Tips for Smart, Affordable Shopping | Style

Published December 17, 2008

Posted Dec. 5, 2008 -- The friends and fam you’d normally buy gifts for probably already know you are on a tight budget. Why is that? Because most likely, they are too. So in spite of this struggling economy, make this Christmas a merry one. Follow a few simple holiday shopping tips and tricks to help you make your dollars stretch.

How many times have you busted your butt (and your budget) to buy the perfect Christmas gift for that special person, only to find it underneath the bed covered with the cobwebs or returned to the store so that they could exchange it for something else?

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This year, think outside the box and give a gift that will leave both you, the gift giver, and its intended receiver with smiles on your faces !

Secret Santa. Buying a gift for every sibling, auntie, uncle, niece and nephew can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive. Instead, have a family gift exchange in which each participating member can put their thought and money into one gift that will really matter.

All In One. A good ol’ gift basket always comes in handy. It’s the perfect choice for couples as they offer a little something for the both of them.  Think about  a “spa” basket filled with lotions, grooming accessories, massage oils, nail polish and scented candles. Or an “entertainment” basket filled with video games, DVDs and candy could be just right for the teens in your life.

IOUs. The best gifts don’t always cost money. Sometimes all a friend needs is a helping hand. For the new mom on your list, how about a gift certificate for two to that new restaurant in the city, or even your free service as a babysitter.

Gifts That Count. Never mind wasting your money on the latest toy for the kids. Yes, you might initially be the coolest parent in school, but all the excitement will soon wear off and you’ll be left with no love and a big bill.

Get the best bang for your buck by stuffing the kids’ stockings with educational toys, board games, action figures or a new wardrobe for Barbie. Or you could just rack up at the dollar store where there’s a ton of hidden treasures.

Do It Yourself.  Have your very own family photo shoot. Whether it’s on a red blanket in front of the fireplace, next to the Christmas tree or, if you’re lucky, outside in the snow. All you need is a few creative minds, a Santa hat and your digital camera.

After lots of fun and lots of pictures, you’ll now have the cutest cards to send to Grandma and Grandpa and out-of-town relatives.

Give Back. Change the tradition and center this year’s holiday around giving instead of getting. Giving your time to help the needy at the local soup kitchen is an excellent idea. Sure, there will be frowns, but we’re sure there will be many more smiles with the priceless gift of giving.

Make It Easy. Consider cash. It might be cheaper to give the college bound nephew $20 towards gas. But, if you don’t have it, you don’t have it.  Remember that it doesn't have to be big or expensive to show that you care.  Sometimes just saying how you feel can mean far more than anything you can wrap a bow around.

Do not let Christmas put you in the poorhouse. If your friends or family expect you to spend more than you can afford, be honest. They’ll understand. ‘Tis the season to be Merry, right? Right.

Written by BET-Staff

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