December 01, 2011So December arrived before you knew it. And the economy is in the tank. Your New Year's resolution to buy holiday gifts all year long? All but forgotten.
Not to worry. There is still time to shop, and to do so with savvy.
The Internet: Santa's Little Helper
"My advice," said Beth Montgomery, Indianapolis mom and blogger, "is to start early and just go slow. You don't have to do it all in one day. Just spread it out and purchase it when you find good deals."
Montgomery knows a good deal about good deals, too. Her blog, In Good Cents (www.ingoodcents.com), gets about 130,000 page views per month from people looking to save on the essentials.
"I focus on saving on the necessities so you can splurge on the more fun things in life," Montgomery said. So look to sites like In Good Cents for ways to save on turkey and all the trimmings so a little more stuffing can go into the stockings.
For good buys on gifts, Montgomery is a fan of daily deal sites like Groupon, Rue La La, Plum District, and Zulily. Also, be sure to mark Dec. 16 on your calendar. It's Free Shipping Day. Hundreds of online merchants offer free shipping that day and guarantee to deliver items by Christmas Eve.
Beyond cash savings, you bypass holiday crowds by shopping online which saves on sanity. We can all say cheers to that. Yet, don't bypass a good deal just because it's offline.
Heather McMullen, owner of Little Green Bean Boutique in downtown Indianapolis, said one of the biggest ways parents can save money is to buy resale or consignment. Great deals can be found on clothing, shoes, books and toys.
Of note, McMullen's store will host a handmade market on Dec. 8, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., featuring over 15 crafters and artists who will be selling items for the entire family.
For even more savings on holiday fun, the following Saturday Santa will also stop by Little Green Bean Boutique for free photos with kids between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Children's apparel and shoes will be 20 percent off during the event too.
Resale and consignment shops can be found throughout the Indianapolis area. It's a good way to find bargains, and you'll be buying Local to boot.
Some moms intend to save money on gifts by buying directly from artists or even making their own.
"I'm a big deal seeker. I love handmade. I love when someone opens a gift and you are able to give a story behind it," said Erin Hill, Fishers mom of two and owner of Lois Pearl Designs. Find her on Etsy or at www.loispearl.blogspot.com.
She feels arts and craft shows are a great way to find interesting gifts. Buying at a craft show will save on shipping of course, but Hill said crafter items can be less expensive at the craft show too because middlemen like Etsy are cut out. It's also interesting to meet the artist and get the full story behind the item you are purchasing. Check out http://festivalnet.com/state/indiana/in.html for a listing of craft shows this month.
What about making your own gift? Hill said it's a great idea. "I have a group of girlfriends I get together with who love to be crafty," she said. They will often have theme nights where they make the same type of item like kid tees or teacher gifts. Everyone pitches in on the supplies so everyone saves. Plus, it's fun.
She said novice crafters can find fun and affordable holiday craft ideas online at sites like Pintrest, www.pinterest.com, or simply searching on Google.
Happy Holiday Shopping
While it may be December already, there are easy and fun ways to make this holiday exceptional without breaking the bank. Merry wishes for a frugally fantastic season!
Local crafter, mother of two, and owner of Lois Pearl Designs Erin Hill offers three tips for affordable do-it-yourself holiday decorating. Use branches that inevitably fall from the Christmas tree to add color to shelves or above cabinets.
Tags: In This Issue, Local, Out & About
Take the kids on an outdoor adventure to hunt for pine cones or acorns. Collect them and fill vases or a pretty plate to place on the table.
Print a free holiday printable with holiday graphics off the Internet and place in a cheap frame that can be spray painted in festive colors.
"You can find a million gift ideas between a trip to Goodwill and cans of spray paint," she said.