Archives for December 2016

How to: My best Christmas gift shopping tips to save you time and money

 

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It’s 10 days before Christmas and I will be completely done shopping tomorrow once I pick up some more gift cards for my parents. Everything I bought so far is also wrapped, sorted by recipient and ready to go for the big day. I am not trying to brag or say I am supermom (I’m far from it!) but it is worth it to me to be done early and not to have to fight the crowds. I also do not have to stress that I have so much left to do when my kids are on Winter Break. Friends always ask me to reveal my secrets so I am sharing them with you too! These tips are what works best for me and my family. Everyone is different but I hope you will learn something new!

-Open a note on your phone (I use the Notes app that came already installed on my iPhone) and make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for plus your budget. During the year put any ideas you may have for that person and what you have already purchased. This way you are not going over your budget or forgetting someone either! Otherwise you will end up like my mom and find gifts in July you forgot you bought for Christmas. She’s going to kill me for writing that. Sorry mom! This is a great tip for birthdays as well! They also make apps like Santa’s Bag that help to track your budget and purchases.

-Start early! Do you want to know when I bought my first Christmas present this year? January! When I find something on sale I buy it and store it. Be picky and buy something your loved one actually will want and use. Avoid buying junk just because it is a good deal.

-Buy holiday decorations and gift wrapping on clearance the week after Christmas. I wait until Target gets to 50% off and buy what I really really want. Anything else I like but don’t “need” I wait until at least 70% off. This is the time to stock up on items like wrapping paper and gift bags. Last year I found tons of gift wrap supplies for 90% off at Target. Guess who will not have to be buying any again for years? This girl! I was also able to donate 16 rolls of wrapping paper to our local mom’s group for their holiday toy drive.

-Shop the Target toy clearance sales in late January and late July. Years ago I did the bulk of my kid’s holiday shopping during this sale. The days of the sale are no longer the same as they used to be and the markdowns seem to take longer to get to 70% off. This sale is still worth stalking Target over. Also visit multiple stores if they have more than one in your area. Different stores will have different inventory. The discounts also vary. You may find a toy at 30% off at your regular store but the one across town has the same item marked at 70% off. This is also a great time to stock up on Toys For Tots gifts.

-Whenever you have extra time at any store browse by the clearance racks or sections. You never know what you will find.

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-Amazon Prime. If you do not already have it, sign up for a free trial. It is life changing!!! When a package takes longer than 2 days to arrive from another site I get annoyed. I have become totally spoiled. I also check Amazon prices before buying anything at the store. It is not always the lowest price but most of the time it will be the same or lower. Plus it involves me not having to leave my house. That’s important now that I live a hefty drive from stores and I have a 4 year old that is a beast to take shopping.

-Use free price tracking websites like Camel Camel Camel. This site tells you the lowest price an item you are interested in has sold for on Amazon and when. I check there to find out if an item is likely to go lower in price based on past trends.  http://camelcamelcamel.com

-Use websites like RetailMeNot or google for coupons before making online purchases. Many of my friends like Ebates to earn cashback. I am so guilty of forgetting to use this program!

-Try to only buy from stores that offer free shipping. Nothing is worse than paying shipping costs higher than the item that you have purchased. I have become so spoiled by Amazon Prime that it literally pains me to pay shipping.

-Make your own gifts. My sister bought a Cricut Explore Air and has been working like crazy to make personalized gifts. You do not need a fancy machine to make your own though. Are you good at baking? Cookies and cakes are always appreciated. Are you crafty? Pinterest is filled with ideas.

Check out my gift giving board here: https://www.pinterest.com/jerseygirlinthe/gift-giving

-Give the gift of your time. What hobbies or talents do you have that can be shared? What can you do to help someone out? I am sure your nieces and nephews would love for you to babysit them or your relatives would appreciate having you paint a room for them. My inlaws gifted that to us the Christmas we moved to our last house (closing was Dec 15th) and it really helped out. We did not have the time to paint ourselves and as I have mentioned before I am not the best painter.

-Use Social Media to find deals. Small shops often post discount codes on their Instagram feeds. Facebook is an awesome resource too. Many pages have already found fabulous deals for you. Because of the changes on Facebook it is best to go directly to their pages as all of their posts will not show up on your news feed. My favorite bargain pages are:

Passionate Penny Pincher https://www.facebook.com/PassionatePennyPincher/

Thrify Momma Ramblings https://www.facebook.com/thriftymommaramblings/

Hip2Save https://www.facebook.com/hip2save/

How Does She https://www.facebook.com/HowDoesShe/?fref=ts

-My biggest tip? Try not to stress!!! Slow down, take it day by day and enjoy the holidays.

Do you have any shopping tips to share?

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Christmas Home Tour 2016

Farmhouse style Christmas home tour

Farmhouse style Christmas home tour

How did it get to be December 7th already? I swear it was just Halloween last week! Everyone is full of excitement in this house for Santa to arrive. Christmas morning is my favorite day of the year. Watching the kids open their gifts makes my heart happy. I do a lot of my Christmas shopping ahead of time so I am not feeling pressured or unprepared right before the big day. Mainly it’s because I can not stand the crowds in the stores. I will even skip my weekly (who am I kidding twice a week) Target shopping trip to escape the madness! Instead we get to spend our time driving around looking at Christmas lights, watching holiday movies and enjoying treats. I am always looking for new ideas and traditions. What do you do in your household?

Most years the house is fully decked out by the weekend after Thanksgiving. For some reason this year I am behind. I decided to concentrate on my dining room and family room mainly this year so I will be giving you a tour of those two rooms. My plan for next year is Christmas in every room!

I purchased this refillable Advent calendar last year from Target. The boys have been looking forward to opening it every morning. My oldest went ahead and peeked (I’m on to you kid and I know you’ve been hunting for gifts too!!) so he knows what is coming up but the two younger ones are still surprised. I love it! I wanted to hang it from my old chippy window. While daydreaming I imagined it crashing to the ground as one of the numbers was being opened. Quickly I changed my mind. I think it looks cute (and safer) sitting on the buffet. Instead I hung this card garland I found at Target from the window.

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See my adorable flocked tree? They are a hit on Instagram. You can find them at Walmart for the super low price of $12!!! I could not believe it! Word has gotten out and they are hard to find. They have gorgeous flocked wreaths too. Now run to Walmart before they are all gone!!

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This adorable Merry sign is from the Target bargain area, which is also another hot spot this season. I plan to paint it red but I have been too lazy to do it yet. My little red ceramic truck on the buffet was purchased there too. It was hard to resist the urge to buy all the things.

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On my front door is a cute little snowman I found at Christmas Tree Shops last year for $8. If you have one of their locations near you check it out! It is not only Christmas decor. Yes there is a lot of junk but you will also find some treasures and cheap K cups.  Mr. Happy Holidays is now sitting in the corner next to the door. My suction cup will not stop falling off and I was sick of putting it back up.

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I kept the dresser top simple and just put a faux wreath over my antique grain scoop. I filled it with leftover Christmas balls from the tree.

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Do you like my faux fur and knit stockings? They are another Christmas Tree Shops find for $8 each. I had some Pottery Barn Kids stockings in my online shopping cart but I didn’t pull the trigger. On a shopping trip I decided to check CTS and I am glad that I did. I got the instant gratification of not waiting for them to be delivered. Plus I saved myself a lot of money!

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Snow globes always scream Christmas joy to me. Bonus points because it lights up! The sign is another Target bargain spot find as is my blanket scarf being used as a throw. The pillow cover is from Amazon. They take a very long time to ship but for the price they are worth it. Did you know Rae Dunn makes adorable Christmas mugs too?

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On the opposite corner of the family room is our big buck Harold sporting a magnolia wreath from Hobby Lobby. And the truck pillow? You guessed it. Target again.

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On the end table next to my couch I have displayed a cloche with bottle brush trees and an awesome free printable from The Turquoise Home blog. You can download your own at http://theturquoisehome.com/o-holy-night-free-printable/

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Moving on to the other side of the family room. My nativity set is usually displayed in my dining room but I wanted to try something new this year. I am loving how the colors pop against the green dresser. This set belonged to my grandmother and when I moved out on my own in college my parents handed it down to me. I treasure it and look forward to setting it up each year.

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Last but certainly not least is my Christmas tree.  My shatterproof ball ornaments are one of my best bargain finds ever! Do you want to hear the story? Good. I was sifting through the wasteland that is the 90% off Christmas clearance at Target. It’s mostly broken pieces, wrapping paper and gift bags. I am there all.the.time and the employees recognize me. Sad, I know. One of the stockers came up to me and said we forgot to put these boxes of ornaments out and just found them in the back. They are ringing up $2 each for a huge container. Do you want to buy them? Ummm YES PLEASE! I did leave some for another person because I am not greedy. Only spending $10 I was able to get a whole tree full of ornaments and still had extras to spare! Talk about a major bargain high!

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The boys put the ornaments on and for once I left them that way. As a result there may be two on the same branch or colors that are way too close together but that is how they wanted it. Soon enough I will be doing the tree alone to my liking and missing my boys decorating it with me. It can look a little haphazard for now.

From our family to yours we hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

 

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