20 Major Holiday Saving Tips
Not the type to keep things to myself, here are 20 ways of saving big this holiday season. Everything from buying gift cards that come with big benefits (#20) to the unorthodox trend of breaking up gift sets (#2) can mean the difference between giving up and laying low or having fun while coming through. OK, let's go:
1) Combine your gift giving and charity in one. Despite the current economy a recent poll shows that for many Americans at least, charity and giving back will continue to be a major part of the holiday season (you are to be commended!). Still in these economic conditions it can seem to be an either--or situation.
The good thing is you can do both at the same time. Take a look at the ongoing Give Twice Gift Guides where the gift picks have the duel purpose of giving back to great causes. In some cases 100% of the proceeds are donated. You can also shop great catalogs such as TheHungerSite Shop and GiftswithPurpose.
2) Shop for gift sets and break them up. Gift sets have long been a go to gift idea because they're easy to give. In most cases they're beautifully wrapped and come with all the trimmings but is it really necessary to give one person the entire set? No! In many cases the individual items found in the gift set are being sold at a greatly reduced price. Some items included may even end up being free. Simply remove the items and wrap each one as gifts. Items such as perfume and candle sets work very well in this way. Mix and match--think outside of the box.
In keeping with the above, when purchasing gifts such as perfume or collectible compacts, do your research and buy from a store or makeup counter that is giving away a free gift with purchase offer. These in themselves usually make a really great gift.
3) Get a group together & save. Some retailers are now working with people if they can form a group and buy in bulk. The savings can be as much as wholesale pricing to free S&H. You might even be able to shop after hours and have the entire store to you and your friends, complete with drinks and things to nosh on. Merchants are bending over backwards for customers again, so ask! What about doing this online? Sure, check out the sites Groupons (group + coupons) which brings the power of group buying to the web. If enough people online buy into the deal, everyone gets in on it. Past deals have included $100 off Hayden-Harnett bags to 50% off gourmet cookies and hand decorated pottery classes. Everyday there is another featured event with some being codes for discounts online.
Other private sample sale shopping sites such as Gilt Groupe and ideeli have also started to offer local discounts on experiences such as luxury spa services and fine dining so sign up.
4) Shop in stores you wouldn't normally go into. Stop into stores for children, plus size or alternative lifestyles such as Hot Topic. Visit a museum gift shop. Many of these stores stock the exact same accessories and brands major stores do that gift recipients crave at surprisingly reduced prices. More importantly many have clearance deals that few know about. Victoria's Secret for instance sells numerous items such as perfume and handbags by sought after designers online in addition to under pinnings. Many CVS' sell designer perfumes such as D&G and Burberry. They also maintain a clearance section and weekly discounts with some pretty decent deals. Then there is always duty free at airports!
5) Order direct from the seller. In many cases using websites such as Etsy to purchase directly from the artist can mean extremely good deals. Many of the same styles in glossy magazines can be found for a fraction at Etsy. Browsing the site is a must if you're looking for something unique and extra special. Plus you'll know that your gift purchase is having a direct impact on an artist or small family business owners life.
6) Combine coupons with clearance sales. Be strategic and try to match coupons and online coupon codes up with items already on sale or that has been marked down in clearance. The savings can really be significant. Stalk coupon sites such as Slick Deals and sign up for programs such as Ebates which will give you cash back on your purchases through their site. Plus get a sign up $10. credit through Ebates by clicking here. Ebates even lets you get cash back on sites like Groupons and gives you the option of donating your refunds to charity.
7) Order enough for free S&H. Some websites charge an arm and a leg for shipping and handling which can take the edge off of any sort of discount you were expecting. Look for websites that automatically give free shipping when you have a certain amount in your shopping cart.
The key is automatically, that way you can also combine any coupon codes you might have as well (again, be strategic). In some cases the company will still ship the item for free even though your discounted price, through the use of coupons, falls under the promotional requirement. Sites such as Victoria's Secret, Sephora and Amazon.com are just a few.
8) Do not fall for deeply discounted electronics. Although any item can be turned into a lure item it seems like electronics such as lap top computers are the most common. Of course once you're there they tell you the item sold out a long time ago and then proceed to try and show you full priced alternatives. The truth is they might have only had 1 item or 10 which were immediately bought up by the first person in line (or workers in the store!). This can be due to no limits on how many units a person can purchase. If something advertised looks too good to be true it probably isn't worth the gas or your time.
To get around this try to order the item online and use the free "in-store pick up" option.
9) Haggle. Be bold! It can work even at major stores, especially on floor models.
10) Ask what the "cash" price is. This can even work in some rather large chain stores. The point is to ask and try. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
It's A Wrap
11) Since vintage is all the rage. Stalk your local junk shops, flea markets and vintage stores for gift wrap. In many cases you can buy huge lots of it for very reasonable prices. Your gifts will be one of a kind.
12) Look for stores that provide free gift wrap. There are a number of stores such as Sephora and Molton Brown that are already providing free gift wrap on your purchases. Just be careful as some websites that claimed to provide free gift wrap such as White House Black Market for instance never actually followed through and just shipped the items as is. It can be hard to monitor these services when the item is being shipped directly to your gift recipient.
Think Outside Of The Box
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” -Dr. Seuss
13) Shop secret sample sales from the comfort of your home. Now you don't have to live in NYC or some other major city in order to enjoy finding high end goods at rock bottom prices. Thanks to websites popping up more and more like Haute Look & Gilt Groupe you can find some pretty comparable deals but the catch? Many do not advertise and you need an invitation from someone on the inside to join, hence the whole secret vibe but do not worry because that's covered: [for a complete guide to online sample sale sites and invitation codes for you to start shopping right away click here].
Items sell out fast so these are the sorts of sites you have to stalk. There are some drawbacks including the need to shop at least a month in advance... for all the tips to how to shop these sites read my post The Secret To Scoring At Online Sample Sale Sites.
14) Don't write off your local dollar store. Some people feel it beneath them to enter such establishments but in reality they're in the business to sell liquidations. These liquidated items can be from local bookstores, high end stores, from a container ship that left their items in storage too long or an importer that couldn't find a buyer. The point is it's worth a look. Also stalk the dollar section of Target where you can find some really neat gifts such as gourmet coffee and hand decorated bowls. These make perfect items for DIY gift baskets.
15) It pays to browse your local library. While you're there taking out a free movie to watch at home look around for any potential book sale carts. In order to raise funds some libraries are selling books year 'round. Others are selling brand new coffee table books and dvd's donated by stores and patrons. In some cases in bulk.
16) Bookstores are also a gift steal haven. Many chain bookstores such as Barnes & Noble have been handing out rather decent coupons and have put out small tables of clearance books. Even better other items such as expensive Crane & Co stationery, journals, toys and board games have also ended up there. For 1 or 2 dollars you really can not go wrong.
17) Forgo gifts all together and concentrate on the card. For some a small budget means gifts limited to their own immediate family or no budget for gifts at all. In cases such as this how about buying very reasonable materials from the craft store (use a coupon if possible, some stores allow you to print them online) and create one-of-a-kind artistic greeting cards for everyone. If you do have a bit of a budget purchase high end cards that people will keep or go to an artist and buy cards that double as works of art.
One readers adds: "In this same vein, I'd like to add something extra to the Christmas card if that is going to be the focus. You can add a pretty, inspirational bookmark or even a little note card promising a home-cooked meal at your home." (thank you, this is great advice!)
18) In keeping with the above, pass by the status quo American holidays and jump to New Years or St Stephen's Day. Be different and send a New Years gift or card instead. This way you'll be able to take advantage of deep after Christmas sales and give more. Those who truly know and love you won't mind the least.
19) Look for deals when you purchase gift cards. Many stores are trying to encourage people to buy gift cards this holiday season by having special free offer promotions. This can be anything from giving you another gift card, free food or movie tickets, free gift sets, a discount on the card itself and so on. The key is not to give the gift card but to use the gift card yourself when doing your holiday shopping.
20) Shop goodwill stores. No, we're not suggesting you buy old used blankets for people. What many do not know is that regular retail chains will many times donate their left over merchandise in bulk to these charity stores. These items are brand new and deeply discounted, sometimes selling for only a few dollars a piece. Target has been known to do this a lot so look for charity shops in the vicinity of their stores.
Bonus tips! Use the power of twitter. Many companies are now using twitter to release special discount codes that are both short lived and never show up on popular discount sites and forums. Make sure, around the holidays, to follow your favorite brands, stores and designers. You can also use websites that collect twitter coupon codes into an easy to use database, try Coupon Tweet and CheapTweet. Companies also give me exclusive coupon codes which I post to twitter @gavethat, Facebook (join and get the latest) and my new special perks area of the blog.
Go DIY. Of course it goes without saying that some of the best gifts are home or handmade (Grandma's cookies!). Creating your own gift wrap can be a real money saver too. For more on that look here and here. There are so many things people want badley, some pricey, that are actually deceptively easy to create by someone with certain skills, time &/or the right materials (or access to them). Depending on what materials you want to work with do a search here at Gave That and see what pop's up.
Walk Away! Yes, walking away has worked too... and being wooed back. Sometimes in real life as the sales person calls out wait, wait! But the real savings can happen online. There have been numerous cases where an item left in the virtual shopping cart triggered something at the site and an email was sent with a coupon code to seal the deal. 20% off to free shipping. In order for this to happen they needed my email address so it meant being either a return customer or stopping just short of the submit order button. It's hit or miss and never a given but has been a nice surprise.
- My Invitation Codes & Reviews of Online Sample Sales
- My Quick List Complete with Invitations to Favorite Private Shopping Sites
- How To Survive Wedding Gift Season
- Top Ten Tips To Scoring On Online Sample Sales
- Create Your Own Rose Orange Gift Tea Blend
- Making Your Own Hard Perfumes to Give
- Writing Letters To Grandchildren
- 50 Simple Gifts To Give Youself
- How Not To Spend The Holiday's Alone