(ARA) - In the current economy, we are all looking harder than ever for ways to save and stretch our holiday shopping dollars. But looking for a deal doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the hottest looks or gifts this holiday season. Well-known lifestyle expert, shopping maven and In Touch Weekly Editor Bobbie Thomas has some quick tips to help save you money and time while you’re plotting your holiday shopping strategy.
“We’re hearing all this doom and gloom about the economy, but it’s important to remember the glass is half-full,” Thomas says. “Retailers are motivated to give you a deal and you are in the power seat this season.” While there are plenty of deals to be had in stores and online, it’s important to start with the basics when tackling your holiday list, Thomas says.
First, "Make a Plan." "Be prepared and shop the stores so they won’t shop you," she says. Set aside time to shop online from home at sites like cashback.com. Cashback.com allows you to find great deals, compare prices and get rebates on more than 10 million products from more than 700 retailers. Simply sign up for an account when you make your first purchase, and each time you shop using cashback.com, you’ll accrue rebates at up to 25 percent off the retail price. When those holiday credit card bills start to arrive, in about 60 days, you can claim your cash.
Using online services like cashback.com allows you to avoid distractions and resist the tempting urge to impulse buy and also saves you time and money from driving store-to-store. During the holidays, many online retailers also offer free shipping or in-store pick up. Visit cashback.com to see all the great deals and learn more.
Next, “Make it Personal” by finding a meaningful gift with the help of a search engine like Microsoft’s Live Search www.live.com. Instead of spending hours driving around, you can search for the best deals online, shop in the comfort of your own home and save money and time in your quest for the perfect gift.
Finally, “Present Your Present.” It’s the thought that counts but Thomas advises shoppers to take advantage of gift-wrapping and shipping options, and enjoy a hassle-free holiday knowing your time was well-spent .
Thomas also offers her top picks for popular gift items that you can find online at great prices:
Although diamonds have long been considered a gal's best friend, costume jewelry has never been more en vogue. Make a lasting impression with a statement necklace, jumbo cocktail ring, or beautiful brooch.
Bath and Body
After the year-end’s full social calendar, who wouldn’t want to soak away the stress? Limited editions and luxe gift sets are created exclusively for the holiday shopping season. Take advantage of not only the great values, but also the ready-to-gift gorgeous packaging.
Candles and Home Fragrance
The flickering warm glow of a wick, or subtle waft of aroma from an elegant diffuser is always a welcome gift. Replenish someone’s signature scent or find your friend or family member a new favorite. It’s a good idea to keep a few extra on hand for hostess gifts or unexpected guests.
From tots to tweens and even adults, help them get in the game. Little ones will love learning to read with the help of new educational training toys, while their older siblings will want to jump for joy thanks to dancing challenges. And the whole family can have fun with impromptu karaoke concerts or virtual sports matches!
In a fast paced, let’s just pick-up and go world, entertaining at home may soon become a lost art. While cookware or cutlery is the perfect gift for the food lover on your list, it can also inspire a loved one to discover a new hobby. From modern basics to time-saving tools, there is something for everyone.
This year’s hot list: Bluetooth earpieces, navigation systems, e-readers, and digital camcorders. Keep your favorite people connected with the help of technology’s latest lifesavers. These are truly the gifts that will keep giving.
From bejeweled headbands to textured tights, it’s all about the accessories. Pop icon Hannah Montana is a reminder that adolescence is the ultimate era of self-expression. A knit beret, fringe scarf, studded belt, feather hair clip, lace leggings, or a beaded bag are just a few of those little extras that will go a long way when coming of age.