10 holiday shopping tips for going big, not broke


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Ever since I was little, my family had a gift closet — a place where you could keep potential gifts throughout the year. I use one to this day. 

If you’re like me and you shop for holiday gifts all year long, you can save this space to store presents for almost any occasion.

I love buying gifts for my friends and family, but I normally have a tiny budget. This is where purchasing things ahead of time comes in handy. There’s nothing better than getting friends gifts that they love while knowing that you spent only $5 on them instead of $35! 

A gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. If you spend a lot of time thinking about a person, you can find something that they will love. We can feel pressured to buy certain things or spend lots of money on gifts, but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

A thoughtful gift — even something that you make yourself — can mean a great deal to a real friend, even if you don’t spend much actual money. 

Here are 10 holiday shopping tips to help you be a smart gift buyer:

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1. Check clearance sections

Always check the clearance sections at your favorite stores — and don’t rule out any of them.

One of my favorite finds was in the clearance section at Office Max. It’s not really the first place you think of when buying a present for your best friend, right? However, Office Max was offering a huge selection of Smash books that were all at least 60 percent off. 

I know most of my friends enjoy keeping a journal or scrapbook, so I bought several of them along with other decorations. I got so much cute stuff! This was a few years ago, and I’m still giving them to friends.

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2. Go to thrift shops

I’m the first to understand that buying your friend a secondhand present isn’t ideal, but keep an open mind and don’t miss out on any awesome savings you could get during your next visit to a thrift shop. Clothes are often brand-new and still have the tags on them.

If you spot something that you know one of your friends or family members would appreciate, and it’s a new item, go ahead and add it to your gift closet. 

No one ever has to know — unless you want to brag about paying 35 cents for the awesome new shirt you got your BFF for her birthday. Garage sales are also a great place to look for new things!

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3. Find affordable home decor

If, like me, you and your friends are still renting, you probably don’t have the time, inclination, or funds to decorate your temporary abode. While taste may factor into it, consider niche stuff that your friends are into. 

Does your best friend love Star Wars? You can find some amazing, cheap artwork on Tumblr, Etsy or Instagram. Buy it, slap it into a frame and voila! You’ve just given your friend a thoughtful, personalized gift. 

Plus, you’re supporting artists, so it’s a win-win-win.

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4. Make a scrapbook

There’s nothing more meaningful — or cost-effective — than scrapbooking. It only costs a couple bucks.

Grab that ticket stub from the first movie you saw together, add references from their favorite TV shows, include candid photos, and boom! The result is a gift that you can prepare months ahead of the holiday season.

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5. Bake!

Imagine a loved one working to give you homemade loveliness in the form of bread, cupcakes, pies — you name it. 

You might have some of the ingredients at home already, and following a recipe to create something from scratch results in the most wholesome feeling. 

Not to mention that you’ll get to enjoy delicious treats together once it’s done!

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6. Build randomized baskets

Hit up stores like Flying Tiger or Target to build a basket of random stuff. Stationery, novelty egg holders and kitschy home wares can all snuggle together in a wicker basket of joy.

It’ll cost you very little, too. Who doesn’t love knickknacks?

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7. Make mix CDs or playlists

You’ll have to know your recipient well for this one. Picking songs that both you and your loved one enjoy can be a challenge — that’s why there’s so much meaning to it. If the recipient doesn’t have a CD player, make a playlist on Spotify. It’s the thought that counts, right? Especially if each song title spells out a message!

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8. Get some board games

You can get cheap games at your local thrift store or on clearance, but it’s not about the price. Board games bring people together, and gifting that togetherness is worth much more than the 75 cents the game might cost at the store.

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9. Show the pets some love

Listen, we all know that your friends and family prefer their pets to you anyway, so why not put together a gift box for their fur babies? It’ll win you some serious brownie points for pampering their precious pets.

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10. Spruce up the presentation

Remember: It’s less about what you buy than the thought behind it. Dressing up even the simplest or cheapest things can make all the difference. 

Want to get your dad socks and underwear? Put it all in a fancy box with his favorite beer and some nice wrapping paper. Hand-make your mom some jewelry and dress up that tiny cardboard box with ribbon! The possibilities are endless.

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11. Bonus holiday shopping tips

  • Make sure that you’re getting a really good deal — at least 50 percent off the retail price. 
  • If you’re shopping online, use browser extensions like Ebates to snag discounts.
  • Don’t buy an item if you don’t know anyone who would like it (this is super important). 
  • Always remember to check your gift closet before you purchase a new gift. 
  • Be on the lookout for good deals on wrapping paper and such. We get the cutest gift bags at the dollar store!

Giving is a great feeling that’s made even better by shopping smart.

Additional reporting by Kelly Meehan Brown.

This article originally appeared on Centsai.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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