It is very apparent from your comments on the last two posts that many of you are great at saving during the holidays! We're all very impressed!
There are several things that I do to save money on Christmas.
First, I start early. I don't shop all year long, because I just can't think THAT far in advance. But I usually start around July, making a list of things that my family has mentioned, and then I have six months to wait for those items to go on sale, get a coupon, or find something better. And then all my gifts are done (and sometimes wrapped) before December even arrives. No stress for me.
Second, because I'm a spreadsheet fanatic, I write my list of "Gifts To Give" in an Excel spreadsheet with an "estimated cost" and "actual cost" column. I write down how much I think each item will cost, and then as I buy it I write in how much it actually cost (pennies and everything). This gives me a good idea of how much my total spending for Christmas will be before I even buy anything, and lets me know if I have to cut back on something if the total comes over my set budget. Also, if an item comes in over my estimated cost, I can go through my list of other gifts to cut out anything unnecessary or scour for coupons on bigger ticket gifts so that I stay under budget on my total cost.
Third, I repeat gifts every year. Janssen talked about this yesterday and I think it's a great way to save money. Each year for Christmas I give Philip a photobook of the previous years photos. Because I know that I'm giving it to him each year, I spend all year working on it, waiting for sales, and looking for which photobook site has the best deal. I usually do mine through Shutterfly. I have also signed up for their email list so I get notifications of their sales and always order mine when they're 30% off, have free shipping, or some other good deal.
Today we're giving away Dave Ramsey's DVD: Dumping Debt . Whether you're struggling with credit card debt, trying to pay off your car or house, dealing with student loans, or have no debt and are trying to stay away from it, this DVD is for you. Leave a comment telling us about your favorite gift you've ever given, and we'll announce the winner on Monday, October 11.