Deal Diva

5 ways to guarantee a more joyful holiday season

With the holiday season only a little over two months away, here are five ways you can get it started off right:

1. Make travel plans now. Booking travel now allows more flexibility in choice of flight times and prices. Websites worth checking out: old favorites Expedia, Kayak and Orbitz, as well as aggregate sites Google Flights and HipMunk, which locate the best deals then link you to the vendor directly.

Best practice: Airline and hotel websites such as Orbitz and Travelocity track how many times you visit their site. Try clearing your browser’s cookies and cache to appear like it is your first visit – possibly getting you a better deal.

2. Review your holiday card address list. Send an email to friends and family or use a website such as to ensure none of your holiday cards come back “returned to sender.”

3. Determine your holiday budget. How much will you need for gifts, meals, decorations, travel and possibly clothing for special events? Remember to add in teachers’ gifts and holiday crafts. offers several great free tools to help avoid January buyer remorse.

4. Start buying gift cards. Get them now and tuck them away for those last-minute gifts. Costco tends to offer great deals on bulk gift cards; sites and also offer discounted cards. Be sure to read the fine print.

5. Mark your calendar. Determine one to two days of decorating and another to complete all wrapping. December calendars get crazy with traveling, friends, family and special gatherings. Take control now so when the big time comes around you enjoy the holiday season. Keep family up to date on what is going on by using Cozi, a great app that shares calendars with family members.