With Christmas just a few days away, chances are many people still have some last-minute items to shop for.
You'll find a wide mix of holiday essentials — from greeting cards to decorations and gifts — at affordable prices at dollar stores.
"If you're short on time and need a quick stocking stuffer, the dollar store needs to be on your short list of stores to hit,” says Michael Helwig, an interior decorator in Buffalo, New York. In addition to countless smaller gift possibilities, such as earbuds, magnets and nail polish, shoppers will find larger items like books and dinnerware.
Most items cost $1 at places like 99¢ Only Stores, Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, and $1.50 or $1.99 at Daiso, the Japanese dollar store. Some larger products may cost more.
If you're uncomfortable shopping in person because of the coronavirus pandemic, you'll find many of the same items — and more — online. Dollar General's website even offers digital coupons.
Stephanie Andrews, owner of Balance Design in Atlanta, found some dollar store websites “beautifully organized, and I did not feel overwhelmed by too much clutter as I do when I go into the stores."
No matter how you shop, here are 10 Christmas ideas for dollar stores:
1. Wrapping supplies
"Dollar stores are great places to save a bit of money on things like gift wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbons, bows and anything else you need [for] a spectacular gift,” Helwig says. You'll also find practical items like cellophane tape and scissors.
2. Toys for tots
Dollar stores are a treasure trove of inexpensive toys for children. For $1 at Dollar Tree, you'll find Black mermaid dolls and Mattel Hot Wheels cars. Andrews found popular Disney Lego toys, such as a Princess Moana set for $10, at Dollar General. Dollar Tree sells Make-It Blocks, which are similar to Legos, for $1. Keep in mind that some dollar stores have been criticized for their low quality children's toys that may break easily or contain parts with choking hazards. Take that into consideration when purchasing.
3. Holiday decorations
While the pandemic may have shrunk many Christmas celebrations, people are going all out to make this year festive, according to a survey by online interior design service Modsy. The company noted that 69 percent of those surveyed planned to go above and beyond their normal decorating plans. Dollar stores have a wide selection of ornaments, yard signs and decorations, from glittery garland to wreaths.
4. Kitchen aids
If you're cooking for Christmas, keep it simple by using disposable foil pans for $1. You'll also find holiday-themed containers to store leftovers in your refrigerator or to fill with take-home treats for guests.
5. Settings for the table
Make meal serving and cleanup easy with more disposables like colorful paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils and even plastic wineglasses.
"Since many of our holiday gatherings will be spent outside on the deck and porch, we need dishes that look good but are not delicate,” Andrews says. “That's where these oak plastic chargers come in — [they'll] look lovely as the base for your place setting.” These 13-inch plates also come in gold and silver with details like a fluted edge or beaded rim.
6. Themed gifts
Dollar stores have all of the makings for themed fun — either as a gift or for a family experience.
"I love going through all the aisles and picking up items to make [personalized] gift bags or baskets,” Helwig says. You'll find cocoa mix, marshmallows, cookies and mugs to make a sweets-themed gift basket or bubble bath, loofahs, soap and eye masks for a spa basket, he explains.
One Dollar Tree store shelved dozens of DVDs alongside microwave popcorn, butter seasoning and plastic popcorn buckets as a ready-made movie package.
7. Satisfy a sweet tooth
"I love to get my holiday candy extras at the dollar store,” Helwig says. “They have all the name brands. It's a sweet way to embellish a gift card or stocking stuffer for a coworker.” In addition to candy canes and chocolate, you'll find other seasonal food items and spices like cinnamon sugar.
8. Cozy candles
The Modsy survey also found that 93 percent of people think it's important that everyone is cozy and warm at home. Scented holiday candles are an easy way to achieve that atmosphere.
Andrews suggests creating a “dramatic” display of a dozen glass votive candleholders from Dollar Tree, which also has apple-cinnamon candles. Dollar General has holiday scents such as Frosted Cinnamon and Sugar Cloud.
9. Family crafting
If you're looking for something to do with your grandchildren over the holidays, you'll find plenty of DIY supplies. One idea, Andrews says, is to make “Happy 2021” cards for friends and family with construction paper, metallic markers, glitter and more. Don't have that creative gene? Dollar General sells light-up shadow-box kits for $3.
10. Don't forget family pets
Pet owners plan to shower their companions with extra attention this holiday season, spending an average of $41 on pet gifts, according to a study by the American Pet Products Association. Dollar stores also offer collars, plush toys and edible treats for cats and dogs.