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Frugal Ideas for the Holiday Homestretch

If you haven't finished your holiday shopping, take some of these ideas with you on your next trip out to the mall.

1. Deals at this week: Target is giving away gift cards with select electronics purchases: Get a $20 Target Gift card when you purchase the Nook color reader and get a $15 Target gift card when you purchase a Nook Simple Touch; Get a $75 Target gift card when you purchase a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Artificial trees are 50 percent off. Maybe you've procrastinated setting yours up, or perhaps you want to retire your old tree and get a pre-lit one, in any case now is a good time to pick one up. Offers are good until December 24 or while supplies last. See the Target Weekly ad for more details and terms and conditions for these offers.

2. Shop Kick: If you think you'll be going to the mall or the area big box stores this week (and you know you will), earn something while you do it. Download the Shopkick application on to your iPhone or Android and follow the directions to register your phone number. You collect points or "kicks" when you walk into a store or the mall, or scan selected items while shopping. When you've collected enough kicks, redeem them for savings at participating stores. For example, on Sunday I walked into  and automatically collected 110 kicks and collected more after scanning a few items. One of the employees told me that you can redeem collected kicks for dollars off your purchase at checkout. I just started using this but I already have a $5 reward at Best Buy. Some of the stores use ShopKick to let you know about their special offers; While shopping at , Shopkick displayed a code worth 20 percent off select merchandise, which I used to save on a gift purchase. Thanks to Mashable and my friend Kathy for sharing the Shopkick joy.

3. Santa keeps track of which children are naughty and nice, but he also can tell which children are getting older, as he starts to leave one single gift under the tree, or the gifts come in the form of cash or gift cards so the kids can shop themselves. So how can Santa keep the magic of Christmas morning alive for the middle and high school aged kids just a little bit longer? Here are two great, inexpensive ideas that came from some fellow parents: Make a gift card tree and hang the gift cards or cash on the tree, so your child has to take the time to remove the gift cards. Ocean State Job Lot has some great little trees for $2.99, or you can rustle up a tree from your basement or make one out of a branch. You could also create a scavenger hunt so your kids can search for their gift. Put a message with some clues to start the hunt in a wrapped box under the tree, then slowly lead your child to their gift (bike, computer, phone, etc.) with subsequent clues inside wrapped boxes. If you don't have extra boxes around the house that you can use, Ocean State Job Lot has some great little boxes available from 70 cents to $6. Last, if you do wish to add supplemental gifts under the tree, Ocean State has a great selection of gift bags starting at 40 cents for a small bag up to $2 for a "super jumbo" size, 120 ct white tissue paper or 60 ct. colored tissue paper for $2.79, and 70 count peel and stick gift tags for $1. Ocean State Job Lot is located at 230A East Main Street in Marlborough.

To my friends, readers and Patch colleagues I wish a joyous holiday season and a healthy, prosperous, and frugal new year. Peace!

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Marco Lopez December 22, 2011 at 02:31 AM
Thank you for sharing. If you procrastinated like I did you can find Amazon gift cards that you can either print from your home printer or have them delivered "FREE next day" directly to your recipient's address. For details of my discovery visit www.giftsjustunder.com

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