Save Big Bucks This Holiday Season

December 1st has finally arrived! If you missed out on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday, there are still plenty of ways to save on those holiday gifts for family and friends.

According to the National Retail Foundation (NRF), the average American expects to spend $967.13 during the holiday season this year. That figure includes food, decorations, flowers, greeting cards, holiday treats and, of course, gifts. NRF survey respondents said they planned to spend $608.06 on gifts for others – roughly 63% of their total holiday spending.

A survey by OfferUp found that 24% of Americans consider holiday spending their most stressful one-time expense of the year.

So we’ve done the research for you and here are some great ways to save big bucks:

1) Set a Dollar Limit

Start by setting a total budget for your holiday gift-giving. Then divide that total by the number of people on your list giving you a price limit for each person. As long as you keep each person’s gifts under this limit, you can’t go over budget.

Of course, you don’t have to split up your budget equally. You can give bigger gifts to your closest family members and distribute small token gifts to people who are less close, such as neighbors and distant friends. Or you can set a higher limit for a friend who has luxurious tastes and spend less on one with simpler tastes.

2) Give a Family Gift

Try buying a present for a whole family instead of one for each person. For instance, instead of getting separate gifts for your brother, his wife, and one for each of their three kids, you could give them all a board game they can play together. Another option is a gift card or gift certificate for a family meal at their favorite restaurant. You could also buy one gift for all the kids to share, and one for the grownups.

3) Do A Gift Exchange

If you have 15 people in your family and each one buys a gift for each of the other 14, that gives you more than 200 presents piled under the tree. Unwrapping them all one by one ends up taking most of the day. In the rush to get through the pile, no one has time to focus on any one present or thank the giver properly. By the time you’re done, the floor is littered with paper and everyone is too worn out to enjoy their new gifts.

You can reduce the chaos of this scene by agreeing to a family gift exchange. This type of swap is also known as a round robin or secret Santa.

4) DIY Gifts

Another way to find presents that fit a small budget is to make your own. However, just like secondhand gifts, homemade presents are sometimes welcome and sometimes not. The trick is to choose gifts that look thoughtful, rather than just plain cheap.

When you give a handmade present, you’re spending time on it instead of money. So to be a success, the gift should look like you really put some time into it. A beautiful hand-sewn quilt that you spent weeks making is a lovely gift that means far more than anything you could buy at a store. Jewelry: You can make one-of-a-kind jewelry by selecting and stringing beads of different shapes and colors. Purchasing beads at craft stores can be pricey, but if you order online, you can buy a whole pound of assorted beads for $10 or less. Or check out tons of ideas of Pinterest for beautiful DIY art projects.

5) Get Creative

When it comes to the holidays, what makes a present special is the amount of thought that goes into it. So when you’re shopping for a gift, take time to really think about the person you’re giving it to. Ask yourself what they like and what kind of gift would mean a lot to them.

For example, you can take advantage of technology by making a video of your family singing a Christmas carol or your children performing a play.

When you make a video, create a photo calendar or put together a scrapbook for friends or family, everyone benefits. Your family joins together to work on a project, and the recipient gets years of enjoyment from your gift.

6) Free Shipping Deals

On December 15, more than 500 online merchants, like Target, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Kohl’s, will offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve! (Go to freeshippingday.com for details.)

7) Gift Card Deals

Check out Gift Card Granny, a reputable marketplace where you can buy other people’s unwanted like-new gift cards for Amazon, Starbucks, AMC Theatres and thousands of other merchants with savings up to 55% off! Also, many retailers offer bonus gift cards when you purchase a certain dollar amount on them.

8) Best Days To Shop

December 10th through the 18th are the best days to seek out those savings:

  • Dec. 10: Fitness Gear and Sporting Goods
  • Dec. 11-13: High Definition TVs
  • Dec. 14: Toys, Gaming Systems
  • Dec. 15: Stocking Stuffers
  • Dec. 16: Clothes, Tools and Hardware
  • Dec. 18: Small kitchen appliances

9) Store Apps

Download each store’s app for coupons you can’t get anywhere else

  • Macy’s app: Get 25% off your first in-app purchase.
  • Kohl’s app: New users get a free 50 Yes to You points when they download the Kohl’s app.
  • Target app: Get access to all Cartwheel offers through the Target app.

10) Price Match

Shop at retailers that let you price match their online prices. These stores include:

Walmart, Home Depot, Target, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Toys “R” Us, Macy’s, Sears, Kohl’s, ACE Hardware, Nordstrom, Gap, Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples, Dick’s Sporting Goods, PetSmart, Office Depot, Big Lots

Happy holidays, indeed!

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