Sometimes it feels like the holidays are all about emptying your wallet. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of ways to save money on gifts, entertainment, and dining out through the holidays.
I’ve gathered together some of my best tips – most having to do with shopping/gifts – that will help you save money this holiday season.
First of all, I encourage you to sign up for Columbus on the Cheap daily emails, RSS feed, and Facebook. You’ll get the most current deals and cheap events around Columbus without having to search for it.
Save money on gifts with Online Shopping
Shopping online is my preferred method…I don’t have time or energy to hit all of the stores searching for deals.
Shopping on Amazon
Before I purchase anything, I check to see if Amazon sells it for a lower price (they often do, but not always). At the very least, I don’t have to run out to a store, and I’m happy with that! Prime members will get 2 day shipping in most cases, so if you purchase from Amazon a lot, it’s worth it! (plus they have a generous and easy return policy if you change your mind)
You can sign up for a free one month trial of Amazon Prime to get FREE 2-day shipping. Sign up now and get free shipping through Christmas- just remember to cancel the trial (it’s easy to do in your account).
If you’re a college student with an .edu email address, you’re eligible for 6 free months of Amazon Prime via Amazon Student.
Disclosure: We are an Amazon affiliate and may receive compensation based on purchases.
Check out our Amazon gift guides here if you need ideas!
Shop through Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is a cash back site that will give you 1-30% cash back of your total purchase at online stores. All you need to do is shop at your preferred retailer via the link from the Rakuten website. As a bonus, they often have coupon codes you can use as well.
If you forgot to go through Rakuten before you loaded up your shopping cart, open a new tab, log on to Rakuten, and then choose your store. Your full shopping cart will still be available at the new link.
You can also install a Rakuten cash back button on your browser and will be notified if the store you are shopping on has cashback or coupons available – which means I’m less likely to forget!
Sign up through my links and get $40 credit towards your account after your first purchase of $40 through the sites (disclosure, I get rewarded too). I’ve received over $715 cash back in the past 10 years!
Handmade and unique gifts are my favorite to give and get. Etsy.com has millions of great gifts that can be narrowed down by categories/prices/and more.
Shipping is usually reasonable, but order sooner than later, as the shipping deadlines are earlier – especially for custom items.
If you’d rather shop in person rather than online, for the holidays, you can still save money.
The first tip is to avoid the mall – unless you are going there for something specific that is a great price. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying too much and giving gifts with little creativity.
Craft Fairs, Art Shows, and Community Markets are popping up all over the city. Check out the list of holiday and craft fairs around Columbus to find unique and meaningful gifts.
Check out our Columbus Gift Guide for the Holiday season! You’ll find lots of fun and local gifts for anyone on your list!
Buy Local and Unique! Some of my favorite stores for unique gifts include North Market, and Homage (clever screen-printed shirts), Celebrate Local (Easton), Candle Lab (3 locations), and Morgan House.
Let me know your favorites in the comments!
More links to shop local all over the city!
Chain Discount Stores offer a good selection and lower prices – but they aren’t quite as original.
I prefer Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Urban Outfitters for inexpensive gifts.
If you must go to the standard big box stores, make sure you sign up for email updates and/or like them on Facebook so you’ll know about special “deals of the day” and sales to help you round out your Christmas list.
Don’t be afraid to use a little creativity – homemade food items and handmade items can be some of the most useful and unique gifts to give – and the easiest way to save money on gifts.
Not everyone appreciates such things, but for those on your list who would, you can’t beat the savings and personal touch that these gifts bring.
There are tons of online tutorials for handmade and homemade gifts online.
Examples I’ve given or received include homemade candy, baking/cookie mixes, jellies, homemade vanilla extract, spicy peanut butter, wine, and jewelry.
One year I made a bunch of recycled magazine bowls made out of torn out magazine pages – I added some wrapped goodies to the bowls.
Search Pinterest for inspiration – it’s a virtual pin board for you to find and save ideas/recipes/favorite things, etc.
Another thought is to gift your “favorite things” or favorite treats.
I did a “fun food” gift bag for a yankee swap gift exchange last year that contained Hot and Spicy Peanut Butter from Krema PB Company (local!), Black “Coal” popcorn ball from Pam’s Popcorn, truffles from Trader Joes, local honey, Tea, Starbucks Via Packets, Hot Chocolate Packets, Gourmet Candy Bar, and a couple of other fun things.
It was the most “swapped” gift out of all of them.
You could do all sorts of themes for this – for a foodie or someone learning to cook (favorite kitchen tools, spices, etc), Friend Bag (favorite lipgloss, chapstick, nail polish, files, bath products), etc. Creativity is often what makes a gift great, not money spent.
Just be sure to watch your budget on these types of gifts. Buying parts here and there can add up if you aren’t careful.
Need some inspiration? Our gift guides are here to help!
We now have an Amazon storefront to gather all of our gift suggestions and favorite products. (As an Amazon affiliate, we may receive a small percentage from Amazon based off your purchase)
Holiday Gift Guides
- Holiday Gift Card Bonus Offers
- Buy Local: Columbus Gift Guide
- Kitchen Gift Guide
- White Elephant Gift ideas
- Stocking Stuffer ideas
- Gifts for mail carrier and delivery drivers
- Teacher Gift and Hostess Gift Ideas