There are plenty of ways to save on holiday gifts for family and friends without getting trampled in a Wal-Mart. But first, you have to come to terms with the fact that being thrifty isn't going to be easy--it requires time, creativity, and a certain "game" mentality, but getting a good deal is also satisfying and fun.
I'm making it my personal goal to keep credit card statements at an all-time low this December. Here are some tips I'm using to save money this season.
1. Make gifts. I have a long way to go before I'm cranking out handmade presents for everyone, but I am planing to make a beach glass pendant necklace for my grandmother and homemade doggie treats for the family dogs. If you don't have time or skills for DIY but like the concept, talented artists and crafters on Etsy offer unique handmade gifts.
2. Sell stuff to get stuff. All it takes is a little "winter cleaning" to get some extra cash in your pocket for the holidays. By selling things on sites like Craigslist and Ebay, you can get instant cash or have money deposited into your PayPal account, which you can then use to purchase gifts for others. It won't make you big bucks, but it will help offset what you spend.
3. Use gift cards and credit card points to purchase presents. This prevents you from dipping into new money to pay for gifts.
4. Search, then search some more. If I know what I plan to get someone, I search online for the lowest price (excluding the aforementioned evil empire Wal-Mart). This includes doing Google searches, but also looking on sites like Ebay. Free shipping usually factors into the final decision.
5. Always try a coupon code. One of my favorite resources is RetailMeNot. It is always worth the extra minute it takes to see if there is a discount code for any online retailer. On occasion, I have even had luck just typing in a presumed discount code, such as "FREESHIPPING."
6. Black Friday without the lines. A lot of places are catching on to offering Black Friday deals online for those of us who avoid crowds. I've found some particularly good deals for Maya at Petco.com on Black Friday, and this year I intend to search for other enticing cyber sales.