You know how hectic the Christmas season is, even if you're just making a trip to the grocery store. What if you could save time and stress by purchasing all of your gifts ahead of time? Yeah, yeah, you're thinking, that's called eBay and Amazon.com. But actually, you could do it for much less money and much more fun by purchasing all your presents at garage sales this year.
Before you set off, make a list of people you buy gifts for: family members, friends, coworkers, your accountant, your hairdresser, and so on. Unless you normally just give them a loaf of homemade bread or a bag of holiday iced cookies, they're fair game for the list. Remember, this is how you're going to save tons of time and money on your holiday spending this year! Next to each person, list a few hobbies or interests they have. You may feel this is redundant, but when you're scanning a garage sale, it'll help to glance down at a few keywords to see if you spot anything on the list.
Set a budget limit, either per gift or total, and write it at the top of your list (or next to each name, if you go per person). Think about how much you spend on average during the holidays, and cut that down by between 50 and 75%. Yep, as long as you have the storage space and the self-control to not give them the gift as soon as you get home, you could save up to three fourths of your holiday spending budget, just by buying early and buying at garage sales! But the budget limit is important, so that you don't end up tossing away more money in one weekend than you have.
When you start to shop, only consider fairly new or restorable items for purchase. Wrapping up a broken toy or grimy electronic gadget is tacky and possibly even dangerous -- corrosion could have occurred, or the item could malfunction, hurting the recipient. Obviously, the exceptions to this rule are items such as books and records, or items you are intentionally purchasing vintage for a recipient who will appreciate such things.
You may find that there are some people on your list whom you don't talk to enough to know what they'd like. In that case, buy some generic gifts. These include things like popular books, blank journals, attractive dishware, useful kitchen gadgets, fun (but generic) Christmas ornaments, and other practical household goods. If you go overboard with the generic gifts and find that you have too many, consider going around the holidays to a homeless shelter and handing out presents as a way to lift your spirits and help out the community.
There are some gift items you shouldn't buy at garage sales. Clothing is difficult enough to fit without dealing with its used condition, and unless you're positive you know the size the recipient will be in six months or more, you should probably just put that top back. Stuffed animals can carry head lice from previous owners, and easily pick up dirt and grime from being loved by small children, so it's best if you leave those for a toy shop or Hallmark store.
Don't forget that little goodies you find that aren't quite good enough for full-blown gifts can become stocking stuffers!
Give someone the gift of information today by pointing them to GarageSaleCow -- a completely free resource for the garage sale fanatic in your life!