I used to love Christmas shopping as a kid. Me, my mom, and my sister would head to the mall for the day and wander around aimlessly throwing shiny things in the cart. We didn’t have any Christmas shopping strategies in mind; we just were drawn in like moths to a flame.
My dad paid the bills each week, and we all knew to avoid him and his constant grumbling while he balanced the checkbook afterward.
My Christmas Shopping Strategies Save Money And Make People Happier
Now that I’m an adult, I know I can’t spend like that (at least not on my budget!). Instead, I’ve developed a careful, measured approach to my holiday Christmas shopping.
You might think I’m some sort of Scrooge now, but au contraire! Just because I’m not wandering around buying all kinds of useless shiny baubles anymore doesn’t mean that I’ve been labeled the family miser.
Since developing my own Christmas shopping strategies, I’ve given people better gifts for less money. Couple that with my Christmas savings strategy, and I will never spend too much and go into debt over Christmas again!
Here are my Christmas shopping strategies that I use to save money:
Plan Out Your Christmas Gifts Before You Go Shopping
I’m going to start a revolution. Down with the practice of buying everyone bed sheets, towels, or useless kitchen gadgets! Rather than buying people what you would like, let’s take a minute to think about what they would like.
I aim to make the biggest bang for my buck with each of my presents now. Rather than showering someone with 10 useless gifts I just happened to come across in my mall crawl, I shoot for one or two really meaningful, well-thought-out, useful gifts.
In my last post, I talked about making a list of people you want to give gifts to in order to plan out your Christmas budget. We’re going to take that one step further here and brainstorm a list of ideas for each person. For example, here’s a short list of things I could get for Zach:
- Chef knife
- Very soft blanket (oops, that’s what I want…)
- Beer wort immersion chiller
- Desk chair
I’d suggest brainstorming a list of 10-20 ideas for each person. Think about what they like to do, what things they want to do, what things they need, and what types of media they consume (books, CDs, audiobooks, e-courses, etc…).
Related post: 20 Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas
Choose the cheapest option(s) on the list. No one ever said you had to spend a pile o’ cash on the person to make them happy. You’ve already spent the time to come up with a list of the most impactful gifts to them; it’s not like you’re buying them a lump of coal or some used socks.
Zach used this strategy last Christmas. He saw that I’d been spending a lot of time designing knitting patterns and that my notes were scattered everywhere. He took a few minutes to think out what would have the biggest impact on my for the cheapest price.
Rather than buying me a Kitchenaid or a Keurig machine that wouldn’t even fit in our apartment’s closet-sized kitchen, he bought me a simple knitting project workbook that kept everything neat and organized in one place. It cost $10, but it meant the world that he took the time to think about what would really help me.
Decide On Rules Before You Go Christmas Shopping
It’s easy to be swayed by the whims of marketers when you’re out Christmas shopping. There’s lots of great deal to be had, and before you know it, you’ve spent twice what you’d planned on.
Instead of doing that, come up with some rules for yourself before you head out Christmas shopping. Think about what your weak points are, and come up with rules to combat them. Here’s some of mine:
- Don’t buy things for yourself (including those tempting chocolates they always have at the checkout counter…)
- Don’t buy anything that’s not on your list
- If you see a better present, you’re not allowed to spend over X dollars.
Shop Online For Christmas Presents
It used to be fun for me to go to the mall to go Christmas shopping.
Now that seems like a living hell—why would you want to subject yourself to finding a parking space, walking 10 miles, fighting crowds, being tempted with too many extra purchases, waiting in line, finding something to buy for lunch, waiting in line, wrapping each present, going to the post office, waiting in line, spending more money to send out the presents, and then heading back home?
Now I get it done online in about 20 minutes tops. I spend less money on shipping, gas, and eating out, and I get money back!
Since you’ve already identified what items you’re going to buy someone, it’s easy to narrow down your focus to the relevant gifts. No more wading through oodles and oodles of useless crap to find the gem; just do a simple search and find ample options for spiffy gifts.
If you’re not a member of Amazon Prime, I highly recommend it. It has a lot of ancillary benefits, but the main one that’ll help you in your Christmas shopping is free two-day shipping.
Amazon Prime costs $99 per year, but if you’re an Amazon junkie like me, it’ll more than pay for itself—especially around Christmas time. Lifehacker calculated that if you buy things off Amazon at least 10-20 times throughout the year, it’ll pay for itself.
I also like buying gifts for distant friends and family online because I can pay a bit extra to have Amazon wrap the presents themselves, eliminating the need for me to store unruly tubes of Christmas wrap that my cats somehow always find and shred. Plus, then I can send the present directly to them. I can arrange it all online so I don’t even need to touch the Christmas gift at all.
Finally, I like to shop online because I can use Ebates to get cash back on my purchases. You can get cash back at tons of sites, including Amazon.
Ebates is super easy to use: just download their browser plugin and it’ll automagically pop up and offer you cash back when you’re at the checkout screen of a participating website. Plus, if you sign up now, they’ll give you $10 for free just to get started! Who wouldn’t like free money?
Do you have a Christmas shopping strategy? Leave a comment below!