For those who do not enjoy mall crowds, or the ridiculous inflation of prices post-summer time, the time is here. Holiday shopping starts now. Summer is officially over, and the roads aren’t silly with snow yet, so there aren’t blocks in traffic caused by people who forget that speeding on black ice causes your car to flip. If I were smart, I would shop all year for Christmas, because no one’s tastes change from month to month, so if I buy my mother a perfume she’s loved since I was in kindergarten in March, chances are she will be just as pleased to receive it in December, when the prices aren’t jacked up at every Perfumania. Likewise, dad’s favorite polos may go on sale at the end of July, so I can snag them for relatively cheap (even if they don’t have that coveted, red plaid pattern printed on them) and save myself not only money but the time and headache of trying to squeeze this shopping in during the holiday bustle.
Many of you probably took advantage of Amazon’s Prime Day this week, due to free shipping and lightning deals. Walmart, Target, and Best Buy also had competitive sales going on at the same time to try to steal the traffic from Amazon, but the sales aren’t over yet. I imagine for Black Friday this year, retailers are expecting to get most of their revenue through online shoppers. But why wait?
Below are some tips for how to shop NOW for the holidays, without the inevitable inflation (just so they can trick you with sales that aren’t worth your money) and without having to deal with the parking lots that may still be full this season.
1. Make a list.
This doesn’t have to be a naughty or nice list (though I suppose, in a way, it sort of is), but rather a list of all the people you still want to shop for. Keep in mind, the key word here is want. If you’re buying things for 30 people, only because you feel obligated, then you’re doing your shopping all wrong, but that’s a blog for another time and place. Right now, focus on: Who do I want to get presents for? How many?
2. Set a budget.
I know there are people who may have the luxury of going wild on holiday shopping, and it’s thrilling. But if you want to follow a method or not feel like you need to soothe the guilt of making a huge dent in your bank account (or credit card) with a glass of wine and lots of Doritos in the evening, then give yourself a max budget that you’re willing to spend on holiday gifts for everyone total–even if it’s not balanced. You may want to get your husband an expensive watch, which means all the grandparents will be limited to a $15 gift each so that you can get him that $200 item, so be it, but at least you’ve done the math ahead of time. Arranging your dollars prior to rushing into stores also sets a path for you and lets you know, “hey, maybe you need to be shopping in this store versus that store.” Perhaps this year, ALL your shopping has to be done at Target and not at mall stores like Victoria’s Secret or Sephora. Again, these are just examples. Figure out which scenario works for you based on your planning needs.
3. Focus on age groups.
If there are ten names on your list who are kids, then pick a day and tackle that group all at once. For instance, go to Carter’s or Kohl’s and shop for toys, pajamas, books, backpacks, etc. for the nieces, nephews, grandkids, and cross that off your list! If there is something special you need to get for a particular child, then go on that day, too, just to be done with the kids. That’s not to say you should limit your shopping for the kids all to one store, I am just throwing out names of stores where they have a variety of kid items. You may spend a whole day driving around from place to place, but at least once the day is over you are done with that age group. Then, pick another day and repeat for your older folks (i.e. your parents and in-laws). This procedure can be done in-stores or online.
4. Consider stocking stuffers as real gifts.
Remember, that even if someone is not coming to your house this year, or lives with you, stocking stuffers are excellent gifts. It’s not “cheap” to buy multiple small items and combine them into one gift for somebody, if you are on a tight budget but would still like to show someone you care with a wrapped present. Coworkers of mine make little baggies with candy, trinkets, and even personalized cards, and I’m grateful each year for the thought! If you have many distant relatives (or even close ones haha), consider buying items in bulk and then making stocking stuffer bags filled with hand sanitizer, candy, shower gel, socks, keychains, pens, bath bombs, etc. which can be beautifully arranged but not amount to $50 per person.
Final tips: If you’re shopping online, make sure to Google “Retail Me Not” and then type in the name of the store you’re shopping at to find extra savings! Also, remember, there will be a larger influx of people shopping virtually this year, so the earlier you hop on your computer and select your items, the earlier they will arrive at your door, which means you have a larger window to start shipping out to family members and friends who may not live in the same state as you.
Last, but not least, remember to enjoy yourself! If you’re inexplicably stressed and complaining and feel that shopping is a chore that must get done, but you don’t know how you will do it without getting sick or getting others in your household sick, then don’t do it. Christmas is not about gifts; it’s about spending time with your family and celebrating the fact that we have life because God made the ultimate sacrifice. Anybody who doesn’t understand that and makes you feel guilty for not getting them something or not participating in the madness is not reciprocating the spirit and not worth the hassle to begin with. Hug your children and spouse, or your pets and friends, and just relax.