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How To Save Money On Gift Buying

How To Save Money On Gift Buying

Americans spent $35.3 billion during the holiday season last year. Shopping for gifts may mean fighting the crowds at your local mall, surfing retailers’ websites endlessly or rushing through the store on Christmas Eve for the last gift on your list. For many, the holidays are a stressful time both personally and financially. Those who shop with a strategy, however, can save themselves the stress and spend less money on great gifts. By following a few simple tips, you’ll have happier holidays and avoid the fiscal hangover that often lasts well into the New Year.

Plan Ahead

Last minute gift shopping: heading to the store, hurrying through looking for potential gifts, worrying about finding the perfect gift, waiting in line and paying any price for it. Has this ever happened to you? Does this happen to you every year? It’s a strategy that’s stressful for you and your wallet.

To save time, stress and money, make a plan. Before major holidays, create a list of people for whom you plan to buy gifts and how much you can afford to spend on each. Spend a little time brainstorming potential gifts for each recipient. If you have a general idea, you can comparison shop, watch for sales and buy gifts for much less than retail price. It helps to make several shopping trips throughout the year instead of one major shopping spree. You will be able to keep perspective on how much you’re spending, avoid building up a large balance on your credit cards and feel less overwhelmed with the pressures of buying the right gift for the important people in your life.

how to save buying giftsFor those in your outer gift-buying circle –landlord/tenant, coworker, neighbor, etc. – stock up on basic gift items that you can buy in multiples or bulk at a lower cost. Lotions and soaps are appropriate gifts for almost anyone; candles, picture frames and photo albums are also good choices.

Flash-sale sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and RetailMeNot, to name a few, can be perfect for gift buying if you know what you are looking for. If you plan to buy a watch for your brother and jewelry for your mom, you can watch the sites throughout the year and buy when a discount on that item becomes available. It’s an advantage for you because they will only think you spent too much.


When it comes to the presentation, you do not have to spend a fortune. Post-holiday sales are the best time to stock up on wrapping paper, gift bags, gift tags, bows, ribbons and holiday cards. You can add a creative touch without adding to the cost; wrap in brown paper and decorate any way you like with stencils, stamps or other art supplies. Go green and wrap in newspaper; give the comics a second life.

You can turn simple, inexpensive gifts into perfectly personalized, thoughtful ones. Consider a personalized basket of gifts with a common theme suited to the recipient. For those who appreciate a good wine, you could include a bottle of wine, two glasses, some gourmet crackers and maybe some chocolate. You can likely save by finding discounts on the individual items and create a gift that’s more than the sum of its parts.


Yes, it sounds tacky, but it can benefit the giver and the recipient if done correctly. The rules for successful regifting: only give to someone who will truly appreciate the gift. If you can’t imagine buying it for someone else, don’t regift it to him or her. Only new, unused items are eligible. Tacky is anything used, obsolete, personalized, or accidentally regifted to the original giver. Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to give away the clutter in your closets. However, if you have a bookworm friend who would appreciate the novels you received but never had time to read, you already have the right gift for the intended recipient.

For the person who has everything, consider giving an experience instead of an item. Giving concert tickets, museum memberships, or spa gift certificate can bring memories to the recipient instead of adding clutter when you don’t really know what to buy. Here is an opportunity to be creative and personal with your gift by tailoring the gift toward the recipient’s interests and preferences. Brewery tours, craft shows, sporting events, anything; giving this kind of gift reminds a person to take time out of a busy schedule for what he or she enjoys.

Many savvy shoppers fall into the retail trap when buying gifts because they don’t apply their money-saving habits when purchasing gifts. Consumers often feel pressured to spend during the holiday season to find the perfect gift or to impress coworkers, neighbors, family and friends. Shopping last-minute causes many to spend more than intended, especially when the gift-shopping is combined with travel plans, party preparations and family affairs. Saving money on buying gifts isn’t being cheap; it’s being smart with your money. Planning ahead and thinking through each purchase means you will also give more thoughtful gifts that are well suited to the people who receive them.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • LoveSanta October 15, 2012, 10:31 pm

    Thanks for those tips – and I completely agree that people get trapped into spending too much on gifts, especially at Christmas time.

    Another means of saving money on wrapping gifts is to reuse wraping paper (it is also green to do so!) or use cheap practical items for wrapping – such as a tea towell, hanky or tablecloth. If such an item suits the gift, make the wrapping part of it, I say 🙂

  • Lisa Jean Haawkins October 17, 2012, 7:53 am

    I agree that taking the time to plan ahead is a great way to save money during the Christmas season. I am guilty of last minute shopping and it does cost me much more than what I intended to spend. I find myself rushing through the store, not putting a lot of thought into that gift. When I prepare ahead of time and take my time to purchase each gift, making it more personal and less rushed; I save money. I not only save money but those receiving the gifts enjoy them more.

    I also the creative side of presenting my gift. We love to wrap our gifts in the funny papers. Not only do we enjoy it but the one getting the gift enjoys reading it. Last year, we used old brown paper backs and allowed my son to color and decorate each one. This made for a more special, family touch on the presentation. We will also make our own name tags. We cut pieces of construction paper and decorate them and tie them to the present with a bow.

    Another way my family saves at Christmas is we begin to shop for the next Christmas right after Christmas. You will find all the “Christmas” things on sale at a much more discounted price. We will buy baskests of perfume or bath sets and make-up sets. We will also buy each family member an ornament. This is a great way to save for the next Christmas, if you have room in your home to store the presents.

  • Lloyd October 18, 2012, 4:49 am

    I’ve never done re gifting but its a honorable choice. I mean you are giving something to someone who gave you something so you are actually losing out on a gift to bless someone else. These are good tips, I usually buy from ebay or amazon to get something unique(not in stores) and also pretty cheap lol 😛

  • Benita October 18, 2012, 12:02 pm

    Before the days of shopping online, I often shopped for Christmas gifts via catalogs. It was easier and a lot more relaxing to shop from the comfort of my own home, especially the year I had a baby, just a few weeks before Christmas. Now, it is so convenient to shop online.

    Now that my kids are grown, we did indeed have a family ‘experience’ gift – we did several of the touristy things in our city, such as ride on a horse drawn carriage and had a nice, relaxing meal at a fancy restaurant.

    I don’t think Christmas is all about getting lots of presents anyways. I do limit who I give presents to and when I limit my list, that makes it a lot less stressful.

    Giving small gifts such as home baked cookies can be as meaningful as a store bought gift. I have enjoyed attending a cookie exchange party with my neighbors and friends. We each received a variety of home baked goodies to take home and also, we have enjoyed an evening of friendship.

  • FirstBaby2011 October 24, 2012, 7:34 am

    Planning ahead is an excellent way to save money during the holidays! I like to keep a notebook handy so that I can jot down gift ideas throughout the year as I hear things being mentioned by family members.
    We were a little late in finalizing our Christmas list this year, but we now have a clear idea of how much to spend and what we want to get our loved ones this year.
    Benita, I think the cookie swap sounds awesome. I would love to do that with the my siblings for Christmas. I also love the “experience” gifts. My daughter is almost two and has enough toys to last her a lifetime. I would much rather see the excitement in her eyes at a zoo or aquarium than for a toy she will look at for a few seconds and soon forget about.

  • lorien October 24, 2012, 8:22 pm

    After many years of frustrating shopping experiences, I learned a few things to take the stress and the overspending out of gift shopping. I use many of the money saving and special offer sites such as groupon and cash back sites such as Mr. Rebates. In addition, following daily deal sites such as slickdeals helps me get the best deal.

    The best tactic I learned, though, is to shop all year, rather than waiting until November or December. Great deals can be had on off season merchandise, and it makes no sense to overspend on an item simply because it is sold in the Christmas season. Clothing can be a great deal a few days before Christmas, with really outstanding clearance deals if you can bear the crowds at the mall.

    Yard sales are great for finding unique treasures great for gift giving. These gifts add a personal
    touch even more so, and most of the recipients love getting them and agree they are special.

    I joke about shopping at the dollar store, but they really are a great source for inexpensive gifts for anyone from family members to friends. I love browsing the aisles when I go.

    In the end though, even with all of the bargain shopping and deals, I’ve gotten more into the experience of the occasion. Being together with family and friends, sharing a meal, sharing the experience is the best gift of all.

  • Classic NYer October 28, 2012, 12:45 pm

    I don’t think regifting something used is tacky if it’s something you could have bought the person used, and it’s something that the person would appreciate used or not. For example, if you have a friend who is really into collecting albums from obscure artists, I don’t think it’s terribly tacky to give him a cd that you’ve already listened to once and you’re not likely to listen to again, provided you kept it in decent condition.

  • GSBryce November 12, 2012, 10:24 pm

    I am an avid bargain hunter and will usually start shopping for Christmas presents well in advance. I do admit that I have regifted some items that I received and will not use. I know I have been regifted items and it doesn’t bother me one bit! It’s the thought that counts! That an old but true saying right? We’re all trying to make ends meet, so you just do what you’ve gotta do!

    A great website to visit when looking to do some crafty gifts is Pinterest. I could browse that website all day if I had the time. They have the most adorable hand made holiday gift ideas, as well as amazing recipes. Sometimes giving baked goods is an affordable way to show you care.

    This list is awesome. Thank you for the great advice!


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