Have we heard enough about hyper-commercial holiday gift giving and how most of us can't really afford what we'd like to buy for people? It certainly takes some of the fun out of the season. I was surprised that sales for Black Friday 2011 were up from last year and shaking my head about the commercialism of it all until I realized that folks were staying up all night to be frugal. That determination is admirable, unless you pepper spray someone to get an edge on the crowd. (Seriously, this happened!) Again, let's remind ourselves that being frugal does not equal cheap or miserly or a sign of neediness. Frugality is a way to stay solvent, in control, and sane during these unpredictable financial times.
Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas are all celebrated around winter solstice, so we can use many ideas for each feast interchangeably. So, let's tackle the holiday gift challenge wisely. The week of November 28, 2011 (and likely beyond that) is "cyber shopping week," which means that Black Friday gets an extension, at least on line. (A person's financial situation can mean that s/he has no personal computer or internet access. Family and friends: please offer yours. If not, most libraries have public-use computers that "forget" your personal information after you log off. A person can use their ATM card number instead of a credit card.)
I've found several sites to share with ideas ranging from coupons, to what to get a guy, to make-it-yourself ideas, and beyond. Some online shopping sites are offering free shipping this week - like http://www.overstock.com
Check out this site for more stores participating in free shipping. It's an article from Time Magazine - just close the ad and the article will be available. http://moneyland.time.com/2011/10/26/attention-online-shoppers-no-reason-to-pay-for-shipping-this-holiday-season/ (Whoops about the inability to link from the sites in bold. Copy the site to the web or copy, right click and choose "open link.")
offers free shipping all year if you order at least $25 worth from the Amazon stock. It's a good deal even though Amazon's stock items are more expensive. (I'm not shilling for Amazon! Their shipping deal is good - and a bit complicated.) Instead of me trying to paraphrase Amazon's policy, I've copied this from their site:
To take advantage of FREE Super Saver Shipping:
1. Place at least $25 of eligible Amazon.com products in your Shopping Cart. (Eligible items will display "eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping ..." next to their price.)
2. Proceed to checkout.
3. Ship your items to a single U.S. address.
4. Select "Group my items into as few shipments as possible" as your shipping preference.
5. Select Super Saver Shipping as your shipping speed. Your order will be delivered within 5-8 business days.
6. (I did paraphrase this exception: if you order items not eligible for free shipping, you will be charged shipping for those items.)
Be sure to order early enough for delivery!
Back to frugal gift ideas: check e-Bay for possible gifts and be sure to note the customer satisfaction level for that seller. I don't usually order used items, but have when the item came with enough guarantees. I also searched for frugal Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas gift ideas 2011 in general, for kids, for men, make-it-yourself, for women, coupons, etc . Enjoy the search and enjoy your holiday giving! There are ads on most of these sites, so ignore them if you wish.
http://www.toygaroo.com/guest/xmas_welcome Here's a great site for parents of young children. Rent the toys for a month or two - if you like the toy, you can buy it at lower costs. I wish I had this when my kids were little!
http://shareable.net/blog/how-i-avoided-holiday-shopping-through-a-donation-exchange This is a good idea for only some of my family.
www.repurposexmas.org Intriguing ideas.
www.frugalliving.about.com/od/christmas/Christmas.htm Save the budgeting ideas for next year and scroll down for good ideas.
Scroll down past the ads to the ideas.
I wouldn't have thought of some of theses gifts. Thanks, guys!
Fair Trade goods are, well, fair to producers in developing countries. This movement provides better trading conditions and promotes sustainability as well as fair compensation as directly as possible to the producers. Many products are great frugal gifts. Here are just three of the many web sites dedicated to fair trade.
MORE HOLIDAY SITES:
http://www.thisfrugallife.com/2011/11/amazon-free-lights-vol-2-hanukkah-sampler.html This may not be a free download for long.
http://www.theholidayspot.com/kwanzaa/kwanzaa_music.html This is a free download.
http://www.amazon.com Kwanzaa books and gifts for kids.
Happy Holidays and Holy Days to you all!