Last minute, savvy spending for Christmas

By Melanie Goldberg

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Every year, I blow all my babysitting cash buying gifts for the holidays. Christmas is my ultimate kryptonite; the anticipation and surprise that await Christmas morning are enough to make me break any pre-New Years resolutions about spending wisely.

Still haven't completed your Christmas shopping? Use these tricks when hitting the mall today. Photo courtesy

But this year, I promised myself that I’d be thriftier with my gifting… it was a feat easier said than done. In the last 24 hours before Santa makes his way across the world, here are some tips and tricks that’ll guarantee appreciative gift recipients tomorrow morning.

To money-concious, last-minute shoppers: check stores’ websites before you hit the mall.  Forever 21, for one, has “Yellow Tag Deals” where each week of December, two items are marked down in stores and online. The first week, hats were $3 and scarves were $4. The next week, sweaters were discounted at $10. I timed my mall visits with the sales so I could stock up on winter accessories for friends and family.

The Dollar Tree carries small holiday presents and stocking stuffers, usually for under a buck. From gag gifts like festive ties, to practical presents like household items, to fun goodies like dinosaur Sillybands, the Dollar Tree is a holiday essential.

Budget-shopping for guys is never easy, but simple convenience stories like Rite Aid and CVS have holiday sales for even the most difficult gents. The essential, tried-and-true guy gift is socks — they’re not only practical, they’re also inexpensive and have creative designs. Another practical, no-fail gift is funky boxers. Both drug stores stock holiday themed boxers with elves, Santas, snowflakes and candy canes for under $5.

Although slightly pricier, Borders is a great store to find last-minute gifts for parents. Whether your dad is interested in golf, barbeque or Nascar, Borders carries books that cater towards a broad range of hobbies.  Check out the cookbook section for mom (your family will enjoy sampling the tasty recipes too), or the stationary shelf, which is often discounted around the holidays.

At most stores, the best bargains are located right by the cash register.  Stores place small discount items to encourage restless shoppers waiting in line to purchase “impulse buys.”  At Rite Aid, bins near the cash register boast 99 cent candy canes boxes.  The shelf below the cash register at Borders has fun items including a desktop putting green, complete with tiny, two inch putters for $10, perfect for dad. Bath and Body Works has racks alongside the line with deals like 3-for-$5 mini, scented hand-sanitizers, perfect for any mom on the go.

In these hard economic times, it’s important to spend wisely.  Santa Claus himself would agree that you don’t have to sacrifice your holiday spirit to save money.

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