How To Finish Your Holiday Shopping And Stay Sane
Fun? Not fun. Maybe it's a total drag. It can also be incredibly stressful. What do you get Uncle Bill, who seems to have everything? Or Aunt Jess, whom you barely know.
On top of that, there are the exhortations to buy, buy, buy - which, these days, often begin in October. The media tells us that if we don't spend a ton of money on Christmas gifts, the economy will plunge into the doldrums or never recover, depending on how close to the doldrums it is already. Christmas advertising seems to start in earnest the week before Thanksgiving. Funny how so many of us end up buying our gifts on December 24. For some people, the holiday hype brings about a strong desire to hibernate until January. Maybe February. But there are quite a few ways of staying sane, destressing and even pretending Black Friday doesn't exist.
Forget About Black Friday
Don't be one of those people who spends the entire of Thanksgiving camped outside Wal-Mart to take advantage of a 'doorbuster'. Certainly don't be one of those people who ends up hitting somebody or reaching for the pepper spray. Or, worse, pulling a gun on a queue jumper.
Don't shop on Black Friday. It's just not worth wading through the crowds. Instead, go and do something you will actually enjoy. Have some fun. If you've followed the rest of the tips, you might even be sitting pretty with few or no gifts left to buy for the year.
Take Advantage of Travel
Do you have a vacation planned to somewhere exotic? Especially somewhere other people in your family haven't been lately?
Instead of bringing back tiny souvenirs and handing them out when you return, buy larger gifts and then save them for Christmas. Even if you are going overseas, the customs allowances are more than generous enough for the average person's Christmas shopping. Your family members will love receiving something different and you won't have to set foot in the mall come December. Alternatively, take your camera and buy a bunch of frames, then give framed photos of your exotic destination.
Buy A Year Ahead
Yes, I do know people who do this. They buy next year's gifts in this year's January sales. Cards, in particular, can be purchased insanely cheaply in January as retailers try to get them out of the way to make room for Valentine's Day. Yes, it requires a lot of planning...and somewhere to put the gifts...but you can get prices just as good as on Black Friday and then can spend December and the holidays having fun, not worrying about finding one last gift.
Spread It Out
If you absolutely hate a task, then splitting it up can make it a lot easier. Make a list of the people you want to buy for, then divide it by 11.
Buy for that number of people a month. Yes, I said 11...part of the goal is to avoid shopping in December, after all. This way you can also slip gift buying in with your regular shopping trips. If you're going to the mall anyway, pick up a gift or two while you're there.
That way the mound of gifts remains manageable and you also don't end up sitting there in December wondering how you are going to pay for all of these presents.
Embrace The Easy Gift
When you have that relative who is impossible to buy for - don't be embarrassed to give them money. A prepaid Visa card is easier to handle and give than cash. Some people think giving money is lazy, but most people will appreciate a bit of extra cash - maybe to spend in those January Sales.
A gift card to a favorite retailer or restaurant requires only a little more thought and is even more likely to be appreciated, especially if you know the recipient tends to put any cash they receive straight into boring things like savings or groceries.
Make Use Of Wishlists
Reduce the stress of working out what to get who and make sure you get a gift they want by using wishlists. Encourage your friends and family to set them up on Amazon and other retailers (and set a good example by starting yourself).
Then all you have to do is pick something from the list. If you would rather not use major online retailers, then how about starting a Christmas wishing tradition in your family? Make your own lists and hand them around early in the year. Children, of course, can address their wishlists to Santa (For that matter, why can't adults write letters to Santa? It's fun).
If you would rather not spread the shopping out, then at least spread the money out. These days, opening a savings account is easy. Open a special account just for holiday spending. Then keep a careful record of everything you spend over the holidays. Don't just include gifts, but travel and entertainment costs. Work out what you need to set aside a month to have all the money you need in that account, then do so.
Again, this means you won't be sitting there in December watching your credit card balance rocket upwards. And the interest might even be enough to buy a little something for yourself.
Buy A Me Thing
If you do do all of your Christmas shopping in one big rush, then buy something for yourself while you're at it. A box of chocolates, perhaps? Or a bottle of nice wine. Or just that little something you've been eyeing all year.
There is nothing wrong with buying yourself a Christmas present and it will make sure that you have at least one thing under the tree you know you will adore.