When it comes to Christmas shopping, for me, the mantra is shop early, shop often.
Right now, most of the kids that I buy for are young. I do my best to pick up an outfit for each during end of season clearances. This allows me to buy a nice outfit at a reasonable price. Since, they are young, I don’t have to worry yet about whether it will be in style or not next year. (I also use those same sales to stock up for my kids for the next year)
Those end of season clearances apply to toys and other gift type items too. Target recently did a clearance on a number of toy items. You can get them at 50 – 75% off. Same was true at Kohl’s. They marked down a number of toys to 60% off recently. Coupled with the additional % off coupons that Kohl’s has many times a year, this made for some really good deals.
Look for these sales in areas like toys, household goods, small appliances, etc. Every time a manufacturer changes packaging or introduces “next year’s model”, it seems like they clearance out the current item.
Many stores, like JCPenney and Toys ‘R Us will offer coupons throughout the year that are good for $ off $. I have seen them as good as $10 off of $10, but typically they are more like $10 off of $25. Since you typically only have access to one of these coupons per event, you need multiple events to maximize savings. This is an advantage of shopping early, you have more events to participate in.
Start a gift closet. This one I credit to one of my friends. She heads to Bath and Body Works during their big seasonal sales and stocks up. She is able to buy a number of things at a great price and then hangs onto them until she needs a gift. She stocks up on fancy notepaper, candles, art supplies, etc., at a lot of seasonal sales and then uses them to build gifts. You can also buy fancy ornaments at the end of the season (watch for dated ones) and hold them back for next year.
For seasonal sale information, Mercedes over at Common Sense with Money did a great article on Stockpiling Around the Year.
Make your gifts. For our teacher’s gifts each year, I buy a pretty plate and fill it up with all of the yummy baked goods that I have prepared. This works well for neighbors and co-workers if you are in the habit of exchanging gifts.
Black Friday – love it! – haven’t done much since the kids were born, but now that they are getting older, I might have to try it again. You can get some really good deals if you are willing to get out early. And, some stores, have moved the start of their sales to late Thanksgiving night, so you can go out once the festivities have wrapped up and the kids are in bed.
Now, some of this won’t work for specific want lists, but if you can get wish lists early, you are more likely to find items in stock and on sale in the months leading up to the holidays. Right now Wii’s are on shelf, in a couple of months, I imagine they will be sparse again. Plus, if you aren’t rushing around at the last minute, you can make better decisions on what to buy.
See other peoples suggestions at BeCentsAble Tipster Tuesday where the subject for is about the holidays and preparation.
Check out other frugal ideas at Crystal's Blog.