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From shopping to shipping, the costs of playing Santa can rack up real fast. Don’t let holiday shopping give you the Christmas blues. We rounded up eight savvy, expert-backed tips that will help you give this holiday season—without breaking the bank. Keep reading to learn how to save today!
Score bottles of wine for a steal.
“Now’s the time to stock up on vino, whether to use as gifts or to plan ahead for a New Year’s Eve celebration. Liquor stores are in competition with one another for the party season, so Champagne, wine and spirits are at their deepest discounts this time of year. My advice: Buy in bulk! If you pick up more than 10 bottles, you’ll likely net at least another 10 percent off.” – Sara Skirboll, savings expert for RetailMeNot.com
Nab bargains at the office-supply store.
“While picking up a photo Christmas card order at Staples, I found that they sell great gifts like coffee mugs and photo frames. I was able to snap up $20 boxes of Harry & David bonbons for $5 each and magnetized to-do lists that came with a pretty pin for $2 per pad!” – Terry Walters, mother of four, Lincoln, NE
Shop on this day for free shipping.
“The cost of shipping can really bust your budget — but not if you take advantage of Free Shipping Day on Saturday, December 14. Stores like Walmart, Kohl’s, Sephora and more participate — all guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve and some offer great coupons on top of it! I always make a list of what I want to buy in advance of the day to ensure the sites I plan to visit all participate in the special day. – Sara Skirboll
Seek out edible presents at ‘outlets.’
“If you live near Ollie’s Bargain Outlet or Big Lots, stop in for gifts. Both stores carry a surprising amount of discounted gourmet food items that can be given as gifts. I once saw Bear Creek soup mix for $8 in a specialty shop and then found it in Big Lots for $3! Tasty treats make welcome and practical gifts, and as long as you know the receiver’s allergies and tastes, you can build a delicious gift basket filled with the same items you’d find at specialty stores — for 75 percent off.” – Judy Woodward Bates, founder of Bargainomics.com
Go thrifty for unique finds.
“A gift doesn’t have to cost a lot to be meaningful. You’d be shocked at what you can find at thrift shops and flea markets, like an old-school vinyl record your friend loves or an antique jewelry box for your niece. Plus, this time of year, people donate things they’ve been given as gifts but never used, so you may find new items still in the box! Tip: Shop Mondays and Tuesdays when most thrift shops put out new merchandise.” – Carson Yarbrough, shopping and savings expert at Offers.com
Get hostess gifts for up to 90% off.
“Check out home-decor stores, like At Home or Hobby Lobby, the week after Thanksgiving. You’ll find things in clearance for 90 percent off. A lot of these items are suitable for occasions other than what they’re labeled for, but since they were part of the ‘Thanksgiving’ lot shipped specifically for that holiday, stores mark them down nonetheless. You’ll find everything from serving platters and bowls to luxe napkins or tea towels that are perfect for a hostess gift or anyone else on your list who likes to entertain or cook.” – Judy Woodward Bates
Pay less for gift cards in bulk.
“I always hit the gift card rack at my local warehouse club, where they have cards for movie theaters, restaurants, sporting goods stores and more. Usually, they come in packs of three and cost less than face value — I just bought $75 worth of cards to a coffee chain for $69. You can also find discounted gift cards at Raise.com — up to 85 percent off!” – Sarah Hughes, mother of three, Kansas City
Snag deals on toys at warehouse clubs.
“When it comes to snapping up the hottest holiday toys for kids, be sure to keep an eye out at warehouse clubs like Costco, BJ’s and Sam’s Club. Last year, for example, Costco was selling American Girl dolls and accessories for less than Amazon. The store also had a My Little Pony Magic of Everypony 6-Pack Collection for $29.99— the same set was available at Target for $39.99 — and a LEGO Star Wars 2-Pack Set for $23.99, which retailed for $39.99 in other stores. Warehouse stores actually offer all sorts of great prices on an assortment of toys throughout the season, from Nerf guns to dollhouses and more — no bulk purchase required.” – Joanie Demer, co-founder of TheKrazyCouponLady.com
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.