The Big Couponbox Christmas Special

2017 Holiday Guide: Christmas Deals, Hosting Tips and More

If the thought of shopping for the holidays or hosting your entire family has you breaking out in a sweat, fear not. We’ve gathered some of the best tips from holiday hosting veterans and shopping pros to help you stress less, spend less and enjoy more during this hectic holiday season. Not only did we reach out to shopping gurus for game-changing savings advice, but we polled 500 holiday hosts to learn how they save and how much they spend. Read up and get ready to enjoy every moment of the 2017 holiday season, Christmas deals, friends and family, and all!

What do you want to read about? Find our top Christmas deals hacks here, or get your hosting know-how here.

 

20 Pro Tips for Cheap Online Shopping This Holiday Season

Who knows better how to shop on a budget than money saving bloggers and couponists/couponistas? This is why we gathered them all and share their most valuable tips on how to get through Christmas without draining your wallet!

1. Don't Be Afraid to Shop Online

“Shopping online is a beautiful, wonderful thing for multiple reasons. For one, it allows you to avoid the chaos and hassle of trudging through crowds of people at a mall, and secondly, you can do it from the comfort of your very own cozy bed. Pro tip: Download the totally rad new mobile shopping app called Operator, which merges the convenience of online shopping with the personalized service of shopping in a store. You can browse tons of collections curated just for you by experts and even message those experts to get personalized recommendations! It's like having your own personal shopper."

Brittney Gibson, Lifestyle blogger at Sweetyhigh.com

2. Make a List

“Santa has a list, you need one too. Making a Christmas list of everyone you need to shop for does several productive things for you. It helps you organize your thoughts first. Once you know everyone you need to buy for, you can plan. Do you need to make handmade gifts ahead of time like those adorable “baby’s first year” ornaments for grandma and papa? Or do you need to buy supplies for seven teachers’ mugs? A second list I would suggest is for the extra holiday meals. Do you have guests coming in? How many extra meals will that be? Are you attending work, school or BFF parties where you need to bring food? Write all that down so you can stock up instead of running to the store at the last minute for each party. That will save time, money and late nights.”

Holly, Blogger at www.MrsSavvySaver.com

3. Don’t Pay for Shipping

“December 15th is Free Shipping Day. Shop participating merchants and avoid all shipping fees, plus you’re guaranteed the package will be delivered by Christmas Eve. The list of participating stores is long.”

Krazy Coupon Lady

4. Buy Gifts Throughout The Year

“I keep my holiday spending down by shopping for/picking up gifts throughout the year when I find them on sale. I frequently shop thrift stores, clearance sections and even the grocery store. Grocery stores will often have enticing sales on books, coloring books, toys, and household goods that rival the prices you would find online or at department stores. Dollar stores are also great for making gift baskets with household items. Discount retailers like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Big Lots, Ocean State Job Lot and Tuesday Morning are full of great products at every day low prices, but I also take advantage of their sale days and coupons.”

Jennie Vila, Therapist, Life Coach and Couponista, Owner, Growth Mindset, LLC

5. Set a Budget and Take Out Cash

“Sure, you would happily spend a million dollars on gifts if only you could afford it. But if you aren't a multi-millionaire, it may be crucial to set a strict and fool-proof holiday budget. Carefully prepare for any expenses by making a list and checking it twice. Write down whom you’ll be buying gifts for with an estimated cost for each person and make sure to include any costs you will incur from hosting parties or attending events as well. Once you have a final number calculated into your budget, take out that exact amount of cash and spend it accordingly. Make a commitment to yourself to not pull out any more cash once it's gone, no matter how much you might want to.”

Byron Ellis, United Capital Financial Life Management

6. Don’t Fall for “The Sell”

“The ‘sell’ can consist of the mood in the store, the music playing in the background, or the friendliness of the employees. All of these “tactics,” when done right, have the ability to make us feel comfortable buying things we wouldn’t normally buy. Don’t fall prey for “the sell” and make sure to stick to your shopping list. Use the ads beforehand to decide what you will and won’t buy.”

Laurie, finance expert for Frugal Rules

7. Do Your Research

“Research prices on products you want to buy in advance. Some retailers will inflate original prices to make holiday sales like Black Friday deals look like a better value. Researching prices of products you plan to purchase ahead of the holiday season will help you assess real deals from the duds.
Read return policies. Whether shopping in store or online, be sure to review return policies so you know what you're in for if the product doesn't work out—or what your gift recipient will have to do to make a return or exchange. Is there an extended return window? Will you be charged restocking fees? Do you need to keep the original shipping box and packaging? Knowing these details ahead of time is key to saving money and your sanity.”

Andrea Woroch, Consumer-Finance Expert Media Strategy Consultant

8. Decorate for Free

“It’s really easy to make holiday decorations for free. Collect large branches that have fallen off any trees near your home (don’t cut any directly off the trees unless they’re in your own garden). You can display these in a large vase or even a bucket wrapped in seasonal paper. Decorate the branches by adding a string of lights, or make some cheap fruit decorations: cut very thin slices of a few fruits (apples, oranges, and pears are great) and dry them out for a few hours at a very low temperature in the oven. Pierce a hole at the top of each slice, and tie a loop of ribbon through it. And there you have it: natural, inexpensive, and festive!”

NatalieAndrews, MYCS Customizable Furniture

9. Shop Exact Hours

“Some stores offer special door-buster deals for the first 5-10 customers, even online deals. To make the most of those early-bird deals, arrive before the respective sale time. Some stores even offer last-minute special deals at the end of the sale. Schedule your shopping so that you can reach the right place at the right moment.”

Andrei Vasilescu, DontPayFull

10. Buy Discounted Gift Cards

“Buy discounted gift cards for the retailers you intend to shop with. You can save yourself between 2-30 percent on average by doing this. Explore browser extensions to save even more. By installing a browser extension or two (I like Gift Card Granny, Swagbutton by Swagbucks, Gumdrop by Goodshop and Coupon Cabin), you'll be alerted to available savings opportunities as you shop online. You don't even have to think about it!”

Trae Bodge, Smart Shopping Expert at TraeBodge.com

11. Use Layaway

“It is a concept from the past but many stores are bringing it back, especially for toys and household items. The store will keep the item and allow you to make small payments toward the purchase price until you have it paid off. “

Justin Lavelle, Chief Communications Officer for BeenVerified

12. Bake Someone Happy

“I love to bake cookies at Christmas time. Eat cookies. Give cookies as gifts. And eat some more cookies! And believe it or not, if you package them properly, you can bake them a month in advance and store them in the freezer. Using your freezer also allows you to present a variety of cookies without spending a lot of time in one day.”

Jessica Fisher, Blogger, Lifeasmom.com

13. Buy after Christmas for Next Year’s Staples

“There are some things that I always buy post-Christmas in the sales, because they’re things that I know I will need next Christmas, and they keep well. From this year on, wrapping paper, Christmas crackers, napkins, etc. should never be on your shopping list leading up to a frugal Christmas. They should be in storage in your attic, purchased for 75 percent off the year before.”

Carly, mom blogger at MommyonPurpose.com

14. Do a Kid’s-Only Gift Exchange

“This year my family decided to just exchange Christmas gifts between all the grandkids. Money is tight for several of us, a number of we adults felt like we don’t really need anything anyway, and most of us have a lot going on right now, so it was a way to reduce stress too. I don’t know that I’d want to limit gift giving to the kids every year, but I’m very okay with scaling things back a bit sometimes!”

Lydia, Thrifty Frugal Mom

15. Forget the Wrapping Paper

“Does Santa have to wrap all the presents? In fact, I never knew he was supposed to wrap presents. I grew up running into our family room wide-eyed at the open gifts. It was exciting and immediate.”

Carson Kohler, Junior Writer for The Penny Hoarder

16. Save With Credit Card Benefits

“Many major credit cards offer some form of purchase protection, which can refund the price of an item if it’s accidentally broken or stolen within, say, 90 days of purchase. Terms vary by card issuer, and store-brand charge cards typically do not offer this. Another great benefit offered by some credit cards is price-matching. Some issuers require you to find a lower price within a certain time and send the ad to them. Citibank offers one of the best deals in this category with "price rewind" on Citi credit cards. With Citi's price rewind, when you buy something with a Citi credit card, you can register the purchase with them. For the next 60 days Citi will look for a lower price, and if they find one, you can get up to $500 back. Through September this year, Citi paid out $5.4 million.”

David Slade, Contributing Writer with Post and Courier

17. Research Ratings for Products

“I vet and curate deals; I don’t post just any deal that I come across. I first verify that it’s indeed the lowest price out there, and I research the vendor to make sure it’s reputable and the store isn’t shady. There are many ways to do this. I use Better Business Bureau, a site called Reseller Ratings and another site for Amazon products called Fakespot. Fakespot helps if, for example, you see a product on Amazon that has 3,000 perfect reviews, and you’re skeptical of that. You drop the Amazon link into the site and it will tell you if the reviews for it are real or fake.”

Louis Ramirez, Deals Editor, Purch.com

18. Purchase Knock-Off Brands

“Trends come and go, making it important to avoid investing in the top brands when items may be out of season in just a few months. Save up to 50 percent of the cost by purchasing a knock-off brand that’s available at a lower price, but still offers the same style and design.”

Dana Torres, Head Blogger at Allthefrugalladies.com

19. Outwit Dynamic Pricing

“Dynamic pricing is a sneaky strategy online merchants use to show different prices to different customers according to your location, your browsing and spending patterns and current demand of the product. Have you ever found dirt-cheap airfare that went 30 percent higher when you checked on the next day? That’s dynamic pricing in action. As this technique has gotten incredibly sophisticated, most retailers are perfectly aware of your price point and may show you a higher price compared to someone else who pays less in online purchases. To get a less biased price you should:

  • Clear your browsing history and cookies, in particular
  • Log out of your accounts (email, G+, Facebook, etc.)
  • Switch to the incognito mode
  • Choose localized website versions instead of being redirected to U.S.”

Maureen Campaiola, Author, Founder of Adebtfreestressfreelife.com

20. Keep This Rule in Mind

“Vow this year to make your holiday season about something more than stuff. Foster an “Attitude of Gratitude” in your kids. Help them create & deliver simple handmade gifts or goodies to friends and family, focusing on the giving rather than receiving. When it comes to gifting, try following the ‘something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read’ rule.”

Ruth, Living Well Spending Less

 

Holidays 2017: The Survival Guide for Hosting on a Budget

There are so many details to consider as a holiday host, from making sure everyone has a place to sleep to keeping the kitchen stocked for a wide range of dietary preferences. As such, respondents polled said they spend the most on food and drink.

With 65 percent of respondents hosting 15 or less guests, and 25 percent hosting 15 to 30, the costs add up fast. While you may need to purchase necessities, including food, new decorations, and the like, you don’t have to spend a lot doing it.

Our respondents shared the many ways they save money as holiday host, and how you can too.

Prep fewer meals: 67 percent of respondents said they prep just 1 to 2 meals per day, which is a great way to save. Instead of buying food for every meal, purchase what’s needed for breakfast and dinner and request that guests take care of their own lunch and snacks each day. Don’t forget to divvy up drink duty as well, especially alcohol, which can be costly.

Buy pre-made: Buying pre-made foods means you spend less time in the kitchen and more time with the people you’re hosting. It may also help you save in the long run. Instead of buying a laundry list of ingredients for a single dish, you get what you need for one price, and can then focus on other important details, like cleaning the house or planning airport pickups.

What’s the best item to buy pre-made? 52 percent of respondents said they purchase dessert ahead of time, with 25 percent also buying the big entree, like turkey and ham, pre-made. This saves you from spending money on necessary bakeware, if you don’t already have it, along with special roasting pans and other kitchen gadgets.

Borrow from friends: There’s no harm in borrowing essentials that you won’t need once your guests are gone, making this is a great way to save during the 2017 holiday season. The top item to borrow? Table and chairs—which is necessary if you’re among the 25 percent of people who host up to 30 people. Other necessities are just as easy to borrow, including air mattresses, dishware and more.

If you don’t want to borrow, or don’t have many friends and family close by, there are still ways to spend less and be a great host. Respondents weighed in on a variety of savings opportunities, and we found that their top tactic is to re-use decorations from last year, with early prep coming in at a close second.

Be the Holiday 2017 Host with the Most without spending enough money to make your head spin. Instead, use these savings tips to stock up on the essentials and give your guests a great stay. They’ll appreciate all you’ve done and you’ll feel good knowing you stayed within your budget without sacrificing a single detail.