Skip To Content
  • Tips & Hacks You Totally Need badge

People Shared The Holiday Shopping Tips They Swear By, And It's Super Helpful

Getting a head start can be a lifesaver for your wallet.

It's currently the most wonderful time of the year (spooky season, duh), which means the holidays are right around the corner.

Moira Rose saying things are certainly racing along at a dangerously rapid velocity
CBC / Via giphy.com

Though it's far too soon to deck the halls, getting a head start on holiday shopping can really pay off. Especially this year, as supply chain issues and shortages mean that stores could be running low on items like gadgets, toys, and even books come December. 

Plus, if you start shopping now (instead of waiting till the last minute, like I usually do), you can spread out your expenses over a couple of months to make the season easier on your budget. Or if you're planning to craft some handmade gifts, this can also be a good time to get started.

And let's face it: Just existing has been pretty stressful for a lot of us this year. If there's a way to take some stress out of the holidays, I'm all for it.

So I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community for holiday shopping hacks, and rounded up even more tips from the always on-point redditors of r/Frugal to help us get a jump on the season. Here are some of their best ideas:

1. "I found that shopping year-round was key. When my kids were small, I would always take a quick pass at the toy clearance whenever I would go shopping. I would stock up on any amazing finds. (Bonus was if my kid got invited to a bday party; I only had to reach into my toy stash for an appropriate gift. No need to make a last-minute run to the store.)"

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution / Via giphy.com

2. "I realized years ago that the people I buy Christmas presents for are the same people that I buy birthday presents for. So I buy their presents at the same time. Niece's birthday in May? I buy her birthday present AND Christmas present in May. Birthday present is given to her then, and Christmas present sits in a storage tote until Christmas."

"First, it spreads out the budgeting. But it also helps me buy *better* gifts — if I buy gifts for 15 people all at once, the effort I can put into each one isn't very high. But if I'm buying one gift this month for a birthday anyway, I'm explicitly thinking about this ONE person and buying more genuine and useful gifts for them."

u/justimpolite

3. "We didn’t have a lot of presents [last] year, so I wrapped things and scattered them around the house. It stretched out the time that unwrapping took, so it made it seem like there were more."

u/shortbutfriendly

4. "My biggest piece of advice would be to create an annual budgets for gifts and stick to that. My family isn't big on valuable gifts, but we usually exchange a list of things we need/want: new socks, a bottle of good whiskey, headphones, etc. That way people get things they will actually use."

Person making a shopping list
Alexandr Kolesnikov / Getty Images

5. "My husband and I have agreed we no longer buy each other Xmas presents and instead spend what we would have spent on each other on a weekend away together."

"It's so much less stressful having one less person to buy for, and we usually do the weekend in January so it's something nice to look forward to after the Xmas hubbub.

Secret Santa is also a brill idea for bigger families. Instead of everyone buying each other crap for $10–$15 each, agree on a larger budget (usually less than what you end up spending anyway) and get one person something a bit more thoughtful."

n448311b66

6. "We set a max price of $25 per child from each family unit to the children of other family units. And adults do a white elephant gift exchange, or barrel swap, where everyone who wants to participate brings 1 item up to $25 value."

"For our family where the amount of disposable income is pretty disparate, this takes a lot of stress out of Christmas, and instead puts the focus back on time spent well together."

u/gruntbuggly

7. "This was our first year in our own house, and we don't have any ornaments yet, so we made some out of paper and hung a bunch of spoons on the tree! I actually love how they look, and I think we'll keep them next year!"

Character saying aw everyone look at the tree, I love this tree
Fox / Via giphy.com

u/happy35353

"Stuff like that can become so sentimental. I take care of a little old lady whose husband made the star for the top of their tree. Their first Christmas together they needed a tree topper, so he cut a star out of cardboard and wrapped it in tin foil. They used it for their entire 50 years of marriage."

u/shnoota

8. "Depending on the kids' age and family, you can do what we call a 'Magic Santa Bag.' Great activity at parties. Get about 15 to 20 gifts of all different sizes and costs. Dollar store stuff can work. Packs of favorite snacks. Throw in a few $5 bills. Maybe a gift card. Wrap everything in different size boxes, packages, envelopes. (Throw in a couple empty boxes if you're feeling cheeky.)"

"Put all of these boxes, packages, and envelopes into a huge bag or box. Add crumpled/shredded paper. We use the giant contractor-size black garbage bags.

Have the kids sit in a circle. They each get a chance to dig through the bag for a package. (We do 15 secs for big kids, more time for the wee ones.) Bag goes around and around until all prizes are gone.

Even though some of the prizes are dollar store things, everyone has a blast. If they know there's money or gift cards in the bag, you can usually get all ages to play." —u/knottyhookerneedles

9. "A very easy and meaningful gift I have given to a few families I work for (I am a caregiver/nanny) are canvas paintings of their child’s sound waves saying, 'I love you,' 'mama and dada,' or laughing if they are non-verbal."

"If you have an iPhone, you just use the recording app, and when you replay the sound, you take a screenshot of the waves that show on the app and paint it the best you can on a canvas. I have also used a framed picture of the child with matting around it and painted the sound on the matte."

u/rocky_whore

10. "I don’t buy any gifts these days, haven’t for about eight years now. Instead I host lunch for people who don’t have anywhere else to go (like me). My supermarket has a rewards program where you get a point for every dollar you spend, and every now and then there’ll be double points (or more) for purchasing certain items or brands."

Friends serving food to each other at a big holiday meal
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

"I do that through the year. When I do my regular shop then by Christmas, I have a few hundred dollars I can spend on feeding my friends. I always over-cater so it helps a lot, as I don’t normally have $300–$500 to spend on food."

u/lemondrop__

11. "I opened a Christmas savings account at my bank. Every month, money is transferred from my checking into my Christmas account. In early November, whatever I contributed goes into my checking account. A little bit each month adds up!"

jesusfreak2471

Absolutely love this idea! To get the most out of your holiday savings (or any savings, really), stash it in a high-yield savings account or a prize-linked savings account like Yotta.

12. "My favorite holiday tip that I will be using again this year is making your own labels/packaging for handmade or thrifted gifts. I use Canva and have a great time putting together the designs for each item. Print them on card stock, and boom, your present looks 100x more professional, and you can personalize it."

u/mb232627

13. "I propagate my house plants and give out babies in cute hand-painted terracotta pots."

14. "I save up all my supermarket points, bank reward points, and cash back accounts for the year and use them to buy gifts and the Christmas food shop. Plus I start shopping early when I see something good on sale."

noimpillagingeverybody

Interested in getting more cash back for your holiday fund? I'm mildly obsessed with cash back, and this is how I stack deals and rewards to get the most cash back every time I shop.

15. "We start our shopping in January and buy one or two presents per month, and we are done by December!! We usually find sales throughout the year, so we save!"

mariesamayoa

16. "I have a lot of nieces and nephews, so instead of buying each of them a present, I buy a few games that they can play together on Christmas morning."

Character saying game on brotato
Netflix / Via giphy.com

17. "A relative I only saw a handful of times a year used to get each kid a movie night basket. A cheap movie (probably from the $5 bin at Walmart) and some microwave popcorn and some movie boxes of candy. This is a good way to keep everything similarly priced and not go over budget."

"For $10 or less per kid, you could have something fun. We loved comparing who got what movie and maybe planning a special day where we could have a movie marathon together and enjoy."

u/wafflesfriendswork99


18. "I use different money saving apps like Fetch, Ibotta, Drop, and others and collect money throughout the year. I also don't just buy gifts in December; I buy them throughout the year and have a Christmas pile I add to."

Character looking at a smartphone and saying wow
CBC / Via giphy.com

nizzi1

19. "I know a lot of people suggest buying early in the year, but for me, it’s better to wait! When I buy super early, I almost always buy more than I planned — and if you’re buying for kids, their interests often change before the holiday comes around."

"So I tend to do most of my shopping in October and November — early enough to watch for sales and to avoid the worst of the rush, late enough to avoid those pitfalls."

khandcock

20. And finally, "I'm 72 years old. I can't tell you but two things I ever got for Christmas. BUT I still remember baking cookies with my gramma and making fudge and date bars with my mom."

Little girl making cookies with an older relative
Filmstudio / Getty Images

"Going out in the country to a Christmas tree farm with my dad to cut a tree that every year was too big. I remember caroling, going to bed early so we could get up for Midnight Mass. It is experiences that we remember, not stuff."

u/txholdup

Do you have a holiday shopping tip that you love? Tell us all about it in the comments.

And for more stories about life and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts