Ah, Christmas shopping. Every year we say we’re going to start earlier, and every year it somehow winds up that on December 15th we’re panicking because we have hardly any gifts. I used to go through this same cycle each and every year. But then I realized the main reason I put off Christmas shopping is because it’s so expensive! Finally I developed some strategies to make Christmas shopping less expensive, and now I do less damage to my bank account come November. Here are my top four tips for keeping Christmas shopping less expensive.
Break it Down
Seriously, people, we have a year from one Christmas to the next. If you’re planning on buying a larger item for someone, like getting your mom that new television she wants, start putting money away in a Christmas jar on December 26th. Even if you put a dollar or two at a time (or even a quarter here and there) you can save up quite a bit and it won’t be so much out of your pocket at once come gift buying time. You can break up your whole list, too, by breaking down the number of gifts you need to purchase into monthly shopping trips. If you have 24 people to buy for, for instance, take care of gifts for two people each month. Again, you’re spending less during the holiday shopping time so it’s less expensive for you during those months.
Shop Right After Christmas
Another great way to purchase gifts cheaply is to buy for next year this year. Every single year big box retailers and small family-owned shops alike have massive after-Christmas sales to get rid of extra inventory. Take advantage of these sales and stock up on gifts for next year. This is also the best time to buy your wrapping paper, tape, bows, labels, and other gift wrapping items.
Make Gifts by Hand
Sure it might take some time, but again – we have a year! By making some of your gifts you can actually save quite a bit of money, and the gift you give will be more personal, as well. This year I’m on a mission to hand make each and every Christmas gift (more or less) just because it’s fun. But even if you don’t want to make them all (or don’t have the time) you can choose one or two special projects for a few very special people on your list and save some cash that way.
Hit the Dollar Tree or 99 Cent Store First
Don’t scoff; many people think these stores are full of junk, but they really have some great items if you know where to look. There’s a Dollar Tree by my grandma’s house and they have some pretty awesome items. I’ve purchased mugs, dish sets, kitchen accessories, coasters, and other items for gifts there and nobody was ever the wiser. The 99 Cent Store sometimes has less of a selection, but if you have a large one near you I bet you’ll be surprised at the quality of items there. If you stuff stockings with candy or include food in any of your holiday gifts you should definitely check out the 99 Cent Store because they have some of the best candy prices you’ll find anywhere.
These are the four rules I live by in order to make Christmas shopping more affordable. You can buy a mason jar for a dollar or less and paint it (if you want) to indicate that it’s your Christmas savings jar. Put a few cents or dollars in whenever you can starting right now and you will be surprised at how much you can save between now and Christmas. Sometimes I like to wrap mine in Christmas wrapping paper so I can’t see what’s inside. Then it’s a real Christmas gift to myself when I unwrap it before I go shopping. Shopping on places like Groupon and Living Social is also a great idea because you can gift some amazing items, experiences, and trips for very low prices. I hope these tips help you shop for your upcoming Christmas gifts (and for any gifts you buy regularly)!