photo credit: Brian Forbes
Evidently, the holiday shopping season has begun even though it’s the middle of September. Stores by me are already stocking ornaments and decorative items. And, just as in years past Christmas will be on December 25th. No surprise there! Although, when I’ve been foolish enough to go to the mall on December 24th the last two years (don’t laugh, remember, I’m Jewish and I forget these things!) I’m fairly certain that there are people out shopping who are surprised that Christmas is on the 25th. As if it’s Hanukkah! Right!
This year Hanukkah begin December 1st, so all my Jewish friends you need to get going! Unfortunately, we’ll miss out on a lot of the deals in the two weeks leading up to Christmas since Hanukkah will be over. However, I’m here to tell you that with just a little planning right now you can take advantage of both time and money savers.
Here are my 10 Tips To Get Ready for Holiday Shopping
1. Get your Holiday Card list in order now. This will allow you know how many cards you’ll need. Boxed cards will start to appear in stores soon, so if you want the best selection get there early. If you’re doing a picture card you should select that picture or convince your family to dress in their holiday best now so you can get the picture you want so it’s all ready to go.
2. Watch here for holiday card printing deals. They should be starting soon. But look out for deals on Daily Deal sites like Zulily where from now until 9/17 you can get a gift certificate for $50 worth of personalized cards from Tiny Prints for only $25!
3. Go buy your stamps. There aren’t many options for money savers here but if you belong to a warehouse club like Sams or Costco they often sell stamps for a teensy weensy discount.
4. Put together your shopping list and include the dollar amount you plan to spend. If you know what you want to buy, include that too. The goal here is to plan your shopping budget so that you know how much you’ll need to save or allocate.
5. Start watching the ads and websites for the things you want. You don’t have to buy now unless you know it’s a great price. Just be aware of what the prices are so you can plan. My friend Mara, she blogs at Kosher on a Budget, wrote about stockpiling gifts. She has some great tips!
6. If you’re planning on doing a cookie exchange or making crafty gifts, get your list ready and watch the sales. Craft stores routinely have discount coupons so make sure you take advantage of those money saver items. Grocery stores know that holiday baking will be under way, so get those coupon printed and clipped for butter and shortening and sugar and chocolate morsels. You should be able to get most of your baking needs on sale.
7. If you are traveling for the holidays, make note of those dates on your calendar and mark a ‘STOP’ date so you know you need to have all your shopping done by a certain date. If you don’t have until the last minute, then just adjust your planning calendar.
8. Teacher gifts. I know this is a controversial subject for many but, yes, you do need to get a gift for the teachers. Skip the mugs and the shower gel and just opt for a gift card and a pretty card. If you watch the CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid and Target deals you may likely find discounts on these too. Worst case scenario is you grab a Starbucks gift card. Even a $5 card is appreciated. If you can not afford a gift, and your child is in elementary school, have your child make a special card of thanks.
9. Start saving money. Christmas and Hanukkah gifts are not an emergency. But just like an emergency fund, you can easily save for these gifts a little at a time. It’s as easy as putting a few bucks a week in an envelope in your dresser drawer. If you skip you daily drink of choice, put those few bucks in the envelope. If you take lunch instead of going out set that aside too. If you have water instead of soda at the restaurant, add that in. These are all small amounts but they can easily add up to a few hundred dollars by mid December. If date night is usually $100 and you find a way to only spend $50 then make the savings real. Same with using coupons. If you would have bought something without using a coupon, if you find a coupon then same that money. It works for online deals too. If you find a code for free shipping then make that ‘free’ part of your savings. Be mindful of what you need to achieve and you can make choices with knowledge!
10. Don’t stress! The holidays are a joyous time. If you can’t spend any money then just enjoy being with friends and family. No matter how crazy or stressed out you get, the holidays will come and go. Make the most of it and create lasting memories. It shouldn’t be about the money and the gifts and the things. Celebrate the reason for the season.
Now, are you ready to take on the holidays?