The Holiday Wish List Begins!

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Its official, the countdown to the holiday season & the shopping has begun! I’m here in Cary, NC today with my family for the Thanksgiving holidays. Only 5 more days until the infamous Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving sale) arrives. My seven year old niece has already given me her Christmas wish list. She very sweetly reminded me, “Aunt Mary, I saw you were in the paper in New York for shopping. I hear you are really, really good at it. So I thought, maybe you should shop for me. ” This child really knows how to work it 🙂 Suddenly, I am reminded that I have to be on the look on for toys for her & for her baby brother. Because her brother does not yet speak, she is also acting as his union holiday shopping representative. So, I have two lists of great toy items to look for and start pricing. Since I am in North Carolina this week, I want to get their toys here & leave them at my mom’s house so I don’t have to pay shipping costs. Shipping costs are the bane of recessionistas. Shipping costs = wasted shopping dollars, if we can buy the goods ourselves and hand deliver them. I feel the same about gift wrap & cards. I am happy to do all that myself & put the money into the actual gifts.
The quest for the kids holiday’s gifts becomes more exhausting each year. Whether its Christmas, Hanukkah or another holiday you are shopping for, there is one common denominator: endurance. This year my niece wants a special bike/moped that retails for $200.00 plus! Also, topping the wish list are several holiday games, a WII, and assorted dolls. Last year, I was at the mall at 4:30 am looking for the items. As all parents and doting relatives know, some of the kids toys go really quick. I was never able to get the talking “Jay-Jay the Jet plane” plush toy and ended up in a bidding war on eBay to get that one for my nephew. It was down to the wire, but in the end, Aunt Mary prevailed and outbid 20 other bidders for the toy!
So here are a few cautionary steps I am trying to take today to ensure I can get everything on the toy list at the best possible price.
1) I am price checking websites, specializing in Black Friday deals.
I am particularly impressed with The Black Friday site. They have alot of the store circulars already online for you to check. There is also Black Friday Ads–The Official Black Friday site. I have signed up for their mailing list to ensure I don’t miss any deals. Misson Impossible: Find a deal on the $200.00 bike!
2) Stocking up on coupons. I am perusing RetailMeNot (coupon codes from US, Europe & Asia) , Coupon Cabin and for coupons toys, kids books & clothes. I’m also checking coupons & prices from Walmart, Target, ToysRUs, Michael’s, KB Toys & Kohl’s to see where I might be able to save a few pennies.
3) Setting up pricing alerts on items in eBay and a new discovery: DealAlerter lets you set up alerts to email you when the price on the item drops to or sells for the price you want to pay. Interesting idea. I like it, its like for consumer products.
4) Finally, I’m taking a look at This site will have bargains for online shopping on Dec. 1.

Needless to say, I’m already getting tired. I don’t really look forward to Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I just view them as necessary evils to get the items on my holiday list for a price I can live with. Readers, feel free to write in & share your shopping tips and strategies for Black Friday. I would love to hear how other Recessionistas are navigating this shopping extravaganza. For me, its nothing short of navigating an obstacle course!


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.