Act Now to Save on Holiday Gifts

It's Not Too Early

Act Now to Save on Holiday Gifts
October 16, 2015

It may be annoying to see Christmas displays in stores before Halloween, but that does not mean that early shopping for Christmas presents is a bad idea. On the contrary — there are several advantages to doing your holiday shopping before the holiday "sales" start popping up. You can save money without having to fight the crowds. Start shopping early and lower your overall holiday stress with these four simple steps.

  • Gather Ideas – Keep a list of gift ideas going throughout the entire year. Gift inspiration will often pop up over the course of the year, only to be forgotten by the time the holidays approach. Odds are that phone you carry around can be used to enter gift ideas whenever and wherever they occur.

Take the time to get gift idea suggestions early in the year. This has the added value of your recipient forgetting all about the suggestion by the holidays.

  • Set a Budget – Go over the gift ideas and compare them with your gift budget. (If you do not have a gift budget, set one as soon as possible.) By doing so, you can set target sale price ranges for all of the gifts on your list. If an item never gets down to an affordable sale price, there is time to substitute a different gift idea that you can afford.
  • Research Prices – If you don't know the regular price of your planned gifts, you cannot tell what constitutes a good sale price. Check with multiple retailers for both in-store and online pricing. If they are seasonal items, take seasonal pricing into account and look for off-season bargains. Readjust your target prices and rearrange your budget if you find that your price estimates were too optimistic.
  • Monitor Sales – Once you have done your homework, the hard part is over. Now you simply monitor sales at retailers and look for a sale price that is at least as low as your target price. When you see a bargain, pounce on it. Resist the temptation to look for increasingly better deals throughout the year.

If you have favorite retailers, look for online-only deals with those stores and suppliers. Follow them on social media and sign up for any e-mail notifications or loyalty programs that they offer. You are likely to come across special time-dependent deals that can save you plenty as long as you are aware that they exist.

There is one circumstance where it may make sense to wait until the holidays — big-ticket items such as televisions that tend to go on sale on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. You have to decide whether the reward of an extremely low price is worth the risk of the vendor selling out before you can buy one or the hassle of dealing with overloaded websites or a horde of amped-up buyers.

The real message is this: keep a bargain mentality all year. Get feedback all year about what would make good holiday gifts, and watch for sales throughout the year on those items. A little organization and foresight can save you lots of money on last-minute pricing (and last-minute shipping), and also save you from having to join the panicked masses stumbling around the mall on the last possible shopping day looking for last-minute inspiration.

If you want to do the ultimate bit of holiday shopping, wait for the January post-holiday sales and stock up on sale items that will make useful presents throughout the year or even as stocking stuffers for the next holiday. All you have to do is hide them from your spouse and kids for months. That shouldn't be a problem, right?


Photo ©iStock.com/Juanmonino

  Conversation   |   31 Comments

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Sara | 10.16.15 @ 16:01
I have learned from a friend to buy stuff on sale all year long. So I do christmas all year.
Angie | 10.16.15 @ 16:02
Though I do kind of feel like the early retailing of Christmas stuff steals from the holiday, I do appreciate the deals that are available beforehand. I'm hoping we wean ourselves from the expectation of so much gift giving over time...
Christina | 10.16.15 @ 16:03
We have a very large family. I shop all year for Christmas. Always keep an eye out for the good sales.
Carla Truett | 10.16.15 @ 16:04
I do most of my shopping online and have found if I do it throughout the year, I get better deals than closer to Christmas. Now if I could just get those wishlists from my family.....
Daniel Dohlstrom | 10.16.15 @ 16:04
It is never too early to start. Stacking up gifts all year long can make holiday shopping much less stressful.
Elaine | 10.16.15 @ 16:05
I am a very thrifty holiday shopper.
Erin | 10.16.15 @ 16:05
Great tips that could be used for more than Christmas gifts.
Meredith L | 10.16.15 @ 16:06
My holiday budget consists of planning large meals. We don't swap gifts anymore. My personal feeling is refusing to buy into the commercialism. I gift throughout the year and it's oftentimes more appreciated.
Bobbie | 10.16.15 @ 16:06
I have so many people to buy for that I shop all year round. After Christmas clearance is fantastic for things that never go out of style.
Stokes | 10.16.15 @ 16:07
I shop for gifts for all occasions (Christmas, birthdays, showers, etc) all year round and I keep a gift closet. Even if an occasion sneaks up on me, I probably have an applicable gift. It's cheaper, easier, and more convenient.
Beverly | 10.16.15 @ 16:08
I always have good intentions of shopping year round, but usually end up running around frantic at the last minute. It doesn't help that most of the family have birthdays in November/October.
George Middleton | 10.16.15 @ 16:08
We shop all year also. Keep one area in your home just for gifts. Trust me...
Amanda | 10.16.15 @ 16:08
Awesome ideas, this time of year I normally start shopping little by little, by Black Friday I'm usually done, but go out shopping for any good deals, but most of mine is Amazon shopping with free shipping.
Nancy | 10.16.15 @ 16:09
I don't save for the holidays. I buy all year long when I see things on sale. It not only saves me money but it takes the stress of gift buying out of the season.
Alec | 10.16.15 @ 16:15
I start saving and planning for Christmas in mid-September. My fiancé and daughter are hard to buy gifts for because he's picky and she has one of everything already. I'm a huge deal shopper and always look for sale prices.
Britt | 10.16.15 @ 16:15
I almost always start buying christmas gifts come the 1st of Novemeber. That way I know i have enough and get everyone.
Kyle | 10.16.15 @ 16:17
I usually start buying things as they go on sale, sometimes as early as the day after christmas the previous year.,
Leslie | 10.16.15 @ 16:18
Cyber Monday is one of my favorite times to shop. I live in a small town with limited shops, so it's more convenient as well as cheaper. Layaway is also, one my favorite ways to shop, especially for more expensive items because it's like having credit AND you don't have to worry about hiding presents for too long.
Kailie | 10.16.15 @ 16:19
I've sadly always been one of those procrastination shoppers who wait until the last possible minute.
Steffanie | 10.16.15 @ 16:21
I shop through out the year for gifts to save, but I have found it does get harder when the kids get older.
gracie | 10.16.15 @ 16:22
I appreciate shopping all year long for bargains and tucking them away but honestly the fact that Christmas stuff was up in August before school sales were even down was just a disappointment to me. Holidays are suppose to be for celebrating something other than "stuff" I am happy to see a little Halloween and Thanksgiving being put onto shelves but it feels over shadowed by all the Christmas stuff
Irene | 10.16.15 @ 16:23
Too early? I'm done Christmas shopping. I finished weeks ago
Kamie | 10.16.15 @ 16:23
I start my Christmas shopping the day after Christmas. I am usually done by the time summer comes, and the rest of the time it is just extra things.
Crystal | 10.16.15 @ 16:26
I'm a clearance shopper when the money allows, Great tips!
Clarissa | 10.16.15 @ 16:32
This article came at a perfect time! I am putting away for Christmas and have bought little things throughout the year. I have never shopped on Black Friday before but for those large electronic purchases, I may need to!
Sarah | 10.16.15 @ 16:42
buying throughout the year is the best tip I've ever heard, especially with five kids and eight nights worth of presents! I've been doing this since I only have a couple of kids.
Debbie | 10.16.15 @ 16:47
I'm trying to start early this year. Fingers crossed.......
trish | 10.16.15 @ 16:58
I shop all year long for Christmas! there are always good sales to keep your eye out for.
Owen | 10.16.15 @ 17:09
Been buying all year.
Heather | 10.16.15 @ 17:11
Most years I have my Christmas presents bought before thanksgiving. I always try to look for the good deals ahead of time so we save money as much as we can.
Debbie | 10.18.15 @ 04:23
Christmas stresses me out. I hope to start buying in the next week or so.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 12.08.16 @ 18:09
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