I confess that holiday shopping once felt like an enormous, energy draining chore, and it was one that I dreaded all year. Now I have found a way to really enjoy it. Here are some tips to help you take pleasure in it, too.
1. Make it fun. Do whatever you need to do to make the prospect of holiday shopping more enjoyable. Some people get energized by the mall, but, for me, the mall is a big energy drain. Instead, I love to sit curled up in a big fleece blanket with a cup of cocoa and a stack of catalogs. For weeks now, I have been tearing out pages and circling gift ideas for my favorite people. It is fun to get inspired in this way. Then, I will make my list and search for online coupons for the stores I have selected (since I hardly every make an online purchase without a coupon code.)
Whichever method of shopping is most fun for you, do it. Maybe you will go on a special lunch date with your spouse and power shop for the kids. Maybe you will make a daytrip to the most festive outdoor mall with some girlfriends.
Shopping can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the holiday season. Just make sure you are doing it in such a way that it does not feel like just one more thing you have to do this time of year. The key is planning ahead and asking yourself what you really enjoy about the process of finding gifts.
2. Start with a budget. What is the dollar range that you wish to spend for each person? Make sure you stay in a range you can afford. Nothing takes the fun out of holiday shopping more than knowing you will still be paying off the bills next Christmas.
3. Plan ahead. I know that many people have all of their holiday shopping completed in July, but I never have, and probably never will. However, I can get myself to jot down notes throughout the year (in the back of my Daytimer) about things that my family members have mentioned they like or would like to have. Make notes of their favorite things to do, favorite places to go, favorite brands of clothes, favorite games, favorite possessions. Sit for a minute and brainstorm the possibilities. You might be surprised at the good ideas that pop up.
4. Shop online as much as you can. You can save significantly at the online discount stores, such as Overstock and SmartBargains. Some sites will save you sales tax; others will have items you would not find in your local mall. And you can generally find a coupon code this time of year to save even more.
After you have been shopping online for some time, you may find (like me) that most of your gifts come from the same two or three websites each year, and that can save you money on shipping, too.
5. Save for the holidays throughout the year so you are not crunched come December. It is easier for me to stay in the Christmas spirit if I do not have to feel like I am searching for the best bargain on every single item. I would rather find the exact perfect gift and then use a coupon code when purchasing it online, rather than running all over town (or all over the world wide web) to find it cheaper. That probably costs me a little more in the end, but it saves me a ton of time.
6. Look for quality and personality, not quantity. Nothing squashes my Christmas spirit more than focusing too much on the price tag. (Have I spent enough on this person, have I bought her enough gifts? Will I give their family as many presents as she will give my family?) When shopping takes on the air of competition, it is no good. Look for things that are beautiful, lasting, heartfelt, and sentimental.
Sometimes it helps to supplement something store bought with something handmade. Buy or create a gift while trying to imagine the look on their faces when they open the gift.