Christmas shopping made cheap and easy

Christmas shopping can be a daunting experience for those with already dwindling finances and hectic schedules. But, great gift giving does not mean costly or time consuming. There are many tips for giving perfect gifts without putting too bad a dent in your billfold or wasting a lot of precious time wandering the malls in search of something.

First, make a Christmas gift list by writing each friend and family member that you want to buy for. Beside their names put down the types of hobbies they enjoy. For example, painting, reading, computer games, etc. Beside their hobbies, write down gift ideas that you come up with, where you need to go to get it and the amount you want to spend, if applicable. Your gift list should look something like this:

Linda- stamp collecting -- PO latest stamps for collectors- $10

Rosa- reading -- Gift card from bookstore -- $20

Tom- basketball- trophy shelf- Lowes for materials- $10

Wayne- cars- homemade calendar with pics - Staples $4 (photo paper)

If you have a gift in mind that you aren't sure where to get it, check online for the best location.

The day that you plan to go shopping, make a map with all the stores you want to go to numbered in order from closest to farthest from your home (like Google ësearch by' maps that list A,B, C, etc locations.) As you shop, go down the ordered list from store to store and within a few hours you should have everything on your list. Don't wait until the last moment to do this because you might encounter a snag in your plans and then end up having to search the stores after all.

Sometimes you can make homemade gifts that will mean much more than store bought gifts. Keeping in mind your recipients hobbies, you can make such things as frames from old lumber for the painter or photographer on your list. Or, you can make name cards for the travelers on your list or create CD covers for the music lovers, A little creativity goes a long way around the holidays, especially when you cater to the whims of those you give to.

If you aren't the creative kind, you can keep an eye out for slightly used items to buy. As long as these are in good condition it is quite acceptable to do this. Check, garage sales or second hand shops for supplies that your hobbyist might enjoy. Sometimes a relative or friend bought something they've rarely used that your hobbyist would really love to have and your friend will often times give it to you for free; they are just happy to get the stuff out of their house. I had a friend who gave me a $400 oil painting set when she was fall cleaning her house and I gave it to another friend who loves to paint. It didn't cost me anything and my painting friend still raves about that gift.

Another idea is to recycle those white elephants. We all have received gifts that we don't like or never use. You can always give unused gifts to others who would appreciate them more. I had a t-shirt with Tweety bird on the front that someone had given me several years back. It was too big for me, so I never wore it. When I met a bigger size lady who collected Tweety effects I knew immediately who that shirt belonged to and I was right. She absolutely loved it and she wore it all the time.

Christmas shopping can become a fun activity if you start early and plan gifts that suit your budget as well as your recipient's tastes. Christmas shopping made cheap and easy

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