Christmas Shopping With Sanity
Each year I've tried a little harder to get my holiday shopping done earlier, and each year I've succeeded a little bit more. Want to know my biggest struggle with getting all my shopping done early? I cannot keep a surprise to SAVE MY LIFE. If I were to buy a Christmas present for my husband in July I would spend the next 5 months trying to get him to guess what it was and convincing him he wanted it NOW! Why go five months living life without the most perfect present ever when it's in the garage ready to be used now!?
There's an awful lot of reasons to get holiday shopping done early, and an awful lot of ways to make it a lot easier on yourself. Let's discuss, shall we?
1. Have your kids write a letter to Santa NOW with a "no take-backs" clause
Once that letter is sent it is not to be modified or added to. Tell your kids Santa has a new policy, that way you don't end up crying in the toy aisle at midnight on Christmas Eve.
2. Avoid the holiday crowds by shopping from your couch.
Look, I'm more of a shop in the store, immediate gratification type girl but I hate traffic and the closer we get to the holidays the more I hate the commercialism that surrounds the holidays. The less time I spend in crowded malls with the masses telling me to BUY BUY BUY! the better for my true holiday spirit. It's not about the stuff, the stuff is nice, but really? Not about the stuff. Consider the amount you spend on shipping like paying for your sanity and saving gas.
3. Check for online coupons before you buy.
Don't buy anything online without checking RetailMeNot.com first. If you use Firefox, Retail Me Not has an add on that will tell you when coupons are available on a site you're visiting.
Related: 10 money-saving tips for families on a budget
4. Have another address to ship to so you don't spoil the surprise.
If your kids are anything like mine they're home when UPS comes and they're going to start getting curious when a dozen secret boxes start showing up. You can also never be sure what will be printed on the outside of the box, sometimes boxes can spoil a surprise before I ever have the chance to. I have packages sent to my husband's work. I have another friend who has hers sent to an empty nest neighbor who totally understands.
5. Find a good hiding spot.
Generally the home of someone without kids is best, I use the basement at Cody's office. If I can't get to his office I have a spare dishwasher in the garage that works wonderfully. Make sure your hiding spot isn't SO GOOD that you lose presents. I don't know how many times my mom came downstairs in February with some random shirt or object in her hand saying "Well, Merry Christmas. Totally forgot about this."
6. Sign up for deal websites and quickly browse through them each morning for perfect gifts. BUT! There's a trickier way to do it. Set up a new email account so your current one isn't bombarded by emails each morning and so you don't have to go to the trouble of unsubscribing once the holidays are over. A few sites worth signing up for? Fab.com (my absolute FAVORITE) LivingSocial.com (geographically based but you can buy deals in other cities) Groupon.com (again, geographically based but you can buy deals in other cities. They also have Groupon Goods that can have some really amazing deals as well, no matter where you live.) There's dozens of others, but I've had the best luck with Fab and Groupon.
Related: 10 little changes you can make to save money every day
7. Make sure you know what everyone else wants .
We all keep updated wishlists on Amazon.com so no grandparent ever double buys something and everyone has a choice of how much they want to spend. It's also nice because when someone wants something a bit more expensive, it's easy to team up and go in on a gift together. (Nothing says you have to buy it on Amazon either. In fact Amazon lets you add things to your wishlists from other sites .)
8. Set a budget.
Seriously. Do I even need to explain this one? Spreading out your purchases throughout the year or months leading up to Christmas will make that January bank or credit card statement hurt a lot less.
9. Use a credit card that rewards you.
If you're going to be spending your hard earned money, you may as well be earning points while you do it. We use credit cards for holiday purchases then pay them off in full each month. That way we get all the benefits our cards offer us, without having to pay interest. Citi offers a service called Price Rewind, a service that tracks the prices of items you purchase and if Citi finds it $25 or more less somewhere else? Citi will refund you the difference.
- By Casey Mullins
For 5 tips for traveling on a budget this holiday season, visit Babble!
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Casey Mullins is a writer, photographer and nice person living with her husband and two little ladies in the corn fields of Indiana. She likes taking pictures, loves telling stories, and sleeps with a one eyed cat named Wink whom she met on the Internet. Her unintentional authenticity and accidental honesty about depression, infertility, and personal struggles has allowed her to speak to the hearts of many on her personal blog moosh in indy. She can be found trolling local bakeries, huffing her freshly bathed baby and taking naps in the sunshine when she's not otherwise occupied with all the shiny things around her.
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