Skip the hottest toys
"The odds of finding a Nerf Vortex or a Sesame Street Let's Rock Elmo rank up there with winning the lottery," says Andrea Woroch, consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. "Even if you could locate the object of your child's most expensive affection, stores will likely have jacked up prices because they know shoppers are desperate."
Always compare prices
"Stressed shoppers will often pay whatever a retailer charges for an item just to cross it off their gift list," explains Woroch. "However, it's important to comparison-shop even when you're in a hurry, which is why sites like PriceGrabber.com are so helpful this time of year. Simply enter the product name, and the site locates a store near you with the lowest price. Better yet, get notified via FreePriceAlerts, a free browser download that updates you via e-mail or mobile app when your desired item drops in price."
Think outside the box
Don't be afraid to shop for pre-owned gifts this holiday season, particularly toys. Your kids won't notice if an item isn't brand-new. Look for gently used toys and other gift ideas from Craigslist, eBay and even thrift shops. You can find relatively new merchandise at a fraction of the cost that you would pay retail. Remember: Always account for shipping costs when you are last-minute shopping.
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