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8 Easy Ways to Save Money on Holiday Expenses and Gift Shopping

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The average American spends over $1,200 this time of year — not including gifts! While we all want an extravagant Christmas celebration, it shouldn’t have to involve breaking the bank. Luckily, pros reveal eight simple ways to save money on holiday expenses from buying Christmas trees to gift tags.

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Pay Less for Trees

“When looking for a live Christmas tree, I search Walmart, where prices can start as low as $20 for smaller trees, and Ace Hardware stores — they typically offer holiday coupons like $5 or 10 percent off that can be used on any purchase, including trees. For faux trees, I’ve set deal alerts on a site like Slickdeals.net/deal-alerts (they notify you when one goes on sale). One year, I got an alert for a tree at a local sales event for 50 percent off!”— Trae Bodge, money-saving expert at TrueTrae.com

Hit Thrift Stores for Wrapping Paper

“People don’t think about visiting a thrift store to buy wrapping paper, but many actually sell quality paper during the holidays. That’s because big-box stores donate never-opened holiday items like wrapping paper to local thrift stores once the season ends. The thrift stores then sell them the following year for half the original price! You can also pick up cute little baskets and old-fashioned tins for $1 or less, then add some colorful tissue paper and have gifts that look luxe for next to nothing.” — Gabby James, founder of lifestyle blog GabbyJames.com

Snap Up ‘Imperfect’ Holiday Wares

“It’s no surprise that you can find last year’s holiday decor for up to 75 percent off in party stores’ clearance sections. But I recently learned OrientalTrading.com has a section called ‘Less than perfect,’ where they sell imperfect items with descriptions of what makes them so. I scored a set of DIY wreaths for 60 percent off because the adhesive didn’t stick. So I just used my own glue!” — Kathy Higgs, mom of 5, Encino, CA

Nab Unbeatable Prices on Holiday Cards

“Many dollar stores have an excellent selection of high-quality greeting cards. In fact, Dollar Tree sells Hallmark cards in their stores—the discount giant has an affiliation with the card maker and offers several different lines for $1. You can also find a 10- to 12-pack of those holiday photo cards — you print out a photo at home and insert it inside — for $1. That’s 90 percent off the cost of having personalized photo cards printed!” — Kyle James, founder of Rather-be-shopping.com

Create Your Own Gift Tags

“Why spend $9 to buy a package of 24 gift tags when you can print really cute ones out on cardstock at home! Simply buy cardstock by the sheet at craft stores like Michael’s for just 60 cents each, then visit design sites like Canva. com or TemplateLab.com for free printable holiday gift tag downloads. Or take the cover off last years’ holiday cards; cut them up into gift tag sizes and write a note on the back! This adds a great personalized touch to your gifts for free.” — Sara Skirboll, savings expert for RetailMeNot.com

Earn Cash Back on Gifts and More

“It’s easy to earn instant cash back on everything you buy from presents to decorations with an app like Slide (GetSlide.com). You simply download the app and enter a payment method, then scan the barcode while out shopping or enter the online code while shopping online — and net up to five percent cash back on every purchase. You can shop at 200-plus retailers like Ulta, GameStop, and Lowe’s. Best of all? Slide also allows you to use promo codes and coupons, so you can further stack your savings.” — Jay Klauminzer, CEO of savings site Raise.com

Score Alcohol for a Steal at This Store

“Spirits are at deep discounts as liquor stores compete with one another for the party season. But for the best deals, try Target — come the holiday, the store offers 10 percent off or more when you buy in bulk and has deals like $5 off of two bottles of listed wines on Target Circle, its rewards app. Even better: You can pair the two, plus net another five percent off if you use a Target red card! ” — Sara Skirboll

Click Here for Deals on Decor

“Known for their ‘40 percent off one item’ coupon, Joann is a great place to visit for holiday decor. A tip that’s not so well-known? You might get better deals by shopping online for some of the same items they sell in the store. For example, last year, Joann offered deals like one Bloom Room Pine Holiday Garland, priced at $49 in store, for just $19.99 online, and a Merry Christmas coir doormat for $7.99 online, down from $19.99 in store. You can pay the $5 delivery fee or get free curbside pickup! So if you’re in the store, it never hurts to whip out your phone and check if a must-have item is on sale on their website!” — Joanie Demer, co-founder of KrazyCouponLady.com

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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