We're reader-supported and only partner with brands we trust. When you buy through links on our site we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn More. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date and time indicated and are subject to change.
Ready for all the best ways to save time + money during the holiday season?
Here ya go!
1. Don’t pay for shipping–shop online on December 15th.
December 15th is Free Shipping Day. Shop participating merchants and avoid all shipping fees, plus you’re guaranteed the package will be delivered by Christmas Eve. The list of participating stores is long. Here are a few of our favorites:
2. Sign up for your free trial of Amazon Prime ASAP.
Why? To maximize Amazon Prime’s free shipping perks during the holiday season, of course.
If you sign up on Nov. 19th, the first day of the Thanksgiving Thirty, you’ll have access to free shipping during the Black Friday Five all the way through peak shopping week in December.
3. Use Pinterest to watch for price drops.
It’s true. Pinterest will tell you when a Buyable Pin that you’ve saved drops in price.
Note that it has to be a Buyable Pin, not just any Pin. But when the price drops, Pinterest will send you an email, and you can make the purchase right inside your Pinterest app. Start pinning your Christmas list now!
4. Shop toys at Costco.
During the holidays, I definitely shop Costco toys. Let’s do an American Girl case study and compare Costco prices with Amazon prices. Here are some examples from 2016:
American Girl Samantha Parkington 18-inch doll set:
- Costco: $119.99
- Amazon: $149.99
American Girl Horse & Saddle 7-piece set:
- Costco: $49.99
- Amazon: $85.87
American Girl Bitty Baby 12-piece set:
- Costco: $99.99
- Amazon: $197.97 (Amazon doesn’t even sell this particular set. You’d have to buy the baby and the accessories separately.)
5. December 10th through 18th are the best days to shop.
- Dec. 10: Fitness Gear and Sporting Goods
- Dec. 11-13: High Definition TVs
- Dec. 14: Toys, Gaming Systems
- Dec. 15: Stocking Stuffers
- Dec. 16: Clothes, Tools and Hardware
- Dec. 18: Small kitchen appliances
See the full list on our Hack the Holidays page.
6. Wait to shop until the Thanksgiving Thirty for the hottest deals.
Aim to have all your shopping done by Dec. 20th.
Retailers know they have you in a bind this close to Christmas, and prices won’t drop.
Instead, shop during the Thanksgiving Thirty, November 19-December 20th to get the most out of your holiday shopping dollar.
7. Download each store’s app for coupons you can’t get anywhere else.
- Macy’s app: Get 25% off your first in-app purchase.
- Kohl’s app: New users get a free 50 Yes to You points when they download the Kohl’s app.
- Target app: Get access to all Cartwheel offers through the Target app..
8. Apply essential oils to the inside of your toilet paper roll.
For a fresh smelling bathroom during the holiday season.
RELATED: 9 Christmas Hacks That Will Blow Your Mind
9. Sell unused gift cards on Gift Card Granny for extra cash.
We’ve all been given gift cards to stores we simply don’t shop. This time try getting cash when you sell it on Raise.com and then you can spend the money on things you’ll actually use.
For example, I have a The Body Shop gift card that I won’t use because I prefer Bath & Body Works. It’s a $50 card, and I can sell it for $40 on Gift Card Granny.
10. Buy other people’s unused (reduced priced) gift cards.
Use Gift Card Granny to buy gift cards at discounted prices. I’m talking an average of 12-15% off (or more this time of year!). Look:
- TJMaxx and Marshalls, 9%
- Michaels, 17%
- Dick’s Sporting Goods, 10%
- Hollister, 18%
- H&M, 25%
- Justice, 30%
- Claire’s, 37%
- PacSun, 23%
- Charming Charlie’s, 42%
- Francescas, 40%
- AMC, 25%
11. Book travel with the Hopper app.
You’ll save up to 40% when you book your flight using the Hopper app.
Hopper tells you when to BUY and when to WAIT based on data that Hopper scientists gather and analyze with 95% accuracy. If you enter flight information and Hopper says WAIT, Hopper will continue to watch those dates and destination and alert you when the price drops.
Best to plan ahead and give Hopper plenty of time to find you the cheapest flights.
12. Shop at retailers that let you price match their online prices.
Prices in-store don’t always match online prices. In fact, sometimes the online price is a lot better. We found 19 stores that give you the online price in-store. (Hint: Gap, Target, Macy’s, and Toys “R’ Us made the list.)
13. Sign up for store loyalty programs.
Create a separate email account so you’re not slammed with a bunch of spammy emails, and sign up for all the best store loyalty programs. Not only will you find out about exclusive deals, but most stores send instant coupons when you sign up. (Like $10 off your first purchase at The Children’s Place, 25% off at Gap, 15% off (or free shipping!) at Pottery Barn…)
14. Use the Santa’s Bag app to keep track of your family’s Christmas lists.
Keep your gift giving organized with Santa’s Bag. You can set a budget and create lists for each of your recipients, including the cost of each item and which store you want to buy it from. Santa’s Bag sorts all your items into a shopping list.
15. Use candy canes as dinner place card holders.
16. Send a Christmas postcard instead of a Christmas card + envelope.
Postage on a postcard is $0.34 versus $0.47 for a card. Plus you’ll save money because you’re not buying envelopes.
17. Create your own photo cards for free on Canva.com.
Dude, design your own Christmas postcard. It’s seriously so easy that it’s worth the money you’ll save, even if you’re not crafty! Use a free photo editing site like Canva to upload your family photo, then choose your greeting and family sign-off. Print them in 4 x 6 size and you’ll save even more. Or have Walgreens print them for you. But if you go that route, don’t pay more than $0.10 per print.
18. Don’t pay more than $6 per foot for a fresh Christmas tree.
In general, don’t spend more than $10 per foot on your fresh Christmas tree. And depending on where you live, I’d recommend you don’t pay more than $6 per foot.
There are a few ways to get the cheapest fresh tree possible. You can make an adventure of it and cut your own (you may need to buy a $4-$12 permit). Or try comparing prices across a few competing tree lots, or check out wholesale spots like Costco.
19. Buy your fresh tree late in the season and convert it into a New Year’s tree.
If you can wait to buy your tree, you could get it between 50% – 75% off regular price, depending on the deals your local tree lots offer.
Don’t want to take it down right after you set it up? Turn it into a New Year’s tree. Hang balloons, streamers, toys, or hand-written wishes for the new year.
20. Hang lights on brick with hot glue.
21. Download the KCL app to learn how to get free stocking stuffers.
When you use the KCL app, it’s like having a personal couponer who does all the work of finding the best deals. We lay all the deals out for you and include links to printable coupons.
At stores like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Sears you’ll have zero trouble filling stockings for free or next to free. These are a few things we saw this time last year:
- Free Physician’s Formula mascara at CVS
- Free Axe gift sets at Walmart
- Free $10 Macy’s gift card
- Free stainless steel travel mugs at Sears
Also check out Hollar, our favorite online dollar store, for toys under $2 to put in stockings.
RELATED: How to Coupon at Walgreens
22. Don’t pay more than $80 for an artificial Christmas tree.
Stores like K-Mart, Sears, Home Depot and Lowe’s have artificial Christmas tree deals where you can get a 7′ pre-lit, artificial tree for under $80. There’s no reason to pay more.
23. First two weeks of December is the best time to buy an artificial tree.
Get your under-$80 tree during the first two weeks of December if you missed Black Friday (or don’t want to brave Black Friday crowds). The first two weeks of December, Home Depot, K-Mart and Sears all have artificial trees at discounted prices.
24. Mail packages by Dec 15th, 16th or 20th.
If you’re not ordering online and you’re shipping packages yourself, find out the deadlines for shipping for your chosen service. This way you can avoid paying expedited shipping fees and make sure your package arrives on time. Rule of thumb: the longer you wait, the more you risk paying increased amounts to ship.
- USPS: Retail Ground (packages or anything larger than a letter) ship by Dec. 15th. Mail your priority letters by Dec. 20th.
- UPS: Ship before December 10th. (This is the last day you can use UPS 3-Day Select, which is the most affordable service they offer.)
- FedEx: Ship by December 16th in order to use FedEx Ground to save the most.
25. Buy airplane tickets, like NOW.
You shouldn’t even finish reading this article–go buy your airline tickets!
Otherwise, you could end up tacking on $5 per day you wait beyond the “30 days ahead” mark. Last year you can could still get round-trip tickets from Boise to Los Angeles on Southwest airlines for $365.97 ($382.04 this year) each (Dec. 22 – 26th).
Los Angeles to Seattle and back was $394.46 ($362.96 this year), and Dallas to New York City is was $372.95 ($351.95 this year). It’s fair to say you have a good chance of coming in under $400 per ticket if you book NOW.
26. Save the most by taking a Christmas Day flight.
Ugh, I know. Nobody wants to fly on Christmas Day.
But if you can find an early flight and plan to stay through New Year’s Day, maybe it’s worth the savings. You’ll save an average of 20% on your flight when you fly on Christmas Day.
27. Let Paribus help you get price adjustments.
Gone are the days of tracking everything you buy to see if it goes on sale in the 10-14 days after you made the purchase.
Paribus will do the heavy work to get you a refund. Here’s how it works: Paribus trolls your inbox, tracks your purchases, alerts you of price drops AND files the request on your behalf!
Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.
28. Stock up on cheap Bath & Body Works hand soaps + body wash to give to your child’s teachers.
Give your kids’ teachers four hand soaps. Or two body washes, or two hand soaps + a body wash. Each of these combinations is less than $10 total. You just have to know how to work Bath & Body Works coupon deals. Lucky for you, there are a lot of deals this time of year.
You can get hand soaps for as low as $2.25 each. And body wash for as low as $4.16.
Here are a few examples of recent Bath & Body Works deals we’ve seen:
Bath & Body Works Hand Soap (reg $6.50), $3.00 each when you buy 6
Use: 25% off your entire purchase with coupon.
Final Price: $2.25 each
Buy 6 Bath & Body Works Signature Care Body Collection, $12.50 each
Buy 3, Get 3 Free
Use coupon for free item (-$12.50) when you spend $10
Final Price: $25.00 for 6 items, or $4.16 each!
29. Save more when you buy wine by the case.
Whole Foods does this for sure. World Market also gives you 30% off a case of wine twice a year in the spring and late summer, and Albertsons offers a 30% off case discount every eight weeks or so. You’ll save up to 10% on wine if you buy it by the case. Find out more ways to save on alcohol this holiday season, and more ways to save on wine from an expert.
30. Organize your wrapping paper in a wine box.
31. Use Amazon’s price comparison app to make sure you’re getting the best price.
It may save you dollars, or it may save you cents, but either way, it adds up. Use the Amazon app to pull up the Amazon price of any item, and never overpay again.
For example, here are prices on one of the hottest toys for 2017, Teddy Ruxpin:
Teddy Ruxpin (2017 version)
32. Grab some friends and split a case of prime rib from Costco.
You can buy a 60 lb. case of prime rib at Costco and you’ll save up to 20%. Go in with friends or freeze the extra. Plus, if you buy a Costco gift card you can shop without paying for a Costco membership.