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The Definitive Holiday Shopping Guide

It must be that time of year again when people start putting up their holiday lights and malls across the country play Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” on repeat (much to the chagrin of retail employees), because you’re here looking for an article on how you can best go about your holiday shopping. Which is perfect, because we’ve got tips to give and you’ve got money to save. So let’s get to it.

Now don’t get us wrong, Thanksgiving is great; we’re all about showing thanks for the people in your lives that you appreciate. But it’s really not until December when that thankfulness seems to materialize. That said, all of that appreciation to the people you love doesn’t mean you have to burn a giant hole in your wallet. There are ways that you can be smart about your shopping and still share the love.

Tip Number 1: Start your planning early and be thoughtful

There are many reasons you should start planning your holiday shopping early. The most important one being that you’re much less likely to forget buying a gift for someone. save yourself the trouble and be like Santa Claus by making a list and checking it twice.

And our pro tip, always include gift receipts. We all want to think we’re the great gift givers out there but reality is we can sometimes be off the mark. It’s always better to give someone the option to really enjoy what they want, even if it means returning your original gift, because otherwise your money is just going down the drain and all you’re really getting in return is a polite but fake smile.

Tip Number 2: Make a budget

Once you’ve made your list of people to buy gifts for, it’ll make it so much easier to create a holiday shopping budget. Looking at the list you can tie a figure to each person; by tallying up all the numbers you can see what you’re looking to spend. If that final number looks a little high, it’s a good indication that you might want to revisit how much you’re spending on each person. And let’s say you find yourself in that situation, don’t feel bad about it because really it’s the thought that counts and anyone who wants to get a good gift from you at the expense of your financial stability, well... maybe don’t get that person a gift.

Now if you’re really on your game, you can pretty much start planning for next year’s holidays this year. A lot of retailers might have special clearance sales on extra inventory they weren’t able to sell during the holidays. This could be a really good opportunity to buy wonderful gifts for the following year at a great price. And you can keep taking advantage of great deals throughout the year to make sure you’re getting great gifts at affordable prices. Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals can be a part of this shopping process as well. And if you haven’t seen our Black Friday shopping guide, you might want to consider taking a look here since there are some pretty good tips there that could carry over nicely for the holidays as well.

Tip Number 3: Consider Making Gifts

Again, for many folks it’s less about the actual gift and more about the thought behind the gift that really counts. Now, this thought process might not really fly if the gift was for some kind of White Elephant activity, but for general gift giving it’ll be just fine. And making your gifts will always be cheaper than buying something from the store. Plus, there’s an added sentimental value since it’s something that you put your time and effort into making.

If you’re not sure of what you can make, try and think of some useful skills you might be able to take advantage of. For example if you’re good at art, you can create a drawing or painting of something meaningful for someone in your life. Or if you’re able to knit, you can knit someone gloves, socks or scarves. Bottom line, there are tons of ideas out there. A quick Google search can easily get your creative juices flowing.

Tip Number 4: Be Smart About Your Celebrations

It’s very easy to get carried away during the holidays with decorations, which isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, but some things can definitely add up and end up costing you a good amount of money. For example, Christmas lights can end up draining a lot of electricity if you leave them on all the time. The exact cost will vary depending on what type of lights you’re using and how many you have up but our recommendation would be to set them up with timers so that they’re only on at night when they can shine brightest and be most appreciated without driving up your electricity bill by exorbitant amounts.

Another area you might be able to save is with a Christmas tree, if you’re in the tradition of buying one. Buying a Christmas tree every year can be quite costly. It may be worth considering buying a plastic tree you can reuse every year or perhaps a smaller one just to help save on costs.

That covers our holiday-specific shopping tips, but if you haven’t already checked it out, we recommend you also take a look at our guide to Black Friday shopping. There are some good tips there that can carry over quite well to your holiday shopping.

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