Christmas shopping is officially underway at the Hopson household. My goal is to spend all my green before black Friday. Thanks to online outlets, I’ll probably get done in a day. Last year, I went way over budget–correction, I didn’t have a budget. This year, I am being more mindful of my money. Here are five ways I’m getting gifts under the tree without going under: 1. I’m entering contests. With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, many retailers are getting a jumpstart on promoting items. In addition to mailing catalogs and coupons, companies are hosting contests. For instance, Melissa & Doug just announced their Terrific Twenty list and enlisted mommy bloggers around the world (wide web) to spread the word. For the next 20 days, the couple–famous for their wooden toys–will give away every item on the list. You can enter on Melissa & Doug’s Facebook page. 2. I’m checking out other mommy blogs. ‘Tis the season to get bloggers to boost business. Many parenting websites, including Diary of a First Time Mom, will publish sponsored posts, which means the writer–although stating his/her own opinion–is compensated in some way to host a giveaway. Typically, it’s ethical, since bloggers often disclose that they are getting something in return for their time and efforts. DFTM members have a chance to win this Melissa & Doug Rattle Rumble Toddler Push Toy. My daughter received another brand for my baby shower and loves to race through the house, pushing the noisy toy along. 3. I’m shopping my friends and family members closets. My sister has two (spoiled) sons, and their house is overflowing with toys, books and clothes. Just last night, she sent a box full of books home with me. One book had a mini keyboard attached. Over the weekend, I bought something similar, so I’m making a return and removing $10 from my charge card. My mother, who is thrilled to finally have a granddaughter, usually buys Caitlynn a closet full of clothes, so there’s no need to put such purchases on my list. 4. I’m shopping on deal a day sites. Mommy needs love from Santa Claus too! For $75, I purchased a spa day that included a mani, pedi and massage. I also bought 100 percent Turkish towels for $37 and a $120 gift card to a posh baby boutique for 50 percent off. 5. I’m remembering the reason for the season. The Hopson’s have a family tradition of pulling names on Thanksgiving for a grab bag on Christmas. We don’t buy gifts rather share Bible verses. We select a name, find a scripture that embodies the person’s characteristics or inspires him/her in the new year. As children, we also would exchange one homemade gift. As a teenager, I didn’t look forward to getting a sermon, even though the messages were always filled with Jesus’ love. As an adult, I smile when I come across note cards tucked away in my bookshelf and read what my grandparents wrote years before they passed on. What would you add to this list? Leave a comment to enter to win the prize pictured above. 4 Responses Djrelat7 November 8, 2012 wow this is a great list of how to shop for the holiday season! I especially love number 5; I think I may do this challenge with my youth group! Thanks for the idea! Reply Nayeli palmer November 8, 2012 I always pay attention on what my family and friends say they want or they like and write it down and when i find a great deal at store during the whole year I get it no just during the Christmas season. In that way I get great buys and don’t spent a ton of money at once. Reply Terri November 9, 2012 These ideas are great! Also, it depends on the age of the child(ren)I know my girls are 2 and 4 and just seeing something new makes their day, so I can essentially look at clearance items and not spend so much, and looking at places like Once Upon a Child and consignment store can save a lot too! I wish everyone a happy savings holidays 🙂 Reply Kenyatta December 28, 2012 This is my little girl’s first Christmas. So excited! Got tons of things from my baby shower, so we’re still opening those presents! Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.