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How I Saved Almost $400 on Christmas Gifts for My Toddler

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With inflation on the rise, budgeting for the holidays is getting harder and harder. Find out how I saved almost $400 on an entire Christmas morning haul for my toddler.

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This year, I decided to get savvy about Christmas shopping for my toddler. I thought ahead of time, and was able to score some amazing deals and stock up on a pretty huge Christmas morning haul. In fact, I even ended up with TOO MANY gifts, and decided to set aside some for her birthday instead.

How did I do it? I’ll walk you through in this guide.

Be sure to also check out these money-saving guides on finding:

gifts with price tags
The Christmas morning haul I found for my toddler, and how much I paid for each gift in 2022

Some of the ways I was able to score some amazing deals on Christmas gifts for my toddler include: resale and consignment sales, library sales, garage sales, hosting a PaperPie party, and shopping at TJ Maxx.

Quick links:

Benefits of buying secondhand:

I know buying secondhand items for gifts isn’t very glamorous. But let’s be honest–your little has no idea that you’re bargain shopping, and they don’t care!

In the end, if you’re saving money while still finding awesome items for your little one, allowing your family to spend money in other ways.

Here are some benefits of shopping secondhand:

  • You’re saving money
  • It’s good for the environment (you’re essentially recycling someone else’s belongings)
  • Zero waste
  • You’re supporting local
  • You’re supporting other moms like you

For more reasons to shop secondhand, check out this article.

See this article for tips on best places to find secondhand items for baby & toddlers.

1. Resale Shops & Consignment Sales

I absolutely love resale shops for children’s items. It’s probably just be me, but there’s a certain rush I get from purchasing a whole haul of clothing, knowing that I’m saving a metric Butt Load of money. Plus, it feels good to know that I’m recycling and supporting my local resale shops.

Consignment sales are another fantastic way to save money by shopping local and supporting other moms.

The difference between resale and consignment is that on consignment, the seller is only paid for the items that sell. Resale shops, on the other hand, typically pay sellers a percentage of what they estimate the items will sell for (think Plato’s Closet and Once Upon a Child).

You might do a quick Google search for consignment sales in your area. Some consignment franchises, like Rhea Lana’s, operate as pop-up shops (sort of like Spirit Halloween). Rhea Lana’s is the largest consignment franchise in the US, so check out their event finder for sales near you.

Rhea Lana’s is one of the best places to find high-ticket items. This is where I was able to score the biggest items to go under the Christmas tree. I also stocked up on a bunch of winter items (coats, snow suit, snow boots, etc.) for just a few dollars each.

What I found

group of children's items
Entire Rhea Lana haul of Christmas gifts, minus the winter wardrobe I bought. Excuse the laughably poor photo editing.

This year, I checked out a Rhea Lana’s sale for the first time, with the intention of finding some big ticket items. I knew these would sell fast, so I bought a pre-sale ticket (I think it was around $25).

Pictures were posted before the sale, and I had my eye on a plastic children’s picnic table and some outdoor play items. The picnic table was already bought when I arrived at the presale, and the outdoor play items weren’t exactly what I was looking for.

However, I found some AWESOME deals on a few other things:

Toddler Car

pink toddler one-seater car

Original price: $250

what I paid: $65

I honestly wasn’t even really looking for an electric car yet, but this one is just the perfect size for a toddler. It’s much smaller than the full-size children’s cars, and is just a one-seater. I can picture my daughter (who will be two in a few months) riding this cute little car all over our farm. It’s small enough that I feel comfortable enough to let her use it, but big enough that she will have a few years with it before she outgrows it.

It’s in great condition. Rhea Lana’s requires all items sold to be kept with all pieces attached, so it came with the charger.

Toddler 4-Wheeler

Original price: $100

what I paid: $25

Blue Frozen toddler 4-wheeler

I wasn’t looking for a 4-wheeler either, but here we are. I didn’t even know they made toddler 4-wheelers! It’s small enough that it would be difficult to get hurt on it, so it’s just the right size for a two-year old and up. Since we have a big yard, it will be perfect for future adventures outside.

Side note: All these items added up really quickly, and it’s way too much to give her just for Christmas. So even though that was the plan, I’m actually going to save this one for her birthday in February.

Plush Toddler Chair

Original price: $70

what I paid: $12

Pink plush owl toddler chair

I’ve been on the hunt for an affordable plush toddler chair that my daughter. I want her to have her own little seat, but I also want to avoid enabling her to climb all over it and jump off of it and get hurt (as she is prone to doing). The “plushness” of this kind of seat prevents that.

The one I found was in perfect condition and didn’t look like it had ever been used. The only down side to buying used here is that it does not have a removable cover. So, I can’t just take the cover off and wash it like I normally do with used items. Luckily it looks, smells, and feels clean and new.

Piano Toy

Original price: $35

what I paid: $12

Blue hippo child's piano toy

I’ve been looking for a more engaging musical toy for my daughter. She hasn’t shown much interest in other piano/xylophone toys in the past, but I know musical toys have lots of developmental benefits.

This one (Land of B Hippo Play Piano) is so fun because each time you press a key, the little hippos pop up into the tubs and light up. It has a bunch of different “play piano” settings and bells and whistles to hopefully keep my daughter engaged and interacting with the toy for longer than your typical piano toy.

The one I found looks to be in almost brand new condition.

2. Garage Sales

This one is a little trickier, because garage sale season is typically during the summer. However, it’s very doable–you just have to think ahead.

While you’re out hitting up all those city-wide garage sales, keep your eyes out for items your little one could use in the future. Think outdoor play, developmental toys, puzzles, games, play houses, bikes, toddler trampolines, etc. You can find some really expensive items at their absolute cheapest price at garage sales.

If you find something you think your little one might use in the next year or so, and it’s in good condition at an awesome price, get it. Store it away in the garage or attic or wherever baby won’t find it.

The obvious con here: storage space. You have to have at least a bit of storage space to be able to squirrel away larger items for the future.

What I found

Note: This is another item I decided to save for my daughter’s second birthday instead of gifting here for Christmas. I just ended up with WAY too many Christmas items after squirreling everything away and forgetting about it.

Sit n’ Spin

Original price: $35

what I paid: $10

Sit n' spin toy

I’ve been on the lookout for a Sit n’ Spin for a while. It’s the kind of toy that lasts forever as long as it’s in good condition, so I didn’t mind buying it used. This one was in fine condition, with just a little sun-bleaching or weathering of the look of the plastic.

3. Library Book Sales

Note: Since I actually worked the library book sale, I got these items for free. So, I won’t include these in totalling up the prices.

Library book sales are one of the BEST places to find books at their cheapest–usually for a dollar or two a piece or less. Many library book sales include other items as well, such as puzzles, games, and movies.

Most libraries even have special sales on the last day or so, where you can get items for extremely cheap or free. At my own library sale, everything is completely free to teachers, social workers, and other public servants on the last day. Ask around at your local library about when their book sales are and if they offer free or discounted days.

(Check out this article for more ways to find discounted books, and this one for FREE books).

What I found


As previously mentioned, I got these items for free for working the book sale, so I’m not counting prices here.

Both puzzles are high-quality wooden puzzles, which are super durable. One has little magnetic balls and a magnet pen to sort the colors into their space. I did look this one up, and would be about $50 brand new. The white puzzle with crayons is from the 90s, so I can’t really estimate what that one is worth in retail value.


The book I found is one that I’ve rented from the library before and that my daughter loves. This copy, however, is brand new. It’s actually a Christmas book, but you don’t really know until the end. Up until then, there’s lots of cute rhyming and barn animals (which my daughter loves to point out by name).

If you’re interested in this book, you can find it on Amazon here.

4. Hosting a PaperPie/ Usborne Party

If your little one loves books, one opportunity to score some free and/ or discounted books is to host a PaperPie (formerly known as Usborne) party.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about hosting Usborne parties. I truly love their books, and it is possible to get a lot of free books. However, it’s not a guarantee that your party guests will purchase enough books to earn you the free books or discounts.

For an in-depth review of the two PaperPie/ Usborne parties I hosted, check out this article.

What I found

Original price: $50

what I paid: $15

stack of books on chair

You can never go wrong with books as Christmas gifts. There is no such thing as too many books.

For a brutally honest review of my Usborne party experiences, check out this article.

See this article for more on real ways to find guaranteed free books.

5. TJ Maxx

I had to throw this one into the mix. As a former TJ Maxx employee, I am basically SPOILED by their prices, and I know how to find some great deals there.

Heck, I’ll probably even write a guide on this later.

Anyway–I realize TJ Maxx isn’t technically considered bargain shopping by many, but their items ARE discounted down from retail prices. It’s a fantastic place to shop for kids toys around the holidays. You can even find books there for a few dollars each!

It is one of those hit-or-miss stores, but they really stock up on their children’s department before the holidays. For brand-new items, they are very affordable, and they have a huge variety for all ages.

Pro tip: they have some great pajamas for babies and toddlers. Their Chick Pea brand is lightweight and super stretchy so they last longer than most other brands, like those found at Target and Walmart.

What I found

Shark Squishmallow

Original price: $18

what I paid: $12.99

Blue shark squish toy

My daughter loves squishmallows (or whatever off-brand there is, like this one). She is also ALL ABOUT the sharks right now, so I’ve been keeping my eyes out for a shark squishmallow.

Total Savings

Let’s put it all together:

PlaceItemOriginal Price (USD)What I Paid (USD)Total Savings (USD)
Resale/consignment salestoddler car$250$65$185
Resale/consignment salestoddler 4-wheeler$100$25$75
Resale/consignment salesplush toddler chair$70$12$58
Resale/consignment salespiano toy$35$12$23
Resale/consignment salesPre-sale pass$25-$25
garage saleSit n’ Spin$35$10$25
library book salepuzzles & bookn/an/an/a
Usborne party4 books$50$15$35
TJ Maxxshark$18.00$12.99
starting amounts are generally rounded to nearest whole number

Total original price: $558

Total spent: $177

Total savings: $381

Disclaimer: The second-hand item numbers are based on the original retail price vs. what they sold for used. So, while I did manage to save a ton of money, it’s hard to say what the actual value of the used items were, even if many of them were in like-new condition.


There are plenty of ways to save money while shopping for you little one around the holidays. If you’re looking for toddler gift ideas for Christmas on a budget and you really want to score some deals, you’re probably going to have to shop used.

Some of the best places to buy second-hand items are resale shops & consignment sales, garage sales, and library book sales. However, if you’re just looking to find bargains on new items alone, hosting a PaperPie/ Usborne party and shopping at TJ Maxx are a couple of ways that can save you a lot of money. If you have more toddler gift ideas for Christmas on a budget, mention them in the comments below.


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Happy shopping!


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