Category: Shopping

Christmas Shopping Tips – De-Stress Your Holiday Shopping With These Six Tips

If you’re a parent, the holidays are a crazy busy time. Between the baking and cooking, the holiday parties, the pageants, the traveling, the decorating, and the corresponding, you have to somehow find and wrap a heartfelt gift for your kids, spouse, parents, relatives and friends.

Even if you have made a commitment to spend less on gifts this year, you still want to give something meaningful. The worst part is, you want to enjoy the holidays, but you worry that it’s going to whiz by while you were feeling frazzled and desperate.

If this describes you, here are a few tips to help you take some of the stress out of your holiday shopping so you can once again enjoy this magical time of year.

1. Start early. Like now. When you shop for your holiday gifts early, you have more time to look at the options, plus the stores will have a larger selection of those hot toys. You’ll also be spreading out the expense over a longer period of time. And you’re likely to save some money because you’ll have time to check out the deals, both online and off – and to wait for a coupon code, if necessary. If you are shipping any of your presents, you’ll be able to relax if the buying is already finished by Thanksgiving time. Then, when everyone is frantically rushing to the mall and throwing elbows for the last cashmere sweater, you can sit back, sip a hot peppermint mocha and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

When I was growing up, my grandmother felt like she was running late if she didn’t have all of her Christmas presents bought and wrapped by July 1. I’m sure it was no coincidence that she was also the one who seemed the most relaxed and happy during the holidays, and she always had time to make sugar cookies and popcorn balls with me. Take a cue from my grandma and get started today.

2. Do whatever you need to do to make your shopping trips more fun. Take along a good friend or two, and you might have so much fun you’ll want to make a ritual of going holiday shopping together every year. To really cut the stress, take a day off in the middle of the week together and hit your favorite shopping centers then, where you won’t have to compete with so many crowds (especially if you skipped Tip 1, and it’s December already.)

3. Keep a list, throughout the year, of gift ideas for your friends and family. Jot down cute little things you see that relate to their interests. It’s so much easier if you don’t have to start from scratch in the mall, while you stare at the stack of George Foreman grills and waffle makers.

4. Change your scenery. If big malls bum you out with their over-emphasis on the commercialization of Christmas, plan a weekend getaway to a small town, where they celebrate the holidays in old-fashioned style. Is there a small village or ski town in your area where they have carolers strolling the street in the evenings? Where they light the outdoor trees and where they always wrap the gifts for you, while you chat leisurely with the shop owners? Find such a place and you’ll be whistling carols yourself as you weave your way in and out of boutiques, sipping cider or hot cocoa. Being part of an old-fashioned Christmas can really help you get in the holiday spirit. You might have so much fun that you’ll make it an annual tradition.

5. Think unique – not big ticket. Instead of trying to bowl someone over with the enormity of your gift, find something that is unique and just right for them. It is often these small and thoughtful gifts that are the most memorable. Of course, you’ll need to start early to have any chance of finding this just-right gift, but gift-giving will be so much more enjoyable when you make a game of finding just the right item for each recipient, rather than just another thing to cross off your crowded to-do list.

6. Shop online. The internet has an array of interesting gift stores and catalogs that feature items you’d be hard-pressed to find in stores. Once you find an online store with gifts you like, instead of making a purchase right away, request the site’s paper catalog (if available) and sign up for the email newsletter. You’re likely to get coupon codes and special discounts.

If you, like me, turn into Scrooge the minute you drive into the parking lot of your local shopping mall, give the above ideas a try, and have a very happy (low-stress) holiday.

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