Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Shopping: Easy on the eyes and the wallet

Most people love the holidays, but dread the lingering credit card bills or empty bank accounts that follow.I see the holidays as a challenge--how can I get the most bang for my buck? (*snerk*)

Here are my best tips, and cheap present ideas for the most discerning recipients.

Five ways to cut back your holiday present budget:
1.  Check your Sunday circulars for coupons. This is especially good for makeup and beauty products, because you can "layer" these coupons on top of drugstore sales. Always buy two copies of the paper so you get two sets of coupons! For example: I had two coupons for $1 off Neutrogena makeup. One of the drugstores had their line for buy one, get one 50% off. I used two coupons (one for each item) and saved a huge amount of money. While buying makeup may not seem like the idea present, think about nail polish or bold eye shadow colors--something a friend or teenage daughter would never buy for herself, but allows her to show her sassy side! Coupons for great hair products fall into the same category.

2. Always find the sale or clearance section of the store, usually at the back endcaps of one aisle (drugstores) or in each department (stores like Kohl's or Target). Often you'll find products that were "last season" or discontinued, for a great price. This is especially potent if you gather holiday presents year-round so what was out of season last January will be back in season now! I keep a big bin of gifts that I collect through the year. I don't necessarily know who will get them, but when December rolls around, I've amassed awesome presents on the cheap and just need to wrap and deliver them! Tip: office supply stores have EXCELLENT clearance sections.

3. Create your own gifts. No, you don't need to be crafty to do this--think about getting an airtight jar and filling it with all the dry ingredients for you favorite cookie, cake, or brownie recipe. Print up a tag or label to put on the jar with the full ingredient list and baking instructions. If you're really up for a challenge, find some beautiful ribbon to tie around the neck of the jar. Voila--beautiful, thoughtful, and inexpensive present.

4. Give homemade coupons. For friends and family, this is especially nice. In this economy, we all know that budgets can be tight. So give a mother a doubly good Christmas present with babysitting coupons. Or give your significant other massage coupons (the fine print is up to you!). If you search "coupon templates" online, you'll find awesome pre-made templates where you fill in the information and print. Beautiful!

5. Think outside the big box stores: Wander Home Depot or Lowe's, and see what presents jump out at you. Shop small local stores, or your dollar store. In SoCal, we have the $.99 Only stores which always have awesome gift-basket pieces.

Your gift-giving guide:
1. The Kinkster: Rope! From the hardware store, get a 25 ft. and two 12 ft. lengths of white polyester or poly-blend rope (not cotton). Feel the rope first, to make sure it's soft.
2. The Diva: A spa basket. From a dollar store, pick up a cute wire or wicker basket, line with fabric or tissue paper, and fill with goodies. Look at the dollar store, the makeup department, and the travel-sized beauty and body products carried by drugstores and big box stores--high end brands often sell minis there. Do a themed basket for each friend: Mani/Pedi (polish, toe separators, cozy socks, lotion, nail polish remover); Date Night (high-intensity makeup, volumizing mousse, massage oil); Relaxation (face masque, scented candles, bath salts, and lotion).
3. The Acquaintance: Plants. I know this sounds odd, but giving potted plants is a lasting, unique gift. For an office mate, get a fern or other hardy plant. Wrap the pot in thin fabric like tulle and snug it with a ribbon.
4. The Lover: A date night in basket. Include a blanket, candles, movie, popcorn, bubbly, and massage oil. Set up a gourmet picnic in front of the TV and let your minds--and hands--wander as they will.
5. Anyone: crochet a hat or scarf (super easy!), frame a picture of you two and decorate the frame, assemble a scrapbook, etc. Look at the Michael's Crafts for inspiration and how-to's.

How do you save around the holidays?


Kelly Jamieson said...

Wow! Great suggestions Skylar! I'm definitely keeping some of those in mind this year.

hotcha12 said...