These are a Few of My Favorite {shopping hack} Things!

Y'all, let's talk about holiday shopping. Cause at this point, unless you have Amazon Prime OR want to go to the mall OR spend a bazillion dollars on shipping, this is the week to get in gear. So, I'm going to share how I navigate Christmas shopping.

First, I always start early. We are out of "early" zone, but that's ok! Start now, and you'll be in good shape! Before I even THINK about shopping I make a detailed list. I make a list of everyone I intend to shop for and assign a dollar amount total it up then PLAN to stay in that budget. I also add in Christmas cards and a small buffer amount to the budget. This "extra" will come in handy as different occasions arise when you want to share a small gift with someone or participate in a gift exchange.

Second, this is where we start to think about SAVING money... I try to remember to use ebates. The times that I remember to use it when Holiday shopping, I always end up with $15-50 cash back! Here is the key, though, once you KNOW what you want to purchase for people... go to ebates and check which retailers have the best cashback offers before you make your purchase. For example, you might be tempted to purchase a LEGO set from Amazon BUT legos.com typically has 2-5% cash back OR Barnes&Noble might have up to 10% cash back (that's the deal TODAY + free shipping!).

Ebates also has a plug in, similar to pinterest, that you can install in your preferred browser so you are ALWAYS getting the cash back without even having to search through ebates! If you plan on doing any online shopping at ALL for Christmas (or ever again really), I would suggest creating an account! Plus they typically have a $10 bonus for signing up at all!

Next, I think about what brands I like and try to get beyond generic gifts. For example, my sister HATES to shop for clothes. The small handful of times she does go shopping for herself, she ends up purchasing replicas of things she already owns. So, this year I'm giving her a stitchfix gift card. This is a GREAT gift for busy moms. The clothes come to your DOOR and you don't even have to pick them out. You just try them on and decide to keep them or not! Another great idea, in that vain, is Trunk Club. Trunk Club is also a clothes delivery service, but it's more aimed at helping curate a capsule wardrobe and is an arm of Nordstrom which comes with quality and well known brands.

Now, shopping for kids: for my son I stick to "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read." This means I purchase four gifts (plus some stocking stuffers) and one of them is the "big" gift. For example, this year his big gift is his want and it's a LEGO table! He is also getting a book from a series we are reading, some red converse, and a bed frame.

And, if you are in a rut thinking about buying for friends and family, I'm a big fan of Wayfair and overstock.com for some creative ideas. I also love to keep a small section of my hall closet dedicated to easy little gifts. Notepads and flashcards and stickers and candles. These make easy gifts for babysitters or teachers or neighbors!

Last, and certainly not least, I LOVE trying to shop as local as possible for friends. I realize I just referenced a bunch of online shopping tips, BUT if you can get out of the house to shop (I realize jobs and kids can prevent this) find a local market to shop at!! My side job of baking, has me active in a local maker's market and IT'S GREAT! I guarantee if you live in an city there is SOME opportunity to buy from local makers! Some of my favorite Baton Rouge makers include Mimosa Handcrafted and Pottery by Osa as well as just about everyone featured at the MidCity Maker's Market. These markets are also GREAT places to stock up on little gifts for your gift closet!

For those of you who haven't taken the plunge into holiday shopping or are just looking for a little inspiration to wrap up your gifting list (no pun intended), I hope this helped!! What's your best tip for preparing for the madness that CAN be Christmas shopping?