Nov 172010
 
The holiday season is upon us, and it is very easy to get caught up in the rush and stress that often come with the season. Do not let holiday shopping and gifting get in your way, when you are supposed to enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones. Frugal living is a great way to decrease some of the stress that comes with holiday shopping, and I would like to share 10 tips for smarter holiday shopping and gifting with all of you.
1. First of all start early. If you start early (preferably in January), you will be able to spread out both the expenses and the stress of holiday shopping. Some of the best deals can be found in January, and that goes for everything from electronics to toys and kitchen gadgets.
2. Make a list! Have a list of all the people you need to buy holiday gifts for, write down gift ideas as well. As the year progresses, you can scratch out names, whenever you find the right gift, at the right price for the right person.
3. Set your budget. Talk about your budget! Sit down and study your budget, and figure out how much you can actually afford to spend on your holiday gifts. Smart holiday shopping includes not overspending, and it also entails leaving the credit cards at home.

4. Look out for those deals. Plan ahead, if you do not have the sales ads, look online to find them. Plan out your shopping trip before you go, and make sure that you read the fine print of the deal. If the store does not have the item in stock, make sure to ask for a rain check.
5. Comparison shop ahead of time and know your prices before you actually enter the store. If you know what the item costs, you are more likely to pass on it, if you find it at over priced. Know the price matching policies of the stores you shop at, and you might just get a great deal at your favorite store by bringing in an ad from another store.
6. Shop online! Some of the best deals on the most popular holiday gifts can be found online. Take advantage of comparison sites, and watch you favorite deals sites, because you might just be able to find the perfect gift at an amazing price.
7. Look for holiday gifts in places other than the mall. The mall is usually the worst place to find great bargains at this time of the year, and it is the most expensive to shop for gifts at. Instead visit your local Office Depot, your favorite retail stores, grocery store, discount store and more. Stay away from the mall and you will save money.
8. Take shipping into consideration, or you might get a very expensive surprise at the post office. Many stores offer free shipping this season, and some of them do not even have a minimum spending limit. Take advantage of this and let them do the shipping for you. Paying for gift wrapping probably just cost a fraction of what you would otherwise have spent on shipping. 
9. Do not forget the cost of wrapping paper and supplies. Start looking now as the best deals have already started. Even better yet buy your tape during the back-to-school sales, and get your wrapping paper at the after-Christmas sales the year before. My boys have already gone through my initial stash of tape, but luckily I was able to find tape at 10 cents a piece after sale and coupons this week.
10. Finally, before buying consider whether the person will actually use the item you are buying or not. Is the person or family in financial trouble, or if they are elderly, do they have easy transportation access? Consider making a gift basket of grocery items instead, or perhaps an office package from Office Depot. If all else fails, gift cards are a great way to go.
All over the United States many people have cut their budgets in half, some are living on one salary instead of two, and some people are even having a hard time just managing their daily expenses. This year it is more important than ever that we think creatively, when we plan for our holiday shopping and also when we consider what we will be giving away. Smart holiday shopping includes taking the stress out of shopping, and the best way to do this is by not overspending.


About Office Depot:
Office Depot, Inc. is a global supplier of office products and services. The company was incorporated in 1986 with the opening of our first retail store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In fiscal year 2009, we sold $12.1 billion of products and services to consumers and businesses of all sizes through our three business segments: North American Retail Division, North American Business Solutions Division and International Division. Sales are processed through multiple channels, consisting of office supply stores, a contract sales force, an outbound telephone account management sales force, Internet sites, direct marketing catalogs and call centers, all supported by our network of supply chain facilities and delivery operations.

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Office Depot blogging program, making me eligible to get a $40 Office Depot gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.
*The about Office Depot information was provided by Twittermoms.

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