any indication of their performance. For more information about a particular rating or rating agency, please visit the website of the relevant agency.

Plan like a parent. is a trademark of Fabric Technologies, Inc.