Twelve Days of Christmas on a Budget

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12 Days of Christmas

I really love holidays, and Christmas is my favorite. The best part is making presents for my friends and family and watching their joy in receiving them.

The first Christmas I was dating my hubby I went all out and did 12 days of Christmas presents. I started on December 13th so the last would fall on Christmas Eve. I found the idea on Pinterest, as a few people have done versions of this. My problem was that most of their suggestions didn’t really fit us, and I wanted something more special. Also, I was on a tight budget and had to get really creative.

I took the traditional 12 days and tweaked them just a bit. It was a lot of fun and he really looked forward to what the next day would bring. I got suggestions from family, friends, and co-workers, which got them involved. He even posted each one on Facebook and several of his friends really got into it too.

I highly suggest trying this for your loved ones. It is great for your significant other and it can easily be re-worded for friends, children, co-workers, etc. I found the printable tags here, but you could use any little card. I hope you can use these ideas and make yours even better. Really, the hardest part of this is trying to get the song out of your head. The current version I have is Bob Rivers’ The Twelve Pains Of Christmas–such a classic.

Day 1

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a partridge on a pear tray.


I found a bird and a Christmas plate in my craft stash. Being a craft hoarder paid off big time here. Then I went to Aldi and picked up some great fresh pears. I love their fresh produce.

Final cost: About $1

Day 2

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…two turtle doves.


I went to the dollar store. They had Dove bars 2 for $1 and bags of turtles. The best part is that I got the extra turtles. I simply taped the turtles to the Dove bars and used a bow from my craft stash to make it festive.

Final cost: $2.12

Day 3

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…three French horns.


I got lucky on this one. I went to our local Salvation Army store and found these for 50 cents each. It is actually pretty easy to find horns in the Christmas decoration section of thrift stores. Just don’t ask how many I had to go to to find these. Otherwise, you can pick up a couple of these from Amazon fairly cheaply.

Final cost: $1.59

Day 4

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…four calling birds.


This was my big splurge day. Again I got lucky and found a lightning deal on Amazon for these Angry Birds. I knew I wanted these since they make the sounds so they are actually “calling” birds, but I couldn’t justify the cost until the sale hit. It worked out perfectly and now our nephews love to play with the birds. It was totally worth the splurge.

Final cost: $10.96

Day 5

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…five candy rings.


This was easy. I went to a drug store and picked up five ring pops. I think they were on sale 3 for $1. I had the bucket in my stash, so I put them in there for cute packaging.

Final cost: $1.76

Day 6

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…six geese’s layings.


This one really gave me troubles. I actually wanted half a dozen candy eggs or some kind of birds, but couldn’t find any in December. Finally, I dug into my Easter decorations for these eggs. The basket was also in my stash. Seriously, my mom has a whole room full of craft supplies.

For the candy, I got a selection of the cheap little bags of candy. I even gave one of my Cadbury eggs I had been saving. That is love.

Final cost: about $3

Day 7

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…seven swans a swinging.


This was a little time consuming and very fun. I found an origami swan tutorial in this Origami Made Easy book I have and made 7 of them from regular printer paper and hung them from a piece of thread.

The best part of this is that I got up early and snuck into his work (he worked at our church and I had a key) and I hung them outside his office door. I then brought him into work because his car was in the shop and I was off that day so I even got to see his reaction to the surprise. He loved it.

Final cost: free

Day 8

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…eight maids done milking.


This was easy. I went to the grocery store and got the cheapest little cheeses I could find on sale. These worked especially well since we both love cheese.

Final cost: about $3

Day 9

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…nine ladies dancing.


This was not my favorite of the gifts, but it worked. I found an image of a silhouetted lady dancing and cut it out of brown shipping paper in a paper doll style with hands and feet touching. It came out ok, but then it kept trying to roll up. Finally, I found some clear contact paper and “laminated” it with that to try to keep it flat and avoid tearing.

Final cost: free

Day 10

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…ten frogs a leaping.


Origami jumping frogs are kind of my thing. I have been making these since second grade. I even used them in my college public speaking class for my “how to” speech. This is the first he had seen the frogs so it was extra special. Thankfully I already had some green paper. Unfortunately, I have never seen a tutorial for this exact style so I cannot link to it. Maybe someday I will post one myself.

Another option would be to get some of these plastic jumping frogs. The real fun in this is playing with them together anyway.

Final cost: free

Day 11

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…eleven pipers piping.


By now my creativity and budget were starting to wane. I went to the dollar store and got a package of pipe cleaners and twisted them into 11 stick figures. It was fun and now whenever we are looking for the leftover pipe cleaners to clean something, we can refer to the pipers piping.

Final cost: $1.06

Day 12–Christmas Eve

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…twelve drumsticks melting.


Drumstick ice cream saved the day, as real drummers are expensive and scheduling gets difficult. These even came in packages of 4 and 8 to make getting a dozen easy. I set these out on the table just before he walked into the room, hence the “melting”. It was a fun and tasty conclusion.

Final cost: under $5


This was the most fun I have ever had with a Christmas present. He appreciated all the time and effort that went into it, even if the “gifts” individually weren’t that special. Having our friends share in the surprise made it even more interesting. By the end, they were starting to try to guess what the next day would be. Everyone had a good time and it was totally worth the time, effort, and cost.

Overall cost: just under $30

I hope this has given you some great ideas. Let me know if you try this, what tweaks you make, and how it turns out. I would love to hear the stories.

One thought on “Twelve Days of Christmas on a Budget

  1. Laura says:

    Hah! Love the Cadbury egg comment, too funny.

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