Become a Mypoints member, and earn points for reading e-mails, taking surveys, doing web searches and shopping online. Then, cash in your points for gift cards that you can give as gifts or use to do your Christmas shopping. With over 75 merchants to choose from, you're sure to find a card for everyone on your list.
Cereal prizes aren't just for kids. Get in the habit of checking product packaging for offers, and you may just turn up some great ones. I've scored gift cards, DVDs, toys and even savings bonds this way. Who wouldn't like to get those as Christmas gifts?
Tips: Kellogg's runs some of the best offers that I've seen. To keep up with their latest promotions, there's a newsletter that you can subscribe to.
Department StoresThe competition between department stores is fierce around the holidays – great news for the consumer. Get in the habit of checking the sales ads in the Friday newspaper each week for $10-off-$10 coupons. JC Penney and Sears are two stores that commonly run this promotion. Snag both coupons, and you could knock two gifts off your list without even pulling out your wallet. It's department store shopping at its best!
Enjoy sharing your opinion? Then, you've got to give surveys a try. You can earn magazine subscriptions, best-selling books and movies, gift cards, electronics and lots of other great stuff that your friends and family will love. This is one time when it pays to be opinionated.
Rebates are great any day, but they're especially nice when you're looking to boost a small Christmas budget. Be on the lookout for gift-worthy items that you can get free-after-rebate (bath products are a common offering), but also look for rebates on items that you buy regularly. If it's something you'd have to purchase anyway, go ahead and drop that rebate check in your Christmas fund, and you won't even miss it.
HomescanWe all have to grocery shop, so we may as well be paid for it. Sign up for National Consumer Panel; scan the barcode of each item that you buy (with the provided scanner); and you'll be rewarded with points that you can redeem in their gift catalog. Remember: they didn't say the gift had to be for you.
Credit Card RewardsIf you're disciplined enough to pay your credit card off each month, paying your bills with plastic can be a great way to rack up rewards points in a hurry. Let them accumulate throughout the year. Then, cash them in when you're ready to do your Christmas shopping.
Black Friday Gift Cards
Lots of stores offer free gift cards to the first (insert number) of customers through the door. Decide which offers excite you the most, and plan your shopping trip around them.
One store where I've always been able to get the free gift card: Sears.
Sweepstakes and Instant Wins
Enjoy entering sweepstakes and instant win game? Then, seek out games with prizes that you'd like to give as gifts. Sure, there's no guarantee you'll win; but you can at least try – and have fun doing it.
Companies give things away all the time. Keep your ear to the ground, and be ready to pounce anytime something gift-worthy comes up for grabs.