‘Tis the season! The season to go to the mall, the corner store, the small businesses, and what seems like every where else to get the perfect gift for everyone on your shopping list. Each year the list gets bigger and bigger, and so does the holiday shopping budget. It an easily become one of the most stressful parts of the holiday season. Following a few simple guidelines can help you keep your holiday spirit (and your checkbook) in tact.
Make a List and Check it Twice
Your Holiday Shopping list should be your new favorite accessory during the holiday season. Sure, it would be nice to be able to give a gift to everyone in your life. Your hairdresser, your postal carrier, your sister-in-law’s best friend’s dog sitter. Start by making a comprehensive list on who you want to acknowledge during the season, then sit down and truly think about who you want to spend money on. It is not always necessary to spend money on everyone in your life. In some cases, a holiday card with a lovely hand-written note is just what Santa ordered.
However, once you’ve weeded out who you can give a card to and who absolutely needs a gift, it’s time to write them all down. When you have a physical list handy during your holiday shopping, you’ll be able to stop yourself from buying for someone not on your list, or overbuying for someone that is on your list. Your list should include the recipient’s name, a few ideas of what to purchase for them (including sizes and favorite colors), and a maximum you want to spend on that person. The more detailed your shopping list is, the less stressful your shopping experience will be. Remember to cross people off your list when you buy their gifts; not only does it help you keep your budget in order, but will show you making progress towards your shopping goals.
Money Doesn’t Grow on the Holiday Tree
Budget, budget, budget! I can’t tell you how many holidays I’ve seen “ruined” because people spent more than they intended for the holidays. Having a set budget and sticking to it is essential for holiday bliss. Keep your budget on your shopping list, and stick to it. There’s no need to go into debt for the holidays; keep in mind the spirit of the season is about love not about presents; so set a reasonable budget with which you are comfortable and stick with it.
Keeping your budget reasonable is the key to successful holiday shopping. If applicable, sit down with your significant other and discuss your holiday shopping budget. Agree to stick to the budget, and not spend lavishly if you can’t afford to. Doing so is only going to put you in a sour mood and teach you to resent the holiday season.
It’s Better to Give than to Receive
You have your list, and your budget set and you’re standing in the middle of the department store trying to find the perfect gift; so what do you get? That single-cup coffee maker you’ve wanted for years? How about that cute purple sweater with the blue design; they are your favorite colors! Keep in mind you’re buying presents for someone else, not for yourself. It’s important to remember what your recipient likes, what their favorite music is, their favorite color, or their favorite sports team. As much as you might want a single brew coffee machine with coconut-mocha coffee, it might not be what your loved one wants. Keep them in mind, and you’ll be enjoying their elation when they open their gift; that is the true gift.
Size Doesn’t Matter
As much as it feels like it, the size of the gift does not matter; nor does how much you spend on it. The more you spend on a gift does not equate to the amount of love you feel for a person. Somewhere along the line we, as a society, seem to have forgotten this incredibly important fact. If you want to show a loved one how much you care for them, put great care and thought into what you give them for a gift. When you give them their idea of a “perfect gift”; you’ll show them how much you love them. Something as simple as CD from their favorite band can mean the word to them, as it shows them you’ve taken the time not only to get to know them and their individual passion, but you’ve taken into consideration what they like when you were purchasing their gift.
There are a million other tips and suggestions to keep you sane during your holiday shopping, but these will at least get you started. Remember the key – the holidays are for spending time with your loved ones and reminding each other how much you care. That can’t be done with gifts; the presents should be secondary to the main event. Happy Holidays to you and all of your loved ones.