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   Every year when holiday season is upon us, there is a tendency to become overwhelmed with all the tasks ahead. There is shopping and baking and cleaning and decorating, and perhaps travel thrown into the mix.

Most of us make lists. Lists help us know what’s coming and how to plan for each day. But many times after we make the lists, we leave them at home and launch out into the shopping fray only to be sidetracked. We end up buying things not on the list and, often, not within the budgeted amount to spend.

This year why not plan your shopping trips carefully and be armed with a plan that not only saves money, but also saves time and frazzled nerves. Here are some tips for being that savvy shopper this year:

  1. Visit discount stores for smaller gifts, wrapping paper, ribbons, stocking stuffer gifts and for small items to use to embellish your wrapped presents.
  1. Save your receipts as you shop. Quite often department stores and specialty shops allow shoppers to return to the store and get cash back when the item they purchased was marked higher and then the price was cut. Every dollar counts.
  1. Take that shopping list with you and stick to it. Don’t be lured into spending more money because of beautiful store displays or other marketing ploys. That cashmere sweater may be gorgeous, but it’s not on the list.
  1. While some believe gift cards to be a lazy or even tacky present, there are many recipients who love them. They’re great for hard to shop for teens and for people we don’t know well. Put the card in a mug or wallet, or wrap it uniquely to make it a little more special. 
  1. Buy online and get free shipping. Look for the times and venues that offer this free service and you’ll save a lot of postage this year. You’ll also find gift items quickly and easily.
  1. Don’t underestimate the value of a homemade gift. Something knitted or crocheted, homemade cookies or candies, or a craft or piece of art done by your own hand. People seldom take the time to make homemade items and when we do, we’re letting the recipient know they’re special to us. 
  1. Shop your local small businesses when you can. It’s always a good idea to support our local businesses to encourage them to stay in business and serve their community.

Plus, you’ll find less generic, often one of a kind gift items.

  1. Choose to gift a membership to an entire family or to a couple on your list. These might be gym memberships, concert series, museum passes and the like. While the cost may not be low, it’s a special gift if it’s in your budget.
  1. Subscriptions come in hundreds of varieties now. Everything from meals to dog food can be ordered and will arrive at the recipient’s doorstep for convenience and enjoyment. Wine, coffee, flowers … you name it and you can buy a subscription for it. Again, not the cheapest gift to give, but a very welcome one.
  1. And finally, know the sale dates for the stores you want to visit. You may not want to go in the middle of the fray, but if you can find the lowest volume of shoppers paired with the lowest prices, you’re a winner!

The holidays are filled with wonder and joy. Don’t allow stress and overspending to take the shine off the special times.

Don’t forget to buy Ask Granny’s Italian Recipe eBook for children… quick and easy to make recipes, perfect for the Christmas season!