There was a time when I could surprise and delight my children for almost no money. Now that they are young adults, it’s hard to do both at the same time, particularly on Christmas morning.
But, because their expectations for stocking stuffers are not terribly high, it’s still possible to delight and surprise. Here’s how you can score free gifts in time to fill the socks on Christmas Eve.
1. Shop on Small Business Saturday
American Express is offering a $10 statement credit to cardholders who register their cards and use them to make a purchase of at least $10 at eligible merchants on Nov. 30. (Yes, it’s down from the $25 offered in years past, but if you play your cards right, you can earn more. You can get a $10 credit per registered card, so if you have authorized users, they should also register their cards. Then, can you go to a local restaurant and buy multiple $10 gift cards? You bet.)
2. Join your drugstore discount club
Your receipts will get longer, and they are worth reading. You may find that on certain dates, you’re eligible for meaningful discounts or freebies. Paper-clip them to a calendar or put them in your virtual datebook.
3. Use My Coke Rewards
Are you throwing away money? Possibly. And I threw away points by not having activity on my account for more than 90 days. Magazine subscriptions are a particularly good idea for My Coke Rewards.
4. Look carefully at holiday ads
Some really do offer huge discounts ($10 off a purchase of $10 or more) for spending little. Last year, I paid 14 cents for four holiday thermal mugs when the merchant was offering free shipping.
5. Check the Halloween candy sales
Halloween candy is deeply discounted right after the holiday (or put away some of the kids’ frightfully excessive haul). Anything that’s not orange and black will work in a Christmas stocking.
6. Find samples
The online ones can take weeks to arrive (request them now) but you may also find coupons that will get you a freebie at the store. A recent one was worth a free bottle of Vitaminwater at Kroger. On the way to my house by mail are coffee and tea samples. And, of course, you should be checking Money Talks News for giveaways.
One man’s trash is — well, if not treasure, at least someone else’s to pass along next year. (And you thought there was no reason to keep that Statue of Liberty pencil sharpener!) Just make sure you regift properly.
8. … or swap
Your friends may also have small, unwanted gifts they don’t know what to do with. Trade, and see if they’re a better match for the new owners.
9. Do good deeds
During the time I was writing this story, my platelet-donating husband got an envelope from the Red Cross containing a reward code worth $30 in gift certificates from a choice of retailers. No, he didn’t donate in order to get the gift certificate. But if you’ve done good deeds, be sure you actually open the mail from the organization you helped.
10. Check on airline miles
You don’t have to redeem those miles to buy travel. Sometimes you can snag other gifts, and they won’t cost you a dime.
11. Check your credit card rewards
You may discover you have enough points to “buy” a little something.
12. Be “convention”-al
You know those notepads, calculators, key chains, change purses and other tchotchkes vendors give out? They’re good stocking fillers.
Do you have any other ideas for free stocking stuffers? Share them below or on our Facebook page.