"Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” author Spencer Johnson

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

10 Tips For Smarter Holiday Shopping and Gifting

I would imagine with Thanksgiving just around the corner, everyone is going into gift shopping mode! I know I am. Since about a week ago I started chomping at the bit for Black Friday.

Now, I know there are some very serious shoppers on Black Friday, and I tend to want to get to business, but I find a lot of humor in how ferocious some people can be. My daughters and I have a blast shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

So, here are a few of my tips for getting ready to get the shopping started.

1. Make a plan. This is in regards to the day after Thanksgiving. Plot your course. Do you know what stores you want to shop? What time they open? How late the sales go? If you do, then make a list of each item that you want from that store so that you’re not having to sift through pages of advertising. BUT bring the ads with you!

2. Split up. Again, this is for the D.A.T. I send my girls out on their own as they drop me off in some of the bigger lines. I send them with my list for a couple stores, and they give me their lists. Breaking up is hard to do because we enjoy shopping in the insanity, but break out in different directions and you’ll get to the deals quicker.

3. Do you know the current prices? Sometimes there are sales BEFORE the D.A.T. sales and you can make sure the products are there and available. You could always pick up the item if it’s cheaper during the D.A.T. shopping and return the other one, but it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

4. Have you check out what the “Must Have” gifts of the season are? If not, I would head to a few different toy, electronics, or office supply websites and see what they think are the top items that everyone wants. If you know there will be a limited quantity at each store, it pays to buy early than be stuck without the “Must Have” gift for your loved one. Remember, many stores have 2 week price guarantees (excluding D.A.T. prices).

5. Have you checked online for Black Friday ads? I think companies know they can’t fight these websites from sharing the ads ahead of time, but I tell you what, it sure helps me as a consumer to know where the deals are going to be. There hasn’t been a year that I haven’t gone through the ads anyhow and taken them with me to the stores. I mean, there’s just something about having the ad right in front of you!

6. Consider staying home the D.A.T. and shopping on Monday when the ads online have their big sales. For some reason, the name of that Monday escapes me. Anyone want to help me out? I was able to purchase my daughter’s GPS last year the Monday after Thanksgiving for an astonishing price. Totally worth waiting for! I haven’t done a lot of research, but it seems to be gaining popularity.

7. Start asking the family members for their Wish Lists towards the end of summer. This way you can being planning your spending early and not shoving it all in on one day or in a couple weeks. Teens and young adults tend to have a running wish list so they’re an easy bet for gifts to start early.

8. Have a chat with the family and extended family. Times have been pretty lean in the last several years and gift giving to every single person isn’t reasonable anymore. Discuss early on what the expectations are from different family members. Instead of getting each member of a sister’s family a gift, maybe it’s one gift for the entire family to enjoy. Draw names so that everyone gets a gift and make sure everyone stays in the same price range. Also talk to your own kids. This will be a great time to let them know how to be responsible not only with their money, but to realize money doesn’t grow on trees.

9. Make a list and check it twice. Sometimes our kids put together lists that just aren’t reasonable. You know how we get as parents and want them to have the latest and greatest toys, but the reality is, last years latest and greatest probably hasn’t been touched in 11 months. Sure, get 2-3 items off their Wish List, but then go with reasonable ideas. At first they may not be thrilled with whatever the items is, but as they continue to use it, you’ll both be happy with the purchase.

10. Start shopping after the New Year. We all know how the prices on holiday products take a nose dive after the first of the year. That’s the time to stock up on paper products (plates, napkins, wrapping paper, etc). You can find some great decorating items marked waaay down. If you think “seasonal” then you’ll be proud of yourself at the check out register!

So, that’s what I have for you. Do you have any great shopping ideas? How do you save money during the holidays? Do you have a Christmas Club account at your bank? I keep forgetting to sign up for mine!

I’d love to have you give my readers some great tips! We could all use some help saving money at this time of the year!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Office Depot blogging program, making me eligible to get a $40 Office Depot gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

About Office Depot:
Office Depot, Inc. is a global supplier of office products and services. The company was incorporated in 1986 with the opening of our first retail store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In fiscal year 2009, we sold $12.1 billion of products and services to consumers and businesses of all sizes through our three business segments: North American Retail Division, North American Business Solutions Division and International Division. Sales are processed through multiple channels, consisting of office supply stores, a contract sales force, an outbound telephone account management sales force, Internet sites, direct marketing catalogs and call centers, all supported by our network of supply chain facilities and delivery operations.

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