I’ve written before about how we try to keep Christmas simple here on the farm. We try to focus on time with loved ones celebrating the birth of Jesus. No matter how simple we keep it though, one fact remains; in the lead up to Christmas, we have gifts we want to buy for our family and friends, and that means we have to go shopping. Fortunately with some forethought, it is not the ordeal that it could be, so I’m sharing my tips for making Christmas shopping as easy and pain free as possible.
There really is nothing worse than going to the shops with no idea of what you are going to buy. You end up spending too much money on random items and don’t get the things you really want or need. So make a list of who you want to buy for, and what you plan to buy before you go near the shops. I use ever-note on my phone so that the kids don’t find my list, but a good old piece of paper and a pen work just as well.
When you’re doing your Christmas shopping, do just that – no looking at cute stationary or new sandals. You end up getting distracted, wasting time, and then running out of time to purchase what you actually intended to get. Get in, purchase what you need to, and get out. I call it commando shopping.
Not only is it great to support local businesses, shopping locally also makes shopping a lot easier because you don’t need to travel as far to do your shopping. Local businesses often have lots of items you won’t find in a chain store, making your gift truly unique.
Avoid the crowds and do it early
Hitting the shops to do all your shopping two days before Christmas is not only stressful, it also means you are more likely to settle on any old gift, just to tick it off the list. By getting the bulk of your shopping done before December, you can find the gift you’re looking for without the time pressure that December seems to bring. Going on a week day if you can will make it even less crowded (Mondays or Tuesdays are the best!). This year I’m planning to take a day of long service leave and knock over the shopping before December starts.
If you’ve hit December and haven’t started, try doing it on a Monday or Tuesday. The shops will be a lot less crowded than on a weekend.
Leave the kids at home if you possibly can
It might not be possible, but if you are able to call in a favour from a friend, leave the kids at home. It’s a lot easier to commando shop without little ones. You could even offer to swap a day of child minding with a friend, so that they get a day to shop, and so do you.
Shop around online before you hit the stores
Always look at the catalogues on line before you head for the shops. That way you know where you will find what you’re looking for, and where to find the best price. Also if they have free shipping, just order online and cross that purchase off the list. One less shop to visit is an added bonus. Living so far from town, we do a lot of online shopping, and knowing where to go before we start saves us lots of time.
Reduce the number of presents you give
A lot of people tend to use the rhyme “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read” to guide their gift buying for their kids, and it is a great way to ensure that the gifts you give your children are appropriate to their needs.
Consider also reducing the number of people you buy gifts for. Have a mature conversation with people you constantly struggle to buy for, and see if they are interested in stopping swapping gifts (if you think it’s too late this year, have the discussion early in the new year for next year). Instead suggest a get together to spend time with each other. You will probably find that if you are struggling, so are they. We have stopped giving gifts to our siblings because it got to the point where we were all just swapping gift vouchers and goody baskets. Now we just enjoy spending time together without the stress of finding the perfect gift.
Avoid office secret Santas
There is nothing worse than having to think of the perfect thing under $10 for Jarrod from accounting, when you hardly know him. Sometimes they are unavoidable, but if you have the choice, consider opting out of the office secret Santa.
Consider experiences instead of things
If you are stuck for ideas for some one, why not get them an experience rather than stressing over what to buy them. They don’t have to be extravagant either. Think movie tickets, or a voucher for a favourite cafe, or even for some takeaway coffees from the coffee cart at work.
Remember that Christmas is meant to be a season of peace and good will. Buying gifts is a way we can express our care and appreciation for our friends and family. By putting some planning and thought into shopping for these gifts we are less likely to get stressed by the process, and more likely to find the perfect gift for that special person. Everyone wins!
What are your tricks for making Christmas shopping easier?