It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it? Because if we’re being honest you have 14 functions to attend, 8 kinds of cookies to make, a million decorations to put up, a tree to trim, and too many people to count on your shopping list. That does not sound like a ton of fun. That sounds stressful. Well when the holidays approach check out the following suggestions for you to get rid of holiday shopping stress. Don’t let your holidays bring you down. Enjoy them instead!
1. Make a list.
Take a page out of old Santa’s book and be prepared before you hit the mall or shop online. Figure out who needs buying for and what your budget is.
Be reasonable yet thorough. Don’t forget the small people in your life like the mail carrier or your child’s teacher. There are many ways to help you organize your shopping. Use an Excel spreadsheet; a spiral bound notebook; or even just a note on your phone. You want something you can have with you when you are shopping so you know what you need to get.
2. Set a budget.
Let’s face it, sometimes it’s not just the physical act of shopping that can be stressful but the thought of having little to no money left when you’re done. Does little Tommy really need $200 worth of toys plus small gifts for his stocking?
There are many ways to save money during the holidays. It is possible to save money without being cheap. So look at the list of people you’re giving to and look at your bankbook. Don’t spend more than you have – plain and simple. There are great deals to be had, especially if you shop year round instead of waiting until the last minute. You can always make a tiny budget go farther!
3. Don’t leave it to the last minute.
Holiday shopping on December 24th is stressful. There are no two ways about it. You have a deadline that has to be met: some people leaving presents to the last minute need to have them for the very next day.
What if the item you’re looking for is not in stock? What if the store doesn’t have the right size or colour? What if you can’t find anything? You wouldn’t need to be worrying about all of these things if you give yourself a little time to shop at a relaxed pace.
4. Shop online when possible.
Sit on the couch, grab a glass of wine and your laptop and go shopping! That doesn’t sound so bad now does it?
With so many stores offering free shipping or low minimum orders for free shipping it can be worth not having to go to the store. Use your list – get what you need and have someone else bring it to you. Genius. Shopping in the comfort of your own home can be easy as pie, as long as you follow your list, follow your budget, and leave enough time for your gifts to arrive!
5. When going to the mall, have a plan.
Malls can be big and daunting but as long as you know what you’re looking for or who you’re shopping for you can shop AND have fun!
Be realistic. If you love shopping and can shop between the hours of nine and five, then go for it! But for most shopping can be tiring and that’s when the stress sets in. If you think you can tackle 3 stores one day and 4 the next, then that’s great! If you’d prefer to go every night after work and check one item off your list, then try that approach! Try and shop at stores that you need to go to that are near each other rather than running around the mall without a plan. Remember to take breaks to drink and eat to keep you happy and hydrated.
6. Shop year round.
Who says that you can only buy holiday presents right before the holidays? You know you want to buy socks for your kids stockings and they’re on sale – grab them! When being organized like this be sure to have one place where you hide all of the gifts so nothing goes missing or gets forgotten about.
You could also write down what was purchased for an extra reminder for you. Make an already purchased column for your list. Look for deals and stock up on things when they go on sale. Shopping ahead of the holidays also means that you will have less shopping to do when the actual holidays roll around!
7. Shop easy.
Why are you racking your brain trying to find something amazing for that teenager on your list? Simplify your life and let them choose. Get them a gift card or money. Need a gift for a teacher? The same idea applies.
You can usually get gift cards for multiple stores/shops in one place at a gift card carrousel so you don’t have to go to all the individual stores to get gift cards for there. Many places also offer electronic gift cards these days so you can shop from home for even less stress!
8. Have backup gifts.
Well Suzy just came over for your holiday gathering with something for you and you didn’t get her anything… gulp! That sounds like stress to me! But it doesn’t have to be. It’s a good idea to have a few backup generic gifts to give to people you may have accidentally forgotten.
A couple boxes of chocolates, some nice bath soaps, your favourite board game. Your work just arranged a secret Santa? No problem – throw in one of the backup gifts you already have! Re-gifts can also be good to use as backup gifts. See the article how to deal with unwanted presents for more info on how to do re-gift properly.
9. Ask people what they want.
Instead of wandering aimlessly in a store trying to find ‘the perfect something’ when you aren’t actually sure can be stressful! Just ask your friend or family member what they want. It makes list making easier, it makes shopping easier, it makes everything less stressful. When you ask people for their wish list be prepared to give them your wish list.
Whatever it is you are celebrating with gifts this year – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Easter, or birthdays, the above tips should be ones to help make the shopping beforehand less stressful and more enjoyable. When buying gifts remember that it’s the thought that counts, you don’t want other people stressing over gift buying for you and they likely don’t want you stressing out either. So take a deep breath, make that plan and have a happy, stress-free holiday shop!