How to Christmas Shop Like a Pro

If you haven’t already started Christmas shopping, then you’re behind the game.  Seriously.  I start shopping almost immediately after Christmas is over for the next year.  Now we’re at the point that Christmas is only 2 months away! Do I have you worried? Don’t be! If you’ve been a slacker on the Christmas shopping, here’s some tips to make sure that you not only get your shopping done, but that you don’t make your bank account/credit cards cry during the process.

Photo Credit: Dakota Maynard Photography, 2013.

Step 1:  Make a list.
This step should go without saying, but you need to make a list of everyone who made your nice list this year. That way, you know how many people you need to buy for and you hopefully don’t leave anyone off the list.

Step 2: Set a budget.
While this is Step 2 on the list, it is the most important step!   Determining a Christmas budget is a 2-step process in and of itself.  First, determine the total amount of money you want to spend.  You can make this a range or a hard number, but be serious in making the determination so that you can and will stick to it!   If you’re using the Simple Budget method, then it should be fairly easy to see how much money you will have to put towards Christmas gifts each paycheck. Then, allocate your budget amongst everyone on your list by setting price-points for how much you want to spend for each of them.  Not only does this save you from overspending, but it makes it much easier to narrow down online shopping when you can search by category and price!

Step 3: Start early and shop sales.
We’ve already established that you’re behind in the game if you haven’t already started Christmas shopping, but it’s still better to start now than in late November/early December.  Like I said, I purchase gifts year-round, and stick them in a gift closet until needed.  This allows me to purchase items on sale as I find them instead of having to pay a premium on them later in the year.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve found the perfect gift for someone 9 months in advance.  Also, this keeps you from missing out on or having to pay a premium for a gift you wanted to purchase if it becomes a hot item closer to Christmas.

Be sure to sign up on stores’ mailing list to get coupons and notices of sales.  You can also browse, which is a favorite deal-finding website of my husbands!

And let’s not forget comparison shopping!  By starting in advance, you have time to compare the best prices and wait to have it shipped or picked it up from the cheapest place!  Many stores have also started price matching items–check your local stores policies.  Some have become quite generous!

Step 4: Know when to buy–whether or not to wait til Black Friday.
There are no words adequate to describe my love for Black Friday.  That said, you don’t have to wait til Black Friday to shop for everything (refer back to Step 3).  What should you wait for Black Friday to purchase?  Kids toys, electronics, small kitchen appliances, movies, and jewelry are all things that come to mind.  That said, over the past several years, stores have really been outdoing themselves in bringing out the deals earlier and earlier.  You can always google a store’s Black Friday ad from last year to get a sense of what items they put on sale for Black Friday and how their price-dropping generally works. No, stores don’t always have the same exact item on sale, but they tend to put the same types of items on sale. I’ll have a Black Friday Survival Guide closer to the day.

Step 5: Use Ebates!
If this is the 1st you’re hearing about Ebates, you can get up-to-speed on it with my post here.  I love Ebates, and I tend to really rack up the cash back around this time of year!  Even better, I can apply my latest Big Fat Check rebate to my Christmas shopping and really save some extra money! Ebates is a great way to stretch the budget a little farther too!  If you haven’t joined yet and would like to, click here.

If you were panicking a little over Christmas, I hope this post helps!  I know so many people put shopping off until the last minute, but by Christmas shopping like a pro, you can take that time to focus on the things that matter most:)

Photo Credit: Dakota Maynard Photography, 2013

What’s your plan of attack for Christmas shopping this year?

Nice to meet you!

Hi there! I’m Tif Fannin, the blogger behind Bright on a Budget, based in Lexington, Kentucky. Bright on a Budget is a Southern fashion and lifestyle blog where I share everyday looks, beauty, and travel, along with a behind-the-scenes look at my life as a working mom of two. I have a penchant for bright colors + good deals. Follow along for posts that are relatable to the everyday woman.

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  1. 10.23.14

    Ha I'll confess – you got me slightly panicked 🙂 But I was just thinking a few days ago that I needed to start thinking about gifts. I've got some tucked away for Elizabeth already, so I'll celebrate that victory! Looking forward to your Black Friday guide! Because Black Friday is so intimidating for me.

    Katie @ Cup of Tea

  2. 10.23.14

    I've got some of my shopping done. I need to really get on the ball. I love these pictures of Kane. He is so beautiful

    Della@ Della Devoted

  3. 10.23.14

    Ha! I actually have a post in the que for a link up I'm doing in November and ebates is my #1 tip! Love them!

  4. 10.23.14
    Caitlin said:

    Ok, first off, those photos are too cute! I have to admit, I am a little behind. I've gotten a few toys, clothes, etc. for the kids in the family when Target and Kohls have had some amazing sales, but nothing for the adults really yet. However, I also do a lot of baking/handmade gifts. I'm still slightly behind even with that with Juliet's party taking up so much of my time!

  5. 10.23.14

    I just recently started my shopping and I feel behind! I have list upon lists of who and what I need to buy so I plan to start buying a few things each week so that I'll be ready when Christmas rolls around. My family exchanged names so I'm excited that I have a little less shopping to do since I'm not buying for everyone. Hopefully this will mean I'll get to enjoy the shopping/wrapping process a little more. Oh and I'm behind on the whole ebates thing… I need to go back and read your post on it. Thanks for that! Oh and those pictures are THE cutest!!

  6. 10.24.14
    Kat said:

    I'm officially panicked. I'm always the worst with gift shopping and end up being one of those last minute shoppers. Well, not quite as last minute as the men in my family… but pretty close! You've inspired me to get a head start this year! 🙂

  7. 10.24.14

    Great tips! I usually shop for the holidays year round but I really didn't do that this year so I'm behind. Thanks for the inspiration to get organized and start shopping!


  8. 10.27.14

    I had Black Friday shopping at the mall down to a science, but then I switched over to mostly online shopping when I was pregnant. It is so much easier that way! And technically, you have already started;)

  9. 10.27.14

    Thanks, Della! We both have some beautiful boys. Yay for having some done!

  10. 10.27.14

    I love love love Ebates! At 1st I thought that it had to be a scam because it was so good!lol

  11. 10.27.14

    Thanks, Caitlin! A close friend of mine did all of my maternity photos through Kane's 1st birthday, and I love these especially! You'll have to do some posts on your baking/handmade gifts! Listen, you'll be so happy when you get the 1st birthday party out of the way–it's just stressful, but take time to slow it down and enjoy!

  12. 10.27.14

    Thanks, and you're welcome! Ebates is seriously awesome and I highly recommend it. Name exchanges makes everything so much easier, doesn't it?! I like spreading out my shopping, because it seems to be much easier on the budget that way.

  13. 10.27.14

    You'll have to let me know how it goes:)

  14. 10.27.14

    Good luck with it! I feel like after the 1st couple of gifts are purchased, then it gets easier.