Light from sparkly Christmas decorations bounces from snowflakes that hang from the ceiling of Tom and Jennifer Gregg’s Evans home.
Candy canes fill a glass vase, and red ribbon turns a white post into a candy cane in the living room. Jennifer Gregg has created a winter wonderland throughout the home for her son, Kep, 11, who has autism, and her daughters Janet, 15, and Mattie, 13.
She bought many of her decorations at Dollar Tree.
The large snowflakes were $1 each and the smaller ones were in packs of three, six or 10 for $1.
“I always hit the dollar store every holiday to see what stuff they have,” she said.
According to the National Retail Federation, more than 65 percent of shoppers will shop discount stores this holiday season.
That’s about the same as last year and has decreased from 77 percent in 2004.
More than half of shoppers – 52.3 percent – said the economy will affect their spending plans, and 80 percent of those shoppers said they plan to spend less overall this holiday season. That figure has remained steady since 2009.
Gregg said the less money she spends on decorations the more she can spend on gifts for the children. She relies on discount stores to help with those, too.
While she scours sales papers, Tom watches prices on Amazon. Her parents are also on the lookout for items on the children’s wish lists.
“Whoever has the best price wins,” she said.
Sometimes she finds gifts at Big Lots, and sometimes she finds them at unexpected places, such as the stuffed animal she got at Office Depot.
Hope Remsen also likes to make the most of every dollar.
She also shops discount stores for decorations and gift ideas. At Maxway recently, she found a set of wooden and glass Christmas ornaments for $1 each. With a paint pen, she monogrammed and decorated the ornaments and attached a ribbon. She said they look like ornaments she’s seen in pricier gift stores.
“It looks just like an ornament that they want $18 for. I was so pleased,” she said.
Remsen, a preschool teacher at Grace Baptist Church, recently sent her daughter, Delaney, off to college and said she does her best to squeeze every dime. She shops dollar stores to supply her classroom and buy gifts for her students throughout the year.
Just because an item is inexpensive doesn’t mean it’s cheap, she said. It’s important to buy things that are well made, not just things that have the lowest price.
Her goal is to buy her friends and family as many gifts as she can for the money she can afford. Sometimes that means making gifts instead of buying them.
“I’d rather spend a little extra money (on materials) and make them something than spend money on some boutique ornament that they’re going to forget I gave them a few years from now,” she said.
The lagging economy has affected not only the way she shops but the way she and her friends talk about their purchases.
“We used to talk about the item and the price it was, how much you paid for it. Now it’s how little you paid for it,” she said. “I think people have realized there’s no shame in saving money.”