By Kristin, Julie and Cooper
Your time and money are limited. Here are some ways you can make the most of both this shopping season.
- List everyone you want to give a gift, including family, friends, kids' teachers, that "lifesaver" babysitter. Next to each name put the amount you want to spend. Then, note who might appreciate cash, a gift card, something homemade, something donated in her name and who requires the perfect purchase. Talk to your children about what they think people on the list might like. Let them know the budget.
- When considering presents for your kids, ask: How do I want them to spend their time? Creating with arts and crafts, building with a kit or freeform pieces, reading or playing educational games? Highlight a few inexpensive things you can recommend to relatives who aren't sure what to get your son or daughter.
- Identify what you can buy online or from a catalog (be sure to take advantage of free shipping offers) and what you need to see, touch or otherwise experience before purchasing.
- Research your options. You can use a gift guide to sort through the types of toys appropriate for different ages. The best online shopping tools provide user reviews and ratings. See what other parents think of a toy and check out safety records.
- Once your list is finalized, put it in your wallet so it'll be easy to find and use as you inventory what's in your shopping cart.
Kristin is married to her high school sweetheart and the mother of one daughter, Madeline. Julie lives in Safety Harbor, Fla., with her husband and her 9-year-old son. Cooper is the parent of two girls and two boys, ages eight to one.