Completing one’s Christmas shopping list is a gargantuan effort each year. Shopping for gifts should be a pleasant experience but when you’ve got a limited budget and a gazillion relatives, friends, and acquaintances, it turns into one huge pain in the behind.
Fortunately, we’ve picked up some tips and tricks to make the whole thing more stress-free on both your nerves AND your pocket. Yes, two birds with one stone!
Read on. Apologies if the strategies below sound like they’re coming from the military, but like modern army tactics these are the result of painful lessons learned over the last decades. Logistics is the key!
Tip #1 – Use the same shopping list every year
First stop is getting yourself organized.
One of the most difficult things about Christmas shopping is writing up a list of giftees every year. Cut out that task by having one master list. Keep it online as a shared file (e.g. a Google Doc) so you can access it from any device and share with a friend, if you have to. (In my case, I share it with my sister, my personal shopper.)
At the same time, have a printed copy in your bag. See part 4.
Tip #2 – Start early
I once had the brilliant idea of doing my Christmas shopping a few weeks before Christmas. You already know how that went down. I was so frazzled some hairs turned grey from the stress. I eventually got everything for everybody but it cost me an arm and a leg.
You can bet I learned from that experience. Believe it or not, I start preparing for Christmas one year before. That’s right. Right after we open our Christmas gifts, in fact. Here’s why…
Tip #3 – Recycle unused gifts received
We won’t be using all the gifts we receive. Some are huge hits while some are huge misses. But just because we didn’t like them doesn’t mean they have to spend the remainder of their lives collecting dust in your closets.
Instead, get a huge box and make it your Christmas gift stash. Chuck any unused gift in there throughout the year – you’ll find you have quite the collection. When Christmas nears, you can open your box and see which gift can be gifted to any of the giftees on your list.
Pro Tip: Mark who your gift is from. This is very important as you don’t want to accidentally gift it back to the person who gave it to you. Arrange it so that say, a gift you received from a relative can be given as a gift to your husband’s officemate. Gift to a different set of friends.
Also, be cautious about recycling gifts that are too unique as they can be recognized more easily. Mugs, scarves, throw pillows, and the like should be safe enough to re-gift to other people.
Tip #4 – Have a copy of your Christmas list in your bag
“Oh that’s adorable!”
Have you ever had this moment where you’re just passing through some store and come across a gem of a gift? It’s very affordable and a must-have but it’s not something for you. Instead of leaving it at the store, whip out your Christmas shopping list and see if it would be perfect for somebody on your list.
Having the whole year to shop lets you do it slowly and more leisurely. This is just the opposite of having to cram your Christmas shopping in just a week or so and having to settle for expensive items because you’re frantic and can’t find anything better.
Tip #5 – Have a relationship with stores
Do you have a store you like? Maybe the sales people are very friendly or you get discounts and rebates the more you purchase? If so, it’s a good idea to bring your business to these stores. After all, shopping is also a social experience and it’s double the fun when we derive pleasure from it.
One Christmas, I bought a beauty pack for all my female relatives and friends consisting of little tubes of lip gloss, sanitizer, and lotion. It was organic, packaged oh-so-pretty, and I got a big discount for buying in bulk.
This is something to keep in mind for your Christmas shopping.
Tip #6 – Buy online
Buying online is the new normal these days. It’s convenient and you can shop in your pajamas.
One thing I particularly like about online shopping is reading the reviews from people who’ve bought the product and tried it out. This is especially helpful when I’m buying something expensive.
Overall, I really enjoy shopping online. There’s a dazzling array of both cheap and expensive products to choose from, paying is easy with one click (once you’re set up), and I just have to wait for my goodies to arrive in my doorstep.
Tip #7 – Have extra gifts on hand
If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that our Christmas shopping list is never complete. There will always be that one acquaintance or relative who will pop out and you’ll realize you have nothing prepared.
This is easy to remedy when you have extra gifts at home or in the car. Yeah, just call yourself a Boy Scout.
Good luck with your Christmas shopping list! Remember, you can make the whole experience more fun and pain-free. It’s just a matter of getting started early and being prepared. It also helps when you share the experience with a friend or a loved one – in my case my sister. It’s a race as to who finds the best gifts for our loved ones.