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As promised last week today I’m going to let you in on my Christmas shopping secrets.  Hopefully this will help you a little bit as we get ready for the holiday craziness that is December.  I can’t take credit for all these ideas, but I am happy to share them with you.  All you need is a few afternoons in front of your computer and the shopping will mostly be done.

Step 1: Go to amazon.com.  By now you should have a general idea of what you are going to get everyone on your list.  I had my older daughter start her own Amazon wish list back in September so I’d have some ideas.  As you peruse Amazon start adding things to your shopping cart.  It’s ok if you don’t end up buying them, just put them there-trust me.  I actually start putting things for Christmas in my cart in October and add to it as I get more ideas.  The beauty of having the things in your cart is that you will get an alert when something is at risk of selling out, or when the price changes.  This is a life-saver.

Step 2: Go online to your credit card company and find out how many points you have.  We typically think credit card points are for airfare, but if you’re like our family, you’d need 500 million points before you could fly anywhere worthwhile.  Did you know you can cash in your points for gift cards?  I didn’t either until a few years ago when my friend Kelly clued me in.  You get more bang for your buck with a high dollar amount card, so that’s why I had you put all that stuff in your Amazon cart.  Now you know how many points to cash in for an Amazon card!  Order your gift cards, but keep in mind they usually take a few weeks to get to you, another reason why you need to plan ahead.

Step 3: With gift cards in hand go back to Amazon and buy all the shit in your cart.  If you did it right your out of pocket cost up until this point should be $0.  Score!  (You know I love a deal.)  I can typically get about 75-90% of my shopping done on Amazon.  This is good for me for a number of reasons:

1) I hate crowds.  The mall area around the holidays is enough to give me a panic attack.  I avoid it at all costs.

2) We all know I love a good bargain when it comes to clothes.  There are far too  many good deals for clothes right now.  I know myself well enough to not put myself into a situation where I end up spending money on myself when I’m supposed to be buying for someone else.

3) This plan helps us stay within our Christmas budget.  Especially using the gift cards, we cut down a lot on overspending.

Step 4: Now that you’ve gotten the majority of your shopping done now it’s time to fill in the holes.  I like to use this opportunity to support the little guys.  I LOVE the website Global Girlfriend and have gotten some really nice things there in the past.  If you’re not sure what to get someone a donation to Heifer International always makes people feel good.  My girls love saying that they bought someone a chicken.  I also try to shop local for a little things, like stocking stuffers, too.

Now you’re wondering how I have the time to get this extra shopping done.  Here’s my last secret, which I’m sure plenty of you are aware of: take a day off.  Last year I took a personal day for Lovey’s holiday concert and then went shopping with the rest of the day.  Child care is already built in and there’s a lot less people in the stores during the week day.

As a bonus I’ll share with you my plan for gifts for some of the teachers, helpers, bus driver this holiday season.  I saw it on Facebook yesterday and have already ordered the stuff.  It seems so simple.  Just follow this link for the tutorial and free printable.

And last but not least, my holiday gift to you.  I saw this sweater on The Classy Cubicle and fell in love.  It’s not meant to be for me this time, but you ladies should jump on this deal, even if it’s as a gift for someone you love (who’s closet you can then raid).  Total price after discounts: $48.

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