You're short on time and cash -- and still have no idea what to get your sister-in-law. Here's a life saver: It's called a box set aka lots of gift options for less.
Pre-packaged presents were a big hit last year. The sale of box sets in the U.S. had a 16 percent increase over last year's dollar sales, according to The NPD Group, Inc, a market research company -- so I guess I'm not the only one buying them. Box sets are a great gift to pick and choose from, but don't be fooled -- you'll still need to be a savvy shopper to reap the benefits. Here are some ways that gift boxes can help you with your gift list and benefit you:
Shopping for two
This holiday season you'll be shopping for family and friends, but don't forget about you. According to the National Retail Federation, six in 10 Americans will buy gifts for themselves this year (myself included). Box sets allow you to buy for more than one person. If you come across a perfume set that contains a new fragrance you'd like to try, grab it. Take one item for yourself and wrap the rest for a friend.
Try this: Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio Pour Homme Travel with Style Set (*Est $80). This eau de parfum spray was one of the top three best selling fragrance gift sets in 2012. For $80 you're getting a good size bottle (3.4oz)--which sells for $75 by itself--plus a travel size bottle (to try) and toiletries bag.
Make multiples count
With so many makeup brands and colors available it is nearly impossible to find just one product your loved ones (or friends) might like. Buying a set gives the recipient the option of trying an item before stocking up on his or her soon-to-be fave. Lipstick and lip gloss sets, for example, often come in assorted or a similar color family. After testing out a few lip tones from rose to nude, one is bound to flatter her complexion. Your girlfriends will thank you for taking the guesswork out of finding their perfect shade. (Check out the best lipstick brands here.)
Try this: Stila All Is Bright Lip Glaze Set (*Est. $25). Think of this deal as buy two, get six free! Not only is this a great price, but Stila offers a wide variety of colors.
Size doesn't always matter
You'll notice many gift boxes come with a mini version of the product. Think smart. Many times a smaller version can produce the same results... but not always. For instance, buying a .17-ounce bottle of your friend's favorite perfume will probably keep her smelling sweet for only the month of January. However, if you take advantage of makeup brush collections, then you are giving a gift that lasts for years. Need proof? MAC's Perfectly Plush Brush Kit: Essentials, a collection of travel size brushes that include brushes for blush, foundation, shading, and blending, is sold at MAC.com for $49; the 129SH blush brush included in this kit costs $35 by itself.
Try this: Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Mini Masters limited edition brush set (*Est $25). Although the brushes are in a mini version, they're a good buy because of their full-size brush heads. And for animal lovers, the brushes are made from synthetic fibers rather than goat hair.
Put our tips and your smart shopping strategies to the test and let us know how it goes!