Last year, in the months approaching Christmas, I received daily updates from discount sites like Groupon, WagJag and Ethical Deal. As certain deals came through, I had the idea that they would make excellent Christmas presents for some of my friends and loved ones.
I started purchasing them months in advance, and by Christmastime, I had a ton of great gifts to give – and I saved a bundle. What kinds of gifts can you get through Groupons and other discount site deals? I’ve purchased a long list of items, including:
- A winterization package for our vehicle
- A magazine subscription
- Spa services
- Savings on sporting goods
- A skate sharpening gift card (good for 10 sharpens)
- Photography classes
- Weekend getaways
- Event tickets, including musical performances, comedy, and theatre
- Golf passes
- Food (yes, food!)
- Ethical products
For those out of the deal-of-the-day loop, these sites work by featuring discounted items for a short period of time and must be purchased within that timeframe, so you often don’t have more than a couple of days to decide.
Sometimes there a deal isn’t activated until a certain number of people purchase it, and sometimes there’s a maximum number that can be purchased as well. If you find an item that you’re interested in, simply click on it to purchase. You can purchase the item using a credit card or PayPal account.
Once it has been purchased, you’ll receive an email with a printable voucher. Print and use when ready. Keep in mind, though, that not all items for sale are created equal. In fact, sometimes there’s a reason they’re so heavily discounted. For a great experience, you’ll want to consider these helpful tips.
Read the fine print
As previously mentioned, vendors may put certain restrictions on discounted items. There are often strict use-before dates, and sometimes vouchers can only be used at very specific times. These times might not fit your schedule, so look carefully before purchasing.
If necessary, contact the company
If you’re not certain and there’s not enough information online, contact the company directly. I went to purchase a photography course for my partner, but the restrictions were hard to understand. After calling the company directly, I realized that my partner was never going to be able to make the classes they were offering. For that reason, I’m really glad I took the time to call.
Check the company out on Google Street View
This is one lesson I learned the hard way. I should have used Google Street View to check out the spa I bought vouchers to, but I didn’t. I trusted that the spa would be clean and professional. It wasn’t. Had I have looked the place up on Google Street View, I would have seen what the place looked like. Based on visuals alone, I never would have spent the money I did.
Know the return / cancellation policy
This is really important in case you have a bad user experience. In the above situation, I made an appointment to visit the spa – it was located in Toronto in a pretty rough neighbourhood – weeks before I was to visit the city. It took me a couple of hours to get there, only to find out that not only was the place in terrible shape, there weren’t enough staff on duty to fill my appointment. Luckily, the company I ordered through (WagJag or Groupon) returned my money, no questions asked.
Wrapping your paper gifts
As you can well imagine, opening envelope after envelope on Christmas day doesn’t actually create a lot of excitement. To keep my man on his toes, I wrapped each voucher in a unique and fun way.
Some were wrapped in giant boxes containing free weights and cushions to weigh them down. Some were folded up and wrapped in pieces of clothing or cereal boxes. And, when it was all said and done, my man loved his gifts. Not a single one of them was returned. F
or more information on each company, visit their individual websites.