Frugal Gifts and Holiday Deals

Posted by Jill on December 21, 2009

Are you still frantically looking for holiday gifts? Luckily, it’s easier than ever to shop from the comfort of your home, and get great deals in the process! Many online retailers are offering free shipping, and even more are offering BIG sales in an effort to drive revenue. The deals are-ever changing, so instead of highlighting specific items, I’ve listed my favorite items and go-to places for deals this holiday season.

Frugal Gift Ideas

If you’re not into homemade or alternative gift ideas, there are still items to be purchased without breaking the bank. These are some of my go-to items this year:

  • Magazines: I’ve really embraced the idea of giving magazine subscriptions as gifts. These are great for people of all ages – kids LOVE getting mail, and adults love getting their favorite magazines without having to shell out for them. Some of my favorite memories as a child involve waiting eagerly for the latest issue of Highlights to arrive, courtesy of my uncle. For women, Real Simple is always a good option, and men might enjoy Sports Illustrated. Of course anyone can benefit from a subscription to Money or Smart Money! Be sure to check out Hearst, which is offering many titles for just $5, and, which is offering up to $10 off certain subscriptions.
  • Ornaments: My family has always enjoyed giving and receiving Christmas ornaments. We even give them for birthdays or other holidays! Ornaments can be an inexpensive way to commemorate a special event, such as a wedding or birth, or symbolize an interest such as a sport or musical instrument. We often purchase them for as little as $5 at Marshall’s. You can also find good deals on eBay.
  • Food: When in doubt, give food! Who doesn’t like to eat?? My grandfather loves chocolate-covered cherries, which can be purchased inexpensively at any grocery store. You can go fancier, ordering a basket from Harry and David or a similar site. But the most frugal thing to do is put a little basket together yourself – purchase an inexpensive basket at the dollar store or a store like Big Lots and fill it with items for hot chocolate and s’mores, wine and cheese, or popcorn and movie candy.
  • Home items: Home items are both practical and fun – often you can find something that is very usable, but that the recipient wouldn’t generally buy for his or herself. I like slow cookers for college students or young professionals, and serving dishes or tablecloths for more established people. These items do not have to be expensive, though they can be – do some research to find the best quality for the lowest price.
  • Money savers: To add more of a personal finance angle to this post, consider giving people things that will save them money in the long run. An example is a bread maker or a Netflix subscription. I also like giving cookbooks to people who don’t currently do much at-home cooking.
  • Books: Like many items on this list, books cost as little or as much as you want them to. Amazon was running a deal last week where you could buy two paperbacks and get one free. You can often find $5 books at Barnes and Noble or Borders. Giving books allows you to share a favorite with a friend, encourage an interest of the recipient’s, or pass along knowledge that you know might be useful. When my cousins get a little older I’ll definitely be sharing my favorite personal finance book with them – Suze Orman’s Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke.

Red Hot Deal Sites

I’m always on the lookout for a good deal, but when in doubt a combination of these sites can usually get me what I want at the right price:

  • Google: I like Google Shopping for item comparison. Once I settle on a specific item, I quickly type in the name to Google’s shopping page to see if there’s a better deal. Google factors in taxes and shipping costs when calculating, which is great. I’ve saved up to $20 per item this way.
  • Cash back sites: Once you’ve settled on the item and the retailer, begin your transaction at cash back sites like Ebates or UPromise to get cash back on your purchases. If you belong to multiple sites, compare the reward for each purchase you make – the same site is not always the best deal!
  • At Amazon you can find daily and sometimes hourly “Gold Box Deals,” where they offer certain items at deep discounts for a limited time. I keep this page open and refresh constantly. Amazon is also offering toys for up to 50% off.
  • Old Navy: Old Navy has long been one of my favorite places to buy gifts. Here, you can get clothing, outerwear, pajamas, and sometimes even toys or novelty items. I especially like their “gift guide” where you can shop by price – some items are as low as $5!
  • Target: Target always has good deals around the holidays, and this year is no exception. They have a whole section of electronics for under $100, and are also offering free shipping on certain items over $50.
  • Coupon sites: Lastly, before you pay for your items, make sure to check out CouponCabin or your favorite site for coupon codes. I usually just Google the website I’m on and “coupon code” (e.g., Old Navy Coupon Code) to find the best deals available – I can almost always get free shipping and sometimes find coupons for up to 25% off!

Restaurant Deals

If none of the above gifts interest you, or you just want to buy some gift cards and be done, consider restaurant gift cards! You’ll make your shopping easier and save your recipient money on a meal out. I’ve seen a ton of restaurants offering great deals on gift cards this year. $100 may sound like a lot, but it could be 5 $20 gifts or even 10 $10 gifts for coworkers, your children’s teachers, or stocking stuffers. If there’s a deal offered at one of your family’s favorite restaurants, you can also use these deals as a chance to stretch your dollars a little further.

Many local restaurants are offering holiday deals on gift cards as well – make sure to check with your favorites!

And don’t forget…

If you are buying online, check the holiday shipping deadlines to make sure you get your gifts in time.

Buying the gifts is only part of the battle! Save even more with our frugal gift wrap ideas, and take your bargain hunting one step further with this $5 coupon good on any purchase at Hallmark Gold Crown Stores.

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Comments to Frugal Gifts and Holiday Deals

  1. Thanks for the perfect timing post! I just wrote a post wondering what to do if you can’t find a good present, and you have some great ideas. I love the idea of magazines, and this year I’m finally using it!

    Also, Buca di Beppos is giving $25 free when you buy $100 in gift cards


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