Typically, I shop about 2-3 months ahead. We have a spreadsheet containing all of the known family birthdays, anniversaries, etc. written out for each month. When I shop sales, I have these events in mind. However, we all know that surprise retirements, babies, marriages, and more may be gift-giving occasions we don't even know about. That's why if I see something nice at a really great sale price, I usually pick up one or two, put it in our gift box, and hold on to it until a time arises to give the gift.
Christmas is quickly approaching also, and I have started to get some items that will be gifts at Christmastime. I also am hoping to do some handmade gifts this year, and have started crafting as well. Another way that sales can be great near the holidays is for various charitable giving. We stocked up on school supplies for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and bought clothes at Old Navy's extra 50% clearance sales to use for our local Salvation Army's Angel Tree.
A few tips that work for me when I buy gifts ahead:
- Remember to check your gift box before shopping to see if you have something appropriate before buying anything new.
- Regularly get out the items in your gift box and inventory them. I usually mentally assign items to various occasions.
- Try not to buy too many things ahead!
One of my favorite sources (in addition to the blogs on my list) for great shopping deals is the Pinching Your Pennies Screaming Deals Online Forum. I just got some amazing clothing and gift deals from Kohl's at 85-90% off from a thread in this forum.
Do you buy or make gifts ahead? What are some of your shopping and saving strategies?