Frugal Tip Tuesday – Holiday shopping edition

I strongly dislike paying full price on anything, and often wait to make a purchase until it’s on sale. This usually impacts what gifts are given, all year round, but especially at Christmas. It can make it easier when you aren’t sure what to buy for someone; just go and see what is on sale (I picked up some cute clothes for my nieces at the Old Navy 50% off their Clearance section sale; 3 items for $19!). Or it can make things very frustrating when you have a particular gift in mind, and it isn’t on sale (I want to get the little guy a chair of his very own, but they haven’t gone on sale yet!).

This is when planning can be a big part of your holiday shopping. Start thinking/planning early so you can watch for sales. Waiting till the last-minute, often costs you more. Many stores end sales before Christmas to cash in on last-minute shoppers, and the “must have items” that were on sale are sold out and you are left buying something else at full price. I’m not saying you have to start your Christmas shopping the year before, because new toys and trendy clothes aren’t out until later in the year, and honestly? Who actually is thinking that far in advance. I try to start in September, this year was difficult because I was busy planning my son’s first birthday, but I managed to pick up a few things along the way! I’m half way finished as it is, and I haven’t made a specific trip out to buy Christmas presents. This week I will be focusing on getting most of it done, as I don’t want to hit the stores at all in December. I’m lucky; being a stay at home mom means I can hit the stores in the morning during the week when they aren’t as busy! And thankfully, my little guy is a great shopper! He gets super excited when I say we are going shopping.  He loves hanging out in the stroller or the shopping cart, dancing to the music, and smiling and waving at all the people who stop to talk to him. I make sure he is well fed and rested, and bring some snacks along just in case. I can usually managed a 2 hour trip out without any major meltdowns, from either of us!

Here are some general tips to make your shopping trip a success (especially if you try to get all holiday shopping done in one trip):

– Check store flyers online before you go. Flyerland is great for this.

– Dress in light layers, and leave the bulky coats at home. Malls often offer coat check, but that’s an added expense.

– Wear comfortable shoes. Now is not the time for high heels ladies, this is serious shopping!

– Shop with a list! Specific items or general ideas, also so you don’t miss anyone.

– Leave the kids at home. I know I just said I take my guy with me, but if you are shopping on the weekends of evening with the crowds, leave the kids at home. Call in a babysitter, and everyone will be happier in the end.

But the best tip I can give you is: SHOP ONLINE! Saves you from dealing with crowds, and many sites offer free shipping over certain amounts. The selection is better, and you can hunt around for the best price (or price match). Just make sure you order in time; most sites tell you the last day to order for gaurunteed delivery in time for Christmas.

Some people, like my husband, enjoy the hustle and bustle of last-minute shopping. Me, I would rather be sitting at home, in my warm house, sipping hot chocolate and wrapping presents while the kiddo sleeps!

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