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Christmas Gift Guide

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Thrifty Parent’s Holiday Shopping Guide

It happens every year: You set a budget for holiday gifts, but quickly realize it’s just not enough. The only thing worse than the insane crowds of shoppers, which descend daily on the mall, is trying to wrap a tight budget around all the gifts you feel you need to buy.

So between the crowds, the disappointment of being broke, and the stress of trying to make this holiday the best ever it’s no wonder that the joy of Christmas becomes the hassle of the holidays. This year, Thrifty Parent wants to help eliminate all the stress by giving you, dear reader, our free holiday shopping guide.

The guide will give you some general holiday shopping tipsand ways to save money and stretch your dollar. Plus we’ll highlight some of this year’s “it” toys and toys that are popular every year.

Like everything else from Thrifty Parent, you can expect common sense advice that will help you save money, time, and your sanity.

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Saving Money on Holiday Gifts

Shop Sales

This year we are seeing more early-season sales than ever before. Wal*Mart and Amazon.com are just two retailers that are offering great deals on electronics in the weeks leading up the Black Friday.

These early sales are likely to rival Black Friday prices and similar to Black Friday, the quantities are limited. Be sure to be a smart shopper, however, because some stores are trying to lure early shoppers with “sales” that are no better than their every day prices. Compare prices before you buy to ensure you’re getting the best price.

Shopping early holiday sales are a great way to save a ton of money on a number of electronic items and toys. Currently, Amazon.com and Wal*Mart are each offering Buy 2 Get 1 Free specials on several types of video games, as well as steep discounts on televisions, computers, and other gadgets. Likewise, toys get deep discounts during these special sales which can be a great time to shop to really stretch your gift budget.

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Unfortunately, lots of people are looking to stretch their gift budgets, too, which means you’ll need to be prepared to wade through crowds of people and stand in never-ending lines. Help fight the insanity by making a game plan before you go; this is probably not the time to wonder aimlessly through the aisles, or have your kids in tow.

If you can get your hands on a sales flyer prior to the sale, make a list of the toys you are interested in and find someone to watch the wee ones.

Black Friday

Black Friday is the one-day mega sale the day following Thanksgiving, and kicks off the “official” holiday shopping season. Stores open early, some open very early. (This year Khol’s will begin its sale at 3 a.m.) To help make sense of the madness, sites like Black-Friday.net list all available Black Friday ads. Participating stores offer some amazing deals, and if you can stand the crowds, expect to save big on toys and electronics, as well as kitchen gadgets, clothing, linens, and door-buster items.

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Black Friday sales are often the best way to get that one big-ticket item your kids are dying for, especially if it is normally out of your price range. There are some drawbacks to shopping Black Friday sales. First, quantities are often extremely limited on big-ticket items. Second, you have to get up really, really early and deal with lots and lots of people.

Of course, there are still decent deals later in the afternoon and the crowds general decrease as the morning wears on. Bottom line: If you’re trying to maximize your gift budget and are feeling brave, hit the stores early-early. On the other hand, if you just can’t stand crowds and chaos, shop later in the day or wait for Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is the online equivalent to Black Friday and is the Monday after Thanksgiving. Some retailers offer the same or very similar deals to their Black Friday sales while others offer completely different, but still very
good deals. If the site does not explicitly offer free shipping, be sure to check online coupon sites for free shipping codes.

However, as online shopping hits epic levels, this year you don’t wait until Cyber Monday!Many online retailers are trying to entice early shoppers with sales beginning as early as Thanksgiving Day, and large retailers are offering the exact same sales in stores and online. For parents who aren’t able (or willing) to hit the Black Friday sales, online sales can be the perfect answer!

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