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

By Ashley Jacobs on 13 December 2016 49 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Laurajj, Chong, and Lisa for winning this week's contest!

Gift-giving is a big part of the holiday season, but it can be a big headache if you're on a tight budget. That's why many frugal families are shaking up this tradition by giving homemade gifts, limiting the number of gifts that go around, agreeing to a max price on gifts, and taking other cost-cutting measures.

How do you save money on holiday gifts? Do you have an agreement with other members of your family regarding gifts? Have you purchases (or made) all the gifts that you will be giving this year?

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

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Good Luck!

Average: 3.2 (11 votes)
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Guest's picture
Tina Schmidt

Set a budget, try to find the best deals, and redeem rewards from the credit card.

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Natasha Dickens

During the holidays, I shop with coupons and when items are on sale. I also use Humana Vitality points from exercising and those points are exchanged for gift cards.

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Karen Patterson

I give mostly gift cards so they can take advantage of after-Christmas sales.

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Donna Sako

During the year I earn gift certificates on various websites and save them to help pay for Christmas Shopping.

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I look for sales on wish list items.

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I save money on gift by using cash back websites and coupons when shopping

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Julie Wood

I save money on Holiday gifts by buying on Black Friday and Cyber Monday for all the deals.

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I look to stack discounts online and I shop at places with free shipping and returns so I can avoid driving to the store

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I decided to reduce the number of gifts I buy this year and make some instead.

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Jen D

This year our family is doing a Crazy Christmas Sock Exchange in the White Elephant game style (all new items) with a $20 price limit. I was able to stretch the $20 with sale prices. Our family only has adults, but this works with all age ranges.
For gifts to mailman, etc., I give home baked goodies.

Guest's picture

In our family we all give gifts to pets and children, and the adults either draw names so we only buy for one other adult or, as we're doing this year, we each buy a gift (limit $50) that can be for anyone and we each get to choose one. You can trade if you want, but it usually works out that somehow everybody gets something they really like and is suited to them. I also use coupons and sites like Ebates, etc., to score good deals on whatever I'm buying for whomever.

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Ernest S.

We try to limit gifts to only the kids in the family. For everyone else, we try to keep it small and consumable (i.e., no knick knacks or unnecessary clutter).

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I save money on holiday gifts by making homemade gifts - usually baked goods.

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Merlene Ence

I shop thrift stores

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Throughout the year I shop at thrift stores and discount places, and when I see books, candles, or other good gift ideas, I grab them up! I also try to make a lot of my own gifts.

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I try to plan ahead and make the gifts I can and buy non-perishables (booze) when I find it on sale earlier in the year. I've also done more of a group get-together, where we treat ourselves to dinner and a movie instead of buying each other things. It's more about doing something together, so this could easily be a different and cheaper activity.

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I buy many of my gifts online over Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Also, I don't over-do it and only get gifts I know will be appreciated and used.

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I shop early and hunt sales to save on holiday gifts.

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Miss Kim

I'm always searching for sales and buy gifts with coupons/sales.

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regifting and buying presents at my beloved Grocery Outlet. I have bought fancy candles ($2.99), fancy shampoo ($12.99), amaryllis bulbs ($4.99) and wine ($4.99-6.99) depending on the person. I love the GrocOut so much.

Guest's picture

My best tip is to shop throughout the year and get the best prices on everything.

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Susan P.

We have a large family and years ago we agreed that if we were doing gifts at Christmas that we would draw names and give a gift to one person, usually with a $50 limit. That has deteriorated over the years and if we have something for someone, we give it when we see the person since we don't see each other much anymore. We are all scattered across the country and it's difficult to all get together. I like to give homemade gifts or something I've won.

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Susan Smith

I save money on gifts by buying them on sale and using coupons when shopping.

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purchase just small stocking stuffers as opposed to pricey gifts

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I use couponsome and watch out for specials.

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I save money by making my own gifts. Pinetrest has some great ideas on homemade gifts!

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Use the credit card that offers the best rewards for each place you shop. Research this ahead of starting your holiday shopping to ensure maximum reward payout. For example, I have a Discover card, and in Q4 they offer 5% cash back at Amazon. Last year, I participated in a program that doubled my cash back for the year, so I really earned 10% back on my purchases as long as I shopped at the right websites, which were stores I shopped at anyway, like Amazon and the Gap. They also offer special deals if you use links on their page to certain retailers (this only applies to certain retailers online only) that can increase cash back payouts with retailers not part of their quarterly promotions. As long as you pay off your credit cards each month before you accrue interest, this is basically free money.

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I stick to a budget and look for good deals on gifts throughout the year.

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Oscar P.

As soon as the holidays are over I start saving a certain % of the bi-weekly income into a X-mas Bucket so that come the holidays for next year I know what I can spend and not get STICKER SHOCK when I get my credit card bill. That way I can pay out immediately what I spend for the holidays.

It's such an amazing feeling not having to worry about those kind of bills.

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Lisa Kreutter

I took part in a 12 week app-based focused group where I earned $75 in gift cards. I used these to buy gifts for 2 family members. I also made extra money on Mechanical Turk ($50), and on a 1 1/2 hour allergy focus group ($100 for the focus group). My fiancée and I stuck to our $30 gift budget for each other. It's fairly simple to budget when you make extra money on the side. I found out about the 2 focus groups on craigslist and they were easy!

Guest's picture

I some re-gifting when I can. I also stick to a budget and I don't buy for many people. For work stuff, instead of "holiday" cards around Xmas, I prefer to do New Year's cards that encourage a fresh start and exciting new slate. I can make them myself or buy less expensive blank cards on sale after Xmas.

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i shop throughout the year during sales and use coupons. also i use credit card rewards for gift cards

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Michelle B

We hardly even do Christmas. We don't have kids yet but we do love to get hot chocolate, drive around and look at lights on Christmas. Because we don't really do Christmas, we don't spend a ton on stupid stuff most of the time. We MAY get each other a small gift but it's usually something we actually need like I bought my husband military boots because he is in the military and needs a new pair before he discard his workout pair.

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An G

I buy throughout the year, coupons, price match. every penny counts

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I joined Amazon Prime this year and am saving on shipping.

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Rebecca Ross

I shop throughout the year, especially after holidays for the clearance, thrift stores and yard sales. I have a "gift dresser" that I store everything in and have an on-going list of who gets what.

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I save reward points from my credit card and use them for gifts. I also try to have ideas for people all year long so that if I see something for a good price I can get it. I think I am done shopping for this year's holiday!

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I use my Discover card and price match everything for the best price.

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I shop year round for good sales and put things away.

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To help save money, I shop early and try to watch for the good deals! I love watching garage sales in the summer for brand new toys at great prices!

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I shop during the year at estate sales and Goodwill and it is surprising what great things one can find. I also like to bake cookies and pumpkin breads for the neighbors.

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Kim D

I do all of my shopping online and try to use coupons or Ebates when possible. I also make a list in advance and try to take advantage of deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday for some of the more expensive items. I also go to the Dollar Store for all wrapping essentials - you'd be surprised by how much they have!

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C Hui

I make a budget and try not to go over it.

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Matthew M.

Ebay and!

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Michelle D.

We do a secret santa so that it reduces the amount of gifts we have to buy.

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Happy Love

I stick to a budget and a list.

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Ashley Park

I buy gifts during black Friday and cyber Monday and always looking for sales.

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Michael K.

I buy things when they are on sale and I always try to buy gift cards at a discount.

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Monique Hubert

My family and I have all agreed to a low dollar limit we set for gifts and we give preference to items that the receiver is likely to use and that are from a thrift store or homemade. I have not yet purchased everything I will give, but should be done today, since it's a short list.

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My family does gifts for only the kids and a gift exchange for the adults, which saves some. I try to shop sales and keep to a list.

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We don't really do gifts and if we do they are small,inexpensive.

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Tabathia B

During this time of the year, so many stores are offering daily deals that I take advantage of along with discount apps and coupons, black friday and cyber monday deals.

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We have a few family members we don't exchange with to save some money.

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Thomas Murphy

I find good deals.