Canadian Tips for Saving on Gift Baskets

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If you are Canadian, like me, you might find yourself in awe at the prices some folks are paying for the gorgeous gift baskets they put together.  We don’t have The Container Store, or Dollar Tree, and haven’t had the Target $1 bins to use either.   So things are a bit more challenging, but I wanted to let you in on some Canadian tips for saving on gift baskets that I have for keeping my gift giving affordable and gorgeous.

I live in a small town, if you follow me on twitter, you have probably heard me bemoaning some of the downsides of it before.  We don’t exactly have a sprawling big box mall or five, we tend to have the “scaled down version” store names, like Extra Foods instead of Superstore.  One store that we do have is Canadian Tire, and let me tell you, they have earned a spot in my heart!  If you’re American and reading this, wondering why on earth I would like a Tire store, it’s  because the name has very little to do with the store contents.  Canadian Tire is kind of like a small Walmart that has an automotive section on roids, but primarily sells tools, household goods and sporting gear.  One of the best parts about Canadian Tire is their sales.  They know how to do sales.

When I find myself in the (awesome) position of being in charge of getting door prizes, like for curling bonspiels, I head over to Canadian Tire.  They put things on 40-70% off sale, constantly.  The flyer each week usually has at least three dozen items that fit this description.  So I just walk up and down the aisles, with a requirement of at least 50% off.  If you pick up 5 items for $20 each doing this, you can easily get $250 worth of goods for only $100.  Plus, prizes worth $40-50 are way more awesome than $20 ones.  Does this seem like a tangent?  Sorry.

All of this is to stay: STOCK UP ON THIS STUFF

My favourite items to stock up on are wicker baskets (they go on for $3-4 frequently, from $12), glass batter bowls with lids ($4.99 very frequently, from $20 or so), and the awesome corkscrew I like to give out ($10, from $40, but a lot less frequent, maybe once every 3 months).  Also pick up specialty tools, like a precision screwdriver set,stripped bolt removers (you can find these on sale for $5 at Canadian Tire), or ratcheting wrench sets.  You’re aiming for nice-to-have things that not everyone has already.  Most people have srewdrivers already, but do they have REALLY nice ones?  Other things you can grab are cocktail napkins, and high quality kitchen accessories like silicone spatulas, and candles.

One thing that makes gift baskets so awesome is the volume of stuff that’s in time, it’s like one gigantic discovery adventure as you dig in to see what you’ve received!  Keep in mind that a large volume of junky stuff does not make a great present.  You want to pick things that won’t be cheaper duplicates of what they have already, or things that will just collect dust.  When you have a good selection of cocktail napkins you picked up for a steal, for example, you can pop them into your gift basket and give it some depth, very easily!  IKEA is a great place to pick up very affordable napkins, which add both bulk and “discovery” to your gift basket.

You need to strike a balance between having way too many potential gifts sitting in a stockpile and saving money by purchasing them in advance of the need.  Picking up a few of these, especially the “basket” type items, like casserole dishes, baskets and batter bowls gives a great starting point for creating awesome gift baskets which don’t break the bank.

More Canadian tips for saving on gift baskets:

  • Buy not-terribly-seasonal items when they go out of season at Loblaws stores. They have fantastic clearance sales.
  • See what you can find at Home Sense, Winners and Liquidation World (at least until April 2014).

(Believe it or not, no one paid me to write this, I just have limited retail choices in my town!)

What Canadian tips for saving on gift baskets do you have to share?

[Photo – Creative Commons Attribution Robert Verzo]

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