The holidays are almost here which means shopping for gifts, decorating the house, and entertaining friends and family. This time of the year can become quite hectic trying to squeeze all of the activities and to-do lists in our busy schedules. It can also be the most expensive time of year!

When you’re in holiday preparation mode, it’s easy to overspend because of the huge anticipation and excitement of the season. Next thing you know, you’ve gone well over your budget on gifts for the kids, relatives as well as teachers, not to mention holiday decorations, and food and beverages for entertaining. Oh I can already feel the stress of holiday spending! Here are a few ways to enjoy holiday shopping AND save money.

5 Ways to Save Time and Money on Holiday Shopping

Plan Your Purchases

Make a list and check it twice. Rather than purchase a bunch of small gifts for your kids, think about purchasing just one meaningful gift. It’ll save you time running around at busy malls looking for more stuff-they-don’t-need for the sake of putting them under the tree.

If you have a big family, skip the $10 gifts for every aunt, uncle and cousin on your never-ending list.  Instead, arrange to have a Secret Santa so you only have one person to buy for. Set a budget of $25 to $50 per gift. If there are too many kids in the extended family to shop for, let the kids have their own separate Kris Kringle/Secret Santa.

5 Ways to Save Time and Money on Holiday Shopping |

Book Your Calendar

Part of the fun of the holiday season is entertaining guests, which means spending money on food and beverages. Plan in advance so you can budget your meal planning. Stock up on ingredients and products when they go on sale, like wine, cheese, nuts and of course, chocolate. Set your social schedule early, and try not to go overboard with entertaining.

On the flip side, are you normally invited to a dozen Christmas parties? Choose one or two and gracefully decline the other invitations. It’s also a great idea to  stock up on a few host/hostess gifts for these occasions.

Buy Experiences

It’s easy to get caught up in the materialism of the holidays, and forget the true meaning of Christmas which is spending time with loved ones. Instead of buying trinkets that will just gather dust, spend your money on an experience that will create a lasting memory, such as a spa day, movie night, or tickets to the theatre or concert.

Shop Online

Avoid the crazy malls during the holiday rush by shopping online from the comfort of your own home. Buying toys in your PJs while sipping a chamomile tea is so much better than fighting the lineups. Just be sure that shipping and/or customs and insurance won’t cost more than the gift itself!

5 Ways to Save Time and Money on Holiday Shopping

Earn cash back

The holiday season means you’re spending more money, but why not receive something in return? Cash back credit cards are a great way to earn some money back, simply by using it on every day purchases. The SimplyCash™ Preferred Credit Card from American Express is a wonderful cash back credit card because you earn 2% on every purchase, in every category.

Even more, you aren’t limited to just groceries, gas or restaurants; you can use the card for larger purchases too, such as those expensive Christmas gifts. The cash back can quickly add up, especially with the 5% cash back welcome bonus on purchases for the first 6 months of Card membership (up to $300)! Use the calculator to see how much you can earn.

American Express SimplyCash™ Preferred Credit Card

After the welcome bonus, you’ll earn cash back at 2% with no limit. For example, if I’m spending $1,650 a month on my Card, I can earn back $378 in the first six months ($300 welcome rate plus 2% for spend over threshold), then an additional $198 the rest of the year!

With a $99 annual fee, you’re covered for Emergency Medical Insurance, Travel Accident Insurance, and Car Rental Theft & Damage Insurance, which will already offer you savings if you’re planning to take that vacation. With the SimplyCash Preferred credit card, you’re also auto enrolled to American Express Invites, which includes Front of the Line.

The SimplyCash™ Preferred Credit Card from American Express is easy to use and can actually put money back into your pocket!

Happy Holiday shopping!

Disclosure: This post is proudly sponsored by American Express Canada. As always, the opinions expressed herein are my own.



Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of, a leading lifestyle blog for women.


  1. These are all excellent tips! A little thought goes a long way to getting the most out of your money. I always shop sales and look for the deals that others might not know about.

  2. Annemarie LeBlanc Reply

    Thank you for your awesome tips. I usually shop online for certain items which is more convenient for me instead of driving to a store and spending money on gas. Making a list is also the best budgeting advice. When I have to go into a store, I leave my credit card at home and pay in cash instead. That helps me avoid impulse purchases. Thanks for letting me know about the American Express cash back card. Can’t believe you can get that much back from your purchases!

  3. I am all for cash back, it’s a surefire way to get some money back during that overspending season of holiday gift shopping. I also love your idea of buying experiences, what a great idea!

  4. Cash back on cards makes me happy. Cash back at Christmas makes me really, really happy. 😉

  5. I love shopping online. It makes holiday shopping so much easier. I also like earning cash back.

  6. These are all such awesome ideas! We’ve been buying experiences for the past few years and those kinds of gifts seem better received than junk that will just be put on a shelf and forgot about before the new year.

  7. Great suggestions. I feel so behind this year, so I could use a bit of motivation and more ideas from friends and family.

  8. I have to apply for one of these cards! Who can refuse cash back! That would be great for all the spending we do around the holidays. I like the idea about giving experiences too! I have been telling my mom and mother in law that our kiddos would love swim classes or a membership to the local kids museum for Christmas. That is much more meaningful than a toy that gets forgotten after a week.

  9. I definitely shop online around the holidays more than in-store. I have more coupons plus there’s great deals without the lines and crowds.

  10. These are amazing tips. I always make a list and try to narrow down my gifts for the kids. A larger more meaningful gift is a great idea!

  11. I don’t know many parents who are looking for more clutter around their homes. We’ve made the switch to buying experiences for the families in our life, and I feel so much better about gifting them.

  12. My Teen Guide Reply

    Thanks for letting me know about the SimplyCash Preferred Credit Card from American Express. I can’t believe how much cashback you can get from using your card. Your tips on how to save time and money for Christmas shopping is awesome too. I usually purchase online for some items, and if I have to go to a store, I make sure I have a list and my trip there is carefully planned out. 🙂


    Now that we are retired we are more careful with shopping and do shop around to get good deals and always stick to our budget

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