The following guest post was contributed by Christine Howell who frequently writes about Online Degree Programs and college related topics for Online College Guru, an online college directory and comparison website.
With the holidays quickly approaching, parents are starting to feel the pressure rise. The kids still expect to see a variety of gifts under that tree. However, with the recent economic upset, more parents than ever are experiencing serious stress in their family budgets. The good news is that you can have a nice holiday season without breaking the bank by learning the tricks that enable you to shop economically for Christmas toys. By making a plan and sticking with it, you may find that it isn’t as hard as you thought.
Keep It Simple
Kids can only soak in so much fun before it gets overwhelming and you are wasting your money. Three gifts per child is a very doable number and is plenty enough to keep most kids happy. Many parents categorize these gifts into something that their child can wear, something that is educational and one toy that is just pure fun. Don’t waste your Christmas budget on cheap fillers or things like socks. If they need socks, buy them, but confine the Christmas gifts to just a few high impact items. This is actually usually harder for the parents. While the kids are fairly adaptable and barely notice these types of changes, the parents feel social pressures to do more. Breathe deep! This will be great for both you and your kids.
When you get the scope of holiday shopping under control, you can start to plan your strategy. One of the most economical ways to shop for Christmas toys is to start early. Set aside a certain amount of your budget each month and have it available when you happen to see a great price. For example, office stores have their major sales at back to school time in September, so if you’re child is really wanting a camera or MP3 player, check then. Don’t forget to browse through all the after Thanksgiving sales as well. Even if you don’t like to brave the crowds, you can get many of the same prices by shopping online instead.
You Don’t Have to Give to Everyone
While it can be fairly simple to shape your own child’s attitudes and the traditions that your family celebrates, the expectations of extended family and friends can really thwart those efforts and affect your budget. Don’t be afraid to take people off your list that you don’t feel a personal connection to. For families that you really want to recognize as special in your life, consider giving one gift that the whole family can enjoy. This could be something like an unusual board game. Food is also a big hit. Make a cookie basket or some homemade bread and jam. Finally, don’t be afraid to open a dialogue with your family. In all likelihood, you are not the only one shopping on a budget this year and your more frugal suggestions will likely be appreciated.
Focus on Quality
Any parent who has ever shopped for Christmas gifts for children knows the annoyance caused by a gift that breaks a few days after being opened. In simple terms, buying poor quality gifts is a waste of your money. Resist the urge wrap a bunch of cheap toys just for the impact. Buying a few quality toys that will last for years is much more economical.
Take Advantage of the After Season Sales
If you haven’t had the chance to do a lot of these things this year, don’t despair. You can get a great head start by shopping the after Christmas sales. Many of holiday decorations and toy sets are deeply discounted, often as much as fifty percent or more in the week after Christmas. Stock up and get a head start of next year.