Guest blog provided by our friend Jessica Thiefels.
It seems like the holidays sneak up on us each year, no matter how much we plan ahead. All of a sudden, it’s time to find gifts for our friend and family. What’s worse, holiday shopping can put a serious dent in your bank account.
With a little planning and creativity, however, holiday shopping doesn’t have to leave you with an empty wallet. Here are seven tips to organize your gift giving to maximize savings.
1. Set a budget
This may seem obvious, or like a huge gift-giving buzzkill, but at the end of the day it’s the easiest way to prevent overspending. Set a budget for yourself and stick to it. When you find gifts for family and friends, use coupons, wait for in-store deals, and take advantage of seasonal deals and promotions.
If a general budget is too broad for you, set a spending limit for each person. This way, your gifts will be in the same price range and no one will feel outdone by someone who has the luxury to buy lavish gifts. This also forces everyone to be more creative to find gifts that fall within a specific price range.
2. Pick secret Santas
Cut back on the number of gifts you need to buy — get your friends and family members together and draw names. Everyone ends up being responsible for just one gift, making shopping less expensive and time intensive.
Consider suggesting secret Santa within each group that you plan to give gifts—among friends, siblings (if you have a lot of them), cousins, etc.
3. Suggest a white elephant gift exchange
White Elephant gift exchanges are not just budget-friendly, they are so much fun. If you’ve never played before, here’s what you need to know:
Each person brings one gift. If you want, you can set a price limit or some sort of criteria. When everyone is together, pick an order for selecting gifts. The first person picks one from the pile and opens it. The next person follows suit, except that he or she can choose to open a new gift or “steal” a gift that’s already open.
If a player’s gift is stolen, he or she can open an unwrapped present or steal from the pool of open gifts. Whether you’re opening with co-workers, friends or family, this game ends up being fun for everyone. It turns into an all-out competition, as each player tries to walk away with the best gift.
4. Focus on DIY gifts
Take advantage of your creative, crafty side and plan to go DIY this year. You can add your own personal touch and your friends and family will love that you made something special for them. A few fun ideas to try include:
- Gift baskets
- A painting or photo collage
- Hand-knit scarf
You can get all the materials you need at a craft store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. Focus on making just a few items for everyone — a different set of coasters for each sibling for example. You can buy the items you need in bulk, which will also cut costs.
5. Remember to buy in bulk
Buying in bulk is one of the best ways to save money during the holiday season. It’s especially helpful for stocking stuffers and gift baskets, allowing you to give multiple people similar items. When searching online for the best deal, beware of the pink and blue tax, which refers to higher-priced, gender-specific items.
For example, a recent Pink Vs. Blue Tax analysis found that moisturizer for women cost $34.92, while a similar product for men was just $8.25. Save a few bucks and buy the generic, gender-neutral bottle. Your friends won’t notice and you’ll save a lot.
6. Use online price comparison
Even if you want to shop in-store this year, use the internet and apps to compare prices and save across a variety of retailers. Apps like ebates and swagbucks even give you rebates and rewards every time you use them.
When using your browser, price-match with websites like Google Shopping, Nextag and PriceGrabber.
If you do plan to shop online, install the Honey Chrome extension. This automatically finds coupon codes when you’re at the checkout and then tries them to see if any work.
When you go into the holiday season organized, you can be sure to maximize your savings. Use these tips to plan ahead for great gifts that won’t break the bank.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time blogger. She is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of her own personal training business, Honest Body Fitness. She’s using her experience from writing, editing and marketing to help people get healthy and learn to love what their bodies can do. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for health articles, new workouts and more.