How DO you do Santa shopping for all of your kids? Online? In store? Coupons? Buy throughout the year? Tips + strategy please; ’tis the season.
Ah! It does vary. When I’m not gift-shopping, just buying normal household stuff (sheets, towels, non-perishable groceries) my general shopping strategy is “Buy it before you need it, when you find it cheap.” I do this for stocking stuffers: little toys or novelty candies (pacifier lollipops and similar) go on clearance all year, and I especially have luck in the party-supplies section where I can sometimes find 4- or 6-packs of party favors on 75% off.
But that’s not going to work as well for presents: a child might like Bakugan in the summer but be totally over it by Christmas. I do find some things clearance/cheap and ahead of time, but I’m always aware it’s a risk: some of it ends up being Gift Shelf fodder for future birthday parties they attend, or gifts for younger siblings a couple years later.
Fortunately, a lot of stores do their big bargains close to December—buuuuuuut I don’t really like to go the weekend after Thanksgiving or do any kind of shopping where I have to fight other shoppers for something. I’d rather shop online and have fun mail. Amazon.com does a lot of deals, and since I have Prime shipping I can get “free” 2-day shipping (there’s a fee to belong to Prime) on anything, even a $2 toy. I use that a LOT: a toy gets marked down to half-nothing on some one-hour deal, and it’s on my porch two days later.
I also cling like white on snow to Want Not: Mir posts alllllll the deals, and I find stuff I wouldn’t otherwise have even known to look for. Plus, Mir feels the way I do about free shipping deals (WE’RE FOND OF THEM).
I’ve had some success at stores such as Home Goods, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx: I’ve already found some dinosaur toys for Henry and a Hello Kitty gardening kit for Elizabeth, marked down to one-half or two-thirds the prices they’re still selling for at other stores. But the selection at those stores is so miscellaneous, I don’t count on it: if I see it and it seems good I buy it, but I don’t go there to find something specific.
My biggest tip is to underbuy: the kids seem to max out on excitement after about three presents, plus they’ll be getting gifts from other relatives. Plus, I know we’ll end up with a few more things last-minute, because it seems like at least one kid always develops a new and exciting hobby about a week before Christmas, or else we find a deal on something awesome, or else Paul suddenly thinks of a great idea for someone.