By Erin Huffstetler | 11/13/2018 | 6 Comments
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Want all the nitty-gritty details of how I get so many Christmas gifts for free, so you can do the same thing? Then, this post is for you. Here are all of the strategies that I use to put free gifts under the Christmas tree. If you have questions about any of them, just ask.
Throughout the year, I watch for free samples that would make good stocking stuffers or advent calendar fillers. By the time Christmas rolls around, I always have a bunch of coffee samples for my husband’s stocking and lots of little beauty items for the girls’ stockings. I have two sites that I check regularly for free samples: Hip2Save and FreeStuffFinder. Since sample quantities are often limited, I check both sites several times throughout the day. This only takes a second to do.
Shop Your Way
This is a rewards program, like Swagbucks or MyPoints, where you can earn points for doing things, like shopping online, booking travel and entering sweepstakes/instant win games. As of right now, points are redeemable at Sears, Kmart and Lands’ End, though I suspect other options will probably be available in the future. I primarily focus on the sweepstakes and instant win games, since there’s no cost involved (and it’s fun).
Once you’ve created an account, just select “Earn with Sweeps” under the “Earn” tab, and you’ll see several areas of sweeps/instant win games. The “Featured” section includes a bunch of sweepstakes, plus a handful of instant win games that you can enter. The “Xtra” section has loads of instant win games, and the “Most Prizes” section has an instant win game, where you get to pick the prizes. I enter all of these each day.
There are also instant win games known as “Wild Wins” that pop up randomly throughout the day. These are for bigger amounts — $1, $2, $5, so they can really help to boost your earnings. Wednesdays are “Wild Win Wednesdays” on Shop Your Way, and there’s a special Wild Win game that you can play several times. Because of this, Wednesdays are typically my highest earning days.
Some of the instant win games have little play buttons. Be sure to press those. It’ll play a video; then, give you an extra game entry.
I recently downloaded their Win It app, and was surprised to discover that I’d been missing out on even more opportunities to win. The app has bonus games that pop up throughout the day, and it’s not unusual to win $2, $4 or $6 at a time playing them. These are in addition to the “Wild Wins.” Another neat feature of the app is that it notifies you when there’s a new bonus game or “Wild Win,” so you don’t have to keep checking back for them.
Most days, I earn between $.50 and $1 playing the games, but sometimes it’s much more than this. Points are valid for 14 days, so I usually save them up, and use them just before they’re about to expire. I still have a Sears in my area (for a few more months, anyway), so I either shop in store, or order online and take advantage of the free ship-to-store offer.
I usually use my points to buy socks, underwear, pajamas, juniors clothes, kitchen items or tools that my husband needs.
Here are a few tricks that I’ve learned to make the most of my points
- If you have enough points to cover the total cost of your item, you won’t be charged tax (at least this is true in my state)
- Sears and Kmart sometimes add FREECASH to you Shop Your Way account. This is just free money that you can put towards a purchase. The last one I got was for $10 off any order of $10 or more (which I used to buy a Christmas gift). I often combine FREECASH and points to get bigger ticket items for free
- To use your points in store, just enter your phone number and pin on the credit card terminal when you check out, and tell the cashier that you’d like to use your points
- Be sure to check the bottom of your receipt, when you shop in store. Sometimes you’ll get FREECASH offers
- Be on the lookout for cashback deals on the Sears and Kmart website. It’s not uncommon for them to offer 100% back in certain categories. I’ve gotten boots, cookware and clothing for free
- Like to give magazines for gifts? Purchase the subscriptions through Shop Your Way, and you’ll get 100% back. They’ll divide the subscription cost by the number of months of the subscription, and give you that much back each month
CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid
All three drug store chains offer loads of free-after-rewards items for Black Friday. I always go pick up the ones that we have use for. This usually includes quite a few giftable items – candy, beauty products, etc.
If you’re a couponer, you probably already know that drugstores are one of the best places to shop for money-maker deals. Combine coupons with a sale and a rewards offer, and you’ll often get more back than you spent. When this happens, I usually use the “profit” to buy gifts.
Walgreens also offers free photo deals throughout the year. This year they’ve offered free 8×10 prints, photo bookmarks, gift tags and more. These all make great gifts. Just enter a promo code; select in-store pick up; and you won’t spend a cent.
Staples gives you $2 in rewards for each ink or toner cartridge that you recycle with them, and they allow you to recycle up to 10 per month. If you’re a Plus or Premiere rewards member (like we are), they’ll allow you to recycle up to 20 ink or toner cartridges each month. That’s up to $20 in rewards each month! Sometimes we use our earnings to stock up on toilet paper, but other times, I use it to buy gifts for the girls. They’re both in to art, so there are all sorts of art supplies to choose from.
Note: You have to have spent $30 in ink or toner in the last 180 days to qualify for their ink rewards program.
My husband and I maintain a wishlist on Amazon. Whenever we think of something that we need or want, it goes on the list. This includes gift ideas for other people. We then challenge ourselves to try to purchase most of these items without spending anything out of pocket. To do this, we look for ways to earn free Amazon gift cards. Fortunately, since it’s such a popular store, there happen to be LOTS of ways to earn free gift cards.
Here are some places you can earn Amazon gift cards:
- Microsoft Rewards
- Many of my favorite survey sites
- Credit card rewards (most companies offer this as an option)
- Dealspotr (not as profitable as it used to be)
The MyCokeRewards program was phased out a couple years ago, but did you know it was replaced with another rewards program? With this one, you scan or enter codes to redeem free offers, or for a chance to win prizes. This year there have been several opportunities to earn free $2 gift cards to popular brands, like iTunes and Target. You just had to enter four codes, and the card was yours. They frequently have instant win games, where you can win $2 or $5 gift cards when you enter one code, and the odds are really good. Since you can usually win more than once, it’s a good way to rack up some money for Christmas gifts.
I always keep some codes tucked away for the holiday season. They always seem to do special promotions where you can earn gift cards for a very small number of codes. This is something that I always look forward to.
Watch your mailbox for $10-off-$10 coupons from department stores. They’re a staple of the holiday season. Whenever I get one, I turn it into a Christmas gift. Department stores also like to run free-after-rebate offers on Black Friday. This can be a great way to get free appliances and electronics. This year, Macy’s has a TON of high quality, name brand items that they’re offering free-after-rebate.
Free gift card promotions are another department store favorite. Be on the lookout for early bird deals, where you have a chance to score a free gift card. JCPenney recently gave away $10 gift cards to the first 50 customers through the door.
Thrift Store Freebies
Some of the thrift stores we shop at have frequent shopper programs. For example, the Goodwill stores in our area have a stamp card program. Every $10 you spend earns you a stamp on your card, and after 10 stamps, you get $10 off a $20 purchase. Several times, I’ve used that $10 to purchase a Christmas gift for someone on my list.
Holiday Gift Card Bonuses
Lots of restaurants and stores offer gift card bonuses during the holidays – buy a $25 gift card, receive a bonus $5 card; buy a $50 card, receive a bonus $10 card. If these are stores that you shop at anyway, considering buying yourself a gift card. Then, use the bonus cards as gifts.
Every Friday Kroger (and it’s sister stores) offer a Friday Freebie. You just load the coupon to your store card, and the cost of the item is automatically deducted when you checkout. Sometimes the item is something stocking-worthy. When it is, I tuck it in my gift closet until Christmas.
Entering sweepstakes is a fun (and free) hobby, and you win more often than you might guess. When I manage to find a few spare minutes, I use them to enter online sweepstakes. I mostly focus on instant win games because you don’t have to wait to find out if you wpn, and often there are more prizes, so your chance of winning is better. On several occasions, I’ve won things that I could give as gifts – movie tickets, small electronics, gift cards, clothing, etc.
I don’t have time to enter daily, like I used to, but I at least try to enter sweeps around the holidays. That’s when you’ll find the most games to enter. At the very least, I usually manage to win four movie tickets, so we can go see a Christmas movie together.