Gearing up for Christmas Shopping

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year.  It’s even better now that I have young kids.  I love their letters to Santa.  I think this may be one of the last Christmases that they are going to believe in Santa.  The last couple of years, I’ve Photoshopped Santa into a picture of our living room using Gimp.  And last year, you could create a video message from Santa at portablenorthpole.tv for free.  This year, my older son asked me to take a video of Santa at our house.  I asked him why he wanted a video.  He said that you could add a picture of Santa to a picture you’ve taken (he figured that out by playing with the photo software on his DS).  So this may be the end of it for him.

We’ve had so much fun with them in past years.  We always pick out a fresh tree.  We go to one of the tree farms around us where you get to cut down the tree yourself.  Then we come home to decorate it.  We put on a Christmas movie when we’re decorating the tree.  The 2 favorites in our house are National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story.  And the ornaments… :)   We buy ornaments on every trip we take.  When we decorate the tree, we reminisce about the trips we’ve taken.  Also after Christmas, I check the Hallmark Store almost every day after January 1st to catch when the ornaments go on sale for 75% off.  I buy a bunch.  I let the kids pick out a couple for themselves and save the others for our annual Christmas party we have at our house where we do an ornament exchange.

So how do I prepare for Christmas?  Here are a few tips:

  • Check Slickdeals a lot - This is one of my favorite web sites.  And it’s the November – early January.  The deals are posted fast and furious.  I check it multiple times a day.  I’ve talked about the site before.  It’s a site where people post deals they’ve found on a message board.  Users can give the deal a thumbs up or thumbs down.  Deals that get lots of thumbs ups, get bubbled up to the front page of the site.  If you’re looking for something specific, you can set up a “Deal Alert”.  The site will then send you an email if a post is added that has your keywords in it.
  • Find a Black Friday Site - There are many Black Friday sites out there.  Some of them include www.bfads.net and www.blackfriday.info.  I review the site leading up to Thanksgiving.  I look through the ads to figure out which stores I want to go to and when the stores open.
  • Create a plan for Black Friday – If I’m trying to get a hot item, I make sure I’m at that store hours before it opens.  If I’m not trying for a hot items (like last year), I made my schedule to get to each store about 2 – 3 hours after it opened.  I still got amazing deals, but I didn’t have to deal with the crazy crowds.  Also you should find out when each stores’ sales are available on-line.  For example, the last couple of years, you could get Best Buy’s deals on Thanksgiving.  So, while my husband was cooking Thanksgiving dinner (yes, I have an amazing husband who cooks), I sat at the kitchen table and did some Christmas shopping.
  • Amazon Lightning Deals - I love Amazon Lightning deals!  We are Amazon Prime customers, so we never have to pay for shipping.  That makes the Lightning deals even better.  The Lightning Deals are not just at the holidays but more are posted and they are for a lot of the hot items at the holidays.  You can usually figure out what the items are beforehand.  If it’s a really in demand item, you need to be on right when the deal opens up.  Also, don’t forget to use the US Airways shopping portal to get to Amazon, so you get miles for your shopping.

I also use this time of year to stock up on gifts for our birthday present closet.  I buy gifts throughout the year when I find a really good price for items I know my kids’ friends would like.  Then when the boys have a birthday party to go to, I let them go into the birthday present closet and pick one out.

Do you have any holiday shopping tips or special traditions?  I’m always looking for new ones.

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