How to Save Money and Stress Less When Shopping for Gifts

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It feels great to give gifts, though we could all do without the financial stress that comes with it. But finding great gifts does not have to be a source of anxiety if you take some time to plan and think through your gifting strategies. Here are some smart strategies for saving money on great gifts!

1. Do your research. If you have a particular gift in mind that you want to get someone, make sure you do your research and cross-reference all the stores online to make sure you are getting the best deal. Don't hesitate to use a coupon code or take advantage of sales. Getting a gift on sale does not mean you are cheap, it means you are smart!

2. Think ahead. My sister has this brilliant strategy that I am trying to adopt. She knows who she needs to give gifts to in the coming year and she keeps her eye out for special things to gift each person when she is out and about. She is able to find wonderful and meaningful things in boutique shops and thrift stores alike. These items are tasteful and personal, like a unique ring or a funny book, but don't need to cost her too much. In lieu of money, she is giving her time and mindfulness in finding the gift, which is what gift giving should be about. The recipient of the gift can truly feel the love and care that comes from such a habit.

3. Buy in bulk. When you come across a great gift idea that you know you will probably use again and again, buy some of those items in bulk! For example, if you like the idea of giving personalized his and hers coffee mugs for a housewarming gift like the one here, buy white coffee mugs in bulk so that you can use them when you need to without spending the extra cash each time. They can also be used as gifts for your kids' teachers, filled with homemade biscotti or mini muffins. Ideas like homemade lip gloss or refreshing face mists are also great things to buy in bulk for and would make fun birthday presents. And while I'm suggesting great DIY ideas...

4. Spend time, not money. Don't be shy about making your gifts! There are so many great tutorials out there for making beautiful handmade gifts; take advantage of them and try your hand at a few. As a recipient of DIY gifts, I can attest that these types of gifts are just as appreciated as store bought gifts, if not more, because they are unique, thoughtful and personal.

5. Give in groups. I am finding more and more that if you have a group of mutual friends with the giftee, it is a great idea to get one gift all together. This usually allows for a bigger gift that the person may not have received from individuals, and it can cut down on the cost for the gift givers. For birthdays, my friends and I have started to all chip in for a gift card to a place where we know the birthday girl shops. It alleviates stress, is very cost efficient, and allows the friend to buy herself that blouse or dress that she has been eyeing. This also seems to be a good idea for baby showers and weddings, where there are often big ticket items on the registries. For an easy way to figure out the money, look to an app like Venmo, where you can easily make and share payments.

6. Re-gift. I am firmly on "pro" side of the regifting debate. If you have received an item that you know you will never use but could potentially be a great gift for someone else, pass it along! I don't think re-gifting is appropriate for personal items or gifts where the giver expressed to you their personal intention for you to have the gift, but anything else is fair game.

7. Don't underestimate the value of a card. A thoughtful card goes a long way. Especially in this age of texts and emails, a personal card with a handwritten and heartfelt message is a nice surprise and can be sufficient in sending your birthday love. If you need some help in this department, look to apps like Postagram which allow you to turn your personal photos into post cards that will be delivered by mail.

8. Go virtual. Giving gifts online can be both a time and money saver. There are apps like Gyft, which allows you to manage and send gift cards to your friends. If this doesn't feel personal enough to you, giving the gift of an experience can be a great gift for close friends or for people that are hard to shop for. Giftly is a handy app that can help you with that, and they offer a huge variety of ideas that range from low to high costs. Also look to places like Groupon or Living Social, where you can find some great deals for experiences to gift. Another simple virtual gift that goes a long way is sending an iTunes album. These cost between $8 and $15 and can be great gifts if you know the person will enjoy the album you want to share.

Do you have any things you do in particular to save money on gifts?

Love this gorgeous Indigo Spots wrapping paper? Find it at Sycamore Street Press.

(Image credits: Sycamore Street Press)

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Christine lives in Richmond, VA with her husband, daughter and Norwegian Elkhound. She is a purveyor of daily delights and champions the joy of doing more with less, the art of living beautifully, and sharing good stories.