Let’s Get Holiday Shopping!

Santa Claus with a little girl

Have you started your holiday shopping list?  

Do your kids have a $1000 wish list, like mine do? Don’t know where to start?

You aren’t alone! However, these lists are critical for your bargain shopping search!

I had my kids start their wish lists in early October. You may ask, why so early? Won’t they change their minds? I have my reasons!

Some children looking at a selection of Christ...

Image via Wikipedia

  • Pre-Season Shopping: The best deals are often found in the “in-between” shopping months of October and early November. The back to school shopping season is winding down, and the holiday shopping season has yet to begin. Retailers often run a variety of “pre-season” sales in October and early November with the goal of keeping sales going during this down-time. I do the most of my holiday shopping, especially big-ticket items, before Thanksgiving. Really! By Thanksgiving, my goal is to have at least 80% of my Christmas shopping completed. Right now, I am about 75% finished.
  • Inventory: Store shelves are best stocked in this time-frame. Retailers are building their inventory in preparation for the holiday season. A great time to snag that highly sought after item your child has been bugging you about for months. For my son, it’s a metal detector. Last Spring, the one I wanted retailed for $70. Last week, I got it for $45 on Amazon. Cha-ching! One highly desired item off the shopping list!
  • Budget: With my kids’ wish lists in hand, I determine how much each wish item will cost. Then I determine how much is my allotted budget for this year’s holiday gift giving season. From there, I set a budget for each person on my shopping list, match that up to their wish list, and pare the lists down to what Santa and I want to get for everyone. A tough job when each of your kids has a $1000+ wish list!

How do I pare down these $1000 lists to fit into my budget?  BARGAIN SHOPPING! I prioritize each list with the “must have items,” usually 1-3 items I know that either Santa or I must get. If I find a way to reduce the price on these, great! But it is Christmas, so I do make exceptions on the most prized items on the wish list. After this, full-price is OFF! I am on the hunt for the best bargains to fill out the remainder of the gifts.

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu.

Image via Wikipedia

And what if my son changes his mind about that metal detector before Christmas morning? No biggie. Returns-R-Us! Save all your receipts in a safe place, and make sure you purchase from retailers with 60+ day, good return policies. Whenever I am making purchases this far in advance, I make sure to purchase only from retailers with generous return policies, and I keep all receipts in a safe location. For many purchases, it simply means that I tape the receipt to the purchase itself. Taping the receipts to the newly purchased items is a great way to know that you will  have that receipt in 58 days when suddenly your child decides she really doesn’t like purple pillow pets anymore.

Another idea for that now “off the list” purple pillow pet purchase? If your budget allows it, consider a donation to Toys For Tots, the local children’s hospital or another local toy donation program and put a smile on a needy or seriously ill child’s face! Each year I have my kids donate something to a children’s toy program, and often times these donations come from a prior purchase that is now “missing its mark”.


Another highly advertised option this season, if you’ve been watching all those toy commercials that your kids keep pointing out to you, is the return of the Lay-Away. I remember as a child the whole K-Mart Holiday “deal” of “Get your stuff now, use our Lay-Away program, and pay only $5 a month!”  My warning to you, as my mother warned me … Be Careful … Be Very Very Careful! Lay-Away programs can be a great way to ensure you get that highly sought after prize early in the shopping season, but it may NOT turn out to be any bargain at all. To me, Lay-Away programs can give a false sense of how much you can buy. If you decide to use a Lay-Away program, just be sure you stick to your list, know your budget, and stay with it! Don’t get sucked into adding that extra, “not on my shopping list” $200 gaming system into the Lay-Away basket because you don’t have to pay for it now. Remember, you WILL have to pay for it some time soon!

In Summary: What do I use to kick off my holiday shopping season?

  • Lists
  • Budget
  • Pre-Season sale shopping

Stay tuned for more in-depth details on finding your own holiday STEALS AND DEALS.

So when do you make your holiday shopping list? Let me know!

Until my next shopping blog,



5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carolyn Nicander Mohr
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 09:50:29

    Hi Carol, I really like your suggestions. I never would have thought to purchase Christmas presents now because I thought the best time to buy was when there are sales.

    What do you think about Black Friday sales? Is it worth it to wait for those sales for the best deals?

    Love your idea about how to save receipts. I never can seem to find mine when I need them!


    • carolbiederman
      Nov 08, 2011 @ 19:58:56

      Hi Carolyn, and welcome back to Let’s Get Deals Today. Glad you liked the receipts tip. I’ve been doing this for quite some time, and it works. My thoughts on Black Friday … hmm … lots! I personally don’t like Black Friday shopping because I hate crowds, but even so, I’ve been known to venture out and snag a few deals that day. Black Friday deals can be awesome. That being said, I don’t wait for Black Friday if I can find a deal beforehand. Sometimes, though, they just are better on Black Friday. My suggestion: if you have saved your receipt from a prior purchase, and happen to snag a better Black Friday deal, then return the other item later. Kind of the best of both worlds! Don’t forget about Cyber Monday, too! Love Cyber Monday!


  2. Dawn G
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 06:17:54

    Wow! Great tips! I don’t do Black Friday shopping because of the crowds and how much it overwelms me. I do alot of my shopping now, but I always feel like I’m paying more. I do have one more big purchase for the kids of a laptop. I’m waiting to see what Cyber Monday brings. Do you have any tips for laptop shopping?


    • carolbiederman
      Nov 09, 2011 @ 07:20:09

      Hi Dawn, great comments! I do have a few thoughts on laptops. If you are looking for a low end model, right now Best Buy is offering a Toshiba laptop around the $270 price point. Cyber Monday of course has typically also been a time for decent electronics deals. I got our current laptop 3 years ago on a Wal-Mart cyber-deal. You may also want to watch NewEgg.com and the Dell.com scratch and dent offers. We bought our desk top last year through Dell scratch and dent and saved $100’s off the new price. Hope this helps you in your laptop hunt!


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