Holiday shopping should probably qualify as some kind of endurance event. After all, it requires stamina, patience, and a whole lot of preparation. The good news: With a little know-how, anyone can buy great gifts for the people in their lives and save money doing it. Ready? You got this.
MAKE A LIST (AND CHECK IT AT LEAST TWICE)
Before you start adding things to your cart willy-nilly, make a list of everyone you’ll need a gift for this holiday season. Did you remember your cousin? Your child’s teacher? The dogwalker? The neighbor who waters your plants when you’re away? Putting it all in one document will help you make sure you don’t forget anyone. As you shop, make a note of what you bought everyone. That way you can refer to your master list next year and avoid buying Grandma yet another pair of slippers.
If you stumble upon a charming mug or inexpensive candle, don’t be afraid to stock up. Because there will be people you forgot to shop for, or people who surprise you with a gift you weren’t expecting. When that happens, all you’ll need to do is wrap a trinket from your stockpile—no frantic, late-night mall trips required.
E-COUPONS ARE YOUR FRIEND
The store emails clogging your inbox may actually come in handy this time of year, so keep an eye out for flash sales and special seasonal discounts. Can’t find a decent promo code? A number of third-party sites will search the web for usable coupons; some online rebate services even offer cash back if you connect to your favorite stores via their site.
… BUT DON’T BE AFRAID TO PICK UP THE PHONE.
Sometimes it pays to speak to a real person. Customer service reps often keep a record of active promotions, which they may be allowed to pass onto you.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE SHIPPING DAY
Mark your calendar: December 16 is Free Shipping Day. This year (as in years past), dozens of major retailers will eat shipping costs, allowing you to save some of your hard-earned cash.
THINK OUTSIDE THE (GIFT) BOX
Experiences often make the best presents. If you can’t figure out what to get someone on your list, consider gifting them a meal at their favorite restaurant, or a voucher for an activity they’ve always wanted to try.
SHOP THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
It’s probably too late for 2016, but next year, avoid the holiday scramble all together by shopping year-round. As you think of things your loved ones might appreciate, either buy them then and there or add them to your master list. Headed out on an exotic vacation? Shop for one-of-a-kind gifts while you’re away. Because even the politest of gift recipients can only stomach so many holiday sweaters.
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