The holidays are a special time of year. It’s a time to meet with old friends and family, celebrate the upcoming new year, and, for some, exchange presents. With all the magic in the air this season, there’s also a feeling of intimidation as we search for the perfect gifts for those we love. We know that shopping for the holidays can be a daunting task. Not only do you have to navigate crowds and sales to find the right item, but you also want to make sure that you aren’t hurting your pockets in the process. From budgeting to staying safe online to finding the best deals, FFB Bank has you covered with 6 tips to help prepare you for the gift giving season.  

Create a Game Plan  

If you want to get into the giving spirit without breaking the bank, then it’s important to have a game plan going into the holiday season. The first place to start? Figure out who will be on your list. From parents to partners to employers and friends, it can be easy to get carried away when deciding who deserves a gift this season. To help narrow down the list, it’s best to think realistically – if you don’t know someone well enough to know what they’d like, then this may be a person you can skip.

Not all gifts are created equal either. You’ll likely want to splurge more on your partner or child than you would on your coworker. With your list of loved ones set, you can begin brainstorming which gifts you’d like to get for everyone and researching how much those items will cost. At the very least, you can assign a dollar amount for each person’s name if you’re still searching for that perfect gift. These figures will help prioritize your spending and serve as the foundation for your holiday budget. 


Start Shopping Early  

Although it may be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be the most stressful. Not only can the holidays take a toll on your time and your wallet, but they can become even more of a headache if you’re trying to shop at the last minute. Oftentimes, you are guaranteed to overspend if you wait until the day before to cross everything off your list – especially with inflated holiday prices or the need for overnight shipping. Not to mention, you run the risk of a gift selling out before you get the chance to grab it by waiting until the last second.  

Instead of taking your chances on a last-minute shopping trip, try creating a gift-buying schedule as you map out your gameplan. This way you’ll have a good idea of when and where you want to get all the presents on your list rather than becoming overwhelmed. This can also be particularly helpful if some of your gifts are needed before the actual holiday, such as a white elephant gift for the office holiday party or the gift you give your best friend before they travel for the holidays.  


 Look for Deals Beyond Black Friday  

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are often seen as the perfect opportunity to get great deals on gifts for your loved ones. The truth, however, is that there often isn’t as big a difference in markdowns between these sales and regular holiday deals. Rather than getting swept up in the excitement of a single sale for all your shopping, you may be better off looking for deals throughout the season. Especially if you’ve researched the price point for a gift, it can be easy to spot a good discount when it comes along.  

Of course, there are tools available to help you find the best deal while shopping online. For example, there are several free coupon and cashback sites such as Honey or RetailMeNot that will search for competitive prices on an item to help you secure a gift at a lower cost. Even if you’re shopping in store, don’t be afraid to check how much an item costs elsewhere. Some stores may even offer price matching if you find that a competing brand has the same item at a lower price! 


Stay Safe Online  

Not everyone wants to brave the crowds of in-store holiday shoppers. Plus, with the popularity of online shopping and online-only holiday sales, shopping for gifts from the comfort of your home can be a tempting alternative. Yet if you want to shop smart this season, you also need to shop safely. The holidays are a great time for cyber criminals to find deals and steals as well by posing as legitimate stores with fake websites and links. Instead of a gift this holiday season, these fraudulent sites can leave you with malware and even steal your information to commit financial crimes.  

To avoid being a victim of cybercrime, be sure to only shop from trusted sources and reputable vendors. If you’re not sure whether a website is safe or not, you can check the website address in the search bar. If the address starts with “https:” and the padlock icon next to it is locked, then you can rest assured that your information is being encrypted. Similarly, be sure to think twice before opening that coupon in an unexpected email. Unless you’re confident that it’s coming from a trusted source, never click on unsolicited links or attachments as they could contain malware. Lastly, do not reply with your password, personal, or financial information – especially since legitimate businesses will never ask for this kind of information from you through email.  


Consider Taking the Handmade Route  

If you’re looking to save some money and create something personalized for your loved ones, then handmade gifts may be the way to go! Even if a homemade present doesn’t work for everyone, it can be a great option for some people on your list. For instance, you could give photos to your grandparents, baked goods to your team at work, or create a floral arrangement for your child’s teacher. You could even add a handmade gift alongside something you plan on purchasing if you want to give a present that extra sentimental touch. Like all holiday gifts, just be sure to plan ahead if you decide on handmade presents. You’ll want to ensure that you have all the materials you need as well as enough time to make the gift before the holiday hits.  


Avoid Shopping Momentum  

The “shopping momentum effect,” as it’s called by researchers, says that once we’ve started shopping, it’s easier for us to keep spending. Especially during the holidays, it’s natural to be swept up in the big sales and get carried away trying to do something special for our loved ones. Yet as we’ve discussed, it’s crucial that you stay practical. Once you’ve bought all the gifts on your list, don’t look for any more! You may be tempted to buy something else for a loved one or to buy something for yourself while out shopping, but it’s best to stick to your budget. Otherwise, you may spend more than you can afford and end up giving yourself debt for the holidays.  



We all have people in our life who we love dearly and want to shop for during the holidays. Yet we also want to make sure that we’re still being smart and safe with our money while in the gift-giving spirit. By following the practices we’ve laid out today, we hope that you’ll be able to enjoy this special time of year without having to worry about the consequences it can have on your finances. Now that you’re armed with some smart shopping tips, it’s time to let the holiday cheer begin and the shopping trips commence!