The holidays are supposed to be a time for relaxing and enjoying the magic of the season.
Ri-ight!?! The expense of buying gifts, the pressure of last minute shopping and the heightened expectations of family togetherness can all combine to create hectic, stressful situations.
And, if you’re like most people, just the thought of this will probably make you cringe in fear. If you’re not looking forward to frantic holiday shopping, relax!
Below are a few practical Holiday “Survial” tips to help you avoid common Holiday hassles.
Make a Christmas Shopping List
Just like Santa, it’s important to make a list (and check it twice). Write down everyone who you’ll likely buy a gift this year, and have a few ideas listed beside their names for suitable presents. Family and friends should top the list, but don’t forget to include smaller gifts for people like the children’s teachers, babysitters – perhaps your super hairdresser who always squeezes you in. It’s also a good idea to have a few generic gifts tucked aside, just in case someone unexpected pops by, or you are accidentally missing someone from the list. Wrapped boxes of chocolates are terrific generic gifts, or in a pinch, gift cards to a popular retail store.
Shop Early for Christmas Presents
Shopping is a lot more relaxing if you don’t wait for the eleventh hour. With all of the pre-Christmas sales taking place as early as November, there’s no reason not to dedicate some time and closet space for storing gifts. A bonus: you’ll likely find your preferences such as colour, sizes and styles in stock, which will prevent “last minute overcompensation” (you know how it works – when you can’t find that Spiderman puzzle he wanted, you end up purchasing the Iron Man puzzle, PLUS Spiderman trading cards and comic books as a token of guilt/goodwill). Just make sure to confirm the store’s return/exchange policy, and always ask for a gift receipt. Most stores will honour purchases made after November 1st for after-Christmas returns.
Do A Little Christmas Shopping at a Time
A nice thing about shopping early is that not all the presents have to be bought in a few days. Purchasing gifts can be done at leisurely pace, allowing both your feet and bank account a chance to rejuvenate. Keep your list in a purse or wallet and keep an eye out for wanted gifts when out doing regular shopping. Check the person off the list as each gift gets bought.
Buy Christmas Gifts Online
Enjoy shopping with a hot cup of coffee from the comfort of your own home. And here’s the kicker – you’ll probably score a much better deal. Stores often offer “online only” sales and promotions – and why not? They don’t have to pay sales staff, property rental, and other expenses which prevent them from passing the savings on to you. And do make sure to take advantage of free shipping promotions – they’re regularly offered as added incentive. Most online retailers will also ship to an alternate address at no extra charge (and include a gift enclosure/receipt), so it’s the perfect way to send a special little something to your favourite aunt in Timbuktu.
Stick to a Budget (most of the time)
Let’s face it – you’re going to spend more than you set out to. It’s a simple fact of holiday shopping! So here’s a way to reign in your spending – set a budget for all of your smaller gifts. For example, cap generic gifts at $10 each. Budget at most $25 for friends. And for family, spend only what is reasonable and affordable to you. This way, you don’t have to feel bad if you (marginally) break the bank, and at the same time, allow yourself some room for indulgence. One way to help keep on track – consider homemade gifts. Not only are they thoughtful and unique, but you can bring a smile to someone’s face for a fraction of the cost. I love giving tins of baked Christmas cookies, or filling mason jars with crunchy, flavourful homemade granola. Yum!
So there you have it – five simple ways to reduce stress at the holidays. This year, when you’ve finished wrapping all your gifts well in advance, you can treat yourself to an extra tall glass of eggnog!