A lot of the preparation that comes with the impending holiday season has to do with shopping; some people are incredibly crafty and make most, if not all, of their gifts, but I think that for the majority of us, we purchase many of our presents for others. Thinking about it, a lot of people are rightly worried about the cost of everything and when they will have the time to get it done! These holiday shopping tips are here to help you save yourself as much time and money as possible, and still enjoy the holiday season yourself!
1) Set Money Aside NOW
I worked in a large bookstore for several Christmases, and the number of people that left their shopping until December 15th alone shocked me, let alone those who proceeded to complain about how expensive everything was. Yes, the holiday season will be expensive if you expect to pay for everything in a two week span… I’m not a fan of putting everything on a credit card. I usually will save for a purchase so that I have all of the funds to pay for it before I ever have it- does that mean that I go without for a while? Absolutely, but I save myself a great deal on interest and limit my debt in doing so. The same goes for holidays!
Even if you aren’t purchasing anything right now, I would highly recommend starting to set aside money now. A little bit from each paycheque will go a long way to making the holiday season monetarily manageable! Figure out how many people you will need to buy presents for and what food and decorations you will need, as well as a realistic budget for what you can afford to spend, and make yourself a “payment plan”. (This is no way means that you need to spend $200 a person, just spreads the financial burden out to make it manageable!)
2) Be Creative With Your Gifts
Unless someone has specifically asked for a pre-packaged gift set, I would avoid giving anyone one. I do believe that gift cards can be thoughtful- if you know that I love my Kobo, a Kobo gift card is more than appropriate!- but pre-packaged gifts emphasise a lack of personalisation and thought. With online ordering, you have the world of shopping at your fingertips, so there isn’t a reason to put thought into your gifts. It doesn’t have to be the whole gift, but including things that might be a nod to an inside joke or of a future plan together is a wonderful way to let the recipient know that you care for them!
This goes doubly for gift swap games- I’ve been in gift swaps where 25% of the participants bought the same Bath and Bodyworks soap and lotion set, and everyone lost interest pretty quickly. I’m not advocating straying from the budget (a la Michael Scott and the iPod in The Office) but come up with your own creative go-to for swaps- perhaps it is a mug that represents your city paired with hot chocolate and your favourite cookies, maybe it is a small print from a friend who is an artist. Whatever it is, make it a representation of you! (In the holiday season, food tends to do exceptionally well, if you are stuck for ideas.)
3) Ask People What They Want
While I do think you should be creative, I also believe in asking people what they want, either directly or indirectly! The point of a present is to get someone something that you think that they would enjoy (or at least get use out of). Buying them the latest “hot topic” book because it was 30% off and right by the cash register doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be a present that they will enjoy in any way. Taking the time to a) pay attention to what people enjoy and have, and b) specifically ask what they would like (as they may have something in mind), shows that you want to get them something that they will enjoy!
It is also a somewhat self-serving thing to do, as it can save you a lot of time hunting for gifts if you can have a firm idea of what they want. I’m pretty sure that for a lot of us, September to January is a pretty busy and hectic time with everything going on, not including holiday prep and events. If you can limit your searching to 10 or 15 minutes instead of hours upon hours, that is incredibly worthwhile!
Bonus Tip: Make Your Own Christmas List
This is to help everyone else: make your own Christmas list!! You truly may be happy to receive anything at all (no shame to people who something specific) but you may be making someone’s job a lot harder by not giving any suggestions. I would recommend having a short list ready that you can give people suggestions if they ask for it. I would also recommend having easier suggestions to give out that aren’t confusing (ie. not clothing with various sizes/colours or anything that may have very similar titles). Hit a few different price points and don’t make it too complicated!