Saturday, October 2, 2010

Holiday Savings Tips-#3

Hello Savers!

Sorry this post is a bit late this week! I started a short term sub job and it takes priority over saving money...ha, ha!

This week and over the next few weeks I am going to be sharing tips around gift baskets and starting to discuss tips that my savers are specifically using in their holiday shopping this year. The next few blog entries will have a very personal feel to them which I hope through the examples we share will inspire you to save, save, save this holiday season!

This week I want to focus on my 5 tips to putting together a fabulous gift basket! These tips will direct you to what is needed to put together a spectacular basket that your gift recipient will think you spent a bundle on, it will look that way, but you know better!

Tip #1-You have to have a theme. It can be a broad theme such as cooking, reading, sports or it can be very specific such as Movie Night, Italian Cooking or Mom & Me Spa Day. You can be as general or specific as you want, but if you don't have the theme then you won't be able to put your mind around what you need in that basket. I would suggest selecting a theme based around what your recipient likes and what you are finding or think you can find to fit into your budget for this gift. Certain gift baskets lend themselves to more frugal filling, so don't select say a U of O themed basket if you only have $10 to won't find much in that category at that price point, but you could do an awesome Movie Night basket for just $10...yes you can!

Tip #2-Make sure you have a specific budget figured out for what you are able to spend for the basket. This is important because you will be buying items for it and you need to know how much you can spend (not what you want to spend). You will need to keep track of what you buy for this basket as this isn't a one shop and you are done kind of thing (typically). I will work on baskets for a year (okay, most of you that isn't possible, but you can still do it in a shorter period of time!). Keep track on a paper or your phone or on some kind of tracking tool what you are spending on items for the basket so you don't exceed your budget.

Tip #3-Fill, Fill, Fill! You have your theme, know it is time to find all the great things to fill up that basket! I always suggest picking the theme and one "anchor" item that will be the main focus of your basket. This will be the highlight or typically the largest single item you will put a majority of your budget towards. It might be a toy, a cookbook, a piece of clothing, etc. Then you spend the rest of your budget finding great "filler" items! If you want to do a good gift basket, you need to have at least 5 things in it. If you don't, it won't look like a full basket of fun items, so keep this in mind. Obviously, get as much as you can for your budget and you will have a great basket! When getting filler items (and these ideas will appear more in the next weeks posts), you need to find items that fit the "theme" of your basket. Say you are doing Italian might have picked up an Italian Cookbook at Borders (40% off 1 item coupon) and then are going to fill the basket with pasta, sauces, etc. These items can be picked up on the cheap, but coupled with your filler items give a rich look to your basket. We will be doing real themed gift basket ideas over the next few weeks in more detail too. However, whatever you decide...fill, fill, fill!

Tip #4- How do you fill and gather all these items. It does take more work than a traditional stand alone gift, but the rewards and the look can be fabulous and I guarantee your recipient will LOVE IT! This will take at least a committment on your part, but let's assume you want to do it. You will want to scour sales/clearance racks and promos at stores to fill those baskets. There are tons of opportunities for FREE or greatly reduced items during the holiday season and you can obtain great filler products if you pay attention to sales at stores you frequent. You can also watch my blog/Facebook for special alerts on great deals. Because many deals are awesome and more people are saving, you need to respond quickly to these offers, they are usually limited time and don't last, so delay and you will be sorry!

Tip #5-You've gathered and filled and you are ready for presentation...this is the fun part! You will need to find a box, basket, etc. to place all your items in. I encourage you to keep this to $5 or less (if possible), unless your container will be part of the gift basket. Italian Cooking-stock pot or something like gift pack, a popcorn bowl, you get the idea. If it is part of the kit you can go a bit higher. If it is just something to contain the item you might want to look cheaper. I see that Target often has containers for around $1-2 in their red dot spot section of the store, I often pick these up for my gift baskets. I also did just get some cool "drink bins" at Fred Meyer in the seasonal clearance section, but they can be re-purposed for what I am doing with gift baskets.

Gift baskets are fun and an easy way to make your $ spread further. I encourage you to give it a shot this year and see the faces light up on the people that you give your baskets too!

Happy Saving!

Summer H.

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