Save on Holiday Gift Giving
The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with friends and family but it can also be a stressful occasion. Traveling expenses, attending parties, and exchanging gifts can definitely be a financial strain. But, there are many easy ways to lighten the burden.
Planning ahead and shopping in advance is one way to reduce stress and take advantage of lower prices. Heather Tate, a mother from Guntown, says, “I start buying presents early, even if it’s just a couple of months. I buy when I see big sales and put it back, so I’m not forced to impulse buy last minute.” Writing down gift purchases in a notebook helps keep track of what has been bought to avoid double buying and tracks how much money has been spent.
Purchasing items that are lightly used is another way to save immensely. This is a great avenue for kids’ toys and big-ticket items, however, works best if you begin shopping early to have ample time as some items maybe harder to locate than others. New 2 U consignment sales are held seasonally in Tupelo and Columbus and are the perfect place to shop for those pricey toys that children quickly outgrow. Facebook resale groups, such as “North MS Sell, Buy, & Trade” and “Lee County Buy Sell Trade” allow you to search for keywords of items for which you are looking. It’s also helpful to have some money set aside so you can act quickly in case an item you have been looking for is posted.
Some employers offer a Christmas savings program where at the beginning of the year you specify an amount taken out of your paycheck that can’t be withdrawn until the end of the year to help save for Christmas. Holley Meriweather from Tupelo advises, “Plan ahead so you can start early, budget, stick to it, and buy a little at a time.”
Keep it Simple
As families, co-workers, and friends’ groups grow larger, the quantity of gifts grow too. By drawing names and establishing a spending cap, it allows everyone to shop for only one person. Teacher Corrie Martin says, “My extended family started just giving each family one product they fell in love with during the year. It can be anything. It’s fun and pretty inexpensive.” Other enjoyable yet economical gift exchanges include ornaments, recipes, cookies, and scarves.
A child’s wish list can be endless. Some suggest giving “something you need, something you read, something you want, and something to wear.” Following this concept not only simplifies holiday shopping but also encourages more thought into what the child receives.
Find Deals Online
Online shopping and smart phones have made it easier for shoppers to avoid paying full retail price for most products. There are so many resources that help you compare prices, score discounts, and get the best deals online and in-store. Rebecca Umberger, a mother of two boys from Tupelo, says, “I use the Amazon app to quickly scan the barcode of a product I find in a store to see if I can find a better deal.I also always check the RetailMeNot app for coupons for whatever store I am in.”
Additional price comparison apps include, ShopSavvy, BuyVia, and Scanlife. TTPM, or Toys, Tots, Pets & More, focuses on all the things you might want to give to little ones and tweens. It also allows you to bookmark items, check out trending products, and even create profiles for kids so you can separately track birthdays, gift ideas, and more.
To avoid paying full price for gift cards CardCash and Gift Card Granny are two websites that sell gift cards for less than face value and will buy gift cards you don’t want. Also, buying a discounted gift card to use for your own shopping is a good way to score additional discounts.
Once the gifts have been purchased, wrapping them doesn’t have to be pricey. Taking advantage of free wrapping at a store is one way to avoid additional costs. Tallie Mabray, a mother of a newborn, exclaims, “I save all the pretty Christmas bags, bows, and boxes so that I don’t have to buy wrapping stuff for next year and still have cute gifts under the tree.” Buying new wrapping paper shortly after Christmas for the following year is another way to save.
Wrapping with newspaper and children’s artwork creates cute packages. Mother of two Stephanie German, wraps with inexpensive plain brown paper and then lets her children decorate the gifts by coloring and attaching stickers. “It’s a win-win. It provides an activity to entertain my children while allowing them to use their creativity and I end up with pretty one-of-a kind wrapping paper.” Tying presents with twine and trimming with greenery from your yard is another unique and budget-friendly idea.
Shopping smart for the holidays can reap big rewards for your pocketbook as well as keep stress levels low and make for a more memorable season for everyone.
Additional Saving Tip:
- Enjoy free and inexpensive holiday activities: Check your local community calendar for free holiday activities and performances such as a tree lighting or parade; go caroling; snuggle up with the family and watch a holiday movie; or tour neighborhood Christmas lights.
Kathryn Rhea resides in Tupelo with her husband, two children, and two cats. She buys presents for birthdays and Christmas when she finds a good deal, even if it is months in advance.