Analysis

5 Things I Always Buy at the Dollar Store

When I was younger, I loved the dollar store because I could go in with my $5 allowance and walk out with an armful of goodies. While my $5 doesn’t go quite as far these days, even at the dollar store, I still enjoy popping in to find some deals. Here are some of the things I always look for when I go.

1. Party supplies and decorations

Whether it’s a birthday bash, holiday get-together, or summer soiree, you can probably find the themed goodies you need to decorate it up right at the dollar store.

I’ve found some awesome Halloween decor year after year, and I go every Thanksgiving for turkey-bedecked tableware. You can also outfit an entire children’s party in just about any theme, from dinosaurs and mermaids to licensed characters. It’s even a great place to put together your goody bags.

2. Gift bags and wrapping paper

As much as I like to cut down on my unnecessary consumption, I just can’t get past the idea that gifts need to be in something, be it a bag or wrapping paper. (I tend to go with gift bags, since those can be reused easier.) Even so, that doesn’t mean I want to spend $5 a bag at the grocery or department store.

Dollar store gift bags are both attractive and affordable. And yes, they’re pretty durable, too. (We’ve been using the same Christmas gift bags for three or four years now. We just tuck them away with the holiday decor.) In my experience, the gift wrap is a bit lower in quality, but it certainly does the trick for something you’re going to be ripping up and throwing away.

3. Care basket essentials

Sometimes when a friend or loved one is having a rough time, I like to put together a little care basket with a few small things I think will make them smile. This often involves a trip to the dollar store for at least some part of the arrangement.

I might grab a mug or a decorative box to act as the “basket.” Or I may pick up a bottle of nail polish, a small toy, even a snack or two to fill it out. The sizes are usually perfect for what I need, and, of course, the price is good.

4. Geocaching surprises

If you want a cheap, simple way to get outside more, or to just get more active, then geocaching is for you. Basically, you use GPS coordinates to find hidden containers (geocaches) that are hidden all over the world, like a giant treasure hunt.

The caches usually contain a “log book” (read: piece of paper) you can sign to show you found it, as well as see who else has been there. Often, caches also contain a small trinket of some kind. That’s where the dollar store comes in handy. If I don’t have a cool stone or other neat nature item on hand, I’ll pop into the dollar store for something fun to leave.

5. Craft supplies

Having a few basic craft supplies on hand can be a great way to keep kids busy on a rainy day — without resorting to extra screen time. (Heck, even if you’re an “adult,” when was the last time you let your creative muscles have a little exercise? Craft something, friends. It’s good for your mental health.)

The dollar stores near me have robust art and craft aisles full of everything from colored paper to paints to air-dry clay and more. The next aisle over is often the fake flowers, candles, and other supplies. These certainly aren’t going to be professional-quality art supplies, but it’ll be more than enough for a very fun afternoon.

Good for the budget (mostly)

Few items are really priced at a dollar anymore — even in the dollar store. But it can still be a good place for your budget, especially for those little things that you really don’t need to spend a lot on to enjoy. Whether you’re hosting a tiki-themed barbeque or keeping the kids (and kids at heart) creative, the dollar store can be the place to do it without breaking the bank.

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