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Finding free stocking stuffers

She located lots of freebies, including pancake mix, coffee, and special food for the dog.

By Karen Datko Dec 8, 2009 12:58PM

This post comes from freelance writer and editor Bev O'Shea.


Can you really fill a stocking without spending a nickel? Should you? Or, are "free" gifts worth what you pay for them?

We'll know Christmas morning. We think the teen fashionista will like having a ring sizer (Blue Nile -- and it was here three days after I signed up), and hope her younger brother will appreciate his luggage tags (which feature a picture taken this fall -- thanks, KLM -- and arrived in three weeks). There's whole-wheat pancake mix for the spouse (Sturdiwheat spent $2.24 shipping it to us, but that offer is now gone), along with Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Even the dog scored a 6-ounce bag of Rachael Ray dog food.

And we're not even mentioning the Edible Arrangements sampler (actual price: $15), a gift for becoming a fan on Facebook. Stockpiled are cereal, granola bars, shampoo and conditioner samples, OTC medications and more. (Things that I would not include in loved ones' stockings but might be worth asking for anyway: acne medications, laundry detergent, feminine hygiene products and various anti-aging potions.)


Just over a month ago, I found a few Web sites, ordered some popular freebies, then looked to see if I could follow the freebie-watchers on Twitter, letting someone else tip me off on how to get the goodies. I didn't know what to expect (I still don't; "samples" vary from full-sized to barely single-use. And some might not get here at all.) And I didn't keep track (no getting irritated that a bookmark didn't arrive as promised, and no investing any extra time in this project).


So I'm not sure who was supposed to send temporary tattoos or the Santa Claus thumb drive. If they get here, fine. If not, I lost maybe three minutes. Finally, following advice from MSN Money columnist and blogger Donna Freedman, I set up an e-mail address just for freebies.


Here's where I started the hunt:

So, in the waning days before Christmas, can you still stuff a stocking for free? Maybe halfway, and you're more likely to find hand lotion than hardware.


At this point, the key is to get samples into your hands; they may not reach your mailbox in time. In the past week, freebies were available at J.C. Penney, Aveda salons and Estee Lauder counters. And if you're giving an MP3 this holiday season, know that Amazon is offering a free download every day.


And after the presents are unwrapped, you may be able to enjoy a holiday freebie without waiting at the mailbox. Codes for free movie rentals are frequently available for Redbox or Blockbuster.


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