How to Save Money on Holiday Shopping

Christmas shopping

Shopping in New York City on Black Friday – Photo credit: Leigh Goessl

The holidays have a tendency to creep up before you know it. While the holidays are a wonderful time of the year, they can also get pretty costly. This is especially true if you are on a budget where you have to be careful what you spend because you can’t afford to overindulge buying gifts, decorations and other niceties.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can save money on holiday shopping and still get thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list. Holidays don’t have to be humbug just because you can’t spend as much as you’d like to. And it doesn’t mean you have to stand in long lines on Black Friday or miss out on Thanksgiving in order to snag sales in the stores.

Here are a few tips you can use to try and scale back on the expense without cutting your list or buying useless gifts:

Start Early

By starting early, this means start right away. As soon as the holidays are over, many stores offer fantastic clearance sales. If you can make note of those timeless gift items your family and friends didn’t get this year that they really wanted, this is a great way to bring a big smile on their face for next year.

Take Advantage of Seasonal Sales

Another way you can save money is to purchase items which go on sale in the “off” holiday season. If you make your holiday list early and stash it in your purse, wallet, or even your car, you’ll be sure to always have this list handy if you see great gift ideas which happen to be on sale. You can add and cross off items throughout the year.

Coupons and Early Bird Sales

Many stores offer coupons or special early bird sales. This is a great time to pick up those special gifts. Again, you don’t have to wait for Black Friday. Watch fliers and also create a throwaway email address and put yourself on retail email lists. They just love to send coupons. If you have a specific gift item in mind you can also visit the manufacturer’s website, it is possible they may offer coupons you can print out on demand which will save you a few additional bucks when you visit the store. Just be careful of phishing or scam emails if you sign up for many lists. 

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Make Your Own Gifts

Are you artistic? If so, great, this will be easier to do. But if not and you enjoy making things and are willing to learn different crafts, this is a great option for you. There are some very nice gifts you can make for a fraction of the cost if you were to buy these items off store shelf from a box. Plus it makes your gift more personable and shows the thought you put into it.

You can make pretty stained glass items, sew, knit or crochet clothing or other household items, stain or paint wood gifts or even design great t-shirts. If you are talented with a digital camera, you can also create works or art from nature or collages of family/friends photos and create nice gifts which will be treasured always.

There are a multitude of ideas out there, all you need to do is zero in on your skills and interests and find gifts you can create.

Comparison Shop Online

The Internet is a wonderful tool and the best way to find those coveted items at the ideal price. By comparison shopping for items within one website or finding the sales at various stores you can easily locate the item you want at the price you desire. The beauty of the Internet is no longer are you limited to your local vicinity. The commercial world is at your fingertips to comparison shop.

Secondhand Gifts

On websites such as, eBay and you can find used products in great, or even new, condition at more affordable prices. These are only a small example of the websites you can peruse in order to find the perfect gift. Thrift shops often also have those hard to find items.

One year I found a picnic basket with “real” dishes and silverware with the tags still on it for a fraction of what I would have paid for it new. People clean out their attics, garages and other rooms and there is literally a treasure of used items to be found being sold on the web.

Have a Family Grab Bag or Draw Names

As the costs of living continue to rise many families have opted to draw names and buy only one gift for the person’s name they’ve selected. This way everyone can focus on buying one really nice gift rather than spending a lot of money on many smaller gifts. Have a nice gathering around the holidays where everyone can come together to open their gifts to make it a meaningful time shared. Great way to create tradition and wonderful memories.

Gift Certificates

Not the gift certificates that stores offer, but make your own! If you are really low on cash but want to offer a nice gift, offer a coupon for something your intended would really like. It could be babysitting, cleaning, yard work, or a special home cooked meal of your recipient’s favorite foods. Pretty much sky’s the limit on this one! Use your imagination.

Holiday shopping can get expensive, in 2013 retailers generated more than 3 trillion dollars.  Yes, spending can get out of hand, but it doesn’t have to drain your bank account. These are only a few of the many options you can explore to save some money gift buying, all it takes it a little thought and some occasional thinking outside the box and you can save money on holiday shopping.

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