How to Start Your Holiday Shopping Early Without Breaking the Bank

While summer is still just behind us and all the Halloween candy hasn't even gone on sale yet, we all know that it's only a matter of time before we start hearing the call of Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey down the halls of every store.

That's right, "the most wonderful time of the year" is right around the corner, and that means so is holiday shopping. While there's a lot of joy to be found in gifting, there's also a lot of…stress.

From the stress of not being able to find the perfect gift to the stress of dealing with lengthy shipping times and crowded storefronts, all of this doesn't even touch upon the stress of the cost of it all. We can't all afford to gift the way the Kardashian-Jenner clan does, but that doesn't mean you can't still get your loved ones something special and avoid going way out of your budget in the process. A big part of this is knowing how to shop early, and we're here to help guide you through that. With that said, let's jump into how to start your holiday shopping early without breaking the bank.

1. Keep an Eye Out for Random Sales

All those stores you love that you've signed up for marketing emails for over the years? They might just be sending you information on sales—and some pretty major ones, too. It's worth checking once in a while to see if stores like Bath & Body Works have any of their items at a deep discount or if other retailers have an extra percentage off clearance, etc. That way, you can start to pick up items along the way leading up to the holidays.


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2. If You Live Near a Mall, See If You Can Ship Items There to Pick Up for Free

ton of stores that you can shop from online will let you skip paying for shipping if you get the items shipped to a brick-and-mortar store instead of to your home, with no minimum spend required. Of course, this one only works if there is actually a store near you, otherwise, you might be spending just as much getting to the store as you would just spending on shipping.


Also read about: Why Elfster is the App You NEED This Holiday Season


3. Use Elfster to Plan Gifts

One of the most stressful parts of planning a holiday gift—and knowing how much you'll be spending on it—is coming up with gift ideas that the person will actually like. Thankfully, an app called Elfster has gone and done all the hard work for you. If you and the people you're buying gifts for download the app, you can create and view each other's wish lists, where you can even include links to specific items, if possible. The best part? You can anonymously check off an item on someone else's list to show others that might potentially buy the same item that it's already been purchased, thus avoiding multiple people getting them the same thing (without the receiver ever knowing that it's been bought).


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4. Combine Homemade With Store Bought

If you're tight on both budget and time, you might need to get creative. Don't worry, it won't take too much effort. For this one, you'll want to take a sort of gift basket approach—a mix of small items that you've purchased with more sentimental or handmade things for an extra touch that doesn't come at a steep cost. Think printed photos in frames, their favorite flavor of coffee in a brand-new mug or a hand-drawn/painted picture along with plenty of their favorite candy. When it comes to gifting, it really is the thought that counts.


5. Make a List (& Check It Twice)

Channel your inner Santa Claus and create a list of all the people you know you need to buy gifts for, and make sure you haven't forgotten anyone that might get you a gift to avoid potential awkwardness later on. This can be as simple as adding a new note in your phone, where under each name you can put a list of potential gift ideas and possible costs. Santa had the right idea: a list keeps you organized and prevents overspending.


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Also read about: The Perfect Gifts for Marvel Fans


6. Consider Doing a Secret Santa With Friends to Avoid Having to Buy a Gift for Everyone

And finally, you can save some money by planning ahead and organizing a fun Secret Santa gift exchange with your close group of friends. Of course, the key here is that every person in the exchange has to know each other well enough to have an idea of what to get the person they're randomly assigned, but if it's done well, this tactic can be both enjoyable and budget-friendly. Plus, you can set a spending limit for each gift to help you all really stay on track.


So, what are you waiting for? While we're still in the thick of fall, it's never too early to start your holiday shopping to stop yourself from overspending. And if you need some more ideas for how to stay on track, click HERE for some budget-friendly gift ideas for your friends.