Ask the Readers: How Do You Save on Holiday Gifts?

By Ashley Jacobs on 1 December 2015 61 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Jessica, Kimberly, and Elena for winning this week's contest!

Giving gifts is a big part of the holiday season — and it's easy to break your budget on this part of the festivities if you aren't careful. A few ways to save money here is to DIY gifts, re-gift nice items, or skip this tradition altogether.

How do you save money on holiday gifts? Do you have rules on gift-giving with your friends or family? What was the best frugal gift you have ever given?

Tell us how you save money on holiday gifts and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:

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If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, December 7th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after December 7th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
     
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
     
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
     
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck! 

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Guest's picture
Julie Wood

I do not spend any of my money for gifts because during the year, I win gift cards and I use this money to buy gifts for my friends and family!

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Guest

I search as much as possible for the best deal and then use cashback sites like swagbucks or ebates. My credit card also gives me reward points that I use.

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Mami2jcn

I save on holiday gifts by accumulating Swagbucks throughout the year.

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Paul

Large lists (so there is a variety of potential gifts to choose from), spending limits, and a love of thoughtful gifts over price makes all the difference. This means that the home-made gift is cherished over the store-bought equivalent and that the $5 used book that you've been looking for is a better pick than the $25 hardcover best seller. Combine that with shopping all year and you have a recipe for thoughtful, interesting gifts that delight without breaking the pocketbook.

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Gina

I bake breads and cookies as gifts and recycle old newspapers & magazines as gift wrap.

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Kat Skull

I save money by looking for Black Friday deals on what my friends/family wants. I then research online for the best price also from other stores.

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Rich

I watch for sales and also use coupon codes.

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An G

watch for sales, use cash back sites and coupon codes

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Elena

I save by shopping sales and using coupons

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Tina in NJ

I'm not sure I save money doing this, but I like to make gifts. My mother and each of my two kids are getting quilts this year. Quilting is not a cheap hobby! But I put my time and effort into it. At least Mom will appreciate the effort.

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Kellie

I limit my spending - and encourage family to do the same - by being very deliberate in my purchasing. I value giving one or two special gifts for family and friends. They are not expensive and most often are things people would like, but do not spend that money on themselves. This is my way of fighting the overwhelming consumerism that is unfortunately a large part of the holidays in the U.S.

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Raina

Maybe this sounds awful, but I stopped Christmas shopping last year and told everyone not to get me anything either. We're all going to be spending time together anyway, don't see the reason to buy each other things when we've gotten older and it's gotten more difficult to figure out what to give everyone.

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Susan P.

Now that the girls are grown, we give them gifts of things they need, like clothes for work or interviews. We don't get each other anything since we have everything we need. This year my gift to us will be a new dishwasher - mine is 23 years old and water is leaking into the door through the latch. If I do have to give gifts, it will be my handmade pottery.

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Emily S.

I crochet cheap (but soft and cozy!) scarves for everyone. If I've already gifted someone a scarf, I'll make them a hat or gloves to match. I also save up and use my rewards points on gifts.

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Jeff

use sites like ebates.com for cashback

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Michelle D.

I do most of my shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday so that I get the best prices for everything.

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Mary W

I look all year long for special deals on items. I follow several bloggers who post great deals with codes and coupon links. Hip2Save.com is one of my favorites. By collecting sale items with deals, I am able to put together nice care boxes for birthdays or other occasions. The savings really add up!

Guest's picture
BRB

I keep my eyes open all year for things people will like on sale or at the thrift store. I also shop online if I know what I want to get people and then buy it on black friday/cyber monday for extra discounts! Also go through swagbucks or topcashback to get extra back!

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Liisa R

I buy year-round when I find good deals. And I do gift cards with credit card rewards points for people who are hard to shop for.

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Lynda

I try to shop throughout the year.

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Guest

My husband and I take each other on vacation, no "stuff" gifts. And my fami,y and I decided no gifts this yeR. Traveling to be together is enough.

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Abby

Our family does secret santa so we don't have to buy gifts for Everyone. It really helps cut down on the cost.

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Liz

I get things when they are on a huge sale

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Ana L

I buy everything on sale!

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HMerritt

I use price tracking websites like CamelCamelCamel.com and PriceZombie.com to educate myself on the best deals for a specific item. Sometimes I get a better deal for used/open box listings. I also use SlickDeals.com for gift ideas. Lastly, I search for coupon codes on RetailMeNot.com.

Wisebread is great for reducing year-round expenditures. I do need to use Swagbucks like others mention, although I don't want to be tempted to spend to "earn more."

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Clem

I search for the best deals on sites like Slickdeals.

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lostAnnfound

I use gift cards that I win throughout the year, look for "buy this, get this free" sales to get gifts for free, watch the sales carefully, and definitely set a limit. I save money all year in a Christmas club account so I'm not scrambling at the last minute to squeeze money out of my regular budget; it makes it so much more relaxing knowing I have the money I need to get my shopping done.

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Patty

I look for great deals throughout the year and keep a gift shelf at the ready. That spreads the cost and helps me avoid crowded stores. Online shopping means I always can find a lower price or discount. And I love used bookstores. After Christmas sales allow me to stock up on cards, wrap, etc.

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Matthew

I use apps like slickdeals.net

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Guest

Buying gifts throughout the year helps. It is better to buy a gift on my terms when the price is right and I am not rushed. I also use coupon code and price check apps to automate the process online. If I see something that I want to give as a gift, I'll do an Internet search for prices. Also, discount gift cards help depending on the store and product. Lastly, cash back credit card programs. There is no one way, but I do take into account how much time it takes to use whatever method I come up with.

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Betty

I save by buying things throughout the year when I see a good sale. I also cut my gift-giving list way down. I only have to buy for a handful of people.

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Judy

Since I do all my shopping online, I try to catch every bargain that pops up. I recently purchased a large picture canvas that cost over $155 for less than $30 including shipping. I also scored $223 eye shadow sets for less than $11 including shipping. I also scored a gel nail polish set including the UV lamp for $10 and no shipping! You've got to hunt those bargains.

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Karen Littman

I redeem rewards earned throughout the year and gift items that I've earned.

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Elle P.

I shop holiday sales and also shop year round. After the holidays, you can get some great deals and save the gifts for the following year.

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Renee

Like others mentioned, I use Swagbucks and other rewards sites to save up during the year. I also take advantage of rewards credit cards.

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Suz_Glo

I have a rewards credit card on which I earn points/money to spend at Amazon. By the end of the year I have quite a bit to use for gifts. I also always search for the best deal at any store by using retailmenot.com and ebates.com

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Rich

I shop the sales and use coupon codes.

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Jessica Curtis

I turn to a combination of money-saving techniques. I try to collect a list of what people might like all year and keep an eye out for deep sales on these items. I use rewards dollars for things like movie tickets and gift cards, and coupons and rebate cash for any deocrations that need to be purchased (such as lights). We have two little children and celebrate multiple holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah and also St. Nicholas day), so some of our presents come from the dollar tree or thrift store. And our extended family holidays have all become either dollar or number of present limited, or have changed to an exchange. It has helped me a lot to personalize presents - photo gifts from shutterfly, childhood books autographed, etc. And neighbors always get handmade treats. It is still expensive to me, but this year I kept a list of items with a 'total paid' and 'total worth' retail price tally, and it makes a big difference. These techniques let us enjoy opening and giving presents without feeling like we are broke, or like we can't 'measure up'.

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Julie Lundstrom

I watch for the deals and when it is at a price I like then I buy. Black Friday deals are some of the best. I also will do price match too.

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Bekki

I look for the best deal I can find for a gift that someone wants specifically, use a cash back credit card or a gift card, and use ebates

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Kristin Goodson

I save money by shopping deals online. I shop year round and save gifts in the closet so I don't have to stress during December.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

I have an "gift" dresser that I keep all the gifts for people with a list of everything, and I buy gifts throughout the year for Christmas, Birthdays, and graduations. Sometimes, I even buy ahead for Baby showers, weddings and extra kid gifts for the needy at Christmastime.

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Ernest S.

My friends are doing a "white elephant" gift exchange this year, and capping the gift amount at $20. That way, we only need to buy one inexpensive gift!

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Matt

I have some family members where we don't exchange anything

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Donna D

I shop sales and use coupons and don't go overboard. I really buy items that are requested or needed. I still do an old fashion Christmas Club at the local bank so I have the money I need for the holidays.

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Kara

I combine things like swagbuck rewards, ebates and credit card rewards along with sale prices or online coupon codes to get the most bang for my buck. I find the latest online coupon codes at retailmenot. Yard sales and thrift shops are great places to scope out year round for clothes, toys and household goods that are brand new, with tags, for a fraction of their original price. And especially when kids are younger, gently used toys are the way to go to save money.

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Alissa A

I shop on Black Friday and try to put limits on myself with gift amounts!

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Phylicia phillips

Shopping around to find the lowest price, free shipping and sometimes homemade gifts or experience like babysitting or cooking for them.

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Kelli

In recent years my family has pared down gift giving to pets, children, and drawing names among the adults so there's only one adult to buy for, and we also set a limit (say $50 or so), so it doesn't get outrageous. I also use coupons and credit card points and go through sites like Ebates when buying gifts whenever possible, and I put everything on a cash back credit card.

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Guest

I save on holiday gifts by shopping for their needs. Those are the best gifts! I also check out Retailmenot.com and price compare online.

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Gues

Several years ago we started buying for the only the children in the family who are 18 years and under. Not only do we save money but the children's joy in receiving gifts is so much more fun that the adults!

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Monique

I try to find thoughtful gifts that I think those who are closest to me will get a lot of use out of. I don't always buy things either, I make some things like cookies or offer my help with projects. And for those rare things that are bought, I look for good quality and value.

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Susan Smith

I save money by watching for sales and also using coupon codes.

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J. Pario

I make a lot of my gifts throughout the year.

This year we are giving dried and ground spices from our garden. Totally organic and always useful.

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SKB

I find great things at estate sales. I also shop online and take advantage of coupon codes and discounts.

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Amanda Sakovitz

I shop sales

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Happy Love

I shop mostly online, which lets me keep an eye out for good sales and coupons.

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C Hui

I bake cookies and cakes to give to neighbors and friends.

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Miss kim

I shop sales and use coupons whenever possible.

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Louly

I save money by doing my research on Black Friday pricing and then using my Discover Card to price match!

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Ashlee

I like to sew and make things for the family. This year I am doing pillows with the person's name or monogram on the pillow

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Thomas Murphy

I shop the sales to save money.