Christmas in July: Holiday Shopping on a Budget

Holiday Shopping on a Budget - Toddling Around Chicagoland

This is the Post #2 of 5 in the Christmas in July series.

One of the best ways to have a happy holiday is to get all your shopping done AND be within your budget. It’s no fun paying for Christmas gifts for the rest of the next year!

  • Make a list of everyone you need to buy for and a budgeted amount for each budget. Make sure to leave a little extra in your overall budget for people you have to add to the list or for gifts that go slightly over.
  • Shop early, but stick to your list. Once you purchased a gift, cross that person off your list. Shopping early lets you wait for the right sale, find the right gift, and save on shipping costs.
  • Sell old toys at a garage sale or sell them on Craigslist. Save the money for Christmas shopping.
  • Consider “pre-loved” (used) toys as gifts for your kids. Garage sales and Craigslist are great places to buy larger toys at great prices. Consider exchanging toys with friends. A couple years ago I decided on a Fisher-Price Bounce & Spin Zebra for Dexter (after he loved playing on his cousin’s), but even on sale I couldn’t find it for less than $50. When I mentioned to my sister-in-law that I was looking for one she insisted I take hers – her kids didn’t play with it anymore so she was planning to get rid of it anyway.
  • Sign up for daily deal sites like Groupon, Plum District, Living Social, Eversave, Mamasource, Groopdealz, and Tippr. Sign up for daily emails so you won’t miss a good deal. Buy gifts or buy vouchers for stores where you can do Christmas shopping.
  • Visit the websites for Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and/or Joann Fabrics for coupons. You’ll often get a coupon for as much as 40-50% off one item. (Michaels and Joann Fabrics usually have coupons on their site; Hobby Lobby requires that you sign up by email to receive weekly coupons.) In addition to arts and crafts items, they often have crafting or activity kits for kids, dollhouses, wall hangings and decorative items, photo albums and frames, and lots more.
  • Check out sites like Zulily and Totsy for great discounts on products for kids and adults from your favorite brands (Crocs, Lunchbots, Melissa & Doug, Playskool) and from brands you haven’t discovered yet. The deals change daily and are sometimes in limited quantities so order early and sign up for their emails to get notification of daily sales. Shipping does take long than most places (expect at least 3 weeks most of the time) so do some early shopping to ensure everything is in hand on time. They do sometimes have faster shipping close to the holidays; last year they both guaranteed shipments by Christmas if ordered by a certain date.
  • Follow local coupon blogs to find out about coupons, sales, and deals. My suggestions: Suburban Coupon Mom, Couponing for 4, Chitown Cheapskate, A Savings WOW!, Mashup Mom, and Sister Save-A-Lot. They often post about great clearance prices or deals on sites like Amazon. Follow on Facebook for up-to-the-minute deals that are available for a limited time only.
  • If you shop online, register for Ebates. Search for the store where you plan to shop, connect to the store through their link and you’ll earn a percentage back on your purchase. Receive payment every three months by check or Paypal. (In the past year I’ve earned over $50 back on purchases I would have made anyway!)
  • Before doing any online shopping, check out a RetailMeNot.com or a similar site to search for coupon codes. You can even Google “[store name] coupon code”. You can often get free shipping or a percentage off the price.
  • If you’re a Target shopper, read the post on Mom365 on How to Score the Sweetest Deals at Target.
  • Enter online giveaways. I’ll have lots of giveaways coming up in the next few weeks and months for great items, and lots of other bloggers will too. You might get lucky and win that perfect Christmas gift!
  • Follow your favorite businesses on Facebook, and maybe even Twitter. Lots of companies have special promotions, giveaways, free shipping, and sales that they advertise through Facebook or on Twitter.
  • If you’re looking for stocking stuffers or supplies for arts and crafts, Oriental Trading Company has great prices, especially when you buy in bulk. Like their Facebook page for pre-Christmas sales or shipping deals.
  • Stock up on school supplies and Halloween costumes when they’re on sale. Watch for discounted prices on school supplies this month and next month (I just bought 12 boxes of 24-count Crayola Crayons for a total of only $3!), and clearance prices on some items in September. School supplies are great for stocking stuffers or you can put together an art & craft kit. Halloween costumes and accessories will be on clearance in November; buy several different ones for a great dress-up box.
  • Shop at Ikea. There are stores in Bolingbrook and Schaumburg and they have a some unique toys at great prices.  Ikea’s also a great place to stock up on picture frames, storage items (how about a folding trunk for dress-up items?), and textiles. Some of my favorite items – the Duktig series which has four sets of fabric play food for only $7.99 each, the two-sided wooden easel for only $14.99, and the bead roller coaster for only $7.99. With play areas, a child care area, and a cafe, you can make a whole day of it.
  • Make handmade or homemade gifts. Need ideas? Follow my Handmade & Homemade gift ideas Pinterest page.
  • Swap handmade gifts with a friend. If you don’t have the skills to make the handmade gift you’d like to, swap with a friend who does. Knit her a scarf for an aunt and she can sew you a skirt for your sister. Don’t have a friend with the skills you need? Connect with crafters on Craftster.org. The offer organized swaps you can participate in (although you have to be a member for a certain amount of time first so register now) or you can arrange private swaps.
  • Keep an eye on Toys R Us sales as Christmas approaches. They often offer Buy One, Get One Free deals on brands like Crayola and Leapfrog.

How do you keep your Christmas shopping within your budget? Do you have any money-saving tips to share?

See the other Christmas in July posts:

Some of the above links are affiliate links, meaning I may make a few cents if you make a purchase through them; any of these are included because these are sites and/or products I use myself. All opinions expressed are my own.

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