Hello out there, all! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I am starting off this holiday season with a new series, called Ready, Set, Done. (full disclaimer, this is a working title, so don’t hold it against me if I update it!). This comes after having an amazing and inspirational talk with my friend, Katie, who is also a blogger. I admit I was feeling a bit of writer’s block lately and letting my busy schedule get the better of me (read: I was totally giving in to the desire to crash on the couch each night, snack, and binge-watch TV).
The idea behind this series is to share how I go through the steps (research, planning, and execution) of various tasks, whether it’s keeping track of/budgeting for Christmas presents, how I plan a birthday party for the kiddos, or even how to wade through all the fake news stories that are out there lurking on the interweb.
I’ll try to keep these posts broken down to just the key steps; for those who may be new to this blog, I am a research librarian by trade, so I tend to go through a research process for just about everything. As my friend Katie so accurately pointed out to me tonight, we all have limited time but an ever-growing list of things competing for that time, so my goal is to use this series to help save you all some of that precious time (and on occasion, some money, too!).
For this first post, I wanted to share something I just worked through today – buying holiday/Christmas cards!
Perhaps you are already ahead of the game and purchased yours (and if so, hats off to you, sir/madam!), but for those who haven’t, hopefully this can prove to be useful!
- I started this year, in a way that maybe you started with as well:I saved all the coupons I received from various photo card websites, like Tiny Prints, Shutterfly, and Snapfish. I seem to get some in the regular mail as well as my email. I keep a whole separate file in my email just for coupons, so I can file them away without cluttering up my inbox.
- After finally getting my act together, I went to these sites to see what kind of deal I could get, but ultimately I decided it was still going to cost more than I was willing to spend on Christmas cards (after my 40% off code at Tiny Prints, the total was still more than $110! yikes! I love their cards, but that’s a little steep for something most people will throw in the recycling bin).
- This is the point where I decided to go back to my usual, tried and true, Christmas photo card plan: enter Groupon.
- I go to Groupon and search for “photo cards” in the search box.
- Side note: I usually try Living Social just for kicks, too, but I’ve found there are far more options on Groupon.
- This is where you need to do a bit of reflecting – just how many cards will you need? I keep a running list of everyone we send Christmas cards to (I keep it as a Notes file on my iPad/iPhone so I can update as needed). This way I don’t forget anyone and I always have a number of how many cards I’ll need. This is an important step because usually these card deals are limited to a certain number of cards.
- For example, there was a great deal for 20 cards for $10 for one vendor, but I could only purchase 2 deals, or 40 cards total. I need about 50 or so, so this deal was a no go for me.
- Once you have a rough estimate on how many cards you need (remember to round up on that estimate rather than down so you don’t short yourself!), I just review the deals based on the search results on Groupon. I generally start with the sites I’m most familiar with, like Shutterfly and Snapfish, but I am always open to try new sites if the selection is good and the price is right!
- Oh yeah, and don’t forget! You can totally use Ebates for Groupon purchases! Usually the cash back is pretty good for Groupon, too! (Tonight it’s at 10%!!)
IMPORTANT TIP! Before purchasing from any “deals site” like Groupon, always, always read the fine print on these deals:
- Some are limited to new customers only;
- Some provide a link to a certain selection of cards (so don’t just visit the site separately, as you could be disappointed if the card style you like isn’t part of the deal); and
- Some have short time frames (True story, I got burned last year because I bought a Groupon for Tiny Prints, but I didn’t receive photos from our photoshoot until after the expiration date passed. I still was able to use the code for the amount I paid for the Groupon, but it was certainly no longer “a good deal.” Morale of the story – keep expiration dates in mind before you purchase!).
And that’s it! I know that probably seems like a lot of steps for just buying Christmas/holiday cards, but it’s something that has saved us a good amount of money each year (especially compared to my screw up from last year! ha!). Hopefully this can save you some time and aggravation, too!
Hope you have a great week (it’s definitely going to be a loooong one for me – I haven’t worked a full week in 3 weeks! haha!). 🙂