Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. Here are my tips for having fun while picking up holiday bargains on time, and on budget.
1. Don’t wait! Shop early. I’m usually completely done by Thanksgiving. I start in January, gathering a few bits and pieces in the after-Christmas sales, then pick up the “big ticket items” at various points throughout the year. This spreads the cost and prevents a credit card blowout come December 24!
2. Don’t try to do it all in one day! If you leave it until the last minute you’ll be tired, frustrated, and will find yourself buying something expensive just because you can’t be bothered to keep searching.
3. Don’t pay full price! (part 1) Shop online. Stores such as oldnavy.com and gap.com generally have items on sale all year round. Go for free shipping whenever you can, and use promo codes to keep prices down (see #3). I buy almost all my kids’ clothes off season — whenever summer fashions are introduced, for example, I pick up discontinued (but still super-cute!) winter outfits and accessories that make for perfect Christmas presents. Just remember to size up, since you’re buying months in advance.
4. Don’t pay full price! (part 2) Use retailmenot.com. This website lists user-contributed coupon codes for every online store you can think of. Once you’ve selected your coupon, copy and paste the code into the “promo code” box at the online merchant of your choice. It’s a guaranteed way of saving money!
5. Don’t leave it to chance! Have everyone in your family create an online wishlist. My whole family keeps separate wishlists on amazon.com, and we generally “wish” for books, CDs, DVDs, and random things such as t-shirts or cookery items. For those who aren’t so tech-savvy, some stores offer access to online wishlists in their retail locations. Toys R Us, for example, has kiosks where you can search online for a specific child’s name, purchase the items, and even have them shipped to the child’s home so you don’t have to carry Mega Monster through the parking lot yourself. In addition to shipping, most places will wrap the gift for you (for a fee), and attach a gift note (for free). What’s more, buying from a wishlist prevents the same item from being bought twice and ensures you are buying a gift that is actually going to be enjoyed.
So, finish up your 2010 shopping before the craziness starts. And now that you know some more holiday shopping bargain tips, you can get a head-start on Xmas 2011 today!