Christmas is coming too fast and the shopping is nowhere near complete.
At least for me.
How about you, and about 700 MILLION OTHERS, too? (Or something like that.)
Ahhhh! You know what I’m talking about – ha.
‘Tis the season of busy, and the to-do list is longer than Santa’s entire nice or naughty list (it HAS to be).
But the last-minute shopping you still have to do doesn’t have to mean whipping out the credit cards and slaughtering the emergency savings! Far from it.
There are ways to get amazing, thoughtful gifts while staying within your budget.
Here are some 10 money-saving tips for all your last-minute holiday shopping!
10 Money-Saving Tips for Last-Minute Holiday Shopping
1. Make a list and trim it down.
You may want to, but you don’t have to buy a gift for everyone. Star with putting together a list of all the people you really want to give a gift to and stick to it.
2. Avoid the temptation to shop for yourself while hitting the stores (except for necessary items).
There are still great deals – and will be until the very end (stores want your money!) – but now’s not the time to browse for yourself. Unless it’s a necessity somehow (as in, something you’ve been looking for), don’t give a second look to that cute home decoration or unique hair appliance.
3. Eat before you shop, bring snacks, or use coupons for eating out if you must.
I recently spent a Monday afternoon shopping for some gifts, but first I ate a good lunch at home, then picked up my favorite coffee drink at Kwik Trip – which is only $1.00 on Mondays. So I was all set for shopping without having to stop for a meal or satisfy a last-minute craving for a pricey drink.
Shopping can take a lot out of you. I always bring a water bottle too. For some reason shopping in a busy store can dehydrate and make you hungry quick. Maybe it’s the flourescent lighting or all the chemicals in the air from brand new products, or all the restaurants you’ll see in the area (mmm…tacos). But it’s going to be more fun, energizing and budget-friendly if you go on a full stomach with snacks and beverages on hand in case.
4. Consider re-gifting items.
Had to throw this in here. We all have items in our homes that are gift-worthy but are not doing us any good. Consider going through your stuff – it’s a good time to purge things for year-end tax deductions anyway!
Maybe you have a candle, gift book, and frame that you could put together in a gift basket. Or some electronic item or game that you didn’t get around to using but someone else would appreciate it.
Just be sure not to give a gift back to the person who gave it to you in the first place. 🙂
5. Make your money go further with gift card bonus deals.
Gift card deals are everywhere. Retailers and restaurants alike are offering great incentives for buying a gift card. Buy a $50 gift card, get a $10 gift card free. Buy a $100 gift card, get a $25 gift card free. Sometimes the free gift card can’t be used until next year, but what a nice freebie to use as another gift or for yourself!
6. Comparison shop, and ask in-store.
How do you comparison shop when your time is limited?
Use your phone or other mobile device. Look up an item online on sites like Google Shopping and Nextag.
Use an app like Flipp to search flyers and coupons by item to find the best deals.
Or use the ShopSavvy app to scan any item in a store to find the best price for it, anywhere.
And don’t be intimidated by store prices – many stores like Target, Walmart, Best Buy and Office Max will price match. Just check their price matching policy or ask about it in-store.
This year I’ve purchased items for a fraction of the original price at stores like Best Buy and Office Max. Yes, a FRACTION. If amazon.com or another site has a much better price, no problem. You could get a $20 planner for $8 like I did.
7. Give experience gifts.
Experience gifts can be pricier, like museum memberships or set of tickets to a show, but they can be frugal too. Plus, they are quick to obtain or put together, so they’re a great last-minute option.
How about giving some recipes from your own collection (if you have some shareable ones), or for the person too busy to cook, a dinner kit with all the ingredients and utensils to cook a yummy meal at home and even a cookbook.
Consider these ideas for kids:
- A kids’ magazine subscription – give a copy of the current issue with a note that they’ll be getting it every month
- An art activity kit – put art supplies together in a fun basket or small reusable toy bucket.
- A “Twin Cities Adventure” gift set – put together passes from various attractions in the Twin Cities (assuming the recipient doesn’t already have an annual membership for any of them), plus some Minnesota-themed candy (anything from Pearson’s, based in St. Paul, or maybe a chocolate shaped like Minnesota), and then make a map or “travel” itinerary, and put it all together. You could also include the Twin Cities Adventure Guide book, written by a local mom and only $12.50 from amazon.com (at this time):
8. Shop online but check shipping deadlines.
You can still get some great deals online this week. Eddie Bauer has a 50% off code you can use through December 20th, and Shutterfly has 50% off many items and expedited shipping.
But be aware of shipping deadlines.
9. Get certain items at the dollar store.
I love Dollar Tree for greeting cards. Their selection is fantastic and cards at either $.50 or $1.00, but you wouldn’t know the difference between them and the $5.00 cards you find elsewhere!
You can also get gift wrap, gift bags, decorations, balloons and many other items here. Considering these are all typically one-time use items, why pay more?
10. Buy or make something simple but dress it up.
It’s all about the appearance.
You could purchase the simplest gift but a little creativity and thoughtfulness can make it the most memorable for the recipient.
For example, Thrifty Frugal Mom came up with a great idea for how to gift a pizza gift card. Just pair it with some paper plates, napkins and simple decor, and you’ve got a great, creative gift.
Or pair a package of cookie mix with icing and a cookie cutter, tie it all up with a bow and put a cookie-themed gift tag on it.
Or decorate a 6-pack of root beer with brown pipe cleaners, white cotton poms and googly eyes to make the root beer look like reindeer, and attach a tag saying “Merry Christmas and a Happy Root Beer!”
(Read more and print free tags from Hip2Save.com for these gift ideas!)
Happy last-minute shopping!
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