Every Christmas I see people rush around last minute and spend a ton of money on Holiday / Christmas gifts. This year I decided that that wasn’t going to be me. We made a budget, got organized, shopped early and ultimately didn’t go broke!
First thing you need to know about my Christmas shopping list is that it’s kind of long. Between my family, my husband family, and our friends we have a total of 32 people. (For those of you mathy people that means we spent about $620 total.) With that size of a list we can’t afford to spend $50 per person. Sorry, we aren’t rich and frankly it’s not the price tag that matters anyway, right….. RIGHT?!
I also don’t like giving gift cards… not really personal enough, unless they ask for it specifically.
So we set a budget of an average of $15-20 per person. Now some got a little more spent on them and some a little less. After making a beautiful excel sheet I figured out that we spent an average of $19.25 per person.
I’ve shown the spread sheet with only the first letter of peoples names so my friends/family can’t be nosy! You know who you are! (Numbers are rounded up to nearest $0.50.)
As you can see we spent as little as a few dollars on some people and as much as $80 in others but overall we stayed in the budget of $15-20 per person on average!
How I saved money on Christmas Shopping!
After doing such a good job keeping on budget, and hearing others complain about how much they’d spent, I thought it might be a good idea to share some of the things I did that helped me. (These aren’t in any sort of order.) So here we go:
Start early. Like REALLY early.
Honestly I started shopping in like June or something. Now I did shop with Christmas in mind but in my opinion it’s always good to have a few gifts around just in case something comes up or you forget someone birthday.
If you wait for the holidays, yes there will be sales but (speaking as someone in marketing) most places INCREASE the price and just put a larger “discount” since that’s what most people look at. Example: in June and item is $15 but in November it might be $35 BUT WAIT it’s 50% OFF?! Oh wait…. That’s $17.50…. still more expensive. Department stores do this A LOT.
Plus if you shop a little here and there, the holiday spending doesn’t hit you as hard. Also if you’re buying internationally it will take time to get to you from a few weeks to a month so if you want your purchases to arrive on time, SHOP EARLY.
Shop with people in mind.
Keep people you know you’ll be doing holiday shopping for in mind while you’re out stocking up for yourself. This way if you happen to stumble along something that someone might like, maybe while it’s actually on sale, you can pick it up and store it until you need it.
Make a list and check it twice. No, I’m not kidding. Here are the three big lists you should keep:
- People’s birthdays organized by month
- People who always get holiday gifts (hint, put a space next to their name soyou can write down what you got them and how much)
- Who get holiday cards
These lists helped me so much because I could go through them every so often to see whose birthdays were coming up and pre-write cards, or pre-write holiday cards. This way I looked like the most on-top-of-my-shit-person on earth all the while I’m cheating because while I was having a “lazy day” all I was doing was signing cards. Easiest shit to do ever. (As a person who can get serious migraines that make it hard to do real work, this was the best.)
Use sites that compare prices!
Camelcamelcamel.com was amazing while shopping! It helped me figure out if I was really getting a deal or not. If I found a product on a website, I would find a similar product on amazon and use camcelcamelcamel to check the price history of the comparable product.
Take notes or Facebook stalk people
Yah, I’m not kidding. Anytime someone mentions something they really like I put a note of it in their contact profile on my phone. That way when I’m shopping for them I can look back and get ideas. I once brought a friend the exact type of cheesecake they liked on their birthday because I wrote it in their contact profile. They were super impressed I “remembered”.
Social media stalking is also REALLY useful for people who are maybe people you don’t see often or are just hard to shop for. Search through their pictures to see their hobbies, drinks they like, shows or topics they talk about, etc. ANYTHING that will give you a hint of things they’re into.
Seriously, this works a bunch. One person I know ONLY posts inspirational phrases and family pics. You know what I got them? A picture keychain for all those family pics.
Use short time sale sites
The sites I use are meh.com, woot.com, slickdeals.com and humblebundle.com (for game lovers). I also go through Amazon flash sales about once a week to see if there is anything good. (Remember to compare price histories!) Thanks to these lovely sites/flash sales I got a few good deals:
Harry Potter quill & Ink set – $15 on sale vs $25 (I found other sets for $40)
Aerial Yoga Hammock – $49 sale price vs $80 (I found some as high at $170)
Cookbook for geeks – $23 on sale vs $30
Camping cutlery set – $15 on sale vs $25
Creature Cups – $10 on sale vs $20
Don’t go out on Black Friday
Life and limb isn’t worth it. Most retailers have the same, if not better deals, online.
Check yard sales, Indie sellers/retail sites & re-gift
I got a few good and unique gifts from Fiverr.com, Etsy, and the Wish app for a few years. (Be careful on Etsy, it can get expensive.) Things you couldn’t find anywhere else like custom crocheted animals or personalized necklace pieces.
Yard sales were also great. Those people I spent like $2? Yah, that’s yard sale stuff. I saw it, thought of someone who would like it, checked out the price online, saw it was in decent condition, cleaned it up and ta-da, just like new and great for gifting! (I got someone an antique leather purse for $1, some cleaning and leather polish and wow! It looked great!)
Re-gifting is the best way to pass on that holiday cheer. Sometimes you like the thought but the gift is ass-ugly but so-and-so likes that color/feature/etc. …. RE-GIFT TIME! (I usually re-gift things from the previous year or birthday.)
Well that’s about it about it! Hopefully these tips will save you from buying overpriced crap. Good luck with your shopping adventures! Share your shopping tips in the comments section below!