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Are You Ready To Take On Chrismas?: The Art Of Christmas Shopping

Updated on October 27, 2014

When Do You Do Your Christmas Shopping?

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As we head into the rush of the holiday season with a mash up of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and inevitably Christmas wrapped into one race to the finish line, the chaotic stream of holiday decorating and events can get the better of us. My mom is a very festive person and she usually gets into the holiday decorating groove. My childhood home was and is usually decked in Fall decorations that morph into Halloween decorations then proceeds into Thanksgiving decorations and finishes with the grand finale of Christmas decorations. My mom has mastered the art and is a seasoned veteran. She is also a hardworking real estate broker and manages to balance everything with the help of my wonderful dad. Even if you are a seasoned holiday decorator and have conquered the rush, it can be very time-consuming to handle everything at once. This is only touching upon decorating

I’m not much of a holiday decorator. During the holidays, my boyfriend and I are juggling a massive increase in pet sitting and dog visits/walks jobs. This holiday season is crunch time for us. On top of the pet sitting and dog visits/walks, my boyfriend works part time hours at a grocery store. We are certain his hours will increase the closer we get to the holidays. We are hardly around to really celebrate the holidays by decorating or participating in the fun. We are always busy and then that nagging feeling that has lurked in the back of our minds comes to the front in harsh reality. It’s December and we still haven’t shopped for any gifts. We aren’t the only ones to come across this, judging by the crush of people in the malls.

This holiday season, it will be different. Thee will be no shameful ‘I skimped on your gift, because this was the only thing left’. There will be more thought into the gifts we give and maybe it won’t be expensive, but nobody will be left empty handed this time.

How will I make this happen?

By following these steps:

  1. Stating A Goal
  2. Develop A Plan
  3. Time To Window Shop
  4. Purchasing Your Gifts

1. State A Goal

These concepts are something I’m familiar with but have a tough time executing in real life. However, planning and organizing are the most important element to making this holiday season more manageable. Some people plan way in advance for Christmas presents and have been purchasing them earlier in the year. This is a very smart idea and can save you a lot of stress. If you can, I’d recommend doing that.

For those of us who haven’t, you need to develop a good plan to help you accomplish your goals of Christmas shopping. Most last minute shoppers like myself are prone to bad time management skills and organization. In order to get yourself organized for the season, you need to develop a plan. To get to that step you need to state your goal and make certain it is a goal that can be realistically attained.

My plan and goal this year is to be done Christmas shopping by the end of November and wrapping gifts in December.

2. Develop A Plan

Who Are You Shopping For

Define and list who you are shopping for. If you are in a relationship, you need to realize you will be doubling the people on your list due to shopping for two families especially if you are close with your significant other’s family. Write or type out that list. It doesn’t matter if you are using a computer, an app on your mobile phone, or a piece of paper. Number each name on your list and be aware that this number of people will affect how much you will spend on them.

TIP: If you are financially tight with money, pair certain individuals together if they are a couple and give them a couple gift instead of spending money on two separate gifts. You can do this with an entire family depending on what you give them. Example) appliances that they would all use.

Establishing A Budget

All those names on your list (even if you paired them off) will require a gift. A gift costs money. As much as you want to splurge on Christmas, you need to be practical about what you can truly afford to give people. Now if money isn’t an issue, you may want to even establish a budget just in case you overdue it, but that isn’t a mandatory action that needs to be taken.

How would you establish a budget? If you have a fixed hours and income, you can make an estimation on how much you make per paycheck. You know how many times you get paid monthly so I would calculate that amount you would roughly make in a month. Subtract how much money is needed for your monthly bills. You don’t want to go into debt paying off Christmas presents or making more of a financial strain on yourself. The money leftover must be sectioned off into gas, groceries, and anything else that is of importance. After that, the money leftover is how much overall you can spend. Divide that money up accordingly either by each person and your relationship with that person or equally by the number of people you have on your list.

If you are in a financial tight right now, trying to charge a credit card to pay for things you can’t afford will only hurt you. For those people that you are getting gets for, I’m certain they are your family and friends. I guarantee that your family and friends do not want you to go in debt of a gift for them. Holidays have always been the love, sacrifice, and togetherness of family. It’s the celebration of making through another year. Gifts don’t mean anything. It’s the thought that goes into it.

Do Your Research

This is where you don’t wait into December to get your Christmas shopping done. Yes, you are a busy person, but that doesn’t mean you need to window shop physically at a mall. Although, I would recommend doing a little bit of window shopping considering how many holiday deals are going on. You may just luck out on an awesome deal. If you’re the kind of person that loves to shop, knows how much you can spend on each person, and you WON’T go above the amount your budget, go ahead and shop to your heart’s content.

Those of us that may need to practice a bit of self-constraint or are just super busy, look over your list and narrow down what each individual’s interests and hobbies are. Start searching online even if you Google ‘gifts for writers’. If you’re already a part of PINTEREST, you can type it in like you do for Google and you’ll so many different ideas. If you happen to come to something they may like, but it is financially impossible for you to consider. Bookmark it and use that as a reference when you shop. If you have a general idea of what would be good gift for them, it will make it easier for you to shop for them and not buy things impulsively.

3. Time To Window Shop

The Benefits Of Window Shopping

Websites To Window Shop Online

  • Amazon
  • Ebay
  • Etsy
  • JC Penny, Sears, Macy’s (all the department stores)
  • Bed, Bath, & Beyond

Places To START Out Window Shopping

  • Marshals
  • TJ Max
  • Walmart
  • Kohls

I compiled a small list of places to shop for a bargain. I always say start with these places first before you window shop at higher priced places. Window shopping is good way to see what’s out there. I do recommend window shopping online before you window shop physically, because I guarantee you are more likely to physically buy something straight off.

Why Isn’t It A Great Idea To Buy Things Straight Off?

What I love about online window shopping is that you can bookmark it and come back to it later on when you’re done browsing the internet. You can still do the same thing as window shopping physically in stores. Yes, you can take a picture of it, the price tag, and mark where you saw it. However, I’m certain your mindset is something along the lines of: I’ve found what I’m looking for and it is in my budget so… why not?.

There are pros and cons to this.

Pros: You will be done with buying for that person and you stayed within budget.

Cons: What if you find something better and it was in budget as well? What if you could get a better deal for it?

Some could argue that by the time that you decided it was perfect and decided to purchase it then it would be gone. That can happen and it will probably happen if you wait too long. Depending on what time you start shopping for gifts, you can always ask if they have it another store or even look online. If you do happen to purchase it, don’t immediately rip off the tag, make certain you have the receipt, and be familiar with the return policy.

I recommend you wait or at least give yourself a window of time before you outright purchase it. I’d recommend a day. If you can’t handle that, ask if somebody put the product on hold for you in the time being. You can even ask about the holding policy. I know people can hold items for a certain amount of time according to company policy if they allow it. I’m certain if you asked them to hold these items for you for a few hours they would comply.

So why wait? What will those extra hours do for you? It’ll give you time to scope out the other stores to check to see if they may have and have a better deal or find something better. If you really like the product then I’d recommend (if you have a mobile smartphone) to look up reviews online. Salespeople can be a little deceptive in their persuasion to get you to buy something.

4. Purchasing Your Gifts

Now that you have window shopped and did some research on the products, you are ready to make your final transactions. This process is easy, but you took the guesswork out of it and all you are doing now is purchasing them. Don’t forget to grab some wrapping paper, tape, and any gift decorating accessories you need while you are out.

There are alternative payment options as well if you’d rather not feel the burn of all your money draining from your wallet.

Layaway Option

Around this time, stores are offering layaway and there are some stores that offer it year-round. This may be an option for you if you know what you’re looking for, but you would like to have more money on you daily expenses like gas and groceries. Perhaps, your next paycheck isn’t due until next week and you want to lay claim to the gift now.

Credit Card Option

If you know how much everything is going to cost you, you can pay for everything via credit card. When the money comes in, you pay it off. In some ways, it is like layaway except you don’t have to wait to get the actual gifts. With layaway, you need to pay everything off before you receive the gifts.

Do not do the credit card option if you haven’t come up with a way to pay it off. If you adopt the same attitude going into the credit card option as you would going to into the layaway option, you can devise how many payments and sums of money needed to completely pay off your credit card. I would go by paying it off that month so you won’t have to worry about it later. You already calculated your budget so it isn’t like you will be going into debt. Divide the amount of each individual gift by the number of paychecks you receive for that month. That small sum is what you need to pay in order to pay off your credit card completely at the end of the month.

Are You Ready To Take On Christmas?

The holidays are approaching faster than we like. We are all gearing up for Halloween and some of us are already partaking in Halloween parties or trick-or-treating. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas is tailgating it. It’s time to leave some stress at the door and just devise a plan for Christmas shopping so we all can actually enjoy the shifts in season and atmosphere. It all starts with a desire and motivation to make it happen. State your goal and make it happen this year!


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    • MaeMG profile image

      MaeMG 3 years ago

      @FitnezzJim I usually send them either a gift basket or money/gift cards. I guess I wanted to put a little more thought into them so it just doesn't feel so impersonal.

      @vkwok I hear you! I'm like that when I'm really busy. Like I said to FitnezzJim, I just want to put more thought and add a personal touch to them.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      I never plan for my Christmas shopping. It's usually money gifts for me.

    • FitnezzJim profile image

      FitnezzJim 3 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      Once upon a time, I struggled with shopping to find the gift that was just right for each person. Almost always, you could tell the effort missed its mark, or was viewed some way as playing favorites. Now, everybody gets a holiday card and a check, so that everybody gets the same thing.