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How to shop deals, local and handmade this Holiday season to make gifts memorable.

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

Picture of gifts under Christmas tree.
Gifts come from the heart

Every year, I try to get my family something special, that they will really enjoy. It is easy to do that when you shop deals, local and handmade items. That way, you can personalize gifts, straight from your computer. I also love going to small local shops and craft fairs to find unique items.

I do still get some clothes and name brand toys for the kids, because I want to be sure that they are getting something from their favorite shows, so that it is something they will use regularly.

Throughout this article I will show you some of my favorite holiday shopping hacks, so you can finish your holiday shopping without a lot of stress over the shopping process or the cost of gifts. Typically, I will get each of my kids a big gift, then several other small gifts, plus their stocking presents.

This year especially, if you are going to shop online it is important to shop early because of the shipping crisis, so that your gifts will arrive on time. Also, when you shop online, make sure you look at shipping costs as part of the cost of the gift, so that you aren't surprised at the checkout. Many shops will offer free shipping, especially if you are buying more items.

Are you Crafty?

If you are crafty, you can consider making your own handmade gifts. This is especially fun for kids to do. There are all different types of kits you can get either from the craft store or the dollar store for kids to make their own Christmas ornaments that they can give as gifts. They can paint something unique for all of the family to enjoy. Or, they can make something with their handprint, a jewelery box, a picture frame, or so much more.

As adults, we can make crafts to give. If you know how to knit or crochet, you can make handmade hats and gloves that people will enjoy. We can also make recipie books, paintings, handmade cookies or other sweets. One year, I made poetry books for everyone, and painted the covers by hand. It was over 20 years ago, but last year one of my girlfriends let me know she still has it!

Picture of handmade soaps in soap dish
Handmade Soaps


If you aren't crafty yourself, you can shop Etsy. It is one of my favorite places to shop for holiday gifts, because you can find handmade, personalized items for everyone on your list. If you aren't familiar with Etsy, it is like an online craft fair. There are a ton of beautiful handmade items available, some you can even have personalized!

The beautiful handmade soaps in the picture are one example of something you can find on Etsy. You can also get handmade bath bombs, or candles. These are great for friends and family that you want to get a small gift.

There is also a wonderful selection of Gift Baskets available on Etsy from a variety of different sellers. A gift basket is a great option if you will be shipping the gift to someone, and for your child's teachers.

You can get personalized items for kids on Etsy too. My toddler is a Christmas baby, so we got this cute personalized shirt for her birthday with all the My Little Pony characters to fit her party theme. This shirt shipped quickly and is printed on the back too.

We also got some handmade hair bows too for her that had Paw Patrol characters. So it is definately possible to find gifts for the kids on Etsy that have popular themes.

Having it personalized also is a great way to make each child feel special, even when you get them similar types of gifts.

Local Craft Fairs

If you like handmade gifts, local craft fairs are another great place to go. You can get a lot of great deals and unique items too, since likely they are all going to be handmade. Shopping local also helps small shops to make money over the holidays, and I really do like to support local artists.

Sometimes you will find things like unique scarves, hats, gloves, or sweaters. Last year I got the cutest handmade unicorn sweater for my daughter at a craft fair in my city. There may also be unique handmade christmas ornaments, or bakery items.

Another unique item I was able to find at the craft fair last year was a jar of local honey with flavoring. They also had honey with CBD available, which was pretty interesting to give you an idea of the unique things you will be able to find.

In some cities, you will be able to go to an outdoor Christmas market where in addition to the craft booths, you may be able to get snacks or spiced wine. It can be a lot of fun to attend an event like this in addition to being able to get your shopping done.

Personalized Pictures.

A personalized canvas picture can be a great gift for anyone on your list. I got this one for my daughter to hang in her room a couple years ago with pictures of all her favorite YouTubers, and pictures of us at Vidcon where she got to meet some of them.

A personalized canvas can also be a great gift for grandparents or other relatives that you don't get to see often. You can make a picture collage with pictures of your kids to give to them. That way, it will make them feel like they have a bunch of memories to share with the kids, even when they are far away.

You can upload your pictures through Shutterfly to make gifts like this and much more! They also have personalized photo albums, mugs and other collectables.


There are wonderful books that you can get for every age group. Also, buying books from self-published authors is another great way to support small business. These authors will love that you have bought their book and showed some support. You can find some great self-published authors on my twitter feed.

The book to the left was gifted to us by a new author, and my daughter loves it. It is a wonderfully illustrated alphabet book.

You can also get books from stores like Amazon, Barns & Noble, or Dollar Tree. There are also tons of local used book stores where you can find unique and collectible items. It is another way to support local business too and help the environment by reusing things.

They have a great series at the dollar tree for toddlers that teaches prosocial behaviors in chubby board books.

I love to gift books because it is something that can instill a love of learning and reading, as well as be personalized for everyone on your list. For friends, you can pick out coffee table books or travel guides if they aren't into reading fiction.

Give the Holiday.

If you are doing gifts mostly for adults, you can talk to your loved ones about donating the holiday instead of doing gifts for each other. There are many low-income children that need holiday gifts, and many other charities that you can donate to. We used to do this for several years when we realized that we didn't need to give dad another tie, or mom a popcorn maker. When there isn't a thoughtful gift that you can give to your family members, you can decide to help others instead.

There are organizations like the Salvation Army, where you can adopt a child or family in need and purchase their holiday gifts. Some local shopping centers will have an angel tree as well, where you can pick a child's name to buy them a gift while you shop for your own. This is a great way to make the holiday a bit brighter for children who may otherwise be going without.

Also, there are organizations like Heifer International, where you can give to a family in another country. You can give a gift of an animal so that they can feed their family, or donate to send a girl to school. This is a great way to make a huge difference in someone else's life. The donations aren't overly expensive either, ranging from $20 to $500.

Another way to give, is to donate holiday meals to the homeless. Here in Denver, we have the Denver Rescue Mission, that will feed the homeless in downtown Denver. They serve a yearly holiday meal for the homeless, and you can donate this holiday meal for less than $2 and make a huge difference for someone in need. Your local community likely has something like this as well.

Holidays are meant to be a season of giving, and when we give to someone who is in need, we can make a large impact. Sometimes, knowing that we have made this type of impact can make us happier than if we give our relatives gifts that they don't always need or want.


Swagbucks is an online platform that has surveys, coupons, sponsored shops and more. If you shop deals through their platform, you can get coupon codes, as well as earning "swag bucks." The bucks you earn can then be redeemed for gift cards to things like Amazon, Paypal and more.

Some of the shops that I like to use through Swagbucks are Nike, Ebay, Barns & Noble, Walmart, Hot Topic, Julep and Amazon. They also have a gift card marketplace where you can buy discounted giftcards. That way, you can get something easy and last minute too for people on your list that are hard to shop for.

Since I have a teen, I love to use the shop link to Hot Topic because it has everything that she likes from her favorite TV shows, bands, and anime. They even have quite a few things from Disney and Harry Potter these days. It is great to be able to get coupon codes to buy her gifts that she is sure to love!

Julep is a makeup and skincare shop that I discovered through Swagbucks. I have been using their Korean Skincare line for several years now and I love it. All the products are organic, and they are great for your skin. When I first made the switch from Mary Kay, I was getting compliments on how good my skin looked from other women. Julep usually has some holiday gift sets available for low prices as well.

Ebay is great to get a mix of unique gifts in an auction format. They have everything from toys, electronics, and everything else you can think of. One year, I got a friend of mine an autographed script from Pink Floyd's The Wall. There are auctions for all kinds of unique items like that, which make wonderful surprises.

When you shop through Swagbucks on big sale dates like Black Friday, Memorial Day, etc. You can sometimes earn a lot more shopping points too.

If you want to sign up, here is my Referal Link.

Activewear Deals.

If there is anyone on your list that likes to wear activewear I have recently discovered a new brand called N2 that has some really cute stuff like sets with leggings and yoga tops, hoodies and more.

The clothes are good quality, and the shipping takes 1-2 weeks. The sets sell for lower prices than most comparable brands, and I have been happy with N2. I wear yoga leggings every day since the beginning of COVID so I am constantly trying out new up-and-coming activewear brands.

Also, they contribute 10% of their sales to the National Alliance of Mental Health, to help raise awareness of mental health issues. Since I have several mental health issues myself, this is a cause that is close to my heart and I am happy to have recently become an N2 ambassador.

If you want a discount, you can use my link and discount code NICOLEDAKE for 25% off.

Stocking Stuffers.

When you have kids, it is great to find some fun stocking stuffers at Walgreens or the Dollar Tree for great prices. You can get toys, books, craft supplies or puzzles for the little ones. For teens or adults you can get make up, bath gifts, candles, incense, and little kitchen gadgets.

Check out this video on all the great stocking stuffers that I got at the dollar tree this year for my family!

Every year, we also do Lottery Tickets as stocking stuffers for all the adults in the house. It makes for a fun activity for everyone to scratch the tickets together too, and we have won a little bit over the years too that covers the cost of the tickets. Here in Colorado you can buy fun tickets with a Holiday theme for as low as $1.


Whether you want to shop online or in the store, there are lots of opportunities to save money and find wonderful and unique items! I hope these tips will help you get off to a good start on your holiday shopping!

Let me know in the comments what kind of deals you are shopping this holiday season, so other readers can share your shopping savvy!

More Great Shops.

Second Time Around Homestead - Hand knitted products

Astoria Activewear - Discount Code NICOLED15 for 15% off

Whiffs Scents - Candles and Wax Melts

Art from Denise - Canvas Art

Tre Lovee - Handmade Custom Bows

Chay Accessories - Handmade Jewelery and Accessories

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information. If not otherwise stated, all prices are intended in US$.

Picture of gifts with text, shop local deals and handmade this holiday season.
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