So many of you expressed interest in knowing what I do to score the deals that I get. As Fox 8 is playing a Call for Action report on holiday shopping, I'll give you my advice for some saving of the green for this upcoming holiday season.
1. I go to http://www.blackfriday.info/ to research the Day After Thanksgiving Day ads. I make notes, make plans, compare ads and make a final shopping list. This year, I'm looking for dealie poo's for K-, as she has been inundated with ads of the Pottying Dolly and the "Waterproof" Dog-- things that she thinks that she cannot possibly live without. Little does she know that Santa has a limit of 50.00 per person in our house. With that kind of limit this year, I'm trying to max as much as I can. (Edited to add- The dolly in question is the Little Mommy doll and is 59.99. Uh, no. I never did find the Water Puppy, but did score BOGO on Polly Pocket's at Toys R Us.)
2. Our gifts don't have to be new. I know that this is going to freak a few people out, but when it comes to items such as movies, CD's, and video games we're good with it. In fact, my husband went with my daughter last year to the 50 cent Monday Sale at our local Village Discount Outlet and bought me a beautiful sweater for 50 cents. He laundered, boxed and wrapped it. GREAT! It's toasty and I don't care that I didn't cut the tag off. I'm proud of the man for going and finding a rockin' good deal! Also, one of my best friends gifted a pre-owned Strawberry Shortcake board game to K- last year. It was in perfect condition with everything included. She paid 90 cents for it at the thrift store. K- was thrilled with it and we weren't put out in the slightest!
3. I start shopping the day after Christmas the year previous to when the gifts are due. Between nieces, nephews, my daughter's siblings (she has an open relationship with several siblings), and friend's children we have 27 children to buy for. My limit is $5.00-6.00 per child. Target runs FANTASTIC sales! I'll hit them after Christmas. I'm armed with a pen and a list. So that I keep things straight, I'll write right on the clearance tags the name of the recipient while I'm standing in the aisle. I have a shelf in the basement that I keep all of my gift stock on. I'll take and label the item with a name and date in Sharpie on an index card. (Ethan S C8 = Ethan Smith, Christmas 2008) I'll peel the clearance tag off and place it on the back of the index card. I then tape that to the gift, so that I can glance at the shelf and plainly see who has been purchased for and what I spent. Occasionally, I'll score things for 70-90% off. If it's a rockin' item for way cheap, sometimes I'll only spend $2.00-3.00 on a kid. It doesn't matter. I'm buying them good stuff and they could care less what I spend! Our local grocery also clearances their toy stock right before or right after the holidays. They generally get a few promotional displays of some really great name brand toys. I'll hit their racks, too as I shop for food.
4. I have a friend who has a $25.00 gift limit period. She doesn't care if she got it on sale. She always feels as if that is what she has to spend. Take advantage of those clearance racks and use them to save money, not to just acquire more to add to your gift. Again, no one knows that you spent. Even if they do, they might be impressed with your thriftiness!
5. Discounters. We have Marc's in our area. They are part grocery, part closeouts. We've been able to find absolutely wonderful deals there. It's not always a complete lock on a gift, but sometimes you can find a true gem. The Big Lots in our area have gotten a little funky, but we used to get some occasional decent deals there, too.
6. Homemade matters. My siblings and I are all experiencing tight budgets. A few years ago, we all decided that homemade is the way to go. I can jelly and pearsauce for everyone and box up a variety of homemade Christmas cookies. I box the cookies in the boxes that I get from invoices at work. My siblings return the jars each year so that they can be refilled, so I don't have a terribly large amount of money in packaging of Christmas goodies.
7. The freebie table at work. I work at an art gallery with a sister gift store attached. Once a year, our lunchroom table becomes the freebie clearance area of items not claimed for return to manufacturers. There are many beautiful items that need a little tweak, have a minor flaws that most people wouldn't see, or need a stitch or two. I have gifted many things off of the freebie table. People don't know. They're just thrilled to be receiving something!
Remember that it is the thought that counts, not the price tag. I'm hoping that some of my shopping tricks will help to make your holiday season a little easier. Do you have any groovy money saving tricks for holiday shopping?