Monday, November 14, 2011

Motivational Mondays - Shopping for the holidays

When cash is tight, shopping for holiday gifts can be a huge challenge. Financial experts suggest that you plan for holiday shopping all year since it is an expected expense. Budget a small portion of each paycheck all year and by the time the holidays roll around you have a decent chunk of change to spend on gifts. It's a great idea.

But if you're like me and have only just recently started thinking about presents, it's a little too late to save. That doesn't mean you can't find great presents at reasonable prices. It just takes a little bit more work and creativity. So far I've been able to knock out 3 presents for less than $10 total and the rest of my presents for friends will be less than $5 each.

Here are a few ideas that I've found for inexpensive present ideas:

1. Start early. If you wait until the last minute you will probably have to pay more for rush-shipping. If you come across great deals, take advantage of them, even if it seems too early. You won't regret it. Some online picture sites, such as Paper Coterie, SnapFish, and ShutterFly will start offering discounts such as 50% off, $30 off any purchase or free shipping as early as Nov. 1 so start looking early! You can get great, personalized presents such as calendars, posters, photo albums, or Christmas ornaments for almost free if you work at it.

2. Do your research. Before you find something to buy, always research to find coupons and to discover special promotions. You can shave off a lot of money from your purchases if you take the time to simply Google the company's name followed by "discounts" or "coupons" or "sale". Worst case scenario, you find nothing and pay full price (or wait until you can find a coupon!). Best case scenario, you find a valid coupon that saves you a lot of money. It never hurts to check and it only takes a few clicks.

3. Do it yourself. Pinterest has been an amazing source of ideas for presents you can make for cheap. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
 Rinse out a Pringles can, fill it with yummy cookies and wrap it with pretty paper and a bow. Adorable and an awesome excuse to eat Pringles.
 In New York we have a lot of street stands that sell different things like scarves, purses, jewelry, books, even drug paraphernalia...If you buy a scarf for $5, use a fabric marker to spice it up with your favorite quote, you have a unique, personalized, and attractive scarf. 
This might be my favorite present. You can find inexpensive picture frames most places. Target, GoodWill, anywhere. 1 sheet of colored paper is less than $1. Frame that piece of paper and boom, you have a white board. You can even personalize it with stickers before you frame the paper. White board markers are pretty cheap and you can wrap them with a bow. I made this for my bff for her house warming present and she uses it all the time for meal planning, love notes to her fiance or simple reminders.
Last but not least, I saw this and love the idea. Write the lyrics to your friend's favorite song on the rim of a plate with a porcelain pen, bake and voila! You can get a set of 8 plates for $20 at Target and I'm sure you can even find cheaper. A porcelain pen is roughly $4. Let's say you have 8 friends to get presents for, that's less than $4 a present and they can keep it forever. I want to make these for myself!

Since a lot of people that read my blog are those that are getting presents from me, (hi mom and MG!) I can't give away ALL of my secrets but I hope some of these get your creative juices flowing instead of your money.


  1. GREAT ideas!!! I'm going to use this idea for sure.

  2. Thanks for some ideas! I am so not creative, and seeing these gives me hope that even I could make some awesome Christmas gifts this year :) Also, thanks for the shout on on Friday!!