A couple of things that amaze me every single Christmas are the amount of people that wait to the last minute to do their Christmas shopping and are surprised when they can’t find what they are looking for AND the craziness that occurs at Black Friday sales. Over the years I have perfected my holiday shopping and am so absolutely proud to say it is always stress free. Now watching my husband wait to the last minute stresses me but that’s his problem and another story.
Here is what I do every year. A lot of the times I do this well in advance of Thanksgiving but when years are fast paced and busy, I have been known to make it in to December before it happens. Regardless, I have found the system works and is stress free.
I make a list of everyone who I would like to get a gift for that year. Like I posted in my Surviving Christmas post, I do this either on November 30 (busy year) or I have done it in advance. This list usually includes family, intimate (close) friends, husband co-workers, etc. and I will add teachers for my elementary grade kids when my husband and I have them.
I spend time thinking of each person and who they are and what they might like that is affordable. My son wants a bass boat but that one is out of our budget this year. I then add that next to their name on the list. I also write down where I think I might find it.
I plan a course of attack. Yes I call it attack since sometimes shopping in the fray of Christmas season feels like I need battle armor. Typically, I select one or two days that I can spend a few hours shopping and I put them on the calendar. Scheduling something always makes it more likely to happen than just saying oh I need to do that. When I worked to someone else’s schedule, I divided this into more days for the span of about an hour. Then I select which stores I want to go on what day. If I decide to go to more than one store on one day, I lump them in the same area. For example, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Barnes and Nobles are all near each other so I would “hit” all three in one trip.
I then take the original list and make a shopping list by store.
I shop. I am very focused when I shop and yet know that I need to mentally be relaxed for what ever “shopping” may throw my way. Sometimes this is achieved with a cup of Starbuck’s Gingerbread Coffee or playing Christmas music in my car. This combination of focused shopping with relaxed mental state helps manage the chaos that can sometime be Christmas shopping.
I also avoid Black Friday…sort of. I do shop Black Friday because there are really good deals but here is my opinion of Black Friday. Unless you absolutely have to have that one limited quantity thing, standing in line at ungodly hours or shopping on Thanksgiving is not worth it. Over the years, I have found that at 8am on Black Friday, the deals are still there. For example, I do JoAnn’s, Michael’s, Target, and others annually. However, in the case of JoAnn’s there 25% off coupon lasts until 12noon and their other markdowns run all day. The same with places like Bed, Bath and Beyond and more. Minimal crowds, lazy style shopping and a fun day…usually spent with my mom. (Husband usually fishing with my son.)
Another tip that keeps shopping stress free is I finish ALL my Christmas shopping by December 15. Then, I don’t have to get caught in the fray. Also, I highly, highly, highly, recommend avoiding malls and shopping centers after December 20. You will spend an hour just driving around trying to find a place to park and people in general get rude in these general areas the closer it gets to Christmas, at least that has been my experience.
If I didn’t get everything I needed by my last shopping trip, I hit the computer. Its amazing what you can find on the internet these days and Cyber Monday provides awesome deals. Most stores are extending Cyber Monday deals these days too! I know of one internet store that was offering 75% off all seasonal items!
As I said, when I am all done shopping, I truly feel stress free and actually enjoy shopping for Christmas gifts for people.
Although not a shopping tip, something that helps me each year is organizing the gifts after I shop. Every where I shop, I always ask for the paper bags with handles. Then when I get home, each person gets a paper bag and I load each with their gifts. If I happen to buy something later, like stocking stuffers, its really easy to just drop it in their bag. Plus when I go to wrap gifts, I just pull out the bag and wrap. Never have to wonder…”Who did I get this for?”
Here’s to a stress free shopping season this year! I hope you all are enjoying Christmas as much as me. I would love to hear what you all do to keep your stress down during the season. Let me know.