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Holiday Shopping for the Smart Shopper

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With the change of seasons coming right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to pick out for your holiday gift giving. For most consumers, the holiday season tends to be the most expensive time of the year, with a seemingly endless list of presents to buy for colleagues, friends and family. While you might be spending a little more time digging for deals, you can actually save a ton of money by organizing gift swaps, planning a trip, or using Internet tools to get discounts and coupons on all of your favorite retailers. Let’s take a look at some ways to save during the holiday season, regardless of your price range.

Toys R Us Coupons

Kids are the easiest members of the family to save money on gift giving. When you’re looking for something for the little ones, there are plenty of ways to save. The tried and true brands that kids love, like Mattel, Disney, Lego, and Barbie are all available when you shop at Toys R Us. Depending on how many kids you’re shopping for, things can get a little expensive, so it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Online coupon codes and cashback offers can make things significantly cheaper and get you the same high quality toys that your kids are asking for. Say goodbye to buying knockoff brands and get the presents your kids actually want this holiday season. Sites like Ebates, RetailMeNot, and KrazyCouponLady all provide shoppers with great discount offers to make the most out of your budget. Take the Ebates Toys R US coupons for example, you can get free shipping on any purchase of $49 or more, or get $50 off your purchase of any two EA Sports video games. For parents on a budget, these coupons can be a lifesaver!

Secret Santa Swaps

One of the ways to make holiday shopping cheaper for the entire family is to organize a Secret Santa swap instead of exchanging gifts between everyone. By setting up a ceiling on the amount of money the gift can cost, you can cut out a lot of the time and expense that goes into shopping for the holidays. You run the risk of people not getting exactly what they want, but with the money they save from not having the buy everyone else a present, they can go out and buy it for themselves. If you’re organizing the Secret Santa exchange for the office and not the family, Business Insider has some great ideas for coworker gifts under $25. Secret Santa exchanges also let people spend more time thinking about what would be the best gift for the recipient, rather than just checking them off on a long list of people to buy for. A single gift that shows some thought can mean a lot more than a pile of presents that don’t show any effort.

Make it an Experience

While that new holiday sweater might feel comfortable and stylish right now, chances are that it won’t last for many years. If you’re looking for a gift that really makes an impact, you could try going for something experiential to create a memory that lasts a lifetime. Children grow up so fast that creating holiday memories is one of the best ways to cherish the time you have with them. Instead of doing a big gift-giving exchange this year, try taking a family vacation instead. Ronnie Tyler from Babble.com suggests renting a timeshare as a way to save, “I normally say: "No Thank You" to sales reps when they call me about their "time share" deals. But last year when they called, I asked ... do you have anything around Christmas. They found me a beautiful time-share resort room for a few hundred dollars. We checked in on Dec. 23rd and checked out on Dec. 26th. So yes, I had to listen to their 90 minute presentation ... but it was well worth it.” Even if you’re only out of town for a couple of days, spending the time to together and visiting a new city can be a much more rewarding experience that just swapping presents from the mall.

Whether you end up hunting down emails on the web, organize a Secret Santa exchange, or decide to plan a family vacation, you can save a ton of money this holiday season.

Last updated on February 19, 2015.

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