When people ask me for my advice on holidays shopping, one of the first things I always say is this: buying gifts is a lot like buying groceries. That is, you should never go to the store without making a list (and checking it twice), seeing what sales are available, and trying to find coupons to help you save even more on your shopping. Whether you use Black Friday doorbusters or free gift card offers to know items off your holiday list, as long as you have a list, then you’re on the right track.
Regardless of when you start your holiday shopping or where you get your gifts, you can make it through the holiday shopping season with your budget and sanity intact. To help you do so, I’ve gathered together my 10 tips for holiday shopping.
- Shop with a list. Gift shopping is just like grocery shopping in that you need to make a list and bring it with you to the store to help you stay organized.
- Spend based on your budget, not the recipient’s salary. Rather than worry about how much you’re spending, look for gifts that match the person’s hobbies and interests, and remember that it is the thought that counts.
- Keep all-occasion hostess-like gifts on hand throughout the season. These are great to have when you need something last minute when invited to a holiday party. Family Dollar carries some of my frugal favorites like candles, chocolate, and children’s toys along with mixed nuts, oven mitts, and trivets.
- The gift of food makes a great, affordable teacher gift. Even a box of cookies or an assortment of candy transferred to a festive tin will be much appreciated by the educators in your (and your children’s) life.
- Gather similar gifts for a big wow factor without a big price tag. Give the coffee lover bags of coffee tucked in a travel mug and packaged with a gift card to a local coffee shop. For children, fill a backpack with arts and craft supplies – construction paper, colored pencils, and a box of crayons. For teens, you can purchase an iTunes™ gift card and a set of headphones.
- Create gorgeous centerpieces without much effort. Festive candles set on holiday-themed plates, hurricane jars filled with bright Christmas balls, or colorful candy can be all you need to make your holiday table look amazing.
- Set up a gift-wrapping station at home. I like to keep wrapping paper, ribbons, scissors, and tape in a plastic bin in our guest room. That way, whenever I need to wrap a gift, I have everything I need to turn a purchase into a present.
- When in doubt, grab a reusable bag. For about a dollar, you can pick up a colorful reusable bag that can double as a gift bag. Then the bag itself becomes a practical part of the present, because the recipient can use it for shopping throughout the year.
- Include pets in gift giving. Make sure you have a stocking for your dog or cat so that every member of the family can be a part of your holiday celebration. (I stock up on stocking stuffers for my dogs throughout the year, usually by trolling the clearance bins at PetSmart!)
- Don’t forget to treat yourself. Holiday shopping is hard work. Why not treat yourself to a new ornament for the tree or a picture frame for the mantel. Or if you use a credit card that gives you free gift cards as a cash back benefit, get one for yourself and take yourself shopping–on you!
I hope these tips help you get your holiday shopping done without busting your budget or your ending up pulling out your hair in frustration.