Holiday shoppers are facing “dismal news about the economy, rising job losses, and the financial market crisis,” said Ray Martin in CBS News online (watch video), but retailers are as anxious as buyers, and they "seem to be offering more sales and discounts.” Still, it pays to be a smart shopper. Look for coupons on the Web, both for in-store and online shopping, and be wary of giving gift cards: some have fees, and retailer bankruptcies could wipe out $100 million worth of gift cards this year alone.

Not to be crass, but “big bankruptcies mean big sales,” said Noreen Malone in Slate, and if you do your research, you can do much of your holiday shopping at liquidation sales. You’ll find better deals at the liquidating stores—Circuit City, Linens ‘n Things, and more by the day—than on their websites. And if the shelves are already bare, you can often buy the shelving at a great price.

“As long as you’re willing to be a bit creative,” said Zach Anchors in, you can give “a meaningful, valuable gift for next to nothing.” Instead of hitting the stores, consider making a mix CD, learning to craft “homemade libations” like wine or beer, making a book of your favorite recipes, or offering up the gift of one of your valuable skills.

You can also just cut back on gift-giving—yes, even to your kids, said Janet Bodnar in Kiplinger. Parents want to make their children happy with gifts they ask for and others to surprise them, but many also "need reassurance that they can say no to their kids and get away with it.” Be reassured—kids are more resilient than they get credit for.